Week of October 15 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Matthew 15:10-20

10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Reflect: What is the point of the statement Jesus makes in verse 13?

Consider: The disciples were astounded by what Jesus taught about foods. After all, they had been raised good Jews (see Acts 10:14 for Peter’s testimony). They knew the difference between the “clean” and “unclean” foods (Lev. 11). But the disciples had another concern: This teaching had offended the Pharisees and was certain to create serious problems. But Jesus was not worried about the Pharisees. Neither they nor their teachings had been planted by God, and therefore would not last. While there are isolated groups that seek to maintain the traditions, for the most part, phariseeism is gone. However, the spirit of phariseeism (tradition, legalism, hypocrisy, externals) is still with us, what Jesus called “the leaven of the Pharisees” (Matt. 16:6). Jesus also pointed out that the Pharisees were blind and could only lead their converts into the ditch. In Matthew 23:16, He called them “blind guides”—quite a graphic description. Why be afraid of rootless plants that are dying, or blind guides who cannot see where they are going?[1]

Respond: When you compare your attitude and actions with who God wants you to be, where do you see immediate need for change? What are some ways we can help each other not get distracted by rules and issues that take away from the good news of the gospel?

 

[1]  Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 53–54.

 

Week of October 15 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Luke 13:6-9

6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Reflect: What is the point of Jesus’ parable?

Consider: To illustrate His point (see verses 2-5) Jesus taught in a parable that if fruit does not show in one’s life, judgment will come. A fig tree requires three years to bear figs, but since this one did not produce, the owner said, Cut it down. His vineyard keeper asked him to give it one more year. This parable illustrates the point made in verses 1–5 that judgment comes on those who do not repent. Here Jesus took the thought one step further and noted that fruit must be present (cf. Matt. 3:7–10; 7:15–21; Luke 8:15). A visible change must be seen in the life of one who claims to trust the Messiah. If there is no visible change that person, like the figless fig tree, is judged.[1]

Respond: If you had “one more year” like the fig tree to turn your life around, what would you do? In what ways are you guilty of showing the same self-righteous attitude of the Pharisees? What is the result? How can you begin to change? What step do you need to take to show that you love people more than you love rules and traditions? What is something that we could do together to love and serve our community?

 

[1] John A. Martin, “Luke,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 240.

Week of October 15 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Matthew 7:15-20

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Reflect: What does Jesus warn against in these verses? How will his audience be able to identify them?

Consider: This correspondence of external product to internal character is necessary. It cannot (emphatic) be otherwise. If the heart is good, good results follow; therefore, he implies, if good results are not seen in these “false prophets,” it is because of their real character. A bad life cannot but spring from a worthless heart.[1]

Respond: Why do you think Jesus chose these metaphors to describe false prophets? What do these images reveal about the seriousness of false teaching? What did Jesus mean by “fruit”? How would the fruit of false teachers identify them? How do you spot false teachers today? Do you think they are easier or harder to spot than in the New Testament time? Why? If they are so dangerous, why are we tempted to follow false teachers?

 

[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., St. Matthew, vol. 1, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 284.

Week of October 15 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Matthew 3:7-10

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Reflect: What characterizes the fruit Jesus is looking for?

Consider: Although Jeremiah 46:22 speaks of men who go into the forest to chop down trees, the figure of the axe that is laid to the root of the trees is best understood as drawn from the experience of either a gardener or a person who takes care of grapevines. The trees referred to here are useful trees or grapevines from which one could expect to gather good fruit.[1]

Respond: Why do Christians, even though we are saved, need to live a lifestyle of repenting daily? According to verse 10, what is the result of repentance? How did the crowds miss the point that saving faith leads to serving faith? What excuse did they have for not living for and serving God?

 

[1] Barclay Moon Newman and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1992), 66.

Week of October 15 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: John 15:1

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

Day 1 Read: John 15:2-3

 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 

Reflect: What does Jesus say is done with branches that do not produce fruit?

Consider: As in a fruit tree, some branches may be fruitful, others quite barren, according as there is a vital connection between the branch and the stock, or no vital connection; so the disciples of Christ may be spiritually fruitful or the reverse, according as they are vitally and spiritually connected with Christ, or but externally and mechanically attached to Him.[1]

Respond: Are you connected to Jesus? What fruit are you producing would give evidence to your answer?

