Salvation and following Christ are designed for our benefit, not to crash our party or add a bunch of unnecessary rules. Yes, there are certain practices we’re asked to turn away from once we choose to turn towards Christ, but they do not ultimately benefit us anyway. Be sure to read the end of today’s Romans passage to understand what all following Christ offers us.
2 Chronicles 1:1-3:17:
- 7-13 – Solomon could have asked for anything from the Lord, but chose to think first of God’s people and what would benefit them. The Lord blesses this by also giving Solomon riches and honor.
- The temple Solomon built for God became the central point of Israelite life. It was destroyed in 586 B.C. when the Israelites were exiled to Babylon and later rebuilt. It was destroyed again by the Romans in 70 A.D. and has never been rebuilt. Many Jews believe it will be restored when the Messiah comes.
- 1-4 – Jesus’ generous gift of grace is not an excuse for us to keep sinning – since we know we’ll be forgiven. Instead, when we accept Christ as our Savior our lives are transformed and we desire to follow in Christ’s ways.
- 16 – We can’t follow after sin and righteousness. We must choose one or the other.
- 20-23 – This is a great argument for anyone who thinks the Christian life will be stifling or will take away their fun. Life in Christ leads to sanctification and eternal life, where a life in sin leads to death.
- 7-11 – When the Lord is our hope, we can be secure in knowing that we are cared for.
- 20 – God puts people in our lives to advise and guide us. We should pay attention to them.
There is a contest in today’s notes. And that’s all I have to say about that.
1 Chronicles 1:1-2:17:
- The Ancient Israelites kept incredible records and this is one of many examples of them. They start at Adam and make their way all the way to David including rulers of other nations to ensure their relevance in the overall world.
- There’s a special prize for the first person to email me (email@example.com) with the name of the 80’s cartoon included in the lineage.
- 10 – This starts a very recognizable lineage of Jesus.
- 11 – God gives Paul a clear charge. He was faithful in sharing the gospel in Jerusalem even though it wasn’t well received and he should now do the same in Rome.
- 16-35 – The Romans do not allow the Jews to kill Paul, but they also do not release him.
- Though David continually faced formidable foes, he is just as frequently confessing his faith in God’s ability to protect him.
- 15 – Often when we welcome some piece of knowledge and wisdom, we acquire even more than we sought in the first place.
In today’s Acts reading we meet Timothy, Paul’s protégé. Paul mentors and trains Timothy to also be able to minister to early churches and spread the gospel. Paul prepares Timothy for pitfalls, allows him to watch his ministry and travel with him, and encourages him in his gifts. What if we each had a faith protégé?
2 Kings 6:1-7:20:
- Here’s that chart of the kings again, just in case:
- 1-7 – This was not just a party trick or Elisha showing off. The man’s accident with the axe head was done while attempting to be more faithful. Elisha used God’s power to bless his faith.
- 15-19 – Elisha’s servant is given special sight to see what’s going on. The Syrian army is not struck completely blind, but just blind to Elisha’s true identity.
- 20-23 – Though a rare occasion in the Old Testament, the Syrians and Israelites are able to resolve the situation peacefully.
- 25 – People are buying donkey heads and dove poop. Clearly the famine was really bad. They were so desperate they were eating the least desirable part of an unclean animal and paying high dollar for dove poop – which they were probably burning or using for other household tasks – not eating it.
- 26-31 – While this story is absolutely horrifying – here is some background: Joram was the king of Israel. His sins as well as the sins of the people had gotten so out of control that some of the curses associated with breaking their covenant with God had started to occur. Though Joram’s response in verse 31 suggests that the famine and reactions by the people are God or Elisha’s fault, it was actually caused by the ongoing sin of the people.
- 3-20 – The four lepers were Israelites, this is why they tell the king when the Syrians’ camp is empty. The Israelites, like Elisha prophesied, had abundant, affordable food.
- 39-40 – Church disputes happen because we’re human. Like this one, God works good through our failures. Now there are two teams ministering instead of the one they had before.
- 1-5 – Timothy became Paul’s protégé. Paul circumcised Timothy, even though it was no longer truly necessary, to give him credibility with those he would minister to.
- 10 – Note that the narrator goes from being simply a narrator to a participant by starting to use “we”. This is to indicate that Luke, the writer of Acts, has joined the mission team.
- This psalm said it was written when David is in the cave. This is most likely talking about when he was hiding in the cave with some of his men and Saul came in to use the restroom. David had an opportunity to kill Saul, but only cut off a piece of his robe instead.
- At this time David has been anointed as king but is on the run because Saul is still in power and is pursuing him to kill him.
- 24 – We often look to everything else to satisfy us, but wisdom will guide us faithfully where we are supposed to go.
In this week’s 1 Kings readings, Solomon is our main character. Solomon, a son of David, was the third king of Israel. He was not David’s oldest son and his rise to power was definitely challenged, but ultimately he received the throne.
Solomon was known for his wisdom and wealth and his reign started out great! He built God’s temple, which we’ll see finished today. He made wise judgments and is credited with writing Proverbs and Song of Solomon.
