Daily Bible Readings – Palm Sunday, April 13, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 103

Prayer Point. Are looking for a reason to praise God? Psalm 103 gives you a number of options. Pick two or three and offer your own prayer of praise.

Luke 19:41-48

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 knows he is riding into his enemies’ stronghold. The people of Jerusalem will reject him as king and hand him over to Romans to be crucified. He will enter Jerusalem and continue on to the temple in the heart of the city. There Jesus will find a market setup in the outer court of the Gentiles (Gentiles were not allowed in the inner courts of the temple). Originally this market was created as a convenience to those who traveled to the temple to worship God. You could buy the animal sacrifice right at the temple, rather than bring one all the way from home. The moneychangers allowed pilgrims to exchange money for temple money, the currency that was used to pay the temple tax. What began as a convenience became a business with big profits made on the backs of poor pilgrims. It’s location in the Court of the Gentiles effectively shut out the Gentles from worshiping God.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus feels about Jerusalem. What does he wish would happen? Compare this to Luke 7:27-29.
  • How Jesus reacts to the sellers in the temple. Who is threatened by Jesus’ actions and what are they plotting to do?
  • Why the chief priests and teachers of the law are unable to kill Jesus.

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. What is God asking me to do?
  • Repent. How have I failed to obey what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.
  • Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey what I have read?

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

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

1 Timothy 6:12-16

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. 1 Timothy is a personal letter from the Apostle Paul to Timothy, a young missionary that Paul mentored.  Timothy after serving with Paul on his missionary journeys was left behind in Ephesus to oversee the churches that were established there.  Paul writes to encourage and instruct his young protege.

Pay close attention to …

  • The fight Timothy is called to fight.
  • What he is to hold on to.
  • How long he is to keep the commands of God.
  • The hope that makes the struggle worth it.

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.

Zechariah 9:9-12, 12:9-11, 13:1, 7-9

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

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

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

Background. Much of what we look at today will have a ring of familiarity about it because today is Palm Sunday which launches us into Holy Week.  We refer to Jesus entry into Jerusalem as the “triumphal entry”.  That could mean any of several things, but it is quite significant that Jesus is atop a donkey.  This marks the “triumphal” aspect for if the king is riding on a donkey then he has been victorious and comes in peace.  A king seated on a war horse, obviously, is off to battle.  Not so here.

Pay close attention to …

  • These readings and how they relate to all the activity going on in Jerusalem as Jesus lives through these prophecies.
  • The emotion being encouraged (v. 9:9 )
  • What is being proclaimed (v.9:10 )
  • “…blood of my covenant…” (v. 9:11 )*
  • “Prisoners of hope…” (v.9:12 )

*The writer of Hebrews tells us “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins…” (9:22 NIV)  Indeed anything needing purification in the Old Testament required some amount of animal blood.  It would be a safe guess that there was enough blood shed in the thousands of sacrifices during the Old Covenant to float Noah’s ark.  Still that was insufficient.  The importance of blood in the scripture extends even to food.  Blood = life thus it was forbidden for anyone to eat food with blood in it.

John the Baptist first referred to Jesus as “the lamb of God”.  This lamb, like the hundreds of thousands before him, will have to surrender his life (blood) which will prove to be a sufficient sacrifice.

Continuing… (Zechariah 12:9-11)

  • “They will look on me, the one they pierced (v. 12:10 )**
  • Weeping in Jerusalem (v. 12:11 )

** Psalm 22:16-18 (NIV) “Dogs [Gentiles] have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.  I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me  They divide my garments among them and cast lost for my clothing.”

“Dog” was a common epithet for anyone who was a non-Jew.  Jesus also used it when he was asked to heal a Canaanite woman’s daughter of demon possession.  “The woman came and knelt before him. ‘Lord help me!’ she said.  He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.’  ‘Yes, Lord, she said, ‘but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’  Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.’  And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”  (Matthew 15:25-28 NIV)

Not finished yet… (Zechariah 13:1, 7-9)

  •  The sheep (v. 13:7 )

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 – Sunday, February 16, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 19

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

Mark 10:23-31

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. Wealth, especially when it was experienced by those who were outwardly moral, was considered to be a sign of God’s favor. Yet, when a rich young man came to Jesus asking for eternal life, Jesus asks this man to sell his possessions, give the money to the poor, and come follow him. He goes away sad and the disciples are shocked. It was assumed that wealthy people who had received their riches through virtuous living and hard work would be among the first to receive eternal life. But Jesus declares, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

How does Jesus answer the disciples question, “Who then can be saved?” What promise does Jesus offer to those who leave everything to follow Him? When will the rewards be experienced? Read verse 30 closely.

