Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, April 27, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 113

Prayer Point. This psalm offers us some reasons to praise the name of the Lord.  Meditate on the ones that resonate with you and offer God your own prayer of thanksgiving.

John 14:1-7

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 setting of today’s reading is Jesus’ final meal with his disciples before his crucifixion the next day.  He has just informed them that he will be leaving, which greatly troubles them and he now seeks to calm their fears.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why Jesus’ departure and return to his Father should cause the disciples to rejoice.
  • The only way to know and go to the Father.

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 John 1:1-7

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. 1 John is a letter from the Apostle John, a close friend of Jesus, to the churches he oversaw in what is now western Turkey.  The letter was a circular letter, meaning that it was circulated among each of the churches and read aloud to the congregations.

John emphasizes that he is a witness of Jesus.  Notice how he drives this point home in the first four verses.  How has John experienced Jesus? What is John’s relationship with the Word of Life (Jesus) and God the Father?  What message does John have for his readers? Why does he write to them?

What message has John received from God that he passes on to his readers and to us? What is God? What does it take to be in fellowship with God? What happens to us if we walk in the light of God?

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 14:5-22

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 guide you.

Background.  How do we know that Pharaoh has not learned his lessons from the LORD?  What does Pharaoh do next?

What does the LORD do to Pharaoh to provoke him to action?

What is the first response of the Israelites?  How much have the Israelites forgotten?

What does the LORD say to Moses to provoke the people to move (verse 15)?

What is the whole point of the exercise?  (The whole point is to depend upon God.)

How does the LORD protect his people?  (The cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.)

Here’s an easy one: the Israelites are poised between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army.  How does the Lord solve this problem for the last time?

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 – Thursday, February 27, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 134

Prayer Point. Psalm 134 was a prayer blessing the priests who served on the temple’s night watch, preparing the sacrifices for the next day. We too have brothers and sisters on the other side of the globe who serve God while we sleep.  Use this psalm to pray that God will bless them.

John 11:55-12:8

Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.

Read. Read the passage slowly either alone or in a group and answer the following questions:

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following background to guide you.

Background.  John begins today’s reading with the comment: “When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover,” to signal us that the time has now come for Jesus to die. The feast of the Passover commemorated Israel’s liberation from slavery in Egypt. On the night before their salvation, the Jews took a lamb, killed it, ate it, and put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of the house. That night the angel of death came through Egypt and struck down the first born of all the sons of Egypt, but “passed over” the homes with the blood of the lamb. See Exodus 11-12.

The Exodus is about to happen again, only this time God is going to save his people from slavery to sin and death with a new Passover lamb, Jesus.

Who is the only person that recognizes what is about to happen to Jesus? What does she do to prepare Jesus for his death? Who objects to her act of love and why?

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 John 5:13-21

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.  As John brings this letter to a close, he wants to remind his readers of the purpose of his letter and give them some final instructions.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why John wrote this letter to “those who believe in the Son of God.”
  • The confidence that comes with this eternal life and how it impacts our relationship with God.
  • What one should do if he sees a fellow Christian sin. Note that the definition of a “sin that leads to death” has been hotly debated throughout history. Most likely John is referring to a final and complete rejection of Jesus.  (See 1 John 4:2-3; 3:15).
  • What is true of those who are born of God with regard to sin.
  • Who controls the world we live in.
  • The Son of God we should cling to and the idols we should avoid.

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.

Proverbs 7:1-27

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?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Repent. How have I failed to obey what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.

Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey and share what I have read?

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 128

Prayer Point. Why do we struggle to follow Jesus? Because we don’t believe that obedience is the path to fulfillment. Confess your sins to God today and pray for the faith to believe the promises that are given in this psalm.

John 11:45-54

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 are two very different reactions to the resurrection of Lazarus.What are they? Why do the Pharisees decide that they can’t allow Jesus to continue to healing the blind and raising the dead? What does this tell you about the hardness of their hearts? Whom do they fear more, God or the Romans, despite the miracles?

How is Caiaphas, the high priest, an accidental prophet? How does Caiaphas unwittingly serve God’s purposes even though he is fighting Jesus, the Son of God? What does Jesus do in response to the death threats?

This does not betray Jesus’ fear. He will die and he knows this, but he will die at a time and place of his own choosing.

