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Showing posts from February, 2019

February 28 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 59 What does it mean to love God with your all your strength?  Today's Bible Project video describes it for you.

DAILY READINGSDeuteronomy 17-20 & Psalm 59

DAILY NOTES Deuteronomy 17:1
Any offering to God must not be defective.  It must be the best of what you have.  That'll preach. Deuteronomy 17:2-7 What is evil in God's sight?  What is something that is worth someone's death?  "Going to" and worshiping other gods.  Once convicted, the person who has done evil in God's sight, is put to death by the community. Deuteronomy 17:12 If someone seeks a decision from the levitical priests and judge, but does not accept their ruling shall also be put to death. Deuteronomy 17:14-20 God knew the people would want a king.  For now, God does not put any negative connotation to that request (Later he will).  Notice that the king has a high responsibility that accompanies his office. Deuteronomy 18:15-22 The people will have another prophet.  This illustrates Mose…

February 27 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 58 What does the Bible mean to love God with our soul?  That's what we're talking about in today's Bible Project video.

DAILY READINGSDeuteronomy 15-16 & Psalm 58 DAILY NOTES Deuteronomy 15:2

The remission of debts is God's plan to ensure that people are not kept under bondage to others.  It is a release for the debt holder, and, to be sure, it is God's remission. Deuteronomy 15:4-11 Verse 4 suggests the Israelites faithfulness will mean there will never be anyone in need.  It'd be a great conversation to have discussing that verse with verses 7 and 11.God's command to care for the poor is related to the giver's heart and actions.  The NRSV says to be careful with even a "mean thought." That might be a little bland.  The text says something like "be on guard that your decadent heart...."The Isrealites are called to give and to not be grieved when they give.  In other words, give with joy because God has allowed you to be in a …

February 26 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 57 Today's Bible Project video centers on what the Bible means when it speaks of the heart.  

DAILY READINGSDeuteronomy 13-14 & Psalm 57

DAILY NOTES Deuteronomy 13
Any prophet or "dreamer of dreams" lead you away from God to other gods, he is to be put to death.  That person has, among other things, spoken "treason" or "falsehood" against God.The same thing should happen to "anyone" who tempts you in secret to follow another God, even if that anyone is a family member.  Notice that you're not even to show them "pity or compassion" or even try to protect them.  The text (Verse 13) says to watch for scoundrels--literally, sons of decadence.  If they are found to be leading people away from God, they are to be put to do as well, and all those of their town that followed them. Deuteronomy 14 The Isrealites were to remain a distinctive people.  They were not to follow the customs or practices of any of the nations around them…

February 23 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 54 Moses' speech continues.  Today, we're reminding of the whole law of God, the ten commandments and the people's need to keep these commandments ever before them.
Moses will tell the people, "Hear, O Israel..."  Watch today's video for a great explanation of what it means to shema (listen).

DAILY READINGSDeuteronomy 4-6 & Psalm 54
DAILY NOTES Deuteronomy 4:1
These were never rules.  Moses has communicated them as life. Deuteronomy 4:6-8 Following God's commands will make them wise among the other people.  What we understand is that these laws God gives differ from those of people around the Israelites.  Indeed, they are to be set apart."Observe them diligently" means to study them and do them.These ordinances are "just" compared to the other nations. Deuteronomy 4:9 Watch yourselves or be on guard. Deuteronomy 4:19 How can the people make an idol of anything under or above the earth since God has created everything and "has…

February 22 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 53 Three books down, 63 more to go! 😁

We're opening with the first 3 chapters of Deuteronomy today.  You'll notice that those chapters are a history lesson.  Moses is speaking to the new generation of Israelites, ensuring they know and understanding how they got to be where they are.  He doesn't pull any punches.  It's a straightforward recount of much of what we've read so far.

Since it is a retelling of the Israelites' journey, I didn't include chapter notes today.  Make sure to watch the introduction video to get a firm grasp of what the book of Deuteronomy is--there's an extra credit assignment!

