November 19 – Daily Notes – Amanda

solid-ground

We often think of sins as unrelated, individual decisions. I needed to lie in that situation so I did. Now it’s over. Today’s Proverb reminds us that that simply isn’t true. Sin becomes habit and we get comfortable doing it. It then leads us onto shaky ground, normally looking over our shoulder and wondering when we’ll get caught. Choosing faithfulness, however, brings us strength and stability as we stand on solid ground.

Ezekiel 39:1-40:27:

  • 1-16 – This is the continuation of the prophecy against Gog. Gog had not appeared in Scripture until the last chapter. Gog is an individual who has opposed Israel and will be punished because of it.
  • 21-29 – God explains that though Israel was disobedient and he punished them, he will soon restore them back to prominence and proliferation.
  • 1-17 – This is a vision Ezekiel is given regarding what the new temple should look like. The new temple ends up being built in the same place as the old temple and it stood until 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed it.

James 2:18-3:18:

  • 18-26 – Our faith is not helpful if it is inactive. True faith cannot actually remain inactive. If we have faith in Christ, it is transformative and causes us to begin to live more like Christ. Works are inevitable.
  • 2-12 – James spends time discussing how difficult it is to tame the tongue, but that if we do, it controls our whole selves. We all know how difficult it is to keep our speech pure, uplifting, and beneficial to others.

Psalm 118:1-18:

  • 5-7 – The psalmist has such confidence in God’s ability to take care of him despite the circumstances because he had experienced God’s protection before. Instead of forgetting God’s faithfulness, he used that memory to build his faith for the future.

Proverbs 28:2:

  • Disobedience and sin lead to instability, but faithfulness leads to strength.

November 18 – Daily Notes – Amanda

too far away

Don’t miss today’s reading! There is a ton of great stuff in here! It’s even hard to decide what to entice you with here, but I’ll go with this: if you think you’re beyond restoration or repair, read today’s Ezekiel passage. God raises dry bones back to life! No one is beyond forgiveness! No one can stray so far that God can’t redeem them! That means you too!!

Ezekiel 37:1-38:23:

  • 1-14 – Ezekiel’s prophecies over the dry bones give hope that God can restore Israel even though their situation seems hopeless and their nation seems lifeless.
  • 15-23 – God promises to reunite Israel and Judah and to, once again, be their God.
  • 14-23 – Though Gog had seen success against Israel, God makes it clear that Israel will rise again and it will not bode well for Gog.

James 1:19-2:17:

  • 22-25 – Reading Scripture alone is not enough. We must also live what it tells us to do. Otherwise we are like a foolish person.
  • 27 – If we truly want to follow God we must care for the most vulnerable in his name.
  • 1-9 – We tend to want to associate with those who are powerful and can lift us up, but God does the opposite. He lifts up the lowly. God is calling us to share in his work.
  • 10-13 – We tend to want to make our sins seems less egregious, but once we have sinned, we are sinners.
  • 14-17 – This can be confusing because we know that faith in Christ is what saves us. We can’t save ourselves through works. This does not mean we’re not supposed to do the works though. Our salvation is intended to make us more like Christ, how worked diligently to care for those in need and bring others into God’s family.

Psalm 117:1-2:

  • Why do we praise the Lord? Because he loves us.

Proverbs 28:1:

  • When we’re entrapped in sin, we constantly have to watch our backs and wait for the other shoe to drop. When we are living faithfully, there is freedom from this fear.

November 17 – Daily Notes – Amanda

temptation

The line in the Lord’s Prayer that asks God to “lead us not into temptation” is sometimes problematic for people. They wonder if that suggests that God leads us toward sin. Today’s James reading assures us that God does not lead us toward sin but towards righteousness because he doesn’t want us to sin. The line in the Lord’s Prayer is referring back to Jesus’ temptation and recognizing that we are not strong enough to handle what he did.

