Bible Reading Challenge

We are a church that is a Bible-based gathering of believers. We say that God’s Word is the basis for everything we believe, and that it guides and directs every aspect of our lives. We invite you to join our challenge. List of Readings

The 2015 Bible Reading Challenge is complete.

If you have questions, send an email to Pastor Kneser or Pastor Wessel.

December 28 – January 1 – Revelation 15-22; Proverbs 31; Psalms 148-150; Zephaniah; Haggai; Zechariah; Malachi

    Notes on Revelation:
    • Ch. 15 introduces the seven angels with the seven bowls of plagues representing God’s wrath. This is another view of the same history as the previous visions, the entire time of the New Testament Church, only from the perspective of God’s ongoing judgment.
    • The woman on the beast (ch. 17) depicts the power of the Antichrist and of Satan, working together against God’s people. Their downfall is pictured in ch. 18, a dramatic presentation of Judgment Day.
    • Ch. 19 now presents the gathering of the faithful in heaven lead by the rider on the white horse – the King of Kings himself.
    • Ch. 20 is one of the most misinterpreted chapters in all of the Bible. It is NOT a 1000 year reign of Christ from the earthly Jerusalem, as is taught by “millenialists” (Greek for 1000). Rather, it is another version of the same thing taught in the previous visions, Satan under the thumb of Christ as His gospel goes forth, despite opposition. The ending is the same – Satan is doomed!
    • Ch. 21-22 are the culmination – the new heaven and the new earth, the home of the elect who will live forever with the Savior.
    • Our prayer is the same as John’s as he closes his writing, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • In Prov. 31, as was the case with Agur in ch. 30, we have absolutely no information on King Lemuel.
    • Lemuel’s mother taught him some of the same things Solomon teaches throughout his proverbs – warnings against sexual immorality and drunkenness, plus the responsibility of God’s people to defend those who are defenseless. 31:8 is a key Bible verse for those in the pro-life movement, who defend the unborn.
    • The closing section of ch. 31 is a beautiful description of the God-fearing woman. May every Christian woman strive to be like this woman; and may every Christian man be blessed by God to find such a woman!
    • Psalm 148 is a call to all creation to praise the Lord. As Psalm 149 emphasizes, how can we, who know of God’s mercy and grace in Christ, fail to add our words of praise!
    • Psalm 150 is a fitting close to the hymnbook of the Old Testament as all of us are to praise him in every place, for everything, with every kind of instrument. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Hallelujah!

    Notes on Zephaniah:
    • Zephaniah was a contemporary of Jeremiah’s early ministry (640-620 BC). He seems to have been of the royal line of David, but not one of the kings.
    • Much like Jeremiah, Zephaniah announces God’s judgment on Judah and Jerusalem, calling it “the day of the Lord.” He also includes the surrounding nations and Israel’s enemies in announcing the day of God’s judgment.
    • His message closes with the announcement of restoration and redemption, highlighted by 3:14-15.

    Notes on Haggai:
    • Haggai was the first prophet to work after the Jews returned from exile. Initial work on the rebuilding of the Temple had been halted in 535. Haggai led the effort in 520 BC to get back at it.
    • Key verse is 2:7, as “the Desired of all nations” is taken as a prophecy of the Messiah.

    Notes on Zechariah:
    • Zechariah was among those who returned from Babylon in 536 BC. He was both a prophet and a priest and was a contemporary of Haggai.
    • His message in ch. 1-8 was much the same as Haggai’s – get to work at rebuilding the Temple! But he also used images that are repeated in the Revelation to John, images that apply to the New Testament church and times.
    • Elements of the crowning of Joshua as high priest (6:9-15) also apply to the coming Messiah – the “Branch;” the idea of the priest-king.
    • Ch. 9-14 seem to be an oracle Zechariah spoke much later than the earlier chapters. Noteworthy verses include Messianic prophecies: 9:9-10; 13:7; 14:9.

    Notes on Malachi:
    • Based on similar themes, Malachi seems to have been a contemporary of Nehemiah, working between 440-430 BC.
    • Complacency in worship has set in among both priests and God’s people. The sacrifices and offerings are far less than what God expects of people who proclaim their love for the Lord. Malachi calls both groups to repentance.
    • As we consider our offerings to the Lord, take to heart Malachi’s words in 3:6-12.
    • Notable verses are 3:1 and 4:5, prophecies of John the Baptist as the forerunner of the Messiah; and 4:2 (Sun of Righteousness), a prophecy of the Messiah himself.
    • With the writing of Malachi, the time of prophecy comes to an end. God will next speak to His people himself in the person of Jesus, the Christ.

December 21 – December 25 – Revelation 6-14; Proverbs 30:24-33; Psalms 144:1-147:11 Jonah; Micah; Nahum; Habakkuk

    Notes on Revelation:
    • Ch. 6-7 is the vision of the Seven Seals. It includes the four horsemen – Christ, bloodshed, famine and death. The most significant part for you and me is the sight of the great multitude in white robes – the gathering of the faithful and the blessings we will enjoy in heaven (7:9-17).
    • Ch. 8-11 is the vision of the Seven Trumpets which are seen when the 7th seal is opened. Very difficult times for God’s people are pictured here, until the 7th trumpet announces that God’s kingdom will last forever.
    • The vision of the Woman, the Dragon and the Two Beasts (ch. 12-13) are essentially a repeat of the first 6 trumpets. The woman (the New Testament Church) is attacked by the dragon and the beasts. Her victory is announced in ch. 14 with the coming of the Lamb and the sending of the three angels.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Psalm 144 begins with a prayer for deliverance from enemies and ends with a list of the blessings that come when God brings that deliverance.
    • 145:4-7 is a great section on the importance of sharing God’s name. Witnessing to others about the grace and mercy of God is the task of all of us.
    • 145:15-16 makes an excellent mealtime prayer, worth memorizing.
    • Psalms 146-150 are all psalms of praise to the Lord, beginning and ending (in Hebrew) with “Hallelu – Yah!” – “Praise the LORD!” They are filled with all kinds of reasons for God’s people to offer him the best of praise.

    Notes on Jonah:
    • Jonah ministered to God’s people from approx. 800-750 BC. Israel was enjoying a time of prosperity and political stability, but also a time of spiritual, idolatry, apathy and complacency.
    • It was at this time that God gave the unusual command to have Jonah offer the Lord’s grace and forgiveness to Assyria, a nation that was a bitter enemy of Israel. That is the basis for Jonah’s reluctance. Though he finally went and preached to the citizens of Nineveh, you can really sense his disdain for them and his anger when the Lord relented on threat of punishment.
    • Many question whether this account is real because of Jonah’s 3 day survival in the belly of a great fish. But we know that nothing is impossible for the one who creates a universe and raises the dead. He can even bring to faith a nation filled with unbelief. May he accomplish that through us in our nation!

    Notes on Micah:
    • Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah, serving sometime between 750-685 BC. He was from Moresheth in southern Judah. Assyria was the dominant power. Micah mentions the fall of the northern kingdom in 1:6. This fits in with his overall theme of God’s judgment on idolatry, injustice, and empty ritualism.
    • Chapters 4-5 are Micah’s words of hope and restoration under the king who is to come from Bethlehem (5:2).
    • Chapter 6 is a courtroom scene where God presents his case against Israel because of her sins. But ch. 7 closes with words of hope and victory for God’s people.

    Notes on Nahum:
    • Little is known of this prophet. Nahum seems to have worked in the last half of the 7th century BC. His name means “comfort.”
    • His main theme is the downfall of Nineveh, the capital city of Israel’s enemy, Assyria That took place in 612 BC. News of this event would bring comfort to God’s people.
    • The purpose of Nahum’s message for us is that God is serious when it comes to sin, but also merciful toward those who trust in him (1:2-8).

    Notes on Habakkuk:
    • His ministry was about the same time as that of Jeremiah, when Judah was on the brink of conquest by Babylon (1:6).
    • The unique feature of Habakkuk is that it is a dialogue between the prophet and God:
    1:2-4 – Habakkuk wonders why the evil in Judah goes unpunished.
    1:5-11 – God announces the coming of the Babylonians
    1:12 – 2:1 – Habakkuk wonders how God can use an even more wicked nation to punish his people
    2:2-20 – Babylon will be punished and the faithful among God’s people will live
    • The dialogue closes with Habakkuk’s prayer (ch. 3) – a confession of trust and joy in the Lord.
    • Key verse is the last half of 2:4, quoted several times by Paul in his epistles – “the righteous will live by his faith.”

December 14 – December 18 – 3 John, Jude, Revelation 1-5; Proverbs 30:11-23; Psalms 140-143; Hosea 11-14, Joel, Amos, Obadiah

    Notes on 3rd John:
    • Also written by the apostle John, probably in the late 80’s of the 1st century.
    • The purpose of his writing had to do with the reception some preachers sent out by John were receiving. Diotrophes was openly opposing them and chastising those who welcomed them. John was praising Gaius and Demetrius for standing up for them, and thus, standing up for the truth of the gospel.

    Notes on Jude:
    • The author of this letter describes himself as the servant of Jesus and brother of James. This likely points to him as another one of Jesus’ brothers who came to faith after the resurrection.
    • The letter was probably written in the 60’s AD as the time of the apostles was drawing to a close (v.17).
    • The occasion for his letter is stated in v.4, topics which still need continual proclamation today. The key verses for us are 20-22.
    • The reference about the body of Moses and the quotations from Enoch both come from non-biblical sources as commented on by some early church fathers. But over the course of time these documents have been lost.

    Notes on Revelation:
    • The author is John, the beloved apostle. He had been serving as leader over several churches in western Asia Minor, addressing them in ch. 2-3.
    • The occasion was a fierce persecution being undertaken by Emperor Diocletian who ruled 81-96 AD. He was promoting the cult of emperor worship, forcing Christians to offer incense to him as a god. Those who refused were imprisoned or executed. The aged apostle was exiled to a penal colony on the remote island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea.
    • He writes to encourage the faithful. All the visions and symbolic language point to the same fact over and over again – in the end Jesus wins the victory and his followers share in it. It will not be easy, persecution and martyrdom is in store for those who remain faithful.
    • Our interpretation of Revelation is historical, that it describes the long chain of events from John’s time until the end of the world. However, the visions are not to be explained as if they were successive to each other in chronological order. Each major vision discusses a different aspect of the same period – namely, the entire New Testament era from Jesus’ ministry to his second coming.
    • In the first vision (ch. 1-3) John sees Jesus (1:12-18). Jesus reveals a message for the 7 congregations and their pastors. He has words of praise for some and words of condemnation and warning for others.
    • The beginning of the second vision (ch. 4-5) is a vision of heaven, using a lot of imagery from Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Being familiar with those Old Testament books is a key to understanding Revelation.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Prov. 30:17 pronounces a horrible curse on disobedient children. Let parents take their work of discipline seriously so their children learn obedience and respect!
    • As an example of Prov. 30:23b, refer to Hagar and Sarah in Genesis 16.
    • Psalm 140 is a prayer for deliverance from our enemies, very appropriate in our day of terrorism and violence.
    • Psalm 141:1-2 should be familiar from our liturgy. Do you know which order of service?
    • The enemy in Psalm 143 is not an earthly one, but spiritual. This is a prayer for help as we struggle with sin in our lives.

    Notes on Hosea:
    • Matthew 2:15 tied Hosea 11:1 to the flight of Joseph, Mary and Jesus to Egypt as fulfillment of prophecy.
    • Ephraim (11:8ff.) was the leading tribe of the northern kingdom and thus represents the nation of Israel.
    • Ch. 14 is God’s call to repentance and his promise of never-failing mercy and forgiveness for those who do turn to Him.

    Notes on Joel:
    • There is no historical or family information that allows us to accurately date Joel’s ministry. References to the priesthood and Zion as God’s holy hill seem to indicate that he worked in the southern kingdom of Judah.
    • The occasion that prompted his message was a devastating invasion of locusts, pictured very vividly as an invading army. Joel uses the occasion to call the people to repentance so they are ready for the coming “day of the Lord.”
    • 2:28-29 is quoted by Peter in Acts 2 as a prophecy fulfilled by the Spirit’s outpouring on Pentecost.

    Notes on Amos:
    • Amos was from Tekoa, a few miles south of Bethlehem in Judah. Yet his message is directed primarily towards the northern kingdom. It seems he preached to those coming to worship at the calf-idol temple in Bethel (7:10) as he denounced the idolatry and sins of his day.
    • His ministry was carried out during the middle of the 8th century BC, a time of great economic and political prosperity for Judah and Israel. Spiritual smugness, immorality, materialism, injustice and oppression of the poor was the order of the day. He had much to preach against.
    • He was a shepherd and orchardman and uses many images from his experiences. Watch for them.
    • The theme of his message is stated in 5:24. The most severe punishment is announced in 8:11-12, a famine, not of food, but of God’s word.

    Notes on Obadiah:
    • The theme of this brief letter is the announcement of God’s judgment on Edom, the kingdom of Esau’s descendants. Edom was located south and east of the Dead Sea.
    • Edom’s sin is described in vs. 10-12. We don’t know which invasion of Judah is being described, so it’s difficult to attach a date on Obadiah’s ministry.

December 7 – December 11 – 2 Peter; 1 John, 2 John; Proverbs 30:1-10; Psalms 136:13 – Ps. 139; Daniel 4-12; Hosea 1-10

    Notes on 2 Peter:
    • This letter was his second to the same group of people (3:1), probably written near the end of his life, 67/68 AD.
    • 1:16-21 is a key section when it comes to understanding the inspiration of the Bible, especially vs. 20-21.
    • Ch. 2 is a strong denunciation of false prophets. If only people of today would heed these warnings and be more vigilant of the truth!
    • Ch. 3 reminds us to be prepared for the end of the world so that it doesn’t catch us unawares.

    Notes on 1 John:
    • The author of these three epistles is John, the dearly loved apostle of Jesus, called the Elder in 2nd and 3rd John. It appears that he wrote them sometime between 85-95 AD. While he is not named specifically, the style and themes are very similar to the gospel that bears his name.
    • Key verses include: 1:7, 8-10; 2:2, 15-17; 3:16, 18; 4:1-3, 7-12, 19-21; 5:14.

    Notes on 2 John:
    • Commentators are divided on who the chosen lady (v.1) is – either an unknown Christian woman, or a figurative designation of a local congregation or group of congregations. Her children would thus be her sons and daughters or the members of the congregation(s).
    • The main issue addressed is a warning about false teachers who were denying that Jesus was God and man in one person.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • There is no mention of a wise man named Agur anywhere else in Scripture.
    • See the NIV footnote on 30:1 to see a better translation. Rather than Ithiel and Ucal being names of individuals, they could also be the Hebrews verbs, “I am weary” and “I am faint.”
    • Prov. 30:8-9 is a good description of what it means to be content.
    • Psalm 137:1 lets us know that these words come from the time of the exile in Babylon.
    • 137:9 seems to indicate that this is what the Babylonians had done when the conquered Jerusalem.
    • Psalm 139 describes some of the awesome characteristics of our God: knows all things (omniscient), is present everywhere (omnipresent) and is our Creator (omnipotent).

    Notes on Daniel:
    • Daniel 4 was another dream of Nebuchadnezzar, one about his own future, that he would live like a wild beast out in the country. God used the fulfillment of this dream to humble the arrogant king.
    • Daniel 5 moves us forward to 539 BC when Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson was now on the throne of Babylon. BY this time Daniel was likely in his early 80’s and probably in some sort of retirement. That’s why he would not have been consulted immediately.
    • May our lives be as upright as Daniel’s, that the only thing the unbelievers can attack about us is our faithfulness to God!
    • In his visions given over the space of several years, God reveals to Daniel events of the future, primarily as they affected Israel and the history of the middle East But they also include elements which point to New Testament times down to the day of Judgment.
    • In Dan. 8:9ff. the little horn is usually identified with Antiochus Epiphanes who ruled Syria and Palestine 175-164 BC. He committed horrible atrocities against the Jews including erecting an altar to Zeus in the Temple. He is referred to again, beginning in 11:21.
    • Daniel 12 takes us to the end times.

    Notes on Hosea:
    • Hosea is the first of what are called “The Minor Prophets,” not because they were of lesser importance, but because of their size. All 12 of these fit on one scroll. They are arranged somewhat in chronological order.
    • Hosea worked from approx.. 755 – 720 BC, primarily in the northern kingdom, Israel. Thus, he was a witness of that kingdom’s destruction at the hand of the Assyrians. His frequent references to Judah indicate he may have fled there after the conquest.
    • Hosea 1-3 is a living parable with the relationship between Hosea and his wife, Gomer, picturing the adulterous relationship Israel had with the LORD. Thus the overriding theme of Hosea is a call to repentance.
    • CH. 4 lays out the charges which God brings forth describing the sins of the people. Their repentance (5:1-3) is spurned by the LORD as being like mist and dew (5:4) which are really nothing at all.
    • The reference in 10:5 to the calf-idol is the idol set up by Jereboam I, who didn’t want the people in his northern kingdom to travel to Jerusalem in the southern kingdom, Judah. His introduction of idolatry opened the doors to all kinds of other false gods and hastened the downfall of Israel.

November 30 – December 4 – James 4-5; 1 Peter 1-5; Proverbs 29; Psalms 133-136:12; Ezekiel 35-48; Daniel 1-3

    Notes on James:
    • 4:3 is a timely verse for this time of year when many people get caught up in the buying frenzy of Christmas.
    • James touches on a number of different topics pertinent to our Christian lives, with the reminder that God’s day of judgment is certainly coming.
    • The anointing of the sick with oil in 5:14 was to help in the healing of the sick person, not some spiritual ritual. The prayers of the elders and the church was to ask God for physical and spiritual healing.

