Redundant introduction for Redundants:
You can now listen to my audio podcast guiding you through your reading of the One Year Bible readings. Tune in weekly to catch the highlights of passages, key theology, and some of the best passages to strengthen your Christian life.
You’ll be blessed.
All three blogs, the devotional from a key verse, the Old Testament/New Testament passages, and the Psalms and Proverbs will be here every day. The “Choose Life” devotional will be last following the OT/NT commentaries and the Psalms and Proverbs.
Here’s some helpful hints. There are links in each blog. The titles are structured to help you understand and get an insight into the passage. You might have to think a bit. They are somewhat like a Far Side or Argyle Sweater cartoon but in words.
They also assume that Jesus is the Savior of all who trust him (see “How To Be Sure You’re Going To Heaven (no fine print, no caveats)” on the right-hand column of the spiritualrants.com site.
Here we go!
Old Testament: Genesis 11:1-3:4
Genesis 11:1-13:4 Babbling On And On
In Chapter 11, the Tower of Babel is explained. Everyone spoke the same language and used the very same words (v. 1). Ryrie points out that the theory of evolution can not explain how that could happen. The problem was that they were worshipping false gods, probably involving astrology. That is why they erected a huge tower, most likely to study the stars. It also became a central area encouraging all the population to pool in the same region rather than scattering as God had commanded (cf. Gen. 9:1).
The Lord Himself came down to survey the situation resulting in the Trinity (note use of the plural in v. 7) confusing their language. Everyone scattered throughout the world as God had intended. Now there are more than 3,000 languages (Ryrie), not including like “southern” y’all or even “eesten” language like near New Yook.
They called the place, Babel, which sounded like the word for “confuse” in Hebrew. The Babylonians preferred the name, “gate of God.” Now when people say things that just sound like garble, we say they are babbling. It is an onomatopoeia since it sounds like what people are hearing.
The rest of the chapter is a selective genealogy linking Abraham to Shem showing that Abraham was a Semite (vv. 10-32).
Abram means “exalted father” though his name was later changed in chapter 17 (v. 5) to Abraham which means “father of a multitude.” He was born in 2165 B.C.
In Chapter 12, we encounter the beginning of the story of Abraham, the father of the Jews. Yahweh tells him to leave his home country (v. 1) and he will be blessed, becoming a great nation (v. 2). Those who bless Abraham will be blessed by God and those who harm him will be cursed (v. 3) We have seen that and the promise continues today. The Jews have been a blessing to the world (v. 3c). The Bible was written almost exclusively by Jews. Salvation and the blessing of God starts and ends with them.
Abram left with his wife, Sarai, and his nephew, Lot, with everything they owned (vv. 4-5). The Lord appeared to him in Shechem and told him that the land they were standing on would belong to his descendants (v. 7). There was a famine in that area, so Abram took his wife, Sarai, and ventured toward Egypt (v. 10). Sarai was really hot so Abram was afraid some foreign dignitary would off him and take her (vv. 11-12). He convinced her to say she was his sister which was half true, she was a half-sister (cf. Gen. 20:12). Sure enough, Pharaoh got word of Sarai’s hotness and took her in and gave her “brother,” Abram, a lot of animals and servants since he liked her so much (v. 16).
The Lord struck Pharaoh with disease, possibly the type that wouldn’t allow the king to consummate his relationship with Sarai (v. 17). Now Pharaoh was hot, asking why Abram didn’t tell him the truth (v. 18). He kicked them both out of his jurisdiction (vv. 19-20).
Notice how God kept Sarai safe as she submitted to her husband’s wishes (cf. 1 Pet. 3:5-6). Abram sure didn’t deserve such grace!
In Chapter 13: 1-4, Abraham left Egypt and settled in the Negev, the area we would now know as southern Israel. Negev means “south” in Hebrew.
New Testament: Matthew 5:1-26
Matthew 5:1-26 Mounting Up For A Great Sermon
One of the most famous sections of Scripture is Matt. 5-7 called the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus preaches a famous sermon called the Sermon on the Mount. It was called that because it was a sermon and he preached it on a mount. It begins in your reading today and won’t end for four more days. Here’s what’s really cool about this sermon: a lot of people in Jesus’ day thought they were pretty hip and spiritual so in this sermon, if they’re paying attention, he rips them to shreds showing how messed up they really were.
y wife says that when I speak, I open my mouth and the words just come out. They don’t really. I have to prepare a lot but it must’ve seemed to Jesus’ disciples that when Jesus opened His mouth that the words just came out (v. 2).
Jesus begins by pronouncing blessings on those whom the religious leaders would not have thought blessed (vv. 3-12). Jesus was describing His kingdom which He would’ve ushered in if the Jews had accepted Him. His kingdom would have the effect of turning the world upside down. The Jews rejected His kingship (cf. John 19:15) but we will find as we read through the Bible that the promise to the Jews will be fulfilled before we finish reading the book of Revelation.