DAILY READINGSDeuteronomy 1-3 & Psalm 53

February 21 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 52 We're finishing the book of Numbers today.  We've traveled through the desert and are making final preparations before entering the promised land of God.   DAILY READINGSNumbers 35-36 & Psalm 52

DAILY NOTES Numbers 35
This chapter is divided into 2 sections.  The first half outlines the cities that are to be given to the Levites; the Levites do not have inherited land because God is their inheritance.The second half describes what to do when someone kills another, either unintentionally or as murder.  Notice the role of the avenger.  He (I presume it would always be a man) has a duty that he must fulfill.  In Verse 25 illustrates the seriousness of his task--the congregation might have to "rescue" someone who kills another unintentionally from the slayer.The slayer must reside in the refuge city until the high priest dies. Numbers 36 The final chapter deals with property of tribal families.  This is based on the decision made in Numbers 27.  From this, wome…

February 20 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 51 We're winding down our reading of Numbers.  We haven't even read about a number in a while, right?  Instead, we're making final preparations to enter the land God has promised.   DAILY READINGSNumbers 33-34 & Psalm 51
DAILY NOTES Numbers 33
Most of the chapter outlines the journey the Israelites have taken.  The text says that the people were "under the hand" of Moses and Aaron.Moses has recorded "their starting points, stage by stage."  The people were arranged in a military fashion.  That has set them up for the conquest of Canaan.Verse 52 makes it clear that what is before the Israelites is a holy war.  Numbers 34 This chapter is written in two parts.  The first outlines the boundaries of Canaan.  The second section indicates the leaders of all the tribes. Psalm 51 This is a familiar psalm to a lot of people.  It is commonly read and referred to on Ash Wednesday as it deals with personal sin, forgiveness and reconciliation.Notice the "T…

February 19 + Daily readings & notes

DAY 50 It's been 50 days since we started reading the Bible.  50!  That's a great milestone.

I hope you're finding that reading the Bible daily is a valuable way to experience God's grace.
DAILY READINGSNumbers 31-32 & Psalm 50

DAILY NOTES Numbers 31
Moses is given his final mission with the Israelites.The war on the Midianites begins.  It is related to what happened in Numbers 25.Notice that Eleazar the priest goes to war with the army, but, apparently, he does not participate (See Verse 12).The Israelites defeat the Midianites, killing "every male."  They bring the women and children, but Moses commands that the boys and women should be killed, too.Verses 25-54 depict how the rest of the items gathered from the Midianites is distributed. Numbers 32 Two tribes ask Moses to stay in Gilead.  In other words, they are asking to not enter the Promised Land.Moses receives this as a discouragement to the people.  He relates their request to the negative report t…

February 18 + Daily readings

DAY 49 It's a light reading day!  We're learning about more offerings and what to do when your wife makes a hasty purchase--maybe that's what it means 😉 DAILY READINGSNumbers 28-30 & Psalm 49
DAILY NOTES Numbers 28
Prescribed daily offerings, sabbath offerings, monthly offerings, passover offerings and offerings for the festival of weeks. Numbers 29 Prescribed offerings for festival of trumpets, day of atonement, festival of booths. Numbers 30 Jesus once said, "Let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no."  Vows are important to the people of God.  The whole story we're reading is based on a vow/promise from God.  This chapter deals with the vows a man makes; he should keep them.  Mostly, though, the chapter deals with the vows made by a daughter or wife.  The father/husband was given authority to decide whether any vows or rash decisions made by her were to be kept or not. Psalm 49
People have trusted in their wealth for a long…

February 17 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 48 The Israelite population is about to decrease.  Consequently, a new generation of people, and a new leader, will take their place as those who will inherit the promise of God. DAILY READINGSNumbers 25-27 & Psalm 48
DAILY NOTES Numbers 25:1-5
The people (men) became sexually and, consequentially, religiously involved withe Moabite women.  We are to understand that these Israelites began to participate fully in the religious activities of the Moabites.  Numbers 25:4 The people guilty of spiritual idolatry are hanged.  "In the sun" is so that everyone will see them.  Numbers 26
A census is taken of the new generation of people.  No one who was counted in the old census is around to be counted in the new one.  The census, besides indicating military numbers, also provides an avenue to apportion the land the people will be given. Numbers 27:1-4 5 daughters seek to inherit their father's land.  Since he had no sons, his name would have been forgotten if the daughters d…

February 16 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 47 Before the movie Shrek, the best known talking donkey was Balaam's donkey.  That's what we're reading about today.  
Of course, that's only part of the story between Balak and Balaam.   DAILY READINGSNumbers 22-24 & Psalm 47

DAILY NOTES Numbers 22:2
Apparently, Israel is making a name for itself.  The Moabites are terrified and distressed/irritated by the news of what the Israelites are doing. Numbers 22:5-6 Balaam is, apparentely, a diviner with a good reputation.  Balak is "overcome with fear" and his response is to go to Balaam.  Balak knows that "whomever you bless is blessed, and whomever you curse is cursed." Numbers 22:8
This is the recurring theme for Balaam.  He will only say what  God tells him to say.  That is, there's no money back guarantee.  Even if it doesn't align with what Balak wants, Balaam will only give the words that God gives him.There is no indication why Balaam would seek the Lord's words and why later h…