    Notes on 1 Peter:
    • The author was the leader of the apostles. A rugged fisherman by trade, he came to know Jesus very early in the Savior’s ministry (John 1) and began to follow Him full-time after the great catch of fish (Luke 5). It was likely written in the early 60’s from Rome, which Peter calls “Babylon” in 5:13.
    • As 1:1 states, he wrote to Christians throughout Asia Minor, most of whom were probably brought to Christ through Paul’s ministry. As we know from Acts, they were targets for persecution. Watch for Peter’s words of encouragement and hope throughout the letter.
    • Memorable verses: 1:3-4, 18-19; 2:2-3, 9, 24-25; 3:15, 21; 4:8, 10; 5:6-9.
    • 3:1-7 is a great section for husbands and wives to study. “Weaker partner” in 3:7 is not a reference to spiritual or moral character, but simply to physical strength.
    • 5:1-4 are words especially for pastors to abide by.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Proverbs 29 has a lot to say toward those who are in positions of governing.
    • Prov. 29:15 & 17 give good parenting advice!
    • The pictures of Psalm 133 (generous anointing, abundant dew) signify total consecration and rich bounty, blessings for those who enjoy brotherly unity.
    • In the Psalms, as in 135:1, the phrase “Praise the Lord” is the Hebrew phrase “Hallelujah!”
    • Psalm 136 was likely used in the worship service as a verse spoken by the priest or Levite, followed by the general response of the worshippers. It reminded them and us of all the blessings the Lord pours out upon his people.

    Notes on Ezekiel:
    • Mount Seir (Ez. 35:2) was just south of the Dead Sea. It stands for the nation of Edom. This chapter is a prophecy of judgment on it because of its ongoing hostility toward Israel.
    • Ch. 36 is a promise of restoration for God’s people. That restoration is pictured in ch. 37 as dry bones becoming alive again, a demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power in bring life to souls that are dead in sin, as you and I are when we come into this world.
    • The places mentioned in ch. 38-39, including the unknown Gog and Magog, are symbolic of all the enemies of God and his people. Their day of punishment is coming as God once again fights for his people!
    • The vision of a new Temple in Jerusalem is symbolic. It pictures the fact that God’s presence would dwell again among his people (42:1-5) who would worship him, serve him and live under his rule forever. These words would be very encouraging to people who had now been living in exile for nearly 30 years. For us it’s a picture of the New Jerusalem, our home in heaven.

    Notes on Daniel:
    • Daniel became a national figure in Babylon during the 70 years of exile there. He, along with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, (ch. 3) was part of the first wave brought from Jerusalem when Nebuchadnezzar subjugated King Jehoiakim in 605 BC. (see 2 Kings 24 and 2 Chronicles 36). He was likely a teenager at the time. His life spanned the entire time in exile, until the first years of Cyrus the Mede and Darius the Persian, co-regents who overthrew the Babylonians in 539 BC.
    • The magicians and enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers were the advisors to superstitious rulers like Nebuchadnezzar. They were well-versed in many areas of knowledge. Daniel showed that, with the help of the Lord, he had true insight into the future, something the rest could only guess about. Thus he became head of this group – the Magi! Nearly 600 years later some of them came to Bethlehem to worship and present gifts to the newborn King of the Jews.
    • The four kingdoms represented in the statue were Babylon, Persian, Greek and Roman. The rock that shattered them all was the kingdom formed by the Messiah – the Holy Christian Church. (Come and hear about this in the Advent services, Dec. 2).

November 30 – December 4 – James 4-5; 1 Peter 1-5; Proverbs 29; Psalms 133-136:12; Ezekiel 35-48; Daniel 1-3

    Notes on James:
    • 4:3 is a timely verse for this time of year when many people get caught up in the buying frenzy of Christmas.
    • James touches on a number of different topics pertinent to our Christian lives, with the reminder that God’s day of judgment is certainly coming.
    • The anointing of the sick with oil in 5:14 was to help in the healing of the sick person, not some spiritual ritual. The prayers of the elders and the church was to ask God for physical and spiritual healing.

    Notes on 1 Peter:
    • The author was the leader of the apostles. A rugged fisherman by trade, he came to know Jesus very early in the Savior’s ministry (John 1) and began to follow Him full-time after the great catch of fish (Luke 5). It was likely written in the early 60’s from Rome, which Peter calls “Babylon” in 5:13.
    • As 1:1 states, he wrote to Christians throughout Asia Minor, most of whom were probably brought to Christ through Paul’s ministry. As we know from Acts, they were targets for persecution. Watch for Peter’s words of encouragement and hope throughout the letter.
    • Memorable verses: 1:3-4, 18-19; 2:2-3, 9, 24-25; 3:15, 21; 4:8, 10; 5:6-9.
    • 3:1-7 is a great section for husbands and wives to study. “Weaker partner” in 3:7 is not a reference to spiritual or moral character, but simply to physical strength.
    • 5:1-4 are words especially for pastors to abide by.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Proverbs 29 has a lot to say toward those who are in positions of governing.
    • Prov. 29:15 & 17 give good parenting advice!
    • The pictures of Psalm 133 (generous anointing, abundant dew) signify total consecration and rich bounty, blessings for those who enjoy brotherly unity.
    • In the Psalms, as in 135:1, the phrase “Praise the Lord” is the Hebrew phrase “Hallelujah!”
    • Psalm 136 was likely used in the worship service as a verse spoken by the priest or Levite, followed by the general response of the worshippers. It reminded them and us of all the blessings the Lord pours out upon his people.

    Notes on Ezekiel:
    • Mount Seir (Ez. 35:2) was just south of the Dead Sea. It stands for the nation of Edom. This chapter is a prophecy of judgment on it because of its ongoing hostility toward Israel.
    • Ch. 36 is a promise of restoration for God’s people. That restoration is pictured in ch. 37 as dry bones becoming alive again, a demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power in bring life to souls that are dead in sin, as you and I are when we come into this world.
    • The places mentioned in ch. 38-39, including the unknown Gog and Magog, are symbolic of all the enemies of God and his people. Their day of punishment is coming as God once again fights for his people!
    • The vision of a new Temple in Jerusalem is symbolic. It pictures the fact that God’s presence would dwell again among his people (42:1-5) who would worship him, serve him and live under his rule forever. These words would be very encouraging to people who had now been living in exile for nearly 30 years. For us it’s a picture of the New Jerusalem, our home in heaven.

    Notes on Daniel:
    • Daniel became a national figure in Babylon during the 70 years of exile there. He, along with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, (ch. 3) was part of the first wave brought from Jerusalem when Nebuchadnezzar subjugated King Jehoiakim in 605 BC. (see 2 Kings 24 and 2 Chronicles 36). He was likely a teenager at the time. His life spanned the entire time in exile, until the first years of Cyrus the Mede and Darius the Persian, co-regents who overthrew the Babylonians in 539 BC.
    • The magicians and enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers were the advisors to superstitious rulers like Nebuchadnezzar. They were well-versed in many areas of knowledge. Daniel showed that, with the help of the Lord, he had true insight into the future, something the rest could only guess about. Thus he became head of this group – the Magi! Nearly 600 years later some of them came to Bethlehem to worship and present gifts to the newborn King of the Jews.
    • The four kingdoms represented in the statue were Babylon, Persian, Greek and Roman. The rock that shattered them all was the kingdom formed by the Messiah – the Holy Christian Church. (Come and hear about this in the Advent services, Dec. 2).

November 23 – November 27 – John 19-21; James 1-3; Proverbs 28; Psalms 129-132;Ezekiel 18-34

    Notes on John:
    • Since he wrote approx. 30 years after the other gospels were written, John has additional material in his account of Jesus’ trial, crucifixion and burial.
    • Jesus entrusted the care of his mother (19:25ff.) into John’s hands, likely because they were relatives (cousins?) and because his own brothers did not yet believe in him as the Messiah.
    • In Jesus’ burial we now see Nicodemus and Joseph, both members of the Jewish Council, now boldly coming forward to claim Jesus’ body for burial, a tribute to their faith in him.
    • The “disciple Jesus loved” is undoubtedly John himself.
    • John has three appearances recorded that are not included in the others. In all, at least 11 times the resurrected Jesus appeared to his followers, as recorded in the gospels and 1 Corinthians 15.
    • 20:30-31 is John’s statement of purpose for his gospel – to demonstrate that Jesus is the Son of God, the one in whom we place our faith and trust for eternal life.
    • In a very tender way Jesus reinstates Peter (21:15-17). 21:18-19 talks about Peter’s death which was at the hands of the Romans by crucifixion (upside down according to tradition).

    Notes on James:
    • The author identifies himself in 1:1 as a servant of Jesus. There are four different men bearing that name in the New Testament. This is most likely the brother of Jesus (Matt. 13:55), a son of Mary and Joseph. He seems to have become a believer after the resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor 15:7) and then rose to prominence in the early church as leader in Jerusalem (Acts 15).
    • This may be the earliest letter in the NT, perhaps written in the mid to late 40’s. It seems to be written for a distinctively Jewish audience with its frequent references to the law and the synagogue. Rather than a great treatise on the role of faith, as Paul had written often, James places his emphasis on the role of good works in the life of the believer, putting our faith into action. For that reason, this epistle was not one of Martin Luther’s favorites.
    • The theme of the epistle is stated well in 1:22-25;
    • Additional verses of note – 1:2-3; 1:17; 2:17; and the great section on keeping control of our tongues, 3:3-12.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Jesus may have had Prov. 28:24 in mind when he chastised the Pharisees in Mt. 15:4-7.
    • Psalm 130 is a beautiful confession of sin coupled with a firm trust in the Lord’s forgiving love. Lot’s here worth memorizing!

    Notes on Ezekiel:
    • 18:2 was a complaint the Israelites were using against God, that they were being punished unfairly for the sins of their parents. (“teeth set on edge” = the children were the ones who were “tasting” the bitterness because of what their parents’ “ate). God’s answer is in v.20 and his plea is in v.32.
    • In ch. 20 Jeremiah shows that the Israelites of his day were doing the very same things God’s people did in the desert coming out of Egypt, for which that whole generation was killed off before entering the Promised Land. Despite that, a remnant would be gathered by the Lord – the new people of Israel, the Holy Christian Church.
    • Ch. 21 is a prediction that it will be the Babylonians who will conquer Jerusalem and the Ammonites.
    • Ch. 23 very graphically portrays the political adultery committed by Israel and Judah as they rejected the Lord, their bridegroom.
    • Ch. 25-32 is a series of prophecies against the enemies of Israel. Ammon was to the east, across the Jordan. Moab was east of the Dead Sea, Edom south of it. Philistia was along the Mediterranean coast to the southeast. Tyre was to the northeast in what is Lebanon today. Sidon was its sister city.
    • Ch. 33 sets the task before Ezekiel – God’s watchman who is to sound the warning, to announce loud and long God’s call to repentance.
    • Jesus uses the imagery of ch. 34 in his “Good Shepherd” sermon in John 10. False shepherds are those who think only of themselves and neglect their duties toward the flock of God’s people. God also has stern words for the members of the flock.

November 16- November 20 – John 14-18; Proverbs 27; Psalms 123-128; Ezekiel 1-17

    Notes on John:
    • Ch. 14-17 are conversations of Jesus with his disciples not found in the other gospels. They contain some real treasures including more of Jesus’ “I AM” statements. Find and memorize them!
    • 14:2-3 is often used in Christian funeral services.
    • 14:26ff. is Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit (also 15:7ff.), first fulfilled on Pentecost, but also fulfilled whenever we study God’s Word. The Spirit creates and strengthens faith whenever and wherever that Word is used.
    • 15:12-17, Jesus’ command for his disciples to love one another, along with his commands concerning the Lord’s Supper is the source of the name “Maundy Thursday”. The Latin word for command is ‘mandare” (our word “mandate”). These commands are marks of a Christian.
    • Ch. 17 is called Jesus’ High Priestly prayer. It has three parts. In 1-5 he prays for himself; 6-19 he prays for the disciples who were with him that night; 20-26 he prays for his disciples of all time, including you and me.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Prov. 27:15-16 is another passage that wives should take note of.
    • Psalm 126 is a song of joy celebrating God’s deliverance. It may have been composed after the return from exile, or after some other notable deliverance by the Lord.
    • Psalm 127 shows the futility of living life without the Lord. Make your home and family life one that is built on the Lord. 127:3-5 and 128 show the blessing of a large family, very different from the attitude of many in our society today who consider children a burden.

    Notes on Ezekiel:
    • What we know about Ezekiel comes primarily from 1:1-3. He had been part of the second group of exiles who were brought to Babylon along with King Jehoiachin in 597 BC. He was 30 years old when God first came to him in a vision and he served for the next 22 years as God’s prophet in Babylon. He was a priest and that gave him “standing” among the exiles. The Kebar River was actually a canal off the Euphrates River south of Babylon.
    • The four living creatures (1:5ff.) are the angelic attendants of the LORD, referred to in 10:1 as cherubim.
    • In his call (ch. 2), Ezekiel receives instructions on how he is to conduct his ministry – to faithfully proclaim everything God re-veals to him, even if the people fail to listen.
    • The warning in 3:17ff. shows that we have a role to play. We are to take seriously our work of warning others of the consequences to their sins. If we fail to warn, we will be held just as accountable when they are punished.
    • Throughout his messages, Ezekiel is asked to “play out” the key point – eating the scroll, drawing on a clay tablet, etc. Many of these were meant to drive home to his listeners that God was se-rious about their sin and his coming judgment if they did not re-pent.
    • When he uses the expression in 7:2 (and elsewhere) “the four corners of the land” he’s saying that these judgments will not just be on Israel but will have an impact on the whole world.
    • 8:1 is the beginning of Ezekiel’s next vision in which he sees Je-rusalem. Notice how similar the description of the man is to the one in 1:27ff. Who is this?
    • Much like Jeremiah, Ezekiel’s message is filled with warnings of God’s destruction because of their idolatry. What do think the sight of the glory of the Lord departing from the Temple means?
    • 11:16 begins God’s promise of restoring a remnant to Israel, a message meant to instill hope.
    • Special targets of God’s wrath include false prophets and idola-ters. What does that say to our society today?
    • The parable of ch. 17 is referring to Zedekiah, last king of Judah and Jerusalem.

November 9- November 13 – John 11-13; Proverbs 26; Psalms 119:161 – Psalm 122; Jeremiah 48-52; Lamentations 1-5

    Notes on John:
    • The account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is one of the most powerful in all of Scripture. It shows his tender love and concern for the members of this family and demonstrates to friend and enemy that he holds the power of life and death, that he truly is the Son of God. This miracle seems to have taken place about a month before Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem.
    • 11:25-26 is another of Jesus’ “I AM” statements and is most re-assuring as we face our own death or deal with the death of a loved one who has died in the Lord.
    • Note that his enemies acknowledge that Jesus is doing these miracles, yet refuse to believe that he is the promised Savior. How ironic that 11:50 becomes a prophecy fulfilled by Jesus, yet spoken by one of his bitterest enemies.
    • 12:20 talks about Greeks worshipping at the Feast (Unleavened Bread). These would have been proselytes, believers in Lord, but not accorded full worship rights at the Temple. There was a separate courtyard on the Temple grounds for Gentiles.
    • Notice how often Jesus ties his work to the plan of his Father, that everything Jesus says and does is just what his Father wanted from him. This again reinforces his claim to be the God the Son, second person of the Trinity.
    • 13:1 is what his mission was all about – displaying the full extent of his love for sinful mankind.
    • Remember that John wrote some 30 years after the other 3 gos-pel writers. He doesn’t include anything they wrote about except for revealing the betrayer and predicting Peter’s denial. Rather, he emphasizes the conversations and teaching of Jesus.
    • May all of us display the servant attitude of Jesus as we go about our lives in the various roles into which God places us!

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Prov. 26 deals primarily with the fool and the sluggard (lazy per-son). May God keep us from acting like either!
    • Psalms 120-134 all have the inscription, “A song of ascents.” Very likely these were psalms used by religious pilgrims as they made their way up (ascended) into the city of Jerusalem, and especially the Temple. No matter which direction you were com-ing from you had to go up / ascend in order to enter.
    • Another purpose for these psalms seems to be as liturgical chants as they traveled to and then entered the Temple courts. Note the many references to being at or near or seeing the house of the Lord.
    • Psalm 121 is a very comforting chapter, one your pastors use often for devotions with the sick.

    Notes on Jeremiah:
    • In ch. 48-51 Jeremiah continues announcing God’s judgment on the countries who have oppressed His people. The most severe judgment is reserved for Babylon.
    • In 50:20 God announces that when Babylon is destroyed he will apply his forgiveness toward his people for their sins and talks about a remnant, those who will be restored to Jerusalem.
    • In 51:28 God reveals that the Medes (and Persians) would be the nation He will use to carry out this judgment. This prophecy was given approx. 60 years before it was fulfilled.
    • The appendix of Jeremiah, perhaps written by his secretary Ba-ruch, is nearly identical to 2 Kings 24 and 25.

    Notes on Lamentations
    • This writing of Jeremiah displays his overwhelming sense of sor-row at the destruction of Jerusalem and God’s Temple which he witnessed in 586 BC.
    • The entire writing is poetic, made up of 5 laments. Each con-tains 22 verses (corresponding to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet), except the 3rd, which is 66 verses (3×22). This demonstrates the care Jeremiah took in writing these words.
    • The high point of Lamentations, because of the hope they pro-fess, is 3:22-26.

