Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 119:49-72

Prayer Point. Walking God’s path is not easy as this section of Psalm 119 reminds us. Scattered throughout the psalm are appeals to God for help. Pick one or two that resonate with you and make it your prayer this morning.

Matthew 24:45-51

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. Jesus is the Master in this story. He must leave for a time before he comes back. He does not let the servants know the hour of his return. His faithful servants are those who go about his business continually while he is away. The wicked servants are those who do not do his will. When he comes he will find them not doing his will.

What does the faithful servant do to prepare for the master’s coming? What is at the heart of the wicked servant’s actions? What does the wicked servant think of the master’s return? (it is delayed). Where will the wicked servant eventually end up?

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.

Revelation 4:1-8

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. As chapter 4 begins, John’s perspective will be changed from the earth’s to heaven’s point of view. What does John see in God’s heavenly throne room?

Numbers are highly symbolic in Jewish and Christian writing. In this case, seven means perfection.

John is describing a dream and in a dream images are symbols that refer to something else. How do you interpret these symbols? You look for other passages in the Scriptures that contain these same symbols.

From earth’s perspective it looks like Rome has all the power and Caesar will forever reign on the throne. Who is in on the throne from heaven’s perspective? How does this vision embolden John and the seven churches? Why are there seven lamps before God’s throne (remember that the number seven is symbolic of perfection? What do they represent (see verse 5)? Where have we seen rainbows in the Bible and what do they represent (see Genesis 9:12-15)?

The identity of the twenty four elders is a little tricky, but following our interpretive principles we can reasonably assume that the 24 elders represent God’s people who have died and are in heaven, made up of the nation of Israel (12 tribes) and the church (represented by the 12 apostles). (12+12=24). From earth’s perspective, God’s people look like a powerless and persecuted minority. What do God’s people look like from heaven’s perspective?

“The sea of glass, clear as crystal.” (verse 6). Do you remember the story where Jesus calmed the sea in Mark 4:37-41? The sea was the most feared force in the ancient world and it was associated with evil. A sea of glass, is a sea that has been calmed and an image of God’s power and future destruction of all that is evil. Imagine how that image encouraged John, who witnessed Jesus calming the sea.

Compare the description of the strange living creatures in Revelation 1 to the living creature Ezekiel sees in his vision of God (Ezekiel 1:1-28) and Isaiah’s vision of the seraphim (angels) in Isaiah 6:1-3. While interpreting visions in the book of Revelation is never an exact science, these creatures seem to represent creation and by extension the glory of the Creator.

In the perspective from below, the earth is cruel place where evil goes unchecked. But when we see the world from heaven’s perspective, we see our glorious future, where God’s people join with all creation worshiping around the throne of our God who made us, sustains us, and saves us. No wonder Jesus taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

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.

Zechariah 3:1-10

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. What does Zechariah see in this vision? What role does Satan play? What does the LORD say to Satan? What do you think [“Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”] means? Who is Joshua? What does Joshua represent? [one may infer that Joshua represents the people of God as an intercessor.] Joshua is wearing filthy clothes. What do these filthy clothes represent? (refer to Isaiah 64:6 for filthy rags)What does the LORD do about the filthy clothes? How would you interpret what the LORD has done for Joshua? What charge does the LORD give to Joshua? What do you think of when you hear “If you walk in my ways and keep my requirements”? [Usually I think of trying to keep the commandments. I know this cannot be completely right because I can’t do that successfully. Check out Micah 6:8 “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”] What promise does the Lord make to Joshua if he can meet the LORD’s requirements?

To whom does the “Branch” refer? You may remember from last’s week’s discussion of Revelation 2:17 “I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it,” (NIV) that we don’t know to what this stone refers. Here in verse 9 “‘See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the LORD almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.’” We know as much about that stone as the one discussed in Revelation last week. What can we surmise about the removal of “the sin of this land in a single day”?

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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