Prove it! This is yelled across many a junior high lunch table as one testosterone-rich adolescent boy claims he can do something that he most likely cannot. This is also basically what Paul says to the Philippians. Prove your salvation in front of others by living righteously and faithfully. This should be true of our lives too. If we are saved, it show in our words, actions, and decisions.
- 1-22 – God explains in great detail all the ways Israel will be restored to glory. When they went into exile God and the Israelites became a laughing stock. That would soon change.
- 1-2 – Jesus quotes this passage exactly in Luke 4:18-19 in his first public sermon.
- 1-11 – God declares his year of favor. Debts are forgiven. Those who suffer and mourn will be comforted…and a lot of other great stuff.
- 1-5 – God continues to proclaim wonderful restorative acts for Israel.
- 27-30 – Paul calls the Philippians to live with integrity in their faithfulness so that others who are watching would be convinced of their salvation.
- 1-11 – Paul calls the Philippians to humble themselves and serve in a similar fashion as Jesus did.
- Note that this psalm is written by David’s son, Solomon, the third king of Israel.
- Solomon asks for blessings for the king. This is presumably when he is starting out as king because it says that David’s prayers have now ended.
- We cannot claim ignorance and pretend not to know that people are moving towards death and destruction. If we ignore them, it says God will do the same to us.
This is one of those books that’s not exactly known for its encouragement…but it is helpful, grounding, and full of great advice.
Today we start a new book, Ecclesiastes. Have you ever felt like you’re spinning your wheels? Not getting anywhere? Making futile efforts? You’re not alone. Solomon felt that way too at times. But through all his searchings and efforts, he ultimately found truth. Ecclesiastes is worth your time.
- 9 – “There is nothing new under the sun” is repeated throughout Ecclesiastes. This is used to remind us that the triumphs, tragedies, as well as daily successes and annoyances, are not new to us. Others have experienced them before us and others will after us.
- 12-16 – The traditional understanding is Solomon wrote this book. He is identified as a king, in the line of David, and having greater wisdom than anyone else. Some modern theologians argue that the language suggests that it had to have been written after the exile and thus was someone else. It has not been proven that Solomon didn’t write it. (We will refer to the writer as Solomon throughout the notes for simplicity sake.)
- 17 – “Chasing/striving after wind” is a repeated phrase in Ecclesiastes too. This simply means that it is a futile effort.
- 1-11 – First, Solomon sought out pleasure in wild living and material things. He found out, as many of us could tell him from our own experiences, that wasn’t going to work.
- 12-26 – Solomon then pursues wisdom and working hard to gain wealth. Both also prove to be pointless because it puts you in no better position when you die.
- 1-8 – These verses will sound familiar because of the popular song by The Byrds. These verses explain that God made everything to run in its course in its allotted time. We will face the good and the bad, but nothing should overwhelm or overtake us because it is passing.
2 Corinthians 6:1-13:
- 3-10 – Paul lists the merits of his ministry. Their boasting is not in their own accomplishments, but their ministry is legitimized by all God has brought them through and done through them.
- It is not the fault of the child that he is foolish. It is his nature. It is the job of the parent to discipline him and lead him to wisdom.
We all are in need of salvation. Today’s Romans reading reminds us that when we receive salvation, the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Isn’t that incredible!?! The Spirit of the living God lives within us, guides us, and is our advocate! If you’ve been reading and haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to talk with you.
2 Chronicles 8:11-10:19:
- 17-18 – Solomon and Hiram worked together to control the trade routes through the Mediterranean. This was highly lucrative.
- 1-9 – The queen of Sheba’s visit both affirmed Solomon’s wealth and wisdom, and was most likely a strategic move on her part to get in on the trade route action.
- 1-15 – This story, also found in 2 Kings, is the sinful decision to not listen to wise counsel, which led to the ultimate split of Judah and Israel, which led to the exile of both parts of the Israelites. Our decisions have consequences.
- 9-11 – The good news of Jesus! Though our flesh is sinful, as believers, the Spirit is within us. It is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.
- 14-17 – Through salvation we are adopted into God’s family.
- This Psalm is still about when God released David from all of his enemies, including Saul.
- While yesterday’s half of the Psalm spoke directly to all the greatness of God, today’s looks a little more at how God’s greatness was able to make David great.
