Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 130

Prayer Point. We have created the oceans of pain and misery in this world. So how can we expect God to hear us when cry out for mercy? Because with God there is forgiveness. Follow Psalm 130 in prayer today by lifting up to God the pain of your life and brokenness of our world. Thank him for his forgiveness. Make space in your life to wait quietly for his answer.

Luke 18:9-14

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. Pharisees were highly regarded in Jesus’ day for their commitment to God and his Law. Tax-collectors were despised because they profited from the misery of their countrymen by serving the hated Roman occupiers and defrauding them in order to line their pockets.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why the Pharisee’s prayer is rejected and the tax collector’s prayer accepted?
  • What the tax collector’s prayer can teach us about repentance.

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.

Hebrews 12:1-14

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. The book of Hebrews was written to a group of Jewish followers of Jesus who were experiencing persecution. It was severe enough for them to consider abandoning their faith in Jesus and returning to the safety of Judaism. This book was written to encourage them to cling to Jesus and to persevere in their new faith.

In chapter 11, the writer provided several examples of persevering faith from their Jewish history and now in chapter 12 the writer starts to point them to Jesus.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus can inspire us to persevere when we are persecuted.
  • How Christians should interpret suffering, especially what it tells us about our relationship with God.
  • How we should treat others despite our suffering.

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.

Amos 5:6-15

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?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?  You can use the following background to guide you.

Background. Hear this word that I take up over you in lamentation, O house of Israel…” opens the fifth chapter of Amos. As I read this line I have to remember that Amos is still a shepherd with a heart broken for his people. Do we ever experience such sorrow as to “lament” for those around us? Are our hearts broken for the broken world we live in?

What is the LORD’s plea to Israel (verse 4-6)?  What are they asked not to do?  What are they called to instead? The people are admonished against going to Bethel. This is meaningful because it is in Bethel that one of the two golden calves was set up for worship. This cannot help but be regarded as idol worship. The warnings against going to Gilgal and Beersheba are given simply because they are doomed to go into exile.

How have the Israelites treated those who have attempted to speak God’s truth to them and warn them of impending judgment (verse 10)?

Jesus taught that the worship and true love for God was deeply connected to the way we love our neighbor.  The Israelites have abandoned the worship of the true God.  How has that impacted the way the Israelites treated their poor neighbors (verses 11-13)?

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

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

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

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

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Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, December 15, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 63

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

John 5:30-47

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 Law of Moses, the law given to Israel by God, summarized by the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20), required all legal testimony to be verified by two or three witnesses.  Jesus is claiming to be the Son of God, but the crowds are skeptical. The implied question is: where are the two witnesses to support your outlandish claims?

Pay close attention to …

  • Why Jesus doesn’t need John the Baptist (see  John 1:19-36 for John’s story) as a witness.
  • The witnesses that verify Jesus’ teaching.
  • The reason the Jews missed Jesus even though they were experts of the Bible (see verses 37-47).

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 Thessalonians 2:13-17

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. We worship one God, but this one God exists as three persons: the Father,  the Son and the Holy Spirit.  All three worked together to bring the universe into existence. Today’s reading celebrates that all three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, work together to bring about our salvation.

Paul, the author of this letter, will mention a few terms that warrant some explanation:
Gospel. Good news or specifically the message that the Jesus we crucified by our sin has been raised from the dead by power of the Holy Spirit and elevated by the Father to the throne from where he now rules as eternal king of the universe. Jesus, our new king, offers the promise of forgiveness and eternal life to all those who humbly return to him, confess their sin and believe this good news.

Sanctifying.  The process of becoming holy. Through God, not only is sin’s guilt forgiven, but its power is slowly destroyed. We have been saved through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are being saved in that God is slowly sanctifying us and making us more like Jesus.  We will be saved in that one day we will stand before God sin-free.

Pay close attention to …

  • The distinct roles that the Father (God), the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit (Spirit) play in our salvation (verses 13-14).
  • How we are to respond to God’s initiative (verse 15).
  • Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians and for us (verses 16-17).

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Amos 9:11-15

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

Background. In verse 11 to what does “that day” refer? What plans does the Lord have for “that day” once the destruction is complete? What kind of abundance is in store for “that day”? What is the supreme hope in this final passage? [“‘I will bring back my exiled people Israel; … I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,’ says the LORD your God.”