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 Timothy 3:14-4:10

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. 1 Timothy is a letter from Paul to Timothy, Paul’s “son in the faith”.  Timothy was a young missionary who was personally mentored by Paul.  He traveled with Paul planting churches across the Roman Empire.  At the time this letter was written, Timothy is now on his own.  Paul continues to guide him through letters such as this one. “I am writing these instructions so that … you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household …” (1 Timothy 3:14-15)

What is the foundational truth upon which the church is built? ‘He’ in verse 16 is Jesus. His appearance = Jesus’ birth. His vindication = resurrection. “Taken up in glory” = Jesus’ ascension to heaven.

What challenges will the church face?  In the Roman Empire, the dominant intellectual force was the remnants of Greek philosophy.  The Greeks taught the physical world was evil while the spiritual world was good.  These ideas began to filter their way into the church.  Since the physical world was evil, some Christian teachers taught against marriage and indulging in certain foods.  These pleasures were marked as ‘worldly’ and therefore evil. Does Paul agree with the Greeks?  Is the physical world good or bad?  Why or why not? How does Paul compare being spiritual to physical training? How are they similar? How are they different?

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 29:20-35

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 goes wrong?

[Laban tricks Jacob.  Jacob had agreed to work for Laban for seven (!) years for the hand of Rachel. Jacob thought he was working for Rachel, but Laban married off his elder daughter Leah to Jacob instead.]

What is the irony of this event?
[Jacob calls Laban a “deceiver”; the very name he was given at birth.  He was tricked by someone who was better at it (deceiving) than he.]

What was Laban’s excuse for the “sleight of hand” played against Jacob?
[“It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one.”  (v. 29:27 NIV)]

What is the next bargain Jacob makes?
[Jacob agrees again to work another seven (!) years, this time for Rachel.]

What is the “bridal week” referred to in verse 27?
[It is a seven year period.]

What happened to Leah as a result of Jacob’s dealings with Laban?
[Jacob preferred Rachel to Leah.  “He loved Rachel more than Leah.” (v. 29:30 NIV)]

How did the LORD come to Leah’s rescue?
[“When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.” (v. 29:31 NIV)]

How many times had Leah given birth during this time?  What were the names of her children?

[Leah gave birth four times: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah.  Reuben is the firstborn who loses his status as firstborn for what amounts to rebellion (or usurpation); Levi will be ancestor of both Moses and Aaron; and Judah is the ancestor of both David and Jesus.]

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Reading – Sunday, May 5, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 34

Prayer Point.  David is remembering when God miraculously saved him and allowing that memory to move to worship. Take time today to think about a time when God intervened in your life and offer God your own prayer of praise.

Matthew 13:24-34

Background. Jesus tells three stories, or parables, to illustrate the growth of the kingdom of heaven on earth.  God’s will is obeyed perfectly in heaven, but through Jesus and his ministry, this kingdom is now invading the earth.  Jesus’ mission will not be complete until all evil on earth is eradicated and God’s will is obeyed on earth as it is in heaven.

In Jesus’ previous story, the Parable of the Sower (Luke 13:1-23), seeds symbolize Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God.  These seeds are planted in the soil of the human heart and if the soil is good, having been prepared by God himself, the seed springs to life and produces a harvest.

In today’s reading, the good seed, the mustard seed and the yeast will continue that same metaphor; symbolizing Jesus’ message.

Pay close attention to …

  • How the enemy attempts to spoil the harvest of good seed (verses 25).
  • When the farmer will deal with the weeds and why.
  • If the good seed is Jesus’ words planted in the hearts of his followers, the weeds symbolize _____________.
  • In the parable of the mustard seed, how does the kingdom of heaven begin and where does it end up.
  • What the spread of the yeast tells us about how the kingdom of heaven spreads.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

1 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Background. 1 Timothy is a letter from Paul to Timothy, Paul’s “son in the faith” who was personally mentored  by him.  At the time this letter was written, Timothy is now on his own.  Paul continues to guide him through letters such as this one. “I am writing these instructions so that … you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household …” (1 Timothy 3:14-15).

