September 18 – Daily Notes – Amanda

go-through-motions

Today’s Isaiah reading talks about folks who play the part and go through the motions but don’t actually live faithfully or love God fully. This is still an issue in churches today. We show up and perform faithful looking acts, but have no intention of allowing ourselves to be transformed into the likeness of Christ.

Isaiah 28:14-30:11:

  • 16-18 – Here Isaiah refers to a cornerstone. Some believe that this is a Messianic prophecy like when Jesus is referred to as the cornerstone on which others will break themselves.
  • 23-29 – Just as the farmer knows the proper ways to care for his crops, God knows the proper ways to care for his people.
  • 9-12 – The Holy Spirit reveals more of God to those who believe.
  • 13-16 – Many people claimed to love and follow God, they even participated in many of the rituals, but their hearts and actions were not faithful.
  • 22-24 – God foretells a time when the Israelites will return to faithfulness.

Galatians 3:23-4:31:

  • 23-29 – People, as we still do today, were constantly looking for what separated them or made them better or more worthy. Paul makes it clear that once you have been baptized into the faith, we are all equal in the sight of the Lord and heirs to God’s inheritance.
  • 4-7 – Jesus’ being a Jew and being born under the law gave him legitimacy to the Jews.

Psalm 62:1-12:

  • 1-7 – David repeats himself regarding his trust in who God is and how he offers great protection. It might be helpful sometimes to repeat to ourselves reasons why we trust in God.

Proverbs 23:19-21:

  • Solomon did not advocate laziness.

September 17 – Daily Notes – Amanda

judge ito

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.

Isaiah 25:1-28:13:

  • 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.

Galatians 3:10-22:

  • 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.

Psalm 61:1-8:

  • 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.

Proverbs 23:17-18:

  • 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.

September 15 – Daily Notes – Amanda

cat wedding

When we get married many of us are thrown off by the way our spouses do things: squeezing toothpaste from the middle of the tube, loading the dishwasher differently, opening present on Christmas Eve, etc. Jews had become Christians and gentiles who had become Christians entered into a similar marriage. They had to decide on how certain things needed to be done. Addressing these discrepancies is a major purpose of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

Isaiah 19:1-21:17:

  • 1-15 – This is the prophecy against Egypt, who was the nation that enslaved Israel.
  • 16-25 – These sections elaborate on what’s going to happen and let them know that they will be turned to the Lord.
  • 1-6 – Yes, you read that right. Isaiah walked around naked and barefoot. This was to represent the humiliation Israel’s enemies would feel upon defeat.
  • 1-17 – These are prophecies against Babylon, Dumah, and Tema. Though Dumah and Tema are fairly unknown, Babylon would soon overthrow the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Galatians 2:1-16:

  • 7-8 – Peter’s mission was to share Christ with the Jews while Paul’s was to share Christ with the gentiles. They were equally important missions.
  • 11-14 – The “circumcision party” was a group of people who believed that salvation still required the outward symbol of circumcision. These were folks who were Jewish but became believers. Paul did not believe circumcision was necessary.
  • 15-16 – Paul lumped circumcision in with any other work someone said was required for salvation.

Psalm 59:1-17:

  • David clearly trusts God in the midst of enemies who are hunting him to kill him. David does hope for his enemies to be punished for what they’ve done to him.

Proverbs 23:13-14:

  • Though we may not agree with the method, it is clear that the Proverbs believe in disciplining and teaching children the right way.

September 13 – Daily Notes – Amanda

yoda rules

Do you remember as a kid when your parents gave you rules you didn’t like? Didn’t you always think either they were just being mean or that it was to make things easier on them? The truth is, for the most part, rules are for the good of the child. This is similar to Paul’s message today in 2 Corinthians. He is asking them to remain faithful for their good, not for his own.

Isaiah 12:1-14:32:

  • 2 – The second half of this verse is repeated two other times in Scripture: Exodus 15:2 and Psalm 118:14. It is a powerful thought that God acts first as our strength and this leads him into the roll of our salvation.
  • 13 – This begins a 10 chapter series of prophecies against various nations.
  • 1-22 – This section is aimed at Babylon. In later years, Babylon would destroy Jerusalem and complete the exile of all of the Israelites out of their promised land. This hasn’t happened yet though.
  • 3-23 – This prophecy is a bit of taunting toward the Babylonian king.

2 Corinthians 13:1-14:

  • 1-3 – Clearly the Corinthians were questioning the validity of Paul’s message and it was showing in their actions.
  • 5-10 – Paul is doing everything he can to ensure the Corinthians return to faithfulness. He assures them that he is not asking this of them for his own sake, but for theirs. He hopes to not have to come down on them when he visits.

