Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, January 15, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 18

Prayer Point. Although Psalm 18 arises out of David’s life experience, it belongs to his son, Jesus. It is Jesus who is suffering unjustly in our place. It is God the Father who rescues his Son from death and crowned him the King of Kings. Meditate on the love, forgiveness and power of God expressed through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

John 1:43-51

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? You can use the following background to guide you.

Background. Becoming a disciple or student of a Jewish rabbi in Jesus’ day was like getting into Harvard. Many applied but few were accepted. Prospective disciples underwent a rigorous examination by the rabbi and if he believed that the applicant had the character and the intelligence to become like himself, he accepted him the words: “Come follow me.” Imagine Philip’s shock when Jesus without introduction greets him with the words, “follow me.”

What does Philip do in response to Jesus? Who does he recognize Jesus to be? What causes Nathaniel to declare Jesus to be the Son of God and the King of Israel? What greater thing does Jesus say Nathaniel will see?

John 1:51, See heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending recalls the story of Jacob in Genesis 28 (see esp. v. 12). Jesus will be a greater way of access to God than the heavenly ladder on which angels traveled between God and Jacob (Gen. 28:12; cf. Heb. 10:19–20), and wherever Jesus is, that place will become the “New Bethel” where God is revealed. Jesus is not merely “a son of man” (an ordinary male human being), but he repeatedly (over 80 times in the Gospels) calls himself the Son of Man, suggesting the greatest, most notable son of man of all time. [ESV Study Bible Notes].

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 3:1-11

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 guide you.

Background. The stories of Moses leading Israel out of slavery in Egypt and Israel’s fearful refusal to enter the Promised land held special significance for the Christians for whom Hebrews was written.  The recipients of this letter were considering abandoning the way of Jesus and returning to the traditions of Moses that they had grown up with.

In today’s reading, the author will argue that Jesus is greater than Moses and that to abandon Christ is as a grave an error as their ancestor’s refusal to follow Moses into the Promised Land.  See Numbers 13:26-14:45 and Psalm 95 for more on this tragic story.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why Jesus is greater than Moses.
  • How we remain a part of Christ’s house.
  • The warning to those who turn away from Jesus, just as Israel turned away from the Promised Land.

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 4:17-26

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. Who is Cain’s wife? [Suddenly Cain’s wife appears from nowhere. We don’t know who she is for she is not even named. As a woman, she would have been regarded as “less than” a man and thus not worthy of notice. For those who take the scripture literally, she must be a sister. We know of three sons of Adam, but because he lived as long as he did, it is reasonable to assume he had many children (boys and girls), though unrecorded.] What was so special about Enoch? [The only thing special about him is that his father, Cain, named a city after him. {As a personal note I had a seventh grade English teacher named Enoch!}] What was different about Lamech? [He had two wives – the first record of polygamy in the bible.] What did Lamech do reminiscent of his ancestor Cain? [He killed a young man and said: “If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.” v. 24 Notice the use of “seven” and its multiples. Jesus reverses this applying it forgiveness, “seventy times seven” – see Matthew 18:22]

What are Adam and Eve up to? [They recognize that life goes on and they increase their family with at least one more son: Seth. The NIV footnote indicates the Seth may mean “granted” which is how Eve saw him. Seth was granted of the LORD. While we would never say such a thing today, Seth was given “in place of Abel”.] Notice verse 26b: “At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD.” (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.

Advertisements

Daily Bible Readings – Friday, December 27, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 96

Prayer Point. The world may appear chaotic, but God has made Jesus, whom we crucified, the LORD over all creation. He is the only God and ruler of this world. Meditate on this psalm (turn it over in your mind) and then respond with your own prayer of praise.

Luke 1:67-80

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. An angel appears to Zechariah, an old childless priest, and announces that his wife, Elizabeth, who also was well beyond childbearing age, will give birth to a son. Zechariah can’t believe it and asks, “How can this be?” The angel strikes him dumb for his unbelief, but the promised child, John the Baptist, the one who will prepare the way for the Messiah is born, just as God had promised.

It was customary to name the child on the eighth day, the occasion of the boy’s circumcision. Zechariah is asked what he will name his son. Unable to talk he calls for a tablet and writes the words, “His name is John.” In that moment, Zechariah’s tongue is loosened and filled with the Holy Spirit sings the words we read today.

Pay special attention to …

  • The fact that Zechariah sings about someone’s else son (as well as his own).
  • How Zechariah describes the Messiah in verses 67-75. Note that “horn” is a symbol of strength and that the “house of his servant David” refers to the royal line of Israel that had long been absent from the throne.
  • Why God chooses to rescue his people (verses 72-75).
  • Zechariah’s prophecy concerning his son John in verses 76-77 and how he will prepare God’s people for the Lord’s coming.