Sin and temptation are tough. There are so many that are flashy and draw us in. They promise to satisfy but leave us feeling empty. At the same time, as believers, we desire to follow God and obey his commands. We know his ways are better than the alternative, but those flashing lights are awfully enticing. It can feel like we’re in a bit of a tug-of-war. Paul felt the same way.
2 Chronicles 6:12-8:10:
- 18-21 – Solomon’s humility and awe of God’s willingness to dwell among people is eye opening. It truly is incredible that God has offered to dwell in this house made by humans among them.
- 22-42 – Solomon pleas with God to hear his people’s various prayers. This seems to be a type of dedicating prayer for the temple.
- 32-33 – These verses aren’t familiar to our cultural point of view. We have always been taught to welcome the outsider into church because we want more people to know Jesus. God’s people, the Israelites, had a much more exclusive mind set. The temple was built by them for them to connect with and worship their God.
- 11-22 – God confirms his pleasure in the temple and Solomon’s having built it. He assures Solomon of his loyalty to him, but also explains the consequences if Solomon is not faithful.
- 8-9 – This is an interesting delineation. Solomon is ok with having slaves from other people groups but refuses to have Israelite slaves. They, instead, become soldiers.
- 14-20 – An extremely convicting passage that could have been written by any one of us. We don’t want to sin, but that is our nature because we are human. Our flesh is weak and easily swayed.
- 21-25 – Most of us can probably relate to this kind of turmoil. We love God and want to serve him but also want to sin and are drawn to it.
- 1-8 – When people talk about their pasts being too much to overcome or wondering if the church will get struck by lightning if they walk in, you can point them to these verses. Salvation through Jesus is about life, not condemnation.
- David must have felt such relief. He had run from Saul so long and was constantly at war. You can almost hear the deep exhale in his words.
- David’s words explain the great power with which God works.
- 24 – This verse is basically repeated in Proverbs 26:15. Clearly Solomon was not pleased with laziness and did not believe it displayed godliness or wisdom.
Salvation and following Christ are designed for our benefit, not to crash our party or add a bunch of unnecessary rules. Yes, there are certain practices we’re asked to turn away from once we choose to turn towards Christ, but they do not ultimately benefit us anyway. Be sure to read the end of today’s Romans passage to understand what all following Christ offers us.
2 Chronicles 1:1-3:17:
- 7-13 – Solomon could have asked for anything from the Lord, but chose to think first of God’s people and what would benefit them. The Lord blesses this by also giving Solomon riches and honor.
- The temple Solomon built for God became the central point of Israelite life. It was destroyed in 586 B.C. when the Israelites were exiled to Babylon and later rebuilt. It was destroyed again by the Romans in 70 A.D. and has never been rebuilt. Many Jews believe it will be restored when the Messiah comes.
- 1-4 – Jesus’ generous gift of grace is not an excuse for us to keep sinning – since we know we’ll be forgiven. Instead, when we accept Christ as our Savior our lives are transformed and we desire to follow in Christ’s ways.
- 16 – We can’t follow after sin and righteousness. We must choose one or the other.
- 20-23 – This is a great argument for anyone who thinks the Christian life will be stifling or will take away their fun. Life in Christ leads to sanctification and eternal life, where a life in sin leads to death.
- 7-11 – When the Lord is our hope, we can be secure in knowing that we are cared for.
- 20 – God puts people in our lives to advise and guide us. We should pay attention to them.
Many people wonder if God’s law was a mistake since we don’t adhere to all of it anymore. Did God make a mistake? Are we still actually supposed to be following it? Are modern day Christians so much smarter than ancient Jews who followed the law? The answer to all these is a confident no. Romans reminds us that the law and prophets were extremely beneficial because they pointed us all to Christ. Christ is the fulfillment of the law and all the prophets’ words.
1 Chronicles 22:1-23:32:
- 1-5 – Though God did not want David to build the temple, he knew Solomon was supposed to so he helped make preparations for it.
- 6-10 – God had different purposes for David and Solomon. David was King of Israel during a time of war and he established Israel as a major power. God granted Solomon peace during his reign so he could build the temple.
- 11-13 – The Ancient Israelites were always sure to speak specific blessings over their children, particularly before they died. We would be wise to take on this practice.
