Today we see Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ “inner circle” (which is apparently also the name of a popular Jamaican reggae group – thus the picture) in action. These were the three disciples invited most closely into Jesus’ life and ministry. Today they experience the transfiguration, a powerful experience where they saw Moses and Elijah with Jesus up on a mountain. It must have been incredible to be in Jesus’ inner circle.
1-5 – What a great amount of trust this must have taken for this tribe. They were not allowed to try to provide for themselves or store up for themselves. Instead, they had to rely on the peoples’ devotion to God.
21-22 – This definition of whether a prophet was false or not was certainly fairly tricky considering much of what prophets said didn’t happen until long after they were dead.
21 – This verse represents justice.
1-4 – Yet again, the Lord asks the Israelites to trust him completely. It’s important to remember all the ways he had been faithful to them beforehand in order for them to trust him in these large ways.
Peter, James, and John were the inner circle of the disciples. They were most often included and more seemed to be expected from them.
28-36 – This event is known as the Transfiguration. Jesus’ form was transformed in the presence of God. He shown with the glory of God.
46-48 – There is great irony that this conversation comes just after they are unable to cast out a demon and unable to understand what Jesus is telling them.
49-50 – Sometimes doing the work of God comes before having love for God.
25-26 – Beautiful verses about the importance of full reliance on God.
27-28 – The rewards or consequences based on what you choose.
We all had an awkward adolescence…even George Clooney. Yikes! In today’s reading, we find the only story in the Bible about Jesus’ adolescence. Don’t get too nervous about the ending. No surprise, he finds himself in church.
The Israelites were meticulous with their record keeping.
41-45 – The pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover would have been a journey of several days and whole extended families and friends would travel together. It is not unusual that Mary and Joseph would assume that Jesus was somewhere in the group. But can you imagine the panic they must have felt when they thought they had lost the Son of God?
51 – This verse is placed here to assure the reader/hearer that Jesus wasn’t unkind or disrespectful of his parents. He was simply engaged in his long-term call.
This passage is the only canonical recording of Jesus’ childhood or adolescence.
This is warning not to make promises you can’t keep and specifically not to promise something that someone else is intended to keep because you can never guarantee it.
Today’s Proverb reminds us that flapping our gums is hurtful and unwise. It is too easy to break trust, tell secrets, and speak ill of others for our own gain. Unfortunately, these things have been problems for humanity for centuries, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to stop these tempting habits.
22 – It is confusing why God gets angry about Balaam going with the princes of Balak because God gave him permission. God’s permission, however, was to only do what God told him to do. Balaam may have acted in a way at some point that was not pleasing to God.
23-35 – Did you know this was in the Bible? Yep, a talking donkey. God truly can do all things! Note that God gave special sight to the donkey to see the angel and protect Balaam.
Balak continues to push Balaam to bend to his will instead of God’s. Balaam’s response is continually, “All that the Lord says, that I must do.”
68-79 – Zechariah’s song serves as both a praise song to God and a blessing for John.
It seems that we still have the same problems that ancient Jews did. They struggled with slander and trustworthiness and we do as well. The Proverbs are helpful for us even today.
It is a common theme in Scripture for people to make promises to God and then completely abandon them. The Israelites do it over and over as they commit to living faithfully and then worship other gods. Today’s culprit is Pharaoh. Note in the next few days just how many times he promises to release the Israelites.
23 – what originally cause the Egyptians to be “not God’s people”?
So often we disobey God’s laws and commands and yet we’re surprised and even think it’s unfair of God when we experience consequences
15 – Sometimes God hardens Pharaoh’s heart and sometimes Pharaoh hardens his own
8 & 28 & 28- How often have we bargained with God, and like Pharaoh, not held up our end of the agreement?
14 – childlike faith is praised several times in Scripture
16-22 – selling possessions could be interchanged with anything we hold to more tightly than God. What would you hate for Jesus to fill in that blank with?
30 – A countercultural thought. We, like ancient Israelites, try to get to the top. God calls us to humble ourselves instead.
A musical version of this Psalm:
Warning not to let others be in control of your life. Throughout Scripture, trusting others above God is a prominent sin of people
Genesis is hard enough as it is; here are three things NOT to do when reading the first book of the Bible (and to keep in mind as we read the rest of the Bible). [This post first appeared on my blog, www.andrewforrest.org, 1/19/15. I thought it might be helpful as we wrap up reading Genesis. –AF]
8-11 – Jacob expresses his excitement and gratitude for not only seeing his long-lost son again, but also for getting to meet his grandchildren.