November 2- November 6 – John 7:32 – 10:42; Proverbs 25; Psalms 119:121 – 160; Jeremiah 32-47

    Notes on John:
    • Despite the NIV note questioning the inclusion of 7:53-8:11, no teachings of Scripture are violated, and the events are consistent with both the attitude of Jesus’ enemies and his love for lost souls.
    • In chapter 8 Jesus lays it on the line for his listeners, if they truly believed in God as their Father, they would believe in him as God’s Son. Since they considered themselves descendants of Abraham they would also acknowledge Jesus as Messiah.
    • The key verse is 8:58. This is where Jesus claims to be the LORD as revealed to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14. To his enemies this was blasphemy. That is why they tried to kill him. This is also a key to all of Jesus’ “I AM” statements.
    • What beautiful confessions of faith the blind man makes following his healing by Jesus, even when facing the hostile Pharisees! May we continue to witness about Jesus when confronted by those who don’t believe.
    • 10:1-21 is Jesus great “Good Shepherd” sermon. It contains two more of his “I AM” statements.
    • In 10:22 the Feast of Dedication is the Hanukkah celebration of today in mid-December. This was in celebration of the re-dedication of the Temple after it had been defiled by the Syrians in 165 BC.
    • In 10:25-38, Jesus again plainly shows that he is the Son of God. Yet his enemies refuse to believe. Do you know someone like that?

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Prov. 25:1 – Hezekiah was a godly king who ruled some 250 years after Solomon. He led a spiritual reformation in Israel which apparently included a renewed interest in Solomon’s writings. Almost all these verses use very vivid imagery, much like Jesus’ parables.
    • 25:6-7 – Jesus used this proverb at a banquet when he noticed the guests jockeying for the positions of highest honor (Luke 14).
    • 25:21-22 – Kill your enemy with kindness. You may embarrass them and win them over.
    • Notice how often Ps. 119:137-160 refer to God’s word as the source of our comfort and strength as we face affliction!

    Notes on Jeremiah:
    • In the face of imminent destruction by the Babylonians, the details of the buying of the field (ch. 32) were intended to show that God would bring his people back from their exile one day.
    • 33:14-16 is a special promise of the Messiah, the Branch from David’s line, who will bring safety and salvation to his righteous people.
    • Ch. 35-36 are a flashback to the reign of Jehoiakim, 600-597 BC. Notice the contempt the king had for the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah, calling for repentance and announcing God’s judgment.
    • Ch. 37-38 relates how Zedekiah (597-586) had the same contempt. And yet he wanted to hear what Jeremiah had to say about the city’s destruction and his own fate.
    • Jeremiah 39-44 gives many of the details about the destruction of Jerusalem and what followed, more than is written in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. It is assumed that Jeremiah died in Egypt among those who fled the Babylonian conquest.
    • Much of the remainder of Jeremiah’s writings are various judgments of God about Judah and the surrounding nations. He holds all men and nations accountable for their actions, whether they are followers of his or not.

October 26 – October 30 – John 5:1 – 7:31; Proverbs 24:8-34; Psalms 119:81 – 120; Jeremiah 16-31

    Notes on John:
    • Note that the invalid whom Jesus healed shows no sign of hav-ing faith in Jesus before this miracle. What does this say about today’s so-called “faith-healers”?
    • 5:18 gives the crux of the matter as to why the religious leaders had it out for Jesus. In their eyes he was a law-breaker and a blasphemer.
    • Notice the test Jesus gives his disciples (6:5). Their eyes only looked toward earthly solutions – money and the small amount of food the boy had.
    • Why did the people try to make Jesus their king? How did this show their misconceptions about the work of the Messiah?
    • With his “Bread of Life” dialogue (6:25-66) Jesus shows that he wants to have the most intimate relationship with us, that we need to “digest” him, feed on his message, in order to have true and eternal life. Sadly, many reject that call to faith.
    • 6:48 is the first of Jesus’ “I AM” statements recorded by John. Watch for several more of them.
    • Mark 6:3 identifies Jesus’ brothers. John here adds that they were not believers, as they display by their words.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Prov. 24:11-12 shows us our responsibility to speak up when sin and immorality are consuming the people around us!
    • Do we always have the attitude toward God’s word and worship expressed in 119:97?
    • Let 119:105 be your guide in life!.

    Notes on Jeremiah:
    • 16:1-9 describes how terrible God’s punishment will be. 10-13 and 16-18 give the reason. And then 14-15 gives a hint at the restoration which will eventually come.
    • 17:7-8 is a beautiful description of how the godly deal with ad-versity, when caught up in God’s punishment on the ungodly. Let us always trust and be confident in the Lord!
    • Learn the lessons of the clay in the hands of the potter and the shattered jar (ch. 18 & 19), showing how God deals with nations and people.
    • For his announcement of judgment, Jeremiah was put in the stocks (ch. 20). How does he deal with his difficult situation?
    • The messages of Jeremiah are not in strict chronological order. Zedekiah (21:1) was the last king of Judah (597-586 BC). Shal-lum/Jehoahaz (22:11) ruled for only three months in 609 and then was taken captive to Egypt by Pharaoh Necco. He was fol-lowed by Jehoiakim (609-598) during which the first deportation of exiles took place (605). The second deportation was in 597 when king Jehoiachin (598-597) was led away in chains. The fi-nal one was in 586 when the city and Temple were completely demolished by Nebuchadnezzar.
    • Most interesting is Jeremiah’s advice to the people to surrender to the Babylonians, rather than staying in Jerusalem (21:8ff.)
    • Ch. 23 is a condemnation of the prophets who were misleading the people. But there is also the promise of restoration led by the righteous Branch, the King who will bring peace and salva-tion – a beautiful promise of the Savior (23:3-8).
    • 25:11 contains the prophecy of the 70 year captivity in Babylon. It can be numbered in two ways: from 605 (first deportation) to 535 (decree of Cyrus allowing them to return); or 586 (final de-struction and deportation) to 516 (completion of the rebuilt Tem-ple.
    • Ch. 29, Jeremiah’s letter to those who had been taken into exile in the first two deportations, is one of hope and encouragement. Verse 11 should have been very meaningful to them, that God had not abandoned them, that they had a future (either in this life or in God’s eternal kingdom). That is our encouragement as well, when we face an uncertain future because of distressing events.
    • Ch. 30-31 describes for the exiles that restoration, and culmi-nates with the beautiful gospel promise in 31:31-34, the promise of God’s forgiveness.

October 19 – October 23 – John 1-4; Proverbs 23:17 – 24:7; Psalms 119:41 – 80; Jeremiah 1-15

    Notes on John:
    • John’s gospel was written towards the end of the 1st century, perhaps 85-90 AD, well after the other three gospels. Thus, there is very little material that was already contained in them. The only miracle in all four is the feeding of the 5000.
    • John’s emphasis is on the message of Jesus. He has many more of Jesus’ sermons to the crowds and conversations with individuals, but very few parables.
    • The main purpose of John’s gospel is found in 20:31 – “That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Watch for that as you read.
    • 1:1-18 is an introduction which ties the man Jesus to the 2nd person of the Trinity (the WORD). Jesus is the living embodiment of God’s Word, his message of love and forgiveness to the world.
    • Can you be like Andrew and Philip, who brought brother and friend to Jesus? Who in your circle of friends, relatives, acquaintances and neighbors (FRAN) needs to hear that Jesus is the Messiah, their Savior?
    • John records only a handful of Jesus’ miracles, most of them not mentioned in the other gospels, like changing water to wine, raising Lazarus and the 2nd catch of fish (ch. 21).
    • Jesus’ conversations with Nicodemus (ch. 3) and the Samaritan woman (ch. 4) show his intense love for souls, reaching out toward those who are searching or straying. May we have the same zeal!

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Take heed of the warnings about alcohol in Prov. 23:29-35!
    • How long is your list of synonyms describing God’s word in Psalm 119?
    • Do you feel as the psalmist does in 119:72?

    Notes on Jeremiah:
    • Jeremiah was God’s prophet in Judah and Jerusalem for at least 40 years (626-586 BC). The first half of his work was under the godly king, Josiah. Together they led a spiritual reformation in Jerusalem. Upon Josiah’s sudden death in battle, the spiritual and political situation changed dramatically. The last 20 years were difficult ones for Jeremiah as he was given the unenviable task of telling God’s people that they were going to be conquered by the Babylonians, the Temple would be destroyed and thousands would be taken into exile.
    • The call of Jeremiah is in ch. 1. Take special note of v.5. Can you see why this verse is important when we talk about the life of the unborn?
    • In ch. 2-6 God lays the case for his punishment on Judah. Just as the northern tribes had done, they were like an unfaithful wife who committed spiritual adultery by chasing after the false gods of her heathen neighbors, while still going through the motions of worship at the Temple. But their lives showed their spiritual corruption as dishonesty and injustice were the order of the day.
    • The disaster coming from the north was a prophecy of destruction at the hand of the Babylonians.
    • Beginning in ch. 7 Jeremiah calls the people to repentance.
    • 8:22 is the basis for one of the hymns in our hymnal. Do you know which one?
    • Ch. 11:14 is a horrible judgment on the people – God will no longer listen to their prayers for help in distress. May we never fall so far from the Lord that he pronounces this upon us! They have become so hardened against the Lord’s prophet that they plotted to take Jeremiah’s life (11:18ff.).
    • 12:4 seems to indicate that part of God’s punishment included a series of droughts.
    • The “live” parable of the linen belt (a symbol of those who served as priests) and the parable of the wineskin were meant to teach how the people had become useless, acting like a bunch of drunks in their relationship with the Lord.
    • Notice God’s harsh words against false prophets, those who were contradicting Jeremiah’s (and God’s) words, 14:14ff.

October 12 – October 16 – Hebrews 10-13; Proverbs 22:17 – 23:16; Psalms 119:1 – 40; Isaiah 46-66

    Notes on Hebrews:
    • 10:1 presents the same picture as Colossians 2:17, that the Old Testament worship laws and sacrifices were a shadow of what was coming. The reality is that Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of them. His sacrifice was “once for all,” 10:10 and 10:14.
    • That’s is why we want to be in God’s house (10:25), in order to praise God for that sacrifice and to “encourage” and “spur” on each other. We have seen the Savior, so let us not turn our backs on him and bring about our damnation (10:26-27, 31).
    • Instead, let us follow in the footsteps of the Old Testament heroes of faith (ch. 11) who could only look forward to the coming of the Savior. Look what they endured because of their faith in the promises of God. Should we be any less faithful?
    • 12:1-3 is the focal point – It’s all about Jesus; never lose sight of what he did for you; always live with his love and sacrifice in mind, even in the face of persecution.
    • Among the many wonderful exhortations in ch. 13, verse 4 is one we need to practice and proclaim in our immoral society. But heed them all!

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Proverbs 22: 17 begins a new section, “The Sayings of the Wise.” It is generally assumed that these were also written by Solomon. Vs. 17-21 are an introduction.
    • Prov. 23:13-14 calls for discipline from parents on unruly children. This obviously does not provide an excuse for abuse, but must always be rooted in love.
    • Psalm 119 is a devotion on the Word of God. Every verse deals with God’s revelation to us and uses many different words to describe this instruction we receive from our Savior and Lord. As you read this psalm over the next four weeks, keep a list of how many different words the author uses for God’s Word.
    • The structure of this psalm, the longest chapter in the Bible, is called a super-acrostic. Each group of eight verses is set apart in most Bibles by the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the verses begins with that letter in the Hebrew language.
    • This psalm should impress on us the importance of knowing our Bibles well! Like a woman delighting in the sparkle of her new diamond ring, Christians should view God’s Word as something that sparkles as we contemplate all the various ways that Word guides and helps us through life.

    Notes on Isaiah:
    • In chap. 46-48 God continues to speak about the “near” future, challenging the idols of Babylon (46), predicting its downfall (47) and addressing stubborn Israel, but announcing how his ally (47:14) will bring them freedom. That ally was the Persian king, Cyrus who defeated the Babylonians in 536 BC and allowed the Israelite exiles to return to Jerusalem the following year.
    • Ch. 49-57 deal with another Servant of the Lord, the one promised from the foundation of the world. He will bring perfect freedom and restoration, but not from any earthly power. And those blessings would not just be for Israel, but for the Gentiles as well (49:6).
    • As you read this section put a mark by all the verses that seem to be talking about that promised Servant. You should have dozens of them!
    • The climax of the Servant’s work begins in 52:13 and carries through all of ch. 53. We see that he is a suffering Servant. It’s as though Isaiah were standing at the foot of the cross as the Savior suffers and dies there to bring us peace and healing through the forgiveness of our sins.
    • Ch. 54 announces the blessings and glory the Servant prepares for his people. Ch. 55-56 is our invitation to enjoy his banquet feast of salvation. But Ch. 57 also includes a warning of judgment!
    • Ch. 58-66 present a picture of God’s kingdom as it moves towards judgment day – a time for confession, enjoying God’s love and forgiveness, judgement on the unrepentant, and everlasting glory for forgiven sinners. It’s no wonder Isaiah is described as the gospel preacher of the Old Testament.

October 5 – October 9 – Hebrews 1-9; Proverbs 21:23 -22:16; Psalms 117:1 – 118:29; Isaiah 29-45

    Notes on Hebrews:
    • The author of this letter to the Hebrews is unknown. It may have been Paul, but his primary work was among the Gentiles and he identified himself in all his other epistles. The author obviously had authority among Jewish believers and was very well versed in the Old Testament and Jewish worship. Martin Luther suggested Apollos because of the description of him in Acts 18:24.
    • The letter was written sometime before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD because he writes as though it is still the centerpiece of Jewish worship.
    • It was written to Jewish Christians who seem to be thinking about reverting back to Judaism in the face of Roman persecution, perhaps that which took place under Nero in 64-65 AD. Judaism was legal under Roman rule, Christianity was not.
    • The theme of the letter is that Jesus is superior to and the fulfillment of the whole Old Testament worship system. Quotations from the Old Testament abound, proving that Jesus was the perfect fulfillment as the promised Messiah. This would be the place to start when talking to someone of the Jewish faith about Jesus.
    • He is superior to the leaders of the Old Testament – superior to angels (1:5 – 2:18); superior to Moses (3:1 – 4:13); superior to the priesthood (4:14 – 7:28).
    • Jesus is the great high priest as shown in ch. 8-9.
    • Key verses include: 1:3; 2:9,11,14,18; 3:9-12,14-16; 7:26-27; 9:27-28.
    • 6:4ff. is a warning not to turn away from the faith as it is a direct contradiction to what Jesus’ work was all about. One who rejects his rescuer is all but doomed.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Proverbs 22:1 is a key verse when we study the 8th commandment, realizing how precious a good name / our reputation is. Let us not be guilty of robbing someone of something so precious. And may God protect ours!
    • Prov. 22:6 shows parents how important Christian training is.
    • Psalm 117 is the middle chapter of the Bible and the shortest chapter in the Bible. But what a little gem it is!
    • Psalm 118 is a hymn of thanksgiving worshippers may have spoken or sung as they approached the Temple for worship.
    • 118:22-23 is quoted at least 5 times in the New Testament as a reference to the Messiah being rejected by his people, but God using him to achieve something great.
    • The capstone was the center stone on the top of an archway. The weight of all the other stones leaned on the capstone. Without it, the arch would collapse, symbolizing how vitally important the Messiah is in the salvation of God’s people.

    Notes on Isaiah:
    • In ch. 29-31 the prophet announces judgment on Judah and Jerusalem for abandoning the Lord and relying on foreign alliances for deliverance from their enemies.
    • Isaiah 29:13 is quoted by Jesus several times as part of his criticism of the Pharisees for their hypocrisy.
    • In 30:33 Topheth is a region outside Jerusalem where children were sacrificed to the Ammonite god, Molech. This is one example of how deeply Israel had fallen from the LORD.
    • When Jesus spoke to the women as he carried his cross to Golgotha, he echoed the words of 32:9-14. But the rest of the chapter pictures the restoration that would be accomplished by the king of righteousness (32:1).
    • Over and over again, Isaiah pictures destruction and death, followed by restoration and life. The immediate fulfillment was the siege of the Assyrians followed by God’s miraculous deliverance (2 Chron. 32 and Isaiah 36-37). The long range fulfillment is in the peace and deliverance brought by the Savior and his message of spiritual peace and restoration, clearly pictured in ch. 35.
    • Isaiah’s prophecy to Hezekiah (39:5-7) about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple would be fulfilled about 100 years later at the hands of the Babylonians.
    • Chapters 40-66 are sometimes called 2nd Isaiah because of the structure and content. It is a well-organized presentation that has chapter 53 as its center – the suffering Servant of the Lord.
    • Ch. 40:3 is a clear prophecy of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah who announced the coming of the one who would bring the greatest of comfort. You should find many familiar verses in this chapter.
    • Other notable verses are 40:31, 41:10, 42:1-3, 42:8, 43:1-3a,
    • Ch. 44 shows the folly of those who worship idols, something made from a piece of wood or fashioned from metals of the earth. How can they save?
    • 180 years before it happened Isaiah names the one who will restore Israel from its Babylonian captivity – Cyrus (44:28).

September 28 – October 2 – 2 Timothy 1-4; Titus 1-4; Philemon; Proverbs 21:1-22; Psalms 114-116; Isaiah 9-28

    Notes on 2 Timothy:
    • After Paul was released from his first imprisonment in Rome (62? AD) he had another 3-4 years of mission work, perhaps even reaching Spain. But then he seems to have been arrested as part of Nero’s persecution (66/67 AD). That’s when he wrote 2 Timothy. The tone is much more reserved as Paul anticipates that he will not be set free, that he will be put to death.
    • Patient endurance in the midst of suffering is one of the major themes. Watch for it.
    • 3:14-17 are key verses in teaching the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures and their usefulness for our day to day lives. Memorize them!
    • 4:2-5 are special instructions to all those who preach and teach God’s Word. May we be faithful in our proclamation of the gospel!
    • 4:6-8 present the heart of God’s faithful servant as he faces death. May we have the same confidence!

