Isaiah reminds us that our strength comes in repentance. Though it’s difficult and sometimes feels weak to admit wrong, do it anyway. Plus, Chicago encourages you to as well.
- 15-17 – Judah’s strength, and ours for that matter, is in repentance and humility before the Lord. Our strength is through him.
- 19-22 – Though the Israelites had faced a difficult time of oppression, God promises them that they will be restored to him. Vs. 21 is a powerful explanation of how God leads us through the Holy Spirit.
- 1-9 – The Kingdom of Judah feared the Assyrians, but God reminds them that their fear is misguided. They can trust in the protection of God no matter how scary their opponents are. They have no need to fear.
- 15-20 – Though so much of Isaiah speaks of punishment and difficulties the Israelites and other nations have brought upon themselves, there are glimmers of hope, like this passage, that remind the Israelites that there will be restoration one day.
- 1-12 – Once again, Assyria is in trouble.
- 1 – Christ died for us in order to set us free from the slavery of sin. Yet some of the Israelites were trying to put themselves back under the yolk of the law.
- 5-6 – We are no longer under any covenant other than that of Christ’s death and resurrection. We do not need to conform to those laws or practices, but simply need to rely on the grace of Christ.
- 7-12 – Like at the beginning of the letter, Paul is shocked that the Galatians have so quickly forgotten or turned away from what he taught them.
- 12 – This is obviously a little harsh, but also a play on the fact that those he opposes are teaching circumcision.
- 1-8 – David’s desire for God is unmatched by other followers. He equates his need for God with his need for sustenance.
Did God make a mistake by asking people to follow the law? If we’re not supposed to follow it now, why were people intended to follow it way back when? Today’s Galatians reading explains that the law was good, and though people were not able to follow it completely, it kept them within parameters until God sent Jesus, the ultimate fulfillment of the law.
- 1-12 – This prophecy tells of a time when God’s people will be brought back together. He will redeem them and squash the other nations who are harming and oppressing them.
- 7-15 – Here, the Israelites recognize the benefits of following the Lord. They begin to seek out the Lord and recognize things like God making their paths straight.
- 1-13 – God is clearly going to restore the Israelites, even those lost in battles and exile. He has plans to save them despite how bleak it looks during their punishments of exile.
- 10-14 – Paul is explaining that it is impossible for humans to obey the law fully and the law, by its nature, requires us to obey it fully. Thus, if we attempt to be justified through the law, we are doomed to fail.
- 21-22 – Paul explains that God didn’t give the law to the people in order to doom them. It was designed for them to follow but since they were unable, he gave them Jesus.
- 1-4 – A key theme of David’s psalms is that he trusts in the Lord for protection. He has clearly experienced this to be true and believes that God will continue to protect him.
- 17 – We often do envy sinners. Life seems easier for folks who actively engage in sin and it sometimes seems like they have all the fun. We are to look to something greater and longer term.
Sin tells us it’s not a big deal. Sin tells us it won’t hurt us. Sin often even tells us it’s good for us and will ultimately make us better. Sin lies. If it was always obvious how harmful sin is, we would probably avoid it more. But it hides in the bushes and lurks around waiting to attack. Today’s 2 Corinthians reading reminds us of just how deceptive sin can be.
- 1-15 – Now the judgment switches over to the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
- 16-26 – This judgment is directed towards “the daughters of Zion” – aka – Jerusalem.
- 2-6 – This is the plan for the future of Jerusalem after all the sinful folks are wiped out.
- 1-7 – This section describes Judah and Israel as a vineyard that has yielded wild grapes instead of the good, winemaking grapes that were intended. The vintner allows the vineyard to be destroyed.
- 6-23 – This is a series of laments of various ways people sin.
2 Corinthians 11:1-15:
- 3-6 – Paul fears that though the Corinthians are currently devoted to Christ and his gospel, they could easily be swayed.
- 12-15 – This is why it’s difficult to recognize sin. The devil, and those who follow him, make it difficult to decipher good from evil. They make them both look the same.
- 2-3 – This is not difficult to believe since both with Noah and Job, they seem to be the only faithful ones remaining. People corrupt one another and it grows exponentially.
- 6 – Though Jesus wasn’t from Jerusalem, that is where he died and thus salvation did occur in Jerusalem.
Though today’s Proverb isn’t to the point of McCarthyism, it does try to establish that the company we keep does influence who we are. If greed is a great temptation for us, we should not associate with those who get rich unscrupulously. If we struggle with lust, we shouldn’t hangout with people who frequent strip clubs. It makes good sense when you think about it.
Song of Solomon 5:1-8:14:
- 2-8 – Her lover comes to visit her but her teasing jokes accidentally send him away and she is unable to find him.
- 1-9 – His loving descriptions of her get a little racy.
- 6-7 – The woman declares that she and the man are inseparable. She also explains that the force of love cannot be resisted.
