Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, January 26, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 103

Prayer Point. Are looking for a reason to praise God? Psalm 103 gives you a number of options. Concentrate on two or three and offer your own prayer of praise.

Mark 7:31-37

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 guide you.

Background. Why do you think Jesus took such an unusual approach to healing the deaf and mute man? This also would have violated Jewish cleanliness laws.

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.

Galatians 2:1-10

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 guide you.

Background.  Ephesians 2:8 states: “By grace are you saved by Faith.” Paul’s purpose in writing was to persuade the Galatians that no Gentile needs to accept circumcision in order to belong to God’s covenant people (or to be a true Christian). Galatians 2:4 tells us that entrance into communion with the people of God comes by faith in Jesus Christ.

As you read this passage notice the turmoil on many levels that is stirred up because of the teaching that you needed to become Jewish (get circumcised) in order to be a true Christian.

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.

Genesis 13:2-18

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 guide you.

Background. Abram and Lot ended up in the same place: Bethel (which means “of God) a place where Abram had his first encounter with God and where he had built an altar to the LORD. All this to say that the area was familiar to him.

The problem: Abram and Lot both had large flocks and herds and the land could not support both. Abram, being the gentleman he was, offered first choice of the land to his nephew Lot.

How does that work out?
Lot chooses what he thinks are the choicest lands which are east of Bethel toward Sodom (much more about that later) and Abram remained in the land of Canaan.

Once Lot moves on, what does the LORD tell Abram to do?
“Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.”

What promise does the LORD make to Abram here?
“I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.” Not bad when you consider that, at this time, Abram has no offspring at all!

What is the final thing Abram does in this passage? Why is this important?
Abram is at Hebron and here builds (another) altar to the LORD. It is important because it shows just how important the LORD is to Abram. The altar, of course, symbolizes worship – a place where God meets people. (from Immanuel in Our Place; page 16; Tremper Longman III; P&R Publishing; 2001)

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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Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, January 25, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 42

Prayer Point. Spiritual dryness and general sadness can either drive us to our addictions that dull our emptiness, or we can allow that thirst to fuel our pursuit of God. Pray Psalm 42 today, that the emptiness and brokenness in your life will drive you to Jesus.

John 4:27-42

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 guide you.

Background. How does the Samaritan woman, a woman who was known as a sinner, respond to Jesus?  How does the rest of the community respond?  Jesus starts talking about a harvest, what harvest is he referring to?

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.

Hebrews 7:18-28

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 guide you.

Background.  A covenant is simply an agreement between two or more people.  A marriage, a peace treaty and the US Constitution are all examples of covenants.  The covenant in this passage speaks of a special relationship between God and his people, Israel.  With each covenant there are requirements, blessings if the requirements are kept and curses if they are broken.   You can think of the Old Testament Law as the requirements that Israel must fulfill in order to receive God’s covenant blessings.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why the old Covenant, the former Law and its regulations, is weak and useless.
  • Why Jesus is the guarantee of a better covenant.
  • What makes Jesus a permanent priest and what that means for us.
  • What makes Jesus a greater high priest than all the others.

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.

Genesis 12:9-13:1

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 guide you.

Background. Abram is prompted by events to do something. What is it and why does he do it?

Abram is prompted by a famine to go to Egypt for a time. No where does the scripture tell us that the LORD told him to go to Egypt.

What “shady” thing does Abram tell Sarai to do before they get to Egypt? What family trait will this have begun?

Abram tells Sarai to claim that she is Abram’s sister and not his wife. She does this because Abram realizes that Sarai is quite beautiful and he thinks he would be killed just to get him out of the way if someone wanted his wife. The family trait begun here is that of deception. Abram will play this card again. In time Abram’s son Isaac will also do a similar thing.

How does this “shady” thing work for Abram?

Just as he predicted, the Egyptians found Sarai quite beautiful and reported this to Pharaoh who then took her into his palace (which I suppose is a euphemism for “harem”). As a result, Abram is made quite wealthy by Pharaoh in terms of livestock, slaves, and camels.