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 3:15-22

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. It might help to know a little Jewish history in order to understand today’s reading. God appeared to Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, bearing three promises that had implications not only for Abraham and his family, but for the whole world. God promised Abraham that his family would become a great nation, enjoy God’s protection and receive a land chosen for them. The purpose of these blessings is what is important. Abraham is being blessed so that through him, God could bless the nations of the world. That blessing would be none other than Jesus Christ. This set of promises and blessings is called the covenant with Abraham. Abraham shared in this covenant and is blessed by God because he believes the promises of God.

Fast forward 400 years. Abraham’s descendents are quite numerous, but they are slaves in Egypt. They have yet to receive the land that was promised them. God hears the cries of his people and remembers his promise to Abraham and liberates them from slavery. He parts the Red Sea and brings Abraham’s family to the foot of Mount Sinai and there he gives the 10 Commandments.

God has now given his Law to Israel, but the fundamentals of his relationship with Israel have not changed. The Law was given to show the people their sin, their need for God and what it means to love God and love their neighbor. The Law was not the means of becoming right with God, it is the way we live because God has graciously given us the blessings of Abraham through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Pay close attention to …

  • To whom were the promises of God given.
  • What the Law does not do to the covenant that was given to Abraham.
  • What the inheritance depends on and does not depend on.
  • The Law’s purpose according to verses 19-22.

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 – Saturday, December 14, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 30

Prayer Point. How did God turn “our wailing into dancing”? The moment that Jesus was raised from the dead. Pray today that we might know the hope of the resurrection so that it changes our outlook on life and causes us to worship God with our lives.

Matthew 24:1-14

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. As Jesus leaves the temple, he prophesies its destruction which was fulfilled decades later when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. He gives this prophesy in order to prepare his disciples for the coming trouble.

What are the warning signs that the temple is about to be destroyed? What will happen in the world? What will the disciples experience? What promise is given to those who endure these hard times? What will happen in verse 14 despite the suffering?

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 3:1-6

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. John, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, has been exiled to the island of Patmos for his faith. He is separated from the churches in Asia (Western Turkey) that he served and loved with all his heart. Like him, they are discouraged by the opposition they are faced from the Romans who appeared to be the undisputed powers of this world. But God sees the world differently and allows John to see a vision of Christ to encouraged him and the churches he served. Jesus commands John to pass on seven letters to the seven churches in Asia. Revelation 3:1-6, the letter to the church in Sardis is the fifth of these seven letters.

You may notice that John writes “to the angel of the church in Sardis.” This is not a guardian angel, the letters would not make any sense if this was the case, but a figure of speech referring to “the heart” of the local church. These letters are to be understood as personal messages from Jesus (“the words of him holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars”) to each church.

Pay close attention to …

  • What Jesus sees in the church of Sardis despite their reputation.
  • What they are commanded to do to restore their church.
  • Why Jesus finds a glimmer of hope in this church.
  • What is promised to those who follow in the footsteps of Sardis’ faithful few.

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.

Haggai 2:1-9

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Interestingly the opening words of Haggai begin with: “In the second year of Darius the king…”  Well, wouldn’t you know it, the word of the LORD came to Haggai in the second year of Darius the king.  As we have seen, the people in Judah have been told that they may not rebuild their temple nor their city.  Evidently, however, they have been allowed to build their homes and to make improvements to them.

Why has the remnant that returned to rebuild Jerusalem harvested little? Why are they unable to quench their hunger and thirst? Why can’t their clothes keep them warm? Why is their money never enough? How did the people respond to the LORD’s admonition?

How does God encourage those who were old enough to remember the old temple? What does God promise for the future? Who do you think the ‘desired of nations’ is? What is this new temple that the LORD speaks of? See Acts 2:1-3 and Revelation 21:1-27. One thing that may help is to remember that the temple is not so much a building, but the place where God lives with his people. In Israel’s past, God dwelt first in the tabernacle (a tent), then in the temple. Then it was Jesus. Then it was the Holy Spirit living in the hearts of Jesus’ followers. And then at the end of time, God himself will make his home on earth at the restoration of all things.

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, December 5, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 18

Prayer Point. Although Psalm 18 arises out of David’s life experience, it belongs to his son, Jesus. It is Jesus who is suffering unjustly in our place. It is God the Father who rescues his Son from death and crowned him the King of Kings. Meditate on the love, forgiveness and power of God expressed through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Matthew 21:33-46

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 often used parables to explain his teachings, but here he uses a story to announce God’s judgment. The vineyard in the story represents Israel, the people of God. The landowner is God. The tenants were those who were entrusted with the care of the vineyard, the chief priests and elders of Israel. The servants of the landowner represent the prophets of Israel (Isaiah, Jeremiah are two examples). How are the prophets of God treated (see also Matthew 23:29-32)? How is the son of the landowner treated and why? Who do you think this son represents?

