An olive produces olive oil. An orange produces orange juice. This makes sense. Today’s proverb is interesting. It helps us understand that we can fake things for a while, but when push comes to shove, and things get really challenging, whatever is in us comes out. Kindness needs to be inside of us for it to come out when times are challenging. If bitterness and hate are inside us, that’s what will come out.
- 1-12 – These verses establish that Judah and Israel will be restored to greatness. The last few verses show the turning of the tides between those who are currently powerful and the Israelites.
- 7-16 – This is a difficult passage to understand. It is a vision that depicts a shepherd breaking covenants. Verse 16 speaks of a future shepherd who doesn’t seem to be describing Jesus.
- 17 – This verse makes it clear that the shepherd in the vision is not Jesus.
- 1-3 – This is basically describing Babylon in the worst possible fashion. It will be totally and utterly rejected.
- 4-8 – God will remove the Israelites from Babylon and it will pay for its wrongdoings against the Israelites.
- 3-4 – It makes so much more sense to put our trust in God than a human ruler who will die and no longer have any kind of power.
- 5-9 – These verses describe many of the reasons God is far superior to human rulers.
- When something is squeezed hard enough, whatever is in it comes out.
When is the last time you felt completely vulnerable and like you had no control over a situation? In today’s psalm, the psalmist likens the vulnerability of needing to mercy to that of a servant’s position to his master. Vulnerability is difficult for us, but it’s often good for us. We need, at times, to recognize there is nothing we can do to earn or acquire God’s mercy.
- 36-45 – The king of the north will not honor God, but will offer his affections wherever he finds favor. Ultimately, he will die defeated and alone.
- 1-12 – The man in linen explains what will happen in the end times, but Daniel doesn’t understand. The man in linen tells him that it’s ok, he’s not supposed to.
1 John 4:1-21:
- 1-6 – This section encourages us to use discernment in who we trust and listen to. It also explains the difference and reminds us that the Spirit of God is greater than the spirits of the world.
- 7-12 – The love we have for one another is love from God. God loved us first which then shows us how to love others.
- 18 – This is how we can decipher what is true love – it does not operate on fear.
- 1-2 – This is an act of total submission. Just as a servant looks to its master, so the psalmist is looking to God for mercy despite his sins.
- 2 – The righteous treat people well, but the wicked are hard on the people.
Are you more or less likely to live faithfully when in difficult situations? If we’re honest, most of us are less likely to live faithfully. We tend to grasp at anything that may be a way out of our current situation. But now that we’re reading Daniel, we have an excellent example of what it looks like to live faithfully in the worst of circumstances. We can learn a lot from this book.
- 1-2 – This is to set the scene that this story will happen while the Israelites are in exile.
- 8-16 – Like in many other stories in Scripture, it is important to trust in God for provision and not to rely on others in any way. Eating the king’s food and drinking his wine would have been a way of relying on and trusting in the Babylonians.
- 8-9 – The king asks the wise men to tell him what his dream means, but he refuses to tell them the dream.
- 20-23 – Daniel’s prayer is one of humility and seeking God’s wisdom and provision.
1 Peter 3:8-4:6:
- 13-15 – The way we live our lives is a big part of our witness. We must live righteously so people don’t have anything to question, but if they do anyway, we must be ready to share the gospel.
- 1-6 – As believers, we are called to live like Christ and leave behind our old ways.
- 67 – When we encounter God, it should show through a change in our lives.
- We harden our hearts through perpetually choosing sin over faithfulness. Perpetually choosing sin is guaranteed to destroy us.
We all hate admitting when we’re wrong. People might think we’re dumb or think we’re often wrong if they don’t have a good sample size. We want to seem competent and with it and we like to prove why we’re better than others. Today’s proverb reminds us, though, that the humility of admitting fault can free us and others in so many ways.
- 1-12 – Clearly this imagery is meant to be a metaphor for something else. Leading Ezekiel through the water of increasing depths may represent God leading us through deeper and deeper depths of trust. The good fruit growing out of the temple’s waters could represent God providing good things for the people.
- 13-23 – The land had to be re-divided between the Israelite tribes now that Israel is back from exile.
- 10 – The temple, though the original one was destroyed, was still designed to be the center of the Israelites’ existence.
- 35 – The Lord is There is one of the many names God is given throughout Scripture to describe something he has done for his people.
1 Peter 2:11-3:7:
- 11-12 – We know God doesn’t want us to fall to temptation and sin, but we rarely think of how negatively it affects us and we often fail to see the benefits of living faithfully.
- 18-25 – It seems ludicrous and completely unjust for us to endure punishment or suffering for something we’re not guilty of, but that’s what Christ did and sometimes we are called to endure as well. (These types of verses have also been used to justify things like domestic abuse. That is not what is intended by this passage.)
- 1-2 – Our kindness and goodness can often draw others to Christ.
- 3-6 – Outward beauty is fleeting, but inward beauty will always be beneficial.
- 54-56 – This speaks of a time when God’s word was a comfort when the psalmist was out of his element. God’s word can do the same for us.
- 13 – It is so hard to admit where we are wrong, but it brings freedom for us and others.
In today’s reading, Ezekiel continues to describe his vision of the second temple. Though the details may seem tedious and like you’ve heard it all before, note that he talks about the separation between the holy and common in the temple. Isn’t it incredible that, when Jesus was crucified, the temple curtain was torn and anything that separated us from God was removed!?! Praise God for making a way to connect with us!