What is the downside of Pharaoh’s deal with Abram?

It becomes clear that the Lord was not pleased about Abram’s business dealings with Pharaoh. Pharaoh and his household are afflicted with diseases because of Sarai.

Another day of reckoning. Abram is summoned to Pharaoh’s presence. How does that turn out?

Pharaoh gives Abram a tongue-lashing about this deception and deports him from Egypt, but allows him to keep all that he had gained. Abram then returns to Canaan (in the region of the Negev – a desert area in the southern part of Canaan.

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.

Daily Bible Readings – Friday, January 24, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 35

Prayer Point. There are two ways we can respond to injustice.  We can seek vengeance, or, as Psalm 35 encourages us, leave matters of justice in God’s hands. Where do you see injustice in our world? Lift the victims of this injustice up to God in prayer and ask him to rescue them.

John 4:16-26

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 guide you.

Background.What does Jesus’ insight into the Samaritan woman’s life tell you about Jesus? Who does Jesus reveal himself to be? Why do you think he chooses to reveal himself as Messiah to a Samaritan woman of all people? What does this say about the kingdom of God that Jesus is ushering in?

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.

Hebrews 7:1-17

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 guide you.

Background. Genesis 14 tells the story of Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek, priest of God and king of the city of Salem, which was later renamed Jerusalem.  When Abraham’s nephew Lot was captured, Abraham led a raid to recover his relative and his possessions.  God granted Abraham success and in gratitude Abraham gave ten percent of the spoils to Melchizedek believing him to be God’s representative.  Some believe that Melchizedek may have been an early appearance of Christ himself. Jesus is declared to be a priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Pay close attention to …

  • How the writer of Hebrews proves that Jesus, as a priest in the order of Melchizedek,  is greater than all of Israel’s priests.  Pay close attention to who pays the tithe to whom.
  • What the Levitical priesthood is incapable of delivering, that Jesus, as a priest of the order of Melchizedek, can deliver.

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.

Genesis 11:27-12:8

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 guide you.

Background.  “This is the account of Terah.” (Gen. 11:27) Thus begins the ancestry of Abram (later to be known as Abraham). From here it gets either complicated or confusing – take your pick.

Terah = father
Abram, Nahor, Haran are his (Terah’s) sons. Haran had a son – his name was Lot. So Abram was Lot’s uncle.

Unfortunately Haran died before his father (Terah). That left Lot to the care of Terah. We believe that Haran married before Lot was born (though today that would be a presumption).

Abram married Sarai. Sarai is also to daughter of Terah, but, I suspect, because she is a she, she doesn’t merit a genealogy and we discover that she is Abram’s half sister later in Chapter 20. She and Abram, of course, do not share the same mother. How are we doing?

The confusion continues…

Nahor, Abram’s brother, married Milcah who happened to be Nahor’s (and Abram’s) niece because she was the daughter of their dead brother Haran. (Evidently Haran was rather busy before he died.)

… and continues…

You won’t believe where Terah ends up taking Abram, Lot (the grandson of Terah) and Sarai, Abram’s wife, when he decides to move from the city of Ur of the Chaldeans (or Babylonia). You ready for this? Haran, north of Syria. Terah had initially intended to move to Canaan but died while en route in Haran. So Terah had a son named Haran and, coincidently enough, moved his family (minus Nahor and his wife) to a place called Haran which is north of Syria. (You may remember that Noah had three sons: Ham, Shem, and Japheth. It happens that Terah is descended from Shem.)

Are you still with me?

Given that people apparently lived much longer lives in ancient times than they do today, it might be considered young to be called of God when seventy-five years old. Well, probably not! Chapter 11 verse 23 tells us that Terah was 70 years old when he sired Abram.