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 John 5:1-12

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. Most Jewish people in John’s day believed that membership among the children of God was a birthright. You were born into it and unless you lived an exceedingly sinful life you stayed in your entire life.  Your identity as a member of the nation of Israel was more than enough. John, who was Jesus’ disciples for three years, saw it differently.  A person becomes a child, not by birthright, but by miracle.  That person is literally “born again” or “born from above” or “born of God.”  John described it this way in the first chapter of his Gospel.

John 1:12 Yet to all who received him [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

This new birth will be connected to believing Jesus is the Christ. Christ is the Greek translation of Messiah, the hope of Israel.  Devout Jews in John’s day were waiting for the arrival of this Messiah.  The Messiah was the promised king sent by God to rescue his people and re-establish God’s peace and justice on the earth.  This new kingdom was often called by Jesus, “the kingdom of God” and the “kingdom of heaven.”

John will also talk about the “water,” “blood,” and “spirit” which testify to Jesus’ identity.  The water refers to Jesus’ baptism where the Holy Spirit descended on Him.  The blood is the blood he shed on the cross.  The Spirit is the Holy Spirit which Jesus poured out on the church after he ascended to heaven.

Pay close attention to …

  • What is true of everyone who believes Jesus is the Christ.
  • What a believer will do with regards to God’s children.
  • How obedience to God and love for God are connected.
  • Why God’s commands are not burdensome for those who are born of God.  Note that the world John refers to is sinful humanity that is separated from God.
  • What three things testify that God has given us eternal life through Jesus.
  • What is true of all those who have and do not have the Son.

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.

Proverbs 6:1-19

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?

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 – Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 124

Prayer Point. Let’s face it. We assume that safety, food in our refrigerator, health and our homes are a given. Psalm 124 reminds us where we would be without God. Take time today to thank God for the things we too often take for granted.

John 11:30-44

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 do you think Mary’s question hit Jesus? Why do you think Jesus weeps when he knows that he is about to raise Lazarus from the dead?

What are the crowd’s two interpretations of Jesus’ weeping?Remember that Jesus pointed to his miracles as evidence that he was not a blasphemous, demon-possessed sinner, but truly the Son of God.

What is revealed about Jesus in his raising of Lazarus? What does this miracle tell us about his relationship with God the Father?

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 John 4:7-21

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 was once asked what he thought was the greatest commandment. He replied with not one, but two commands: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” For Jesus these two commands were one because you can’t separate love for God from love of neighbor. You see this same theme in John’s writing.

Pay close attention to …

  • The command of verse 7.
  • The source of love in verse 7.
  • What is true of those who love (verse 7) and those who don’t love (verse 8).
  • How God demonstrated love for us (verses 9-10). Note that an atoning sacrifice (propitiation in some translations) is a sacrifice that turns God’s righteous wrath for our sin into divine favor.
  • The appropriate response to God’s love (verse 11).
  • How the invisible God can be made visible in our world (verse 12).
  • How we know that God lives in us and we in him (verse 13).
  • What does someone who lives in God and God in him believe (verse 15-16) and what does he do (verses 17-21). What does this say about the connection between knowing God and loving others?
  • The connection between perfect love and the absence of fear and why (verse 18).

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.

Proverbs 4:1-27

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?

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, February 24, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 106

Prayer Point. I can’t read this psalm without hearing the voice of the crucified thief pleading with Jesus, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Like us, he was a sinner in need to God’s forgiveness. Psalm 106 speaks of Israel’s sins, but what are yours? Confess them to God and ask him for his forgiveness and the hope of eternal life.

John 11:17-29

Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.

Read. Read the passage slowly either alone or in a group and answer the following questions:

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following background to guide you.

Background. Jesus arrives in Bethany four days after the death of his friend Lazarus. By all appearances He has come too late to save his friend.

What does Martha already believe about the resurrection of the dead and about Jesus even before Lazarus is brought back to life?

The blind man’s healing revealed Christ to be the “light of the world” (see John 9:3-6). The raising of Lazarus from the dead will reveal Jesus to be ________________________ (see John 11:25).

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 John 3:18-4:6

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 guide you.

