Welcome to John! He starts his gospel off with a bang. Clearly referring to the beginning of Genesis, he starts off with, “In the beginning…”. John’s gospel, from the beginning, and throughout the entire book, is very different from the other three gospels. While each gospel has a specific purpose, John’s is stated at the end. He explains that this gospel was written so that we would believe that Jesus was the Messiah. So…read carefully.
- 1 – Being the son of a prostitute was shameful in their culture, but it’s clear that God is willing to use him anyway since he was a mighty warrior. You may also notice that people’s tribes are mentioned quite a bit in this book. Because the Israelites had mixed with other people groups so heavily, it was important to differentiate who were actual Israelites by mentioning their tribe.
- 24 – Ancient cultures believed that the side with the mightier god would win a battle. This is why Jephthah calls out the Amorites god, Chemosh.
- 30-40 – Note that God does not ask for this sacrifice from Jephthah, he foolishly offers it up and it costs him the life of his daughter. This is why we are to give and do what God asks of us, not decide for ourselves what God wants.
- John’s gospel is different from the other 3, which are known as the Synoptic Gospels. They all draw from each other, while John’s gospel does not as much. John’s gospel is where we find the “I am” statements. These are statements where Jesus says, “I am…” and reveals something about himself.
- 1 – “The Word” is Christ. This explains to us that Christ has been present from the beginning. He did not enter into existence at birth, but always been just as God the Father has always been.
- 6-8 – This refers to John the Baptist. Many wondered if he was the one they had waited for, but he was not, he simply came to prepare the way for Christ.
- 9-13 – Christ came first to save the Jews, his own people, but many did not recognize him or believe that he was the Messiah. All who did were made children of God.
- 14 – “The Word became flesh” explains the coming of Christ as a human. Instead of the birth narrative we read in Matthew and Luke, this explains the coming of Christ.
- 17 – Moses gave the law. Grace and truth came through Jesus. The law did not make room for grace, but God offered that through Christ.
- 20-23 – John does not claim to be anything he’s not, but quotes Isaiah, a verse the religious leaders would have certainly known, and explains that he’s preparing the way for the Messiah to come.
- This Psalm of David would be an excellent one to read or recite when faced with temptation or to start your day with the intent of living righteously. “I will ponder the way that is blameless.” “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.”
- 14 – There are a number of references in the New Testament to bad sources only producing bad fruit and good sources only producing good fruit. We cannot expect to produce great things if our hearts are not great as well.
Temptations are all around us. They’re so sneaky that at times, we don’t even know we’re being tempted. And though sin can be avoided, temptation cannot always be, but it is incumbent upon those of us who are believers to not create or introduce temptations to others. Instead, it is our job to lead others closer to Christ.
- 14-15 – Note that the Israelites and Joshua did not ask God what they were supposed to do in this situation.
- 19 – This is the reason the gospels say to “let your yes be yes and your no be no” and not to swear by God or anything else. They’ve made a promise with the Hivites that was not sanctioned by God and could cause them to have to disobey God’s instructions later.
- 12-15 – Sometimes it is hard for us to believe in some of the miracles described in the Bible, but we are told that with God all things are possible and we know that he is not constrained by the same things we are.
- 19-31 – We are often consumed with our own comfort on earth, but this story clearly tells us that comfort on earth is fleeting. It is our job to help comfort the afflicted while on earth and then enjoy comfort in heaven.
- 1 – Temptations are inevitable in life, but far be it for us to provide those temptations for others, particularly those who are earlier in their faith journey.
- 3-4 – We are not to judge, but we are to lovingly call people out for their sins. We are also called to forgive as we’ve been forgiven.
As has been a continual theme throughout the first 5 books of the Bible, known as the Torah, God asks the Israelites to go to any and every length to avoid temptations that would draw them towards other gods. We think some of them sound extreme, but we could probably stand to cut a few things out of our lives that tempt us away from God.
- 1-3 – We often wonder if God puts us through tests. Though our theology would lean towards “no”, this is an example of the Israelites’ faith being tested through false prophets.
- 6-11 – The Israelites were instructed to go to any length to not be led away from God. We could probably cut certain things out of our lives in order to avoid being tempted by other gods.
- The rules Moses is telling the Israelites are not new ones. He is reiterating ones that were given in Leviticus.
- 28-29 – Their tithe was used to take care of those who could not take care of themselves.
- 1 – The 7th year was known as the Jubilee when all debts were forgiven and possessions were returned to their rightful owner.