Ezekiel 35:1-36:38:

  • 1-15 – Mount Seir was a series of mountains marking the southeastern border of Judah. Clearly the people that inhabited the region had disobeyed God and would face punishment and the land would be made desolate.
  • 15 – So many of the prophecies and oracles end with the statement, “then they will know that I am the Lord” or something similar. The destruction and difficulty God was sending to these nations had a purpose. Clearly they were previously unaware that God was God alone, or they were simply unwilling for that truth to inform how they lived.
  • 8-15 – Not all the prophecies were bad. God promises to reestablish and repopulate the mountains of Israel. Here too he says that they will know he is God, but this time it’s because of the good he does for them.
  • 26 – A powerful verse describing how we become when we choose sin over and over again and then how God restores and transforms us.

James 1:1-18:

  • 2-4 – It is difficult to look at trials this way when we’re in the middle of them, but we can often look back at past trials and how God has sustained us through them. Hopefully, then, in the next trial we will remember God’s faithfulness in previous trials.
  • 12 – To remain steadfast is to remain faithful to God.
  • 13-15 – God does not desire for us to sin, so he does not lead us to sin.
  • 16-18 – These verses are the perfect answer to verses 13-15. God gives good gifts, not opportunities to sin.

Psalm 116:1-19:

  • 1-2 – God’s faithfulness to us should lead us to more faithfulness to him.

Proverbs 27:23-27:

  • 23-27 – The investment you put in those with whom you’re entrusted will benefit you later.

November 10 – Daily Notes – Amanda

gift wrap

The grace we receive through Jesus’ sacrifice is a free gift we cannot earn. Hebrews tells us, however, we do have a role to play. Our job, after we’ve received salvation is to pursue sanctification – the process of becoming more like Christ by turning away from our sins. But once you’ve received such a wonderful gift, wouldn’t you want to become more like the giver?

Ezekiel 21:1-22:31:

  • 1-17 – God has Ezekiel prophesy against Jerusalem letting them know that God has drawn his sword and will soon slay the wicked. This has to be terrifying to hear.
  • 18-32 – God will use the Babylonians and Ammonites to wield his sword against Jerusalem.
  • 6-12 – God reminds the leaders of Israel of their sins. It is known that the Babylonians and Ammonites, who God would use to destroy Jerusalem, also had great sins against God’s law, but since they were not God’s chosen people, they were not subject to God’s law.
  • 18-19 – Dross of metals is the impurities that float to the top when purifying it. When you melt silver, impurities rise to the top and are scraped off to assure the purity of the precious metal. Israel has now become the throw away portion of what was once precious.

Hebrews 10:1-17:

  • 5-7 – Jesus did not offer sacrifices other than himself. Jesus says that God does not desire sacrifices and offerings because the Israelites were using them incorrectly. They weren’t allowing themselves to be changed by the sacrifices but were simply using them as a chance to continue sinning.
  • 11-14 – Jesus’ sacrifice of himself offers us righteousness. It is our job though, to pursue the process of sanctification. This is the process of systematically turning away from sin and becoming more like Christ.

Psalm 108:1-13:

  • 1-6 – So many of the psalms are simply talking about how God deserves our praise. Note that there are always reasons listed why he deserves it. This one uses some of the phrases some of the others use, “your steadfast love is great”, “your faithfulness reaches to the clouds”. Try not to allow yourself to read over these quickly because you’ve heard it before. Think about what those things actually mean, it may compel you to offer God a little more praise than normal.

Proverbs 27:12:

  • Humans are designed to walk away from danger, but without wisdom, we tend to ignore our natural urgings. Wisdom keeps us safe.

November 8 – Daily Notes – Amanda

lists

Not everything we deal with or face is directly mentioned in the Bible. Gun violence is not mentioned…because there were no guns at the time. Today’s Ezekiel reading gives us a solid, though not exhaustive list of sins. Though we can’t get yes and no answers on every one of our questions on sin through this list, it does give us a good set of guidelines to start from.

Ezekiel 18:1-19:14:

  • 5-9 – There are many more laws listed in other parts of the Old Testament, but this list is meant to be general guidelines. If you’ve done these things, God will look with favor upon you.
  • 10-13 – Though not an exhaustive list of sins, definitely avoid these things.
  • 14-20 – This is good news! There had been instances of people being punished for their parents’ sins.
  • 26-29 – This reminds us that God is just and forgiving. Israel was the wicked one with every opportunity to turn away from sin. God would have forgiven them.

