Daily Bible Reading – Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 114

Prayer Point. We are called to both fear and love God as Israel did. Psalm 114 explains why. It is the power of God that causes the earth to tremble, but it is that same power that breaks the power of oppression and sets us free. Pray that God will fill you with a reverent fear of his power, but also gratitude that this same power rescued us from slavery to sin and death.

Mark 16:9-20

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. Women were so lightly regarded that their testimony was disallowed in Jewish courts. Why do you think Jesus chose Mary Magdalene to be first to see him resurrected? How did the disciples receive her testimony? Did the testimony of the two additional disciples in verses 12-13 convince them?

Jesus is clearly upset by his disciples’ refusal to believe, but how do we know that he still accepts them? What mission does he give his unbelieving disciples? Why do think Jesus picks them? Was it because of their extraordinary faith? What hope does this give us who are also entrusted with the same mission?

The disciples begin to carry out Jesus’ instructions once he returns to heaven. How is it that this group of scared unbelieving disciples were able to fulfill such a difficult mission?

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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 Corinthians 15:12-28

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.  Apparently some in Corinth preached against the idea of the resurrection from the dead. How central is resurrection to the Christian faith? What are we left with without resurrection?

Paul refers to Jesus as the “first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (15:20) “Fallen asleep” was the term early Christians used to refer to physical death, emphasizing its temporary nature. For Jesus to be the “firstfruit” of those who have been raised from the dead, means that Jesus is the first resurrected human being with a new, perfect, imperishable body. If you want to know what your resurrected body will be like, take a look at Jesus in John 20.
Jesus as the“second Adam” is an important theme in 1 Corinthians. Notice how he compares and contrasts Jesus to Adam.

Through Adam all _______________________. Through Christ (the second Adam) all will be _________________. (1 Corinthians 15:22)

Why must all things be put under Christ’s feet? What will Jesus do once this happens?

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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.

Exodus 12:28-39

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 Hebrew title [of this book], ‘Names,’ is taken from the first line of the text, ‘These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob.’” (ESV Study Bible introduction to Exodus)  P. 139.

What does “Exodus” mean and where does it come from?  This word one can look up in the dictionary.  (“Exodus” means to go out.  This is the title of the second book of Moses in the Septuagint.)

What is Pharaoh’s directive to Moses and Aaron? (“During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Up!  Leave my people, you and the Israelites!  Go, worship the Lord as you have requested.  Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go.  And also bless me.” (Exodus 12:31-32 NIV))

Why do the “common” Egyptians urge the Hebrews to leave?  (“The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country.  ‘For otherwise,’ they said, ‘we will all die!’” (Exodus 12:33 NIV)

What do the Israelites ask of the Egyptians?  What is the Egyptian response?  Why? (See verse 36.)  (The Israelites “asked of the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing for the LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.” (Exodus 12:35-36 NIV))

How is the horde of Israelites described (i.e., how many of them left Egypt)?  This same terminology can be found in the gospels.  (There were 600,000 men on foot besides women and children. (v. 12:37))

Can you see in this passage where the LORD displays a lack of trust in the people?    (“So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading trough wrapped in clothing.” (Exodus 12:34 NIV)  It appears to me that the “rush” that the people were in prevented them from using leaven in the dough.)

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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 – Monday, April 21, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 66

Prayer Point. Psalm 66 invites us to “shout to joy to God!”  and then proceeds to tell us the reasons why. “Come and see what God has done …” and what follows is the story of God’s rescue of Israel from slavery in Egypt. How has God saved you from a difficult place in your life? Remember what God has done and offer him your own prayer of thanksgiving.

Mark 16:1-8

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 guide you.

Background. There had not been enough time to properly prepare Jesus’ body because the Sabbath, which started on Friday night, was fast approaching. That Sabbath did not end until Saturday evening, which meant that Sunday morning was the first opportunity these women had to properly prepare Jesus’ body.

Women were so ill-regarded in Jesus’ day that their testimony was not accepted in court. Why do you think Jesus chose these women to be the first witnesses of the resurrection? Who are these women to witness to? What message does this angel have for the disciples and Peter?

