John 8:33-59

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (v36).  The Pharisees couldn’t accept Jesus’ offer of freedom because they would not admit that they were enslaved to sin (v34).  Their bondage took the forms of pride in their heritage and traditions (v39), self-righteousness (v41), spiritual blindness (v48), and anger (v59).   They wanted to destroy Jesus rather than admit that they were lost without him.

“But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me” (v45).  Our pride can keep us from acknowledging the ways in which we struggle with sin, yet when we confess our sins, Jesus sets us free. 

John 8:1-32

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (v12).  Jesus didn’t condemn the woman caught in adultery, nor did he leave her in darkness.  His command was to “go and sin no more.” He came to save humanity from the darkness of sin and evil and to welcome us into his kingdom of light. Jesus warned the Pharisees that if chose to stay in darkness that they would “die in their sins” (v24).”

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (v32). When we recognize the truth about ourselves and our need for Jesus, the result is not condemnation, but freedom.

Psalm 38

“But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer” (v15).  The psalmist turned to God in desperate prayer when he was close to collapsing. “I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart …I am ready to fall; my pain is ever before me” (v8,17).  His trouble was mostly self-caused (v4,5), and he repented. “I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin” (v18).  

“Make haste to help me, O Lord of my salvation! (v22).  When our own disobedience threatens to drown us, God hears our prayer and comes to help us.

Deuteronomy 15

“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release” (v1).  The Mosaic Law commanded the Israelites to forgive debts and release bond-slaves every seven years, so that poverty would not have a chance to root itself among families for generations.  God had released their ancestors from slavery (v15) and given them the Promised Land out of His own abundant mercy, and therefore, as His children, they were to show this same generosity to others.

“The Lord your God redeemed you” (v15).  Because we deserve nothing yet have received forgiveness and blessing from God, we are called to treat those around us the same way.

Deuteronomy 14

“And the Levite … and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled” (v29).  The Mosaic Law covered every aspect of the Israelites’ lives, from what they ate to where they lived and worshipped and how they spent their profits.  They were “a people holy to the Lord … his treasured possession” (v2), and this was evident in every detail, especially how they cared for the Levites (temple workers), the foreigners, and the poor.

“You are the sons of the Lord your God” (v1).  Like the Israelites, our identity is based on God’s generous love and grace, and we glorify Him by imitating His ways.

Deuteronomy 13

“You shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams” (v3).  From the beginning, there were “prophets” who enticed the Israelites to serve other gods (v1-5), both “near and far.”  The Mosaic law called for the harshest of penalties for these people who were pretending to speak for God and causing confusion among His people.  They were fomenting rebellion against the God who had brought Israel out of Egypt, “out of the house of slavery” (v5).

“You shall serve Him and hold fast to Him” (v4).  God has delivered us from “the house of slavery” through Jesus’ blood; we must reject any other promise of “freedom.”

Deuteronomy 12

“You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way” (v4).  God warned the Israelites to be very careful not to adopt the idolatrous practices of their neighbors in the Promised Land.  They were commanded to tear down the altars to false gods and to be faithful to worship at “the place the Lord your God shall choose” (v5) – Jerusalem.  This was no arbitrary rule about loyalty; the worship of idols involved terrible things like child sacrifice, “abominable things” (v31).

“Be careful to obey … that it may go well with you and your children” (v28).  God calls us to moral purity and faithful worship for our own sakes, so that we experience joy and not destruction. 

John 7:25-53

"If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (v37).  Jesus declared that he was not another traveling philosopher or holy prophet; he came from the Father, and he offered “living water” to those who were dying of thirst.  While the religious authorities persecuted him, people who recognized their need believed in him (v39-49).  Jesus wasn’t starting a new political party or trying to gain control of a society; he was giving the whole dying world a chance at forgiveness and life.

“Whoever believes in me … out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (v38).  The gospel is not just information about Jesus, it is the opportunity to receive his life-giving Spirit into our hearts. 

John 7:1-24

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (v24).   Some people thought Jesus was “a good man,” while others thought he was leading people astray (v12).  His brothers weren’t sure (v3-5). Meanwhile, Jesus said that those who had “right judgment,” those who truly wanted to do the Father’s will, would recognize that Jesus was working under the Father’s authority (v12).  They would rejoice that a man was healed on the Sabbath, not criticize him (v23).

“If anyone’s will is to do God’s will …” (v17).  When we spend time with Jesus, we begin to want God’s will, and we begin to see the world the way He does.

Psalm 37

“Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness” (v3).  The psalmist tells us not to “fret” or worry about other people’s sins (v1); instead, we are to focus on our own choices.  We should “do good,” and commit to obeying and trusting God daily (v5), knowing that He will take care of us.  Today might be challenging, but following God is worthwhile: “the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace” (v11). 
“Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever” (v27).  God has forgiven our past and want us to enjoy a better future, as we commit to His path of mercy and holiness (v16). 

