Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, December 29, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 93

Prayer Point. We saw the destructive power of the sea stirred by Hurricane Sandy’s winds as it brought the wealthiest city in the world to its knees. The ancients knew no greater power than the fury of a stormy sea, and yet God is greater still.  Imagine how we might live if we believed this.  Confess your fears to God and pray that the Holy Spirit will remind of God’s power.

Luke 2:22-40

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?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Background. This scene takes place in the temple complex. When the Gospels and the book of Acts refer to entering the temple or teaching in the temple, it is often not a reference to Herod’s temple itself, but rather to this temple complex, including a number of courts and chambers that surrounded the temple [ESV Study Bible Notes].

The time of purification dates back to the time of Moses when God gave him instructions regarding the purification rituals of the mother and child after childbirth. It can be found in Leviticus 12:3-4. Jesus, being the firstborn male, was to be called holy to the Lord. The ritual sacrifice was a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons for a poor family. A well to do family would have offered a lamb. So we know from this that Mary and Joseph had limited means.

Who was Simeon? What did he say about Jesus that Mary and Joseph marveled at? What does it mean that “this child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many will be revealed.”? Who did Anna speak to regarding Jesus? What were they looking for? Notice in verse 40 that it says “and the grace of God was upon him.” What do you think that means?

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.

Colossians 1:9-20

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?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Background. The “book” of Colossians, is a letter from the Apostle Paul to the church that he planted in the city of Colosse. Paul has moved on in his missionary travels, but he continues to guide this young church through letters such as the one we are reading today. How does Paul pray for the Christians in Colosse? What kind of life does he want them to lead? Who will provide the power to live in this way? What has God done for us that causes us to respond with such a life (see verses 12-14)?

We often think of the tiny Christ child this time of year. How does Paul paint a different picture of Christ? Who is He? What has He done? What is He doing today? How is Christ related to God the Father?  What is Christ’s position over creation? When Paul calls Jesus the first born of creation it does not mean that Jesus was created along with everything else. Being God, Jesus has always existed. In fact Paul says in verse 15 all things were created by Christ. “First born over Creation” is a title referring to Jesus’ lordship over all that God has made and not the first thing that God the Father created.

What is Jesus’ position over the church? What is His mission today?

Why is it important for us to come to know Jesus in this way?

2 John. While it appears that 2 John is a personal letter to a woman and her family, it is far more likely that the phrase “the chosen lady and her children” is a description of a local church. The church is often referred to as the ‘bride of Christ’. If this is the case, ‘your chosen sister’ 2 John 13 refers to the church that John was staying with at the time he wrote the letter.

In American churches we are used to talking about the faith in the past tense: When were you saved? Last week 20 people accepted Christ. We speak of our faith as an event in the past, but John does the faith as way of life, a process that is lived every day. Notice how many times John uses the verb “walk” in this letter to describe the Christian life. List them out. How does this list challenge your understanding of what it means to be a Christian?

What is it that gives John great joy (see verse 4)? What is John’s command to the church (see verse 6)? How is love connected to God’s Law and his commands? 

Having laid out the Christian way of life, what false teaching does John warn against (see verse 7)?

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 Samuel 1:1-2, 7-28

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?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Background. Elkanah (meaning: acquired by God, i.e. perhaps in exchange for firstborn [Num. 3:15; 45] a son of Korah – The Companion Bible p. 367) was a well-to-do man from “the hill country of Ephraim” (v.1) who had two wives: Hannah (meaning Grace) and Peninnah (meaning Pearl). He was of the tribe of Levi, of the sons of Korah – those who waited on the LORD in the tabernacle. Like Jacob’s two wives, one was favored and one was not. Hannah, though she had no children, was more favored than Peninnah, who had a brood of young. While the story of Samuel’s origins has some similarity to Jacob’s life, the story also bears some resemblance to the origins of John the Baptist almost a thousand years later. Hannah and Elizabeth were “barren”. Both women bore sons and both were dedicated to the LORD from an early age. Both were prophets and both played key roles in the Davidic monarchy: Samuel to establish David and John the Baptist to announce the coming of the Messiah, David’s successor. Probably because she was not (as) favored as Hannah, Peninnah used to provoke Hannah to tears each year when the “family” went up to Shiloh (i.e., “where the tabernacle and the ark were” The Companion Bible p. 367) to make their offerings to the LORD. [There is a similarity here between Sarah and Hagar too!] Evidently this was rather acute for Hannah for she went into the temple to ask the LORD to bless her with a son, and if he did so, she would dedicate all his life to the service of the LORD. Eli, the chief priest was very old and his eyesight wasn’t what it used to be, so when he saw Hannah praying (for she was moving her lips but not speaking aloud) he mistook her to be drunk. He admonished her against such behavior whereupon she told him of her plea to God. Eli sends her off with his blessing and a hope that God would “visit” her.