Think about this, even if Jesus did overcome the odds and rise from the dead, what chance did the disciples have after they had fallen asleep during his last night with them, deserted him when the soldiers came and Peter denied him three times? Imagine how the disciples would have felt when they heard the news that Jesus was eager to meet with them in Galilee.

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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 Corinthians 15:1-11

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.  Paul is going to give us a summary of the gospel in chapter 15. In begins with the phrase, “… what I received I passed on to you …”

What do you notice about Paul’s description of the gospel? Is it a set of ideas, or a story tied to historical events? What do you think Paul means by his being ‘abnormally born’? See Acts 9:1-19. Why does Paul consider himself to be the least of the Apostles? ‘Apostle’ means ‘one who was sent.’ In this context, an Apostle was someone who was a witness to the resurrected Christ and sent by Christ to spread the news.

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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.

Exodus 12:14-27

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 a day you are to commemorate…” (Exodus 12:14 NIV)  What “day” is being commemorated?  (The Passover is the day to be commemorated.)

Why is the prohibition against yeast so severe?  (The easy answer is that because the people were to take flight at a moment’s notice, that bread made with leaven would not have time to rise.  It is clear that the LORD himself held this prohibition so highly that he ordered that anyone who disobeyed it would be cut off from Israel.  In time leaven would come to be a metaphor for sin in that it permeates so thoroughly the dough (or the bread).  Interestingly enough this same metaphor is also used for the kingdom of God to permeate throughout the world.  “And again he asked, ‘What shall I compare the kingdom of God to?  It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.’” (Luke 13:20-21 NIV)

This celebration is “bookended” (i.e., begins with and closes) with “a sacred assembly”.   What is this “sacred assembly” likened to?  What is permitted on these days?  (The sacred assembly was to be treated like a Sabbath.  Only food preparation was permitted on these two days.  Since the Passover was to be on the fourteenth day of the first month, it was to be treated as a Sabbath irrespective of whether it landed on the seventh day of the week.  Thus there may have been as many as three Sabbaths during that seven day period.)

What is the point of the “Feast of Unleavened Bread”?  (Verse 12:17 NIV “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt.”

What is the penalty for violating this prohibition against use of yeast?  (“… for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel.” (12:15 NIV)

Who is bound to observe this celebration?  (“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘These are the regulations for the Passover meal: No foreigner may eat it.  Any slave you have bought it may eat it after you have circumcised him, but temporary residents or a hired worker may not eat it. … No uncircumcised male may eat it.’” (Exodus 12:43, 48 NIV))

“What does this ceremony mean to you?” (v. 26).  Does this celebration hold any significance for you?  (The sacrificial lamb, the substitutional aspect of the blood of the lamb preserving life.  The Lamb of God.  The celebration of the Passover is easily compared with the institution of the LORD’s Supper (Eucharist) on Maundy Thursday.)

What will happen on this particular night in Egypt?  (The firstborn of all the Egyptians and all livestock will die as the Angel of Death goes among them.)

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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 – Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 118

Prayer Point. Psalm 118 is a song of praise welcoming the Messiah, the Savior, to Jerusalem. It’s true meaning was not realized until the crowds sang it as Jesus rode peacefully into Jerusalem on his way to the cross. Praise God because when we cried out for help, he sent Jesus to die for our sins. Because of Jesus, God’s love  endures forever.

John 1:1-18

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 guide you.

Background. John begins his gospel or biography of Jesus by retelling the story of creation which is recorded in Genesis chapter 1. From Genesis we learn that God spoke the universe into existence. We understand through John that the Word God spoke was an actual person, “the Word,” whom we know as Jesus. Jesus will be compared to light (verses 6-9). There are two groups of people mentioned in verses 10 and 11. The world refers to humanity in general, while “his own” refers to Israel, God’s chosen people.

John introduces us to another John, John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus and not the author of this book.

Pay close attention to …

  • The Word’s (Jesus’) role in the creation of the world.
  • How Jesus the light is received by a world that is plunged in darkness. How Jesus is received by his own people.
  • What is promised to all those who receive Jesus.
  • What the Word does in verse 14 and how it changes the way we know God.
  • John the Baptist’s relationship with Jesus the Word. How he understands himself, how he understands Jesus.

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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.

