BIBLE 2018 | Week 11

March 9, 2018 | Mark and Scott McAndrew

I Corinthians 5-6 | Sunday: 1 Corinthians 1-6 has been primarily Paul responding a report he had heard from “Chloe’s people” (see 1 Corinthians 1:11). The report is about the corruption of the Corinthian congregation.

1 Corinthians 7-16 is largely Paul responding to a letter he had received from the Corinthians themselves. This letter was apparently filled with questions for Paul along with some misguided statements and assertions. You can see where Paul is addressing these whenever he uses the phrase “now concerning” in 1 Corinthians 7:1, 25; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1, 12.

1 Corinthians 5 is one of the clearest passages in all of the Bible about church discipline. One of the good elements of this text is how easy much of it is to understand, even if it is challenging in its content.

In 1 Corinthians 6  listen to how often Paul uses the phrase “do you not know”. What does this teach us about doctrine? Also, watch for how Paul uses gospel doctrines to fight sin in the believers’ lives.

For a thought provoking message on 1 Corinthians 5-7, see Russell Moore here.

For an NAC sermon on church discipline (including 1 Corinthians 5), see here.

Genesis 40-43 | Monday: We spent four sermons on these four chapters in 2016. For those messages (about 35-40 mins each) see below. They emphasize the many ways in which Jesus is the true and better Joseph.

For Genesis 40, see here. (Joseph – like Jesus – Between Two Criminals)

For Genesis 41, see here. (Joseph, Savior of the World)

For Genesis 42, see here. (Joseph’s Brothers)

For Genesis 43, see here. (Bread from Joseph’s Table)

I Samuel 1-5 | Tuesday: Don’t miss how 1 Samuel 1-2 parallel Luke 1-2.

In both cases you have a married woman who is unable to have children (Hannah and Elizabeth, respectively). In both stories the Lord answers the prayer of the barren women and grants her a boy (Samuel and John the Baptist). Both boys are lifelong Nazarites (for more on the Nazarite vow, see Numbers 6). Along with Samson, these are the only lifelong Nazarites we are told of in the Bible.

Samuel anoints David.

John anoints Jesus, the greater David.

Psalms 30-32 | Wednesday: Marshal Segall comments on Psalm 30 by reminding us that:

“David knew nights of intense terror and grief, and he knew the relentless, reliable, and irresistible power of our joy in God.

David looked in every direction and saw defeat. His opponents were bigger, stronger, and more in number. His circumstances suggested all was lost. But God. God rushes to offer help to the helpless, to bring healing to the broken, to restore life to the dying, despairing, and defeated.

In fact, God never left. For those who are his, he is never far off. His help, his healing, his life, and his joy are ever-present, however dark our days may be.”

Psalm 32 begins with these two powerful verses.”Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”

The Psalm then ends with verse 11 which says: “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”
John Piper comments on Psalm 32 with these words:

“Oh, that we might cherish our forgiveness more! But I am convinced that until we fear sin and its consequences more keenly, we will not prize our pardon very highly. The degree to which we feel sweet gratitude for being forgiven is directly proportionate to the degree that the alternative of being forgiven strikes dread into our heart. The horror of sin and the fearfulness of hell are the only backdrop that will let forgiveness shine for the infinite blessing it really is.

If we do not see the gigantic tidal wave of God’s wrath rushing toward the little raft of our sin, then we won’t kiss the feet of the helicopter pilot who plucks us out of the ocean just in time…

I want us to cherish our forgiveness and kiss the feet of Jesus unashamedly.”
For a helpful devotional by John Piper on Psalm 31:19, see here.

For an NAC sermon on Psalm 32, see here.

Job 21-22 | Thursday: In Job 21 we get another one of Job’s responses. D.A. Carson continues to provide helpful wisdom on this chapter by telling us that:

“The heart of Job’s response is thought-provoking to anyone concerned with morality and justice: “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?” (21:7). Not only is there no obvious pattern of temporal judment on the transparently wicked, but all too frequently the reverse is the case: the wicked may be the most prosperous of the lot…While they display total disinterest in God (21:14), they enjoy prosperity (21:13). It is rare that they are snuffed out (21:17).

As for popular proverbs such as “God stores up a man’s punishment for his sons” (21:19), Job is unimpressed; the truly wicked do not care if they leave their familes behind in misery, provided they are comfortable themselves (21:21). That is why the wicked need to “drink the wrath of the Almighty” (21:20) themselves—and that is not what usually happens. True, God knows everything; Job does not want to deny God’s knowledge and justice (21:22). But facts should not be suppressed. Once the rich and poor have died, they face the same decomposition (21:23-26). Where is the justice in that?

Even allowing for Job’s exaggerations—after all, some wicked peoople do suffer temporal judgments—his point should not be dismissed. If the tallies of blessing and punishment are calculated solely on the basis of what takes place in this life, this is a grossly unfair world. Millions of relatively good people die in suffering, pverty, and degradtation; millions of relatively evil people live full lives and die in their sleep. We can all tell stories that demonstrate God’s justice in this life, but what about the rest of the stories?

The tit-for-tat morality system of Job’s three interlocutors cannot handle the millions of tough cases. Moreover, like them, Job does not want to impugn God’s justice, but facts are facts: it is not a virtue, even in the cause of defending God’s justice, to distort the truth and twist reality.

In the course of time it would become clearer that ultimate justice is meted out after death—and that the God of justice knows injustice himself, not only out of his omniscience, but out of his experience on a cross.”

In Job 22 we get the final speech by Elipaz. Christopher Ash gives us some helpful insight on this chapter:
“What are we to make of this final speech by Eliphaz? It is a tour de force of logic and rhetorical power. As with all the comforters’ speeches, it does contain truth. God does see what happens on earth. God does want men and women to turn to him in humble repentance. God does bless the penitent with right relationship with him.

So what is the problem? The problem is that Job is already penitent. He is a believer walking morally in the light. And yet he is experiencing darkness. Just as the wicked often prosper in this age (Job 21), so the righteous sometimes suffer in this age, with a suffering they do not deserve.”

Ash basically says that Eliphaz is pressuring Job to repent of sins that Job has not committed. Ash then ends his commentary on this chapter with this powerful sentence:

“In an even greater way no one could convict the Lord Jesus of sin (John 8:46), and yet he suffered for sinners.”

Isaiah 56-61 | Friday: This is a helpful quote from Drew Hunter (edited by J.I. Packer):

“[Here] in Isaiah 56–59, Isaiah begins to speak of the time when some of the exiles return home—as well as subsequent generations. Here we see that God opposes religious hypocrisy and redefines his people, welcoming the humble from any nation. . . .

Although Isaiah 40–55 emphasized the promise of salvation for exiled Israel, we have already seen that the servant’s saving work issues forth a call to “everyone who thirsts” (Isa. 55:1). Now in Isa. 56:1–8, salvation is explicitly shown to extend to the nations. What does God promise to give the foreigners who trust in him (Isa. 6–8)? How does Isa. 56:8 expand the vision of Isa. 11:11–12? Does this shed light on what Jesus says in John 10:16? . . .

How does Isaiah 59:2 help us understand the consequences of our sin? . . .

FAITH AND WORKS. ‘They seek me daily,’ God says, ‘and delight to know my ways’ (Isa. 58:2). They ‘delight to draw near to God,’ but their obedience is merely external and their delight is insincere. Quarreling and oppression prove their religious devotion to be a farce (Isa. 58:3–5). Jesus speaks of people who call him ‘Lord’ and do many works in his name, yet whose disobedience demonstrates their lack of relationship with him (Matt. 7:21–23). Similarly, James reminds us that a non-working faith is a dead faith (James 2:17, 26). Throughout the Bible, we see that true faith always expresses itself in a life of love (Gal. 5:6). As Martin Luther put it, ‘we are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.'”

For more from where these quotes are from, see link below.

For an extremely helpful overview of these chapters, see this resource.

Mark 1-2 | Saturday: In Mark 1:15 Jesus says: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.”

Tim Keller comments on this verse and says:

“Right there you can see the difference between Christianity and all other religions, including no religion. The essence of other religions is advice; Christianity is essentially news. Other religions say, ‘This is what you have to do in order to connect to God forever; this is how you have to live in order to earn your way to God.” But the gospel says, This is what has been done in history. This is how Jesus lived and died to earn the way to God for you.’ Christianity is completely different. It’s joyful news.”

Mark 2 begins with the story of Jesus healing the paralytic.

Tim Keller comments on this story and give us a helpful reminder when he says we need to: “realize that the main problem in a person’s life is never his suffering; it’s his sin.”

Alistair Begg provides some more helpful insight into this story in Mark 2 in this short 3 minute clip.

For a Mark Dever sermon on Jesus’ authority in Mark 1:21-28, see here.

BIBLE 2018 | Week 10

March 2, 2018 | Mark and Scott McAndrew

I Corinthians 3-4 | Sunday: Notice how you could almost skip from 1 Corinthians 1:17 to 1 Corinthians 3:1. Paul was speaking of divisions around favorite preachers (1:10-13) and he picks up where he left off (3:5-9).

Why does Paul take so much time in the middle of this discussion to talk about the cross and the wisdom of God (1:18-2:16)? It is worth some reading and meditation. What do you think?

In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul returns to division in the church. He says boasting in a particular pastor/author is foolish. Why? The Apostle Paul didn’t die on the cross for you. Simon Peter was not raised for your justification. You were not baptized into the name of Apollos or given the imputed righteousness of John the Baptist (thankfully!).

“So,” Paul concludes, “let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas [Peter] or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (3:21-23).