Deuteronomy 11

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse …” (v26).  God made it clear that He had rescued Israel from Egypt because of His own merciful love, not because they were righteous (ch 9).  However, their future enjoyment of the good land He was giving them depended on their obedience.  If they walked in God’s ways and practiced justice, holiness, and mercy, they would discover blessing, but if they rejected God’s ways, they would experience the curse (v27-28).

“That you may be strong, and go in and take possession of the land” (v8).  God calls us to walk closely with Him so that we can “be strong,” ready to face life’s challenges without fear.

Deuteronomy 10

“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God …” (v12).  Walking in God’s ways means paying attention to God’s heart and doing likewise.  Moses reminded the Israelites: “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner [stranger/foreigner], giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore …” (v18-19).  

“You shall serve Him and hold fast to Him” (v20).  God’s Spirit uses the Bible to teach us about God’s heart and His ways, so that we can love Him, serve Him, and follow Him better.

Deuteronomy 9

“Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from …” (v5).  God warned the Israelites not to become self-righteous and proud, but to remember that they were “stubborn” people, dependent on God’s grace.  The Canaanite people were idol-worshippers whose perverted sexuality and child sacrifice angered God; if the Israelites did the same, they too would be punished.

“Do not say in your heart … it is because of my righteousness” (v4).  God’s mercy was poured out while we were still sinners, and therefore we are called to live in humility and gratefulness.

Deuteronomy 8

“Beware lest you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth’” (v17).  God trained the Israelites in the desert to depend on Him; in a land of “fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground,” He gave them food, water, and safety.  He wanted their faith in Him to be strong before entering the Promised Land.  There, they would experience abundance, and the new danger would be forgetting God and turning their backs on Him (v11-14).

“And you shall remember the whole way the Lord your God has led you …” (v2).  We remember that God’s grace saved us and will keep saving us “the whole way” as we trust and obey Him. 

John 6:30-71

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (v53).  With these shocking words, Jesus explained that just as the manna in the desert sustained the Israelites, he is God’s source of life for every person.  “And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (v51).  Many prophets taught about God, but Jesus is the truth and the life of God for us (v54-58).

“I am the bread of life” (v48).  Jesus calls us to “eat his flesh” – to believe in him, trusting that he is everything we need for abundant life now and forever.

John 6:1-29

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves” (v26).  Jesus had compassion on those who came to hear him preach, and he multiplied bread and fish to feed them.  He demonstrated that he cared for their physical needs, and his power was more than sufficient; there were baskets of leftovers.  However, Jesus’ desire was that people reach out for more than temporary help: “that you believe in him whom [the Father] has sent” (v29).  

“The food that endures to eternal life” (v27) is more than crisis help; it is what Jesus died to give us: forgiveness, cleansing, restoration, and adoption into God’s family.

Psalm 36

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light” (v39).  The psalmist declared that God is the source of everything good; we “feast” from His abundance, and we “drink from the river of your delights” (v8).  As we spend time with God, we enjoy His goodness and we begin to love what He loves.  In contrast, the wicked person dwells on sin “deep in his heart” (v1), and his mind is full of “trouble and deceit” as he makes plans (v2-4).

“How precious is Your steadfast love, O God!” (v7).  God’s overflowing love heals us and transforms us into people whose hearts dwell on what is good. 

Proverbs 8

“Does not wisdom call?” (v1).  The Scriptures urge us to pursue true wisdom with all our hearts.  The proverbs describe wisdom as the key to creating a good, satisfying life that glorifies God.  Wisdom includes factual knowledge, understanding, carefulness, and “the fear of the Lord” (v12-14), while its opposite is “pride and arrogance … the way of evil … perverted speech” (v13).  Poetically, wisdom is described as being by God’s side at the world’s creation, rejoicing and participating in God’s beautiful work (v22-31).

“Whoever finds me find life” (v35).  God wants us to grow in wisdom – knowledge about Him, ourselves, and the world – so that we can experience abundant life. 

Deuteronomy 6-7

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children …” (6:6-7).  Moses instructed the Israelites to pass down both the commandments and the stories of God’s salvation to their children.  They were to talk of them throughout the day and write them visibly on their houses (v7).  Even more, each generation was called to live in obedience and not go after other gods. “It is the Lord your God you shall fear” (v13).

“You shall love the Lord with all your heart …” (6:5).  When our hearts, actions, and words all speak the same truth about God, our children receive a good inheritance. 

Deuteronomy 5

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 'You shall have no other gods before me’” (v6-7).  God called Israel out of slavery to be His special people, and He told them how to live so that they would reflect His goodness and thrive in their new land.  God’s words were a gift; the Israelites were privileged to know the best way to worship, work, and treat one another.  

“You shall walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you …that it may go well with you” (v33).  God wants our lives to “go well,” and therefore He calls us to obedience.