    Notes on Titus:
    • Titus was one of Paul’s early Gentile converts and became a valuable helper in the ministry. While not mentioned in Acts, he is mentioned 13 times in Paul’s epistles. Between Paul’s Roman imprisonments, he and Titus obviously spent some time on the Mediterranean island of Crete. That’s where Titus spent several years and where he was stationed when Paul wrote this letter to him.
    • This letter has a lot of instructions for organizing the church on Crete. 1:6-9 gives qualifications for pastors, still in effect in our churches.
    • 2:11-14 is a great summary of Christian faith and life.
    • 3:5-7 are key verses about the power of baptism by which the Holy Spirit works faith in human hearts. Thus it can be accomplished even in the hearts of infants.

    Notes on Philemon:
    • Philemon was a leading member of the congregation in Colosse. Onesimus was his slave who had run away to Rome and found Paul there and had now become a Christian. Now Paul was sending him back and asking Philemon to receive Onesimus back as a brother, even though he could have been executed as a runaway. Notice the appeal Paul uses, one Christian asking another in love to do something very difficult.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Proverbs 21:1 is what we are studying in Bible Class at this time. Come join us!
    • Wives, take note of Prov. 21:9 & 19! No nagging, only loving correction.
    • Psalm 114 celebrates how God delivered his people from the Egyptians and sustained them on their journey to the Promised Land.
    • Psalm 115 shows how foolish it is to worship idols made by human hands. We have every reason to praise the one, true God!
    • Psalm 116 brings great words of comfort after pulling through a difficult time in life. Remember to read it in such an occasion.

    Notes on Isaiah:
    • Isaiah 8:19-20 is a strong condemnation against witchcraft. Our faith is built on “the law and the testimony,” God’s inspired Word.
    • 9:1-7 and 11:1 should be very familiar from the Christmas season.
    • God was using the nation of Assyria as his tool in chastising his people for their immorality and idolatry. Watch for references to that, but also how he was going to punish Assyria for it’s blood-thirstiness.
    • Isaiah 12 is called the “First Song of Isaiah.” The words should be quite familiar. The “Second Song” is ch. 26.
    • Ch. 13-21 and 23 are prophecies announcing judgment on a number of the enemies of Israel. Can you find them on a map?
    • But then God turns his attention (ch. 22 and 28) toward his own people in Judah and Israel. The lesson for us is not to become complacent in our relationship with God. We must continue to walk in his ways by faith and willing obedience.
    • Key verses: 6:8-9; 7:14.

September 21 – September 25 – 2 Thessalonians 2-4; 1 Timothy 1-6; Proverbs 20; Psalm 110-113; Ecclesiastes 8-12; Song of Songs 1-8; Isaiah 1-8

    Notes on 2 Thessalonians:
    • Paul adds to his teaching from the first letter about the Last Day, warning about false teachers and the “man of lawlessness” (2:3) also known as the “Antichrist.” Note the signs well!
    • As the believers wait for the judgment, they are to be involved in the work God gives them in their day to day lives, not being busybodies (3:11-13)

    Notes on 1 Timothy:
    • This is the first of the three “pastoral” letters of Paul in which he gives instruction to young pastors, Timothy and Titus on how to conduct their ministry.
    • Timothy had grown up in the home of a Jewish mother and grandmother (Lois and Eunice), but his father was a Gentile. He had become a Christian as a result of Paul’s work on his first missionary journey and then joined Paul’s team on his second journey (Acts 16:1-3). Their close relationship is reflected in 1:2.
    • This letter seems to have been written after Paul’s release from his first imprisonment in Rome, thus sometime between 63-65 AD.
    • Take note of Paul’s beautiful confession, 1:15-16.
    • Jesus’ divine nature is emphasized in 2:5.
    • 2:11-14 is the basis for restricting women from the pastoral ministry and other positions of leadership over men in the church.
    • Instructions, duties and characteristics of overseers apply to pastors today; deacons are the lay leaders in the congregation.
    • How does 5:17-18 apply to the relationship between members of the congregation and those who preach and teach in their midst?
    • Ch. 6:6-10 is an important aspect of our lives as people of God, our attitude toward money and riches.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Psalm 110 is a Messianic psalm, describing the person and work of the Messiah. Can you pick out verses that especially show that?
    • Psalms 111 & 112 complement each other. The first describes God’s love and faithfulness, the second the impact that has on our lives as people of God.
    • Psalm 113 is a hymn of praise to the LORD, especially for his treatment of the poor and lowly.

    Notes on Ecclesiastes:
    • Ch. 8:11 might be something our judicial system needs to apply better.
    • Ch. 9:1-12 talks about the destiny of all men – death. Thus, he encourages us to use our time wisely and well.
    • Ch. 12 1-7 uses some interesting pictures to describe the deterioration of our bodies as we grow older. Can you figure them all out?
    • Ch. 12:13-14 is main point he is making throughout. Learn it well!

    Notes on Song of Songs:
    • Written by Solomon depicting the wooing and wedding of a shepherdess by the king, both the joys and the sorrows. The book is interpreted in two ways. One, that it is a literal description of marital love in all its physical and emotional beauty, as God intended it. Or, that it should be understood as a description of Israel as the bride of God (Old Testament) and the Church as the bride of Christ (New Testament), symbolizing God’s grace in his love for his people. As you read it, keep both ideas in mind.

    Notes on Isaiah:
    • Isaiah is often considered the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. His ministry began about 740 BC and was carried out in and around Jerusalem. His greatest influence was under godly King Hezekiah, but also served under Uzziah(Azariah), Jotham and Ahaz.
    • It was a difficult time as the Assyrians were the dominant world power. In 722 BC the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered and carried away into exile, never to return. Only by a miracle of God was Judah/Jerusalem spared (2 Kings 18-19).
    • Dominant themes include God’s threat of punishment for unrepentant sin, but especially his grace in deliverance for his people. That deliverance would come in temporal, earthly ways from their heathen neighbors, but especially in the spiritual and eternal deliverance by the Messiah. No OT writer has more prophecies of the Savior, than Isaiah, so his writing is often called the gospel of the Old Testament.
    • Key verses: 6:8-9; 7:14.

September 14 – September 18 – Colossians 3-4; 1 Thessalonians 1-5; 2 Thessalonians 1; Proverbs 19; Psalm 108-109; Job 34-42; Ecclesiastes 1-7

    Notes on Colossians:
    • In ch. 1-2 Paul denounced the regulations being imposed on the Christians. Now in ch. 3-4 he gives other directions for Chris-tians to live by. The difference is stated in 3:1-3, that our motivation is different. Now we live to serve Christ and thank him for our salvation, rather than doing things out of obligation and fear.
    • Note the great contrast between 3:5-9a and 3:9b-17, between the acts of the sinful nature and the virtues of our new, spiritual nature.
    • 3:22-25 apply well to Christians in their role as employees. 4:1 is for employers.
    • Tychicus (4:7) was the man delivering this letter. Mark is the au-thor of the second gospel who is back in Paul’s good graces (see Acts 15:36-40).

    Notes on 1 & 2 Thessalonians:
    • Thessalonica was the largest city in Macedonia (northern Greece). Paul started the congregation there on his 2nd mission journey (Acts 17:1-9) but was driven away because of persecu-tion by the Jews after only a few weeks of preaching. The con-gregation seems to have been made up of mostly Gentiles.
    • Paul praises them in 1:6-8 for their perseverance in the face of persecution and holds them up as an example for believers eve-rywhere who face the same challenges.
    • 2:13 is an important passage in teaching about the inspiration of the Bible.
    • 4:13 – 5:11 is a section where Paul teaches about the Last Day. He may have not had enough time among them to get into all the details, so he does that here.
    • 2nd Thessalonians continues Paul’s teaching about the Last Day and the times leading up to it. It seems to have been written about 6 months after the first letter, both of them written from Corinth during Paul’s 18 month stay there (Acts 18:1-11).

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Prov. 19 has several verses about the poor. Keep in mind that most often he is not talking about those who are in financial dis-tress, but those who are spiritually poor, who lack the riches of Godly wisdom.
    • Prov. 19 has a bit of wisdom for everyone in the family. Wives, what do you think of Prov. 19:13? Husbands, take note of 19:14 and thank the Lord for such a spouse! Parents, take note of 19:18. 19:27 is for children.
    • Psalm 108 takes part of Psalm 57 and part of Psalm 60. It focuses on praise of God’s love and prayer for his help against Israel’s longtime enemies – Moab, Edom and Philistia.
    • Psalm 109 seems to be a dialogue between a godly man (the psalmist) and those who accuse and attack him. The accuser’s words are vs. 6-19
    • The second half of Psalm 109:8 was quoted by Peter in Acts 1 when the early Christians were choosing an individual to replace Judas to be part of “The Twelve.”

    Notes on Job:
    • Job had come close to charging God with wrongdoing. In 34:10ff. Elihu points out God’s perfect justice and perfect grace, themes he expands on in ch. 35 & 36.
    • 37:1-13 is a beautiful description of how God uses the weather in his control of the world.
    • Finally in ch. 38-41 God speaks to Job, putting Job in his place, asking Job what right he has to question God’s actions. Does Job know all the answers? Was he there at creation? Is he aware of what God is doing behind the scenes?
    • Job’s only answers are 40:3-5 and 42:1-6 – a humble acknowl-edgment that God knows best and a repentant heart. May we learn these lessons as we face adversity and trials in life.

    Notes on Ecclesiastes:
    • The “Teacher” likely was Solomon. You should see many re-semblances to the book of Proverbs. “Ecclesiastes” is the Greek word for teacher, leader of the assembly. The theme: Life not centered on God is without purpose and meaning.
    • He seems to have written near the end of his life, taking stock of his experiences between birth and death. He confesses that he got caught up in the excesses of life himself (ch.2) and now is admitting his folly. See 1 Kings 10-11
    • Who remembers the song based on Ec. 3:1-8?
    • 5:1-2 gives good advice as we prepare for worship.

September 7 – September 11 – Philippians 1-4; Colossians 1-2; Proverbs 18; Psalm 107; Job 19-33

    Notes on Philippians:
    • Philippi was a city in northern Greece, the first place Paul did mission work on the continent of Europe (Acts 16).
    • The letter was written by Paul from prison (1:13-14) in Rome about 61 AD. Acts 28:16, 30-31 describe his situation
    • Despite being a prisoner, note how often Paul talks about joy and rejoicing. See how many references to that emotion you can find.
    • 1:21-24 shows that with Christ, whether we live or die, we can feel confident and secure as we conduct ourselves as Christians in the world and look forward to life in heaven.
    • 2:5 talks about our attitude as Christians – humble service to God, just as Jesus carried out his service which brings about our salvation.
    • Are you shining like a star (2:15) as you display the gospel in our unbelieving world?
    • 3:8-9 is a beautiful synopsis of the gospel. Other memorable sections are 3:13-14, 4:4-7 and 4:11-13.

    Notes on Colossians:
    • Like Ephesians and Philippians, this letter was written from Rome by Paul during his first imprisonment there, about 61 AD.
    • Colosse was a leading city in Asia Minor, perhaps 100 miles inland from Ephesus. The congregation seems to have been founded during Paul’s stay in Ephesus on his 3rd mission journey (Acts 19:10).
    • False teaching had sprung up which included elements from Judaism and pagan philosophy:
    a) Ceremonialism – strict rules about food, festivals and circumcision (2:16-17, 21-23)
    b) Angel worship (2:18)
    c) Lessening the role of Christ, which Paul attacks by emphasizing Christ’s supremacy
    d) Secret knowledge (2:18)
    e) Reliance on human wisdom and tradition (2:4,8)
    • 2:9 is a key verse teaching the divinity of Jesus Christ.
    • 2:13-15 is a key section that proclaims Christ’s victory over sin and death.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Prov. 18:10 is a great comfort when dealing with stress and difficulty in life.
    • Prov. 18:22 would make a great wedding text or a motto by which Christian husbands conduct themselves in marriage.
    • Psalm 107 seems to be a responsive psalm with a leader recounting times of difficulty from which God delivered his people, followed by a response (v. 8, 15, 21, and 31) and conclusion (v.43) spoken by the people.

    Notes on Job:
    • Despite the fact that he is in deep anguish and feels that God has done him wrong, Job utters some of the most beautiful words of faith in 19:23-27. Well worth memorizing!
    • In 21:7ff. Job contemplates the age-old question of why the wicked seem to always prosper. He knows God will punish them in the end, but just can’t understand why he is feeling the sting of God’s wrath.
    • In chap. 22-26 we have the last dialogue between Job and his “friends.” It comes to an end because they cannot convince him of his guilt and he will not acknowledge what he believes to be untrue.
    • Ch. 28 is like a long proverb contemplating the question as to where to find the answers to life. V.28 gives the answer.
    • Ch. 29-31 is a three part summation from Job. First, he reviews the joy of his former life. Then he laments over his tragedy. And finally, he again proclaims his innocence.
    • A fourth counselor now speaks (ch. 32ff.), Elihu. He disagrees with both Job and his three friends. 33:23-28 gives an air of hope and redemption through the work of a mediator

August 31 – September 4 – Ephesians 1-6; Proverbs 17; Psalm 106:13 – 48; Job 4-18

    Notes on Ephesians:
    • Ephesus, on the west coast of what today is Turkey, was the capital of the Roman province of Asia and the most outstanding city in that part of the world. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world was located there, the temple of Artemis/Diana.
    • Paul stopped there briefly on his 2nd mission journey (Acts. 18:19-21) and then spent 3 years there on his 3rd journey (Acts 19). It was his headquarters for mission work in that whole area.
    • Paul wrote this letter from prison in Rome, about the year 60 or 61 AD. The first half of the letter is very doctrinal, touching on a number of important truths. The second half is the application of these truths to our Christian lives.
    • There are dozens of notable verses in this letter. Which have you memorized? 1:7; 2:8-9; 5:1-2; 6:10?
    • Those who are married should especially focus on 5:21-32. Pastor Wessel will be preaching on these words

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • How does Prov. 17:3 apply to Job’s situation and our own when we face adversity?
    • Based on Prov. 17:22, how would people characterize your disposition?
    • Do you see the connection between Prov. 17:14 and 27? Wise advice!
    • Psalm 106:28-31 refers to the incident in Numbers 25.
    • 106:34 jumps ahead to the time of the conquest of Palestine and the reign of the judges.
    • What’s the lesson for us as the Psalmist recounts Israel’s history? Repent and call on the Lord rather than turning to false gods!

    Notes on Job:
    • As you read the speeches of Job’s three friends, note that they contain elements of truth, but they also have some man-centered ideas.
    • In ch. 4 Eliphaz implies that while Job was supportive of others when they faced trouble, now that he faces it he is reacting badly. Do you catch his implication in 4:7 and repeated elsewhere, that Job mustn’t be such an innocent and upright man, that he deserves what’s happening to him? Do you ever think or feel that way?
    • What good advice does Eliphaz give in 5:8?
    • In 6:5 Job claims the right to complain because of his misery. We might feel that way at times as well. We can understand his pain because in our despair we think the same things.
    • Bildad doesn’t hold anything back in 8:2, does he? And again, he reasons that because God is just, Job and his family must be suffering as a result of their sinfulness.
    • Zophar in ch. 11 implies the same. How would you like to have these three as friends?

August 24 – August 28 – Galatians 1-6; Proverbs 16; Psalm 105:16 – 106:12; Nehemiah 9-13; Esther 1-1-; Job 1-3

    Notes on Galatians:
    • The churches in the Roman province of Galatia (central Turkey) had been founded by Paul on his first mission journey, 47-48 AD (Acts 13-14) and then revisited on his second journey, 50 AD (Acts 15:41 – 16:6).
    • He wrote the letter, probably in the early 50’s, to address the fact that false teachers called “Judaizers” had infiltrated the congregation. They insisted that Christians, Gentiles included, follow all the laws of the Old Testament – Sabbath and festival observances, circumcision, kosher foods, etc.
    • Paul shows how Christians have freedom from the law be-cause Jesus kept it perfectly, that we are righteous in God’s sight, not by observing rules and regulations, but purely and simply by faith alone. That’s what made this letter to the Galatians one of Martin Luther’s favorites.
    • 2:11-21 shows that Paul even had to chastise Peter over his misunderstandings and misapplications. This shows how easily we can be caught up in the same kind of thinking, that ceremony and custom can quickly pervert the freedom we have in Christ.
    • Key verses / sections to learn well and perhaps to memorize include 3:13-14, 3:24-28, 4:4-7,5:1, 5:6, 5:13-14, 5:22, 6:7-10.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Prov. 16:2 shows that the Lord reads the intentions of our hearts and minds, that he weighs motive as well as method.
    • Notice all the proverbs that speak to rulers in government. How well do politicians of today stack up?
    • Psalm 105 continues the retelling of Israel’s history and God’s hand in bringing them to the Promised Land.
    • Psalm 106 deals with the sins of Israel in the wilderness, sins that continued throughout their history.

    Notes on Nehemiah:
    • Nehemiah 9, like Psalm 105, is a retelling of Israel’s history, meant to refresh the minds of the returning exiles. They were to reflect on God’s love and forgiveness and to learn not to repeat the sins of their ancestors.
    • Nehemiah’s purpose was to rebuild and resettle the city of Jerusalem, to make it the Lord’s city once again. In doing so he laid the groundwork for the spiritual restoration that was also to be happening, especially the Sabbath observance.

