Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, March 1, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 104

Prayer Point. Why is God worthy of our praise? He created our world; the valley, the mountains and the seas.  He has given rhythm to our world with days, nights, weeks, seasons and years. He is our provider and he is our Savior. Think about the world God has made, meditate on Jesus’ death and resurrection and offer God your own psalm of praise.

John 12:20-26

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. Word spreads in Jerusalem that Jesus, who raised Lazarus from the dead, is coming to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover. Those who hear the message rush out to meet him, hailing him as the King and Messiah sent by God to save them. Not all who  are interested in greeting Jesus are Jews.  John tells us that there are Greeks in the city who also wish to meet Jesus.  These men had come to the city to celebrate the Passover.  Most likely they would have been “God-fearers” or Gentiles who worshiped and followed the God of Israel but had not yet fully converted by undergoing circumcision.

Jesus will not directly answer their question, but instead talks about his death (lifted up = crucifixion) and its implications for those who would follow him. “Son of Man” is a title that Jesus used for himself and is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14.  The Son of Man in that prophecy ascends to heaven on the clouds and is given the authority to rule over heaven and earth for eternity.

Pay close attention to …

  • The comparison between Jesus and a kernel of wheat.  What will not happen unless he dies?
  • What is expected of those who wish to follow Jesus. How must they view life?

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.

2 Timothy 1:1-14

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

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

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

Background. Some of the most poignant literature are letters written from prison. We are fortunate to have Martin Luther King’s letters from the Birmingham Jail and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings from his final days in a Nazi Prison. This is one of those letters. Paul is a prisoner in Rome and he is about to die. He writes to a young man, Timothy, whom he personally trained and now leads the church in Ephesus. Timothy was raised up for this moment; to continue Paul’s work as his life comes to a close.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Paul understands his role in life. Note that ‘apostle’ means ‘one who is sent.’
  • The nature of Paul’s relationship with Timothy.
  • The gift that God gave Timothy and what he is to do with it.
  • Why Paul invites Timothy to be bold and join with him in suffering for Jesus.
  • What Timothy is asked to do with the training Paul gave him (verses 13-14).

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 8:22-36

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.

Advertisements

Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, February 9, 2014

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.

Mark 10:13-22

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. Children in the ancient world did not have the social standing that they have today. We worship youth today in our culture and maybe overly so, but in Jesus’ day, children were often marginalized as we do the poor, the ugly and the elderly. How does Jesus view those who are not valued by our world? How are people to enter the kingdom of God? Who are they to identify with?

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.

2 Timothy 2:14-21

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. The book of Timothy is a letter from the apostle Paul to his “dear son” (spiritual son) Timothy. Timothy had traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys learning to become a missionary in his own right. At some point, Timothy reached a level of maturity and was sent out on his own. Paul continued his relationship with Timothy through letters such as this one, passing on to him encouragement and wisdom.

What is Timothy called to warn his congregation against? What is Timothy to encourage his people to become? (vs. 15)  What “infection” has infiltrated the church? Why is Paul confident that this church will survive? (vs. 19)

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 24:50-67

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. Abraham’s servant then showered Bethuel and Laban with the riches Abraham had sent along.  Kind of like sealing the deal.

The next morning Abraham’s servant was fully prepared to return to Abraham.  What was Bethuel and Laban’s delay?
[Bethuel and Laban wanted Rebekah to remain at home another ten days.]

The servant of Abraham has a sense of urgency in his departure. I think that he may be afraid that Bethuel and Laban may change their minds, or worse, that Abraham may die in the meantime.  The truth is the scripture does not tell us.

Who gets the final decision?
[Rebekah had the final say.  I think that that was unusual.  In a patriarchal society (such as that one) the women very rarely had any say over their futures.]

How does this story culminate?
[There was Isaac meditating in the field and he notices camels afar off approaching.  He then goes out to meet the small caravan.  Rebekah asks Abraham’s servant who is approaching and he tells her that it is Isaac (the son of) his master.  She covers her face with a veil and then goes off with Isaac into Sarah’s tent and Isaac then marries Rebekah.  The bible tells us that Isaac was then comforted after his mother’s death.]