If you are boasting in men, then you have failed to grasp the depths of the reality of the gospel. In Christ (and no other), all things exist for our good and will be worked out for our joy in Christ by the Father. This means that every heart beat is “ours” – every trial is “ours” – every event or circumstance we encounter, even death, is “ours.”

What does this mean?

Jonathan Edwards is helpful here.

If you are selfish, and make yourself and your own private interest your idol, God will leave you to yourself, and let you promote your own interest as well as you can. But if you do not seek your own but the things of Jesus Christ, the things of others, God will make your interest and happiness his charge; and he is infinitely more able to provide for it and to promote it than you are. So that not to seek your own, that is, not to seek your private worldly interest, is the best way of seeking your own in another sense. It is the most direct course you can take to obtain your truest happiness.

When you are required not to be selfish you are not required, as has been already observed, not to love and seek your own happiness. You are required not mainly to seek your private and confined interest. But if you place your happiness in God, and in glorifying him and serving him by doing good, in this way, above all others, will you promote your own wealth, and your own honor and pleasure, and durable riches, and obtain a crown of glory, and pleasures forevermore.

If you seek not your own, but seek the things that are Jesus Christ’s, and are of a spirit to seek the good of others, God himself will be yours. And Christ will be yours; he will make over himself to you in covenant, and all things shall be yours. Selfish men seek to engross all, and get all into their own possession; but instead of getting, they shall lose all, and be driven out of the world naked into everlasting poverty and misery.

But if you are of a contrary spirit you shall have all things in possession. “All things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours,” 1 Corinthians 3:21–22. And 2 Corinthians 6:10, “Having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”

Genesis 36-39 | Monday:  Joseph is a type of Christ. This is seen most clearly in Stephen’s great martyrdom message in Acts 7.

And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household.” (Acts 7:9-10)

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:51-53)

See the parallel?

Joseph’s brothers betrayed him, yet later God made him “ruler” over all Egypt. Jesus was betrayed by his kinsmen, yet later God made Him ruler over all. I think Stephen is saying that Joseph’s life, betrayal, suffering, and exaltation as savior points forward to and foreshadows the events of the life of Jesus.

For a very helpful sermon on Genesis 37 about Joseph and his dreams, listen to this message from Jerry Ediger.

For a fantastic interview about the story of Joseph foreshadowing Jesus, please listen to this of Colin Smith by Nancy Guthrie.

Genesis 38-39 are fascinating and disturbing. I (Mark) had always found the structure of the narrative odd here. Why begin with the story of Joseph in 37, then switch back to a disturbing story of Judah and his sexual promiscuity, then return again to the story of Joseph in 39 which lasts virtually uninterrupted until the end of Genesis?

After receiving some help from Colin Smith, it became clear that we are intended to contrast the actions of one brother (Judah) and another (Joseph). Judah gives into gross sexual sin. Joseph resists sexual temptation. The contrast here makes for a great study on temptation.

Also, there is a slight shock introduced when we realize that Christ descended not from the tribe of Joseph, but the tribe of Judah. For more on this, see the sermon below.

For an NAC sermon on sexual temptation (Judah vs. Joseph), see here.

Ruth | Tuesday: The story of Ruth begins with the words, “In the days when the judges ruled” (Ruth 1:1). After having finished the nightmare that is the book of Judges, here we see an oasis in the desert. Rut and Boaz are like a light shining in a dark place. Where were the true people of God during this dark time? Ruth shows us that God always has His righteous remnant.

Judges ends with the need Israel had for a righteous king. “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Ruth is the answer to this problem. The main point of the book of Ruth is that God was preparing a king to rule Israel from the line of Ruth and Boaz.

The book ends with these words. “Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David” (Ruth 4:21-22).

The main reason, it seems, that Ruth is in the Bible is to give us the backgrounds story on King David’s genealogy. The next book is appropriately about the beginning of the monarchy in Israel and David’s eventual rise to the throne (1 Samuel).

For a brief article giving seven reasons to love and study the book of Ruth, see here.

For a Mark Dever sermon that covers all of Ruth, see here.

Psalms 27-29 | Wednesday: Psalm 27 begins with this verse: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.”

Marshall Segal comments on this verse by giveing us this reminder:

“Whom shall we fear? No one. God has become our light and salvation. The one who has redeemed us will most certaintly rescue and deliver us. What shall we fear. Nothing. We’ve been promised an everlasting life filled with ever-increasing happiness and purified from every sin and consequence of sin. We will endure awful things for a time in this broken workd, but it’s only for a time. And we would trade any amount of groaning and suffering here to experience the fullness of what’s waiting for us there with him.”

Psalm 28:6 says: “Blessed by the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.” Tim and Kathy Keller point out something rather obvious when commenting on this Psalm reminding us, “We can’t live without prayer.” We all know this and we know as Hebrews 4 reminds us that we should “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” However, how many of us get so busy in our lives that we press onto the next item on our agenda without pausing to pray?

Psalm 29 references the voice of the LORD numerous times. Tim and Kathy Keller comment on the voice of the Lord in this Psalm:
“God’s power is particularly evident in his voice (3-9). What God’s voice or Word does he does (verse 5 and 8). His divine power is active in his Word. Do not underestimate, then, how much the power of God can do in your life through the Bible. The voice of the Lord can break down ever our strongest defenses, defuse our despair, free us from guilt, and lead us to him.”

For sermon on Psalm 28 that Mark gave at WFBC, see here.

Job 19-20 | Thursday: In Job 20 we get yet another speech from Zophar. I think Christopher Ash gives us some helpful input on this chapter by saying:

“Why do we have to go on and on listening to these dreadful speeches? After all, God is going to tell us at then end of the book that they are wrong (42:7). So what is the point of listening to them? . . . One general answer is presumably to warn us not to be like them when our natural pharisaism causes grace to be leeched out of our conversation and we lapse into the religious certainties of grace-free…religion. These speeches stand as a warning to us to guard grace jealously.”

He continues to answer his question about why we need to go on listening to these dreadful speeches in the book of Job by saying that these sermons: “help us feel and experience through poetry just how dreadful it will ultimately be to fall under the wrath of God.”
He then gives some reasons why these speeches benefit us:
“First, they terrify us and move us to warn unbelievers that unless they repent, this will indeed be their destingy. Second, they help us grasp the depth of darkness and suffering that the Lord Jesus expreienced on the cross. On the cross he was indeed under the wrath of his Father as he became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21)…we are given these poetic insights, and they are enough to deepen our gratitude to “the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).”

For a great interview on the book of Job, listen to Nancy Guthrie’s interview with Christopher Ash.

Isaiah 51-55 | Friday: Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is one of the most important passages in the Bible.

For a masterful, rich message on Isaiah 53‘s Suffering Servant, watch this by Sinclair Ferguson.

Matthew 26-28 | Saturday: In Matthew 26 we read about Jesus in Gethsemane in verses 36-46. Jesus is “very sorrowful, even to death;” and Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Frederick Leahy writes about this cup that Jesus refers to in his prayer. Leahy says: “That cup was constantly in view as he prayed in Gethsemane. What cup? ‘This cup” – not some future cup. The cup that was symbolized in the feast was now actual: God was placing it in the Saviour’s hands and it carried the stench of hell.”

Leahy reminds us that: “The account of Christ’s sorrows in Gethsemane is to be read with wonder and awe.” He ends his chapter with this short prayer: “Lord, forgive us for the times we have read about Gethsemane with dry eyes.”
In Matthew 27 we read about the crucifixion of Christ. John Newton once wrote a letter to a woman who was troubled. She was dealing with depression and going through a trial and this is what Newton wrote to her:
“They who would always rejoice, must derive their joy from a source which is invariably the same; in other words, from Jesus. Oh, that name! What a person, what an office, what a love, what a life, what a death, does it recall to our minds! Come, madam, let us leave our troubles to themselves for a while, and let us walk to Golgotha, and there take a view of his.”
Matthew 27 will help us “leave our troubles to themselves for a while, and…walk to Golgotha, and there take a view of his.”

Charles Spurgeon once said that: “The doctrine of Christ crucified is always with me.” May that be true of all of us as well!

Matthew 28 ends with the great commission where Jesus says:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
D.A. Carson comments on this by pointing out that:
“Matthew’s gospel ends with the expectation of continued mission and teaching. The five preceding sections always conclude with a block of Jesus’ teaching (3:1-26:5); but the passion and resurrection of Jesus ends with a commission to his disciples to carry on that same ministry in the light of the cross, the empty tomb, and the triumphant vindication and exaltation of the risen Lord.”
Carson highlights the wonderful promise that Jesus is with us always, to the end of the age with these words:
“the gospel [of Matthew] ends, not with command, but with the promise of Jesus’ comforting presence…He who is introduced to us in the prologue as Immanuel, ‘God with us’ (1:23), is still God with us, ‘to the very end of the age.’ The English adverb “always” renders an expression found in the NT only here—namely, . . . “the whole of every day.”
John Paton who was a missionary who took the gospel to cannibals loved this promise in Matthew 28, that Jesus was always with him. Paton said: “Precious promise! How often I adore Jesus for it, and rejoice in it! Blessed be his name.” May we also rejoice in this precious promise from the Lord Jesus.

For an NAC Easter sermon that covers much of Matthew 26-28, see here.

BIBLE 2018 | Week 9

February 23, 2018 | Mark and Scott McAndrew

I Corinthians 1-2 | Sunday: At least in terms of immoral conduct, Corinth has to be one of the worst situations Paul has to address. Some were divided into factions, finding their identity in their favorite pastor rather than the gospel; some were getting drunk on communion wine, some were doubting the entire doctrine of bodily resurrection, and some were guilty of sexual immorality.