Luke 24:13-25

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.  On the Road to Emmaus

Jesus appears to two of his disciples who clearly don’t recognize him. They had believed that Jesus was the one who was going to redeem Israel. What had just happened that in their minds ruled out this possibility? What news had they just received that makes their sadness even more unbelievable? What was the teaching that the disciples had missed according to Jesus?

In verse 26 Did not the Christ have to ______________________ and then _____________________.

Once again Jesus has to open their eyes. The scripture here also says that he opened the scriptures to them. What did Jesus do to open the eyes of the two disciples? What happened to their hearts as they talked with Jesus on the road?

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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.

John 20:19-23

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. It is the evening of the first Easter Sunday. The disciples have already heard the report from Mary Magdalene that she had seen Jesus alive. What makes you think that the disciples are having a difficult time believing the good news? What do the disciples finally see that causes them to believe?

Does Jesus disown his disciples for their pitiful lack of faith? What mission does he give them despite their flaws? What power do they receive to carry out Jesus’ mission?

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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.

Exodus 12:1-14

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 background to help guide you.

Background. Very briefly, the Hebrews celebrate the Passover complete with the blood on the doorposts and lintels of their homes.  What month is the Passover to begin?  Why so much detail?  Why is the blood so important? Read chapter 4:18-23.

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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.

Isaiah 51:9-11

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 background to help guide you.

Background. What is Isaiah asking the LORD to do?  Just to let you know, Rahab is a nickname for Egypt.  (This Rahab is not to be confused with the Rahab whom Joshua will encounter in his battle of Jericho.)  What is being described in verse 10?  What is the great promise outlined in verse 11?  How does this connect with Easter?

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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, April 15, 2014

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.

Romans 8:1-11

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. Paul has just discovered in chapter 7 that his battle with sin is so deep, that he is unable to save himself. Trying hard to follow God’s Law has left him in despair.  The Law, ironically, made Paul want to sin more. He was a prisoner of his sin and unable to free himself. If you don’t believe this, try this experiment.  Tell yourself not to lust for a day and watch what happens.  I’d imagine that your attempts would end the way Paul’s did.

Romans 7:24 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death!”

The answer to this desperate question comes in chapter 8. Two heroes will be introduced: Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Jesus will be compared to a sin offering in today’s readings. The Law of Moses demanded that unblemished animals be sacrificed for the sins of the people.  The animal symbolically died  for the sinner. The Scripture is clear that the blood of bulls and goats could not forgive sins.  This, instead, was a picture of what Jesus, our true sacrifice, would do for us.

Pay close attention to …

  • Who can free us from the law of sin and death and how.
  • What Jesus the Son did which the Law could not.
  • The contrast between life according to the sinful nature (flesh) and life according to the Spirit.
  • Who frees us from the control of the sinful nature.
  • What the Holy Spirit did for Christ that he will also do for us.

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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.

Lamentations 3:37-58

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 background to help guide you.

Background. Again!  Yet another comparison to Job.  Check out Chapter 38 and 39 of Job.  Can you draw any parallels with Lamentations 3:37-38?  What question is asked here that we ought to ask ourselves?  What is the author’s solution to the troubles he is now facing?  What is preventing prayer from getting through (verse 44)?  What change of perspective occurs in verse 54-55?  Why is the writer crying?  How long will the writer cry?   Read Psalms 34:19-22.  Make note of the parallels between Psalm 34 and verses 55-58.

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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 – Good Friday, April 18, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 54

Prayer Point. What does David believe and pray for when he is attacked by his enemies? Meditate on David’s answer and allow the psalm to help you address your fears with prayer.

John 13:36-38 (Morning), 19:38-42 (Evening)

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. (Morning) On the night Jesus was betrayed, he tells his disciples that he is leaving for a place where they cannot come.  This is quite distressing because Jesus’ disciples believe that he is about to be crowned king.

Where is Jesus going that Peter cannot yet go?  Why do you think Jesus predicts that Peter will disown him?

(Evening) The Jewish Day of Preparation was the day before the Sabbath (Friday).   The day of preparation ended at sun down so both men would have had little time to complete the burial, therefore they buried Jesus in a tomb nearby.  Both Nicodemus (you can read his story in John 3) and Joseph of Arimathea were secret disciples of Jesus.  Why do you think they chose this time to come out in the open?

