Month: December 2018

December 31, 2018

2 Samuel 7 – 2018-12-31

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    2 Samuel 7:1-17 (ESV)

    1 Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2 the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” 3 And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.”

    4 But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, 5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7 In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ 8 Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” 17 In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

  • Reflection & Application:       

    • 2 Samuel 7:1-13“Startlingly, God reverses David’s proposal.  David cannot build a house for the Lord; the Lord will build a house for David… The grace shown to David in the past will now extend into the future.  This promise is not simply for David, but for the line of David that will come after him.”[1]
      • Reflect on David’s sentiment in v. 2 and what this reveals about David’s heart.  What facts has David noticed to be incongruent? To what extent am I aware of my own comforts as out of balance with the state of God’s honor in the world, and what can I do about it?

      2 Samuel 7:14-16

      “The oracle of Nathan in 2 Sam 7:4-16 locates God’s grace toward Israel in an unconditional and everlasting promise to the line of David.  This was a new theological understanding in Israel and stood in tension with the conditional ‘if’ of the Mosaic covenant at Mt. Sinai. […]  Obedience to covenant requirements is still demanded.   Judgment, even of Davidic kings, is still the consequence of covenant disobedience (7:14b), but the commitment of God to steadfast love toward David’s line and the Davidic kingdom is everlasting and cannot be broken (7:15-16).”[2]

      • What picture of God emerges in this passage?

      [1] Thomas B. Dozeman. The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume II. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998). 1257.

      [2] Thomas B. Dozeman. The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume II. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998). 1255.


December 28, 2018

Christmas Texts – 2018-12-28

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    John 20:19–23 (ESV) 

    19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

    Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV) 

    18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    Acts 1:8 (ESV) 

    8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

  • Reflection & Application:       

    • Reflect on these last words of Jesus.
    • In each of these three passages, there is a mission and a provision.  What are they?
    • As a follower of Jesus, what has been my response to these final words of Jesus?


December 27, 2018

Christmas Texts – 2018-12-27

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    1 John 1:1-10

    1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

    5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

  • Reflection & Application:       

    • “It is interesting that in verse 2 the authority behind John’s affirmation is not merely some tradition or doctrinal convention. It springs from experience. It would be one thing for John to defend the particularity of the Incarnation as a logical requirement of some theological system. And no doubt he could do this. The repeated emphasis on personal experience — seeing and testifying what was revealed to us — is not just a way to shore up his defense of the Incarnation. John’s authority rests in what he knows to be true because he has touched it. He is making a compelling appeal; he is offering a testimony, not just to coherent, orthodox theology, but to a living Word, Jesus Christ, whose reality is the principal reference point of his life.”[1]

      1 John 1:1-2

      • Reflect on the fact that with the person of Jesus “the life was made manifest.”
      • In what ways have I experienced life after encountering Jesus?

      1 John 1:3-9

      • What is the goal of Christian proclamation?
      • What defeats fellowship, and what promotes it?
      • Reflect on the promise of v.9. What is God’s heart behind the exhortation to confess?

      [1] Burge, Gary M.  “Commentary on The Letters of John”, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: The Letters of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996) 54.


December 26, 2018

Christmas Texts – 2018-12-26

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    Luke 1:26–38 (ESV)

    26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

    34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

    35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

    Matthew 1:18–25 (ESV) 

    18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

    23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

        and they shall call his name Immanuel”

    (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

  • Reflection & Application:       

    • Reflect on the theme of “the obedience of the humble” that emerges from these passages as the critical human element in bringing Jesus into the world.
    • What were the pains and costs of Mary and Joseph’s willingness to obey God’s words?


December 25, 2018

Christmas Texts – 2018-12-25

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    Luke 2:1-20 (ESV)

    1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

    8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

    14 “Glory to God in the highest,

        and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

    15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

  • Reflection & Application:       

    • Luke 2:10-12
      • Reflect on the words describing Jesus in the angel’s annunciation.
      • Write all the ways in which the coming of Jesus is good news of great joy for all the people, and to me particularly.


December 24, 2018

Christmas Texts – 2018-12-24

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    Isaiah 59:1-3; 9-20  

    1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,

        or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;

    2 but your iniquities have made a separation

        between you and your God,

    and your sins have hidden his face from you

        so that he does not hear.

    3 For your hands are defiled with blood

        and your fingers with iniquity;

    your lips have spoken lies;

        your tongue mutters wickedness. …

    9 Therefore justice is far from us,

        and righteousness does not overtake us;

    we hope for light, and behold, darkness,

        and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.

    10 We grope for the wall like the blind;

        we grope like those who have no eyes;

    we stumble at noon as in the twilight,

        among those in full vigor we are like dead men.

    11 We all growl like bears;

        we moan and moan like doves;

    we hope for justice, but there is none;

        for salvation, but it is far from us.

    12 For our transgressions are multiplied before you,

        and our sins testify against us;

    for our transgressions are with us,

        and we know our iniquities:

    13 transgressing, and denying the Lord,

        and turning back from following our God,

    speaking oppression and revolt,

        conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.