What will happen to the son who was killed (verse 42)? What will become of the wicked tenants? To whom will the vineyard be given? Why are the chief priests ready to kill Jesus at the end of his message?

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.

2 Peter 3:11-18

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. What kind of life should we live while we wait for the “day of God” (God’s final judgment of the world)? While this world will be destroyed, what hope do God’s people look forward to?

A ______________________ AND a _________________________ (verse 13)?

The Lord’s patience meant that the suffering of Peter’s readers continued for the short-term as the “day of God” was delayed. What good comes from God’s slowness? As the letter comes to close, what does Peter perceive as the greatest threat to the church while it waits for the return of Christ? What should we grow in while we wait for 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.

Amos 4:6-13

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 calamities did God rain down on Israel?  What was the purpose of these disasters?  Did they accomplish their purpose? Why or why not?

So what does it take for them (us?) to wake up to the “low whisper” of the LORD? Low whisper indeed! Pestilence, drought, mildew and hunger! There are at least two responses to this beckoning: either to surrender to the will of God or to continue resisting. Why is submitting to the LORD so difficult?Once our hearts are finally broken submission becomes a more natural response to God.

In verse 12 “prepare to meet your God O Israel!” sounds more like a threat than a consolation. Surely after the litany of Israel’s sins, meeting God might not be at the top of the list of things to do! On Wednesday at Panera©, I was reminded that God did not need to create anything much less me. It seems to me that whenever the LORD speaks to us he is “going out of his way” because he doesn’t need us at all. This is the season of Advent and it is time to “prepare to meet your God O Israel!” Put in this context, this is not a warning but rather a hope. “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his this temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1 ESV)

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 – Monday, November 18, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 89

Prayer Point.  God’s story with Israel is a tale of God’s faithfulness despite their faithlessness. God saves. His people forget. God sends judgment. His people cry out and God sends a Savior. Israel’s story is our story. Praise God for the ways he has been faithful to you. Confess the way you have been unfaithful to him. Lift up your needs to him and ask him to save you.

Matthew 17:1-13

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. Peter, James and John represented Jesus’ key leaders, his inner circle from among the twelve. They alone have the privilege of seeing a glimpse of Jesus’ true glory. Who do they see appearing with Jesus? How do you think they recognized Moses and Elijah?

Moses was Israel’s giver of the Law and Elijah was considered to be Israel’s greatest prophet. The Law and the Prophets together represented the Old Testament tradition. It would have been inconceivable for a Jewish person to imagine a man being greater than Moses or Elijah unless God explicitly revealed it. God is showing these men that Jesus is not only greater than Moses and Elijah, he is the one they pointed to.

What do they see of God on the mountain? Where is the God the Father? The Son? And the Holy Spirit? What is God the Father’s message to the Peter, James and John?

Compare the disciples’ response to the vision what that of Isaiah’s, who also saw the Glory of God (Isaiah 6:1-5).

Why do you think Jesus warns his disciples to keep this a secret until he rises from the dead? Do you think people would have crucified Jesus if they had seen him as he really is?

It was believed that Elijah would return prior the coming of the Messiah. Jesus affirms this teaching, but identifies John the Baptist as the “second Elijah”. John the Baptist was not Elijah, but ministered in the same spirit as Elijah and he was killed for his troubles.

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 20:7-15

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The thousand years or millennium of Revelation 20:7 is one that has been hotly debated for the past 2000 years of church history. Some interpreters of the Bible believe that John speaks of a literal 1000 year reign of Jesus. Those who hold this view are divided into two camps, the premillenial (meaning that Jesus will return before the 1000 years) and the postmillenial (meaning that Jesus will return after the 1000 years). Others called amillenialists believe that the 1000 years are symbolic of the period of time we are living in right now. This is the opinion of the author. If you’d like to discuss it, I am thinking of scheduling a steel-cage match following one of our worship services.

I see chapter 20 as part of a theme that is repeated throughout the book: Satan is bound and the God’s people are protected for a season. In chapter 11, God’s people are symbolized by the two witnesses who are granted God’s protection for a season until the beast is released from the Abyss and kills them. In chapter 12, the woman is the new symbol of God’s people who is protected in the desert by God for 1260 days. Now in chapter 20, Satan is bound, freeing the church to spread the good news of Jesus all around the world.

What will happen when Satan is released from his prison? How will God vindicate his people in the end? Earlier in the chapter we learn that God’s ultimate protection for his people is that the “second death has no power over them.” What is this second death? Who will experience it?