    Notes on Esther:
    • We don’t know who wrote the account of Esther. But the author’s purpose was to give the historical background to the festival of Purim which celebrates the deliverance of God’s people from the evil plot of Haman.
    • The story of Esther shows how God’s grace works, oftentimes through the normal affairs of life, to preserve and bless his people.
    • The events take place during the reign of Xerxes who ruled Persia 486-465 BC.
    • Haman the Agagite is the villain in this story. His hatred to-ward the Jews probably stemmed from his family history. Agag had been the king of the Amalekites, a Canaanite tribe constantly at war with Israel since the time of Moses. We see that anti-Semitism is nothing new.

    Notes on Job:
    • Historical details about Job and the author of this book are very scant. Most Bible scholars place Job early in the 2nd millennium BC, perhaps contemporary with Jacob or during the time Israel was in Egypt.
    • He does not seem to be a Hebrew, but was a follower of Yahweh, the covenant name for God. Like the patriarchs he acted as the spiritual leader/priest for his family.
    • Job’s story provides a profound statement on the justice of God in light of human suffering. Since we all face suffering it’s important for us to learn these lessons well.
    • We see the role of the Holy Spirit’s gift of inspiration in giving details of events in heaven to the author that could be included as background.
    • The key verse for us in this section is 1:21-22. Learn it well!

August 17 – August 21 – Luke 22:39 – Luke 24; Proverbs 15:25-33; Psalm 104 – Psalm 105; Ezra 7-10; Nehemiah 1-8

    Notes on Luke:
    • Ch. 22:39 identifies the location of the Garden of Gethsemane – on the slope of the Mount of Olives. The phrase “as usual” lets us know how Judas knew where Jesus would be.
    • Luke has just the final outcome of Jesus’ questioning and trial before the high priest and Jewish Council (22:66-71).
    • Pilate, despite recognizing Jesus’ innocence, shows how brutal a leader he was by offering to beat him (23:16, 22), before releasing him. Finally, he simply caves in to the wishes of the Jewish leaders and the mob.
    • Jesus’ promise to the dying thief can be very comforting to us as we face the end of our time here on earth, that despite our sins, through faith in him we have the sure and certain hope of a place in paradise.
    • For the events of Luke 24:13-35, pick up a copy of the video “On the Road to Emmaus” from church, only $2. What a Bible class that must have been!
    • 24:45-49 are a summary of the entire 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension. May the message of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection have an impact on our hearts and lives so that we becomes witnesses for him!

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Psalm 104 is a hymn to the LORD as the Creator. The theme is in verse 24.
    • 104:27 is a great mealtime prayer.
    • Ps. 104 begins and ends with the phrase, “Praise the Lord!” as do many of the psalms. In Hebrew it is “Hallelujah!” or “Alleluia!”
    • Psalm 105 is a call to trust in the Lord as the one who keeps his promises. In this psalm the writer especially focuses on the promises to Abraham about his descendants, that they would inherit the Promised Land.

    Notes on Ezra:
    • Ezra 7 moves ahead from 516 BC to 458 BC. The return of exiles of which he was the leader was much smaller than the one in 535 BC, approx. 1600 men, plus women and children.
    • In his genealogy, Ezra uses the term “son of” rather loosely. We know from other lists where more names are included, Ezra’s term means “descendant of …” With this genealogy he shows his connection to the family of the high priest, thus validating his role when they arrive in Jerusalem.
    • The major problem he tackled was that of mixed marriages which allowed for the easy access of pagan idolatry back into Jewish life. This had been one of the causes of the exile and so Ezra takes what we might consider some extreme measures.

    Notes on Nehemiah:
    • Nehemiah was the leader of a third group of exiles to return to Jerusalem. He had been an official in the Persian government and was given permission to lead this group and to organize the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall.
    • Note how Nehemiah was organizing the construction and how he used his influence and position to improve the lot of the poor among God’s people.
    • Despite the opposition of the non-Jewish neighbors the project is completed. With Ezra as the spiritual leader and Nehemiah as the political leader the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the surrounding territory was in the best of hands.

August 10 – August 14 – Luke 19 – Luke 22:38; Proverbs 15:12-24; Psalm 101 – Psalm 103; 2 Chronicles 29-36; Ezra 1-6

    Notes on Luke:
    • Ch. 19:28 begins the most important week in human history, what we now refer to as “Holy Week.”
    • The events he predicts in 19:42-44 were fulfilled when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD.
    • Just as he had done near the beginning of his ministry, Jesus again cleanses the Temple. In the discussions that follow, probably on Monday and Tuesday of that week, Jesus preaches sternly against the hypocritical religious leaders in one last attempt to get them to see their sinfulness. Sadly, it only hardened them in their opposition to him.
    • Note the signs Jesus mentions as pointing to the Judgment –signs in nature, in society and in the church. Have any of these not been fulfilled? What should that tell us then? How should we prepare ourselves?

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Psalm 101 seems to be David’s pledge to rule his house and kingdom righteously. May the heads of our households do the same!
    • When you feel like the author of Psalm 102, do what he did – turn to the Lord in repentance and faith!
    • On the other hand, Psalm 103 is filled with joy as David re-flects on the love, forgiveness and power of God.

    Notes on 2nd Chronicles:
    • Hezekiah (715-686 BC) was probably the most notable king in Judah since the time of Solomon. Chronicles devotes much more time to the religious reforms he led, whereas 2 Kings focuses more on his political situation. It was during his reign that the prophet Isaiah was God’s chief spokesman.
    • Sadly, his son Manasseh undid much of the spiritual good Hezekiah had brought about. Late in his reign God allowed the Assyrians to capture him. When Manasseh repented God restored him and Manasseh returned to worshipping the LORD.
    • Josiah (640-609 BC) led the greatest religious reform, espe-cially in restoring and rebuilding the Temple and celebrating the Passover. But after his death, Judah quickly declined into idolatry and in less than 25 years the nation, the Temple and the city of Jerusalem were in ruins. Over the course of 3 deportations (605, 597 and 586 BC), thousands of Jews were carried away into exile in Babylon. God’s prophet during this difficult period was Jeremiah.

    Notes on Ezra:
    • Ezra was a leader of the Jews in the mid-400’s. He led the second return of exiles to Jerusalem. The first return is doc-umented in the first six chapters of his book. Since the first two verses of his book are identical to the closing verses of 2 Chronicles, it is likely that he was the author of both.
    • The 70 year exile began with the first deportation (605 BC) and ended with Cyrus’ edict in 535 that the Jews could return to Jerusalem. Zerubbabel was the political leader, Jeshua (Joshua / Jesus) was the high priest. Because of opposition it took 20 years to complete the building of the new Temple. This is the one that Jesus worshipped in more than 500 years later.

August 3 – August 7 – Luke 15 – Luke 18; Proverbs 15:1-11; Psalm 96 – Psalm 100; 2 Chronicles 10-28

    Notes on Luke:
    • Ch. 15 is sometimes referred to as “The Lost Chapter.” Can you figure out why?
    • In the parable of the Shrewd Manager Jesus is not teaching that it’s okay to be dishonest. Rather, it is that we are to use wealth wisely and shrewdly to benefit ourselves and others in this life and in ways that are pleasing to the Lord.
    • Jesus’ story of the Rich Man and Lazarus includes details that are meant to enhance the story but not to be taken literally – conversation between those in heaven and hell. The point is that we are to use God’s Word in this life to prepare ourselves for eternal life. Failure to do so results in eternal punishment.
    • From Jesus’ healing of the 10 lepers and an evaluation of your life, are you more like the 9 or the 1 when it comes to your gratitude toward the Lord?
    • In 17:20-36 Jesus is NOT teaching about any kind of “rapture” but that when he comes again some will be taken to heaven others will not. Their destiny is hell.
    • Ch. 18:15-17 shows that Jesus wants even babies to be part of his kingdom. Why then, would parents withhold baptism from these little ones?

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Keep Prov. 15:1 in mind the next time you are engaged in a conversation that seems to becoming more intense.
    • Psalm 96 is a call to all people to praise the Lord as the only true God and to proclaim his glory throughout the world. Psalms 97 and 98 have nearly identical themes.
    • Do the verses of Ps. 96, 98 and 100 sound familiar? We sing them quite often in our worship services. Check your hymnals!

    Notes on 2nd Chronicles:
    • Ch. 11 shows how God blessed Reheboam when he obeyed the LORD (v.4). Ch. 12 shows how God punished him when he disobeyed (v.1). Watch for similar statements in the rest of 2 Chronicles.
    • The division of Solomon’s kingdom into Israel (northern 10 tribes, capital at Samaria) and Judah (southern 2 tribes, capi-tal at Jerusalem) took place about 930 BC.

July 27 – July 31 – Readings: Luke 11:37 – Luke 14; Proverbs 14:20-35; Psalm 92 – Psalm 95; 1 Chronicles 24-29, 2 Chronicles 1-9

    Notes on Luke:
    • Jesus’ “words of woe” to the Pharisees and teachers of the law were based on their self-righteousness – an outward devotion to the laws of God, but without any love or inner devotion to God and to the people around them.
    • Luke 12:6-7 should be very comforting for us throughout our lives as Jesus tells us how intimately known by God we are.
    • In ch. 12 we see that Jesus’ teachings are still relevant today as he touches on faithfulness, greed, worries about money, and a host of other issues.
    • 13:1-9 impresses on us the need for daily repentance.
    • The Parable of the Great Banquet (14:15-24) teaches us to not pass up our opportunities to hear and believe the gospel. If we do, we may very well be left out of heaven. True discipleship takes effort and dedication.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Prov. 14:34 is a warning to those in our nation who want to legitimize sin and exalt immorality.
    • Ps. 92 celebrates worship in God’s house where music and praise, teaching about Christ’s victory and the promise of God’s faithfulness refresh our hearts.
    • Psalms 93-100 focus on the eternal, universal and invincible reign of the Lord.
    • Psalm 94 emphasizes the LORD as Judge. His judgment on the wicked is sure and certain. His defense of the righteous instills confidence and trust.
    • Ps. 95:1-7 is the basis for the liturgical song “Te Deum Laudamus” which is part of our “Morning Praise” (Matins) service.
    Notes on 1st & 2nd Chronicles:
    • Because of the number of priestly families, they were organized into 24 divisions who rotated their times of service in God’s house. The same was true for the members of the tribe of Levi. The rest of those who served in the worship life of the nation – musicians, gatekeepers, treasurers and other officials – were just as organized. This is much like what we do with ushers, choirs, offering counters, etc.
    • Though God did not want David to build the Temple because he was a man of war, David made all the necessary plans and preparations for its construction. Note the generous gifts he provided – literally tons of gold and silver. Following his example the leaders of Israel did the same.
    • The building of the Temple took 7 years. It was considered one of the “wonders” of the ancient world. With all the gold plated walls and furnishings it must have truly been magnificent.
    • The accounting of Solomon’s wealth and his wisdom show he was truly blessed by the Lord. Sadly, as related in 1 Kings 11, he fell away from the Lord for a significant portion of his reign.

July 20 – July 24 – Readings: Luke 9:1 – 11:36; Proverbs 14:1-19; Psalm 89:30 – Psalm 91; 1 Chronicles 9-23

    Notes on Luke:
    • The feeding of the 5000 (9:10ff.) is the only miracle of Jesus which is recorded in all four gospels.
    • May all of us make the same confession about Jesus that Peter did (9:20).
    • Jesus now begins revealing to his disciples the sorrowful events about his suffering and death. But he also warns them and us that we will face similar persecution as his followers.
    • 9:48 shows the value of children in Christ’s kingdom. Any parent who does not take the lead in the spiritual training of their child(ren), saying that they will let the child decide for themselves when they are older, is failing in their responsibility before God.
    • The opposition of the Samaritans (9:52ff.) and the response of the disciples shows the deep-seated animosity between those who were “pure” Jews and the mixed-race Samaritans.
    • 10:12-16 shows us how important it is for us not to waste our opportunities for hearing and believing the message about Jesus. Rejecting Jesus will bring dire and eternal consequences.
    • Are you a Good Samaritan or like the priest and Levite when confronted by someone in need of our help?
    • Service to Jesus and his kingdom is not unimportant. But feeding our faith with the message of Jesus is the most important thing we can do because that alone brings us the assurance of salvation.
    • 11:2-4 presents one of the three places where Jesus taught what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Note Jesus’ other teachings about prayer – be persistent, bold and confident!
    • Beelzebub (11:15) was a popular name for the devil. Jesus shows how ridiculous the accusation of his enemies was.
    • Memorize 11:28.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Prov. 14:16 reveals the difference between the wise man and the fool. It all begins with their relationship to the LORD.
    • Ps. 89:30 continues with the promises and the warnings for the descendants of David who sit on the throne.
    • Ps. 90, written by Moses, would be the oldest of the psalms. It is a prayer to God to have compassion on us as we face death and the trials of this life that precede it.
    • Ps. 90: 10, 12 and 14 are well worth memorizing.
    • Ps. 91 is a glowing testimony to the security we have in our relationship with the LORD. These words are the basis for the much-loved hymn “On Eagles’ Wings.”

    Notes on 1 Chronicles:
    • The historical portion of Chronicles begins with the death of Saul (ch. 10). The rest of 1st and 2nd Chronicles will especially focus on David and the line of kings descended from him.
    • Chapters 11 and 12 recount the unification of Israel in the early part of David’s reign.
    • The bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem was important to David as he wanted to make Jerusalem both the political and religious headquarters for God’s people.
    • David’s psalm of thanks in ch. 16 uses portions of Psalms 105, 96 and 106. With the arrival of the Ark David began to establish a regular worship life for himself and his people. The only thing he was not able to accomplish was the building of the Temple. That would be done by his son, Solomon.
    • Under David and with God’s help, the nation of Israel became one of the leading powers in the Middle East.
    • Taking a census of his army (ch. 21) was a sin of David because it showed that he took too much pride in military might and did not rely entirely on the power and blessing of God.

July 13 – July 17 – Readings: Luke 6-8; Proverbs 13:18-25; Psalm 88:1 – Psalm 89: 1-29; 1 Chronicles 1-8

    Notes on Luke:
    • The incident referred to in 6:3ff. is recorded in 1 Samuel 21. Jesus’ critics were so intent on the details of the Sabbath that they forget the intent of the Sabbath – to reflect on the Lord’s love and live in that love.
    • 6:17-49 is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Matthew’s gospel has the longer version. The key to all of Jesus’ teaching is that we are to take it to heart, to build our lives on the foundation of Christ and his Word.
    • In ch. 7, do you think John the Baptist had his doubts about Jesus, or was he directing his disciples to find the answer for themselves?
    • Jesus’ treatment of the repentant prostitute (7:36-50) who anointed his feet should move us to show our devotion and gratitude for his wonderful gifts of love and forgiveness.
    • As you consider Jesus’ parable of the Sower (8:1-15), think about your spiritual growth. Are you being choked by the af-fairs of this world, or are you producing fruits of faith in abundance?
    • The region of the Gerasenes was south and east of the Sea of Galilee, inhabited by both Jews and Gentiles. Thus the presence of a large herd of pigs.
    • Note the variety in Jesus’ miracles, demonstrating his power over demons, disease and even death.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Prov. 13:24 should be a motto for every Christian parent. This does not condone child abuse, but stresses the importance of loving discipline. No discipline actually shows a lack of love for the child.
    • While darkness and despair often enter our lives, let us hold to the truth of Ps. 88:1 that the Lord is the one who will ulti-mately save us by taking us from this vale of tears to our home in heaven.
    • Psalm 89 is a meditation on God’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 7, that his descendants would rule forever. They would be on the physical throne in Jerusalem only until 586 BC. But one descendant, the Messiah, will indeed rule forever from heaven.

    Notes on 1 Chronicles:
    • Jewish tradition states that Ezra, one of the leaders of God’s people in the middle of the 5th century BC, was the author of the two books of Chronicles. He led the 2nd wave of Jews returning to their homeland (first wave was in 535 BC).
    • The genealogies of the first 9 chapters show the Jews who returned from captivity that they have a long and important history, that their restoration is part of God’s plan for preserving the line of the Messiah. While most of the names mean little or nothing to us, to the people of Ezra’s day they were ties to the past, serving them as “family trees” and “” serves many people today.
    • The list of Levi’s descendants in Ch. 6 is important because only those who could prove their membership in this tribe would be allowed to serve in the Temple.

July 6 – July 10 – Readings: Luke 2-5; Proverbs 13:117; Psalms 84 – Psalm 87; 2 Kings 14-25

    Notes on Luke:
    • Who else but Mary could give Luke an eyewitness account of these most wonderful events! Notice the prophecy Simeon gives to her in 2:35.
    • Put yourself in place of the shepherds. How would you have reacted to the sights and sounds of that first Christmas?
    • At age 12 all Jewish males would have completed their religious training so they could take their place as adults in the Jewish worship life. It’s called “bar-mitzvah,” and means “a son of the Law.”
    • John’s message is still the message we present today – Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near…. Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. A relationship with God demands hearts that are intent on purity in thoughts, words and actions.
    • Luke’s genealogy of Jesus seems to trace his ancestry through Mary, all the way back to Adam, showing Jesus’ relationship to the whole human race.
    • Note the three types of temptations Satan used against Jesus. Do you see how he works the same way against us?
    • What does the phrase in 4:16 “as was his custom” say to us about our church attendance?
    • Portions of the synagogue in Capernaum are still standing, including some of the same pavement Jesus would have walked on.
    • How involved are you as a fisher of men – in your personal witnessing to others? In your support of those who are involved in mission and ministry?
    • Levi (5:27ff.) is the disciple Matthew (see Matt. 9:9-13).