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 9, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 136

Prayer Point. God has forgiven us in the past. How can we expect him to forgive us today? Because God’s love and faithfulness, righteousness and peace, came together in Jesus. He forgives us because Jesus bore the curse for our sin and earned our blessing with his righteousness. Confess your sins to God today and receive the forgiveness that Jesus earned for you.

Mark 10:46-52

Background. Jesus the Messiah is on his way to Jerusalem to lay down his life for our sins. As he and his disciples pass the city of Jericho they encounter Bartimaeus begging on the side of the road. Bartimaeus may be blind, but he can see most people can’t, that Jesus is the Messiah or Son of David. He believes that Jesus has the power to open his eyes.

Pay close attention to …

  • The question Jesus asks Bartimaeus and why he may have asked it.
  • Bartimaeus’ response to Jesus’ question.
  • The reason why Jesus decides to heal him.

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)

2 Timothy 4:1-8

Background. 2 Timothy is a letter from a dying man, Paul, to his young protege, Timothy, who will carry on his ministry. These are final words of instruction.

Pay close attention to …

  • What challenges Paul sees in Timothy’s future and how he urges him to meet it.
  • How Paul deals with the reality of his impending death.

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)

Isaiah 57:3-13

Background. The first two verses of Chapter 57 actually set the tone for the rest of the Chapter. “The righteous perish, an no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.” (v. 1) The next eleven verses go over territory we have discussed before: false gods.

Pay close attention to …

  • Who is being addressed beginning in verse 3 (v. 3) 
  • Offspring of liars (v. 4 )
  • The idols (vv. 6-10 ) 
  • Who has not been remembered nor pondered in the heart (v. 11 )
  • What is exposed and to whom they cry for help (vv. 12-13 )
  • The man who makes me his refuge (v. 13 )

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 – Friday, February 8, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 91

Prayer Point. Are you or someone you know struggling with fear? Meditate and pray through this psalm. Remember that if God rescued Jesus from the grave, he will also be a refuge for us, who belong to Jesus.

Mark 10:32-45

Background. There is fear mixed with excitement as Jesus leads his disciples to Jerusalem. The disciples are afraid because the chief priests and teachers of the law, who were based in Jerusalem, were looking to kill Jesus. They are excited because they believe Jesus may be the Messiah and is about to establish the kingdom of God. They reasoned that as members of his inner circle, they would be given high positions in his new government. What the disciples don’t understand is that Jesus’ path to the throne leads to the cross. Instead of killing his enemies, he must first lay down his life for them.

Pay close attention to …

  • What Jesus says is going to happen to him.
  • The pressing argument that ensues among the disciples and how it demonstrates that the disciples don’t understand what is about to happen to Jesus.

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)

2 Timothy 3:1-17

Background. Paul understood the world’s “last days” to be the period of time between Jesus’ ascension into heaven and his return. Paul and Timothy lived in the “last days,” as do we, so we can draw parallels from Paul’s observations of the world to our own time.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Paul describes humanity during the last days (verses 1-9)
  • What life will be like for those who follow Christ in such a world (verses 10-13)
  • How Timothy is to respond to the last days and what he is to continue doing (verses 14-17)

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)

Isaiah 56:1-8

Background. It is an unfortunate by-product of the Covenant of Circumcision that the people (those circumcised) would begin to see themselves as better than everybody else. Add to that the appellation the “Chosen People” and that might settle the issue. The problem is that that was not ever true. Circumcision was only an outward sign that one accepted or wanted to be a participant in the covenant. Throughout all of Israel’s history the Jews have presented themselves, more or less, as an entitled people because of their “special” connection with God. That is, of course, until God got angry with them. This attitude is clearly displayed in the prophet Jonah who was the reluctant prophet sent to those heathens living in Nineveh. He did not want to go in the first place (because he hated the Ninevites) and managed to bring God’s message to the city (he only proclaimed to a third of the city — the message was then spread by word of mouth) and then went outside the city sat down and waited for the Lord to bring down fire and brimstone on the good citizens. The problem: God wanted to spare Nineveh and its citizens. The upshot: they repented and God relented and Jonah pouted. Chapter 56 of Isaiah seeks to drive home to the Jews that the Lord wants to bring salvation to more than just the Jews.

