Salvation is a free gift. We can’t earn it. That is so freeing…but…it should free us to do more good, live more like Christ, and serve more. It should not, in our minds, give us free license to sin more because, hey, what’s the harm? Be grateful for your free gift and act accordingly.
- 18-25 – These festivals and others are spelled out in Numbers 23.
- 1-18 – The prince had special instructions on how to handle offerings and other rituals in the temple.
1 Peter 1:13-2:10:
- 14-21 – Our call is to live like Christ. Because he lived a holy life, we are to do so as well. We know this is a worthy call because he died and rose again.
- 1-3 – We are to turn away from our sin and long for God’s goodness and guidance.
- 9-10 – We should take it seriously and act upon it that we were saved.
- 36-37 – A difficult prayer to pray because it might mean we actually have to turn from our selfish ways and live for God.
- 11 – Wealth does not equal wisdom.
The last couple of verses of today’s 2 Timothy reading are pretty major. We all pick and choose what we want to emphasize in the Bible. There are parts we don’t like so we tend to discount them. There are parts we don’t want to follow so we conveniently forget about them. There are parts we want others to follow so we highlight and bold them. But this passage reminds us that all Scripture is from God and is intended for us to follow.
- 1-5 – God grants Baruch the promise of his life.
- 1-2 – The issue with Babylon destroying Egypt was the remnant of Judah, including Jeremiah, was in Egypt.
- 14-24 – God declares that powerful Egypt will soon fall to what has been a lesser power.
- 6-7 – Though they want God’s destruction to end, they know it won’t until he completes his purposes.
2 Timothy 2:22-3:17:
- 22-26 – Paul continues to teach godliness and gives the caveat that God does forgive wrongdoing while leading his followers back into holiness.
- 1-9 – Paul warns that there will be immoral opposition to the gospel.
- 16-17 – This is convicting when we think deeply about it.
- 1-11 – The Lord created us and knows what we’re up to – good or bad.
- Teaching wisdom to those determined to be foolish is a waste.
Enduring trials and trusting God to take care of you doesn’t mean you have to pretend to enjoy the trial. Trials are hard. They’re not fun. God wants us to be honest with him about our pain and difficulties and then to trust him with the outcome. Jeremiah shows us a good example of this in our reading today. He willingly accepts persecution but is not excited about it. Faithfulness does not equal fake-ful-ness (yes, I made that up myself).
- 1-13 – Jeremiah proclaims the coming destruction of Judah because they have worshipped false gods.
- 1-6 – God told Jeremiah he would be persecuted but that God would ultimately protect him and destroy his enemies. Passhur the priest is the first example of this.
- 7-18 – Jeremiah is confident in God’s protection of him, but is still not excited about the suffering he will endure.
- 2-14 – Jeremiah does not have good news for King Zedekiah and his crew.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-28:
- 9-11 – God created us for a purpose and that purpose is to know and follow him, not to walk towards destruction.
- 12-19 – God calls us to gentleness and humility and Paul gives us good specifics on how to accomplish this.
- Asaph calls for God to take care of his enemies.
Hastiness comes up again as a bad thing. Wisdom definitely falls in line with patience and thinking through things.
Death is fascinating and terrifying all at the same time for a lot of us. “Who done its” are all over television and yet, when faced with death, many of us experience crippling fear. This is nothing new. Paul, in today’s 1 Thessalonians reading, addresses the Thessalonians’ fear of and/or questions about death.
- 19-4 – Jeremiah continues to harp on how ridiculous and wrong it is for people to worship idols that people can make.
- 5-13 – Jeremiah contrasts the idiocy of trusting in a person with the wisdom of trusting in God. He also lists the consequences.
- 14-18 – This portion is very reminiscent of a psalm asking for protection and also for destruction of his enemies.
- 19-27 – Jerusalem had a choice to be faithful and flourish or to be unfaithful and face destruction.
- 18 – Like God told Jeremiah, he started facing persecution from his own people.
- 19-23 – Jeremiah hopes for the destruction of his enemies. Unlike Jesus who wanted God to forgive his enemies, Jeremiah wants them to be punished for what they’ve done.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3:
- 2-8 – A theme throughout Paul’s letters is a call to holy living. Sexual morality and giving oneself to substances, and anger/self control are standard topics addressed.
- 13-18 – Those who “are asleep” are people who have died. The Thessalonians must have been concerned about what happened when people died and what could be expected after death.
- 6-10 – God asks Israel to remember the good things he has done for them so they will follow him.
- 11-16 – The people did not obey and God lets them know what they’re missing out on.
- Jesus gives similar advice on choosing where to sit at a banquet. Choose humbly and be pleasantly surprised if you’re honored.