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Prov. 13:3 shows us that the ability to control the tongue is one of the clearest marks of wisdom. James makes the same point in his epistle, ch. 3.
    • Psalm 84 is about having that intense desire to be in the Lord’s house for worship and service. May all of our members have such desire!
    • Psalm 85 is another beautiful song remembering God’s mercy in times of trouble, delivering His people from their spiritual and physical distress.
    • Psalm 86 is another example of David’s trust in the Lord to hear and answer prayer. May we have the same confidence he had in our God who helps and comforts his people.
    • Psalm 87 celebrates “Zion” as the city of God. The Bible often refers to it as the home of all God’s people, whether Jew or Gentile. May we all remain in the faith so have it said of us, “This one was born in Zion!”

    Notes on 2 Kings:
    • Amaziah was another of the kings of Judah who worshipped the Lord but was also a child of the times and did not destroy all the idolatry among his people. Sadly, this will bring disaster on God’s people in the future.
    • Jereboam II was responsible for the northern kingdom’s greatest economic period in its history. But he also continued the blatant idolatry introduced by his namesake.
    • Ch. 15 presents the rapid downfall of the northern kingdom. The main adversary was the Assyrians who were on the rise in what today is Iraq.
    • Ahaz (ch. 16) did not follow in the spiritual footsteps of his father and grandfather. He went so far as to offer his son as a burnt offering to one of the pagan deities. But it was to this wicked king that the Lord through Isaiah presented some of the greatest prophecies of the Messiah (Isaiah 7-10).
    • 17:7-23 shows that God is serious when it comes to being a “jealous” God who does not want us to glorify and give devotion to anyone but him. The nation of Israel became a vivid example of that. Sadly, Judah would suffer a similar demise.
    • 17:24-33 explains the origins of the Samaritans with whom Jesus interacted.
    • Hezekiah and Josiah were the last of the good kings in Judah and Jerusalem, but the handwriting was on the wall with the introduction of “envoys from Babylon.” The fall of Jersusalem will be dealt with in more detail in 2 Chronicles.

June 29 – July 3 – Readings: 2 Corinthians 11-13; Luke 1; Proverbs 12:19-28; Psalms 80:12 – Psalm 83; 2 Kings 1-13

    Notes on 2 Corinthians:
    • Apparently some false apostles had “invaded” the congrega-tion and were criticizing Paul. They claimed a higher knowledge, that Paul was in it for the money and was a bur-den to the church. He insists that everything he did was for the sake of Christ and the gospel. After all, look at all he en-dured so that the gospel could be proclaimed.
    • In Ch. 12 he talks about his “thorn in the flesh.” What it was, we just don’t know. Poor eyesight, epileptic seizures, recur-ring attacks of malaria – all these have been suggested. De-spite repeated prayers for its removal, Paul was comforted by the fact that God could and would continue to work through him, all so that Paul and we would learn that God’s grace and power will help us through this life.
    • 12:10-21 shows how anxious Paul was concerning the rela-tionship with the Corinthians and the sins he was trying to ad-dress. Despite all the problems, his prayer is for unity – with God, with him and with each other.

    Notes on Luke:
    • Luke was Paul’s companion on the 2nd and 3rd mission jour-neys. When Paul returned to Jerusalem, Luke had the opportunity to investigate and interview people so that he could write this account of Jesus’ life and ministry. Thus, he wrote in the late 50’s or early 60’s AD.
    • Might the information in chapter one come from Mary herself?
    • Watch how Luke ties all these events to the politicians who were ruling at the time. This helps establish a very precise timeline for the New Testament.
    • May we not doubt the promises of God as Zechariah did!
    • The teaching of the virginity of Mary is clearly emphasized here. There is much to emulate in her faith and devotion, not to the point of veneration and worship, but as an example of dedication to the role and work God gives us.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Psalm 80 seems to have been written at a time when the northern kingdom was under attack and many refugees had come into the southern kingdom, to Jerusalem and the Tem-ple. It closes with a prayer for the Lord to restore his people.
    • Psalm 81 calls on God’s people to rejoice over their deliver-ance. Probably written for the commemoration of one of the great Festivals – Passover, Pentecost or Tabernacles.
    • Psalm 82 brings God’s judgment on earthly leaders who do not carry out their duty to rule justly and put the needs of the poor and needy as a high priority. But these principles apply to all of us!
    • Psalm 83 is a prayer asking for God’s protection against the enemies of his people. May we offer similar prayers for our nation this Independence Day.

    Notes on 2 Kings:
    • The difficult ministry of Elijah continues after the death of wicked Ahab.
    • Elisha picks up the mantle of his mentor after Elijah’s miracu-lous assumption into heaven. He faces the same kind of un-belief and ridicule as Elijah, but also has the power of the Lord working mightily through him. The many miracles he performed were meant to demonstrate that the LORD is the one true God and that all other gods are nothing.
    • Jehu was a powerful servant of the Lord in bringing Baal worship to an end. But he continued the idolatry begun by Jereboam instead of leading Israel in a return to worshiping the LORD.

June 22 – June 26 – Readings: 2 Corinthians 2:12 – 10:18; Proverbs 12:1-18; Psalms 78:40 – 80:11; 1 Kings 11-22

    Notes on 2 Corinthians:
    • 4:4-6 presents the challenge we face and the grace of God which equips us to face the challenge.
    • 4:16 – 5:10 are wonderful words of comfort as we deal with the troubles of life. Our goal is not centered around this life, but the glory of heaven.
    • 5:14-15 is our motivation for the Christian life – we are COMPELLED by the love Christ has for us.
    • 5:16-21 is a wonderful explanation of the gospel – reconciliation through Christ, a concept that can easily be used when we witness to others as Christ’s ambassadors. Well worth memorizing!
    • 7:5-13 shows how thrilled Paul was that the Corinthians had responded positively to the criticisms in his first letter. May God’s word always lead us to repentance and a stronger desire to live the Christian life.
    • Chapters 8 & 9 teach some of the major principles for Christian stewardship of money. See how many you can find (at least 8). The key verses are 8:7, 8:12, 9:7 and 9:15.
    • Paul spends a lot of time defending his ministry, his place among the apostles. More on that next week.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • While many of these proverbs apply especially to men, 12:4 stands out in its specific application to wives.
    • Ps. 78:40ff. picks up with a recollection of God’s power and love for Israel in bringing about their release from slavery in Egypt. But despite all that, they continually rejected him and brought his anger and punishment down on themselves. Only under David was there a strong return to the Lord.
    • Ps. 79 is another prayer for God’s forgiveness and help, and for his judgment on the nations that have attacked his people.
    • Psalm 80 seems to have been written at a time when the northern kingdom was under attack and many refugees had come into the southern kingdom, to Jerusalem and the Temple.

    Notes on 1 Kings:
    • The last portion of Solomon’s reign is marked by the many wives through political marriages and the idolatry they brought with them, leading him away from the true God. His book of Ecclesiastes apparently was written near the end of his life and reflects a late repentance and return to the Lord.
    • God’s punishment would come later in that the kingdom would be divided. But also rebellion from within and from outside the borders began to arise.
    • Jereboam, son of Nebat is the main opponent. After Solomon’s death he was succeeded by his son Reheboam. Soon after civil war broke out and Jereboam and the northern 10 tribes (Israel) were successful in separating from the southern 2 tribes (Judah).
    • Sadly, Jereboam established two new idol sanctuaries to keep his people from having to go to Jerusalem to worship. This opened the door for 200 years of idolatry which hastened the downfall of the northern kingdom. Not one of Jereboam’s successors was a worshipper of the true God.
    • The idolatry of the time is described in 1 Kings 14:22-24. This was the order of the day in Israel, and a recurring theme in Judah. Some of the kings of Judah “cleaned house” but the idolatry always returned. About half of Judah’s kings over the next 300 years would be worshippers of the true God, the rest were idolators. Watch for the phrases “he did evil in the eyes of the Lord,” or “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” to see the difference.
    • Now political intrigue, alliances with neighboring heathen nations and border wars between Israel and Judah became the order of the day.
    • 16:29 sees the beginning of the reign of Ahab in Israel. He and his wife, Jezebel, introduced the worship of Baal, the fertility god of the Phoenicians and made that the official religion of the northern kingdom. In opposition God raised up the prophet Elijah who powerful led the few faithful Israelites against the idolatry.

June 15 – June 19 – Readings: 1 Corinthians 14-16, 2 Cor. 1:1-2:11; Proverbs 11:24-31; Psalms 77:13 – 78:39; 1 Kings 1-10

    Notes on 1 & 2 Corinthians:
    • The speaking in tongues in ch. 14 is in languages not native to or learned by the speaker. Paul downplays this gift because it really is of no value to the rest of the worshipers, unless it is their language. Spiritual gifts are meant to be used for the good of the whole church. The key is 14:19.
    • The role for women in worship was not that they be totally silent, but that they refrain from disorderly speaking during the service. In 1 Timothy 3 he also adds that they were not to “teach or have authority over men” in worship and leading the congregation.
    • Ch. 15 is often called the “Resurrection Chapter” as Paul elaborates on what Easter and the resurrection mean for us as Christians. Vs.17-20 is key. Let these truths be our strength and comfort when confronted by our own mortality and the death of our Christian loved ones and friends.
    • Paul was gathering a collection among his mission congregations to be given to the Christians back in Palestine who were in the midst of a famine. Note the principles he lays down in 16:1-2 for Christian stewardship – all are to participate and give regularly based on how God has blessed them.
    • 2 Corinthians was written about 6 months after 1 Cor. as Paul was making his way through northern Greece on his way to Corinth.
    • Read about the great hardship (2 Cor. 1:8) in Acts 19:23-41.
    • The case of incest that was treated in 1 Cor. 5, had been effective. The man was excommunicated, then repented. Now Paul has to encourage the congregation to welcome the man back so that he would not linger in despair (2 Cor. 2:5-11)

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Ps. 78:1-8 is especially important for parents and others responsible for the education of children. TEACH THEM GOD”S WAYS!
    • “Ephraim” was the leading tribe of the Northern Kingdom. A civil war after the death of Solomon had split Israel into a northern part – 10 tribes – and a southern part – 2 tribes. The northern kingdom (Israel) was ruled by kings who were all ungodly and led the people away from the Lord. The kings of the southern kingdom (Judah) were sometimes followers of the Lord, sometimes not.
    • The northern kingdom is compared to Israel in the wilderness after leaving Egypt, continually fighting against God’s direction and spurning his love.

    Notes on 1 Kings:
    • As David neared death there was much intrigue as to who would succeed him. His eldest son was Adonijah who took steps to secure the throne for himself. David repeated the fact that Solomon was to rule.
    • David had ruled from 1010 to 970 BC. Solomon would rule for the next 40 years.
    • Solomon showed his trust in the Lord by the request he made at the beginning of his rule (3:9). His wisdom was displayed by the noteworthy case mentioned in 3:16-28. A summary of his wisdom is listed in 4:29-34.
    • The construction of the Temple began in 966 BC and took 7 years to build. It was triple the size of the tabernacle, but not a huge building by any means – 90ft x 30ft x 30ft. When finished it was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It stood until 586 BC when it was destroyed by the Babylonians.
    • The reign of Solomon was the height of Israel’s economic prosperity throughout history.

June 8 – June 12 – Readings: 1 Corinthians 8-13; Proverbs 11:10-23; Psalms 74:1-77:12; 2 Samuel 14-24

    Notes on 1 Corinthians:
    • Ch. 8 and 10:23-33 sets down principles about “adiaphora,” things God has neither commanded nor forbidden. In this case, there were some who could not bring themselves to eat meat that had been dedicated to pagan idols and then put up for sale in the public butcher shops. Others recognized that idols are nothing so they felt free to eat. They needed to learn to deal tenderly with the weaker Christians and not burden consciences.
    • In ch. 9 Paul defends his position as an apostle.
    • 9:24-27 is a beautiful analogy that should appeal to all the athletes in our midst (and others too).
    • Some may ask why it’s important to study Old Testament history. Paul answers that in ch. 10:1-13
    • 11:2-16 deals with God-pleasing authority in the church and proper conduct in worship. Women having their heads uncovered was a sign of loose morals in Corinth. The practice of women wearing head-coverings at worship in Corinth reinforced Scriptural principles but was not a universal command for Christian women.
    • 11:17-32 presents some very important principles about receiving the Lord’s Supper properly. Know them well!
    • Using the analogy of the human body, Paul teaches that all of us, with our different talents and abilities, are important for the body of Christ to function most efficiently. Are you using your talents in service to the Lord and his people?
    • In ch. 13 Paul holds up godly love as a jewel which sparkles in many different ways. It is to be put on display in the lives of ALL Christians, not just married couples.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • In Prov. 11:12-13 we learn to be careful in what we say.
    • What do you think of 11:22?
    • Psalm 74 seems to have been written at a time when the enemies of Israel had devastated the land, including Jerusalem and the Temple. The believers call upon God to take his revenge.
    • Psalm 76 praises the Lord for the defense of Judah and Jerusalem.
    • We may often feel just like the writer of Ps. 77 when distress seems to go on and on in our lives. The answer comes in vs. 10-12.

    Notes on 2 Samuel:
    • The account of Absalom’s rebellion is a sad chapter in the life of King David, part of the consequences God said would occur because of his sins with Bathsheba.
    • 2 Sam. 22 and Psalm 18 are identical.
    • The sin in David’s census of the army was either the sin of pride in the size of his empire, or by reliance on the army for Israel’s security rather than on the power of the Lord, or perhaps both.

June 1 – June 5 – Readings: 1 Corinthians 1-7; Proverbs 11:1-9; Psalms 72-73; 1 Samuel 30-31, 2 Samuel 1-13

    Notes on 1 Corinthians:
    • This letter revolves around problems in Christian conduct in the church. Paul was concerned with the problems at Corinth because he was the founding pastor. He reveals his true shepherd’s heart, dealing with the problems with the gospel of God’s grace and forgiveness.
    • Paul wrote this letter from Ephesus about 55 AD.
    • Corinth was a large commercial city with a population esti-mated at 650,000, more than half of them slaves. It was home to nearly a dozen pagan temples, where worshippers practiced religious prostitution. It also had a thriving Jewish synagogue.
    • To address the problem of divisions (cliques) in the church, he stresses the unity we have in the powerful message of the cross, no matter who presents it. That message may look foolish and weak to the world, but God’s power works through it.
    • In a city where philosophy and oratory were highly esteemed, Paul reminds us that true wisdom comes from the Spirit (Ch. 2).
    • In ch. 3 Paul emphasizes that Jesus is the foundation of the church and that we are part of God’s Temple since the Spirit lives in our hearts.
    • Do you sense Paul’s sarcasm in 4:8-14?
    • Ch. 5 deals with a case of incest which was not being dealt with by the congregation. Toleration of immoral, sinful life is like yeast which can spread through the whole congregation.
    • 6:9-11 show us the seriousness of the sins we all commit, but also the complete forgiveness that is ours in Christ.
    • Ch. 7 is a good chapter for both those who are married and those who are single, as an explanation of the principles be-hind the 6th Commandment.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Apply Prov. 11:1 to business practices today.
    • Psalm 72 is a prayer for the kings who ruled God’s people. Let us pray for godly rulers in our world, as we serve the one who is the ultimate King, our Savior Jesus. Notice how many of these verses apply to our Messiah.
    • Psalm 73 deals with something that bothers believers of eve-ry era – How is it that the wicked so often prosper while the godly suffer so much? In those moments of doubt and des-pair let vs.23-26 be our comfort.

    Notes on 1 & 2 Samuel:
    • 1 Sam. 31 – What a sad ending for Israel’s first king!
    • 2 Sam. presents the reign of David. While he was a great king, he was not without his faults, some very drastic.
    • Note the depth of David’s feelings for Saul and Jonathan, even though Saul had been pursuing him relentlessly.
    • It took 7 years for David to solidify his place on the throne. His first order of business was to capture Jerusalem and make it his capital. Then he made arrangements for the Ark of the Covenant to be brought there, though there would be no Temple built until Solomon became king.
    • 2 Sam. 7 contains tremendous promises of God for David. The most important intertwines promises for the near future (son would reign after him, Temple would be built) with promises for the distant future (eternal kingdom and throne though one of David’s descendants, the Messiah). Note well how grateful David was for all the Lord’s blessings.
    • Sadly, after God had given him many victories, David’s sinful nature got the best of him. Let us learn the lesson that we dare not become complacent in our faith, that our sinful nature is right there, ready to lead us away from God.

May 25 – May 29 – Readings: Romans 12-16; Proverbs 10:15-32; Psalms 69:13 – Psalm 71; 1 Samuel 16-29

    Notes on Romans:
    • Beginning with ch. 12, Paul now gives attention to the practi-cal application of Christ’s teachings. Our lives are to be transformed by what Jesus has done for us:
    12:3-8 – using the talents and gifts God has given us
    12:9-21 – various ways Christian love will display itself in our lives
    13:1-7 – obedience to the governing authorities
    13:8-14 – obedience to all of God’s commandments
    • Ch. 14 lays down the principles dealing with “adiaphora,” things neither commanded nor forbidden by God. The specific situation Paul describes has to do with meat that was purchased at public markets, but which came from the sacrifices offered at pagan temples. For that reason some Christians could not bring themselves to eat it. 14:13, 14:19 15:1, and 15:7 lay out the principles to live by.
    • In 15:14-29 Paul recounts the purpose of his ministry and his plans for the future, including a visit to Rome.
    • Though he had never been there, it seems he knew quite a few Christians who were now living in Rome.
    • 16:17 is a key verse when it comes to dealing with false teaching.
    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Psalm 69:13-17 are a wonderful prayer for when we face troubles in life.
    • What did 69:21 foreshadow?
    • Psalm 69:30-36 should be our response when God brings us deliverance from distress.
    • Psalm 70 is another urgent prayer for God’s help when threatened.
    • Psalm 71 is a prayer for help especially when dealing with the effects of old age (v.9, 18).

