Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, January 5, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 29

Prayer Point. Several months ago I stood on East Beach and was amazed by the power of Sandy’s winds and the crashing of the normally placid sea. These natural forces, as awesome as they are, are only dim reflection of the power of God. Lift up your fears to God and meditate on the truth that our powerful God will bless us, his people, with peace.

John 15:1-17

Background. Jesus revealed himself in a series of important “I am” statements that are recorded in the gospel of John (see John 6:35; 6:51; 8:12; 9:5; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). In today’s reading he declares himself to be “the true vine” and his Father, “the gardener.”

The Bible often compares God’s people to a grape vine and God to the gardener or vineyard owner. Jesus continues this image, although in today’s reading he declares himself to be the vine and God’s people to be branches belonging to the vine.

The scene Jesus describes was common for his day. Unfruitful brunches were cut off and burned to allow the vine as a whole to flourish and become more fruitful.

Pay close attention to …

  • Which branches are cut off and burned and which branches are pruned and why.
  • What it takes for a branch to bear fruit.
  • The kind of fruit that God the Father (the gardener) is looking for in the vine branches (the disciples of Jesus). See verses 9-17.
  • God’s definition of love and how it was demonstrated to us.
  • What God the Father will do for those who remain in Jesus the vine and love others as Jesus commanded us.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

Romans 15:7-13

Background. John, the disciple of Jesus, said that “we love because he first loved us.” The experience of God’s love for us is meant for us to be enjoyed, but also reflected to others. You will see this same connection in today’s reading. Paul teaches in Romans 15 that our treatment of others must flow from Jesus’ gracious treatment of us.

These words were badly needed by the diverse church that had gathered in Rome (the original recipients of this letter). The congregation was made up of Jews who both followed Christ and the Jewish traditions and Gentiles who knew little of the Jewish practices of circumcision and keeping kosher. It was easy for the Jews to look down on the Gentiles who were new to following the God of Israel (whom Christians follow by following Jesus).

In the background of today’s reading is a promise made to Israel’s patriarchs (founders) that God would bless their nation for the purposes of blessing the whole world through them (see Genesis 12:1-3). Rather than being arrogant

Pay close attention to …

  • The connection of Christ’s acceptance of us and the command to accept others.
  • The connection between Jesus’ service to the Jews and the Gentiles becoming worshipers of God.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

Joshua 1:1-9

Background. Of the over 600,000 people who fled from Egypt, there were only two of the original bunch who actually entered the Promised Land: Joshua was one of them. I think that is significant. Even Moses was denied entrance to the land flowing with milk and honey. The other was a fellow named Caleb. Moses had commissioned one man from each tribe to scout out the (Promised) land shortly after the Hebrews’ departure from Egypt. Ten of the spies came back with bad reports of how dangerous the conditions and the men were and that the Hebrews would not be able to overcome them. If the Hebrews had pursued the venture they would have had the LORD to go before them. “These were those listed by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who listed the people of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho. But among these there was not one of those listed by Moses and Aaron the priest, who had listed the people of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai. For the LORD had said of them, ‘They shall die in the wilderness.’ Not one of them was left, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.” (Numbers 26:63-65 ESV) For most of the forty years’ journey in the wilderness, Joshua was Moses “right hand man”. He was commissioned by Moses and by God in front of the whole congregation so that an orderly transition of power could be effected. So Joshua has credentials. As a point of interest Joshua is the same name that Jesus had.

Pay close attention to…

  • What the LORD says to Joshua (vv. 2-10)
  • The promise the LORD makes personally to Joshua (v. 5)
  • What Joshua is to do with the book of the Law (v. 8)
  • The benefit of being obedient (v. 8b)
  • Where the LORD will be (v. 9)

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

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