- 5 – It’s pretty cool that a specific job was just to offer praise to the Lord all the time. Seems like a pretty sweet gig.
- 26-32 – The Levites’ job was to be the priests who fulfilled the rituals required by God.
- 19-20 – The law made it clear to those under it what was sinful. Those not under the law were not always aware of what they shouldn’t do leaving them innocent.
- 21-22 – Paul makes it clear that the Prophets and the law that the Jews held in such high esteem were by no means worthless. They all pointed to Jesus who can provide righteousness for all.
- 23-26 – We’re all sinners and require God’s mercy offered through the grace given to us through Jesus.
- 31 – As we read in the gospel, Jesus came to fulfill the law. He didn’t eliminate it, he fulfilled it for us.
- 5-8 – Because we have failed and have not taken care of the poor and needy, God needed to step in. We tend to celebrate wickedness, but God shows us what is good and right.
- 14 – Advice to choose your spouse wisely.
Now that we’ve read a little bit into the kings, let’s learn a little bit more about why we have these two books (that were once one). Warning: be prepared to be disappointed in humanity.
Everyone has a “bad idea friend”. They’re the friend who is always talking you into things that get you in trouble, cause you to make bad investments, and ultimately make life more difficult. Unfortunately, Rehoboam chose to listen to his “bad idea friends” instead of wise counsel. He had an opportunity to be a great king, but bad ideas get the best of him. It’ll make you think twice about who you take advice from.
1 Kings 11:1-12:19:
- 1-3 – Solomon knew the law and knew the reasoning for the law, but he was unable to withstand his desires and ultimately, it led to his downfall.
- 4-8 – David sinned, but never worshipped or offered any sort of allegiance to other gods. Solomon divided his heart between many gods, this breaks the first and most important commandment.
- 11-13 – God promised that David’s line would be on the throne as long as they were faithful to him. Solomon has already failed there. God had such love for David, though, that he allows his line to stay partially in leadership.
- 36 – It was important for David’s line to stay on the throne because Jesus eventually comes from David’s line.
- 40 – Clearly Solomon had strayed far from God if he was willing to oppose God’s will even to the point of killing God’s chosen future king.
- 6-8 – Rehoboam had a chance to be a beloved king. He only needed to listen to the wise counsel of the older men and lighten the load of the people.
- 8-15 – Rehoboam, instead, listens to his bonehead friends and chooses to increase the difficulty of the people. Rehoboam’s sin ultimately causes the split of the kingdom, which, over time, causes all kinds of problems and makes them so vulnerable that both parts of the kingdom are conquered.
- 2 – “The Way” is what early Christians were called.
- 3-16 – Certainly there were many people who persecuted the early Christians. God had a specific purpose for Saul – to minister to the gentiles – so he converted him dramatically.
- 20-22 – Saul’s conversion was so dramatic because he was well known for persecuting Christians. We know him as Paul, a faithful disciple, so it’s easy for us to believe what he says about practicing our faith, but those who had heard of him previously would have had a difficult time.
- This Psalm indicates humility and reliance, like a young child, on God.
- This proverb seems to describe the actions of a bully and how they will not prosper.
Have you ever been scared to share your faith? You didn’t want to offend someone or thought they might not be open to it? In today’s Acts reading, Stephen gives us a great example of how evangelism should go. The Holy Spirit gives us an opportunity – we’re put in the right position or feel an urge to say something – and then we should just go for it. When we think about it as good news, which it is, it gets a whole lot easier.
1 Kings 9:1-10:29:
- 1-9 – God makes it clear what he requires of Solomon and his line and the consequences if they disobey.
- This section is intended to show the vast wealth and resources that Solomon had. Clearly this was a time of plenty for Israel. Solomon and his relationship with God were responsible for it.
- 14-17 – It seems odd that the Samaritans received Christ and chose to be baptized but weren’t able to have the Holy Spirit until the apostles came.
- 26-38 – Philip was led into a clear evangelism opportunity by listening to the Spirit. We often wonder if we are supposed to share our faith or not in certain situations, but if we trust the Spirit to guide us, it will become clear.
- 3-4 – Our sins make us unworthy of connection with God, but he does not count them against us because of his grace.
- Throughout Scripture there is a theme of birthright and status not guaranteeing that you receive that is due to you. God does not judge as we judge, he looks at the heart.