With all this in view, if you were Paul, how would you have started your letter to this church?

I would have started by reprimanding them and calling out their errors. I would probably have shown irritation and frustration in subtle (or not so subtle) ways. While Paul does rightly call them to repentance in numerous areas, that is not how he begins.

In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul begins by giving thanks to God for the work of grace He has begun in their midst. This is amazing. It shows us that we should seek to identify evidences of grace in believing friends when we go to lovingly correct them. See especially 1:4-9.

In 1 Corinthians 2 Paul contrasts two forms of wisdom: the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world. Worldly wisdom is drawn to a good outward show. In Corinth, people were drawn to great orators. They would identify with certain spokespersons and find their identity in them.

In some ways we may see this in the political sphere. While Christians should care about politics in a healthy way, there is a way to begin to identify ourselves with a particular politician or political spokesperson. We then begin to demonize those who oppose are specific views and we begin to feel anger, even hatred, toward those who oppose our ‘talking head’. This can also cause unnecessary division within the body of Christ. We must make sure the gospel is our identity rather than our views on education, economics, foreign policy, etc. — even though those things are not insignificant.

This carnal worldly wisdom can also worm its way into theology. Paul has mentions in chapters one and three that some members said, “I follow Paul,” others, “I follow Apollos,” others, “I follow Cephas [Peter],” and perhaps most pretentious of all, “I follow Christ” (meant in a divisive/self-righteous sense, rather than a humble/genuine one).

I have been guilty at times of finding my identity in a particular pastor or writer rather than in Christ and Him crucified. Have you?

Genesis 32-35 | Monday: Genesis 32-33 hold together as one powerful and emotional story. Essentially, after fleeing from Esau for his life years earlier, Jacob now supremely fears seeing Esau face-to-face. He believes his future is in the hands of his murderous brother.

However, the Lord proves to Jacob that the One who controls his future is not Esau, but the Lord Himself. Jacob wrestles all night, not with Esau, but with God in the form of a man. When the sun rises he looks upon His face and is spared. Jacob obtains the blessing, but is wounded in the wrestling match and leaves with a limp. He is then enabled to face Esau with courage and is embraced and welcomed by him.

What can we learn from this?

The Lord shows Jacob that however much we fear human beings all this is like a shadow compared to how we should fear the Lord. In the end, Jacob looked up the face of God and was spared, leaving the wrestling match with only a limp.


This points forward to Jesus, the true and better Jacob who wrestled with God on the cross and was crushed and abandoned. Jesus took the blows of justice we deserve so that now we can look upon the face of God and live.

However, the mark of those who have met the true God is that they leave His presence humbled over their sin. They leave with a limp.

For an NAC sermon on Jacob wrestling with God, see here.

Judges 17-21 | Tuesday: These chapters contain some of the most disturbing stories in the Old Testament.

Judges begins with a double introduction (1:1-2:5; 2:6-3:6) and concludes with a double ending (17-18; 19-21).

Tim Keller is helpful here:

“The passages in between [the double intro and conclusion] showed us how God rescued Israel, but here we are given two case studies of the kind of spiritual condition he rescued them from. That is why the final chapters barely mention the Lord. They are showing us what life was like when Israel was left to their own resources. This view of humanity without God is so bleak that these passages are almost never preached upon or even studied.”

Keller says regarding the ends of Judges 18:

“Evil does not usually make people incredibly wicked and violent – that would be interesting, and tends to wake people up. Rather, sin tends to make us hollow – externally proper and even nice, but underneath everyone is scraping and clutching for power, in order to get ahead.

Only by worshiping the real God can we escape this boring fate and know the blessing of coming to the house of God, the Lord Jesus, the One who has the words of eternal life.”

Judges 19 contains one of the most disturbing stories in the Bible. Why is it included at all?

Psalms 24-26 | Wednesday: Tim and Kathy Keller wrote this commenting on Psalm 24:

“God’s glory also means his inexpressible beauty and perfection. It does not glorify him then, if we only ever obey God simply out of duty. We must give him not only our will but also our heart, as we adore and enjoy him, as we find him infinitely attractive. And there is no greater beauty than to see the Son of God laying aside his glory and dying for us (Philippians 2:5-11).”

D.A. Carson gives a brief summary of Psalm 25.

“David is in danger of being overwhelmed by enemies and thereby put to shame (Ps. 25:2). He wishes to learn the ways and paths of God, to be taught God’s truth (25:4-5). He begs that God will forget the sins of his rebellious youth (25:7); moreover, he recognizes that there are times when his iniquity is great, and needs to be forgiven (25:11). David confesses that he is lonely and afflicted, full of anguish (25:16-17). He speaks afresh of his affliction and distress, alludes once again to his sins, and feels threatened by the increase of the enemies who hate him (25:18-19)…”

Carson then goes on to point out that these things that David mentions in this Psalm are:

“tied together in various ways. For example,…Because of the trouble he is suffering, he is not only afflicted but lonely (25:16)―anguish in one arena so often breeds a sense of desperate isolation, even alienation. Yet the final petitions of the psalm do not descend into a wallowing self-pity, but sum up the connections already made: David needs release from his enemies, forgiveness for his sins, relief from his affliction, and personal integrity and uprightness, all bound up with the protection of the Lord God himself.

Here is a wholesome self-awareness. Sometimes our prayers for relief from loneliness are steeped in self-love; sometimes our requests for justice fail to recognize how endemic sin really is, so that we remain unconcerned about our own iniquity. Yet here is a man who not only knew God and how to pray, but knew himself.”

Psalm 26:11 says: “But as for me, I shall walk in my intergrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.” The Gospel Transformation Bible has this powerful reminder: “The ultimate way in which God secured this redemption and grace was in the sending of his own Son, to whom God was not gracious, so that grace could be extended to sinners such as David―and us.”

Job 17-18 | Thursday: In Job 17 we have what Christopher Ash calls a: “foreshadowing of the experience of the Lord Jesus Christ…Jesus too felt the longings both to be comforted and to comfort. He too knew in all its fullness what it was to be identified with sinners, from his baptism to his cross. He experienced in its unadulterated intensity the holy hatred of God against sinners. He too knew that he had a clear conscience, in fact that every moment of his life he did what pleased the Father (John 8:29), that his life and his death were the expression of a perfect obedience.”

In Job 18 we have Bildad coming back for round 2 of his arguments. D.A. Carson points out that Bildad has a note of desperation in his argument this time. Carson says: “When the argument is weak, some people just yell louder.” Christopher Ash says that Bildad’s: “sermon is so fundamentally misapplied that it needs to be consigned to the incinerator of failed sermons.”

Carson says that Bildad basically is saying that Job is not only wicked but ignorant of God. Then Carson continues with a reflection on this charge that Bildad lays against Job:

“At one level, what Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar keep saying is entirely in line with a repeated theme of the Scriptures: God is just, and justice will be done and will be seen to be done. Everyone will one day acknowledge that God is right―whether in the reverent submission of faith, or in the terror that cries for the rocks and the mountains to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb (Rev. 6). The theme recurs in virtually every major corpus of the Bible…Not to have judgement would be to deny the significance of evil.

But to apply this perspective too quickly, too mechanically, or as if we have access to all the facts, is to destroy the significance of evil from another angle. Innocent suffering (as we have seen) is ruled out. To call a good man evil in order to preserve the system is not only personally heartless, but relativizes good and evil; it impugns God as surely as saying there is no difference between good and evil.”

Isaiah 45-50 | Friday: If you would like to see perhaps the strongest statement in the Bible on why God does what He does in history, look no further than Isaiah 48:9-11.

For more on this passage and theme, see this article.

Matthew 23-25 | Saturday: After a long lists of woes that Jesus pronounces in Matthew 23, he says in verse 37: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”

Carson comments on this verse and says: “During it (Jesus’ ministry), he often longed to gather and shelter Jerusalem as a hen her chicks, for despite the woes, Jesus, like the “Sovereign LORD” in Ezekiel 18:32, took “no pleasure in the death of anyone.”

Matthew 24-25 have an emphasis on the coming judgement of God and we are reminded to “be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:44). The Gospel Transformation Bible asks this question: “How can Jesus’ diciples be ready for his arrival?” Later in the notes they give this answer: “they are to make the most of the opportunities and resources God has given them.”

So, are we making the most of the opportunities and resources God has given us?

I am reminded of John Calvin who even towards the end of his life he kept making the most of the resources God had given him. When he was told he should rest when he was nearing the end of his life, Calvin famously responded: “What? Would you have the Lord find me idle when he comes?”

BIBLE 2018 | Week 8

February 16, 2018 | Mark and Scott McAndrew

Romans 15-16 | Sunday: Romans 15 shows us Paul’s desire. To paraphrase, Paul’s holy ambition was to “preach the gospel where Christ has not been named.”

What is it that you long to do with your life for the sake of the kingdom? Is your ambition holy? Is it in line with what Scripture teaches? Is it mainly about your own glory or about the glory of Jesus?

Our ambition may not sound as dramatic as Paul’s, but it is still wise to have one. What is your holy ambition?

Romans 16 gives us some insight on what false teachers often look like. Look carefully – they are often outwardly smooth and attractive. Paul writes that “by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive” (v. 18).

For a classic message by Piper on Romans 15 called ‘Paul’s Holy Ambition’, see here.

Click here for Piper’s free online book called ‘A Holy Ambition’.

For a helpful message by Piper on false teachers from Romans 16, see here.

