June daily Scripture readings, set #24:
– Genesis, chapter 49
– Psalm 22:12-31
– Matthew 9:27-38
– Acts, chapter 14
In Psalm 22, David is lamenting his situation and crying out to God for help. Then, as he reflects on God’s faithfulness, he begins describing his expectation that the Lord will deliver him. He says this in verse 23: “All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!” After speaking to his own people (the Jews), David addresses “the nations” in verse 27: “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.” A surface reading of this seems to suggest that someday all people will be saved. That idea conflicts with many other texts in Scripture, which probably means the surface reading is not the correct one. What then is the purpose/meaning of this optimism from David regarding the fate of “the nations?”
Jesus’ healing of the blind men in Matthew 9 is an important reminder of the role that our faith plays in God’s working. Jesus is very direct here in attributing the healing to the degree of sincerity in the men’s faith. Now the question is: how did the blind men come to have such faith? As I thought about this I realized that the end of Matthew 9 has a potential answer. Jesus, upon seeing that the people needed a savior, declares this: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (vs 37-38). Jesus states that the answer to the problem of not enough laborers is to pray, because it is the Lord’s harvest. Could this not also be the case with faith? More on this in Matthew 16.
Paul finishes his sermon in the Antioch synagogue in Acts 13:26-52, and two things jumped out at me in this text as I read…
1) Paul touches on the same concept that Jesus mentions in Matthew 5, regarding the role of the Old Testament law: “By him (Jesus) everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the Law of Moses” (vs 37-38). The OT law was not a bad thing, but it’s clear from texts like this that the OT law cannot actually save anyone.
2) Many people gathered in Antioch to hear Paul preach, and as the message of the Gospel was delivered to the Gentiles, many believed. How many? Verse 48 answers this: “As many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”
June readings, set #25:
– Genesis, chapter 50
– Psalm, chapter 23
– Matthew 10:1-20
– Acts 15:1-21
As I mentioned in a post from last week, Joseph’s words in Genesis 50 echoe what he says in Genesis 45, regarding God’s sovereignty over his being sold into slavery by his brothers: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive as they are today” (vs 20). I’m noticing that there is one action that Joseph is describing here, but there are two intentions… man’s and God’s.
Psalm 23 is a very familiar one to me, but today I noticed for the first time what seems to be a contradiction in vs 6: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Didn’t David just say that he was walking through the “valley of the shadow of death” in verse 4? So is this really a contradiction? I don’t think so. Is not God the ruler of everything, even the valley of the shadow of death? David even specifically says in vs 4 that the Lord is with him in the valley. So then, there isn’t a contradiction if “the valley of the shadow of death” is still in some way part of “the house of the Lord.” Is it too much of a stretch for me to read/understand the text this way?
There are lots of interesting things in the first half of Matthew 10, but the one that stands out to me the most today is Jesus’ comment to the disciples as he sends them out for ministry. “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious about how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (vs 19-20). This text is encouraging to me for two reasons. First, it’s obvious that God’s speaking through me will be more effective than my own speaking. But secondly, the fact that God will speak through me implies that the entire situation is for that purpose, and so I can trust that God is in control.
Acts 14 contains the account of Paul being stoned to apparent death in Lystra, but then getting back up and continuing to preach the Gospel. Not surprisingly then, verse 21-22 says this regarding his message to the Christians in Lystra: “They returned to Lystra… strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Paul knows first-hand that tribulations accompany the life of a Christian.
PS. This concludes the readings for June, since there are only 25 per month. Tomorrow I’ll start on July’s readings. I’m obviously still a little behind the calendar dates, but I’ll get everything caught up in the next few weeks and then my plan is to stay a little ahead of things. But taking the past three days off from posting WASN’T necessarily my plan, so we’ll see what happens.