Pay close attention to …

  • Who is being addressed (v. 2 )
  • The foreigners and eunuchs (v. 3 )
  • What the Lord says about these foreigners and eunuchs (vv. 5-6 )
  • Where the Lord will bring them (foreigners and eunuchs) (v. 7 )
  • The exiles of Israel (v. 8 )

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 – Thursday, February 7, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 85

Prayer Point. God has forgiven us in the past. How can we expect him to forgive us today? Because God’s love and faithfulness, righteousness and peace, came together in Jesus. He forgives us because Jesus bore the curse for our sin and earned our blessing with his righteousness. Confess your sins to God today and receive the forgiveness that Jesus earned for you.

Mark 10:17-31

Background. The people of Israel in Jesus’ day were eagerly awaiting the Messiah. This Messiah would establish God’s kingdom on earth and those who were allowed to enter it were given the gift of eternal life. The question: who is in and who is out? The rich man who approached Jesus asked the same question this way: “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The common belief was that good people; that is people who did a reasonably good job of keeping God’s commandments were in, and bad people were out. Riches were largely seen as a sign of God’s blessing so the disciples expected Jesus to reassure this man that had already done enough to inherit eternal life. Instead Jesus has a question …

Pay close attention to …

  • The only person Jesus considers to be “good.”
  • The man’s assessment of his record in keeping the 10 Commandments.
  • How Jesus exposes the one thing this man lacks. What he loves more than God and his neighbor (See also Mark 12:28-31).
  • Why it is difficult, but not impossible, for a wealthy man to enter the kingdom of God.
  • The reward that Jesus offers in this life as well as the next, to those who leave everything to follow him.

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)

2 Timothy 2:14-26

Background. Paul, who is imprisoned and nearing the end of his life, writes to Timothy, a young man he has personally trained to carry on his ministry. The letter is full of advice from a seasoned, faithful missionary to his “son in the faith” who now oversees the church in Ephesus.

Pay close attention to …

  • What Timothy is supposed to do as a leader of the church.
  • What he is advised to avoid.
  • How Timothy is to deal with those under his care.

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)

Isaiah 55:1-13

Background:
If ever one needed a reason to believe in God Chapter 55 of Isaiah may help to provide it. Here we have an image of just how compassionate God is. Since we are a society of “vested self-interest” (i.e., what’s in it for me), the motivation in these verses may just meet that need. While God is worthy of our devotion, adoration and anything else one can give him, still he manages to overwhelm those who love him with great blessings which he seeks to grant to everyone. Consider the opening: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat!” Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1 NIV) The “word” is a central feature of this Chapter.

Pay close attention to …

  • Who is invited (v. 1 )
  • The proper use of money (v. 2 )
  • Hearing (v. 3 )
  • Why nations will hasten to God’s people (v. 5 )
  • Why the wicked should forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts (v. 7 )
  • “My thoughts” vs. “your thoughts” (vv. 8-9)
  • What the “word that goes out from my mouth” will do (v. 11 )
  • The revocation of Murphy’s Laws (the first being: if anything can go wrong it will) (v. 13 )

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 – Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 81

Prayer Point. The God who rescued Israel from slavery is the same God that rescued us from slavery to sin through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus. How can we not believe that this faithful God will not satisfy us today? Confess to God those areas of your life where you are struggling to trust him to satisfy you. Pray for the faith to open your mouth wide so that he might fill it.

Mark 10:1-16

Background. Neither women nor children were held in high regard in Jesus’ day. This was reflected in local attitudes towards marriage and divorce. The controversy around divorce that Jesus was asked to address centered on the question of when it was lawful for a husband to divorce his wife. It was taken as a given that a woman could not divorce her husband. Some rabbis believed that divorce was unlawful except in cases of infidelity, while others believed that husbands could end their marriage for any reason they chose. The Pharisees ask Jesus to weigh in on this question, not because they are interested in his opinion, but in hopes that his answer will alienate some of his followers.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why God allowed men to divorce their wives.
  • God’s perspective of marriage.
  • What Jesus teaches his disciples about divorce and remarriage.
  • Jesus’ attitude toward children.
  • How Jesus saw children as a model for those who would enter the kingdom of God.