Genesis 28-31 | Monday: God chooses the girl nobody wanted. Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, yet God showed special love to Leah for just that reason. God loves to favor those who are not favored the most in the world. This is why most of us are Christians. When we consider who we were when God called us to Himself, we have to conclude that we were nothing special.

Think of the Apostle Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:

“26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'”

Or think of the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 11:

“25 At that time Jesus declared, I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

God often chooses to bless those who are least impressive so that no one will think that God chooses us because of our brilliance, or moral accomplishments, or outward attractiveness, or our strength.

As Jeremiah wrote,

“23 Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.'” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Our boast should be in the Lord alone.

For an NAC sermon on Genesis 29 called The Girl Nobody Wanted, see here.

Here is a shorter video segment.

Judges 12-16 | Tuesday: Tim Keller shares some helpful thoughts on Judges 13:

“[W]e are told that, as usual, ‘the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord,’ with the familiar result that God gives them over to their enemies, in this case the Philistines (13:1).

The phrase ‘did evil in the eyes of the Lord’ has been a repeated refrain in Judges (2:11; 3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6) – this is the last time it appears. Although in fact, there is a phrase which appears twice in the double conclusion of the book, which says the same thing in a different way: ‘in those days … everyone did what was right in his own eyes’ (17:6; 21:25).

The writer is making the point that many of the things the Israelites did were not evil ‘in their eyes.’ In other words, by their perception, most or all of their behavior was perfectly acceptable. They did not go about thinking: I know this is evil, but I am going to do it anyway. Yet, ‘in God’s eyes,’ the behavior was wicked.

This teaches us two truths about sin. First, the definition of sin. This term ‘the eyes of the Lord,’ in contrast with our ‘ow eyes,’ teaches us that sin does not ultimately consist of violating our conscience or violating our personal standards or violating community standards, but rather consists of violating God’s will for us. . . .

Second, these phrases show us the deception of sin. They remind us how easily self-deceived we are. The Israelite had psychological and cultural rationalizations and supports for their sin, so they were in a kind of ‘group denial.’ In their own ‘eyes’ or perception, there was nothing wrong with what they were doing. There was a deep, suppressed knowledge that they were out of touch with God, rejecting his will (Romans 1:18); but at the conscious level, they had no over guilty and they had lots of explanations for their lifestyles.” (Judges for You, p. 124-5).

As we see Samson, and others, making obviously foolish and rash decisions, we should stop and think.

Where in my life am I doing things that might be obviously or subtly foolish from a biblical point of view but which I may be trying to rationalize as normal – even good?

At which points are our ‘eyes’ more important in judging our lives than God’s?

Psalms 21-23 | Wednesday: Psalm 21 is connected with Psalm 20 which we looked at for last weeks reading. As the ESV Study Bible points out, “These two Psalms form a pair of royal psalms. Psalm 20 is a prayer that God will give success to the Davidic king, particularly in battle. Psalm 21 gives thanks to God for answering the request of Psalm 20.”

A the the Gospel Transformation Bible points out, “David trains believers to pray for more than just everyday nusances. We must also pray ‘your kingdom come’ (Matt. 6:10), and this psalm assures us that these things will happen.”

Psalm 22 is almost impossible to read without seeing Jesus so powerfully potrayed. This is a great Psalm to meditate on during Good Friday.

“In an unparalleled way,” writes Jonathan Parnell, “Psalm 22 captures the suffering of the Messiah in the first person… ‘Why have you forsaken me?’ and, ‘I am a worm and not a man,’ and, ‘I am poured out like water.’ We step inside the mind of the afflicted man — of Jesus — to feel his pain and see his faith.”

What was to a lesser extent true of David became fully and literally true in the death of David’s greater Son. Of all the words Jesus could have chosen to express His anguish on the cross, He chose the opening words of Psalm 22. We stand on holy ground as we read these words which proceed from the midday darkness of Calvary.

Psalm 22:14-15 says: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.” Adrian Rogers powerfully said: “The One who made all the oceans and rivers and fountains of water was parched with thirst as He died for you and me.”

Psalm 23 is a wonderful and famous Psalm. Verse four says: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” This is such a comforting promise for us as believers. Adrian Rogers pointed out however that “Jesus walked that lonesome valley of death all by himself.”

Job 15-16 | Thursday: In Job 15-21 we have what D.A. Carson calls “a second cycle of arguments from Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, with responses in each case from Job. In many ways the arguments are repeated, but with deepened intensity. Almost as if they are aware of the repetition, the three friends say less this time than in the first round.”

As we read through the arguments from Job’s friends we should remember this warning from Carson: “There is a way of using theology and theological arguments that wounds rather than heals.”
“This is not the fault of theology and theological arguments; it is the fault of the ‘miserable comforter’ who fastens on an inappropriate fragment of truth, or whose timing is off, or whose attitude is condescending, or whose application is insensitive, or whose true theology is couched in such culture-laden clichés that they grate rather than comfort.”
In times of suffering in his own life, Carson was on the receiving end of what he calls “extraordinary blows” from fellow believers. He then turns the tables on himself and says, “Such experiences, of course, drive me to wonder when I have wrongly handled the Word and caused similar pain.”

Isaiah 40-44 | Friday: This is the beginning of one of the most important portions of the Old Testament. Isaiah 40-66 is one of the most quoted and alluded to sections of the OT in the New Testament. It helps us better understand the four Gospels, Acts, and Revelation (not to mention numerous NT books).

The basic promises in Isaiah 40-66 at least include:

  1. the Lord will return to Zion (in the person of Jesus rather than a pillar of cloud);
  2. a messenger in the wildness will prepare the way (the Elijah-like figure of John the Baptist)
  3. Israel will become a light to the Gentiles (the nations!);
  4. Israel will be perfectly represented by a mysterious ‘Suffering Servant’ who will endure the ultimate exile away from God, suffering for the sins of others, though being innocent Himself. He will be buried after death and will yet have prolonged life (pointers to a resurrection).
  5. Upon the return of the Lord (Yahweh), the kingdom will come on earth as in heaven, including a New Jerusalem and a New Heavens and New Earth (new creation).
  6. Israel will finally be rescued out of exile.
  7. When all of these things occur, it will be evident to all that Yahweh, the God of Israel, is the only true God. He is the only God who predicted these events before each of them took place. He is sovereign over world history, unlike the mute and deaf idols that the nations worship.

These promises are all fulfilled in the New Testament era, but in ways that were hard to imagine by the Old Testament saints. This is why Paul calls fulfillment of the OT promises in Jesus a great “mystery.” It is something partially hidden that has now been revealed. These aspects of the gospel were partially known and yet not fully grasped before the resurrection of Jesus.

This is why the disciples were so shocked when Jesus said He was the Messiah/Christ and yet He was going to be betrayed and killed. They didn’t have a category for a suffering Messiah. This further explains why that first Easter morning was such a shock.

Matthew 20-22 | Saturday: Matthew 20 begins with a parable about the workers in the vineyard. D.A. Carson points out “that this parable is primarily not about the workers at all but about the amazing grace and compassion of the employer.”

“God’s grace makes some who are last first. The point of the parable,” Carson concludes, “is not that all in the kingdom will receive the same reward but that kingdom rewards depend on God’s sovereign grace.”

Matthew 20:28 is such a powerful verse that says: “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

“At this point,” writes Carson, “Jesus presents himself—the Son of Man—as the supreme example of service to others.” If we are finding it difficult to clothe ourselves in humility and if we are stuggling with various forms of pride, I think it would do us all good to dwell on verses like Matthew 20:28.

In Matthew 21:23-27 we have this powerful exchange between Jesus and the chief priests and the elders:

“And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus answered them, ‘I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?’ And they discussed it among themselves, saying, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “From man,” we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’
Jesus’ reply in this passage is “masterful.” The question that Jesus responds with is “far more profound” than a “simple rebuke.” Carson continues:
“Far from avoiding the religous leaders’ question, Jesus answers it so that the honest seeker of truth, unswayed by public opinion, will not fail to see who he is, while those interested only in snaring him with a captious question are blocked by a hurdle their own shallow pragmatism forbids them to cross. At the same time Jesus’ question rather strongly hints to the rulers that their false step goes back to broader issues than Jesus’ authority, it is because their previous unbelief has blinded their minds to God’s revelation.”
Toward the end of Matthew 22, Jesus responds to the question about what the greatest commandment in the law is with these words:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (v. 38-39).
Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that we will never do the second command of loving our neighbors as ourselves until we have done the first, “so we must start with the love of God.”

BIBLE 2018 | Week 7

February 9th, 2018 | Mark and Scott McAndrew

Romans 13-14 | Sunday: Romans 13 emphasizes that obedience to our governing authorities is a big deal, along with paying taxes and giving appropriate honor. Don’t forget that the ‘governing authorities’ Paul spoke of here would end up being the ones who took Paul’s life later.

Romans 14 is about loving our brothers and sisters who have different convictions than we do on matters of lesser importance. For a passage with the same theme, see 1 Corinthians 8.

Genesis 24-27 | Monday: Genesis 24 is not merely a romantic story put in the Bible for sentiment. It is yet another example of God supernaturally orchestrating events so that His promise to Abraham will come true.

God has promised to make Abraham into a great nation, yet Abraham only has one legitimate heir to this promise: Isaac. If Isaac cannot find a wife from among Abraham’s distant relatives, then he will end up marrying an unbelieving Canaanite woman and that will threaten the fulfillment of the promise.

So God makes sure that Abraham’s servant finds the right woman: Rebekah.

Genesis 25 has the birth of Jacob and Esau. Note that Isaac was 40 when he married Rebekah, but she was not able to conceive. He prayed for her and God answered his prayer and she gave birth to twins when Isaac was 60.