In Paul’s writings, including today’s excerpt from Ephesians, he often writes lists of sins to avoid. It’s important that we recognize that these lists are not exhaustive. Paul is writing to specific people groups who are struggling with specific sins so those are the sins he calls out. Like today, if you were talking to a group of teenagers you would talk about doing drugs, gossip, and premarital sex as sins. You probably wouldn’t mention embezzlement. Embezzlement is a sin, but not one those kids are struggling with at the time.
- 12-22 – God explains to the Israelites how much they could have prospered if they had just followed him.
- 1-6 – This is from the perspective of the servant who also spoke in chapter 42. This servant was called by God to speak to Israel.
- 14-26 – God promises Israel that he will restore them and that they will soon come out of exile.
- 17-20 – This is referring to Gentiles who have not been saved. The majority of Paul’s ministry was to Gentiles, so he obviously didn’t write them all off as heathens.
- 25-31 – Paul urges the Ephesians to avoid temptation and sin. This is not an exhaustive list, but most likely one that spoke to common temptations the Ephesians were facing.
- 1-6 – David does not deny that he has sinned but still cries out for help because of his enemies who have no cause for hating him.
- 7-18 – David is being judged and tormented for his commitment to God but he knows that his hope is in the Lord.
- Wisdom and knowledge are more than just nice things to have. They benefit us in a variety of practical ways. War was a big deal to the culture the proverbs were originally written for.
Yes, this book beautifully describes true love and why it is such a gift…but why do we have ancient love poetry in our Bible? How does it help us and of all things, why was it included? Watch this and find out:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
This is one of those books that’s not exactly known for its encouragement…but it is helpful, grounding, and full of great advice.
Today we start a new book, Ecclesiastes. Have you ever felt like you’re spinning your wheels? Not getting anywhere? Making futile efforts? You’re not alone. Solomon felt that way too at times. But through all his searchings and efforts, he ultimately found truth. Ecclesiastes is worth your time.
- 9 – “There is nothing new under the sun” is repeated throughout Ecclesiastes. This is used to remind us that the triumphs, tragedies, as well as daily successes and annoyances, are not new to us. Others have experienced them before us and others will after us.
- 12-16 – The traditional understanding is Solomon wrote this book. He is identified as a king, in the line of David, and having greater wisdom than anyone else. Some modern theologians argue that the language suggests that it had to have been written after the exile and thus was someone else. It has not been proven that Solomon didn’t write it. (We will refer to the writer as Solomon throughout the notes for simplicity sake.)
- 17 – “Chasing/striving after wind” is a repeated phrase in Ecclesiastes too. This simply means that it is a futile effort.
- 1-11 – First, Solomon sought out pleasure in wild living and material things. He found out, as many of us could tell him from our own experiences, that wasn’t going to work.
- 12-26 – Solomon then pursues wisdom and working hard to gain wealth. Both also prove to be pointless because it puts you in no better position when you die.
- 1-8 – These verses will sound familiar because of the popular song by The Byrds. These verses explain that God made everything to run in its course in its allotted time. We will face the good and the bad, but nothing should overwhelm or overtake us because it is passing.
2 Corinthians 6:1-13:
- 3-10 – Paul lists the merits of his ministry. Their boasting is not in their own accomplishments, but their ministry is legitimized by all God has brought them through and done through them.
- It is not the fault of the child that he is foolish. It is his nature. It is the job of the parent to discipline him and lead him to wisdom.
In today’s Job reading, Elihu encourages Job to repent, but Job feels that he has nothing to repent of. Though Job may have been right, the conversation brings up a good point: we all require repentance. Repentance is hard because it means turning away from sin and sin is often enticing. So, if I may briefly play the role of Elihu, is there something you need to repent of today?
- 1-40 – Job makes a case for his high moral standards. He seems to be willing to accept his plight as punishment if sin can be found in him.
- 2 – Elihu is a new character and an Israelite.
- 6 – Age, experience, and establishment were highly revered in their culture. They saw the elderly as wise. We tend to see them as having lost their edge.
- 1-33 – Elihu tries to relate to Job so that Job will listen to him and then explains that God is continually trying to steer people away from sin. Elihu also suggests that Job’s experience may have been God giving him an opportunity for repentance.
2 Corinthians 3:1-18:
- 1-3 – This is to say that the faithful Corinthians were proof of Paul and his companions’ efforts to share Christ with the nations.
- 4-6 – “The letter” refers to the law. It led to death because people could not follow it and remain righteous while the Spirit is given to us upon salvation and thus gives life.
- 16-18 – The Spirit brings freedom from sin and death.
- 3 – This is actually a pretty bold request, because if God sends his light and truth to lead you, then that’s what you have to follow. We aren’t always willing to make that commitment.
- These verses give the consequences of the actions mentioned in yesterday’s proverb and then offers an alternate option.