Background. John wants his readers to have confidence and peace before God. In today’s reading he will lay out the path to this destination. There will be things his readers must do and people they must avoid.

The path to peace and confidence before God and receiving from him whatever we ask, is to do what he commands. This is what he commands: believe in the name of his Son and love another.
Those who obey these commands live in him and he in them and this is confirmed by the Holy Spirit.

Pay close attention to …

  • What two things we must do to have confidence before God and expect to receive from him whatever we ask (verse 3:23).
  • John states that those who obey God’s commands live in God and he in them. Who confirms to us that God is living within us (verse 3:24).
  • How one can distinguish the Spirit of God from the spirit of antichrist. In other words what will teachers who are filled the spirit of God teach as opposed to those who teach according to the spirit of antichrist (verses 4:1-3).
  • How will true teachers relate to the teachings of John and the other apostles as opposed to false ones (verses 4:4-6).

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.

Proverbs 3:11-20

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?

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, February 22, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 33

Prayer Point. Psalm 33 praises God because he is our creator, sustainer, protector and savior. How have you experienced God in these ways? Remember them and worship God in response then pray for the faith to trust God as you face the problems of today.

John 11:1-16

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. Jesus’ friend Lazarus is gravely ill. What does Jesus say is the purpose of Lazarus’ sickness? Compare this to man born blind in John 9:1-3. How does this explain Jesus’ decision to delay his arrival until after Lazarus’ death? What is Jesus planning to do?

Jesus deeply loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, but this did not stop him from allowing them to experience the grief of Lazarus’ death. What greater purpose could Jesus have above the happiness of his dear friends?

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 John 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 guide you.

Background. Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve.  Both men brought sacrifices to God, but God only accepted Abel’s because of the sin Cain harbored in his heart. Cain, rather than confess his sins to God, chooses instead to strike out against God and murdered his brother.  You can read the full story in Genesis 4. Cain serves as an example of what it means to be a child of the world as opposed to a child of God.

Pay close attention to …

  • The message we heard from the beginning.
  • How Jesus is the definition of love.
  • What love looks like for God’s people. Note the specific example that John gives in verse 17.

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 35:1-20

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. Bethel was the first place where Abraham camped after he left Haran.  He set up an altar there.  Also it was here that Jacob had his famous dream of the angels ascending and descending on a stairway from heaven.  Here it was that God renews his promise to Jacob that “… Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth…” (Genesis 28:14).  Let’s just say that Bethel hold some importance in Hebrew history.

What does Jacob tell all of his people to do upon setting out?
[“So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.’” (Genesis 35:2 NIV)]

What is the first thing Jacob does upon arrival in Bethel?
[The first thing that Jacob does upon arrival in Bethel is to build an altar to the LORD.  “…and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed himself to him.”  (Genesis 35:7 NIV)]

What does Jacob remember of his return trip from Paddan Aram?
[“And God said to him, ‘I am God Almighty, be fruitful and increase in number.  A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body.  The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.’”  (Genesis 35:11-12 NIV)]  This is a fufillment of a promise that Jacob made to God in Genesis 28:20-22.

Tragedy strikes Jacob.  What was it?
[Rachel dies in childbirth.  She gives birth to a son.]

What does Rachel name her son?  What does Jacob name her son?
[Rachel names her son Ben-Oni {meaning “son of my trouble” NIV Footnotes}.  Jacob renames him Benjamin {meaning “son of my right hand”}.]

Where is Rachel buried?
[She is buried in Ephrath (that is Bethlehem).]

What very devastating thing happens next?
[Reuben took it upon himself to sleep with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah (Rachel’s handmaid).  This is similar to a declaration of war between father and son.]  NIV Study Bible Notes p. 61:
“35:22 Reuben’s act was an arrogant and premature claim to the rights of the firstborn (see 2 Sam. 3:7; 12:8; 16:21; 1 Kings 2:22).  For this he would lose his legal status as firstborn (see Gen. 49:3-4; 1 Chron. 5:1).”  [Personally, I think it is much worse than this.  I think it is an act of complete disrespect for his father and, in this case, given that Bilhah was Rachel’s handmaid, I’m sure it pained Jacob all the more. – j.t.]