    14 Justice is turned back,

        and righteousness stands far away;

    for truth has stumbled in the public squares,

        and uprightness cannot enter.

    15 Truth is lacking,

        and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.

    The Lord saw it, and it displeased him

        that there was no justice.

    16 He saw that there was no man,

        and wondered that there was no one to intercede;

    then his own arm brought him salvation,

        and his righteousness upheld him.

    17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate,

        and a helmet of salvation on his head;

    he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,

        and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.

    18 According to their deeds, so will he repay,

        wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies;

        to the coastlands he will render repayment.

    19 So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west,

        and his glory from the rising of the sun;

    for he will come like a rushing stream,

        which the wind of the Lord drives.

    20 “And a Redeemer will come to Zion,

        to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord.

    John 1:1-5; 14

    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  …

    14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

  • Reflection & Application:       

    • Reflect on the condition of man described in Isaiah 59 and the hopeful note at the end of the chapter when “a Redeemer will come to Zion.”
    • Reflect on the words describing the true nature of Jesus (“the Word”) in this passage, and the fact that he came and “dwelt among us” (v.14).  What does this reveal about the heart of God?


December 21, 2018

2 Samuel 6 – 2018-12-21

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    2 Samuel 6:12-23(ESV)

    12 And it was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing. 13 And when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal.                             14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

    16 As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart. 17 And they brought in the ark of the Lord and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it. And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 18 And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts 19 and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed, each to his house.

    20 And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” 21 And David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord—and I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” 23 And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

    Reflection & Application:       

    2 Samuel 6:14-22

  • What does Michal’s caustic comment to David in v. 20 reveal about her sphere of concern, and the extent to which the opinions of others mattered to her?
  • Notice that Michal was actually anxious to protect the dignity of her husband, and felt that he was undermining his own image as the new king with his public dancing (and the manner of it).  Why was her concern not conveyed?
  • What can we tell from v. 23 about what happened to their marital relationship after this incident?
  • Reflect on the power of hurtful or disdainful words to destroy relationships.  How careful am I with my words, especially toward people close to me?


December 20, 2018

2 Samuel 6 – 2018-12-20

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    2 Samuel 6:1-11 (ESV)

    1 David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. 2 And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. 3 And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, 4 with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark.

    5 And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. 6 And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. 7 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. 8 And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. 9 And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” 10 So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11 And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

    Reflection & Application:       

2 Samuel 6:6-8

“In a way that seems especially foreign to present-day readers, the unfortunate Uzzah illustrates the holiness of God present in the ark.  ‘To touch the ark is to impinge on God’s holiness, to draw too close and presume too much.’  The Israelites have not taken his power and holiness seriously enough, and now David is left with the question (6:9): ‘How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?’ The text implies that the ark (and hence God’s presence) can and will come into David’s life, but his power and holiness come with it.  Such warnings are healthy, indeed needed, in order to protect God’s people from tendencies to trivialize God’s holiness.” [1]

  • How was it offensive that Uzzah “put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it”?
  • What might be the significance of Uzzah being the son of Abinadab, at whose house the ark had been kept?
  • What are some ways in which I lack appreciation for God’s holiness?

[1] 4Bill T. Wilson. NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Samuel. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 458.


December 19, 2018

2 Samuel 5 – 2018-12-19

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    2 Samuel 5:17-25 (ESV)

    17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. But David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. 18 Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. 19 And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?” And the Lord said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.” 20 And David came to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them there. And he said, “The Lord has broken through my enemies before me like a breaking flood.” Therefore the name of that place is called Baal-perazim. 21 And the Philistines left their idols there, and David and his men carried them away.

    22 And the Philistines came up yet again and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. 23 And when David inquired of the Lord, he said, “You shall not go up; go around to their rear, and come against them opposite the balsam trees. 24 And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the Lord has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” 25 And David did as the Lord commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba to Gezer.

Reflection & Application:       

2 Samuel 5:17-25

  • What can I learn from the fact that David was not done with fighting even after he became a king?
  • Reflect on the words: “David inquired of the Lord.”  How do these words apply to me?


December 18, 2018

2 Samuel 5 – 2018-12-18

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    2 Samuel 5:1-16 (ESV)

    1 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. 2 In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the Lord said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.’” 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

    6 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.” 7 Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. 8 And David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack ‘the lame and the blind,’ who are hated by David’s soul.” Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” 9 And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built the city all around from the Millo inward. 10 And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him.

    11 And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house. 12 And David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

    13 And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David. 14 And these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16 Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet.

Reflection & Application:       

2 Samuel 5:1-5

  • Imagine how David must have felt finally becoming king after all these years since the day Samuel first found and anointed him, the shepherd boy, as a king.  Reflect on God’s faithfulness to David throughout that entire time.
  • How has the Lord been faithful to me throughout all the ups and downs of my life?

2 Samuel 5:6-12

  • v. 12 may express one of the key differences between David and Saul.  Reflect on David’s view of the purpose of God’s blessing upon his kingdom.
  • To what extent do I see my life, and the blessings God has given me, as being “for the sake of his people”?


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