Daily Bible Readings – Friday, April 25, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 118

Prayer Point. This psalm is a song welcoming the Messiah (Savior) to the city of Jerusalem. It’s true meaning was not realized until the crowds sang as Jesus rode 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. Give him thanks and remember that  his love to us endures forever.

Luke 24:1-12

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. At first light on Easter Sunday morning, women from Jesus’ community of disciples hurried to the tomb to complete the preparation of Jesus’ body for burial. They don’t find the body of Jesus. What do they encounter instead? Why do you think they reacted the way they did? Why do the angels say that they shouldn’t be surprised that Jesus had been raised from the dead? Why do you think they, and all the disciples, had such a hard time believing it?

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 15:51-58

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 following background to guide you.

Background. How will perishable people like us become imperishable and inherit the kingdom of God? Whose victory makes this transformation possible? Who or what was defeated? How are we to live today in light of this amazing future that Christ has opened for us?

What can’t “flesh and blood” and “perishable” inherit? How will this problem be solved? You’ll have to read tomorrow’s reading.

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 13:1-2, 11-16

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 is the firstborn male to be consecrated to the LORD?   Can you think of any “firstborn” males (in Israel) who had been consecrated to the Lord? (The firstborn male is to be dedicated to the Lord because of the price exacted of the Egyptians – all of the firstborn of both man and beast died on the night of the Passover.  Examples: Samson, Samuel, Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5); John the Baptist, and of course, Jesus.)

Verse 13 commands that “every firstborn among your sons” be redeemed.  What does “redeem” mean?  (It actually means to “buy back”.  The redeeming of the firstborn male was later to be designated to the tribe of Levi once the Israelites enter the Promised Land.  The redeeming is another reminder of what happened in Egypt.)

What will “your son” ask you in days to come as outlined in verse 14?  (“‘What does this mean?’  Say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt.  This is why I sacrifice to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.” (Exodus 13:14-15 NIV))

Again with the sign on the hand and forehead.  This must be significant.  What do these symbols represent?   (Heart and hand – thinking and doing)

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.

Advertisements

Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, April 24, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 149

Prayer Point. New songs were sung when God intervened and saved his people by defeating their enemies.  God’s ultimate victory was Christ’s death and resurrection. Meditate on what that victory means for us and pray a prayer of thanksgiving to God.

Matthew 28:16-20

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. Verse 17 says that ‘some doubted’. Why do you think that there were still doubters among the disciples even after the resurrection of Jesus? How does Jesus handle this?

Jesus before his ascension gives the disciples the mission they (and we) are to carry on in his absence. The central command is “make disciples.” Just as an apple tree is designed to make more apple trees, so Jesus’ disciples were made to make other disciples. All the other statements describe what it means to make a disciple.

From among what people were the disciples to make disciples? What two things were they to do with those they were calling to be disciples of Jesus?

In what way is Jesus still with us even though he has ascended into heaven? (See Acts 2:1-4.)

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 15:41-50

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. Like a seed, our physical bodies will die only to have new life emerge with a new “spiritual” body. How will our new bodies compare to the one we have now? How does the first Adam (Adam, the first human being created in Genesis 1) compare to the last Adam (Jesus Christ)? How are we like the first Adam? How will we become like the Second Adam?

What can’t “flesh and blood” and “perishable” inherit? How will this problem be solved? You’ll have to read tomorrow’s reading.

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 13:3-10

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. Because people are so forgetful, what does Moses do to fend off their tendency not to remember?  (“This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the LORD is to be on your lips.  For the LORD brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand.  You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.” (Exodus 13:9-10 NIV))

How significant is it that this observance be like a sign on one’s hand and a reminder on one’s forehead?  Where have we seen these allusions to both the hand and forehead before?  (See Deuteronomy 6 and Revelation 13)  (The sign on the hand and forehead means that it would be in the mind and ever before them.  In Deut. 6 this is Moses’ admonition to the people regarding the Law and how they are to keep it in mind.  In Revelation it is on these parts of the body where the anti-Christ will place his number (the famous number of the beast).)

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 23, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 115

Prayer Point. An idol is anything we trust for our security and significance outside of God. We all have them and without God’s intervention, we will become like the lifeless gods we serve. What idols have a hold on your heart? Confess them to God today and pray for the faith to believe that God will keep his promises and satisfy our souls.

Matthew 28:1-16

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 question weighs heavily on Mary, Mary and Salome as they approached Jesus’ tomb? Jesus’ tomb had been sealed by Pontius Pilate with a detachment of soldiers left to guard the tomb. The concern of the religious leaders and the Romans was that the disciples would come and steal the body and claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. Who is it that opens the tomb? What do the women hear from the angel? Who do they see on the road back to the disciples?

The soldiers guarding the tomb also have a story to tell and they hurried back to share it with the chief priests. How do the chief priests conspire to keep the story secret? Why were the soldiers willing to go along with the story? What does this event tell you about the condition of the chief priests’ hearts?

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 15:29-41

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 is the resurrection of the dead, not just Christ’s but our own, so central to the Christian faith? What sacrifices in Paul’s life would be pointless if the resurrection was not true?

The idea of a physical resurrection was absurd to a Greek culture like the city of Corinth. The Greeks believed that the spiritual world was good, but that the physical world was bad. The body was something to escape from, not restore.

Why be resurrected, if the physical world is what you want to be liberated from? For Christians, the physical world was created good and will be restored by Christ.

What does Paul point to show that resurrection is built into God’s creation? How is our life experience like that of a planted seed?