What was the LORD’s command to Abram?
“Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” v. 12:1

There is no record of the Lord’s involvement with Abram before he gave the command to Abram. The history may have been passed from generation to generation but we really don’t know. The point of this is: would you have obeyed such a command if you had never heard of the LORD? This must have required a great deal of faith because the best that Abram could have had would have been the traditions handed down. There was no written record of the events as yet.

What is the enduring promise made to Abram?
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you?” vv. 2-3 NIV

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.

Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, January 23, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 37

Prayer Point. The wicked prosper in our world and that won’t change until Christ returns. What can change is our response. Psalm 37 lists several sinful responses to evil. Repent by confessing to God the ones you see in your life. Pray for the faith to trust God, delight in him, commit yourself to following him and to leave justice in his hands.

John 4:1-15

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 guide you.

Background.

John 4:4 Jesus had to pass this way because of geography (it was the shortest route), but the words may also indicate that Jesus’ itinerary was subject to the sovereign and providential plan of God (“had to” translates Gk. dei, “to be necessary,” which always indicates divine necessity or requirement elsewhere in John: 3:7, 14, 30; 9:4; 10:16; 12:34; 20:9). Through Samaria was the usual route taken by travelers from Judea to Galilee, though strict Jews, in order to avoid defilement, could bypass Samaria by opting for a longer route that involved crossing the Jordan and traveling on the east side

[ESV Study Bible Notes].

The Samaritans were a racially mixed group of partly Jewish and partly Gentile ancestry, who were disdained by both Jews and non-Jews (see Luke 10:33; 17:16; John 8:48; see also 2 Kings 17:24–31, which describes how the king of Assyria brought foreign people to settle in Samaria in 722 b.c.; over time they had intermarried with some Jews who had remained in the area). See also note on John 4:20–21. Many inhabitants of this region between Judea and Galilee were descendants of the OT northern kingdom of Israel, although from the Jewish perspective these Samaritans had assimilated strongly into non-Jewish culture and had intermarried with Mesopotamian colonists. The Samaritans had their own version of the Pentateuch, their own temple on Mount Gerizim (see 4:20), and their own rendering of Israelite history. Copies of their Pentateuch in Hebrew (and in Targumic Aramaic) remain extant, as do their basic historical narratives. Tensions often ran high between Jews and Samaritans; thus Josephus recounts fighting between Jews and Samaritans during Claudius’s reign in the first century a.d. being so intense that Roman soldiers were called in to pacify (and to crucify) many of the rebels (Jewish War 2.232–246) [ESV Study Bible Notes].

Knowing that the Samaritans were hated by both Jews and non-Jews, why do you think Jesus traveled through Samaria? Why does the woman find it strange that Jesus would ask her for water from her water jar?

Jesus here says, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.” What do you think that means?

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.

Hebrews 6:13-20

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 guide you.

Background. Abraham was an important figure to the readers of Hebrews.  He was the founder of the Jewish  nation and the first to receive the promises of God (see Genesis 12:1-5; 15:1-6).  Just as Abraham hung on to the promises of God, so also the Christians addressed in Hebrews are to hang to the promises of the Gospel.

The image of Jesus our high priest looms large as today’s reading comes to a close.  In the Old Testament, man’s sin separated him from the presence of God. God’s presence was concentrated in the inner sanctuary of the temple behind a thick curtain.  No one could enter the presence of God, save the High Priest, and he only once a year and never without a sacrifice.  The priests that served in the temple were descendants of Aaron, who in turn was a descendant of Abraham’s great-grandson, Levi. Jesus is a priest of a higher order, the order of Melchizedek that was greater than Abraham himself (see Genesis 14:17-20).

Pay close attention to …

  • The assurances these Christians are given that given that God will keep his promises. How God guaranteed his promises to them.
  • The ‘hope and anchor for the soul’ and the guarantee that God will fulfill his promises to these Christians and to us.

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.

Genesis 11:1-9

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 guide you.

Background. With the gift of a single language, what is the goal of all the people?

“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the earth.” Gen. 11:4

How did they plan to achieve their goal?

