Prayer Psalm: 141
Prayer Point: This psalm is a prayer for protection, but while external threats exist, the most dangerous enemy is within. The psalmist prays that God will protect him from three in three vulnerable areas: his mouth, his heart and his pride. Pray today that God will guard what you say. That he will steer your heart from desiring what is evil. Finally, that he will give you the humility to allow others to point out your sin and encourage you to become more like Christ.
The Pharisees and the religious leaders of Israel understood full well that Jesus’ actions in the temple (Matthew 21:12-17) and the three parables (Matthew 21:23-46) were spoken against them. Rather than humbly repent before their God, they attempt to discredit Jesus by asking a question about the most volatile issue of their time, paying taxes to the occupying Roman Empire.
Jesus knew they were putting him in an awful position. For if he answered yes, he would lose favor with the people. If he answered no, he could bring the wrath of the Romans down on his head.
How does Jesus answer their questions? Does he fall in the camp of those who want to cooperate with the Romans, or those who wish to overthrow them, or neither?
On one side of the silver denarius was a profile of Tiberius Caesar, with the Latin inscription “Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus” around the coin’s perimeter. On the opposite side was a picture of the Roman goddess of peace, Pax, with the Latin inscription “High Priest”[ESV Study Bible Notes].
As humans we are all created with the image of God stamped on us. To give God the things that are God’s would simply mean to give our lives to God.
What do you think Jesus would tell us today?
What is true about us now that we have the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead? In Christ there is now no obligation to __________________________________. (verse 12)
What will happen if we live according to the sinful nature (‘flesh’ in some translations)? How do you put to death your sin? How does God’s Holy Spirit go to war against fear, the core of our flesh and sinful nature? How does God’s Holy Spirit help us in our present struggles with sin and the sufferings we experience in this world?
Numbers 24:1-14 Yet Another Oracle from Balaam
What detail in verse 1 gives some understanding about Balaam to all that has gone on before? (“Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not resort to sorcery as at other times, but turned his face toward the desert.” (Numbers 24:1 NIV) So it seems that Balaam was at odds with himself and was, in fact, trying to defeat the LORD’s purpose. It is probable that resorting to sorcery was not uncommon among the nations (heathen) at that time. Balaam was just doing what he would normally do in this situation.)
What happens to Balaam which is totally unexpected (well, I don’t expect it anyway)? (“… The Spirit of God came upon him.” (Numbers 24:2 NIV) I can’t recall anywhere else in scripture where the Spirit of God comes to rest on anyone other than an Israelite. This puts Balaam in a class all by himself. – j.t.)
Balaam then launches into a praise of Israel unequalled until the time of David. How does this wonderful oracle close? (“May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!” (Numbers 24:9b))
Of course Balak was thrilled with this turn of events. How does he dismiss Balaam and whom does he blame for Balaam’s denial of wealth? (“I summoned you to curse my enemies, but you have blessed hem these three times. Now leave at once and go home! I said I would reward you handsomely, but the LORD has kept you from being rewarded.” (Numbers 24:11 NIV))