Psalm 57:1-11:

  • David writes this psalm as his life is in peril. He remains faithful through it and puts his trust in God. He even promises to tell others about these great things God has done.

Proverbs 23:9-11:

  • 10-11 – Moving a landmark amounted to stealing it. Entering the fields of the fatherless would be to wrong someone who is powerless. These wrongs would be avenged.

September 12 – Daily Notes – Amanda

trust fall

As a culture, we are terrible at trusting God. Most of it is due to our conditioning. We have the means to take care of most things ourselves. We might pray about a situation, but ultimately we know we’ll be the ones to fix it. When we lose a job, we pray about it, but when we get a new job we normally credit ourselves with our diligent work. Prayer was mostly lip service. In today’s psalm, David trusts God in a dire situation. We can learn a lot from his depth of reliance on God.

Isaiah 10:1-11:16:

  • 5-19 – God used Assyria to punish Israel when Assyria toppled Israel, but now God is speaking against them because they have overstepped their bounds and are going after Jerusalem.
  • 20-23 – Though the Israelites in the Northern Kingdom were occupied by Assyria and only a few remained, they were able to have hope because God said they would eventually be able to return to relying on him.
  • 24-27 – God assures Judah that they will not be overtaken by Assyria like Israel was.
  • 1-16 – This is another Messianic prophecy. The root of Jesse refers to Jesse, David’s father. Jesus was from David’s line and thus part of Jesse’s family. This passage refers to the great power and influence the Messiah would have.

2 Corinthians 12:11-21:

  • 14-15 – Paul describes himself as a type of spiritual father to the Corinthians explaining that he was not trying to get anything from them. He was just trying to offer them salvation. His goal was to give to them, not take away.
  • 20-21 – Paul was fearful that the Corinthians were not actually living faithfully and he would be confronted with a failure in his ministry.

Psalm 56:1-13:

  • David, though faced with a life-threatening situation, is able to put his full trust in God. He makes a powerful statement saying, “what can flesh do to me?” He understands that God is in control no matter how scary circumstances look.

Proverbs 23:6-8:

  • This is a warning against false kindness and false generosity.

September 11 – Daily Notes – Amanda

friendship bracelets

Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Or worse, have you ever betrayed a friend? In today’s psalm, David feels the pain of betrayal at the hands of a friend. Though this is always the risk, we know that God designed us to be in relationship and that, though betrayal is excruciating, the benefits of relationship are worth the risk.

Isaiah 8:1-9:21:

  • 11-15 – The Lord becomes a safe place to those who follow him but becomes a stumbling block for those who oppose him.
  • 1-7 – A prophecy describing the Messiah that is to come. Enjoy this musical interpretation of this powerful prophecy.
  • 8-21 – This foretells the coming demise of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Though God’s hand is still available, the people continue to walk towards evil and destruction.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10:

  • 7-9 – Most theologians believe that Paul did have some sort of infirmity that he wanted to get rid of but could not. This kept him humble and may have also been a hindrance from moving quickly and traveling easily.
  • 10 – It is often our difficulties that cause us to better relate to others with difficult conditions. They also allow us to be more thankful. Paul also realized that these are often the places where we are actually strongest.

Psalm 55:1-23:

  • 12-15 – David was betrayed by a friend, which, as we all know, hurts much more than when we’re hurt by an enemy or stranger.
  • 16-19 – David has great trust in the Lord to take care of him despite the ill intentions of his enemies.

Proverbs 23:4-5:

  • Though wealth seems to bring earthly status, it is fleeting and not worth spinning our wheels over.

September 8 – Daily Notes – Amanda

prophet Isaiah

Isaiah is one of the most recognizable prophets. It is the most quoted Old Testament book and is one of the longest books in the Bible. Despite all that, it can be a challenge to follow. Isaiah sometimes uses confusing language and he repeats things a lot. So, here’s a little synopsis to keep you on track: in the first half, look for prophecies of destruction against the Israelites; in the second half, look for prophecies of restoration; sprinkled throughout, look for prophecies that foretell a coming Messiah.

Isaiah 1:1-2:22:

  • The book of Isaiah is told from the perspective of Isaiah the prophet about a vision he has had. Sometimes he will quote God, but he will identify it when he is. It is set before the Babylonian exile.
  • 2-17 – This is a vision God has given Isaiah explaining that the Israelites are sinful and that God is tired of receiving meaningless sacrifices from people who go on sinning. They are no longer pleasing to him.
  • 18 – There seems to be a plan in place for how God will restore the Israelites to himself.
  • 1-4 – This is a vision for future peace and perfection.
  • 5-22 – Though the majority of Isaiah addresses Judah, this vision calls upon the house of Jacob, which is most likely the Northern Kingdom of Israel, to repent.