 

[1] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 157.

Week of October 8 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Hosea 10:1-2

Israel is a luxuriant vine
    that yields its fruit.
The more his fruit increased,
    the more altars he built;
as his country improved,
    he improved his pillars.
2 Their heart is false;
    now they must bear their guilt.
The Lord will break down their altars
    and destroy their pillars.

Reflect: How does Hosea describe the fruit that the nation of Israel yielded? How did they get in this condition?

Consider: The prophet glances at Israel’s past and sees Israel as a fruitful vine busy building and decorating stone altars. He does not see a people of excellent character. Quite in contrast, they are deceitful to the core and responsible for that condition (10:1–5). The altars are not to aid in their worship of the Lord; they have other gods and goddesses in mind. The Lord is responding by destroying these altars.5

Respond: What have you learned from the study of the use of vineyards as imagery for the relationship between God and his people? What is the result every time you detach yourself from Jesus and plant yourself on your own? What kind of fruit do you yield?

 

 

5 G. Herbert Livingston, “Hosea,” in Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, vol. 3, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), 612.

 

Week of October 8 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Isaiah 5:1-7

Let me sing for my beloved
    my love song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
    on a very fertile hill.
2 He dug it and cleared it of stones,
    and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
    and hewed out a wine vat in it;
and he looked for it to yield grapes,
    but it yielded wild grapes.

3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem
    and men of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
4 What more was there to do for my vineyard,
    that I have not done in it?
When I looked for it to yield grapes,
    why did it yield wild grapes?

5 And now I will tell you
    what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge,
    and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall,
    and it shall be trampled down.
6 I will make it a waste;
    it shall not be pruned or hoed,
    and briers and thorns shall grow up;
I will also command the clouds
    that they rain no rain upon it.

7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts
    is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah
    are his pleasant planting;
and he looked for justice,
    but behold, bloodshed;
for righteousness,
    but behold, an outcry!

Reflect: In this parable in poem form, what had the vineyard owner done to ensure a good crop? What kind of crop did the vineyard yield? Who is the vineyard in this parable (v. 7)? What crop was anticipated? What was the poor crop this vineyard produced?

Consider: Isaiah’s poem about the vineyard is parabolic. Isaiah may have sung it at a wine festival and surprised his listeners with the application. He sings about a “friend” who gave himself with exacting care to the preparation of a vineyard. The vineyard, however, produces only sour grapes. Isaiah asks what else this “friend” could have done for the vineyard. The rhetorical question must be answered! The prophet then explains that the vineyard represents the people of Israel and Judah, and that the Lord is the Keeper of the vineyard. He deeply cared for his people and lavished on them his grace and love, expecting justice and righteousness as the appropriate fruits. Instead of justice and righteousness, the people have responded with bloodshed, which has elicited a cry of distress from the downtrodden.4

Respond: How do you think the crop of the “vineyard” of our church compares to the crop God expects? What do you need to do to better fulfill God’s expectations?

 

 

4 Willem A. VanGemeren, “Isaiah,” in Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, vol. 3, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), 479.

 

Week of October 8 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Psalm 80

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
    you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
2     Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
stir up your might
    and come to save us!

3 Restore us, O God;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved!

4 O Lord God of hosts,
    how long will you be angry with your people's prayers?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears
    and given them tears to drink in full measure.
6 You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
    and our enemies laugh among themselves.

7 Restore us, O God of hosts;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved!

8 You brought a vine out of Egypt;
    you drove out the nations and planted it.
9 You cleared the ground for it;
    it took deep root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
    the mighty cedars with its branches.
11 It sent out its branches to the sea
    and its shoots to the River.
12 Why then have you broken down its walls,
    so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
13 The boar from the forest ravages it,
    and all that move in the field feed on it.

14 Turn again, O God of hosts!
    Look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
15     the stock that your right hand planted,
    and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.
16 They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down;
    may they perish at the rebuke of your face!
17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
    the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
18 Then we shall not turn back from you;
    give us life, and we will call upon your name!

19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts!
    Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Reflect: What is the subject of this prayer? What is the psalmist pleading for?