    Notes on 1 Samuel:
    • 16:7 is a key verse, worth memorizing.
    • When did you first learn the account of David and Goliath?
    • The struggle between David and Saul is intriguing. Note Da-vid’s high regard for Saul because he is the Lord’s anointed, despite the intensity of Saul’s attempts to have David killed.
    • The relationship between Jonathan and David is a beautiful example of Christian friendship. May we be such a friend!
    • In contrast to Jonathan’s friendship is the treachery of Doeg.
    • When Saul consulted the witch at Endor, he was breaking his own command against the practice. Do you think this was the soul of Samuel, or an evil spirit?

May 18 – May 22 – Readings: Romans 6-11; Proverbs 10:1-14; Psalms 68:1 – 69:12; 1 Samuel 1-15

    Notes on Romans:
    • 6:1-14 shows us that just because we have been fully forgiv-en we dare not take sin lightly. Rather, we have all the incen-tive in the world to fight sin in our lives.
    • 6:18 is now our motto for life!
    • Ch. 7 shows us that God’s law still has a purpose in our lives – to show us what sin is and that we are still sinful. Thus there is a constant struggle within the Christian between his inborn sinful nature and his newborn spiritual nature. The only solution to the dilemma is in v.25.
    • 8:1 and 8:11 show the outcome of this struggle when we re-main faithful to Jesus.
    • 8:18-22 gives the reason for natural disasters and calamities.
    • 8:26 is a big help in our prayer lives!
    • When you are struggling with issues of life, 8:28-39 can really bring clarity and peace to our hearts!
    • Chapters 9-11 are Paul’s lament that not many of his fellow Jews were becoming believers in Jesus. They have all the advantages of Old Testament prophecies and examples of true faith, but instead get caught up in outward obedience and reliance on their “pedigree” rather than on faith in Jesus. There’s a warning here for us!
    • Rejoice that we Gentile believers have been grafted on to the vine of spiritual Israel!

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Proverbs 10 – 22 are a collection of individual proverbs by Solomon, apparently chosen from a much larger group. While there don’t seem to be thematic sections, the themes from the earlier chapters are woven throughout these chap-ters.
    • Psalm 68 is described by Bible scholars as a “triumphal march.” God is pictured as one who marches out to defend and bless his people. Because of his greatness He is praised by all his subjects and by people from throughout the world.
    • Psalm 69:1-12 is a section of repentance on David’s part, perhaps because of his sins in connection with Bathsheba.

    Notes on 1 Samuel:
    • 1 & 2 Samuel are named after the man God used to establish the kingship in Israel. Samuel rivals Moses in importance in shaping the character of God’s people during the transition from judges to the monarchy.
    • The author is definitely not Samuel, but more likely someone who had access to records and information from this time pe-riod, most likely about the time of Solomon’s death.
    • Hannah presents the example of a faithful wife and mother. The fact that Elkanah had two wives and yet was faithful in his worship of the LORD is hard for us to reconcile. But whenever bigamy occurs among God’s people trouble and misery always follow.
    • Our church today needs more mothers (and fathers) like Hannah, who strongly encourage their children to prepare for full-time ministry in the Lord’s Church.
    • With the information about Eli and his sons, we see that the lack of discipline by parents toward their children has spiritual, and sometimes physical, consequences.
    • Samuel became judge and prophet over God’s people. Un-fortunately, his sons were much like Eli’s. Thus, the people sought to have a king over them.
    • Note the Lord’s hand in the selection of Saul. God had fore-seen this day in Deut. 17:14-20.
    • Though Saul got off to a good start, gradually the power and prestige of his position took control of his heart, rather than devotion to the LORD.
    • Note the character of Saul’s son, Jonathan. He will play a key role in the life of David.

May 11 – May 15 – Readings: Romans 1-5; Proverbs 9; Psalms 64-67; Judges 12-21; Ruth 1-4

    Notes on Romans:
    • Written by Paul from Corinth about 57 AD. Paul is laying the groundwork for a planned visit. Since he was not known by most of these Christians, he lays out his teachings very thor-oughly so they know he’s not some ‘fly-by-night’ preacher. This is less a personal letter than it is a theological essay on the content of the gospel.
    • After his introduction, he announces his theme in 1:16-17. Worth memorizing!
    • Man’s total depravity and sinfulness is laid out in explicit de-tail, touching on idolatry and immorality (especially homosex-uality), this despite the natural knowledge of God with which all men are born (1:20).
    • In 2:1-16, Paul expresses the principles that govern God’s judgment. Can anyone claim to be without guilt?
    • While Jews had an advantage over Gentiles because of the Old Testament law, they missed its purpose. Instead of con-victing them of sin, they saw it as a path to self-righteousness.
    • 3:20 shows us the true purpose of the law: S_______
    O______ S______. We need help!
    • 3:22 gives us the remedy, the source of true righteousness!
    • We are Abraham’s children when we follow his example of faith (ch. 4).
    • Ch. 5 presents the results of a faith-based relationship with God – peace and joy. We have them because our Savior was able to undo all the damage that was done by the sin of Adam.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Proverbs 9:1-6 uses the image of a banquet to describe the free blessings of salvation through the good news of Jesus.
    • Prov. 9:10 again presents the theme of the whole book. The contrast is presented in vs. 13-18.
    • Like many others, Psalm 64 is a prayer for protection when we are threatened by spiritual enemies. Sins of the tongue are especially highlighted.
    • Psalm 65 begins a series of four psalms with many common themes, especially as they direct us to praise our Lord. In this psalm we praise God for the blessings of creation.
    • Psalm 66 is a song of praise to God for answers to prayer.
    • Psalm 67 is a prayer for God’s blessing, portions of which we have become familiar with in our liturgy.

    Notes on Judges:
    • In ch. 12 we see the result of repeated spiritual breakdown among the Israelites. This is sadly reflected in the accounts of ch. 17-21.
    • Samson’s life was built around the Nazirite vow. See Num-bers 6:1-21 for the details of this vow. He was a ‘loner’ whose heroic deeds were used by the Lord to oppress Isra-el’s enemy, the Philistines.
    • In ch. 14 we see Samson’s weakness which led to his down-fall – chasing after foreign women.

    Notes on Ruth:
    • This is an account of how a Gentile woman is “grafted” into the line of the Savior. King David is her great-grandson.
    • Ruth’s devotion to Naomi and Boaz’ kindness to the women are a key element.
    • The concept of the kinsman-redeemer is demonstrated. These individuals were responsible for protecting the interests of needy members of the extended family, especially to provide an heir for a brother who had died. When a closer relative refused to carry out this duty, Boaz stepped in.

May 4 – May 8 – Readings: Mark 13:32 – 16:20; Proverbs 8:22-36; Psalms 59:9 – Psalm 63; Joshua 23-24, Judges 1-11

    Notes on Mark:
    • The woman who anointed Jesus’ feet was Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. The other gospels tell us that the one complaining the most was Judas.
    • Warning! If Satan can snatch away Judas, and put Peter’s faith on the brink of failing, we must be ever vigilant against temptation. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and his word!
    • The Sanhedrin was the Jewish ruling council presided over by the high priest. Its 70 members were a mix of political and religious leaders. They were given a limited amount of authority by the Romans, but they did not have the right to carry out capital punishment.
    • 14:62 was a direct reference to Daniel’s prophecy about the Messiah in Dan. 7:13-14.
    • Blasphemy is the sin of mocking God or making claims about yourself that only apply to God.
    • Pilate was governor of Judea from 26-36 AD. His official residence was in Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast.
    • Crucifixion had long been used by many countries as a means of execution. The Romans had become experts at it and used it widely throughout their empire.
    • The tearing of the Temple curtain (15:38) shows that mankind now has free access to God’s throne of grace because of Jesus.
    • No one among Jesus’ followers – the women, the disciples – none them was expecting him to rise from the dead. Let us not doubt about Jesus’ power to raise us!

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Psalm 60 seems to imply that Israel had suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Edomites, but the title of the Psalm points to the avenging victory. The point is that while God may allow “defeat” and suffering to enter our lives, we can always turn to him for help in overcoming our enemies.
    • Psalms 61-64 form a series lined together by the common theme of trust in God when under threat. Who of us is immune to threats to our physical and spiritual well-being? Let us follow David’s words and seek our help from the Lord!

    Notes on Joshua:
    • Would that our nation has leaders who would warn and encourage the citizens to be faithful to the LORD!
    • Let your household follow Joshua’s example in 24:15.
    Notes on Judges:
    • Tradition says that Samuel wrote this book, though that is not attested anywhere in Scripture.
    • Notice throughout ch. 1 that the Israelites didn’t complete conquest of the land. This would lead to disastrous consequences later on.
    • 2:10-15 show the results when one generation fails to teach the next generation the grace and mercy of the Lord. Let none of us be found guilty of this!
    • These judges did not serve throughout the nation, but were more like regional leaders. Whenever there was foreign oppression, the Lord would raise up these judges to lead the people to military victory and in spiritual recovery. Unfortunately the cycle would be repeated all too often – idolatry, rejection by God, repentance, victory through the judge, followed by a period of peace.
    • With the call of Gideon we have another appearance of the “Angel of the Lord,” an appearance of the second person of the Triune God.
    • Sadly even Gideon, after his great victories, strayed from following the Lord. Spiritual and political turmoil soon followed.
    • Do you think Jephthah actually sacrificed his daughter in keeping with his vow? (ch. 11)

April 27 – May 1 – Readings: Mark 10-13; Proverbs 8:12-21; Psalms 56:1 – Psalm 59:8; Joshua 10 – 22

    Notes on Mark:
    • In 10:6-8 Jesus quotes from Genesis 2. What does this show us about his view of marriage, in light of circumstances today?
    • In 10:17-22 Jesus teaches a young man. Which commandment was his undoing? We too, must be careful when it comes to being too attached to wealth and the things of this world.
    • 10:43-45 are words we all need to take to heart.
    • “Hosanna” is an Aramaic word meaning “Save, now!” and was used in praise of Jesus as the promised Messiah.
    • 11:27-28 set the stage for the next several conversations Jesus has with those who opposed him. Each time he either leaves them speechless with his questions, or frustrates them with his answers.
    • What lesson was Jesus teaching in his words about the poor widow (12:41-44)?
    • From ch. 13, make a list of the signs Jesus points out that show when the end of the world is coming – signs in the church, in society, in nature. Are there any that haven’t been fulfilled yet?
    • The key point is mentioned in 13:35-37.

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Proverbs 8:13a would be a great motto for a person’s life.
    • Psalm 56 is a prayer for help at a time of personal attack. For the event referred to see 1 Samuel 21:10-15. Verse 11 is worth memorizing.
    • Psalm 57 is very similar to Ps. 56. The event referred to is in 1 Samuel 24. Verse 1 is a beautiful prayer.
    • Psalm 58 seems to be directed toward corrupt leaders in government.
    • The event referred to in Psalm 59 is from 1 Samuel 19:11ff.

    Notes on Joshua:
    • Note that in chapter 10, even though the Gibeonites had tricked Joshua into making a peace treaty, he lived up to it and helped them in their defense against the 5 kings. During this battle note the miracle the Lord performed. This victory opened the way to the conquest of southern Palestine.
    • Chapter 11 records the conquest of northern Palestine.
    • Chapters 13 – 19 record the allotment of land to the various tribes. See how many of the cities and territories you recognize.
    • 20:7-8 list the cities of refuge. Chapter 21 lists the cities allotted to the Levites.

April 20 – April 24 – Readings: Mark 6:30 – 9:50; Proverbs 8:1-11; Psalms 51:7 – Psalm 55; Deuteronomy 30-34; Joshua 1 – 8

    Notes on Mark:
    • The feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle of Jesus, other than the resurrection, recorded in all four gospels.
    • Which sins mentioned in 7:21-22 do you struggle with? This is why we all need to daily repent, trusting in Jesus for forgiveness instead of our own actions.
    • Note the differences between the feeding of the 4000 and that of the 5000.
    • What crosses are you bearing for the sake of Christ (8:34-35)?
    • Who is the “Elijah” Jesus was talking about in 9:11-13?
    • Demon possession manifested itself in several ways. In ch. 9 it made the boy deaf and dumb, as well as causing convulsions.
    • What does 9:42 say to parents who neglect their child’s spiritual life after baptism?

    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Proverbs 8 again personifies “Wisdom” as a woman whose voice calls out to us. Listen to her!
    • Psalm 51:10-12 should be very familiar from our liturgy.
    • From the title of Psalm 52 we hear about Doeg. Read about his treachery in 1 Samuel 21 and 22.
    • Based on Psalm 53:1, some say that April 1 is the atheist’s holiday. Can you see why?
    • See 1 Samuel 23:14-29 for the events referred to in the title of Psalm 54.
    • Psalm 55 expresses the anguish we feel when oppressed by a close friend who betrays us. Verse 22 is worth memorizing.
    Notes on Deuteronomy:
    • Notice how often complete love for the Lord in heart, soul and mind is encouraged and commanded. That’s why Jesus says that this is the first and greatest commandment.
    • Deut. 30:19-20 forms a fitting end to Moses’ farewell message to Israel and to us.
    • Deut. 31:7-8 are worth memorizing.
    • 31:10-13 is something to instill in all God’s people.
    • IN all likelihood, Joshua wrote the closing words of Deuteronomy.
    Notes on Joshua:
    • Joshua’s role was to prepare and lead God’s people for the task of taking possession of the Promised Land. Other than his teacher/mentor Moses and King David, he was the greatest leader God raised up for Israel. His name means “The LORD delivers.”
    • How should we judge the deception that Rahab used in 2:4-5?
    • Note in 2:10 how far back the news about the Lord’s deliverance was remembered! The crossing of the Red Sea had taken place 40 years earlier.
    • Beginning in chap. 3 see how the new generation experiences the powerful deeds of the Lord.
    • The “commander of the Lord’s Army” in 5:14ff. is another appearance of the 2nd person of the Trinity as demonstrated by his words in 6:2.
    • The command that Jericho “be devoted to the Lord” again means total destruction so that none of the pagan culture “rub off” on the Israelites and as a way to test their obedience to the LORD. The initial defeat at Ai and Achan’s punishment (ch. 7) show how serious God was about his command.
    • The treaty with Gibeon, (ch. 9) made under deception, was continued for centuries, down at least to the time of Solomon. The Gibeonites served, probably on a rotating basis, as the menial laborers at the tabernacle and Temple which required a lot of wood and water for the daily sacrifices.

April 13 – April 17 – Readings: Mark 2:18 – Mark 6:29; Proverbs 7:14-27; Psalms 49:1 -51:6; Deuteronomy 15-29

    Notes on Mark:
    • Jesus teaches that God’s Law is about love and deeds of mercy, not slavish obedience. He had come to fulfill the law and show it now is our guide to lives of gratitude to him and love for our fellow man. That’s what he means when he talks about new wine in old wineskins.
    • Who were the brothers of Jesus? Children of Joseph from a previous marriage? children born after Jesus to Mary and Joseph? or other close relatives? Most Lutheran Bible scholars (your pastors among them) believe they children of Mary and Joseph.
    • With Jesus’ parables, unless he himself explains all the details, as he does with the Sower and the Seed, always look for the one main point of comparison.
    • Note the different types of miracles Jesus performs – power over nature, over evil spirits, even over death.
    • The region of the Gerasenes was inhabited by both Jews and Gentiles, thus the presence of herds of pigs.
    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Proverbs 7 continues God’s warning against sexual immorality.
    • Psalm 49 is a warning to those who have wealth lest they think they can buy their way into heaven.
    • In Psalm 50 the Lord calls on his people to repent and reform their lives, not to simply “go through the motions” when it comes to their worship and offerings.
    • The words of Psalm 51 should be a confession that comes from our lips often. Be sure to read 2 Samuel 11 and 12 to get the details behind David’s sin and repentance.
    Notes on Deuteronomy:
    • These chapters recount many of the worship regulations which we had in Exodus and Leviticus.
    • Take special note of the warning in 17:14-20. This will come into play later in Israelite history.
    • Deut. 18:15 is a prophecy of the Messiah fulfilling what role? How did Jesus carry that out during his ministry? How does he carry it out today?
    • In their conquest of Palestine and in their later history, when Israel carried out the instructions of 20:1-4 they were successful. When they didn’t trust the Lord they were defeated.
    • Does 21:22-23 remind you of events we recently celebrated?
    • The instructions of Deut. 27 were carried out, as recorded in Joshua 8:30-35.