February 15 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 46 It may be time to start looking at the maps.  As the people journey, we don't know where all the places that are mentioned were.  Still, it's good study to have an idea of what the journey looks like.  So, talk to Google (i.e. Israelites journey in the desert Numbers, and look at the photos).  Most study Bibles have maps in the back that illustrate the journey.
Happy exploring, and I hope you don't mind snakes! DAILY READINGSNumbers 19-21 & Psalm 46

DAILY NOTES Numbers 19
The "red" heifer is offered in order to provide for the purification of those who have touched a corpse.  The ashes are used. Numbers 20:2 It in unclear what year this is.  How long have the people been traveling?  Miriam dies. Numbers 20:8 God tells Moses simply to "command the rock" to give water, using the staff (presumably Aaron's).  Paying attention to this instruction is important since Moses will be punished in a few verses. Numbers 20:10 Moses lifts his hands and st…

February 14 + Daily readings & notes

DAY 45 Ever watch a movie and know that a certain character must stay alive because, if not, the movie would end in about 12 minutes?  Well, you'd think the people would have gotten the point after what happened in yesterday's reading.  But I guess then there'd be no need for the rest of the Bible.
You'll see what I mean.  DAILY READINGSNumbers 17-18 & Psalm 45 DAILY NOTES Numbers 17:1-5 Each tribe is represented by a staff.Was God sure this would stop the people's complaining?  They just had another episode the day after watching those people that opposed Moses die.There's a sense that God says, "I will calm down" the Israelites. This is the same calming that God did to the waters for Noah when the flood was over. Numbers 17:10 Aaron's staff sprouts.  This illustrates God's choosing (Verse 5).  Aaron's staff is to be kept with the covenant as a warning.  No one else will be able to approach the covenant.  So, does Aaron keep it just in…

February 13 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 44 The promise that God has spoken of is so close!  Some of the people actually see it.  But something about what they saw disturbs them and lets loose a chain of events that impedes on these people from ever experiencing God's promise.   DAILY READINGSNumbers 14-16 & Psalm 44

DAILY NOTES Numbers 14:1-4
The peoples' lament quickly turns to a major complaint against Moses & Aaron.  Their initial thought is to return to Egypt.They would rather choose a "head" to lead them back where they came from. Numbers 14:6 Caleb and Joshua tear their clothes.  Is this a form of lament, too? Numbers 14:10 They can't defeat the people of the land. So, they threaten to stone the 2 men of their camp. Numbers 14:13-19 Moses' rationale also harkens back to Egypt.   Numbers 14:34 God's rationale for keeping the Israelites wandering for 40 years.   Numbers 14:41 The people plan to go forward without God (the ark of the covenant).  Moses recognizes that this idea "w…

February 12 + Daily notes & reading

DAY 43 We're getting a few narrative readings today.  So, you're not just reading names and numbers, as significant as they are.  
The people complain.  Aaron & Miriam are jealous.  God gets angry.  Moses is fed up.  A new land is seen.  We're getting somewhere!
Happy reading. DAILY READINGSNumbers 11-13 & Psalm 43
DAILY NOTES Numbers 11:1-2
The complaining didn't take long to begin.  God's anger burned against them.  The text says that their complaint was received as "evil" to God. Numbers 11:4
The "rabble" is a mixture of people.  Most likely, it alludes to the mix of people who accompanied the Israelites from Egypt. Numbers 11:7-9
A description of manna. Numbers 11:10
Moses was not merely displeased.  The text indicates that Moses received God's anger as evil.Considering that, Verses 11-15 become more than a mere cry to God.  They seem to be daunting, almost hopeless words.  If Moses has to deal with the peoples' needs and the ev…

February 11 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 42 Here's another great video that summarizes the book of Numbers well.  I can't recommend these video enough to you.  They are helpful in understanding not just what you're reading, but why what you're reading is important.

DAILY READINGSNumbers 8-10 & Psalm 42
DAILY NOTES Numbers 8:2
This doesn't seem like a direct command, but the implication of the placement of the lamps is understood. Numbers 8:5-26 The Levites are consecrated for their work.  Levites served up to 25 years.  They retire at 50. After that, they are allowed to help with priestly duties, but not act as overseers.   Numbers 9:2 "Let them" really means "Make them." Numbers 9:7 Doesn't their question resemble questions we modern readers have about some of these laws? Numbers 9:10 Modern Jews don't sacrifice any more because there is no appropriate place to do so.  They do, however, observe the passover.  The verse gives direction to do so. Numbers `10:1-10 Silver trump…

February 10 + Daily readings & notes

DAY 41 Just because we're done with Leviticus doesn't mean we're done with the theme of holiness.  Watch today's video to see a great illustration of how to understand holiness with God.