Everyone who was despised or in despair in society was promised a blessing by Christ. Those who were “poor in spirit,” mourning, gentle, longing for righteousness, merciful, “pure in heart,” peacemakers, and the persecuted are all promised God’s favor (vv. 3-12). These people also go by another name, they are called Jesus’ followers or disciples.
These disciples are to stay the decay of the world by being salt and expose evil by being light (vv. 13-16). Jesus makes it clear that He didn’t come to do away with the law of Moses but fulfill all the requirements of the law (vv. 17-19). The people would have thought that the religious leaders were the most righteous people in the world. They must have been shocked to find out that they needed to be more righteous than their leaders to make it into Heaven (v. 20).
Jesus is trying to show everyone their need for Him. As his step-brother put it years later, if anyone failed to keep even the smallest point of the law, they would not make it to Heaven (James 2:10). Jesus was trying to show their need for Him. It was only through Him and His righteousness that they would be able to enter Heaven (John 14: 6; Acts 4:12). Jesus was the only One who could fulfill the law and by believing in Him they would inherit His righteousness (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21).
Jesus goes on to drive His point home. He contrasts what they had heard from their religious leaders but then raises the bar on what they had said. He is trying to show that righteousness starts within us. Later Paul will explain that we have a new nature, needed to fulfill God’s righteousness by the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10).
Jesus preached that they had been told not to murder but He said they shouldn’t even be angry with anyone else (vv. 21-22a). Even insulting someone else should result in eternal condemnation (v. 22b). If anyone is offering something to God in the Temple and remembers that another person has a grudge, he should leave his offering at the altar and go and be reconciled to his friend (vv. 23-24). Then it’d be OK to bring his offering (v. 24). It’s always best to settle out of court or God might make sure you spend time in prison (vv. 25-26).
Psalm 5:1-12: Mourning Morning A Lament By David
Psalm 5:1-12 Mourning Morning
Ever wake up in a bad mood? David did (vv. 1-3).
David reminds God that He doesn’t like bad people (vv. 4-6). He reminds God that he is one of the good guys (vv. 7-8).
The bad guys should be held accountable (vv. 9-10).
David asks God to bless him and surround him with protection like when he is safeguarded on the battlefield by his shield (v. 11-12).
Like many of David’s psalms, this one starts with whining but during the course of the psalm the psalmist reminds Himself of Who God is. He ends up trusting the Lord.
Did you start out whining to God this morning?
Can you end in trust?
Proverbs 1:24-28 Belly-laughing
If you don’t listen to Wisdom who is personified in this passage, the sky will fall on you (v. 27). Best to develop wisdom through fear of the Lord over time (v. 25, cf. Prov. 1:7).
If you don’t, you’ll get in trouble (v. 28), call on Wisdom, and she’ll be belly-laughing at you (v. 26).
Choose Life: Scripture: Genesis 12:3 NASB “OT Golden Rule”
“And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
If anyone has been really nice to you, can you resist trying to be generous back to them? It’s hard to withhold blessing to someone who has really blessed us.
If you ever attended Sunday school, you were probably taught the “Golden Rule.” It’s found in the Sermon on the Mount, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). (It’s also found in Luke 6:31, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.”)
In the Old Testament, we find it in a little different form. Yahweh is saying that whatever way a people treats Abraham that they are treating the Lord the same way. That is how close Abraham was to God. If anyone mistreated Abraham, they would be mistreated by God. If anyone blessed Abraham, they’d be blessed by Yahweh.
In the New Testament, Jesus tells believers to treat other believers the way they’d like to be treated. Other believers represent God and so the same rule applies, blessing for blessings and cursing for curses.
Why does the rule not refer to non-believers? Unbelievers have not experienced God’s grace. They are not able to show God’s grace to others. They must trust Him first. The most loving thing we can do for them is to lead them to Christ.
The Apostle John said, “we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Jesus said that we should give to others and it would be given back to us pressed down and shaken together (Luke 6:38). It’s hard not be blessed after we have been a blessing to others.
Think about what you can do today to be a blessing to others. If you want to be blessed, first try being a blessing to others.
If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
It’s in vogue these days to do “random acts of kindness.” What could be better? Doing things for others out of your love for God would actually be better. Random acts of kindness make you feel better because you did something for others. Doing things for others because you love God strengthens your relationship with God (cf. Gal. 6:9-10,”Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith”). You might even have to sacrifice to please God. (Remember the New Testament word for love is agape and it is technically “self-sacrificial love.”)
What can you sacrifice for someone else today to please God?
That would be something that really makes you feel better.
You’ll be blessed.
The purpose of Choose Life is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: Babbling On