They were going to make bricks and bake them thoroughly and use tar to cement them together. v. 3 The making of bricks was one of the favorite pastimes of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. Their brick-making was also to build cities for their slave masters. Bricks are always man-made. A Jewish rabbi has said that the mortar represents materialism. We will see later that whenever the people of God build an altar, the altar must be of uncut (not man-made) stone. Because the writer says “brick instead of stone and tar instead of mortar” the distinctions between brick/tar and stone/mortar must be of some importance – at least to the writer.

The LORD makes a personal inspection of their endeavors. What is the LORD’s thought concerning this?

That this undertaking would give them a sense of their being greater than they are and lead them to think that they were capable of anything they wished. “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” v. 9:6 NIV

And the Lord’s solution?

He could have destroyed the lot, but instead he decided to confound their language and thus put an end to the project. In Acts Chapter two we see a glimpse of a reversal of this confounding at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit takes one language and makes it understandable to many people of different languages.

By what appropriate name is this incident referred?

We refer to it at the Tower of Babel – most probably from the King James Version of this account. Babel, while it hearkens to gibberish, actually may refer to that area along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers which came to be known as Babylonia.

The interesting turn of events is that in verse 4 their hope is “that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” v. 9:4 NIV Compare that with verse 9:9, “From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” The one thing they did not want was the thing they got. This shows us that God knows the hearts and minds of people.

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.

Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 119:25-48

Prayer Point. Understanding and following the law of God (following Jesus) is very difficult.  Psalm 119 reminds us that we face formidable obstacles within ourselves and in the world around us.  Which obstacles are present in your life.  Lift those up to God and pray that he will give you the wisdom, the strength, the faith and the courage to follow Jesus.

John 3:22-36

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 guide you.

Background. We are introduced to John the Baptist in John 1:6-8:

John 1:6-8 There came a man who was sent from God, his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.John’s mission was to prepare the people for the coming of their Messiah, Jesus, through his preaching and ministry of baptism.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why John the Baptist is not upset about  losing followers to Jesus.
  • How John views himself and how he sees Jesus (see bride, bridegroom and friend in verse 29).
  • How John’s destiny compares to Jesus’ (see verse 30).
  • What is true of those who accept (or reject) Jesus.

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.

Hebrews 6:1-12

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 guide you.

Background. Hebrews is a letter written to Jewish Christians who are considering abandoning their faith in Jesus because of persecution.  Being a Christian meant rejection by their Jewish neighbors and imprisonment, confiscation of property and even death by the hands of the Romans.  A return to Judaism would mean an end to their difficulties.

The writer has dealt largely with the elementary elements of the faith, repentance, baptism, judgment and the hope of the resurrection, in an effort to convince them to persevere in their journey following Jesus.  In today’s reading, he hopes to push beyond the basics.

Throughout the New Testament there is a creative tension between the command to persevere in following Jesus and the belief that is God is the one that hangs on to us.  Here is one example:

Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Pay close attention to …

  • The warning the writer of Hebrews gives to those who are considering giving up their faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Why the author is confident that this fate will not fall on his readers.
  • How these Christians are called to respond to God’s efforts to hold on to them.

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.

Genesis 9:18-29

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 guide you.

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.

Daily Bible Reading, Saturday, June 15, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 27

Prayer Point.  Fear and hardship are two enemies of our soul, calling us to give up.  The psalmist calls us to refocus our hopes and desires, “Seek his face! Your face I will seek!”  Pray that as we face difficulties in our lives that we will not take our eyes off of Jesus.

Luke 20:1-8

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Jesus has just rattled the religious authorities in Jerusalem by driving out the money changers and sellers from the temple courts. In the space vacated by these thieves, Jesus begins to teach the gospel to the crowds who gathered at the temple. The chief priests and the teachers of the law decide to challenge Jesus’ authority rather than admit their great sin and submit to his teaching.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus answers the question of who gave him the authority to cleanse the temple and preach the gospel?
  • Why the chief priests and teachers of the law unable to answer Jesus’ counter-question. What is their core motivation?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

Repent. How have I failed to obey and share 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?