Pay close attention to …

  • The mystery and source of godliness.  Note that Jesus is the “he” of verse 16.
  • The challenges the church will face in verses 4:1-5.
  • What the false teachers are saying that is contrary to what God said.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

Leviticus 25:1-17

Well, if the week has seven days, and one is to rest on one of the seven days (the Sabbath), it stands to reason that the LORD would declare, with regard to tilling the land, that the seventh year would be a year of rest for the land.

Now, if planting is forbidden, how are the people to gather food for themselves? (“Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you – for yourself, your manservant and maidservant, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your lands. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.” (Leviticus 25:6-7 NIV))

What makes the Year of Jubilee the Year of Jubilee? Again with the sevens. Seven times seven comes to forty-nine. Seven sabbaths of years. During the seventh (!) month (that month of the New Year, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths) the trumpet will sound on the tenth day of the seventh month (the Day of Atonement). What happens then? (“Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines.” (Leviticus 25:10-11 NIV) It is traditional in our culture to refer to marriages which have reached fifty years as a “Golden Jubilee”. I wonder if there is a connection to this.)

“In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to his own __________________. (Property)

If land had to be sold during the time up to the Year of Jubilee, how was it to be returned to the rightful owner? (The price of the land was to be, what we call, prorated. “You are to buy from your countryman on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. And he is to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops. When the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what he is really selling you is the number of crops.” (Leviticus 25:15-16 NIV))

The Lord wants to believe his people are honest. What does he tell them to encourage them to honesty? (“Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God.” (Leviticus 25:17 NIV))

Ecclesiasticus 43:1-12; 27-32 (Not Scripture but still worthwhile reading)

1    But the ungodly were assailed to the end by
pitiless anger,
for God knew in advance even their future actions:
2    how, though they themselves had permitted your
people to depart
and hastily sent them out,
they would change their minds and pursue them.
3    For while they were still engaged in
mourning
and were lamenting at the graves of their dead,
they reached another foolish decision,
and pursued as fugitives those whom they had
begged and compelled to leave.
4    For the fate they deserved drew them on to their
end,
and made them forget what had happened,
in order that they might fill up the punishment
that their torments still lacked,
and that your people might experience an
incredible journey,
but they themselves might meet a strange death.

6    For the whole creation in its nature was
fashioned anew,
complying with your commands,
so that your children might be kept unharmed.
7    The cloud was seen overshadowing the camp,
and dry land emerging where water had stood
before,
an unhindered way out of the Red Sea,
and a grassy plain out of the raging waves,
8    where those protected by your hand passed through
as one nation,
after gazing on marvelous wonders.

—————————————————————————————————————–

18    For the elements changed places with one another,
as on a harp the notes vary the nature of the
rhythm,
while each note remains the same.
This may be clearly inferred from the sight of what
took place.
19    For land animals were transformed into water creatures,
and creatures that swim moved over to the land.
20    Fire even in water retained its normal power,
and water forgot its fire-quenching nature.
21    Flames, on the contrary, failed to consume
the flesh of perishable creatures that walked among
them
nor did they melt the crystalline, quick-melting
kind of heavenly food.

22    For in everything, O LORD, you have exalted and
glorified your people,
and you have not neglected to help them at all
times and in all places.

Pay close attention to …

  • How reckless the Egyptians became; mad with rage (vv. 1-8 )
  • How nature took part in Israel’s escape (vv. 18-22 )

Unfortunately even with this accounting of the Exodus, Israel managed to “forget” the LORD and began a regime of whining and bellyaching as they roamed throughout the wilderness.  Memories run short on blessings but long on grudges.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

Daily Bible Readings – Palm Sunday, March 24, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 24

Prayer Point. “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” Who can make such a claim? Only Jesus can. He is the King who entered the gates of Jerusalem and offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Thank God for opening the door to know and enjoy him through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Matthew 21:12-17

Background. There are unfulfilled dreams for the temple which drives Jesus’ anger.  He quotes Isaiah 56:7 as he overturns the tables of the sellers and moneychangers.