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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 Peter 1:10-20

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. When Peter speaks of prophets, he means the prophets of the Old Testament (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Moses, etc.)  What guided these prophets? What two things did they point to? Whom were they serving?

This teaching did not originate with Peter. He was with Jesus after the resurrection and before his return to heaven. Here is what Jesus taught Peter and the other disciples concerning the Old Testament.

Luke 24:46 … This is what is written [in the Old Testament]: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Now that Peter’s readers have received the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, how are they called to live in response? Who do they imitate? Who do they now belong to? What was our purchase price?

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.

Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-33

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 background to help guide you.

Background. Compare verses 1-9 of Chapter 3 with the first two Chapters of Job.  What is the principal difference?

How would you describe the great shift of attitude beginning in verse 19ff?   Can you see another parallel with Job?  How is hope rekindled beginning in verse 31?  Can you see a difference between the LORD’s attitude in Chapter 2 and here (vv. 31-33)?

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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 – Maundy Thursday, April 17, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 143

Prayer Point. Does God hear the prayers of sinful people? This psalm reminds us that all people are unrighteous in the eyes of God, and yet he answers all those who call on him in faith. How are you empty today? What are you afraid of? Where do you need wisdom in your life?  Take these all today to our gracious God.

Mark 14:12-25

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. Passover was a meal that the Jewish people celebrated to remember what happened when Moses led the Hebrew people out of Egypt. It was called the Feast of Unleavened Bread because the Israelites did not have time to wait for the bread to rise. God was going to liberate them that very night. The Passover lamb was sacrificed to remember the lamb that was killed the night of Israel’s liberation. Each family took blood from the lamb and put it on the posts of their front door. That night the angel of death came through and struck down the firstborn son of every house in Egypt, except for the homes where the blood of the lamb was visible. For those houses, the Angel of Death “passed over” hence the name of the festival, “Passover.”  Jesus means to celebrate the Passover with his disciples, only this time he will invest the holiday with new meaning.

How does Mark demonstrate to us Jesus’ great authority in the preparations for Passover? What devastating revelation does he make during the meal? What new meaning does Jesus give to the unleavened bread of Passover? What new meaning is given to the cup?

This tradition that Jesus instituted is still celebrated by the church today, we call it Communion, the Last Supper or the Eucharist (Greek for “give thanks”).

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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 Corinthians 10:14-17, 11:27-32

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. Today is Maundy (Holy) Thursday the Christian holiday that commemorates the Last Supper Jesus celebrated with his disciples on the night he was betrayed; the night before his crucifixion.  The Last Supper is celebrated by Christians all other the world. It is called the Lord’s Supper, communion or Eucharistic (which means “thanksgiving”). Today’s readings in 1 Corinthians discuss the significance of the bread and cup of the Last Supper and our present day   observance of communion.

Pay close attention to …

  • The connection between the cup of thanksgiving and the bread to the blood and body of Christ and its implications for us as Christians (10:14-17).
  • Why God judges harshly those who eat the bread and drink the cup of communion in an unworthy manner.

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.

Lamentations 2:10-18

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 background to help guide you.

Background. Verses 8-9 tell us that is was the LORD who was behind all this destruction (not just the enemy) and that he left no stone unturned, as it were.  Most importantly, he has discontinued his dialog with his people (“and her prophets find no vision from the LORD.” v. 9b ESV)

Why does the LORD “not restrain his hand from destroying”?  (The LORD had warned for centuries that devastation would come as a result of idolatry.  The removal of Israel should have been a wakeup call to Judah but alas, it was not.  “And the LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: ‘Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, “After she has done all this she will return to me,” but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it.  She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce.  Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore.  Because she [Israel] took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree.  Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:7-10 ESV)

Verses 10-12 There appears to be an attitude of remorse, repentance, and sorrow (mourning) among the elders.  But is it real?  The infants and babies are starving.  The writer weeps sorely for Jerusalem, because of its destruction.  Jesus, on his way to Jerusalem for the final week of his life, gazed upon the City  and lamented for her in exactly the same attitude.  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!  How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!  See, your house is left to you desolate.” (Matthew 23:37-38 ESV)

Why is Jerusalem so special?  (It is the place where God dwells.)  Verse 12 talks of the infants and babies whose life is poured out as they cry to their mothers.  “Where is bread and wine?”  I find that an interesting choice for sustenance.  (Flesh and blood?)