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 – Thursday, December 12, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 37

Prayer Point. The wicked prosper in our world and that won’t change until Christ returns. What can change is our response. Psalm 37 lists several sinful responses to evil. Repent by confessing to God the ones you see in your life. Pray for the faith to trust God, delight in him, commit yourself to following him and to leave justice in his hands.

Matthew 23:13-26

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. Jesus served in three different capacities. He was a prophet, priest and a king. In this passage, Jesus is playing his prophetic role. Notice the language “woe to you …”

For whom does Jesus have words of condemnation and why?

The Pharisees and teachers of the Law had the responsibility of interpreting the Law of Moses and teaching the people to follow it. Clearly they have failed in their responsibility since they lacked the ability to interpret the Law for themselves.

Oaths. When it came to oaths, the Pharisees believed that it is all about what you swore by. If you swore by the gold of the temple you were legally bound to keep it, if you swore by the temple, you could break it. It was like keeping your fingers crossed. What is Jesus’ view of oaths and how is greater than the Pharisees?

Tithes. The Law of Moses required the people of Israel to give 10%  of their income to God, a law that the Pharisees kept fastidiously. What had they missed? What more was Jesus looking for?

What part of the person did the Pharisees concentrate on? What was God concerned about – the outside or the inside?

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.

Revelation 2:8-17

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. John, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, has been exiled to the island of Patmos for his faith. He is separated from the churches in Asia (Western Turkey) that he served and loved with all his heart. Like him, they are discouraged by the opposition they are faced from the Romans who appeared to be the undisputed powers of this world. But God sees the world differently and allows John to see a vision of Christ to encouraged him and the churches he served. Jesus commands John to pass on seven letters to the seven churches in Asia. Revelation 2:8-11, the letter to the church in Smyrna and Revelation 2:12-17, the letter to the church in Pergamum, are the second and third of these seven letters.

You may notice that John writes “to the angel of the church in Smyrna.” This is not a guardian angel, the letters would not make any sense if this was the case, but a figure of speech referring to “the heart” of the local church. These letters are to be understood as personal messages from Jesus (“the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again …”) to each church.

The synagogue of Satan in verse 10 refers to a group of Jews who rejected Jesus’ teaching and opposed the church in Smyrna. The throne of Satan in verse 13 is most likely a reference to a temple in Pergamum that was a center of worship of the Roman Emperor. In 27 BC, Caesar Augustus authorized the building of a temple in Pergamum to the god “Augustus”, Caesar himself, and the goddess “Roma”, the Roman state. The Romans were more than willing to allow its people to worship their own gods, so long as they worshiped the emperor and the Roman state as a god. This is where Christians ran into trouble with the Roman s. They would worship no one other than King Jesus. Because the temple to the Roman Caesar was in their city, the Christians there were most susceptible to this type of persecution. John equated the worship of Rome’s Caesar with Satan himself.

Balaam was a prophet who was hired to curse God’s people, whose story can be found in Numbers 22-24. We don’t know much about the Nicolaitans except to say that they were a group of Christians who had fallen into false teaching and practiced a life style that compromised with the pagan society.

Manna is a reference to the daily bread God gave to Israel while they wandered in the wilderness on their way to the promised land (see Exodus 16). Jesus also referred to himself as the manna, the true bread that has come down from heaven (John 6:48-51). The significance of the “white stones” is uncertain.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus views the Christians in Smyrna despite their poverty and suffering.
  • What Jesus asks the Smyrnans to do in the face of coming persecution.
  • What Jesus will give the Smyrnans if they overcome (think: patiently endure persecution).
  • What Jesus finds commendable in the church of Pergamum.
  • The criticism Jesus has of the church in Pergamum and what will happen to them if they don’t repent and return to God.
  • What is promised to the church in Pergamum if they overcome.

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.

Amos 9:1-10

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. The description of judgment of Israel sounds very determined. The LORD will root out all Israel from wherever they seek refuge. No stone will be unturned. High and low; east and west; there will be nowhere a place of escape. As though to underscore how displeased the LORD was with Israel he likened them to the Cushites. These were pagan peoples who lived south of Egypt (ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1674) These Cushites were not the chosen people and the inference is that Israel is no longer regarded as the “chosen people”. The only hope left Israel is: “‘… and I will destroy it from the surface of the ground, except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,’ declares the LORD.”