Isaiah 56:6-7 And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD and to worship him … these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house [temple] will be called a house of prayer for all nations.

In the temple of Jesus’ day, there was only one place where Gentiles could come to worship God and that was the outer court called the Court of the Gentiles. That was the place where the moneychangers and sellers set up shop effectively shutting out the Gentiles from worshiping God. These conniving opportunists had all but killed God’s dream that the nations of the world worship him there.

It gets worse. These moneychangers and sellers also gouged the pilgrims who had no choice but to purchase their wares. Jesus shows particular anger towards those who sold doves, which were the offerings given by the poor when they couldn’t afford a lamb. In God’s house, the poor were exploited and foreigners were excluded.

Pay close attention to …

  • The contrast between the moneychangers and the dove sellers and Jesus.
  • What the children can see that the chief priests and teachers of the law could not. Note that Son of David was a title for the Messiah.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

1 Timothy 6:12-16

Background. 1 Timothy is a personal letter from the Apostle Paul to Timothy, a young missionary that Paul mentored.  Timothy after serving with Paul on his missionary journeys was left behind in Ephesus to oversee the churches that were established there.  Paul writes to encourage and instruct his young protege.

Pay close attention to …

  • The fight Timothy is called to fight.
  • What he is to hold on to.
  • How long he is to keep the commands of God.
  • The hope that makes the struggle worth it.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

Zechariah 9:9-12; 12:9-21; 13:1, 7-9

Background. Much of what we look at today will have a ring of familiarity about it because today is Palm Sunday which launches us into Holy Week.  We refer to Jesus entry into Jerusalem as the “triumphal entry”.  That could mean any of several things, but it is quite significant that Jesus is atop a donkey.  This marks the “triumphal” aspect for if the king is riding on a donkey then he has been victorious and comes in peace.  A king seated on a war horse, obviously, is off to battle.  Not so here.

Pay close attention to …

  • These readings and how they relate to all the activity going on in Jerusalem as Jesus lives through these prophecies.
  • The emotion being encouraged (v. 9:9 )
  • What is being proclaimed (v.9:10 )
  • “…blood of my covenant…” (v. 9:11 )*
  • “Prisoners of hope…” (v.9:12 )

*The writer of Hebrews tells us “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins…” (9:22 NIV)  Indeed anything needing purification in the Old Testament required some amount of animal blood.  It would be a safe guess that there was enough blood shed in the thousands of sacrifices during the Old Covenant to float Noah’s ark.  Still that was insufficient.  The importance of blood in the scripture extends even to food.  Blood = life thus it was forbidden for anyone to eat food with blood in it.

John the Baptist first referred to Jesus as “the lamb of God”.  This lamb, like the hundreds of thousands before him, will have to surrender his life (blood) which will prove to be a sufficient sacrifice.

Continuing… (Zechariah 12:9-11)

  • “They will look on me, the one they pierced (v. 12:10 )**
  • Weeping in Jerusalem (v. 12:11 )

** Psalm 22:16-18 (NIV) “Dogs [Gentiles] have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.  I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me  They divide my garments among them and cast lost for my clothing.”

“Dog” was a common epithet for anyone who was a non-Jew.  Jesus also used it when he was asked to heal a Canaanite woman’s daughter of demon possession.  “The woman came and knelt before him. ‘Lord help me!’ she said.  He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.’  ‘Yes, Lord, she said, ‘but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’  Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.’  And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”  (Matthew 15:25-28 NIV)

Not finished yet… (Zechariah 13:1, 7-9)

  •  The sheep (v. 13:7 )

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

Daily Bible Readings – Saturday June 2, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 42

Prayer Point: Spiritual dryness and general sadness can either drive us to our addictions that dull our emptiness, or we can allow that thirst to fuel our pursuit of God. Pray Psalm 42 today, that the emptiness and brokenness in your life will drive you to Jesus.

Matthew 13:36-43

In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus tells a short story or parable about a farmer who planted wheat in his field. That night, however, his enemy came and sowed weeds so that the weeds grew up among the wheat. The owner’s servants realized what happened and asked to pull the weeds, but the farmer refuses for fear of uprooting the good seed. The time for sorting the good from the bad will come at the harvest.