Unfortunately, Solomon was a man who liked things…and money…and women…and ultimately, his desires were his downfall. This week you’ll read about Solomon’s triumphs and tragedies. Solomon, probably more than any other biblical character, depicts the tension between American values and those of God. We can learn so much from him, we just have to be open to reading and hearing it.
Jesus’ ministry was all about turning common understandings on their heads. One place we see this in a concentrated area is the Beatitudes found in the Sermon on the Mount. Today’s Psalm has a similar feel. This helps us understand that Jesus’ ministry wasn’t made up out of thin air. His ministry was a continuation of God’s work in the world and was reminded us of the areas we had missed the mark.
1 Kings 7:1-51:
- 1 – Note, it took Solomon 7 years to build God’s house and 13 to build his own.
- 2-51 – These are details on what Solomon’s palace looked like as well as some final descriptions of the temple.
- 30-38 – Stephen continues to recount Moses’ journey and experience.
- 39-50 – Stephen continues to describe times when the Israelites’ ancestors interacted with God. He highlights their unfaithfulness at times.
- 1-2 – Reminiscent of the Beatitudes when blessings are given to those who we wouldn’t normally think of as being blessed.
- 31-32 – With age normally comes wisdom and experience – and often, a more level head.
- 32 – “Ruling your spirit” versus “taking a city”. One sounds much more glamorous, but the other is far more advantageous overall.
Remember as a kid when you would think about what your three wishes would be if you had a personal genie? The correct answer is, of course, “more wishes”. After that, it’s normally money, a cool car, a big house, etc. Solomon had a similar opportunity, but it wasn’t a fake genie and they weren’t fake wishes. He could ask God for anything. He asked for wisdom. I wonder where that would rank on my list?
1 Kings 3:4-4:34:
- 4-15 – In Solomon’s dream, of all the things he could ask of the Lord, he asks for understanding and discernment – wisdom.
- 16-28 – This story makes it clear that God granted Solomon’s request for wisdom and discernment even though he asked in a dream.
- 8-15 – Like with Jesus, some folks opposed Stephen, twisting his words, to say he had committed blasphemy.
- The Israelites found great identity in Jerusalem and specifically Zion. Zion was a sign of their connection and favor with God.
- This is the difference between someone who works for good, productive results versus someone who works for harmful, careless results.
Apparently there are certain concepts that escape us if not repeated at least a thousand times. Proverbs seems to think so. Yet again, in today’s reading, we are reminded that wisdom is shown when we are patient and slow to act or speak. Foolishness is rash and fast moving and fails to think things through. I know I could stand to hear this message on repeat. How about you?
2 Samuel 1:1-2:11:
- 11-16 – It seems very harsh to us that David kills the young Amalekite who, seemingly, was merciful to a dying Saul. David had deep regard for Saul as the anointed one of God and did not see it as the Amalekite’s job to kill him.
- 1 – David was faithful in seeking God’s guidance before he would make moves.
- 4 – David is now officially king over Judah. He needed for Saul and his sons to die and to be anointed. Now both have happened.
- 4-7 – The men of Jabesh-gilead were the ones who took Saul’s body back from the Philistines after the Philistines tortured and dishonored it. David greatly appreciated this because it was honoring to God’s anointed, Saul.
- 8-11 – One son of Saul was still alive, Ish-bosheth. A portion of the Israelites follow Ish-bosheth as their king, but the majority follow David.
- 23-24 – Jesus knew that in order to conquer sin and for his mission to multiply, he had to die.
- 29 – This is the second recording of God speaking audibly directly to or about Jesus. The first is during his baptism.
- 34-36 – The people could not understand how he could be the Christ and die since their law said the Christ would live forever. They couldn’t reconcile the two. Jesus simply encourages them to follow him while he’s still there.
- 42-43 – A very convicting passage. Too often we care more about what others think than what pleases God.
- 22 – This verse is later applied to Jesus. He was rejected, but ultimately our faith was built on him.
- 24 – A popular, very quotable verse reminding us that each day is a gift from God and should be given back to him with praise.
- 28 – The continual theme in Proverbs of wisdom being slow and thoughtful is repeated here.
Mary, in every story she’s mentioned in, is completely devoted to Jesus. Nothing seems to be able to separate her from spending time with her Lord. In today’s John reading she’s even criticized for being too extravagant towards Jesus. Don’t hear Jesus’ reply as saying we shouldn’t serve and care for the poor. Instead, hear his reminder that our devotion to Christ should be paramount. If that is true, good works will be a given.
1 Samuel 29:1-31:13:
- 1-6 – While David and the men were away from their villages, Negeb and Ziklag, the Amalekites, a perpetual enemy of the Israelites, took all the women and children captive. David’s men were furious with him when they returned. As a point of connection, the Amalekites were the people Saul was supposed to destroy completely but didn’t, which was why he was rejected as king.
- 7-8 – David, unlike Saul, is faithful in asking God what he wants him to do before he does anything.
- 9-25 – David’s men who were too exhausted stayed behind and didn’t fight. Interesting that Scripture refers to the men who, after their victory, didn’t want to return the exhausted men’s property to them, “wicked and worthless.” These were greedy men who wanted the credit for their hard work and to punish those who couldn’t fight that particular battle. David did not go for their proposition.