DAILY READINGSNumbers 5-7 & Psalm 41
DAILY NOTES Numbers 5:1-4
Those with "leprosy" were brought out of the camp so that the rest of the people would not be "defiled."   Numbers 5:5-10 If someone wrongs someone else the offender should bring restitution. Numbers 5:11-31 What to do with your adulterous wife.  Well, what to do with, you think, your adulterous wife.  Well, what to do with your wife if you're not sure if she's been adulterous or are just feeling a little jealous with her.The man does not need to have proof against her.  The proof will be in the results of the ceremony.Should we assume that if the woman does not want to take part in the drinking of the water of bitterness that she would be accused/assumed to be guilty for sure?And if your husba…

February 9 + Daily readings & notes

DAY 40 We're starting a new book today!  
We call the book Numbers.  The Hebrew name is Bemidbar, which means "In the wilderness."  That is taken from the first line of the first verse.  That's a familiar naming mechanism that we've already seen.  I'll say a little more about the idea of being "in the wilderness" after we finish today's readings.
First, check out The Bible Project's video on Numbers:

Now, let's get reading. DAILY READINGSNumbers 1-4 & Psalm 40
DAILY NOTES Numbers 1:1-4
A census of every male aged 20 years and up.  The purpose?  To know who would be able to go to war. Numbers 1:46 According to the text, that's a grand total of 603, 550 able to wage war.Levites are not counted because their work is dedicated to the tabernacle. Numbers 2:2 "Ensigns" seems to indicate that each tribe had it's own insignia.The people are instructed to camp in a way that their tents face the tent of meeting. Numbers 3:10-13 …

February 8 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 39 We're finishing our 3rd book of the Bible today!  Congratulations.  And tomorrow you're finishing the 40th day of reading.  If you've kept up with your daily readings, by now you've created a habit of reading the Bible.  Once it becomes a part of what you do, reading scripture isn't that difficult anymore.
Great job, and happy reading! DAILY READINGSLeviticus 26-27 & Psalm 39 DAILY NOTES Leviticus 26 The chapter outlines the rewards for following God and the consequences for not following God.Following God seems to offer Psalm 23ish feelings (See verse 6), but the some of the other language seems harsh.  God plagues the people?  If you are familiar with any of the rest of the Old Testament, you may notice how these words from Leviticus play out so many times throughout the history of God's people. Leviticus 27 If you're reading the final chapter of Leviticus and wondering, "Where did this come from?" that means you're paying attentio…

February 7 + Daily readings & notes

DAY 38
DAILY READINGSLeviticus 24-25 & Psalm 38 DAILY NOTES Leviticus 24:13-16
How important is the "Name"?  If you someone blasphemes the Name they are to be put to death.In the particular case mentioned, only those who heard the man blaspheme the Name were to stone him.  From that point forward, if someone blasphemes the Name, the whole congregation does the stoning.  
Leviticus 25:1-7
The land even gets a sabbath. Leviticus 25:13-17 The Jubilee made sure that no one could be overpowered among the people.  No one would have to have debt built up over them.  Things would be restored.  The word jubilee comes from the Hebrew word for a ram's horn.  Verse 10 says that the people are to "proclaim liberty throughout the land..."  Imagine a ram's horn being used to announce the jubilee has come! Leviticus 25:25-55 The concern is that people are not taken advantage of.  God's people are not to profit from the disadvantage of each other.   Psalm 38 This the pr…

February 6 + Daily readings & notes

DAY 37 DAILY READINGSLeviticus 21-23 & Psalm 37 DAILY NOTES Leviticus 21
Priests were to keep a higher standard of living among the people.They couldn't be blemished.  Talk about great expectations. Leviticus 22 Even though the offerings were available to the priests, they could not merely receive them.  Whoever might eat of what was brought by the people would have to be clean.  The offerings must not be blemished at all. Leviticus 23 SabbathPassoverFestival of unleavened breadOffering of first fruitsA sheaf is a bundle, or an armful.Festival of weeksFestival of trumpetsDay of atonmentFestival of booths Psalm 37 Focus your life on doing good, not on what others do.God will handle those who do evil.  We must trust God to do so.Our steps are kept by God.Keeping our ways upright ensures that God brings salvation. OTHER OBSERVATIONS The oft-repeated phrase in today's reading is "I am the Lord."