Jesus often told such stories to the crowds, but he explained them to his disciples when they were alone. Who is the farmer in the story? Note that “Son of Man” is a title taken from Daniel 7 which Jesus used for himself to assert that he was God (see Daniel 7:13-14). Who is the enemy? What is the harvest? Who are the weeds? Who are the wheat? What does this story tell us about the nature of the church? Should we expend energy trying to have a “pure church” today?

1 Timothy 6:6-21

Why is contentment so important and greed so dangerous? What is Timothy commanded to pursue instead of wealth? What is he to fight for? What is he commanded to hold on to and for how long? How is Timothy instructed to pastor those who are wealthy? What greater treasure is Timothy to point them to?

How does Paul summarize Timothy’s role in the Ephesian church in verse 20?

Proverbs 25:15-28

These are more proverbs of Solomon. These particular proverbs were copied by King Hezekiah’s men. “Through patience a ruler can be persuaded and a gentle tongue can break a bone.” (Proverbs 25:15) What does this proverb concern itself with? (I believe this proverb is talking about diplomacy.)
“If you find honey, eat just enough – too much of it, and you will vomit. Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house – too much of you, and he will hate you.” (Proverbs 25:16-17 NIV) These two proverbs are closely related. It amounts to “familiarity breeds contempt”.
Verse 25:18 “Like a club…a sword…a sharp arrow…” This proverb describes the effects of false testimony against one’s neighbor. It is, of course, against the ninth commandment.
Verse 25:19 “Like a bad tooth …a lame foot…” is a description of the unfaithful in times of trouble. A “fair weather friend” as it were.
Verse 25:20 “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” Just to be clear about what “like vinegar on soda” means: According to the ESV Study Bible “25:20 Putting vinegar (which is acidic) on soda (which is alkaline) does no good, destroying the distinctive properties of both.” Usually when one has a heavy heart it is because one has suffered a great loss. Trying to boost morale by singing songs only demonstrates how insensitive such behavior is. You may recall that King Saul was plagued by an evil spirit once the LORD’s Spirit left him. In order to cheer Saul up it was determined that someone come in and play music for the king to drive the evil away. David was the musician chosen.

“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to heat: if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-22 NIV) This proverb was so profound that Paul quoted it verbatim in Romans (12:20). Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, encouraged us to love our enemies: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45a NIV)

Verse 25:23 talks about a backbiter or a gossiper. No one likes a backbiter. But as for the north wind bringing rain, well; in our case it would be snow (in the winter time).

“Better to live in a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” (v.25:24 NIV) I don’t think I want to say anything about that!

Back to the ‘likes’.

“Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.” (v. 25:25) I don’t think the land has to be all that distant. Good news is always beneficial to a weary soul.

“Like a muddied spring or a polluted wed is a righteous man who give way to the wicked.” (v. 25:26) It is always disheartening when a good man goes bad. This one’s for the books – me making a sports reference. When Pete Rose was caught betting against his own team he proved a serious disappointment to thousands, if not millions of fans. Can you think of others who proved disappointing once they had fallen from their pedestal?

We re-visit the honey in this verse (v. 25:27). “It is not good to eat too much honey.” I take that to mean that it is unhealthy. We have seen this above in Proverbs 25:16. Seeking one’s own honor is nothing more than patting oneself on his back. Everyone loves that!
Verse 25:28 is perhaps somewhat foreign to us today. There is enough history which depicts what it is like when the city walls are breached. The lack of self-control is a mark of a fool. Without self-control a person’s defenses are gone – like the broken down walls of a city.

Daily Bible Readings – Friday June 1, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 35

Prayer Point: David in Psalm 35 is suffering at the hands of his enemies, but he does not seek vengeance for himself. That he leaves in the hands of God and so should we. Especially when we consider that Jesus, the Son of David, was nailed to the cross because of our sins and yet he said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Pray for the faith to leave issues of justice into God’s hands. Meditate on the fact that you were God’s enemy and he loved you.

Matthew 13:31-35

Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed and to yeast working through dough. What do you think Jesus is trying to tell us about the way his kingdom grows and spreads? What does it look like in the beginning? Where does it look like in the end?