That is 19 years of persistent prayer before his prayer was answered! Wow. Let us not give up on praying for those we know who do not yet know Christ.

Genesis 26 shows Isaac lying about his wife (“She is my sister”) to King Abimelech. This is a repeat of last week’s reading (Genesis 20) where Abraham did the same thing. (Likely this is not the same man, but a son or grandson of the other king.)

Genesis 27 is about Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing. For more, see below.

For an NAC sermon on Genesis 24 (dating and marriage), see here.

For an NAC sermon on Genesis 27 (Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing), see here.

Judges 7-11 | Tuesday: Should we, like Gideon, lay out ‘fleeces’ in order to find God’s will for our lives? Is this how we are to apply this famous story? Well, no, we shouldn’t. For a helpful explanation, see this video:

For a brief video about how we often misread the story of Gideon, watch here. 

Psalms 18-20 | Wednesday: Psalm 18 says, “They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me” (v. 18-19).

Matthew Henry says of this passage:

Can we meditate on verse 18, without directing one thought to Gethsemane and Calvary? Can we forget that it was in the hour of Christ’s deepest calamity, when Judas betrayed, when his friends forsook, when the multitude derided him, and the smiles of his Father’s love were withheld, that the powers of darkness prevented him? The sorrows of death surrounded him, in his distress he prayed.

He then adds:

God made the earth to shake and tremble, and the rocks to cleave, and brought him out, in his resurrection, because he delighted in him and in his undertaking.

Psalm 19 tells us in the first two verses that: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.”
John Piper commenting on these verses says:
God is talking to the world all day and all night, every day and every night, everywhere in the world…. The ministry of the sky is a ministry of communication about God. Day and night everywhere in the world God is speaking to all people about himself. Not about nature…. What God is speaking about in the sky is beyond the sky, namely, himself.
Piper then tells about being on a writing leave. He would walk from his cottage to the place where he would write and he said on that walk:
The air would be lucid and cool, and the morning sun would be spangled in the ripples of the lake down the hill through the pine trees, and the leaves of the sweet-gum and the oak and the maple and the hickory trees would be all ablaze with gold and green, and up through the branches I would see the sky bright and clear and blue. And all I could do was look up and feel, “Glory, glory, glory!” And I knew, immediately, without words and without any extended reasonings: this is the way God is. These are but the outskirts of his ways and the beams of his beauty.
Psalm 20, according to Matthew Henry, “is a prayer for the kings of Israel.” He points out that “even the greatest of men may be much in trouble.” Therefore “even the greatest of men must be much in prayer.”

Job 13-14 | Thursday: In Job 13 Job says in verse 4 that his friends are: “worthless physicians.” They are not helping his pain. Christopher Ash points out that the friends’ medicine is not the gospel medicine that Job needs. In verse 7, Job says: “Will you speak falsely for God and speak deceitfully for him?”

D.A. Carson comments on the verse and says that Job’s friends:

cannot find concrete evidences of gross sin in Job’s life, yet they think they are speaking for God when they insist Job must really be evil. Thus in their “defense” of God, they say things that are untrue and unfair about Job: they “speak wickedly on God’s behalf.” How can God be pleased with their utterances? Ends do not justify means.

It is always important to speak the truth and not fudge facts to fit our theological predispositions. Far better to admit ignorance or postulate mystery than to tell untruths.

As we read through Job’s speeches in chapters 13-14 it is important to remember what Christopher Ash points out in his commentary:

[T]he speeches of Job give us a unique insight into what it feels like for a believer to experience God-forsakenness. And therefore they help us to understand and feel the darkness of the cross.
Ash later adds:
In his suffering Job foreshadows the man who will enter fully into the misery of being identified with sinners in life and death…who will experience in all its horrors the final penalty for sins, and who will taste death on behalf of sinners.

Isaiah 34-39 | Friday:

Isaiah 34 is the fate of those who trust in man.

Isaiah 35 is the future of those who trust in Yahweh.

Isaiah divides pretty cleanly into two major sections: chapters 1-39 and 40-66. 

(Coincidentally, there are 66 books in the Bible and 66 chapters in Isaiah; and also, the Old Testament is books 1-39 and the New Testament is books 40-66. This really is nothing more than a coincidence, but it can be helpful for remembering Isaiah’s outline.)

Isaiah 36-37 really contains the central historical event of Isaiah’s lifetime.

The first part of Isaiah (1-39) largely a build up to the events of chapters 36-37. This is where Assyria, after destroying Israel (the Northern Kingdom) in 722 BC, almost destroyed Judah in 701 BC, but was defeated by Yahweh miraculously just in time. The destruction of the army left Assyria’s king, Sennacherib, defeated and ashamed.

This great event points forward to the ultimate defeat of our greatest enemies, sin and Satan himself.

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities [Satan and his demons] and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Colossians 2:13-15)

Isaiah 40 is a massive turning point that we’ll get to next week. As a sneak preview, Isaiah 40-66 is one of the most quoted and alluded to parts of the Old Testament in the New Testament.

For an entire NAC sermon on Isaiah 36-37, see the link below.

For an NAC sermon that covers all of Isaiah 36-37, see here.

For a fantastic message by Mark Dever on Isaiah 36-37 (which the above sermon was partially based on), watch here.

For a message by D.A. Carson on the temptation and downfall of Hezekiah in Isaiah 38-39, watch here or listen here.

Matthew 17-19 | Saturday: We should remember what David Platt says as we read through Scripture: “Our goal…is that we would behold the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Matthew 17 begins with what Platt calls “one of the most exhilarating, awe-inspiring, and worship-evoking portraits of Jesus in this Gospel.” What Platt is talking about is the transfiguration of Jesus. Peter, James, and John are as D.A. Carson says “privileged to glimspe something of his preincarnate glory.” We too get to see his glory powerfully revealed in this passage.

D.A. Carson continues by reminding us that “this glorious sight would one day prompt Jesus’ disciples to marvel at the self-humiliation that brought him to the cross…” We too should marvel at the self-humiliation of Jesus. A helpful verse to think on as we read through Matthew 17 would be Hebrews 1:3 that says: “Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

Matthew 18 ends with the parable of the unforgiving servant. As we read through this parable we should be reminded of our sin against God. Jerry Bridges points out that the 10,000 talents that the servant owes is a representation of “our moral and spiritual debt to God.” Bridges reminds us that: “we all are represented by the first servant who owed ten thousand talents. Our debt to God is utterly unpayable.”

In the parable the servants 10,000 talent debt is canceled. Bridges reminds us that: “It cost the king tremendously to forgive his servant’s debt.” As we read this parable we should be reminded of the cost of our redemption. Jerry Bridges tells us that: “it cost God to forgive us. It cost him the death of His Son. No price can be put on that death, but God paid it so He could forgive each of us of the enormous spiritual debt we owed to Him.”

In light of the enormous cost of our redemption how can we turn around and then withhold forgiveness, mercy, and kindness from others?

Bridges once again is helpful here when he says:

This basis of our forgiving one another, then, is the enormity of God’s forgiveness of us. We are to forgive because we have been forgiven so much. Until we acknowledge that we are the ten-thousand-talent debtor to God, we will struggle with forgiving people who have wronged us in significant ways or people who continue to wrong us.
Matthew 19 ends with the story of the rich young man. The young man tells Jesus that he has kept the commands that Jesus listed. However, this young man had only observed “the outward stipulations” of the law, as D.A. Carson puts it.
Carson continues by pointing out how “because of his wealth” this young man “had a divided heart. His money was competing with God.” This reminds me of a quote from Elisabeth Elliott, when she said, “Money holds terrible power when it is loved.”

After the young man leaves, Jesus tells his disciples how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. The disciples are ‘greatly astonished’ and they say: “Who then can be saved?” Jesus powerfully tells them in verse 26: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

What the young man in this story needs and what we need is (as Carson puts it): “the triumph of grace.” If we are believers today then we should remember that “God, with whom all things are possible” has worked a triumph of grace in our lives.

BIBLE 2018 | Week 6

February 2, 2018 | Mark & Scott McAndrew

Romans 11-12 | Sunday: In Romans 11, Paul seems to predict a massive revival amongst ethnic Jews around the time of Christ’s second coming.

Romans 12 is the turning point in the letter. Chapters 1-11 have been packed with the good news of what Jesus has done for us. Chapters 12-16 are packed with how we should respond to this good news; namely, with wholehearted obedience.

Genesis 20-23 | Monday: 

Genesis 20 tells the story of Abraham lying to a King Abimelech about Sarah, his wife. Why is this in the Bible? Well, remember, the promise that holds Genesis (and all of Scripture) together is the promise that God will bless all the nations of the earth through Abraham’s offspring. The drama focuses on the fact that, up til now, Abraham and Sarah can’t have offspring. If Sarah becomes Abimelech’s wife and they sleep together, then Abraham will never be able to get her back as his wife and see the fulfillment of this massive promise that they will have a son.

If Abraham and Sarah fail to have a son, then God will prove to be a liar, and the genealogical line from Abraham and Sarah down to Jesus will never exist.

A lot is at stake here. So what happens? God saves the day (through giving Abimelech a threatening dream) despite Abraham’s unbelieving, cowardly lie. God is the hero.

Genesis 22 is one of the most powerful pictures of the gospel in the Bible. Compare Genesis 22:12 with John 3:16 and Romans 8:32 (see here).

Genesis 23 is about Sarah’s death and burial. Why is so much time spent on Abraham buying a burial plot for Sarah? God promised to give Abraham’s offspring this land. However, this burial plot is the only part of the Promised Land that Abraham will ever own in his life. He must walk by faith, not by sight. This burial plot is like a downpayment on his final inheritance.