Consider: He then drove out the nations, and planted it—drove out, that is, before Israel the seven nations of the Hivites, Hittites, Gergashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, and Jebusites, and, having driven them out, “planted” in his own people.3

Respond: In this Psalm, it is clear: God has done the work. All He asks of us is to abide. Why is that a struggle for you? What do you tend to go back to and abide in when you stray from God? Confess these idols to Him this week and return to great comfort and rest in Him.

 

 

3 H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Psalms, vol. 2, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 157.

 

Week of October 8 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Jeremiah 2:4-28

Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. 5 Thus says the Lord:

“What wrong did your fathers find in me
    that they went far from me,
and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?
6 They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord
    who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
who led us in the wilderness,
    in a land of deserts and pits,
in a land of drought and deep darkness,
    in a land that none passes through,
    where no man dwells?’
7 And I brought you into a plentiful land
    to enjoy its fruits and its good things.
But when you came in, you defiled my land
    and made my heritage an abomination.
8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’
    Those who handle the law did not know me;
the shepherds[a] transgressed against me;
    the prophets prophesied by Baal
    and went after things that do not profit.

9 “Therefore I still contend with you,
declares the Lord,
    and with your children's children I will contend.
10 For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see,
    or send to Kedar and examine with care;
    see if there has been such a thing.
11 Has a nation changed its gods,
    even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
    for that which does not profit.
12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
    be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.

14 “Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant?
    Why then has he become a prey?
15 The lions have roared against him;
    they have roared loudly.
They have made his land a waste;
    his cities are in ruins, without inhabitant.
16 Moreover, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes
    have shaved[b] the crown of your head.
17 Have you not brought this upon yourself
    by forsaking the Lord your God,
    when he led you in the way?
18 And now what do you gain by going to Egypt
    to drink the waters of the Nile?
Or what do you gain by going to Assyria
    to drink the waters of the Euphrates?[c]
19 Your evil will chastise you,
    and your apostasy will reprove you.
Know and see that it is evil and bitter
    for you to forsake the Lord your God;
    the fear of me is not in you,
declares the Lord God of hosts.

20 “For long ago I broke your yoke
    and burst your bonds;
    but you said, ‘I will not serve.’
Yes, on every high hill
    and under every green tree
    you bowed down like a whore.
21 Yet I planted you a choice vine,
    wholly of pure seed.
How then have you turned degenerate
    and become a wild vine?
22 Though you wash yourself with lye
    and use much soap,
    the stain of your guilt is still before me,
declares the Lord God.
23 How can you say, ‘I am not unclean,
    I have not gone after the Baals’?
Look at your way in the valley;
    know what you have done—
a restless young camel running here and there,
24     a wild donkey used to the wilderness,
in her heat sniffing the wind!
    Who can restrain her lust?
None who seek her need weary themselves;
    in her month they will find her.
25 Keep your feet from going unshod
    and your throat from thirst.
But you said, ‘It is hopeless,
    for I have loved foreigners,
    and after them I will go.’

26 “As a thief is shamed when caught,
    so the house of Israel shall be shamed:
they, their kings, their officials,
    their priests, and their prophets,
27 who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’
    and to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’
For they have turned their back to me,
    and not their face.
But in the time of their trouble they say,
    ‘Arise and save us!’
28 But where are your gods
    that you made for yourself?
Let them arise, if they can save you,
    in your time of trouble;
for as many as your cities
    are your gods, O Judah.

Reflect: According to verse 21, what was God’s original intent for His people? What had they become?

Consider: These first two lines are sometimes more naturally rendered as two sentences: “I planted you like a vine of the highest quality. I used the very best seed.” Or they can be expressed in one sentence: “When I established you, I was like a farmer who used the very best seed to plant a vine of the highest quality.”2

Respond: As you read the prophecy of Jeremiah and consider the language used to describe the nation of Israel, how much more does the imagery of Jesus as the Vine make sense to you? What was Jesus able to fulfill in that role as the planted vineyard that the nation of Israel (and all of us) cannot?

 

 

2 Barclay M. Newman Jr. and Philip C. Stine, A Handbook on Jeremiah, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 2003), 72.

 

Week of October 8 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: John 15:1

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

Day 1 Read: John 15:1

Reflect: What imagery does Jesus use to describe Himself and the Father?