Is it “just” that the babies be included in this disaster?  How can God show mercy to the few who are righteous (or innocent)?

Verse 13 describes the anguish of the author for he cannot find any words of comfort for Jerusalem.  Who do you think is speaking in verse 13, is it the author or God himself?

Why were the prophets useless at this time?  What is the major charge leveled against the prophets in verse 14?  Is this not itself a fulfillment of prophecy? (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

What kind of mocking do we see in verse 15?

The scoffers in verse 16 open their mouths “and gnash their teeth and say ‘We have swallowed her up.”  Why are they so delighted?

What defense does the writer offer for the LORD in verse 17?  What has the LORD done?   Review chapter 29 of Deuteronomy to see how great Moses’ foresight (prophecy) was.

Why would the song Cry Me a River come to mind when one reads verse 18?

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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, April 16, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 74

Prayer Point. How do you pray when you lose something you believed was forever?  Asaph laments the destruction of his beloved city, Jerusalem, and God’s temple. He asks, “why have you rejected us forever, O God?” Think of someone in your life that is in this place and pray Psalm 74 on their behalf.

Mark 12:1-11

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. Jesus continuing in his role as a prophet, speaks a parable (a story) against the religious leaders in Israel. Considering the fact that in the Bible the vineyard was used as a symbol for Israel, who is the vineyard owner? Who are the tenants? Who are the servants in this parable? Who is the beloved son who is dragged outside of the city and killed? What does the owner of the vineyard do once his son his killed?

The story closes with a quotation from Psalm 118:22-23, “the stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.” This stone is a reference to Jesus who is killed but is raised to life and becomes of the capstone of a new community of God’s people. This new community will include both Jews and Gentiles. In other words, the risen Christ becomes the capstone of God’s new people, the church, the ones to whom the vineyard is now given.

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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 Corinthians 1:23-2:11

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. Why did Paul change his mind and decide not to visit the Corinthians? Why did he write a letter instead (that letter happens to be 1 Corinthians)? What did he hope that his letter would accomplish? What does this say about the nature of Paul’s relationship with the Corinthian church?

In verse 5, Paul speaks of a man who had been punished by the community. It is likely that this man was the one Paul had exhorted the Corinthians to expel from their church (see 1 Corinthians 5:1-5) who was living with his father’s wife. The idea behind the expulsion was the hope that the man would feel the seriousness of his sin, repent and return to following Christ. Apparently this man had experienced this change of heart. How does Paul encourage the Corinthians to treat this repentant man? What danger is there in continuing to be harsh and unforgiving towards this man?

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.

Lamentations 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 background to help guide you.

Background. Verse 1.  With what is the LORD covering Zion?  From where is the LORD hurling the “Splendor of Israel”?  What is the LORD’s “footstool”?  (Isaiah 66:1; Matthew 5:35)

Verse 2.     What aspect of God described in this verse should all give us pause?  How were “the strongholds of the Daughters of Judah” torn down?  What has the LORD done to “her kingdom and its princes”?

Verse 3.      We have yet another description of what is going on in Jerusalem.   What is the metaphor used here?  Do you see a trend?  If it can happen to them can it happen to us today?  How is the approach of the enemy described? (verse 4)

In verse 4 the author combines the imagery of warfare and fire to paint a picture of Zion.  Why is all this destruction so meaningful in Jerusalem?  There is a spirit of presumption that Jerusalem would never be destroyed they could not imagine that God would destroy his own temple.

How is the LORD described in verse 5?  What had the people done to warrant this retribution?

What is the main target of the LORD’s wrath as depicted in verse 6?  What is the LORD’s attitude toward Jerusalem as characterized in verse 6?

It is my opinion that the Ark of the Covenant was stolen by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar.  How does verse 7 support my theory?

The destruction of Jerusalem appears to be personal.  What words used in verse 8 prove that to be true?  What is the significance of the “measuring line”? [Stretching out a measuring line was a prophetic image of impending destruction.]

Verse 9 shows that Jerusalem is completely laid waste.  What is the disposition of the king, the princes and the prophets?  What does “the law is no more” mean?

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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.