Well, he did. By the time of the next yearly sacrifice, Hannah had delivered of a son whom she named Samuel (meaning “asked of God”, or “God-heard” The Companion Bible p. 367). Hannah’s plan is to wean her son and then leave him at the temple. Her reproach is removed. Hannah was blessed with three more sons and two daughters. Why was Hannah so eager to “lend” her son [for the rest of his life] to the LORD from such an early age? (I think it was a couple of things: an act of thanksgiving for removing her reproach; and an act of faith that the LORD would use and bless Samuel in his service to God.) Her prayers were heard (and answered) which might serve as encouragement to others who knew of her plight.

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

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

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

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

 

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Daily Bible Readings – Friday, July 26, 2013

Psalm Prayer: 40

Prayer Point. How can we repay God for his kindness and salvation? We can do nothing but offer ourselves in gratitude. Think about the ways God has demonstrated grace in your life. Confess to him the areas of your life you are afraid to offer him. Tell him your troubles and ask him to save you once again.

Mark 5:21-43

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the background  to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Jesus had just sailed across the lake, the Sea of Galilee, to cast a legion of demons out of one Gentile man. While he was away, Jairus, a synoguge ruler (think elder or pastor), anxiously waits for Jesus’ return. But Jairus is just one of many. Crowds mobbed Jesus thinking if they could touch him they might be healed.

This presents a problem for the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. She was ceremonially unclean. She could not go to the temple to worship God. Anyone she touched became unclean as well. Imagine living for twelve years having to avoid human contact. Think of the loneliness and the shame.

Pay close attention to …

  • Jairus’ test of faith. Imagine what he must be thinking when Jesus stops to heal the bleeding woman. Imagine what is going through his mind when he finds out his daughter is dead.
  • How desperately the bleeding woman wanted to be well and what happens when she touches Jesus.
  • How the woman responds when Jesus notices that she touched him.
  • The reason Jesus gave the woman for her healing.
  • Who is allowed and not allowed to witness the miracle of the child’s resurrection.
  • The instructions Jesus gives to those who witnessed the girl’s resurrection.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Acts 15:12-21

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. James, the brother of Jesus and widely recognized as a respected leader of the church in Jerusalem, gets up to help the church come to their final decisionHow does he convince the church not to lay the burden of circumcision and the Mosaic Law on these new Gentile believers? What, in the end, are the Gentile believers required to do? How do you think the church makes it difficult today for people who are turning to God (Acts 15:19)?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

1 Samuel 31:1-13

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? Use the “Background” below to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. God has fully abandoned Saul and now Saul must face the Philistines alone in battle. What is Saul driven to do in his despair? Why was his armor bearer unwilling to do it?  This is an important detail to the story.

What humiliation falls on Saul and his sons? How is their honor saved in the end?  Saul had saved Jabesh-gilead at the beginning of his reign (ch. 11), a fact that the men of the city remembered. They cross the Jordan and go about 10 miles (16km) to Beth-shan. The burning of bodies was usually considered desecration, but here the purpose may have been to keep them from further dishonor.  David later reburied the bones (2 Sam. 21:12-14). (ESV Study Bible Notes p. 540 )

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, July 25, 2013

Psalm Prayer: 50

Prayer Point. We’d like to think that God reserves judgment only for irreligious bad people, but this psalm reminds us that “good people” (verses7-15) and “bad people” (verses 16-23) alike have reason to repent. Where do you see yourself in the descriptions of the wicked and the good? Confess those areas to God and pray for the faith to trust him and live with gratitude.

Mark 5:1-20

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 background  to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The Gerasenes was not only “the other side of the lake” (Sea of Galilee) it was also the other side of the tracks. Jesus has left the Jewish world and entered a community of Gentiles. You might notice that there are herds of pigs in this region. No God-fearing Jew would ever raise pigs and very few Jews would have traveled to this region, but Jesus sails across the lake to save one demon-possessed Gentile man.

Pay close attention to …

  • Where the demon-possessed man lived and what his life was like before he met Jesus.
  • The demons’ name and its significance.
  • The demons’ response to Jesus’ mere presence and what it says about His power and authority.
  • How the people of the region respond to Jesus’ miracle.
  • Why Jesus refuses to allow the healed man to leave with him.
  • How the people of Decapolis respond to the healed man (verse 20).

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Acts 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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. As the gospel spreads beyond Judea and Samaria and to the Gentiles, the Christians in Jerusalem and Judea become increasingly nervous about the direction of the church. Finally the tensions reach their boiling point when elders from the church in Judea arrive in Antioch …

What do these teachers from Judea teach the Gentile Christians in Antioch? Who opposes them? How does the church decide to resolve the issue? What is the issue at stake? What do you think would have happened had they gotten this wrong?