Hebrews 9:1-10:

  • This section explains the significance and practices associated with the Israelites’ temple. Jesus referred to himself as the temple when talking about being resurrected in three days. The past few days of Hebrews reading has explained how Jesus is a new edition of God’s plan to be connected with his people. This is a continuation of that.

Psalm 106:32-48:

  • 32-43 – These are a continuation of the examples of Israel’s unfaithfulness.
  • 44-48 – But there’s always hope in the end! God still offers forgiveness and opportunities for restoration.

Proverbs 27:10:

  • To have a friend you have to be a friend. And place a lot of value on those who are close and actually helpful rather than those who should be on paper, but actually aren’t.

November 6 – Daily Notes – Amanda

not fair

It is in our nature to question things. Often, we question God’s goodness because of things in the world we don’t like. We wonder if God is fair. We often forget that we actually don’t want God to be fair because we would be in a world of hurt if he was. Today’s Psalm reminds us that God is faithful even when we’re sinful. This is the kind of unfair we can really get behind.

Ezekiel 14:12-16:42:

  • 12-23 – God makes it clear that any one of the four acts of destroying an unfaithful city would suffice, but he has committed to all four acts against Jerusalem.
  • 1-8 – The vine is Jerusalem. God makes it clear that Jerusalem will be completely useless and easy to destroy now that it is separated from God.
  • 1-14 – God reminds Jerusalem that it is he who made the city great. It was nothing without him.
  • 15-22 – When they refer to Jerusalem “whoring”, it means that Jerusalem would give itself to any available idol worship or other god that presented itself. Jerusalem was not faithful to God.
  • 30-34 – God explains that Jerusalem’s actions weren’t even as beneficial as a prostitute’s. Even a prostitute gets some reward for her sins.

Hebrews 7:18-28:

  • 18-22 – This is a continuation of yesterday’s comparison between Melchizedek and Jesus. This continues to describe Jesus as superior to Melchizedek.
  • 28 – God still uses sinful people for his purposes, but we still have to look to Jesus, who was perfect, for salvation.

Psalm 106:1-12:

  • 6-12 – This psalm reminds us of God’s faithfulness even in the midst of our failings.

Proverbs 27:4-6:

  • 5 – Open rebuke gives a person an opportunity to self-correct. Hidden love has good intentions but doesn’t actually help the other out.

November 3 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Dr. Evil listening

It is pretty typical of people in my generation, who have a transformative faith experience as adults to point a finger at the church they grew up in saying, “We never talked about Jesus” or “I never really heard the gospel”, etc. I think this is false. I think it would be better stated from most of these people to say, “I never listened.” Today’s Hebrews reading explains to us that many of us hear the gospel but fail to listen so it has to be repeated over and over until we finally decide to let it sink in.

Ezekiel 7:1-9:11:

  • 1-13 – God declares a day of wrath and reckoning.
  • 14-22 – This section describes the shame and consequences that will fall upon the people during the wrath.
  • 1-18 – The Lord, in a vision, takes Ezekiel on a tour of the sinful, idolatrous acts the Israelites were committing in the temple.
  • 1-11 – This section is reminiscent of the Passover where you needed a certain sign to be saved. God said that the folks who did not approve of the abominations happening in the temple would receive a mark on their head and be saved while all others would be struck down.

Hebrews 5:1-14:

  • 7-10 – This may sound like Jesus was, at one point, not perfect. This is not the case. Instead, these verses suggest that Jesus did not have an easy path but still had to live and experience the challenges of human life and gain knowledge and experience.
  • 11-14 – This is so true of all of us. We hear and should be moved and changed by the gospel. Often we just hear it and do not allow it to change us. This causes us to need to hear the same soft message over and over.

Psalm 105:1-15:

  • This psalm, like several others, implores others to praise God and then reminds them of reasons why they should.

Proverbs 26:28:

  • Empty flattery does no good for anyone.

October 30 – Daily Notes – Amanda

drama

In Genesis, Esau loses his birthright after saying, “I’m so hungry I’m about to die!” He most likely was not about the die of hunger. When we’re cold we say, “I’m freezing!” and when hot, “I’m burning up!” We tend to over exaggerate our suffering. Though today’s psalmist sounds pretty dramatic, we have to remember that suffering is real and elicits great emotion in us.

