Prayer Psalm: 42
Prayer Point:What are you thirsty for? Too often it isn’t God, but the struggles of this life can remind us of our need for him. Pray that the dryness of our lives, the difficult things, will make our parched souls thirstier for God this Advent season and cause us to crave his coming even more.
Just a note that might make this passage slightly more comprehensible. Simon in verse 31 is the same guy as Peter in verse 34. He was known as Simon Peter (makes sense.)
Jesus predicts that Simon Peter will fail (be sifted as wheat). Will the failure be permanent? What will Peter do once he is restored?
How does Peter respond to Jesus’ prediction (see verse 33)? How do you think Jesus wanted him to respond? Give this some thought, because trying harder is not the answer. Jesus has just predicted his failure and we know he can’t be wrong.
In verse 35 Jesus widens his conversation to include all of the disciples. He is reminiscing about the time he sent them out to heal the sick and preach the gospel (see Luke 9:1-6 and 10:1-24). Did they lack for anything on their mission? How will things be different now that Jesus is going to be crucified (numbered with the transgressors – see Isaiah 53:1-12)?
I’d imagine it sounds a little strange to hear Jesus encouraging his disciples to go out and buy swords particularly when you consider that later in this chapter Peter attacks the servant of the high priest and Jesus orders him to put his sword away and promptly healed the man’s ear. Jesus’ description in verse 36 is not a call to arms, but a description of the difficult times the disciples are about to face when he is arrested and crucified. Life will be so desperate that selling your cloak for a sword will look like a good deal. Notice that when the disciples start collecting swords, he abruptly ends the conversation.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-18
Verses 6-15 contain some final instructions as the letter draws to a close.
Who are the Thessalonians commanded to avoid?
Paul taught the Thessalonians to follow Jesus with words and the example of his life. How would you describe that example? What did Paul avoid? What did he do?
What right did Paul have that he chose not to exercise? Why? What kind of life does Paul urge them to live? What should be done with fellow believers who refuse to heed Paul’s warning? What is the purpose of such treatment?
Isaiah 8:1-15 The Coming of the Assyrians
Who is the “prophetess”? (The prophetess is Isaiah’s wife.)
What name is Isaiah told to name his unborn son? (Long before the days of amniocentesis Isaiah was told that his wife (the prophetess) would conceive and bear him a son. The LORD told him to name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz [which means “The spoil speeds, the prey hastens” or “quick to the plunder swift to the spoil].)
What bad news does the birth of Isaiah’s son bring? (The supposed ally of Judah [Assyria] will become its oppressor. “…for before the boy knows how to cry ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria” (Isaiah 8:4 ESV))
What does the LORD advise Isaiah amid this turmoil? (“For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.” (Isaiah 8:11-12 ESV))
Whom should Isaiah fear and dread? (“But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:13 ESV))
If we let the LORD be our fear and our dread, what is in it for us? (“And he [the LORD] will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 8:14 ESV) This imagery is also used by Paul in Romans: “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the ‘stumbling stone.’ As it is written: ‘See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame. (Romans 9:30-33 NIV))