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. 

Deuteronomy 4

“Because he loved your fathers and … brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power …Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments … that it may go well with you and with your children” (v37-40).  Moses reminded the Israelites that their whole history was based on God’s love and mercy.  The commandments reflected God’s desire for them to live well in the land; if they disobeyed, they would be exiled from their inheritance (v26).

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently” (v9).  God called us out of sin’s slavery and desires us to “keep our souls diligently,” living holy lives, so that we can enjoy life as He intended. 

John 5:18-47

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (v39).  Jesus knew that the religious leaders who harassed him supposedly believed in the Scriptures and the authority of Moses.  Yet they resisted the goal of the Scriptures: Jesus himself.  They wanted to remain in control by keeping God’s Word at a distance - words to study, not a Person to follow.

“For if you believed Moses, you would believe me” (v46).  When our hearts are open, all of God’s Scripture is effective in revealing Jesus and helping us know him more. 

John 5:1-17

“Jesus said to him, "Get up, take up your bed, and walk" (v8).  The paralyzed man had been waiting years for a complicated “cure” that required him to enter the special pool at the right time.  Jesus ignored the ritual and healed him with a word, unconcerned about the reactions of religious leaders (v10) or those who would criticize him.  His goal was to do his Father’s work of healing and salvation (v17).

“Do you want to be healed?” (v6).  Jesus cares about our physical illnesses as well as our spiritual and emotional well-being.  He will do everything necessary to draw us closer to himself.

Psalm 35

“Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help!” (v2).  Like the psalmist, we all need someone who will “fight against those who fight against me” (v1). The psalmist had been falsely accused, mocked, and betrayed (v11-15); he needed someone to be his side.  He knew that choosing the Lord as his defender meant receiving powerful help, and, unlike our own messy attempts at self-protection, we can trust God to act in perfect wisdom, “according to Your righteousness” (v24). 

“Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!” (v27).  God truly delights in our welfare, and He wants us to lean on Him in every trouble.