- 1-7 – As was prophesied, Saul and all his sons died in one day. The Philistines seem to be in complete power at this point.
- 8-10 – Because the Philistines couldn’t capture Saul alive, they torture and dishonor his corpse.
- 11-13 – Normally burning a body would be seen as shameful, but it may have been done so the Philistines could not find him and take him back. The bodies weren’t completely burned because, later, David takes Saul and Jonathan’s bones and buries them in their family burial plot.
- 1-8 – This story is mentioned when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead even though it is written to have occurred after that. Mary is known for her devotion to Jesus and has great reason to be considering he raised her brother from the dead. Many people question why Judas’ comments are dismissed since they sound pretty valid, but he actually had no intention of helping the poor with the money. He wanted it himself.
- 12-15 – Though brief in this gospel, the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, which we call Palm Sunday, is one of few stories included in all four gospels. “Hosanna” means “save us”. The people of Jerusalem, who will soon have him killed, cry out for Jesus to save them. The donkey colt fulfilled a prophesy of the Messiah.
- 5-6 – Cause and effect. I cry out to the Lord. The Lord comes through. I now have increased faith in God’s protection for me. This is how our faith should work yet we so often forget the great things he does for us.
- 18 – A great perspective! Sometimes we endure consequences, but this doesn’t mean that God has forsaken or rejected us.
- 25 – Pride normally means we rely on ourselves but wisdom tells us the Lord is the only one we can rely on. Everything else crumbles.
If you need a reason to jump back into our daily readings, this week will give it to you. We’re starting 2 new books! One today, and one on Friday!
In the Old Testament, we’re finishing out Judges and beginning Ruth. In Judges, you will read about a very famous judge named Samson. Samson was known for his strength, but it’s also noteworthy that he’s a Nazirite. This is a special form of priest – John the Baptist was one too – who holds strictly to certain standards. Nazirites didn’t drink alcohol, cut their hair, come in contact with dead things, and much more.
And Ruth is a fascinating book! If you want to learn what it means to be loyal or see how God can use anyone, even if they seemingly have nothing to offer, this is the right book for you. Ruth is also one of only two books with a female lead character, so pump up “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and get to reading.
And today we get to start the final gospel, John. John is very different from the other three gospels, which tend to share stories and sound somewhat similar. John uses more poetic language. It even begins with a brief poem. Here are a few things to notice in John:
- A “beloved disciple” is mentioned frequently. It’s assumed this “beloved disciple” is John, but no one knows for sure
- There is no narrative of Jesus’ birth, but he is introduced as “the Word”
- Jesus makes a number of statements attempting to define himself that start with the words, “I am…”
Note also in your Proverbs readings this week the continued emphasis on acting and speaking slowly and avoiding rash decisions. This isn’t always natural for us, but it is wise.
Keep up the good reading! We’re already at Week 18! Before we know it, we’ll be half way finished!!
Do you find yourself saying the same thing over and over in prayer? It’s fine if there’s a specific, ongoing prayer request, but what about the fairly meaningless fillers? Do you tend to drone on and on without a whole lot of meaning or thought behind it? Why not try to pray like Psalm 98:1 encourages us to? Try to offer God a new praise for each new blessing you receive. You will end up feeling much more connected to him through prayer.
- 2-8 – The Midianites were a powerful fighting nation, but God only sent Gideon with 300 men to fight them because he did not want them to be able to say that they defeated Midian by their own power. This sounds extreme, but it is extremely easy to believe we succeed on our own power.
- 20-25 – The trumpets and jars were used to scare the Midianite army into fleeing and God blessed the Israelites’ swords as they pursued the Midianites.
- 4-9 – The men of Succoth and Penuel did not believe that Gideon would defeat the kings of Midian so they refused to help the Israelite army. Because of this Gideon explains that he will repay them once he overtakes the Midianite kings.
- 18-25 – It was custom for Pilate to release one prisoner at Passover. The crowds chose a murderer and asked that Jesus still be killed even though no fault was found in him.
- 27 – Not everyone had turned against Jesus. He still had a faithful following who were distraught over his impending death.
- 28-31 – Jesus is saying that if these people will reject and crucify Jesus when he’s on earth, how much less will they honor him when he’s not present. In a way he’s saying, it would be better to not even have children than to have to watch them dishonor Christ so greatly.
- 34 – Even when he’s about to be crucified, he’s still offering forgiveness.
- 43 – An unlikely candidate, this is the only person, other than the disciples, Jesus explicitly tells that they will be in heaven with him.
- 1 – Though God loves to hear our prayers, it seemingly would honor him more if we offer new praise with each blessing instead of a generic blanket prayer for all our blessings.
- 4-9 – We can all find a joyful song to sing in praise to God. Even the oceans and rivers have their way of praising. No matter what ours sounds like, we should make a joyful noise to God.
- 8 – Our wisdom is not simply for good looks or just convenient. Our wisdom should be used to discern where God is calling us and where we should go.