Who gets up to defend Paul, Barnabas, and the uncircumcised Christians? What event does he point to demonstrating that God has accepted the Gentiles without circumcision? See Acts 10:1-11:18.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

1 Samuel 28:3-20

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

Background. What has Saul, to his horror, now realized about his relationship with God? The Urim was a set of stones that was kept with the high priest’s clothing. These stones were used to determine the will of God. You might remember that Saul in his anger had slaughtered the priests of God at Nob (1 Samuel 22) and the lone surviving priest, Abiathar, fled to David taking the Urim with him.

What does Saul resort to in an attempt to break the LORD’s silence?

Sometime earlier Saul had banished all necromancers and mediums from the land. Necromancers and mediums (witches) were expressly forbidden by the law: “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers, do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.” (Lev. 19:31 ESV) “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” (Lev. 20:6 ESV)

This is why this is so important. The Philistines are massing themselves against Israel (chapter 29) and Saul is fearful “and his heart trembled greatly”. (1 Sam. 28:5 ESV) Saul is endeavoring to find the LORD’s will. He seeks out prophets and dreamers, and even uses the Umim all to no avail. The LORD has turned a deaf ear to Saul so he stoops to stratagems and tricks to find out the will of the LORD. In desperation Saul seeks a woman of En-dor who is a medium to inquire of her the LORD’s will.

What is surprising about how Saul’s plan worked? What message does Samuel’s ghost deliver to him?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Psalm Prayer: 119:45-72

Prayer Point. Walking God’s path is not easy as this section of Psalm 119 reminds us. Scattered throughout the psalm are appeals to God for help. Pick one or two that resonate with you and make it your prayer this morning.

Mark 4:35-41

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 background  to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The sea was the most feared natural force in the ancient world and was regarded by many as a place of evil.

Pay close attention to …

  • The ways that Jesus demonstrates his power over the sea.
  • Why Jesus is disappointed in his disciples.
  • The disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ miracle.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Acts 14:19-28

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Where do Paul’s opponents in Lystra come from? Pay attention to the towns they are from (see Acts 13:13-15 and 14:1-5). What does this tell you about the efforts to stop Paul?

Take a look at the miracle that occurs between verses 19 and 20. Why do you think the author understates this miracle?

Why do Paul and Barnabas retrace their steps before returning to their home church in Antioch?

What do Paul and Barnabas do when they return to Antioch?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

1 Samuel 25:23-44

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

Background. How does Abigail convince David not to take vengeance into his own hands? Why does Abigail’s loyalty to David seem to run deeper than her loyalty to her husband? It is for the same reason that Jonathan’s loyalty to David surpassed his loyalty to his own father.  See 1 Samuel 23:15-18. What does Abigail recognize in David that her husband, Nabal, is too foolish to see? (See verse 28-30). Who does Abigail believe will take vengeance on her husband?

David, as the Lord’s anointed, is the heir to an ancient promise that God gave to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse.” (see Genesis 12:3)Where do you see this promise in the story of Nabal and Abigail?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Psalm Prayer: 45

Prayer Point. Psalm 45 is a wedding song written for a royal couple, but it is best understood as the music of Jesus’ wedding. We look forward to the day when he will return and marry his bride;  the church. Listen closely to what the world will like under this king’s reign. Think about what would change if these dreams came true and pray, “Lord, your kingdom come.”

Mark 4:21-34

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 you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Jesus used simple stories, sometimes called parables, to describe what life is like under the rule of God, or, as Jesus referred to it, “the kingdom of God.” There are four parables in today’s reading.

Pay close attention to …

  • If you consider that the lamp represents the message of Jesus, what does the parable of the lamp tell us about what we are do with it in God’s kingdom.
  • The connection between hearing carefully and measuring, and what this says about what we are do with the message of God’s kingdom which Jesus has given us (verses 24-25).
  • What the parable of the seeds (verses 26-29) tells us about how the message of Jesus spreads. Look carefully at what the farmer controls and what he does not understand.
  • What the parable of the mustard teaches us about the pattern of growth in God’s kingdom.
  • What Jesus says to the crowds and what he explains to his disciples (verse 33-34).

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Acts 14:1-18

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following background to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Where did Paul and Barnabas go first when they reach Iconium? Compare their approach to Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 10:7-14 and Paul’s declaration in Romans 1:16. What are the results of Paul and Barnabas’ effective preaching? Why do they move on? (see Mark 6:8-11)

What is the unexpected response to the crippled man’s healing? How do the people of Lystra misidentify Paul and Barnabas? How do Paul and Barnabas respond to the prospect of being worshiped? The crowds listening to Paul and Barnabas are Gentiles, people who were unfamiliar with Jewish customs, Scripture and traditions. What do you notice about the way Paul communicates the message of Jesus to the crowds? How are the themes in Paul’s sermon different from what he communicated to Jewish audiences? Compare this sermon to Acts 13:13-41.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