Consider: This is the last of the seven great “I am” statements in John. Israel was God’s choice vine on which he lavished care and attention. He longed for fruit, but the vine (Israel) became degenerate and produced rotten fruit. Therefore Jesus, as “the true Vine,” fulfills what God had intended for Israel. The Father is the Gardener who cultivates and protects the Vine.1

Respond: From your life experience, in what seasons do you find yourself more conscious of abiding in Christ? Why? What can you do to more closely and consistently abide in Christ, even this week?

The remainder of the week will be exploring the historical use of the imagery of the vine found throughout the Old Testament.

 

 

1 Edwin A. Blum, “John,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 325.

 

Week of October 1 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Psalm 91:14-16

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

Reflect: What promises does the Lord make?

Consider: In verse 14a cleaves to me in love is parallel with knows my name in verse 14b; here the verb “know” is used in the sense of “confess, accept.” The two verbs deliver (see 17:13) and protect (see 20:1b) are parallel. It is possible to reduce verse 14 to say, for example, “I will save and protect those who love me and know me.”5

Respond: How have you seen these promises be true in your life? Who do you know who needs to hear these promises of God? Make it a point to spend time with them and be intentional in sharing God’s promises.

 

5  Robert G. Bratcher and William David Reyburn, A Translator’s Handbook on the Book of Psalms, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1991), 807.

 

 

Week of October 1 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Psalm 91:9-13

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

Reflect: According to the Psalmist, how will God protect those who trust in Him?

Consider: The psalmist assures believers of divine protection, from his own experience; and that which he says is the word of God, and what we may rely upon. Observe, 1. The character of those who shall have the benefit and comfort of these promises; it is much the same with that, v. 1. They are such as make the Most High their habitation (v. 9), as are continually with God and rest in him, as make his name both their temple and their strong tower, as dwell in love and so dwell in God. It is our duty to be at home in God, to make our choice of him, and then to live our life in him as our habitation, to converse with him, and delight in him, and depend upon him.[1]

Respond: What fears or anxieties are you currently facing? What is keeping you from looking to Christ for strength to face these fears? What are some practical steps you could take this week to “make the Lord your dwelling place”?

 

[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 877.

Week of October 1 - Day 3

Day 3 Read:  Psalm 91:3-8

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.

Reflect: How many different situations does the Psalmist acknowledge God’s deliverance?

Consider: That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards.

His huge outstretched arms protect you—under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm.

Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses.[1]

Respond: In what ways have you experienced God’s deliverance? How has He proven to be your strength and your shield? Who have you shared this with recently?

 

[1]  Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), Ps 91:2–8.

Week of October 1 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Psalm 91:2

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Reflect: What declarations does the Psalmist make to the Lord?

Consider: The images of the shelter and the shadow vividly portray divine protection. “Shelter” (sēṯer) is a hiding place (also used in Pss. 27:5; 32:7; 119:114, “refuge”). The shadow, perhaps the shadow of a bird’s wing, also pictures shelter and protection as well as comfort. God is also the believer’s Refuge (maḥseh, “shelter from danger”) and … Fortress (meṣûḏâh, “strong protection”; used in 18:3; 31:3; 71:3; 144:2). Psalm 91:1–2 admirably expresses the fact that safety is in the Lord.[1]

Respond: Why do we sometimes hesitate to run to the Lord for protection and strength? What must we admit about ourselves in order to find true peace and security?

 

[1]  Allen P. Ross, “Psalms,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 860.

 

Week of October 1 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Psalm 91:1

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Day 1 Read: Psalm 91:1

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Reflect: What is the promise in this verse? What is the condition?

Consider: “Most High” --The Hebrew word is Elyon; it is often used with other names of God, such as Hebrew El (God) or Yahweh (Lord); it is used to refer to God as the supreme being. “Almighty” --The Hebrew word is El Shaddai; El means God, but the meaning of Shaddai is disputed; traditionally it is translated “Almighty.”[1]

Respond: What is the danger of desiring the promise without the commitment that is attached to the condition?

 

[1] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009).

Week of September 24 - Day 5

Day 5 Read: Ezekiel 36:24-32

24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.

Reflect: What does God promise his people?

Consider: With God’s Spirit indwelling them (cf. 37:14), they will be motivated to obey His decrees and laws (cf. 37:24). God’s restoration will not simply be an undoing of Israel’s sin to bring her to a state of neutrality. Rather it will involve the positive implanting of a new nature in Israel’s people that will make them righteous. Jeremiah called this work of God the “New Covenant” (cf. comments on Jer. 31:31–33).5

Respond: Read also 2 Corinthians 5:17. What conclusions can you draw from this study of the new covenant about your relationship to God? Obedience? How you are to live? Ask God for strength in those areas you are weak.