God wanted the people to realize, understand and remember that what they we…

February 5 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 36 Hopefully, by reading through Leviticus, you'll notice that there aren't many areas of our life that don't matter to God.  When someone joins a United Methodist congregation, we ask them to serve Christ through the church with their prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.  A simple way I explain that to potential members is that their commitments covers every area of their life.

And that's what seems to be part of the goal of passages like today's.  All our life belongs to God.  All of our life we are commit to God, and keep holy.
DAILY READINGSLeviticus 19-20 & Psalm 36 DAILY NOTES Leviticus 19:2

God's expectations of holiness is directly related to God's own holiness. Leviticus 19:9-10 A way to take care of the poor is built into the holiness of the people.   Leviticus 19:34 A reminder to the people that they're exodus from Egypt should soften their hearts to other people who have come among them.  They are to be treated as a citizen. …

February 4 + Daily readings & notes

DAY 37 DAILY READINGSLeviticus 16-18 & Psalm 35 DAILY NOTES Leviticus 16 Notice the holiness of the sanctuary inside the curtain. If Aaron were to come "just at any time" he would die.Atonement for the sanctuary must be made because of the "uncleannesses of the people." God is making a way to forgive their sin.Aaron has to be made ready, along with the holy place, the tent of meeting and the altar. Then the offering can be made. The goat bears the iniquities and transgressions of the people and is then sent in the wilderness. Yes, this is where we get the idea of a scapegoat.  Leviticus 17 The people are to make their offerings before God. If an animal is slaughtered anywhere but the sanctuary, it's as if they've committed murder. The eating of blood is prohibited.  Leviticus 18 A vivid reminder of what God is trying to do. The people knew a way of living in Egypt. They are to let go of that life and live as God is instructing them.Several sexual prohibit…

February 3 & Daily notes & readings

DAY 34 Have you ever attended a class or participated in a presentation where the speaker simply read directly from a script? That's not always bad, but they've also given you the script!  So, you're reading what they're reading and nothing new is coming out of it.  That's not a class I want to attend.

I feel like today's reading could be like that.  I don't have much to add to what's being said about leprous purification rituals and what to do when a man or woman has bodily discharge.

Here's a better idea for today.  You read it and let me know what you have questions about.  If this passage is new to you, there are no bad questions.  If you're reading it again, how do make sense of what these rituals mean?

Your turn!

DAILY READINGSLeviticus 14-15 & Psalm 34
DAILY NOTES Leviticus 14:1-32
Ritual cleaning for a leprous person.The passage also contains instructions for someone who cannot afford the animals required for the original offerings. …

February 2 + Daily notes & readings

DAY 33 This isn't the first time we've heard about clean/unclean animals.  Remember the animals prepared to put on the ark?  Still, when we get to reading about clean/unclean things in the Bible, a common question comes about, "Why?"

Why are some animals unclean and some not?  Why does it matter to God what we eat?  Why do we need these distinctions?

Good questions.  There have been many theories.  There are few, if any, explanations in the Bible.  We just have to be willing to read it, and appreciate the people's pursuit of purity and holiness.

Let's get to it.
DAILY READINGSLeviticus 11-13 & Psalm 33
DAILY NOTES Leviticus 11
Notice 3 words: unclean, detestable and defile.  This chapter deals with what foods and animals are clean/unclean.If someone comes in contact with anything unclean, they become unclean, too.  Verse 43 sums it best, "You shall not make yourselves shall not defile yourselves with them...." Leviticus 12 A sho…

February 1 + Daily readings & notes

DAY 32 We're reading about Aaron and his sons being ordained as priests today.  We've already read what they will do, but today they will actually do it.

Make sure to watch today's video.  The Bible Project does a great job of explaining what the priests' role is and how the offerings and clean/unclean designations function in the worship of God's people.

DAILY READINGSLeviticus 8-10 & Psalm 32
DAILY NOTES Leviticus 8:5
Moses emphasizes that what is about to be done has already been prescribed by God.  He and the people are following what God has commanded to be done. Leviticus 8:6 The first step toward ordination was the washing with water.  Surely we see a parallel to our idea of water baptism.Notice that throughout the remainder of the chapter the text repeatedly identifies Moses as the one who is performing these acts of ordination over Aaron and his sons.   Leviticus 8:23 Interesting that the ear lobe, thumb and big toe are specific to this ritual.  The bish…