What does this have to do with us?

God made good on His promise to Abraham that his offspring would possess the land more than 400 years later. The downpayment of the burial plot guaranteed the inheritance.

The Holy Spirit, who dwells inside of us, is our downpayment on our full inheritance. This includes being in the immediate presence of God on the new Earth in resurrection bodies (see Ephesians 1:7-14).

For an NAC sermon on Genesis 20 and the sovereignty of God, listen here.

Judges 1-6 | Tuesday: The Kingdom of God is God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and experiencing God’s blessing.

We have seen God create His people by making Sarah’s barren womb conceive Isaac, and making his great grandchildren fruitful in the land of Egypt for 400 years. Now they are a nation made up of millions of people. On Sinai, they were given God’s rule (the law of Moses). After 40 years in the wilderness, they have taken the promised land under Joshua’s leadership.

Things are looking very good. God’s people are now in God’s place under God’s rule and look like they are on the verge of experiencing God’s abundant blessing . . .

That is where Judges begins.

However, in the first chapter we see half-hearted obedience and partial disobedience. We see a lack of trust in God as the people lean on their own common sense.

Chapter two is when the cycles begin. See the video below for the repeating cycle that dominates the book of Judges:

For an extremely helpful overview of Judges, it is hard to beat this from the Bible Project.

Psalm 15-17 | Wednesday: Psalm 15. Tim and Kathy Keller offer this wonderful prayer that goes with this Psalm: “Lord, the sins of my tongue are so many! Forgive me for talking too much (because of pride), for talking too little (because of fear), for not telling the truth (because of pride and fear), for words that are harsh and cutting, for hurting others’ reputations through gossip. Purify my words with your Word. Amen.”

Psalm 16:11 is a beautiful verse that says: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Colossians 3 tells us to set our affections on things above. Psalm 16:11 is a wonderful verse to help us do that.

Thomas Watson said: “Here joy enters into us, there we enter into joy; the joys we have here are from heaven; the joys that we shall have with Christ are without measure and without mixture.”

Thomas Brooks adds this: “The joy of the saints in heaven is never ebbing, but always flowing to all contentment. The joys of heaven never fade, never wither, never die, nor never are lessened nor interrupted. The joy of the saints in heaven is a constant joy, an everlasting joy, in the root and in the cause, and in the matter of it and in the objects of it.”

Psalm 17:8 says: “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,” Tim Keller comenting on this verse says: “In Christ, astonishingly, God does indeed see us as perfect (Philippians 3:9-10)…Remind my heart that when you look on me you find me ‘in Christ’ and see beauty.”

Job 11-12 | Thursday: Something to remember as we go through Job is that Zophar, Eliphaz, and Bildad don’t have a category for innocent suffering in their theology. D.A. Carson says: “There is no category for innocent suffering. Job must be very wicked, for he is suffering much; the only reasonable option for him is to turn from the sin that must obviously be engulfing him.” Of course this causes the friends of Job to embark “on a course that condemns an innocent man.”

Isaiah 29-33 | Friday: During our sermon series in Micah we spent a lot of time talking about Assyria. They destroyed the Northern Kingdom (Israel) in 722 BC and they destroyed much of the Souther Kingdom (Judah) in 701 BC. Isaiah refers to this soon-to-happen event repeatedly in these chapters.

Also, we talked about how 185,000 men from the Assyrian army were whipped out by the angel of the Lord in a single night (see Isaiah 37:36-37). This event is also referred to several times in these chapters of Isaiah (for instance, see Isaiah 31:8-9).

Matthew 14-16 | Saturday: Matthew 1-3 introduce Jesus as the true and better Israel, Moses, and David. Matthew 4-7 shows Jesus announcing and teaching on the Kingdom of God. Matthew 8-10 shows Jesus bringing a foretaste of the Kingdom into daily life. Matthew 11-12 shows a mixed response to Jesus, which is mostly negative. Matthew 13 is filled with Jesus’ parables. Jesus tells parables that speak of a mixed response to His Kingdom message as well as a redefinition of the Kingdom.    

In Matthew 14 after the death of John the baptist we see the never failing compassion of Jesus on display once again. Verse 13 tells us that Jesus withdrew in a boat to a desolate place by himself. However, the crowd follows after Jesus and as soon as Jesus goes ashore he is swarmed by the crowds. Verse 14 tells us: “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” David Platt tells us that: “Jesus was (once again) moved with compassion for them, even for those who were superfically attached to Him…Even in the face of such shallowness, Jesus was compassionate.”

In Matthew 15 Jesus tells us: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me.” As we prepare our own hearts to worship every week or just as we prepare our hearts to go to work in the morning this is a great verse to keep in mind. We need to remember as David Platt says: “that worship is all about spiritual affection. It’s about our hearts lifted high to God.”

What are some practical ways that we can work on our hearts in this area?

I think John Piper helpfully answers when he says: “And the answer would seem to be that we get up in the morning and we get our hearts fixed on Christ. We go to him and renew our satisfaction in him through his word. And then we enter the day seeking to express and increase that satisfaction in all that God is for us in Jesus.”

Matthew 16 contains a central moment in this gospel. Peter finally declares Jesus to be the Christ (Christ = Messiah; it means “Anointed One” – the Davidic King). Jesus agrees and then redefines the Christ as a suffering King rather than an outwardly triumphant king. Peter thinks this is nonsense and rebukes Jesus. Thus we see one of the major themes of Matthew. Who is Jesus? Chapters 1-16 show us He is the Christ/King of God’s Kingdom. Chapters 16-28 will show us Jesus redefining the idea of Christ and Kingdom. This King is a suffering servant who will die for the sins of His people.

At the end of Matthew 16 Jesus famously says: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” D.A. Carson helpfully reminds us that: “Death to self is not so much a prerequisite of dicipleship to Jesus as a continuing characteristic of it.”

There is a great Bible Project video on this part of Matthew here.

BIBLE 2018 | Week 5

Romans 9-10 | Sunday: Romans 9-11 is challenging. What is really going on here?

Paul just finished Romans 8 on the mountain top of God’s promises. Why the sudden shift in tone to the agony and anguish of Romans 9:1-4? Paul knows his audience. As we finish Romans 8 many people are wondering, what about the Jews? God made promises to Israel and yet most of Israel has rejected their Messiah. Does this mean God’s promises can’t be trust? Has God’s word failed?

If God lied to Israel, then the promises of Romans 8 are compromised.

For more, you can watch this:

For a full, in-depth message on Romans 9, see this by John Piper.

Genesis 16-19 | Monday: Chapter 16 is “a poignant reminder of the strong temptation to take matters into our own hands when God’s promises seem to be beyond fulfillment. Sarai’s desire for children to fulfill God’s promise bypassed her calling to trust the Lord and his own timing. . . . God’s people are called to trust him no matter how hopeless his promises may seem” (GTB, p. 24).

Note the echo of Adam and Eve in the action of Sarah and Abraham. In both cases you have sinfully passive men exercising bad leadership (or no leadership) and wives taking the initiative into their own hands and leading their husbands into further disobedience:

“[Eve] took…and…gave some…to her husband…and he ate” (Gen 3:6).

“Sarai…took Hagar…and gave her to…her husband as a wife” (Gen 16:3).

Genesis 17 is about the covenant of circumcision. Here is a great, brief explanation of this strange Old Covenant sign:

Genesis 18-19: For an NAC sermon covering Sodom and Gomorrah, listen here.

Joshua 21-24 | Tuesday: The suspicion between the tribes in chapter 22 points to the fact that “[e]veryone – Yahweh, Joshua, and the Israelites – seem to expect a short honeymoon. Once more the superiority of the new covenant is exhibited, with no less than God himself – the Holy Spirit – as the Alter of Witness a permanently indwelling Gift who seals our reconciliation and a deposit guaranteeing our final redemption” (GTB, p. 294).

Joshua 23-24 are is the powerful final word spoken by Joshua to the people before his death. There is much that can be applied to our lives here.

See the kind of person Abraham was when God called him. How should this encourage us?

Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many.'” (Joshua 24:2-3)

Psalm 12-14 | Wednesday: Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” Tim Keller writes, “Every sin is a kind of practical atheism – it is acting as if God were not there” (The Song of Jesus, p. 20).

Both Psalm 12 and 14 are quoted by Paul in Romans 3 as describing all of us before the Spirit changes our hearts. We are all born “uttering lies” and “flattering” our neighbors. “There is none who does good” or who “seek after God.” When we read the descriptions of evil doers, we should say, “That is who I was by nature. I seek after God now only because of grace.”

For a confessional on Romans 3, listen to Jerry Ediger here.

Job 9-10 | Thursday: Job speaks of his conflict with the Lord by saying, “There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both. Let him take his rod away from me, and let not dread of him terrify me. Then I would speak without fear of him, for I am not so in myself” (9:33-35).

How does this point toward the gospel message?

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Could this mediator be the arbiter Job longed for?

Aren’t you thankful that you’re living on this side of the cross?

Isaiah 23-28 | Friday: This is not an Isaiah reading you want to skip! After spending several chapters predicting the destruction of specific nations in Isaiah’s own day, the prophet then looks forward to the final judgment of the whole world (ch 24) and the resurrected dead enjoying an eternal feast in the New Jerusalem (ch 25).

“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food. . . . He will swallow up death forever” (25:6-8).

Does the Old Testament teach about the resurrection of the dead? Isaiah 25:7-8; 26:19 are pretty clear.

Matthew 11-13 | Saturday: Matthew 11-12 tells us how people are responding to Jesus.

