Daily Bible Readings – First Sunday of Advent, December 1, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 113

Prayer Point. This psalm offers us some reasons to praise the name of the Lord.  Meditate on the ones that resonate with you and offer God your own prayer of thanksgiving.

Luke 21:5-19

Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.

Read. Read the passage slowly either alone or in a group and answer the following questions:

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. The temple in Jerusalem was one of the architectural marvels of the ancient world. What does Jesus see in the temple’s future? By the way, this prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD.

What signs will indicate that the temple’s destruction is imminent? What advice does Jesus give his disciples for when these signs occur?

What will happen to the disciples before the temple is destroyed (see verse 12)? How will this serve God’s purposes (see verse 13)? What does Jesus promise his disciples (see verses 14-15)? What reward will the disciples gain for enduring intense persecution (see verse 18-19)?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Repent. How have I failed to obey what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.

Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey and share what I have read?

Share. What can I share and with whom can I share it?

Final Prayer. Pray for the faith to believe the promises of God so that you might obey and share what you have learned.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.

Read. Read the passage slowly either alone or in a group and answer the following questions:

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following background to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The Old Testament prophets used the phrase, ‘the day of the Lord’ to refer to a day of God’s judgment. In this case, it appears that Paul speaks of THE day of the LORD, that is, the day of Christ’s return.

Will the world be expecting the arrival of King Jesus? How should we prepare for his coming so that we are not also caught by surprise? What hope did God the Father acquire for us through the death of his Son? What should we do with this hope?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Repent. How have I failed to obey what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.

Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey and share what I have read?

Share. What can I share and with whom can I share it?

Final Prayer. Pray for the faith to believe the promises of God so that you might obey and share what you have learned.

Amos 1:1-5, 13-2:8

Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.

Read. Read the passage slowly either alone or in a group and answer the following questions:

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following background to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Amos opens telling us that he was “among the shepherds of Tekoa” (v. 1:1) which tells me that he was called to be a prophet out of his day job of tending sheep.  Later we will learn that he dressed sycamore fig trees (7:14-15) as a sideline.  While I hesitate to say that Amos is “reluctant” it is clear that he sees his calling as just that – a vocation – a calling from God to speak to both Israel and Judah.  He prophesies during the reigns of Uzziah, king of Judah and Jeroboam (II) of Israel sometime between 796 and 739 B.C.  As stated, Amos was, among other things, a shepherd.  In the socio-economic system then prevalent in that area of the world, shepherds were at or near the bottom.  While David was a shepherd, for some reason his greatness did not lift the life of a shepherd from the lowest ranks of society.

Amos begins by warning of judgment to the nations which surround Israel for their treatment of their neighbors. He warns Syria (Damascus); Philistia (Gaza); Phoenicia (Tyre); and Edom. All of the warnings are introduced by the phrase “For three transgressions of (…) and for four, I will not revoke the punishment…” (ESV vs. 3, 6, 9, 11)

“1:3 three transgressions … four. This poetic expression is used to introduce the judgment upon all seven of the neighboring nations, and upon Israel as well (2:6). It is a way of expressing totality: “three” expresses the plural in Hebrew, and by raising it to “four” the idea of multiplicity is conveyed.” [ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1659 regarding “for three transgressions and for four…”]

What sorts of sins of Israel’s neighbors does Amos denounce in 1:3-2:3? 

Amos sets up the readers.  As Amos announces God’s judgment on Israel’s neighbors you can imagine Israel cheering, “Yeah! Go Amos get them heathens!”  It’s human nature.   Amos is an equal-opportunity prophet. Judah (what’s left of Israel) is next.

What sins in Judah does God condemn?  How is the worship of false gods (idols) connected to way the people in Judah treated the poor and the vulnerable?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Repent. How have I failed to obey what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.

Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey and share what I have read?

Share. What can I share and with whom can I share it?

Final Prayer. Pray for the faith to believe the promises of God so that you might obey and share what you have learned.

 

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