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)

2 Timothy 1:15-2:13

Background. 2 Timothy is letter written by Paul, shortly before his death, to Timothy, a young apprentice. Paul writes to instruct and encourage Timothy as he leads the church in Ephesus, a city in the Roman Province of Asia, or Western Turkey as we call it today.

Pay close attention to …

  • The ups and downs that Paul has experienced while in prison (1:15-18)
  • The strategy Timothy is advised to use in his ministry (2:2)
  • How Timothy is to approach his work (2:1-7)
  • The gospel message that he is to stay faithful to and pass on (2:8)
  • The promises for those who endure and the warnings for those who give up (2:11-13)

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)

Isaiah 54:1-17

Background. [The omission of Chapter 52:13-53:12 is not an oversight. Those readings (perhaps among the most eloquent of all the Hebrew Scriptures) are specific to the “suffering servant” whom we believe to be Jesus. These will be treated as the Season of Lent draws to a close.] Chapter 54 of Isaiah is talking of a time after Jesus has fulfilled is mission from God. His victory over death sets the tone for the period of the New Covenant. Isaiah 54 describes that period and beyond.

Pay close attention to …

  • How the “barren woman” is to celebrate (v. 1 )
  • The tent (v. 2)
  • The descendants (v. 3 )
  • The admonition not to be afraid (v. 4 )
  • Why they are not to be afraid (v. 5 )
  • The reconciliation of Israel to God (vv. 6 -8)
  • The comparison between God’s anger and the days of Noah (v. 9 )
  • The precious stones with which to build the city (vv. 11-12 )
  • Peace and righteousness established and vindication from the Lord (vv. 13-17 )

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 – Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 78

Prayer Point. This prayer is about passing the knowledge of God on to the the next generation. Pray that our church will remember what God has done; not only in the Bible, but in our own lives. Pray that we will be faithful in sharing what God has done with the next generation, so they in turn will tell their children.

Mark 9:42-50

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

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

Pay close attention to …

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

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)

2 Timothy 1:1-14

Background. Some of the most poignant literature are letters written from prison. We are fortunate to have Martin Luther King’s letters from the Birmingham Jail and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings from his final days in a Nazi Prison. This is one of those letters. Paul is a prisoner in Rome and he is about to die. He writes to a young man, Timothy, whom he personally trained and now leads the church in Ephesus. Timothy was raised up for this moment; to continue Paul’s work as his life comes to a close.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Paul understands his role in life. Note that ‘apostle’ means ‘one who is sent.’
  • The nature of Paul’s relationship with Timothy.
  • The gift that God gave Timothy and what he is to do with it.
  • Why Paul invites Timothy to be bold and join with him in suffering for Jesus.
  • What Timothy is asked to do with the training Paul gave him (verses 13-14).

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)

Isaiah 52:1-12

Background. It will be good to keep in mind that Isaiah is telling of things yet to happen. First he declares that Babylonia will conquer Jerusalem and why. Here Isaiah is speaking of what happens after the period of discipline: the period after the captivity. As dismal as things are going to be (being led to Babylonia and to remain there for seventy years) they will improve after the time, of what I like to think of as, “purging” or cleansing. It had to happen that Judah be confronted with her sin. What was good for Israel (i.e., the Northern Kingdom) was equally good for Judah. The description of the better times is not unlike the Exodus from Egypt: “…for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” This was portrayed in the Exodus by the pillar of fire and the cloud of smoke as the Israelites progressed throughout the wilderness.

Pay close attention to …

  • The message of hope (v. 1 )
  • For how much Israel was sold (v. 3 )
  • For how much will Israel be redeemed (v. 3 )
  • Whose name is constantly blasphemed (v. 5 )
  • Who will know “my name” (v. 6 )
  • How God announces his arrival (v. 7 )
  • The reaction to the Lord’s coming to Jerusalem (v. 9 )
  • Who sees the “salvation of our God” (v. 10 )
  • How God’s people are to leave their captivity (v. 12 )

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)