- 6 – It was important for the Israelites not to borrow from anyone else so that no one else could boast that they had contributed to Israel’s wealth or prosperity. God alone was the giver of their blessings.
- 13 – This continual reminder should keep Israel from ever having pride in their own accomplishments but in God’s alone.
- 48 – Here Jesus attributes the woman’s healing to her own faith. Sometimes he would attribute the miracle to the person and sometimes to God. What makes this difference?
- Jesus tells Jairus and his wife not to tell of the miracle he performed but he did not tell the bleeding woman not to tell anyone.
- 20-21 – Often we feel alone and desperate when we are at our lowest, but this reminds us that God raises up again in time.
In today’s Deuteronomy reading, God knows the Israelites will be afraid to face their enemies who are bigger and stronger. He needs them to know that he is with them and he will make a way for them. He reminds them of the way he made away for them as they escaped the Egyptians. Our memories of what God has done for us previously can help is tremendously in trusting him with our next steps.
- It is difficult to read that entire people groups were destroyed by God’s command. We wonder where God’s mercy is, but verse 10 reminds us that his punishments were in return for people who hated and mocked him. In fact, God’s love and protection for the Israelites should be seen as an extension of immense mercy since they also often disobeyed God. We can also extend this thought that anything good that comes to us is an act of great love from God since we too disobey and mock him continually.
- 1-5 – Moses explains to the Israelites why they must wipe out the other people groups. God commands this in order to protect them from the temptations they will certainly fall to to worship other gods.
- 17-19 – God knew that the Israelites would be fearful to face those they were to fight, but they are reminded of God’s intervention with the Egyptians so they can have confidence that he will be faithful again.
- 3 – Though the Israelites were so worried about food throughout their time in the desert, God provided miraculously to help the Israelites rely on him, not food. Jesus also quotes this verse when tempted by the devil in the desert.
- 11-20 – A great reminder for us today that God is the giver of all of our gifts and we shouldn’t abandon him once we’re comfortable.
- 36-40 – Jewish custom, at the time, did not allow men to touch or speak to women they weren’t married or related to. It is also presumed that this woman was a prostitute, which added extra scandal to the mind of the Pharisee.
- 41-50 – This is not encouragement to sin more so we can be forgiven, but instead to be aware of our sinful nature and need for forgiveness so we can be grateful for the gift we’ve been given.
- 2-3 – Just like he focused on Mary’s perspective rather than Joseph’s in the birth narrative, Luke tends to include and highlight the participation of women in ministry.
- When David seems to be abandoned by everyone, he still has God to reach out to.
In today’s Deuteronomy reading we find the passage our children’s ministry is based on: Deuteronomy 6:4-9. It encourages us to be so immersed in the Bible that it is natural to teach it to our children as we spend time with them daily. I’d say reading the Bible every day for a year is a pretty great way to start the immersion.
- Moses reminds the Israelites of the 10 Commandments the Lord gave them. This is a bit of an extended version of the commandments.
- 4-9 – This is the passage our children’s ministry uses as a guide. It encourages parents to pass down to the faith to their children and encourages families to keep God’s Word at the forefront.
- 10-15 – We often take pride in the things we have even when we did not earn or work for them. This often leads to relying on entities other than God.
- 16 – Jesus quotes this when he is tempted by the devil in the desert.
- 25 – When we put our faith into action, it is counted to us as righteousness.
- 11-17 – This woman would have been in bad shape. Widows relied on male relatives to take care of them after their husbands died and this was her only son who had just died.
- 18-19 – John believed that Jesus was the Messiah but needed confirmation.
- 22-23 – Jesus quotes the same part of Isaiah that he did in the synagogue in chapter 4. But he leaves one significant line out: that the prisoners would be set free. John was in prison at the time and would most likely understand that Jesus was saying he would not be released, but that Jesus was the Messiah.
- 26-27 – Jesus confirms that John was the messenger the prophets foretold and he is the Messiah for whom the messenger was to prepare the way.
In today’s psalm, David sounds like a man who would not let anything stand in the way of his pursuit of God. He hungered and thirsted for God. This relentless pursuit leaves me feeling both convicted, “I don’t think I have that kind of passion.” and inspired, “I want to pursue God with that kind of fire.” What about you?
- Killing the women and male children seems extremely harsh, but the Israelites were always tempted to mix with other nations when they weren’t completely wiped out. Moses reminds them of their indiscretions in Peor caused by their unwillingness to follow God’s commands completely.
