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.
- 1-3 – These verses paint a very vivid picture of God’s provision for us. It is popularly turned into song. Here are three versions: one with a heavy synthesizer influence, one I randomly found from my home church in Longview, and one by popular Christian artists Shane and Shane.
- 4-7 – These verses depict the power of the God who we serve and who protects us.
- 10 – Some of the most comforting words in all of Scripture.
- 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.
As modern day Americans, we can fulfill most of our needs on our own. Though this may sound like a great thing, it actually has great potential to cripple us spiritually. Read today’s Psalm. Note that the psalmists need for the Lord is so great, it manifests as a physical need. It’s scary to have that much reliance on someone else, but God will never let us down.
Job 28:1-30:31 –
- 1-28 – This section of poetry elaborates on the extent of God’s wisdom. It seems like an odd insertion and is stuck between two sections where “Job takes up his discourse” so it seems odd that this too would be him speaking.
- 1-31 – Job is lamenting as he remembers how great his life was. He used to be a respected member of his community and now is forgotten and despised.
2 Corinthians 2:12-17:
- 14-17 – Thinking about being the fragrance of Christ suggests that our responsibility of sharing Christ with others goes far beyond simply saying the words. We are to exude the nature of Christ to the world.
- 1-3 – These verses depict a desire for God so great that it becomes an actual, physical need.
Job makes a good point in today’s reading. It is one that many of us, who are trying to live faithfully, have thought about at some point. Punishment and suffering don’t always seem to coincide with sin. In fact, many sinful people seem to get ahead because of their sin. Throughout Scripture God calls us to faithfulness and promises to reward it. That reward may not come in this lifetime, but we know that God’s promises are true and we can trust him.
- 1-29 – Zophar continues to tell Job about the fate of the unfaithful. He explains that they start off wealthy and blessed but God takes that away because of their unfaithfulness. This suggests that this is what is happening to Job.
- 1-34 – Job responds to Zophar in disagreement. He explains that wicked people seem to do just fine and that wickedness and negative life results do not seem to coincide.
- 1-30 – Eliphaz once again tries to get Job to see his sin, because, due to what is happening, it must be abundant. Eliphaz encourages him to try to get back to right relationship with God.
2 Corinthians 1:1-11:
- Second Corinthians is Paul’s second letter to the church of Corinth. It is the same church he wrote to in 1 Corinthians, not two separate churches.
- 3-7 – Paul is referring to persecution against Christians when he talks about the suffering he endures for the salvation of the Corinthians.
- David is clearly in turmoil here and is weighed down by many burdens, but he ends with faith that God will take care of him. This is a good lesson for each of us. Times get difficult and we can feel weighed down, but we can always turn to God.
- 2 – Both the society of the original hearers of these proverbs as well as our current society tend to rank people. Money is one of the biggest ranking scales. But God sees beyond our monetary wealth.
- 3-4 – Throughout Proverbs there is a continual juxtaposition between the wise and the foolish, their actions, and their results. These verses continue to spell this out.
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.