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 – Sunday, September 29, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 19

Prayer Point. David is moved to worship God as he meditated on the heavens with its sun, moon and stars, and his law that guides us in the path to a full and satisfying life. Get outside and meditate on the glory of the night sky. Spend time reading his word and allow it to move you to worship.

Luke 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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. The highest calling in Jesus’ day was to become a rabbi’s disciple with the dream of one day becoming a rabbi: not unlike the prestige of getting into Harvard today.  Only those with the sharpest intellect and highest moral character received the privilege of being a disciple.  Those who didn’t make the cut returned home and worked the family trade which is what we find Peter, James and John doing.

Pay close attention to …

  • Jesus’ unusual choice of disciples.
  • The ease by which Jesus provides for his disciples.
  • Peter’s reaction to the miracle catch of fish. Compare this to Isaiah 6:1-8.
  • How the life direction of Peter, James and John is forever changed by their encounter with 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.

Acts 9:36-43

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. On the night Jesus was betrayed, he gave this promise to his disciples (and to all of us):

John 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do greater things than these.

Where do you see this promise operating in Acts 9:36-43? What happened as a consequence of Peter’s miracle?

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.

2 Kings 17:1-18

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Hoshea, the last king of Israel, began his reign, as did so many of the kings of Israel before him, by eliminating his predecessor. The bible tells us he reigned for nine years as a vassal of the king of Assyria. Unhappy with that situation, Hoshea makes an alliance with So, the king of Egypt which, in turn, displeases the king of Assyria. The Assyrian king had no choice but to imprison Hoshea and besiege Samaria for three years. In short order the Assyrian king carried Israel off to Assyria.

We know that Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria attacked and destroyed Israel and scattered its inhabitants because Hoshea’s disloyalty. The real question is this: why did God allow this happen, especially when you consider that the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel is final and complete? What remnant of Israel is left? Why?

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 – Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Psalm Prayer: 36

Prayer Point. David contemplates the contrast between the wickedness of the human heart and the brilliance of God’s love. In what way do you identify with the description of the wicked man?  Confess those to God and receive his forgiveness. In what ways have you experienced the faithfulness of God? Praise him for those. In what ways are you being challenged or being oppressed by sinful people? Pray for the faith to trust God.

Mark 14:66-72

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. Previously, in Mark 14 we see Peter following Jesus, but at a safe distance. He went into the courtyard and stayed there warming himself while Jesus was being put on trial. Earlier in Mark as we have read the Lord Jesus prophesied that Peter would deny Jesus three times before the cock crowed twice. A servant-girl of the high priest notices Peter as a disciple of Jesus. Of course Peter denies this. The persistent servant-girl goes on to the bystanders outside and pleads her case again. Once again Peter denies it. Then after a little while the bystanders say to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” (NRSV). One again Peter denies it, but this time with an oath. Then Peter remembers the words of Jesus, “Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.”

Here we see Peter get out of trouble in the most human of all actions, he lies. Jesus, on the other hand, confesses he is the Son of Man in verse 62. What is the reason for Peter’s denial? What is motivating him? What does this tell us about Christianity that we are allowed to see our “heroes” fall? Remember he does not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in him yet. What would you do if asked the same questions under the same circumstances?

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.

James 2:14-26

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. What must accompany faith in order for faith to be true faith? Who else believes and has a faith without appropriate action? What do the examples of Abraham (see Hebrews 11:8-19) and Rahab (see Joshua 2) teach us about faith?

Many people have trouble with this portion of James because it sounds to them that God accepts people because of their good deeds. But ask yourself this: are the deeds of Rahab and Abraham the cause of their faith or the result of it? What did Abraham believe that enabled him to offer his son Isaac (see Hebrews 11:17-19)? How would your life change if you fully believed God’s promises to 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.

1 Kings 8:65-9:9

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. After the two week festival for the dedication for the temple was over, God appeared to Solomon. In this vision God restates his covenant that he made with Solomon’s father, David, and offers it to Solomon. Covenants between a greater king (God) and a lesser king (in this case Solomon) contained the following elements: the requirements of the covenant, blessings if the requirements were kept, and curses if the covenant was broken. What does God require of Solomon and his sons? What blessings does God offer them? What curses are threatened if Solomon (or his sons) breaks the covenant?

It strikes me that the central issue for the Israelites is that they cannot see God and thus worship him as the heathen worship their gods (which they can see).  “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6 ESV)  The issue has always been about faith.  Here again God is insisting that we be unwavering in our faith, but we seldom see with the eyes of faith. As the history of Israel unfolds, the recurring theme is their inability to trust the LORD.  A very short trip through the wilderness with the Israelites will demonstrate how quickly faith/trust evaporate, as water in the desert air.

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.