“Resistance to Jesus’ ministry has appeared occasionally but now begins to build significantly, occasioned first by the innocuous questions of John the Baptist, then through the overt hostility of the Jewish religious leaders” (ESV Study Bible, p 1842).

First, there are those, like John the Baptist, who are struggling with doubt about Jesus (see 11:2-3). Second, there are some who think Jesus may actually be the Christ, the son of David (see 12:23). Third, there are those, like the religious leaders, who are outright opposed to Jesus and even want to have Him killed (see 12:14, 24).

Matthew 13 is packed with parables. Why? The parables were a sign of judgment (see Mark 4:10-12). Likely the people were in such a dead spiritual place (as seen in the previous two chapters) that were Jesus to tell them plainly about the kingdom, it would have caused Him to be killed prematurely.

The parables are meant to mask the truth. That’s why Jesus says, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive” (13:14). Those who truly want to know the meaning of the parables must come to Jesus in private and ask – which is exactly what the disciples do. “His disciples came to him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable'” (13:36).


For an NAC sermon on Matthew 11 (John the Baptist, doubt, and rest), listen here.

Reading the Bible Together | Week 4

Romans 7-8 | Sunday: Paul has seemed to say some very negative things about the law of God so far in Romans (for example, see 3:19-20; 3:285:20). Paul says that we are saved by faith and not by works of the law. He even goes so far as to say that “the law brings wrath” (Romans 4:15).

How could God’s righteous law be an agent of death, judgment and wrath? Romans 7 is the answer. The law itself is good. The law is not the problem; it is how our flesh reacts to the law that reveals how deep our sin goes. We hate being told what to do. The fall occurred when Adam and Eve decided that they were better under their own authority than under God’s. From that time until now, the law of God has always brought out the worst in us – not because the law is bad, but because we are.

Romans 8 is the Mount Everest of the Bible. It’s hard to get higher than this chapter takes us. The promises are breathtaking. They begin in eternity past (God knew us and predestined us before time began), they encompass literally everything (all things work together for our good), and they lead out into eternity.

Romans 8: To hear Jerry Ediger on this amazing chapter, listen here.

Genesis 12-15 | Monday: These are some of the most foundational chapters in the Bible. Genesis 12:1-3 is the promise that shapes the entirety of the rest of Scripture. God promised Eve that an “offspring” would come from her and crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15).

The genealogies in Genesis trace this serpent crushing offspring from Adam and Eve to Seth, from Seth to Noah, from Noah through Shem to Abraham, from Abraham through Isaac, then through Jacob, all the way to Judah. This will eventually lead to David, then Jesus (see Matthew 1:1).

Genesis 15:6 answers the question, How did people ‘get saved’ in the Old Testament?

Application: Why Abraham? Why us?

Abraham was not counted righteous because of his works. In fact, next Tuesday we’ll read, “Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods” (Joshua 24:2). God chose Abraham as an act of completely undeserved and unmerrited grace. The same should be said of us.

Genesis 12: For a great summary, see the Bible Project here.

Genesis 14: For an NAC sermon dealing with Melchizedek, see here.

Genesis 15: For an NAC message dealing with salvation in the OT, see here.

Ur of Chaldeans is located 186 miles from modern day Baghad in Iraq. Although not original, this rebuilt ziggurat resembles the structure that existed here 4000 years ago when Abraham lived nearby and was worshiping idols. Perhaps Abraham even sacrificed to the moon god Nanna (no joke) at this very spot before Yahweh called him to leave this place (see Genesis 11:27-12:1).


Joshua 16-20 | Tuesday: This is one of the tougher readings to get through for modern readers like us. Don’t forget that all these details show the faithfulness of God to keep His promises.

Michael Horton, in the Gospel Transformation Bible (p. 286), gives us some insight:

The division of the inheritance concludes in chapters 18 with the report that, ‘Then the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them’ (18:1).

Just as in Genesis 1 and 2 Yahweh’s word had subdued chaos and divided creation into allotted and ordered realms under various creature-kings, with man as his representative ruler over all, Canaan’s moral chaos (think ‘darkness and void’ from Genesis 2:1) has been overcome. The serpent has been at least partially driven out. Each tribe, like a creature-king, has its realm to guard and keep on Yahweh’s behalf.

The result, at least for now, is rest: ‘The land lay subdued before them’ (18:1).

Psalm 9-11 | Wednesday: Meditate on Psalm 11:6, “Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.” Note how the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah forms the background to the judgment imagery (Genesis 19:24). See how God’s wrath on the wicked is spoken of as their “cup” to drink. Then think about Jesus’s words in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-44).

Job 7-8 | Thursday: Job 8 teaches us how not to respond to a suffering friend. “Whenever we find ourselves getting exasperated, or plain mad, at someone we think needs to be ‘straightened out,’ we should consider whether we need to wait awhile before responding to them. Not only will we probably make things worse if we speak from impatience, but God has been patient with us in the gospel, giving us all the more reason to be patient with others (Matthew 18:23-35)” (Gospel Transformation Bible, p 619-620).

For a beautifully made overview of Job, see this from the Bible Project. It’s worth a few minutes!

Isaiah 18-22 | Friday: The Gospel Transformation Bible (p. 885) states the following on Isaiah 18:

How easy it is for us to look at our circumstances and imagine that God is not paying attention. Here God tells Isaiah from his throne room that he is fully aware of everything, and though for a time he will ‘quietly look from my dwelling’ (v. 4), he does not simply observe – he will act.

In this case, God’s movements against his people’s foes come just when it appears that their crop will burst into full harvest (vv. 5-6).

During times when it looks as if God has forgotten his people, we resiliently remember that in truth he is always as near as ‘clear heat in sunshine’ (v. 4). He knows. In his good time he will unmistakably act on behalf of his people.

Matthew 8-10 | Saturday: Matthew has put many of Jesus’s miracles and healings side-by-side in these chapters. The background of much of this is likely the Servant of the Lord found in Isaiah 40-60.

In these chapters, Jesus shows Himself to be the True and Last Adam. The first Adam failed to exercise dominion over the earth and sea, subjected himself to the serpent, and fell under the curse of death. The last Adam has true dominion over earth and sea, sickness and disease, even over death itself. The curse of Adam is being reversed in the person of Christ.

“No more let sins and sorrows grow

Nor thorns infest the ground

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found.”

Joy the World

Matthew 1-13: For a helpful overview from the Bible Project, watch here.

Reading the Bible Together – Week 3

Romans 5-6 | Sunday: Romans 5:1-11 is worth much thought and even memorization. John Piper gives a beautiful, brief meditation on how Romans 5:8 helps us understand why God allows suffering, sin, and death to exist. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

As strange as it sounds, without sin and death we could never have fully known God’s love. Without sin and death we could never sing of the cross. God allowed what He hated (our sin and Christ’s death) so that He could show us the glory of His love.

Romans 5:12-21 describes “representative headship.” This means that a person represents others through his own actions. The human race has only had two representative heads: Adam and Jesus (see I Corinthians 15:45-49). Romans 5 shows how all humanity is born “in Adam” (our failed representative), but we can become born again “in Christ” (our triumphant representative).

For a whole sermon on this text, listen to one of our first NAC messages.

Romans 5 emphasizes salvation by sheer grace, accomplished for us by our representative. The natural question is, “Should we then sin more so that grace will increase?” Paul spends chapter 6 saying, “No! Grace is power, not just pardon.”

Genesis 8-11 | Monday: Check out another great video of Genesis 1-11 by the Bible Project. They insightfully compare the call and fall of Adam with the call and fall of Noah.

Genesis 11 tells the tower of Babel story. The exact same Hebrew word is behind the English words “Babel” and “Babylon.” So, starting as early as Genesis 11, Babylon represents fallen humanity in rebellion against the Lord. Why was their unity so bad?

Reflection and Application

Like the Babylonians, what are you building as an idol to make a great name for yourself? Jesus traded His great name for our shame on the cross so that He could give us a great name.

How is Pentecost the anti-Babel (Acts 2:1-13)? How does Revelation 5:9-10 factor into this?

For more on Babel, you could listen to this message on your commute.

Joshua 11-15 | Tuesday: This reading will likely involve some willpower to get through. It is the division of the land amongst the tribes of Israel. Why read a detailed account of the division of land among ancient tribes in Palestine more than 3,000 years ago?

First, it shows that our God keeps His promises. Next Tuesday we’ll read, “Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land‘” (Genesis 12:7). In Joshua, we are watching the fulfillment of this promise nearly 500 years later! (A good reason for why we call it the Promised Land!) If God kept this promise in such a rich and detailed way, we have even greater reason to believe He’ll keep His promises to us in our day!

Second, this land points forward to and foreshadows our final inheritance: the new earth. Last week, in Romans 4:13, we read, “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” So land of Israel was a sort of downpayment on and guarantee of our ultimate inheritance, the whole world.

Third, the promised land (repeatedly called “the inheritance” in Joshua) is one of the basic components to the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament. The Kingdom of God is: God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule, and experiencing His blessing.

Joshua shows us that God keeps His word. What promises of God are you doubting this week? Let today’s reading bolster your faith.

This map may help visualize the land allotments.

Psalm 6-8 | Wednesday: Psalm 8 gives an idealized picture of the call of man to have dominion over the earth. There are several echoes of Genesis 1:26-30. The problem this raises: The world has been cursed by God and currently creation threatens and kills human beings and we do not have full dominion over the earth.

Hebrews 2:5-18 greatly clarifies this problem. Jesus is ultimate “son of man” who will subject all things in the world under His feet. He is the last Adam and fulfillment of man’s calling Genesis 1 and Psalm 8. For more, see 1 Corinthians 15:20-28.