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 12:40-41

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 long had the Israelites been in Egypt?  Why is the “vigil” so important?  (“Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the LORD for the generations to come.” (Exodus 12:42 NIV))

What are some of the restrictions regarding those who may partake of the Passover meal?

Why, do you suppose, the bones may not be broken? (v. 46)  Psalm 22 may be of some help with this one, or Psalm 34.  (“It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house.  Do not break any of the bones.  The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.  A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. (Exodus 12:46-48 NIV)  “I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint.  … All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.” (Psalm 22:14, 17)  “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.” (Psalm 34:19-20 NIV))  See John 19:31-37.

What is an absolute requirement of any male who wants to partake of the Passover meal?  Why?  (All males must be circumcised.  This, I believe, is because circumcision was the original covenant made with Abraham and is a sign of being an Israelite.)

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 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.

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 – 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 – Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 127

Prayer Point. Hard work can be an expression of love, but sometimes it can be an indicator of a heart that fails to trust God. We are called to be faithful, but it is God who builds the house (the temple) and God who sustains us.  Pray for the faith to believe this so that you might rest in God’s ability to provide.

Mark 9:42-50

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 often used strong language to call attention to serious problems. These suggestions are not meant to be followed literally, but to highlight the dangers of sin.

When Jesus refers to salt in verse 50 he has in mind salt’s preservative qualities.

Pay close attention to …

  • Jesus’ attitude towards the destructive power of sin and the danger it presents to us.
  • Jesus’ understanding of hell.
  • What it means for us to be “salty” and how it impacts our relationships with others. The dangers of losing your saltiness.

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 14:20-40

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 to guide you.

Background. What do you notice about Paul’s instructions for organizing a worship service? Who participates? How is each person’s participation related to their spiritual gift? How does this compare to the way we worship on Sunday mornings? Are we lacking anything?

What should we pray for when someone speaks in tongues? Why? What is missing if there is no translation of what is spoken, prayed, or sung in tongues? Remember that tongues, like all the spiritual gifts, were not gifts for the benefit of the individual, they were gifts given to the individual for the benefit of the community.

How should the gifts of tongues and prophecy be practiced in the church? For a definition of the gifts of speaking in tongues and prophecy see the notes on 1 Corinthians 14:1-12.

Verses 34-36 are difficult to interpret for a number of reasons. 1. It violates our own cultural sensibilities when it comes to the equality between the sexes. 2. 1 Corinthians 11:5 clearly assumes that women did pray and prophecy in the church. The problem Paul is addressing is the lack of order in the Corinthian church. Everyone is out for themselves. Paul is not saying that women are not competent to speak, he is concerned that while prophecy was going on in the church service, there were women who were disrupting the worship service. Needless to say, Christians are deeply divided on this passage. Paul is not saying that women were not competent to speak, but his chief concern is that the spiritual gifts were practiced in an orderly and selfless way that builds up the whole congregation.

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 5:1-6:1

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 background to help guide you.

Background. Armed with confidence Aaron and Moses march into Pharaoh’s presence and said (I think they may have demanded – j.t.) “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.’” (Exodus 5:1 NIV)  If you’ve ever seen The Ten Commandments then you will know that Pharaoh will be less than eager to be cooperative.  What is Pharaoh’s response?

[“Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go?  I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:2 NIV)  This is not all that unreasonable.  After all, Pharaoh had all this “free” labor – all he had to do was house, feed, and clothe the Israelites and he could work them literally to death.  Why would he want to let the people go?  We have to remember that the reason the Israelites were enslaved in the first place is because they had become a threat to Pharaoh’s national security (i.e., they became too numerous).]

Moses counters with what I think is a weak argument.  What is Moses’ argument?
[“Then they said, ‘The God of the Hebrews has met with us.  Now let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD to our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.’ (Exodus 5:3 NIV)  I think the argument is weak because why would Pharaoh care if the LORD smote the Israelites with plagues or the sword?  He would lose his workforce but at the same time he would also lose an imagined threat to his national security.  Bear in mind the Egyptians were fearful that if Egypt were attacked the Israelites would join with the invaders against the Egyptians.]

At this point the Egyptians have all the power and the Israelites have none. Pharaoh, wishing to exploit Israelite manpower and to keep the people busy told, them that henceforth they must gather their own straw for making the bricks and yet the tally of the bricks must remain undiminished.  How does Pharaoh sum up his personal feelings about these Hebrews?
[“Lazy, that’s what you are – lazy!  That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’  Now get to work.  You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.” (Exodus 5:17-18 NIV)]

Because of this unfortunate turn of events, the people sought out Moses and Aaron to impart to them their feelings regarding their circumstances.  What accusation do the people make against Moses and Aaron?  Remember way back in Chapter four how the people had believed that God had sent Moses and Aaron?  It is not just Pharaoh and the Egyptians who need to learn who is in charge here.
[The accusation levied against Moses and Aaron is that “You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Exodus 5:21 NIV)  These are the very words (killed by the sword) that were used by Pharaoh to “persuade” him to let the people go.]

What accusation does Moses make against the LORD?
[Moses is quick to place the blame where he thinks it belongs.  He cannot, at this point, know the LORD’s plan and so things, to him, look bleak.  “O LORD, why have you brought trouble upon this people?  Is this why you sent me?  Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”   Gutsy!

God then promises that he will bring Pharaoh low and that he will free the people “because of my mighty hand”.  (Exodus 6:1 NIV)

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.