- During Jesus’ temptation he is physically weak but is filled with the Holy Spirit. This can teach us a lot about what we truly need.
- Both Jesus and the devil use Scripture. Jesus uses it to remain faithful to God. The devil twists it to try to cause Jesus to sin.
- 18-19 – Jesus establishes his purpose throughout his ministry.
- 24-30 – Jesus’ words are offensive to those in the synagogue because he is suggesting that they will not be healed. They try to kill him but clearly his purpose wouldn’t be fulfilled through that death so he is able to escape from them.
- The fervor with which David seeks and longs for God is both convicting and inspiring.
A lot of times we get caught up in how many times the people in the Bible screw up. We’re appalled! How can these people not GET IT! Today, in Numbers, we get to read about a handful of people who make faithful decisions. Pay attention to Eldad, Medad, Joshua, and Caleb today. Let them give you a little hope that faithfulness is possible.
- 26-30 – Eldad and Medad are examples of God using ordinary people who haven’t necessarily gone through all the expected requirements to be holy people.
- 12 – Clearly Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ siblings, were in the wrong for speaking against Moses, God’s chosen servant. It does seem odd, though, that only Miriam was punished.
- 25-33 – Of all the spies, only Joshua and Caleb believed they could overcome the inhabitants of their promised land. The others did not trust that God would give them what he promised because it looked impossible to them.
- 36 – A great example of how we should pray. We present all our requests to God, but always have an attitude of submitting to His will.
- 38 – Jesus’ words, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” is true of us in a number of temptations we face. We intend to do God’s will and honor him, but often our ability to withstand it is too weak.
- 51-52 – The mention of this young man is found nowhere else in the Bible and has very little explanation.
- Those who seek salvation and/or security in anything but God will falter.
- God cares about the way we conduct business. He cares about the morals and ethics we show to the world.
Yes, we’ve been waiting for over 2,000 years and, who knows, we may still be waiting for a while. Many people have tried to find clues and solve equations to figure out when Jesus is coming back, but the truth is, God said no one knows. We are instructed, however, to always be ready, which means to remain faithful in all circumstances.
- This section of reading is a variety of rules for living in society.
- 22-24 – Throughout Scripture, widows and orphans get special protection.
- 29-30 – Often we give from what we have left over after we’ve spent as much as we want. We are to give from our first and best.
- 1-7 – Many people try to predict the end of the world based on various Scriptures and what they perceive to be the fulfillment, but Scripture says no one knows the timing.
- 27 – We don’t need to believe folks like David Koresh who come and say they are the Messiah. Scripture says we’ll all know when Jesus is back.
- Sin and temptation are attractive, constantly available, and trying to draw us in at all costs.
Each of us, to some degree, fear and dread rejection of all kinds. In verse 10 of today’s psalm, David talks about God welcoming him in when he was rejected even by his parents. Like it may be to you, this was real for David. When Samuel came looking for the next king, David’s father, Jesse, marched his other seven sons in front of him, but not David. Even in painful rejection, we can know God’s love and acceptance.
- 8 – Since when were they at war?
- 9 – Joshua begins as a war hero and becomes Moses’ right-hand-man
- 10-13 – Moses, with the help of Hur and Aaron, play a major role in defeating the Amalekites
- 15 – The Lord is My Banner – or Jehovah-Nissi – is one of the many names Bible characters give God based on their experiences with him
- 13-23 – Jethro encourages Moses to create a system of government – to delegate and form a type of disciple
- 1-11 – God promises to make the Israelites his most treasured possession if they obey his commands. They agree. They would even hear God speak with Moses.
- 37-39 – one of the few times Jesus answers a question directly
- 2-3 – we should listen even to hypocrites, we just shouldn’t do what they do
- 5 – Phylactery – small box filled with Scripture men tie to their foreheads while they pray
- 5 – Fringes – Orthodox Jewish men wear a garment with 8 fringes and 5 knots that represent the 613 laws of Moses to help them remember to follow them
- 12 – The 2nd time recently to remind us that when we exalt ourselves we’re humbled but when we humble ourselves we’re exalted
- It is all of our hope that when we make the effort to seek God he will show up
- 10 – This was literal for David. When Samuel came looking for the next king, Jesse offered up David’s 7 older brothers but not him.
- 13 – During any struggle, this is a great promise. Despite horrible circumstances, you will see God’s goodness again.
- We cannot continually place ourselves in the way of temptation and expect not to fall