Job 5-6 | Thursday: I can’t improve on the words of Papa Fred earlier this month:

The only thing Job’s three friends did right, was to “sit with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him.” Once the friends opened their mouths they quickly revealed how little they knew about God or Job. A life lesson for all of us, as we reach out to those suffering. Sometimes our presence is all that is needed.

We should never judge what God may be doing in a person’s life. Actually, both Job and his friends were applying the wrong theology, i.e., blessings and curses from Deuteronomy and arriving at different opinions of what God was doing through Job’s suffering.

Ultimately, God never answered Job’s questions, but gave him a revelation of his sovereignty in chapter’s 38 and beyond. The rest of the story ends well for Job as God rebukes his friends and restores his fortunes. Great read, but complex as is our God.

Isaiah 12-17 | Friday: The next several weeks will be challenging in Isaiah. Don’t give up! Notice the emphasis on telling of the Lord’s salvation among the nations in chapter 12. Chapters 13-23 contain prophecies against the nations in rebellion against Yahweh. The point is “the folly of trusting such nations since they are all under judgment from Israel’s God.” (NZSB, p. 1343). Chapters 13-14 focus on God’s judgment on Babylon and its king.

Check out Revelation 18 and see which parts John is borrowing from Isaiah 13.

Isaiah 14:12-14 may compare the pride and fall of Babylon’s king to the pride and fall of Lucifer in the beginning.

Matthew 5-7 | Saturday: The Sermon on the Mount is the longest uninterrupted block of teaching we have from Jesus in the Bible. Watch Jesus focus not merely on deeds but desires; not merely actions but affections; not merely outward duty but inward delight. He reveals that we are religious hypocrites when we engage in religious activities with motives that are self-glorifying or attempting to manipulate God into giving us things.

There are essentially three kinds of people in this sermon:

1) Gentiles: In modern language, lawless ones (those Paul addressed in Romans 1).

2) The Jewish people: Those who obeyed God’s law outwardly but for the wrong reason (those Paul addressed in Romans 2).

3) The true people of God: Those who love God’s holy name, trust His fatherly love and provision for their lives, don’t want to dishonor Him by worry, love their enemies as God loved them, forgive as they are forgiven, and build their lives on the Rock.

The sermon is traditionally thought to have been given in this area, on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee:


Reading The Bible Together – Week 2


Romans 3-4 | Sunday: These may be the two clearest and most important chapters in the Bible for understanding the core of the gospel message. In chapter 3, Paul explains the good news in vivid clarity. In chapter 4, Paul gives a powerful Old Testament argument to defend this message. You can almost hear Paul saying, “I didn’t invent this! It’s as old as Abraham and David!”

Genesis 4-7 | Monday: If Genesis 1-2 shows us the “very good” creation God made, then Genesis 3-11 shows us how quickly human sin creates a “very bad” downward spiral of corruption. First, God’s word is put in subordination to human reason (ch. 3); then the first person ever born becomes the first murderer (Cain, ch. 4); then the world’s first polygamist arrives who also is a boastful murderer like Cain (Lamech, ch. 4); since sin has brought death into the human race, watch for how the genealogy repeatedly uses the phrase “and then he died” (ch. 5); human depravity reaches its peak and so the flood is promised (ch. 6).

In Genesis 6:5-9, note that Noah “found favor (grace) in the eyes of the Lord” and is only afterward called a “righteous man.” Noah was not saved by works, but by grace. God’s grace/favor changed his life.

For a fantastic brief overview of Genesis 1-11, see the Bible Project here.

You can listen to an NAC sermon on Cain and Abel here.

Joshua 6-10 | Tuesday: These chapters really zoom in on the taking of two cities: Jericho and Ai. Jericho is taken successfully because the people trust fully in the Lord and obey His commands. However, Israel is defeated at Ai because of disobedience among the Israelites (Achan’s sin). This sets the stage for the rest of the book: Israel will succeed only in the strength of the Lord as they walk in obedience to His commands. Human strength and ingenuity are worthless on their own. How does this theme apply to your life this week?

QUESTION: What are we to make of the killing of the Canaanites?

My guess is this section leaves many readers today scratching their heads. Where is the all-encompassing love of God? Why so much violence and bloodshed by the Lord’s own command? We don’t claim to have a brief answer that will satisfy all questions. A few initial things can be said, however.

First, whenever an atheist objects and says, “It was immoral, wicked, and evil for the Israelites to kill the Canaanites!” just remember: they have no grounds, basis, or standard for their moral indictment.

“It was evil!” Says who?

“It was wrong!” By what standard?

A consistent atheist cannot speak of genuine evil. A universe without God has no intelligent design, no purpose, no meaning, and therefore no objective standard of right and wrong.

My favorite brief response to this was when Douglas Wilson (Christian pastor) was debating Christopher Hitchens (atheist writer). Doug essentially said, “I (as a Christian) have no problem with the killing of the Amalekites, because God told them to do it. You (as an atheist) have no problem with the killing of the Amalekites either, because the universe just doesn’t care. In a meaningless universe, who cares what happens to Amalekites?”

Second, much like the flood that destroyed the earth in Noah’s day and the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah in Lot’s day, the destruction of the Canaanites points to the final judgment God will bring on all in this world who reject His rule and trust in false gods. (Apart from Jesus, this is all of us.)

Third, the Canaanites were guilty of great evil against the Lord. The wages of sin is death, and they certainly qualified for God’s judgment. However, the Lord gave them an additional 500 years to repent and they did not (see Genesis 15:13-16).

Tim Keller shares some thoughts on this:

“First, God alone has the right to judge people—only he knows what they deserve and what they will do if not stopped. He alone has the right to take a life.

“Second, in ‘holy war’ Israel did not seek to imperialistically expand its wealth and power but acted as an instrument of God’s judgment on a particular set of people.

“Third, if you believe in the authority of the Bible as the only infallible way to know God’s will for us—then holy war today is impossible. God gives no warrant for it. That’s what we see when reading the Bible is read as a whole, with the New Testament completing and fulfilling the Old. Jesus specifically forbids Christians to take up the sword in his name, to spread the Christian faith by force.”

Quote from here.

For a very helpful article on this whole issue, see Justin Taylor here.

Psalm 3-5 | Wednesday: Thoughts on Psalm 3. “David’s son Absalom was trying to kill him. The seeds of that family dysfunction are David’s own fault. He had wanted Absalom’s love so much he never corrected him, even when Absalom murdered one of his brothers. Now David is fleeing to save his own life. In this prayer he realizes that neither a son’s love nor popular acclaim can serve as a person’s worth or security. David relocates his glory and hope to God and finds peace despite danger. God is the only one who sustains you, whether an army is pursuing you or you are at home in your own bed. God sustains every breath you take” (The Songs of Jesus, p. 4).

Also, think about how Psalm 5:5 and John 3:16 can both be true.

Job 3-4 | Thursday: We are often tempted to skip from Job 2 to Job 38. However, chapters 3-37 are meant, in part, to teach us how to grieve. Chapter 3 is a wonderful example of pouring out our bitter complaint before the Lord. Job’s brutal honesty may startle us, but notice that all of his grief is spoken directly to the Lord.

Don’t waste your sorrows . . . pray them.

Isaiah 7-11 | Friday: This passage is important but confusing. With the exception of a few familiar verses (7:14; 9:6-7), we can feel pretty lost here. So what’s happening?

God tells Isaiah the prophet to speak to Ahaz the (not-so-great) king of Judah (the Southern Kingdom). Ahaz is terrified because he has heard that two kings are teaming up to defeat him. One is Pekah, the king of the Northern Kingdom (also called Israel, Samaria, Ephraim, Zebulun, and Naphtali in these chapters – which makes it confusing!). The other king is Rezin, king of Syria, which is just north east of the Northern Kingdom.

King Azah is a physical descendant of King David, yet does not trust in the Lord. He has already planned to find his security and protection in another massive nation – namely, Assyria. Isaiah asks King Azah to ask the Lord for a sign that the Lord will defend Judah. Azah refuses to ask for a sign because his heart is already set on disobeying God and trusting in the Assyrian super power instead. Isaiah says a sign is coming in the form of a child (7:1-16).

Chapter 8 begins by saying that Isaiah will have a son. Before this son is just a few years old, the two kings that are currently threatening Judah will be entirely defeated. How? God is going to turn Assyria against them and defeat them. However, Assyria is not just going to defeat the two northern kings from Israel and Syria. She is also going to become like an overflowing river and will flood the borders of Judah and eventually defeat most of the Southern Kingdom. Assyria is compared to a flood coming up to Ahaz’s neck (Isaiah 8:5-10). This is the major event we discussed so much in the Micah series which took place in 701 BC.

What does this have to do with Jesus?

Well, quite a bit actually. The destroyed region north of Judah (Samaria and Galilee) is put under God’s judgment and placed into spiritual and cultural darkness. What hope do they have? When will light ever dawn on them? To find out, read Isaiah 9:1-7, Isaiah 11:1-9, and then read next Saturday’s passage carefully, especially Matthew 7:12-25!

Matthew 3-4 | Saturday: Matthew’s literary genius is on full display in these chapters. Watch as he paints a picture of Jesus as the true and better Moses and Israel. Notice all the similarities: Jesus and Moses are hunted in infancy by a political tyrant; called out of Egypt by God; pass through the waters before spending 40 (days/years) in the wilderness being tempted. Compare the three ways Jesus is tempted (and succeeds!) with the three ways Israel was tempted (and failed).