The next few verses recount the sons (and not the daughter) of Jacob and who their mothers were.  Note that all but one of Jacob’s children (including Dinah) were born in Paddan Aram and only Benjamin was born in the land of Canaan.

This chapter closes with the death of Isaac.  Who was there and how old was Isaac when he died?
[Isaac was 180 years old and both of his sons were with him when he died.]

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Repent. How have I failed to obey what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.

Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey and share what I have read?

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Friday, April 21, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 107

Prayer Point. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107 gives us numerous examples of the love and faithfulness of God. Meditate on one of the examples that resonates with you and offer God a prayer of thanks.

John 10:31-42

Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.

Read. Read the passage slowly either alone or in a group and answer the following questions:

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following background to guide you.

Background. Jesus has just claimed to God, not only with his words (see John 10:30) but also with miracles (see John 10:25, 32). How does the crowd respond and why? Death by stoning was the punishment for blasphemy according to the Old Testament.

The Jews had waited for centuries to see the face of God and now that he is among them, they don’t recognize him. To be fair, we wouldn’t recognize him either. We have been too busy creating God in our own image, that when he showed himself, he would not match our preconceived notions of him. What evidence is offered to the crowds that proves that Jesus is who he says he is? Why do you think the crowds are unable to kill Jesus? Why do some believe?

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 John 3:1-10

Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.

Read. Read the passage slowly either alone or in a group and answer the following questions:

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points?You can use the following background to guide you.

Background. The Gospel is the story of God’s love that has been lavished on us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  It is a love that will not leave the heart unchanged of the one who receives it.

Pay close attention to …

  • Our new identity because of the love God lavished on us.
  • Why the world does not recognize our new identity.
  • When our new identity will be fully revealed.
  • The purpose of Jesus’ appearance with regards to our lives.
  • What is true of one who has been born of God.
  • The difference between a child of God and a child of the devil.

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 32:22-33:17

Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.

Read. Read the passage slowly either alone or in a group and answer the following questions:

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points?You can use the following background to guide you.

Background. Jacob has sent everyone else ahead and he is left alone.  What happens that night?

[Jacob wrestles with a man all night long.  Jacob does not over power the man, but the man does not over power Jacob either.]

What does the “man” do to Jacob as they wrestle?
[He touches the socket of Jacob’s hip “so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man”. (Genesis 32:25 NIV)]

What does Jacob require of the “man”?
[Jacob wants him to bless him.]

What does the man do for Jacob?
[The man gives Jacob a new name: Israel which means “he struggles with God”. {NIV footnotes}]

What does Jacob (Israel) name the place of the struggle?
[Jacob calls the place Peniel (which means “face of God”)  It is also called Penuel.]

Why does Jacob name the place Peniel?
[“So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.’” (Genesis 32:30 NIV)]

What physical affliction will Jacob suffer for the rest of his life?
[He will limp because his hip socket is out of place. (Gen. 32:31)]

What was the surprise waiting for Jacob when he meets Esau?
[While Esau had reason enough to kill his brother Jacob, rather he rushes to meet him and kisses him on the neck.  Jesus recounts a similar scene in Luke 15 in the parable of the Prodigal Son.  There are striking similarities as well as contrasts:  in both cases it was the younger son who was the offending party; both went to far countries for a long time; both return home with lowered expectations (Jacob to his brother who probably hates him; the Prodigal to his father who improbably loves him); both are very surprised at the final outcome.  Jacob was prophesied to receive the blessing of Isaac as the firstborn (though he used deception to accomplish it); the prodigal was the second born but only wanted his inheritance; The prodigal wanted his father to treat him as the “hired help” and Jacob only wanted peace with Esau.  Jacob was willing to lavish on Esau all that the father of the Prodigal had heaped on his son.]

How do we know that Jacob was fully reconciled to Esau?
[Jacob insists that the gift he offers to Esau be accepted even though Esau has great wealth of his own.  “But Esau said, ‘I already have plenty, my brother.  Keep what you have for yourself.’  ‘No, please!’ said Jacob.  ‘If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me.  For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.’”  (Genesis 33:9-10 NIV)]

Jacob declines an offer by Esau to escort him to his destination.  Jacob went to Succoth instead and built shelters for himself and his animals.  In fine Hebrew tradition, Succoth means something too: shelters! (Gen. 33:17)

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.