THE NEW COVENANT

Daily Scripture readings for March, set #11:

Jeremiah, chapters 26-29
Ecclesiastes 8
John 4:1-14
James 5:7-12

“It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me. Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him also the beasts of the field to serve him” (Jer 27:5-6). The Lord does what “seems right” to HIM even though it might not “seem right” to others.

The reason for rampant sin and evil: “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Eccl 8:11). An implication I see in this verse: Imagining that the punishment for your sin will come swiftly and immediately is a weapon against temptation.

“Although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples” (Jn 4:2). This is an interesting clarification of John 3:22. In fact, the way 3:22 is worded seems downright deceiving without this clarification in 4:2.

“But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation” (Jam 5:12). James throws down some pretty rad stuff in this book, so it’s somewhat strange to me that this verse begins with “but above all.” I mean, keeping one’s word is important… but more important than everything else he’s been saying?

Daily Scripture readings for March, set #12:

Jeremiah, chapters 30-31
Ecclesiastes 9
John 4:15-26
James 5:13-20

I’m going to go a little further out on the theological limb today than I normally do. Reading the Bible cover to cover makes me so much more aware of the difference between the Old and New Covenants, which I’ve commented on many times in these posts. Today’s reading in Jeremiah gloriously trumpets the New Covenant: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ or they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (31:31-34). Notice that this covenant is NOT LIKE the former covenant (vs 32). Notice that it revolves around what the Lord does WITHIN the hearts of Israel (vs 33). Notice that this new covenant contains FORGIVENESS (vs 34). The Old Covenant hinged on Israel’s obedience, which was responded to with punishment.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Eccl 9:10). This is a text that I regularly challenge myself with, perhaps out of context. Each day I have a list of things to accomplish, some of which I knew about and some that are surprises. Maybe it’s my perfectionist personality, but I’ve always seen this verse as an aspect of being faithful in everything.

“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (Jn 4:22). In this important conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, don’t miss Jesus’ clear statement that the woman is in the wrong in her viewpoint on the doctrinal discussion on where to worship God. This is obviously not Jesus’ primary intention, but it’s still part of the interaction.

“And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (Jam 5:15-16). James makes an interesting connection between the confession/forgiveness of sins and the healing of illness.

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