2 Corinthians 10:1-18:

  • 2-6 – Paul is hoping he doesn’t have a major spiritual battle to fight when he is with the Corinthians. He is not shy to do so, but he’s hoping there’s not a need there.
  • 11 – Paul doesn’t just ask others to live faithfully, he does so himself.
  • 17-18 – Our only boasts should be in what the Lord has done in the world and in us.

Psalm 52:1-9:

  • This Psalm is from David’s perspective and contrasts his faithfulness and connection to God with someone else who delights in evil.

Proverbs 22:26-27:

  • This advises against making promises you can’t keep.

September 5 – Daily Notes – Amanda

harvey

In Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath, for the most part, we have seen the best of people. People far and wide are sending supplies and money to help the victims with anything and everything they need. Good Samaritans drove down to Southeast Texas with their boats ready to rescue anyone they could. In 2 Corinthians, Paul encourages believers to do just this kind of thing, but continually. He asks them to share of their resources and assure everyone is taken care of. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Ecclesiastes 10:1-12:14:

  • 8-10 – There is danger in the world, but wisdom can minimize the danger we face.
  • 1-4 – The world is uncertain and bad things will happen, but we are called to faithfulness and generosity in the midst of the uncertainty.
  • 13 – This is the gist of the whole book. Though so much of what we focus on and worry about is “a chasing after the wind”, we have this one purpose that matters – to follow God and keep his commandments. This could simplify a lot for us.

2 Corinthians 8:1-15:

  • 3-5 – Paul is encouraging and challenging the Corinthians in their faith by sharing about the Macedonians’ faith in action. They were giving from what they had and committed to God and the apostles.
  • 8-15 – Paul encourages the Corinthians to be generous with those in need. He is kind of preaching a common pot that everyone draws from so whether you put in lots or little, everyone ends up with what they need.

Psalm 49:1-20:

  • 5-11 – Like the message of Ecclesiastes, the psalmist makes it clear that we cannot trust in our things. They cannot save us from death. Death comes to all of us.

What to Expect – Week 34

Pulitzers

Tomorrow we begin Job, which is widely regarded as the oldest book in the Old Testament, and therefore, the Bible. Job is challenging in a number of ways, but the main reason is: Job was righteous. Why does God allow him to be tormented?

Though not intended as a complete explanation, hopefully these thoughts will shift our thinking from something along the lines of, “why is God so mean?” to “what was really happening here and what came of it?” Take a second to think through these thoughts:

  • God was not the one doing the tormenting.
  • For the majority of the book, Job, who is being tormented, defends God.
  • Job’s friends are certain they can explain Job’s suffering. No one can explain suffering.
  • God gave Job his blessings. It is his choice to take them away as well. But note that God abundantly blesses Job again in the end.

I won’t try to explain what happened to Job in this book or how God operates or why we suffer, etc. Hopefully the above thoughts will at least add a few bumper lanes as you read this challenging book.

July 27 – Daily Notes – Amanda

studying Scripture

Have you ever tried to memorize Scripture? Maybe your favorite verse? Maybe you and a friend memorized a short passage together? I think we should all try it! It’s incredible when you face a situation and a Bible verse pops into your head and it speaks directly to that situation. So let’s all try it. You can start with 2 Chronicles 20:21 from today’s reading. You’ll read it a lot throughout Scripture and it’s a great reminder.

2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37:

  • 1-2 – It was not good that Jehoshaphat made a pact with Ahab, who was not faithful to God.
  • 5-12 – Jehoshaphat, here, is the model for trusting God in a terrifying time. He remembers the faithfulness of God in the past and uses that as assurance that God will be faithful again, and he sought help from the Lord instead of others.
  • 21 – Memorize the sentence beginning “Give thanks to the Lord…”. It is repeated throughout Scripture and should be one you have on the ready when in need.

Romans 10:14-11:12:

  • 14-21 – Paul makes it clear that God is more than willing to reveal himself to anyone and everyone. He continues to be faithful even in the midst of peoples’ disobedience.
  • 1-2 – We can’t swing the pendulum too far the other way and assume that God now rejects all Jews because they’re not gentiles. God saves people regardless of their background.
  • 11-12 – This is very interesting! The question is did God put blinders on the Israelites so they wouldn’t believe and salvation would have to be opened up the gentiles? Because if the Israelites had been faithful, God may not have needed to open salvation up to others.