Daily Bible Readings, Sunday, November 17, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 46

Prayer Point.  It is easy to despair over the evil in our world. We fear for our safety. The wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. The economy is uncertain. Psalm 46 calls us to fix our eyes on another reality, God’s reality. Pray that we might know that God truly is “our refuge and strength” so that “we will not fear, though the earth give way.”

Luke 16:1-13

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background.  Jesus taught that our possessions belong to God. We are only managers of God’s stuff, not owners. Some day we will have to make an account of what we did with his things.

This parable is a strange one because the master seems to praise his manager for his dishonesty. This story will confound you if you read it straight. Jesus’ stories are meant to throw us off our game in order to help us see the world through new eyes. This story drips with irony giving it an edge that drives the point home.

Pay close attention to …

  • What causes the manager to change the way he handled his master’s possessions.
  • How the master feels about having his money given away.
  • The lesson Jesus would like us to learn from this story (verse 9).

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.

Acts 28:14b-23

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 book of Acts comes to a close, let’s take a step back at look at the ground we’ve covered. The book opened with the resurrected Christ giving a promise to his disciples:

Acts 1:8 But you receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of earth.

Acts is a story of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church in Jerusalem (chapter 2). The shockwaves of that event, Pentecost, radiate out like the ripples of a rock hitting the water; first Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria, and finally the ends of the earth. The message was given to Israel and then extended to the Gentiles, and so God calls a people for himself from every nation under heaven.

Who does Paul preach to when he gets to Rome? How does he explain his appearance in Rome? What sources does Paul use to convince the Jews of Jesus’ message about the Kingdom of God? Note that Law of Moses and the Prophets is the Jewish way of saying “Old Testament.” What kind of response does Paul get? Why does he decide to preach to the Gentiles? As the story ends, how do we know that the promise to take the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth has been fulfilled?

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.

Nehemiah 7:73-8:18

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. This reading of the Law of God by Ezra at the Water Gate is a pivotal moment in this book. Here the Law (Genesis – Deuteronomy)  is proclaimed and if that were not enough, those who did not understand were taught it [the law, the statutes, the rules, and the ordinances].

What do you notice about the way the people responded to the Law of God?  What do they do?  Compare their reaction to our reaction to the commands of Jesus?

It is extremely important to keep the Word of God before us at all times.

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.

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Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, November 10, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 96

Prayer Point.  The world may appear chaotic, but God has made Jesus, whom we crucified, the LORD over all creation. He is the only God and ruler of this world. Meditate on this psalm (turn it over in your mind) and then respond with your own prayer of praise.

Luke 14:12-24

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. Jesus turns the practice of throwing a party on its head. What motivates people to invite their friends, relatives and rich neighbors? Why should we invite the poor, crippled, lame, and the blind?

If you invite the A list, you’ve already been _________. 
If you invite those society rejects, you will be ________ in the future.

Jesus is not just talking about the feasts we enjoy today (Thanksgiving is just around the corner), he also speaks of the Great Feast that we will enjoy on the day of his return. It is a blessed thing to “eat at the feast of the kingdom of God.” Sadly, not all will enjoy this feast as Jesus’ story illustrates.

Why do so many of the invited guests miss out on the feast? Do these problems exist in our time? Who is invited to replace those who scorned God’s invitation?

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.

Acts 24:10-21

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. While Jesus was with the apostles he gave them this promise:

Matthew 10:18 On my [Jesus’] account you will be brought before governors and kings and be witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

This is Paul’s moment to see Jesus’ promise fulfilled. Arrested in Jerusalem. Falsely accused by the Jews of starting a riot by bringing an uncircumcised Gentile into the temple, Paul has been brought before Governor Felix and after the Jewish authorities made their case, Paul is summoned to make his defense.

What word does Paul use to describe the Christian faith in verse 14? Why is this significant for us?

How does Paul connect his new faith in Jesus Christ to the faith of his birth, Judaism? How does Paul view the Jewish Scriptures (the Law and the Prophets)? Is his hope the same or different from the hope of Judaism? How does Paul explain the charges that have been brought against him?

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.

Ezra 10:1-17

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

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

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

Background. How does Ezra’s repentance inspire the people around him? How does the repentant hearts of the people move them to take action?

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, November 3, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 29

Prayer Point. I remembering standing on East Beach, watching the sea whipped in an angry frenzy as Hurricane Sandy brushed our shores. These natural forces, as awesome as they are, are only dim reflection of the power of God. Lift up your fears to God and meditate on the truth that our powerful God will bless us, his people, with peace.

Luke 12:22-31

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. What are we as followers of Jesus commanded NOT to worry about? What does Jesus point to as proof that God is both willing and able to provide us with the necessities of life? If we are not supposed to worry about the necessities of life, what should be our central concern instead?

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.

Acts 20:7-12

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

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

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

Background. This miracle takes place in the context of church service. What strikes you about the way Paul and the Christians at Troas worshiped together? How does God confirm the truth of what Paul is preaching – despite the fact that Paul went “on and on”?