14-22 – In an interesting twist, like in his own life, Jacob assures that the younger brother receives the greater blessing. Manasseh was the older brother, but Jacob blesses his Ephraim with carrying on the line of Israelites.
21 – Jacob assures Joseph that his family will not always remain in Egypt, but will return to the land God gave them. This won’t happen for a while, but will happen.
1-28 – Jacob, before dying, offers specific blessings to each of his sons. Though he blesses the actual sons, their blessings come to, in part, define the tribes they will become.
29-31 – We often want to receive recognition for the good things we do. Jesus did miracles in order to give God glory. When we recognize where our strength and abilities come from, it is easier to give God the glory since it is his already.
32-39 – A very similar story to the feeding of the 5,000. It would seem that the disciples should have assumed Jesus would perform another miracle and yet they still seem to look for logical solutions from him.
1-4 – The religious leaders ask Jesus for a sign to prove his identity even though he has just healed, exorcised, and performed a variety of miracles.
4 – The sign of Jonah relates Jonah’s story with Jesus’ upcoming plight. Jonah was in the whale for 3 days and Jesus will be in the tomb for 3 days. Both exited.
5-12 – Once again, the disciples are somewhat dense. They’ve just seen Jesus feed multitudes with meager amounts of food and they’re worried about his provisions for them. Jesus, in the midst of this, warns them against a greater danger, the Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ teachings.
7-8 – Where this verse lists horses and chariots as things they trusted in over the Lord, we could probably fill those blanks differently. Verse 8 reminds us who is forever in control.
These wise words sound like the verse of every parent giving sound, solid wisdom that could keep their children away from a multitude of heartache. Like the hearers of this proverb, we too struggle to take them at face value.
1-6 – Joseph’s life was a series of extreme ups and downs. He was the favorite son and had dreams of ruling over his family, but then was sold into slavery, but now has risen to power in his master’s house. There is more to come.
7-20 – This is one of those rare times when you’re punished for something you are completely innocent of. Joseph must have wondered where God was and what he was doing in this situation.
21-23 – But it is made clear that God had not forsaken Joseph, but sustained him throughout his time in prison.
20-23 – Joseph’s dream interpretations were accurate, but the chief cup bearer not remembering him must have been disheartening.
16 – The Lord has been with Joseph throughout his ups and downs and even though he has experienced some pretty low lows, he continues to give the glory to God and to rely on him.
46-50 – Jesus is showing that following him is the most important connection people can have. Commitment to Jesus even trumps the bonds of blood relatives.
10-15 – To some degree, there is protection in not understanding the truths of Jesus’ identity and importance. With knowledge comes responsibility to act accordingly.
18-23 – Jesus explains the parable to the disciples, which rarely happens.
This Psalm shows David’s extreme trust in God. Phrases like, “I call upon you, for you will answer me,” and “Hide me in the shadow of your wings,” indicate his steadfast trust in God in the face of trials and enemies. This assures us that God is trustworthy.
Generally speaking, here are some things to expect this week:
The highs and lows of Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph (and get ready because they are extreme)
Parables from Jesus and his run-ins with the religious authorities (spoiler alert: they still don’t like him)
Psalms of David – he doesn’t write all the psalms, but he’s got some great ones!
The Parables continue to try to separate wisdom from folly.
One theme you might want to pay attention to that runs throughout all of our readings this week– some more subtly than others – is what it looks like to trust God in the face of adversity or opposition.
In the Psalms, you’ll hear David beautifully and poetically describe God as a shelter and refuge. David was constantly facing actual deadly attacks and yet he trusted in the Lord for his protection throughout it all.
Joseph is sold into slavery, falsely accused of attempted sexual assault, and has his kindness forgotten. In the midst of all that, he recognizes God’s presence with him and continues to give God the glory and credit for all his blessings. On Thursday you’ll even read a quote from him that says, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”
And Jesus, in Matthew, as he addresses his disciples regarding the persecution they will surely face because of him, reminds them that the persecutors are not to be feared. He assures them by reminding them how greatly the Father cares for a simple sparrow so how much more will he watch over them?
So take comfort in that today as you prepare for a long workweek, face a tough decision, or dread an interaction with a difficult person. Your trust in God will lead you to more faithfulness, more blessings, and more reminders that nothing can separate you from the love of God.