1 Samuel 25:1-22

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

Background. With no fanfare Scripture tells us Samuel died and that all Israel mourned for him and that he was buried in his house at Ramah. What is curious is that only one verse is spent on the death of the book’s namesake and then the story continues on …

How does Nabal (whose name means “foolish or boorish” – see verse 25) respond to David’s request for aid in compensation the protection that David and his men had provided him? What is David going to do to Nabal and all that belongs to him? Who emerges to stave off disaster? Contrast this story to the previous story in chapter 24. In chapter 24, David trusts God to take vengeance. Here in chapter 25 David will trust ________________ to take vengeance.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Monday, June 22, 2013

Psalm Prayer: 41

Prayer Point. God promises to bless those who have regard for the weak, but what hope is there if, like David, we have sinned and are undeserving of his mercy? We boldly cry out to God because there is a second voice in this psalm. In verse 9, David’s voice gives way to Jesus’, who entered our world, took on the curse of our sin and earned for the blessings of verses 1 and 2 (see John 13:18-30). Confess your sin and appeal to God, not on the basis of your goodness, but on what Jesus has done.

Mark 4:1-20

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 background  to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Jesus used simple stories or parables to teach the people about God’s coming kingdom. He came to earth to re-establish God’s rule on earth (“your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” if you remember from the Lord’s Prayer) and prepare the people to enter this new kingdom.

Jesus often told those stories to the crowds, but in today’s reading, he waits until he is alone with his disciples to explain it. The emphasis is that no one will be able to receive Jesus’ teaching and enter his kingdom unless God enables him to do it.

Pay close attention to …

  • The identity of the seed, birds, soil, rocks, thorns and the good harvest.
  • What prevents the seed of God’s word from producing a harvest in a person’s life.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Acts 13:44-52

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following background to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Paul has just preached a sermon in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia declaring that Jesus was the fulfillment of Israel’s hopes and dreams as laid out in the Old Testament. The members of the synagogue, which included both Jews and god-fearing Gentiles (non-Jews who practiced the Jewish faith but had stopped short of undergoing circumcision), were intrigued by what Paul had to say and invited him to speak again. So Paul returns on the following Saturday.

Who shows up this time? How did the Jews respond? Why? Think about what the Jewish Christians had a hard time believing about the Gentiles at this time.

What do Paul and Barnabas do now that they have been rejected the Jews of the synagogue? What happens to the message of Jesus? What kind of opposition does Paul and Barnabas encounter (verse 50)? What do Paul and Barnabas do in response to the opposition (verse 51)?

In Mark 6:8-11 Jesus gave these instructions to his disciples: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no money in your belts … Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.  And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.” How do you see Paul and Barnabas following this pattern?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

1 Samuel 24:1-22

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

Background. Why doesn’t David kill Saul when he has the chance? What does this tell you about his faith? What does David believe about God that frees him not to retaliate against his enemy (see verses 12-15)? How does David’s actions shame Saul?  What is Saul forced to acknowledge?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings, Sunday, July 21, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 63

Prayer Point.  Are we hungry and thirsty enough to reach out to God? Meditate on the promises of this psalm. Confess our lack of faith in these promises. Pray for the faith to believe that God, not money, not relationships, will satisfy us.

Matthew 25:14-30

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 you understand the main points of this passage.

Background.  Jesus’ earthly ministry is coming to a close. Soon he will leave earth and journey to his Father in heaven. To prepare his disciples for his departure, he tells the story.

Who is the master in the story? Who are the servants? What are the talents that are given to the servants? Which servants are praised? Why? Which servant is condemned? Why? How did the servant who hid his talents view the master?

What will we have to believe about God in order to freely invest what he has given us in the work of building Jesus’ kingdom?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Romans 11:33-12:2

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following background to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. It was not unusual for Paul to break out into spontaneous worship in his letters. Romans 11:33-36 is a prime example. What is it about God that causes Paul to worship? Who is God and who are we in relation to him? What does all creation (all things) exist for?

Worship is not only an activity that we participate in on Sunday mornings. It is a 24/7 activity where we declare to the world what we hold to be of highest worth. It can be money, a career, a relationship or it can be God. What does this life of worship look like according to Paul?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

1 Samuel 23:1-18

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

Background. How has David replaced Saul as the protector of Israel?  What do you notice about David’s relationship with God?  What does he do before each major decision?  

God’s priest Abiathar, the lone survivor of the priests at Nob, is now with David and not with Saul.  He carries with him the Urim and the Thummin, oracle stones through which the high priest could determine the will of God.  It is likely that this is how God communicated his answers to David.

When David flees to the desert, who comes out to support him?  What amazing declaration does Jonathan make?  Compare Jonathan’s attitude toward the throne in contrast to his father Saul.  What was most important for Saul?  for Jonathan?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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