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.

Nehemiah 5:1-19

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

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

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

Background. To be sure, the obvious enemy was Sanballat and his cohorts but there was another. We can deduce that there was a serious famine in the land at that time because people were mortgaging their homes, selling themselves and their children into slavery. The building of the wall was just an added burden of the people of the land. What was depressing was that the wealthier Jews were exacting usury (illegally high interest) from their own. There were provisions in the Law of Moses regarding usury and slavery (of Jew to Jew) but these were being ignored.

How does Nehemiah attack the debt crisis facing the poor in the city of Jerusalem? How is Nehemiah different than the governors that preceded him with regards to the poor?

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, October 27, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 98

Prayer Point. New songs were sung in the Old Testament when God performed an act of salvation such as parting the Red Sea. We sing because God has made his salvation known through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Join with all creation today in thanking God for his forgiveness and his promised return to restore peace and justice to this world.

Luke 10:25-37

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. The question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life”, was a common one in Jesus’ day.  The Jews were expecting the arrival of their Messiah who would break the powers of evil and establish God’s eternal kingdom on earth.  The expert in the law in today’s reading is simply asking: “God’s kingdom: who’s in and who’s out.”

The usual answer was Jews who kept the Law reasonably well; that is Jews who  loved God and loved their neighbor. Samaritans and others of outside of the nation of Israel were generally excluded.  The law expert will give a similar answer, but Jesus will tell a story that will blow his assumptions out of the water.

The law expert will ask a second question.  Who is my neighbor?  Jewish rabbis did not include those outside of Israel (especially Samaritans) in the definition of neighbor.

Pay close attention to …

  • The true neighbor in Jesus’ story (verses 30-36).
  • The point of Jesus’ story (verse 37).

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.

Acts 18:24-19:7

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

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

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

Background. The Apostle Paul always brought a team with him as he planted churches throughout the Roman world. In this case, he brought a couple Aquila and Priscilla to work with him and to learn from Paul. At a certain stage in their development, Paul released Aquila and Priscilla into their own ministry, by leaving them in Ephesus. In Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla encounter a powerful, but inadequately trained preacher named Apollos. (He knew of John the Baptist’s baptism, but he had yet to learn of Jesus’ baptism). How do Aquila and Priscilla come alongside Apollos and support him in his ministry? What impact did Apollos have on the church in Achaia (a region in Greece)?

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.

Haggai 1:1-2:9

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

Background. Interestingly the opening words of Haggai begin with: “In the second year of Darius the king…”  Well, wouldn’t you know it, the word of the LORD came to Haggai in the second year of Darius the king.  As we have seen, the people in Judah have been told that they may not rebuild their temple nor their city.  Evidently, however, they have been allowed to build their homes and to make improvements to them.

Why has the remnant that returned to rebuild Jerusalem harvested little? Why are they unable to quench their hunger and thirst? Why can’t their clothes keep them warm? Why is their money never enough? How did the people respond to the LORD’s admonition?

How does God encourage those who were old enough to remember the old temple? What does God promise for the future? Who do you think the ‘desired of nations’ is? What is this new temple that the LORD speaks of? See Acts 2:1-3 and Revelation 21:1-27. One thing that may help is to remember that the temple is not so much a building, but the place where God lives with his people. In Israel’s past, God dwelt first in the tabernacle (a tent), then in the temple. Then it was Jesus. Then it was the Holy Spirit living in the hearts of Jesus’ followers. And then at the end of time, God himself will make his home on earth at the restoration of all things.

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, October 20, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 150

Prayer Point. What better way to start the day than with praise. Think about what God has done in your life and in your world and join all of creation today in praising him.

Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. After spending some significant time watching, 72 of Jesus’ disciples are now ready to be sent out to do what Jesus had been doing.

Notice verse 3 where Jesus states, “Go your way; behold I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” Here lambs implies that the disciples should not attempt to gain converts by force. The spread of the gospel is to come through the preaching of the “good news” of Jesus Christ and inviting hearers to respond willingly (ESV Study Bible Notes).

Why do you think Jesus sent the disciples out this way? Why do you think Jesus commanded them to be dependent upon the kindness of strangers?

In verse 9 we see Jesus give the disciple charge to heal the sick. This assumes that Jesus has given the same authority he gave to the apostles in Matthew 9:1. Notice has Jesus then charges the disciples to preach the kingdom of God has come near. What is the kingdom of God in which Jesus is speaking of?

Who are the disciples representing? If the disciples are being rejected, who is ultimately being rejected?

Notice how the 72 come back to Jesus. Why are they so thrilled? What does Jesus ask them to rejoice over instead?

Where is Satan according to this passage? Considering Satan was the prosecutor in heaven accusing followers of God, how does this give the disciples hope? Does it give you hope knowing that Jesus has overcome Satan?

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.

Acts 16:6-15

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

Background. Why do Paul, Silas, and Timothy travel to Phrygia and Galatia instead of Asia? Who is leading to them? What is one way that the Holy Spirit communicated with Paul? Notice how he directs Paul to go to Philippi.