1 Timothy 5:17-25

The word translated “honor” in verse 17 is closely related to financial support, just as the fifth commandment, “honor your father and mother” is a call to financially support your parents in their old age. In what two ways were elders to be honored by the church (see verses 18 and 19)? How are elders to be treated if they persist in sin (see verse 20)?

The “laying on of hands” in verse 22 refers to setting apart a person as an elder. How were elders not to be appointed?

Proverbs 23:19-21; 23:29-24:2

“Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons becomes poor, and drowsiness cloths them in rags.” (Proverbs 12:19-21 NIV) What is the writer advising his son? (The writer is doing what I hope every parent does. Do things in moderation: no drunkenness, no gluttony. A lesson in common sense.)

Verses 29-30 “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who had bloodshot eyes….” I don’t have to ask any questions! So what is the answer? (“Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.”)

What is the theme in this section (23:31-35)? (The theme of this section is to guard against the evils of intoxication/drunkenness. This is a vivid description of what being drunk is like. How do I know that, you ask? Well, in my ill-spent youth I managed to fall into this trap from time to time.)
Verses 24:1-2 exhort against keeping bad company, it can only lead to trouble.

Daily Bible Readings – Thursday May 31, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 37

Prayer Point: Every day we are confronted with stories and images of evil and injustice in the media. There is a temptation to slip into anger and fear. Psalm 37 calls us to a different path. “Do not fret … trust in the Lord … delight yourself in the Lord …” Notice all the things we are commanded to do and do not in the psalm. Pray for the faith  to follow this path even though the world is a dangerous place.

Matthew 13:24-30

Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a field with wheat and weeds. Why can’t the farmers pull the weeds before the harvest? What will happen to the wheat and the weeds after the harvest? Apply this story to the church. Should the church spend energy trying to ferret out people who are not true believers in Christ? Why or why not? Who will take care of that in the future?

1 Timothy 4:1-16

What challenges will the church face in the later times (the time between ascension and the return of Jesus)? Paul teaches Timothy that a gospel way of life is concerned with love, that is living in right relationships with God and with others (see 1 Timothy 1:5; 2:1-2; 2:8-9) What kind of the lifestyle do the false teachers teach (see 1 Timothy 4:2-3 and 1 Timothy 1:20)? How is it different from what Paul taught?

What is Timothy commanded to point out (see verses 4-6), avoid (see verse 7), and train himself to become (verses 7-8)? Where is he to put his hope? How should he handle the fact that he is a young leader in the church? What three things should he focus on? In what two ways should he teach the gospel way of life to the Ephesians? What two things should he watch closely and why?

Proverbs 21:30-22:6

This section opens with: “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.” (Proverbs 21:30 NIV) There is nothing I can add to that, but I can give you a biblical citation which will underscore that truth. Check out Acts 26:14 “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Here Paul was self-sent on a mission to Damascus to round up the followers of “the Way” to bring them back to Jerusalem. That was not, however, the Lord’s plan.

Verse 31 makes it clear that no matter how much one prepares (for anything) it is the LORD who will determine the outcome. The obvious demonstration of this is the encounter between David and Goliath. Gideon is another. He was commissioned to raise an army to go against a multi-national force. Alas Gideon’s army of 10,000 was much too much. The LORD knew that if Gideon had gone up against such a force and had prevailed, Gideon could then take credit for the victory whereas the victor would be the LORD. So the Lord, by various means, whittled the 10,000 man force to a mere 300 men. Care to guess who won? Care to guess who ended up with the credit? (Of course the questions are rhetorical.)

What is the subject of verse 1 of Chapter 22? (Good character and good reputation are more to be desired than riches.)
What is the main thing we most forget in verse 2? (Before God there is no favoritism either of race or economic status.)
What is the difference between the prudent and the simple in verse 3? (The prudent man can see danger whereas the simple apparently do not.)
According to verse 4 what bring wealth and honor and life? (Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life. Wealth can be defined in any number of ways other than in possessions. I have seen life in the direst of circumstances – quite apart from worldly wealth.)
Verses 5 and 6 go hand in hand. Both verses address rearing and training. The training in referred to in verse six yields its fruit in verse 5. How? (If one is properly trained or reared he will have been instructed against the ways of the wicked and thus will be better able to see the thorns and snares mentioned.)