Lamentations 2:20-3:66:

  • 1-27 – The author laments over the pain and sorrow of the exile and destruction of the Israelites and their land. But then the author offers hope. God’s faithfulness does renew continually.
  • 37-42 – The author recognizes that his people have sinned and are at fault and ultimately need to accept what they’re given.
  • 43-54 – The Israelites were shamed because it seemed that their God couldn’t take care of them or had forgotten them. They were both overtaken and humiliated.
  • 55-66 – The author clearly still has hope that God will restore his people.

Hebrews 1:1-14:

  • 3-4 – What a lovely description of Christ!
  • 8-12 – Christ cannot be placed on the same level as the angels. He is, instead, set apart and above the angels.

Psalm 102:1-28:

  • 1-11 – Though the psalmist’s words seem somewhat dramatic, our sufferings tend to illicit those kinds of thoughts. It is hard to see outside of difficulty and suffering and keep things in perspective.

Proverbs 26:21-22:

  • 21 – Hothead men tend to ignite controversy everywhere they go.

October 20 – Daily Notes – Amanda

Extended-Family

Paul makes it clear, in 1 Timothy, that it is the responsibility of the family to take care of their vulnerable members. The church is happy to assist when families are not capable, but this does not mean families should cast off their problematic family members knowing the church will pick up the pieces.

Jeremiah 35:1-36:32:

  • 1-17 – The Rechabites, though not Israelites, had lived among the Israelites since they came into the Promised Land. God is disappointed that though they were able to remain faithful, the Israelites were not.
  • 1-3 – Though God has declared destruction on Judah, he is clearly still giving them opportunities to repent.
  • 20-26 – The Lord gave Jeremiah words to help the Israelites repent and Baruch read them to them. When the words were given to King Jehoiakim, he tore them up and burned them in the fire, a clear sign of disrespect.

1 Timothy 5:1-25:

  • 1-2 – This is to show respect for your elders.
  • 3-8 – God does not look kindly on abandoning family members. Widows were particularly vulnerable because they had no form of income. Their children and grandchildren, if they had any, were to take care of them.
  • 9-16 – This is encouraging people who still have the ability to take care of themselves to do so so the church will have the means to take care of those who don’t.
  • 19-22 – Sins of those in leadership are viewed more harshly because leaders have been given more authority and more responsibility.

Psalm 89:14-37:

  • 19-37 – This portion of the psalm explains the special calling and blessing of David. The way the psalm describes him and the way the Lord saw him, definitely mimic descriptions of Christ.

Proverbs 25:25-27:

  • 26 – It is confusing when someone who is righteous chooses sin. This can cause non and new believers to stumble.
  • 27 – Seeking one’s own glory is similar to being overindulgent.

October 5 – Daily Notes – Amanda

shy away

Today’s proverb is awesome and convicting all at the same time. We tend to gloss over things and avoid calling out sin because we don’t want to judge, but sin is sin. It may not feel good to call it that, but avoiding the truth only hurts us and those who need to be called out.

Jeremiah 4:19-6:14:

  • 19-31 – Judah had become desolate, which was shameful. The people cried out in anguish over the sorrow of this.
  • 1-19 – Jeremiah tells God the people are not repenting. God declares his intent to punish them for their sins and even alludes to exile.
  • 20-31 – God reflects on the Israelites’ unwillingness to repent, how it has shaped them and declares that it’s absolutely necessary for him to punish them.
  • 1-14 – This is God’s warning to Jerusalem to repent or face certain consequences.

Colossians 1:21-2:7:

  • 24-29 – Paul considers his struggles and persecution worth it when people come to full faith in God.
  • 6 – You have the knowledge of who Christ is, now live in a way that shows it.

Psalm 77:1-20:

  • 1-9 – The psalmist wonders where God’s help is.
  • 10-15 – The psalmist, though feeling in need of God, is able to fall back on his experiences of God from the past to sustain him.

Proverbs 24:23-25:

  • 24-25 – Call a spade a spade. If someone is sinning, don’t compliment them for it or tell them it’s ok. Call out the sin.