If you are a careful reader, which I am not, you may have noticed that the pronouns in this chapter have changed from “they” to “we.” Luke, the author of Acts, has now joined Paul’s missionary team for this portion of the story.

Paul and his companions went to the river intending to pray. What did the Holy Spirit have planned for them instead? What causes Lydia to believe Paul’s gospel message? What does this tell us about our role and God’s role in sharing the good news of Jesus? What happens to Lydia’s household (network of family and friends)? How is Paul’s team following the instructions of Jesus in Matthew 10:11-13?

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.

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. On Monday we saw that the LORD wanted the people to go into exile willingly, as it were, in obedience to the LORD.  Further, he promised that he would not abandon them once they got there but would keep a close eye on them to protect them.

Today’s reading is somewhat of a follow-up from the LORD through Jeremiah.  Jeremiah writes to the exiles (who, by the way, are doing much better than he) to encourage them to continue to live their lives and to “settle in”.

Pay close attention to …

  • How the LORD describes the “captivity” (v. 4 )
  • What the LORD wants the people there to do (vv. 5-7 )
  • Why the prosperity of the city is important to the LORD (vv. 7-9 )
  • The LORD’s plans for the exiles (vv. 11-13 )

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, October 13, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 111

Prayer Point. This psalms recounts what God has done for Israel to inspire his community to worship God. Pick one or two memories that resonate with your own story and offer God your own thanksgiving psalm.

Luke 7:36-50

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. A Pharisee invites Jesus to have dinner with him. Notice here what happens: The Pharisee offers no water for the feet of Jesus.He does not anoint Jesus’ head with oil. He doesn’t offer Jesus the kiss of greeting.

What does the woman do here? She wet Jesus’ feet with her tears. She dried his feet with her hair. She poured out the perfume at his feet.

The posture of the Pharisee and the woman could not have been more different. Who was it that found favor in Christ’s eyes? What does Jesus say to the woman? How does the crowd of guests react? What is Jesus teaching us here about faith?

Remember that the Pharisees were meticulous law-keepers. What was the heart of the law? It was to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Did the Pharisee do that here? What is the source of loving God? Does it have anything to do with knowing your sins?

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.

Acts 14:8-18

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

Background. Paul and Barnabas traveled together through the cities of Asia Minor (Turkey today), preaching the gospel through words and by performing miracles, and gathering those who believed their message into churches.

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 that 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?

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.

Jeremiah 36:1-10

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

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

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

Background. As so often happens in the lives of prophets, they fall out of favor with the king and religious leaders.  Such was the case of Jeremiah.  Jeremiah found himself banned from going into the house of the LORD.  It also happened that the LORD had a message for Jeremiah to deliver to the people of Judah.  That figures.  How to work around this?  I am supposing that all of this happened before the Babylonian Captivity.  Undaunted, Jeremiah dictates to his scribe Baruch all the words he needs to announce to the people of Judah.  Jeremiah’s heart is breaking because of the apostasy of Judah!  “I am banned from going to the house of the LORD, so you are to go on a day of fasting in the hearing of all the people in the LORD’s house you shall read the words of the LORD from the scroll that you have written at my dictation.” (Jeremiah 36:5-6 ESV)

When the book of the Law was read to Jehoiakim’s father, Josiah, he and all Judah with him repented and returned to the LORD in humility. How does Jehoiakim begin to respond as his father did?

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, October 6, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 145

Prayer Point. Psalm 145 gives us a number of reasons that God is worthy of praise. Pick one or two that resonate with you and use them to worship God. Pray that these things will be remembered and passed on to our children.

Luke 7:11-17

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? Using the following background as a guide.

Background.In Jesus’ day it was very important that a widow have someone from her family to provide for her.  If no family members were alive to take her in she would be reduced to begging for food.  Unless a relative came to her aid her future was bleak.

What does this passage say about the power of Jesus over death?  What does it say about the importance of taking care of the poor and needy?

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.

Acts 12:1-17

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

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

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

Background. What motivates King Herod to begin persecuting the church?

Think about this. Jesus had twelve disciples, but he had an inner core of three disciples: Peter, James and John. These became the core leaders of the church. James is now dead. Peter is in imprisoned. The church hangs by a thread. What does the church do in response to this crisis? How does God rescue his church?

In case you were wondering. There were two James in the early church. James, the brother of John, who was killed and James the brother of 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.

2 Kings 20:1-21

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. This chapter represents a “flashback” of some 12 years before the threat from Sennacherib. Hezekiah falls ill and Isaiah announces that he is going to die. Hezekiah refuses to accept Isaiah’s prophecy and begins to argue to with God.  What does this tell you about his relationship with God? Does God stick to his guns, or does he have a change of heart? Why? What sign does God give Hezekiah that he will be healed?

What foolish mistake does Hezekiah commit and how did it sow the seeds of the future destruction of Judah and Jerusalem?

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.