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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Solomon did not advocate laziness.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Though we may not agree with the method, it is clear that the Proverbs believe in disciplining and teaching children the right way.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.