 

 

5 Charles H. Dyer, “Ezekiel,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1297.

 

Week of September 24 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Jeremiah 31:31-34

31 “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, 32 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.33 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. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for 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.”

Reflect: According to verse 33, what distinguishes this new covenant from others the Lord has made with his people?

Consider: What was needed, as God revealed through Jeremiah in this passage, was not another covenant renewal but an internal transformation of the people based upon the divine provision of complete forgiveness. These would be the provisions of what the Lord referred to here as a “new covenant,” which he promised to institute with Israel and Judah in days to come to replace the one made at Sinai (11:1–17). This new covenant relationship would not be “skin-deep” and subject to the waywardness of the people but “heart-deep” and permanently enduring.[1]

Respond: Consider the significance of the meaning of Messiah, God with us who was foretold and brought about through this new covenant. Give God thanks for his presence in your life and for the personal relationship you have with Him through Jesus Christ.

 

[1] F. B. Huey, Jeremiah, Lamentations, vol. 16, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 280–281.

Week of September 24 - Day 3

Day 3 Read: Luke 22:20

20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Reflect: As Jesus passed the cup of wine, to what did He compare it?

Consider: The Holy Eucharist is from one point of view a great truth dramatized, instituted for the purpose of bringing before men in a vivid manner the great truths above alluded to. But it is something more. It brings to the believer, to the faithful communicant, to the one who in humble adoring faith carries out to the best of his ability his Master’s dying charge—it brings a blessing too great for us to measure by earthly language, too deep for us to fathom with human inquiry. For the partaking of this Holy Communion is, first, the Christian’s solemn public confession of his faith in Christ crucified; his solemn private declaration that it is his deliberate wish to suffer with his Lord and for his Lord’s sake; that it is, too, his firm purpose to imitate the earthly life lived by his Lord. The partaking of this Holy Communion, too, is the Christian’s most solemn prayer for strength thus to suffer and to live. It is, too, his fervent expression of belief that this strength will be surely given to him. Further, the partaking of this Holy Communion is, above all, the Christian’s most solemn prayer for living union with Christ—“that Christ may dwell in his heart by faith.” It is, too, his fervent expression of belief that “then we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us; we are one with Christ, and Christ with us.” This confession, declaration, and prayer he constantly renews in obedience to the dying command of his Master.[1]

Respond: What is the significance of the shedding of Jesus’ blood? What have you gained from that act of grace?

 

[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., St Luke, vol. 2, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 199.

Week of September 24 - Day 2

Day 2 Read: Luke 22:19

19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Reflect: As Jesus passed the bread, to what did He compare it?

Consider: The “bread” represents the “body of Jesus” in the sense that it represents Jesus. The bread thus represents, using Johannine terminology, the “Word [which] became flesh,” not the “flesh” alone but the person who tabernacled in flesh (John 1:14).[1]

Respond: What does it mean to you personally that Jesus allowed his body to be broken on your behalf? In what ways can you present yourself now as a “living sacrifice”? (See Romans 12:1-2)

 

[1] Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 542.

Week of September 24 - Day 1

Scripture to Memorize: Jeremiah 31:33-34

33 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. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for 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.”

Day 1 Read: Luke 22:14-18

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves.18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

Reflect: What traditional meal is Jesus sharing with his disciples?

Consider: Passover—the name given to the chief of the three great historical annual festivals of the Jews. It was kept in remembrance of the Lord’s passing over the houses of the Israelites (Ex. 12:13) when the first born of all the Egyptians were destroyed. It is called also the “feast of unleavened bread” (Ex. 23:15; Mark 14:1; Acts 12:3), because during its celebration no leavened bread was to be eaten or even kept in the household (Ex. 12:15). The word afterwards came to denote the lamb that was slain at the feast (Mark 14:12–14; 1 Cor. 5:7).[1]

Respond: What do you do to remember the significant things God has done for you? Victories over doubt, sin, lack of faith? Think about these victories today, and establish a way to keep them fresh on your mind.

 

[1] M. G. Easton, Easton’s Bible Dictionary (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893).