April 6 – April 10 – Readings: Acts 25:23 – Acts 28; Mark 1:1 – 2:17; Proverbs 7:1-13; Psalms 45-48; Deuteronomy 2-14

    Notes on Acts:
    • In Acts 26 Paul gives a beautiful review of his life and ministry and the hope we have as Christians.
    • Note Paul’s wonderful confession of faith in 27:21-26.
    • 28:3-6 are a demonstration of Jesus’ words in Mark 1618.
    • What a blessing that Paul was given a degree of freedom during his imprisonment in Rome.
    • This imprisonment, first in Jerusalem, then in Rome, lasted about 4 years. From Paul’s epistles we learn that he was released, preached for a few more years, perhaps even in Spain, then was arrested and executed in Rome about 66-67 AD.
    Notes on Mark:
    • We met John Mark in Acts 13:6 & 13 and Acts 15:36-39. But later he became a valuable assistant to both Paul and Peter in Rome. His gospel was written for the Christians in Italy and emphasizes Jesus’ power as the Son of God. Watch for signs of that characteristic.
    • Mark’s gospel begins with the ministry of John and of Jesus, and has several of Jesus’ miracles in ch. 1.
    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Proverbs 7:1 again emphasizes the way for young people to make their way through life – with the Word of God in their hearts!
    • Psalm 45 is a song in praise of the king on his wedding day.
    • Psalm 46 was one of Martin Luther’s favorites, the psalm on which he based his famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”
    • Both Psalm 46 and Psalm 48 celebrate the security of Jerusalem as the city of God and as a picture of the Church of Christ.
    • Which festival day in the church do we use Psalm 47?
    Notes on Deuteronomy:
    • Deut. 4:15-40 is a great summary of the 1st commandment.
    • Deut. 5: 6-22 is a repetition of Ex. 20, the giving of the Ten Commandments.
    • Deut. 7:1-6 describes what the Israelites were to do when they began the conquest of Palestine. Their failure to carry this out will be the cause of many problems down through their history, all the way to today.
    • Repeatedly throughout these chapters Moses reminds the Israelites not to forsake the Lord, but to love him because of his great love and compassion shown to them. May we learn and live the same!

March 30 – April 3 – Readings: Acts 21 – 25:22; Proverbs 6:20-35; Psalms 41-44; Numbers 27-36, Deuteronomy 1

    Notes on Acts:
    • The men under the vow in Ch. 21 seem to have taken the Nazirite vow and now were concluding it. Paul assisted them.
    • The garrison of Roman soldiers was right next to the Temple for this very reason.
    • Paul’s citizenship gave him many important rights that the ordinary Jew did not have. He likely obtained it when Pompey granted citizenship to the residents of Tarsus around 50 BC.
    • The court of the Sanhedrin was part of the Temple complex, thus the hearing in ch. 23 could easily be observed by the Roman officials. The Ananias here is not the same one who questioned Jesus. When Paul labelled him a ‘white-washed wall’ he was using the same imagery as Jesus had (Matt. 23)
    • It will be interesting to see how these events will be portrayed in the TV movie “A.D.” to be shown Easter evening on NBC.
    • Did you spot the lie of the Roman centurion in his letter to Governor Felix?
    • Felix was governor 52-58 AD, Festus from 58-60.
    • This Herod is Agrippa II, son of the Herod Agrippa in Acts. 12. Bernice was his sister.
    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • The last part of Proverbs 6 sounds a warning to our immoral society!
    • Psalm 41 seems to be a prayer of David when he was seriously ill. Keep these words in mind when you become ill.
    • Psalms 42 and 43 are “companion” psalms in that they really form a unit of thought – a prayer for deliverance from enemies.
    • The “Sons of Korah” seem to have been liturgical leaders / singers in the Temple worship.
    • Psalm 44 deals with Israel’s cry for help after some unknown defeat in battle.
    Notes on Numbers & Deuteronomy:
    • The matter about inherited land and the commissioning of Joshua shows us that Israel is nearing the end of the 40 years of wandering, preparing to enter the Promised Land.
    • The repetition of the offerings, festivals and vows is meant to impress on the new generation the importance of their worship life.
    • Notice that the prophet / soothsayer Balaam was among the casualties of the war with Midian, as punishment for advising Israel’s enemy.
    • In order to carry out their duties as the religious leaders and teachers in Israel, the tribe of Levi received approx. 60 towns and cities scattered throughout the land.
    • Deuteronomy is Greek for “second law” and is mostly Moses’ farewell message to the Israelites as they were about to enter the Promised Land. It is a review of the major events from their journey.

March 16-20 – Readings: Acts 17-20; Proverbs 6:9-19; Psalm 38:9 – Psalm 40:17; Numbers 16-26

    Notes on Acts:
    • This first journey of Paul was in 47-48 AD. A map will be very helpful for following Paul on these mission trips. Cyprus still has a significant Orthodox Christian community. The places in Asia Minor are almost entirely Muslim.
    • Here on Cyprus is where Saul now assumes the name Paul.
    • In 13:13 the “John” who left is the same person as Mark, the author of the second gospel. What was the benefit of the “split” between Paul and Barnabas because of Mark’s actions?
    • Notice Paul’s manner of operation. If there was a Jewish synagog in town, that’s where he went first. Why do think that was the case?
    • Unfortunately, the reaction in Antioch of Pisidia was repeated many times throughout Paul’s journeys.
    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Be like the ant (Proverbs 6) when it comes to your finances!
    • Psalm 37:5 is worth memorizing. The entire psalm is a contrast between the wicked and the righteous.
    • May we feel the same sorrow over sin as David in Psalm 38!
    Notes on Numbers:
    • Can you think of some prominent Bible people who were under the Nazirite vow of Numbers 6?
    • Numbers 6:24-26 should sound very familiar!
    • The Israelites had been camped at Mt. Sinai for almost a whole year (Num. 10:11)
    • Notice the grumbling, the jealousy and the lack of trust in the LORD, despite all they had seen and heard over the past two years!

March 9-13 – Readings: Acts 9-12, Proverbs 5; Psalms 34-36; Leviticus 24-27, Numbers 1-4

    Acts notes:
    • Wouldn’t most of us have reacted as Ananias did in 9:13 and as the Jerusalem Christians did in 9:26?
    • Note how the persecutor now becomes the one persecuted!
    • From the example of Dorcas we see that God values the all the gifts and abilities of his people when they work for him. What work are you doing / have you done for the Lord?
    • What’s the main lesson of ch.10-11, and how does it apply to every member of Woodlawn? See 10:34-35
    • This is Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great who killed the babies in Bethlehem, and nephew of Herod Antipas who beheaded John the Baptist.
    Notes on Proverbs and Psalms:
    • Proverbs 5 has much to say to our adulterous society, that sexual sins lead to spiritual death!
    • Psalm 34 is an acrostic psalm where each verse begins with the succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet, though not quite perfect here. The incident behind this psalm is in 1 Samuel 21:10-15, though the king there has a different name.
    • May Psalm 35:10,18 and 28 be our response when God delivers us!
    • Psalm 36:5-9 is a beautiful description of God’s love
    Notes on Leviticus and Numbers:
    • Notice in the Leviticus chapters how serious God is about punishing sin and blessing obedience!
    • Numbers gets its name from the census in chapter 1; the Hebrew name is “In the Desert” because it recounts the 38 years of wandering in the wilderness.

March 2-6 – Acts 5-8, Proverbs 4:20-27; Psalm 31:9 – Psalm 33:22; Leviticus 12-23

    ACTS notes:
    • What was the sin for which Ananias and Sapphira were punished?
    • Notice in 5:28 that the high priest would not even use Jesus’ name!
    • Apply 5:29 to situations you face in life. Would you rejoice at suffering and persecution (5:41)?
    • 6:9 may give us the first hint at the presence of Saul/Paul as he was from the province of Cilicia in southeastern Turkey and seems to have been an active participant in the arrest and stoning of Stephen.
    • Saul’s persecution did not have the desired effect silencing the Christians. What did they do instead? (8:4-5)
    PSALMS notes:
    • Do you ever feel like David did, as he expresses it in Psalm 31:9-13? Yet how the very next verses comfort us!
    • Psalm 32 seems to have been written after Nathan confronted David with his sins in connection with Bathsheba.
    • 33:1-3 should inspire all of us to use our talents in service to the Lord!
    • How was the world brought into existence? Psalm 33:6-9 gives the answer.
    LEVITICUS notes:
    • The commands in 12:1-4 are what brought Mary and Joseph to the Temple in Luke 2:21-24
    • 13:45-46 are what led to the formation of ‘leper colonies.” Jesus’ commands to those he healed of leprosy that they were to show themselves to the priests are based in Leviticus 14.
    • The Day of Atonement was the second most important religious observance among the OT Jews, after the Passover. Who is the fulfillment of these ceremonies?
    • All these laws fall into three categories – civil, ceremonial and moral. Which still apply to us to day?

February 23-27 – Acts 1-4; Proverbs 4:1-19; Psalms 27:7 – Psalm 31:8; Exodus 39-40 and Leviticus 1-11. As you read this week watch for the following:

    • From the opening verses of Acts and the opening verses of Luke, it is plain to see that Luke is the author of Acts. Note in the gospel how he describes his reporting method because he didn’t become a Christian until Paul’s first or second mission journeys. Beginning in Acts 16 Luke writes most of the rest of Acts as an eyewitness.
    • Notice that the Holy Spirit works the same way today as on the first Pentecost – preaching of the word and the waters of baptism.
    • Acts 2:42 gives us the focus of our worship gatherings still today – Bible teaching, fellowship with other believers, Lord’s Supper and prayer.
    • Note the courage of the disciples before the Sanhedrin, the same council that condemned their Master!
    • In Proverbs 4 we see what Solomon learned about godly wisdom from his father David. Oh that all our fathers and mothers gave the same diligence in the spiritual instruction of their children!
    • Note the heading of Psalm 30, remembering that Solomon built the Temple after David’s death. Thus he wrote this in joyful anticipation.
    • Psalm 31:1-8 has been a favorite for many believers over the years. Can you see why?
    • How did the Lord show his pleasure at the construction of the tabernacle (Ex. 40)? This was Israel’s worship facility for the next 450 years!
    • Leviticus 1-7 describes the different offerings the people were to bring. Notice the prominence of blood being sprinkled. How was this fulfilled in the suffering and death of Jesus?
    • Notice in Lev. 7 how the offerings of the people were also used to feed and support the priests who served in the tabernacle. Relate that to how church workers are supported today.

February 16-20 – Matthew 26-28; Proverbs 3:27-35; Psalms 24:1 – 27:6; Exodus 27-38

    • The Passover was the highlight of Jewish religious life (as we read in Exodus 12). Now Jesus is replacing it with an even more important meal celebrating the greatest deliverance. This is why we celebrate Maundy Thursday.
    • The sorrow that should fill our hearts as we read these chapters should not be pity for Jesus, but the fact that it was our sins that were the cause. This is why we observe Good Friday – his loving sacrifice paid for my sins and the sins of all the world. This is why we have the special midweek services during Lent.
    • Chapter 28 lists only 2 of the dozen appearances of the resurrected Christ. Start a list so we can learn just how many people were witnesses of the living Savior.
    • Can you see why Psalm 24 is used in connection with Jesus’ ascension?
    • You can’t tell by the English translation but Psalm 25 in the Hebrew is an acrostic psalm, each verse starting with the successive letters of the alphabet. It emphasizes God’s mercy toward us suffering humans.
    • Psalm 26 is an appeal to God for help based on our faithfulness to him, but not made with an attitude of self-righteousness.
    • Psalm 27 is a strong encouragement to be his church!
    • Many of these chapters are all about the equipment, festivals, sacrifices and priestly functions for Jewish worship life. Check out the model of the tabernacle (thanks to Al Schumacher) in the entryway.
    • How could the Israelites have fallen so quickly and so far when they built and worshiped the golden calf?
    • 34:29-35 relate directly to Pastor Kneser’ sermon the weekend of Feb. 15.

February 9-13 – Matthew 23-25; Proverbs 3:13-26; Psalms 21-23; Exodus 15-26

    • Can you almost see the fire in Jesus’ eyes as he speaks about the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees? And yet 23:37 shows his heart of love!
    • Are there any signs of the coming Judgment which haven’t yet been fulfilled? What does that mean for us?
    • The works Jesus points to in 25:34-45 are the fruits of faith, not a list of things to do in order to earn eternal life.
    • In Proverbs, again notice all the benefits of pursuing Godly wisdom.
    • Psalm 22 is one of the great Messianic psalms. See how many times it refers to events that weren’t going to happen for another 1000 years after it was written – the death of Jesus on the cross!
    • Why is Psalm 23 so beloved by Christians?
    • How often aren’t we like the Israelites in chapters 15-17! And yet the Lord forgives and blesses!
    • What’s the connection between 17:8-16 and Hymn 573?
    • What is Jethro’s other name (see 2:18)? How does his advice to Moses (ch. 18) apply to congregational life today?
    • The Ten Commandments are listed in Ex. 20 and Deut. 6.
    • Check out the model of the Tabernacle on display in the church entryway next week (thanks to Al Schumacher for building it). Is that how you imagined it?

February 2-6 -Matthew 19-22; Proverbs 3:1-12; Psalms 18:26 – Psalm 20; Exodus 1-14

    • In chapters 19-20, notice the sins Jesus teaches about – adultery and divorce, the allure of wealth, self-righteousness and pride. Sounds like 21st century doesn’t it?
    • Chapter 21 begins the events of the 8 day period we call “Holy Week.” Take note of the constant opposition toward Jesus by the religious authorities who keep trying to discredit him. His parables and other statements are his last ditch efforts to get them to see the error of their ways and to repent.
    • In Proverbs, 3:5-6 is one of the key verses of the whole book, worth memorizing.
    • According to Prov. 3:9-10, what priority should we set when it comes to using our money?
    • What does Psalm 19:1-2 add to our belief in Creation?
    • Psalm 19:12 should be a regular part of our prayers.
    • We now move some 300 years after the death of Joseph, to approx. 1525 BC., long enough time so that the deeds of Joseph in saving Egypt are no longer remembered.
    • See the Lord’s hand in training Moses – in saving his life, in his education among the Egyptians, in teaching him humility. It takes 80 years before he is ready.
    • At the burning bush we learn the personal name of God, most likely pronounced, “Yahweh”. Whenever that name comes up in the NIV and other translations, it is translated as LORD (all capitals).
    • Notice the progression of Pharaoh’s obstinate heart until the Lord finally made it impossible for him to repent.
    • In the instructions about the Passover, what details point to Jesus’ suffering and death?

Jan 26 – 30 — Matthew 14-18; Proverbs 2:12-22; Psalms 15-18:19; Genesis 39-50

    • Which details show that the miraculous feedings really were separate incidents?
    • With Peter’s confession in Ch. 16, Jesus uses two different Greek words for “rock.” The one with which Peter was named, means a small piece of stone. The other one, the one on which the Church is founded, means a massive cliff, like the Rock of Gibraltar. This shows that the Church is not built on any human like Peter, but on the one Peter confessed, Jesus Christ.
    • Again note Jesus’ compassion throughout these chapters – in his healings, feedings and teachings.
    • In Proverbs, look at the dangers when godly wisdom is ignored!
    • Do you see the resurrection taught in Ps. 16? Verses 8-11 would be good to memorize.
    • Psalm 17:8 should sound familiar.
    • The setting of Psalm 18 is covered in 1 Samuel. We will be reading this in May.
    • Notice how the Lord tested Joseph’s faith – sold as slave, wrongly accused, imprisoned, forgotten. This was about a 4 YEAR period in his life. Would you have remained faithful?
    • What was Joseph trying to learn as he dealt with his brothers in Egypt?
    • Is anything in our lives really just coincidence? Genesis 50:20 gives the answer.

January 19-23 -– Matthew 11-13; Proverbs 2:1-11; Psalms 10-14; Genesis 27-38

    • Think about the Baptist’s question in 11:3 – did he have doubts or was it meant for his disciples to learn about Jesus?
    • Why is 11:28-30 such a treasure for Christians?
    • Notice the growing opposition toward Jesus.
    • See Mark 6:3 for the names of Jesus’ brothers where mention is also made that he had sisters. These would have been the children of Mary and Joseph after the birth of Jesus.
    • In parables, always focus on the one main point Jesus is making, unless he himself explains all the details.
    • In Proverbs, look at all the benefits of godly wisdom!
    • Psalm 10 is a prayer for rescue from the attacks of the wicked.
    • Psalms 11, 12 and 13 point to the source of help in dealing with the wicked.
    • In the account of Jacob, we see how easily even believers can be caught up in deceit and sin.
    • Chapter 34 shows us that the sons were much like their father.
    • Esau’s descendants, the Edomites will appear many times in the history of Israel. Watch for them!
    • Why would God include an incident like ch. 38 in the Bible?

Jan 12 – 16 – Matthew 6-10; Proverbs 1:20-33; Psalms 6-9; Genesis 16-26.

    • What do you notice about the ending of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6?
    • Take special note of Jesus’ teachings about material possessions
    • Notice the many different kinds of miracles Jesus performed
    • What can you learn from the directions Jesus gives his disciples in ch. 10?
    • In Proverbs, see how the theme in v.7 is applied in the last section of the chapter
    • Psalms 6, 7 and 9 can be very helpful in times of distress
    • Psalm 8 is called a “Messianic” psalm; find the verses where that is displayed
    • Note the meaning of the names throughout this section. What name were you given at your baptism? Are you living up to that name?
    • Learn from Abraham’s persistence in prayer in ch. 18
    • Note the sin of the men of Sodom in ch. 19; also Lot’s wicked answer
    • Abraham shows his sinfulness in ch. 20 (as in ch. 12), but also his great faith in ch. 22
    • What important parental concern does Abraham display in ch. 24 that we should impress on our children?

January 5-9 -– Matthew 1-5; Proverbs 1:1-19; Psalms 1-5; Genesis 1-15

    • Matthew’s gospel was written to Jewish believers, so take note of the many references to and quotations from the Old Testament. More than a dozen are contained in these first few chapters.
    • The section from Proverbs this week sets the tone for the entire book. Note the key word.
    • Nearly half the psalms were written by King David. Psalm 3 tells us the circumstances of life he was dealing with at that time. See if you can find the account in 2 Samuel.
    • In reading Genesis, look for the often repeated phrase, “This is the account of…” Mark them in your Bible as you come across them. They are like signposts of the major events and people.

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