“Stir up one another to love and good works”

Daily Scripture readings for February, set #17:

Isaiah, chapters 44-45
Proverbs 26:17-28
Luke 23:32-38
Hebrews 10:1-18

Isaiah 44 contains a long rant about the ridiculousness and abomination of idols, but don’t miss verse 18 in the midst of all the “half of it he burns over the fire” stuff. “They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.” If you are someone who can see and understand the folly of worshipping idols, then be thankful to him who gave you eyes to see and a heart to understand.

“As charcoal to hot embers and wood to a fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife” (Prov 26:21). Strife = bad. Quarrelsome person = high likelihood for strife. Summary: don’t be a quarrelsome person.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). I’ve always found this phrase from Jesus very puzzling. First of all, does it mean anything? Did God the Father forgive the soldiers that crucified Jesus? Or another question: was Jesus referring to the soldiers in this statement or to some larger group of people? Also, is the ignorance that Jesus cites a basis or reason for the request of forgiveness? How does an appeal of ignorance help anything?

Sanctification (personal holiness) is both a guarantee and a process, which is why Hebrews 10:14 uses both the phrase “has perfected” (past tense) and the phrase “being sanctified” (present ongoing). “For by  single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

Daily Scripture readings for February, set #18:

Isaiah, chapters 46-48
Proverbs 27:1-14
Luke 23:39-43
Hebrews 10:19-39

“For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another” (Isa 48:11). This is what theologians are referring to when they describe the Lord as a “jealous” God. Jealousy, as we might define it between one human being and another human being, is not thought of as a trait to be admired or imitated. Is it acceptable for us to attribute this trait to God? This segues perfectly to today’s reading in Proverbs. “Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?” (Prov 27:4). How can we reconcile the “jealousy” that this verse mentions with the jealousy that God demonstrates in Isaiah 48?

One of the most important aspects of salvation is the fact that we all deserve punishment. In other words, it was acceptable that the criminals who hung next to Christ were being put to death. Both criminals were guilty of actions punishable by death, so death is what they were getting. “And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds” (Luke 23:41). And yet, Jesus forgave the one who sought him. That is why salvation is a gift, not a right.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24). Have you considered this lately? Have you felt the sweetness and assurance of your faith as a motivation to challenge/encourage your brothers and sisters?

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