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

2 Corinthians 13:1-14

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The Corinthians, deceived by false teachers, now demand that Paul give them proof that Christ is speaking through him. The man who founded the church, who was loved by the Corinthians is now viewed with suspicion.

Pay close attention to …

  • The proof Paul gives them of his authority. Notice how Paul’s life mirrors Jesus’ in verse 4.
  • The Corinthians have been examining Paul and his teaching with a critical eye. How does Paul turn the tables on them in verses 5-7?
  • The purpose of Paul’s harshness in this letter?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

Repent. How have I failed to obey and share 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?

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

1 Samuel 4:1-11

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? Use the “Background” below to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background.  Israel sometimes abandoned God outright for pagan idols and at other times they treated God as if he was an idol. This story is an example of the latter. Pagans believed that if you possessed an image of a god (an idol), you possessed the god. This is one reason why God forbid Israel in the 2nd Commandment to make an image of him. God is not like the other gods, he cannot be controlled in this way. In this story, the Israelites treated the Ark of the Covenant, which stored the 10 Commandments, like it was an idol of God. The thinking went like this. God won’t let anything happen to his idol, so he won’t let anything happen to us. He has to save us now. Notice that the Philistines think this is going to work. That’s because they get it. The Israelites are treating God, like the Philistines treated their gods.

Why does this strategy not work? What lesson was being taught? Can God be manipulated into giving us what we want? How does God want us to relate to him instead?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

Repent. How have I failed to obey and share 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?

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

 

Daily Bible Readings, Thursday, June 13, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 74

Prayer Point.  This psalm laments the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.  All hope seems gone, but the people cry out to God to restore them.  Pick a group of people in the world who have witnessed the destruction of their homes, their lives, and their hopes and pray this psalm on their behalf.

Luke 19:28-40

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The Jewish kings rode horses in times of war and donkeys in peacetime. Jesus our king chooses to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt to fulfill a prophecy spoken hundreds of years earlier:

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Pay close attention to …

  • What Jesus’ instructions to his disciples in verses 30-34 says about his authority; even over those who don’t yet know him.
  • Contrast the Pharisees’ and the disciples’ reaction to the sight of King Jesus riding the colt of a donkey.
  • Jesus’ response to the Pharisees.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

Repent. How have I failed to obey and share 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?

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

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. While the meaning of “third heaven” is uncertain, most scholars believe that the Paul is speaking of his own experience when he says, “I know a man who was caught into the third heaven.” The fact that he chooses to remain anonymous supports his effort to build his reputation not on his spiritual experiences, but on something more solid.

This sets Paul apart from the false teachers who came to Corinth hoping to destroy the church that Paul established. The false teachers enjoyed boasting in their Jewish heritage, their communication skills and accomplishments. Paul instead, will choose to boast in something greater than himself.

Pay close attention to …

  • What Paul chooses to boast in instead of his phenomenal spiritual experiences.
  • Why God allows Paul to be afflicted by the messenger from Satan and the thorn.
  • What Paul learns in verse 9 when God refuses to take away his thorn.
  • Why it is important for Paul to boast in his weaknesses. What does he receive when he chooses to rejoice in his limitations?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

Repent. How have I failed to obey and share 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?

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

1 Samuel 2:27-36

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? Use the “Background” below to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background.  A prophet of God comes to Eli and delivers a word of warning. What is the cause of God’s judgment (2:27-29) on the Eli and his family?  What is Eli’s failure as a father and a follower of God?  What judgment will fall on Eli and his family?  Where is there hope in this passage (see 1 Samuel 2:35)?  

As we read through 1 Samuel, we will see that God will make good on his promise to raise up a faithful priest.  Yet even he is not the complete fulfillment of this promise.  The faithful priest will point forward to one greater, faithful and perfect high priest (see Hebrews 4:14-5:10).

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

Repent. How have I failed to obey and share 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?

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