2 Corinthians 9:1-15:
- 6-8 – Sowing sparingly or bountifully doesn’t have to do with amount. Rather, it is about our willingness to give of what we have and trust God with what we’ve been given. We should not do so begrudgingly but cheerfully.
- 10-12 – Paul makes it clear that everything we have is from God and that God gives to us so that we can bless others.
- 1-6 – David is confronted with his sin and is in anguish.
- 7-12 – David asks God to forgive and cleanse him from his sins.
- 13-17 – David explains how he will act in response to God’s forgiveness.
- We have to be careful with the company we keep. They can tend to influence us into their own sin if we have any weakness in that particular area.
In today’s Job reading, Elihu encourages Job to repent, but Job feels that he has nothing to repent of. Though Job may have been right, the conversation brings up a good point: we all require repentance. Repentance is hard because it means turning away from sin and sin is often enticing. So, if I may briefly play the role of Elihu, is there something you need to repent of today?
- 1-40 – Job makes a case for his high moral standards. He seems to be willing to accept his plight as punishment if sin can be found in him.
- 2 – Elihu is a new character and an Israelite.
- 6 – Age, experience, and establishment were highly revered in their culture. They saw the elderly as wise. We tend to see them as having lost their edge.
- 1-33 – Elihu tries to relate to Job so that Job will listen to him and then explains that God is continually trying to steer people away from sin. Elihu also suggests that Job’s experience may have been God giving him an opportunity for repentance.
2 Corinthians 3:1-18:
- 1-3 – This is to say that the faithful Corinthians were proof of Paul and his companions’ efforts to share Christ with the nations.
- 4-6 – “The letter” refers to the law. It led to death because people could not follow it and remain righteous while the Spirit is given to us upon salvation and thus gives life.
- 16-18 – The Spirit brings freedom from sin and death.
- 3 – This is actually a pretty bold request, because if God sends his light and truth to lead you, then that’s what you have to follow. We aren’t always willing to make that commitment.
- These verses give the consequences of the actions mentioned in yesterday’s proverb and then offers an alternate option.
Job makes a good point in today’s reading. It is one that many of us, who are trying to live faithfully, have thought about at some point. Punishment and suffering don’t always seem to coincide with sin. In fact, many sinful people seem to get ahead because of their sin. Throughout Scripture God calls us to faithfulness and promises to reward it. That reward may not come in this lifetime, but we know that God’s promises are true and we can trust him.
- 1-29 – Zophar continues to tell Job about the fate of the unfaithful. He explains that they start off wealthy and blessed but God takes that away because of their unfaithfulness. This suggests that this is what is happening to Job.
- 1-34 – Job responds to Zophar in disagreement. He explains that wicked people seem to do just fine and that wickedness and negative life results do not seem to coincide.
- 1-30 – Eliphaz once again tries to get Job to see his sin, because, due to what is happening, it must be abundant. Eliphaz encourages him to try to get back to right relationship with God.
2 Corinthians 1:1-11:
- Second Corinthians is Paul’s second letter to the church of Corinth. It is the same church he wrote to in 1 Corinthians, not two separate churches.
- 3-7 – Paul is referring to persecution against Christians when he talks about the suffering he endures for the salvation of the Corinthians.
- David is clearly in turmoil here and is weighed down by many burdens, but he ends with faith that God will take care of him. This is a good lesson for each of us. Times get difficult and we can feel weighed down, but we can always turn to God.
- 2 – Both the society of the original hearers of these proverbs as well as our current society tend to rank people. Money is one of the biggest ranking scales. But God sees beyond our monetary wealth.
- 3-4 – Throughout Proverbs there is a continual juxtaposition between the wise and the foolish, their actions, and their results. These verses continue to spell this out.
The old saying, “choose your friends wisely” is never more true than in Job. Job has three friends who continually try to convince him that any suffering he’s facing is because of his sin or the sins of those around him. They try to explain things they have no knowledge of, and ultimately, they do no strengthen Job’s faith, but cause him to question it. Do your friends encourage your faith?
- 1-22 – Job’s friend, Bildad, has a similar response. He tells Job his kids had sinned against God and thus got what they deserved. Bildad encourages Job to turn back towards God because surely then God would not reject him.
- 9:1-35 – Job continues to show reverence to God and admit that he doesn’t know the depths of reasoning that God does.
- 11-1 – Zophar is Job’s third friend.
1 Corinthians 15:1-28:
- 3-11 – Paul recaps the gospel to the Corinthians and assures them that it doesn’t matter who they initially heard the gospel from.
- 12-19 – The idea that people would not one day be resurrected had gotten out amongst the Corinthians. Paul squashes this.
- 8-16 – David admits his own weaknesses and struggles and confesses that all those around him torment him.
- 28 – Though it is inconvenient and hurtful to be lied against, it will pass away.