- 13-20 – The separation between the holy space and the common space was torn when Jesus died for our sins.
- 43:6-9 – The temple cannot hold the fullness of God, but simply his footstool.
- 1-6 – Those who are rich and cruel on earth have already experienced their blessings.
- 12 – We shouldn’t need anything or anyone else’s trustworthiness to assure our own. Instead, we should simply be trustworthy so people will trust us.
- 16-18 – Righteous prayers can seek forgiveness and healing and receive them. Prayers are powerful. This passage gives evidence of that
- 1-8 – The psalmist seems so eager to follow God’s commands and understands that blessings come from obedience.
- 6 – Though this sentiment is unpopular in our society, wealth is far less important than integrity.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 1-2 – God’s faithfulness to us should lead us to more faithfulness to him.
- 23-27 – The investment you put in those with whom you’re entrusted will benefit you later.
We spend more time in Ezekiel and Hebrews this week.
Note that Ezekiel doles out a handful of warnings to various people groups, including the Israelites, of what is about to happen to them. Each of the punishments coming is due to that group’s sin, but regardless, it’s not going to be pretty.
Make a special note of a few things in Hebrews as well. In chapter 11, we encounter the “Hall of Faith” and then in chapter 12 we hear about a “cloud of witnesses”. Pay special attention to both of these. In the “Hall of Faith”, acts of faithfulness and trust are counted to people as righteousness. This isn’t a means of earning salvation, but is an opportunity to trust and know God more fully.
The cloud of witnesses is also something we should think about. Our cloud has not changed, only expanded. We can run faithfully towards Christ because so many have before us and because more and more people are living faithfully each day. Who is someone in your cloud?
One point Jeremiah touches on today and will continue to hammer home, is the ridiculousness of idolatry. Why would you worship something you can make and then can make again if something happens to that one. In other words, why would you worship something less powerful than you?
- 1-25 – This chapter states how ridiculous it is to follow and worship idols. With the power of God, why would anyone want to worship anything else?
- 1-23 – God knew the Israelites, though they had given themselves to a slew of idols, would cry out to him in times of trouble. He assures them that he will not hear their cries.
- 19-22 – Paul gives the Colossians a model for how to keep households operating in a loving and functional way.
- 23-24 – We often choose not to work hard or we try to take our frustrations out on our boss or company. Instead, we must remember that we are ultimately working to please God. We should remain faithful in our work because of this.
- 14 – This is the same Luke who wrote Luke and Acts.
- The psalm continues to speak of Israel, their unfaithfulness, and the consequences. This section ends with the hope of David coming as their faithful king to shepherd the people.
- This proverb simply teaches us to be trustworthy and not to seek revenge.
We have the ability and propensity to turn good things bad. In other words, things that God has given us for good, we tend to corrupt and pervert or make them into idols. In today’s Jeremiah reading, we find that the Israelites have begun to rely on the temple instead of using at as a tool that connects them to God, as God intended it. What are the temples in your life? Service? Family? Work?
- 15-30 – Jerusalem will soon face disaster.
- 1 – Jeremiah’s sermon in the temple begins.
- 4 – Though this phrasing may not sound like a problem, the reason they are deceptive words is because the people of Jerusalem felt that having God’s temple was their ticket to salvation. Like meaningless sacrifices, having the temple meant nothing if you weren’t following God.
- 8-15 – God planned to destroy the temple in order to destroy the peoples’ false sense of security. They were relying on it for an automatic connection to God but living unfaithfully.
- 13-15 – Whatever it is that we were trusting in before Christ is taken away.
- 16-23 – No one else gets to tell us that Christ has not accepted us or that we are unacceptable to him. Of course, we are called to lovingly call out one another’s sins, but ultimately it is Christ who justifies us.
- 5-8 – The testimony in Jacob was designed to teach younger generations about God. God does great things in our lives in order to bless us and then calls us to tell others about it.
- 9-20 – The Israelites continually had reason to trust in God and yet continued to question his faithfulness.
- Honesty is a blessing and is as pleasant as a kiss.
When we cheer for or celebrate the tragedies of others, God is not pleased. Today’s proverb reminds us of that. We may disagree with the person or their actions or principles, but we are not to find joy in their misfortune. Try to remember this nugget of wisdom next time you think someone “gets what they deserve”.
- 4-10 – Like several others called by God, Jeremiah has an excuse of why he can’t possibly be God’s instrument. God disagrees and assures him that he will.
- 13-14 – Babylon is to the north and eventually fulfills this prophecy.
- 18 – Jeremiah will be protected by God as long as he is serving God.
- 1-30 – Through Jeremiah, God remembers the connection he had with Israel and then how sharply they turned from him. They cannot deny how much they’ve forsaken him because he gives specific examples.
- 2 – Just so you don’t feel dumb, here are phonetic spellings of the two names here: You-o-de-uh and Sin-te-kay.
- 4-7 – When we release things to God in prayer, we are free not to worry anymore. God’s peace can comfort us and give us confidence that the situation will be resolved.
- 8 – This verse reminds us where our minds should be. We allow so much filth into our thought life, it is hard to be focused on the good, true, and pure.
- 10-13 – Paul doesn’t speak simply in “what if’s”, he had learned to trust God with a little or a lot.
- This psalm delineates the differences in the treatment of the righteous and the wicked.
- 17-18 – Everyone is God’s child. We should not gain joy from another’s misfortunes.