Speaking in tongues is one of those things that people use as an example of why Christianity is weird. Many Christians are even totally turned off by it. Speaking in tongues is a gift of the Spirit, so it, in and of itself, is a good thing. The discomfort is often because we are simply not familiar with speaking in tongues or that gift is being used incorrectly. Paul goes to great lengths in our 1 Corinthians reading to explain how and when this special gift should be used. Hopefully this will clear up a little confusion and assuage some fear.
- 4:1-5:27 – Job’s friend, Eliphaz, suggests that it is Job’s sin that has brought his troubles about. While sin does bring on some of our afflictions, ancient cultures believed that all infirmities and difficulties (i.e. blindness or paralysis) were brought on by the sin of you or your parents.
- 6:1-7:21 – Job’s response asks to be shown whatever sin he has. He ends by asking God why he won’t take the pain and torment off of him.
1 Corinthians 14:18-40:
- 18 – Paul says this to explain that he’s not jealous of the Corinthians for being able to speak in tongues, because he can too. Paul spends a good amount of time explaining the proper use of tongues. Clearly the Corinthians were using them incorrectly.
- 20 – A good contrast. Be young in your knowledge and experience of evil. Be wise and mature in your thought.
- 22- This simply means that tongues gain the attention of unbelievers while prophecy serves that purpose for believers.
- 26-33 – Paul is trying to teach the Corinthians how to appropriately use their gifts so they can build up the body instead of confuse it.
- 31 – When the law of God is on our heart, it is considerably easier to follow it.
- Proverbs says similar things in 15:8 and 15:29. Sacrifices from the wicked are not given with the heart that they are intended.
Job is a tough book to read for a number of reasons, but there are a number of takeaways. One major one is in today’s reading. Job reminds us that the Lord gives and thus it is God’s right to take those things away as well. He confirms, though that either way, whether in blessing or wanting, the name of the Lord should be blessed. Here’s a musical version of the same concept:
- 1 – “Blameless and upright” is a description very few people in the Bible receive. Noah, before the flood, was described in a similar way.
- 5 – Job even hedged his bets by sacrificing for his children just in case they were sinful without his knowledge.
- 6-12 – Satan challenged God saying that Job was only faithful because God had, until then, protected him and all his things. God disagrees and allows him to torment Job in order to prove his faithfulness.
- 20-22 – After all the turmoil and trauma Job received back to back to back, he grieved but did not curse God like Satan said he would.
- 3-6 – This time God allows Satan to strike Job with any kind of personal illness as long as he doesn’t kill him.
- 9 – This must be what Proverbs warns against when it talks about basically anything being better than living with a quarrelsome wife.
- 10 – It is obviously much easier to receive the good God gives us, but Job reminds us that we can’t expect the good without being willing to receive bad too.
- 3-26 – Job basically wishes he was never born.
1 Corinthians 14:1-17:
- 5 – Speaking in tongues, unless it is interpreted for the body, is intended to be between that person and God.
- 16-17 – Speaking in ways others can understand is important in the larger body. Paul gives the example that it then allows someone to say “amen” in agreement with what you’ve said. They can only do that if they understood what was said.
- 14-17 – These verses basically explain that wicked people and the Lord are at war over the poor and needy. The wicked try to take them down while the Lord makes sure to lift them up.
- 23-24 – Even though we stumble and struggle at times, if we are faithful, the Lord keeps us from total destruction.
- 26 – What a powerful verse! When we are lazy and sloth-y, we tend to constantly want and need. The righteous, on the other hand, are willing to give and give abundantly.
Sin causes separation from God. That is a terrible consequence and should be enough to deter us, but often times, it’s not. Today’s psalm also reminds us that sin has additional consequences. Sin also hurts us and causes us pain and misery. Sounds like we should do our best to avoid it.
- 15-32 – This is a continuation of all the people who help repair the walls of Jerusalem. It is powerful to listen to how they all worked one after another to fix section after section of the wall and gates.
- 7-9 – The strength of a city wall was very important during foreign attacks. The enemies of the Israelites did not like that their walls were getting stronger and thus their city was more protected.
- 1-13 – The wealthy and powerful were taxing those who had less. Nehemiah made them stop because this was weakening them when they were trying to rebuild their city.
1 Corinthians 7:25-40:
- 25-35 – Paul had a mindset that Jesus might be coming back tomorrow. He lived his life in a way to be prepared for that. His advice to the unmarried folks of his day was that it would be better and easier for them to stay unmarried instead of being distracted by a marriage relationship.
- 36-40 – Paul isn’t saying that marriage is bad. He’s just saying people can focus on God better if they stay unmarried.
- 1-5 – David gives thanks to God for forgiving his sins and in so doing gives instructions on how to seek forgiveness.
- 10 – Sin is evil against God, but it also makes life more difficult for the sinner.
- 5 – The Proverbs encourage us over and over again to think through our actions and decisions and not act hastily.