Verse 1 reminds me very much of Samson’s last breath where he had prayed to the LORD to regain his strength just one more time in order to defeat the Philistines by destroying their temple and crushing all the people in the collapse of the building. Things do not look good for Israel. As we have seen this object lesson of Israel’s does not move Judah toward repentance.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

 

Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 38

Prayer Point. Will God save us from the consequences of our own sin? Psalm 38 is proof that he does. In this psalm God will save us not only from the suffering due to others’ sin, but also the struggles that come from our own failures. What are you struggling with today? Confess your part in them to God, but also boldly ask him to save you.

Matthew 23:1-12

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

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

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

Background. ‘Moses’ seat’ is a symbolic reference to the authority of Moses. The Pharisees act as interpreters of the law for the Jewish people and therefore were the successors of Moses.

Why should the Pharisees be obeyed? Why shouldn’t they be copied? What is the problem with the Pharisees’ practice of the law?

What is Jesus’ vision of leadership and how does it to contrast the Pharisees’ view of authority?

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.

Revelation 1:17-2:7

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

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

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

Background. John sees a vision of the risen, glorified Jesus in a dream induced by the Holy Spirit. What is Jesus’ message to John? John lives in a time of fear when the Romans wielded great and invincible power. They had ruled for hundreds of years and the end of their empire was nowhere in sight. How does Jesus declare himself to be greater than the power of Rome and all the powers of this world?

What does Jesus command John to do? John had seen the humanity of Jesus. He ate with him, he fished with him. Why was it necessary for John, and the seven churches, to see such a dazzling image of Jesus?

In yesterday’s reading (Revelation 1:12-15) we saw Jesus standing among seven lampstands and holding in his right hand seven stars. What do the lampstands and the stars represent? If Jesus stands among the lampstands in this vision, what assurance does that give the seven churches who are undergoing persecution?

Revelation 2:1-7 is the first of seven letters that were sent to each of the seven churches in Asia (Western Turkey) that John oversaw. You may have noticed that John actually wrote “to the angel of the church of Ephesus.” This is not a guardian angel, the letters would not make any sense if this was the case, but a figure of speech referring to “the heart” of the local church. These letters are to be understood as personal messages from Jesus (“the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand …”) to each church.

What words of praise does Jesus have for the church in Ephesus? What words of warning does he have for them? What will happen to them if they don’t repent, that is humbly return to God? What promise does Jesus offer to the Ephesians if they overcome (think: patiently endure persecution)? For a fuller description of the tree of life see Revelation 22:1-5.

Jesus references a group called the Nicolaitans. Not much is known about this group except to say that they were a group of Christians who had fallen into false teaching and practiced a life style that compromised with the pagan society.

As we look at each of these seven letters, see if any the shortcomings and successes are reflected in your own 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.

Amos 8:1-14

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The opening of this chapter needs some explanation which might not be gleaned just by reading it.

[ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1672

“8:1-2 The Hebrew terms for summer fruit (gayits) and for end (gets sound alike. In Hebrew literature this kind of wordplay is very common. Beyond this, ‘summer fruit’ did signify the last of the harvest. See Jer. 8:20:

‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended.

and we are not saved.’

The long summer of God’s patience has finally come to an end, and there has been no harvest of repentance.”]

[The word temple used in verse three can be translated also as palace. There was only one temple and that was in Jerusalem and not in Israel. Perhaps “palace” would be a better choice because what was practiced in Israel’s places of worship was idolatry. – j.t.]

The NIV translates the first verses thusly:

“This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. ‘What do you see, Amos?’ he asked.

‘A basket of ripe fruit,’ I answered.

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

“‘In that day,’ declares the Sovereign LORD, ‘the songs in the temple [palace] will turn to wailing. Many, many bodies – flung everywhere! Silence!’

“Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land.”

What is the charge leveled against Israel in verse 4? On what is their heart bent? How do the people dishonor the Sabbath? What does “deal deceitfully with false balances” (v. 5b) mean? What are the poor and needy likened to in verse 6?(Merchandise) The LORD has sworn that he will never forget any of their deeds. How does that manifest itself? The LORD talks of the sun going down at noonday and darkness in broad daylight. What does he say about the feasts and the singing? To what does the LORD liken this miserable day of judgment? (v. 10b) What kind of famine does the LORD promise to send? Where can the word of the LORD be found? What is to become of the “lovely virgins and the young men”?

What is the guilt of Samaria? The principal sin of Samaria (Israel) had always been idolatry. This is further underscored by “As your god lives, O Dan” in verse 14. Dan was one of the two places where Jeroboam (I) established a golden calf as an alternate place of worship for the Northern Tribes (outside of Jerusalem). The mention of Beersheba is explained in the ESV Bible Study note below which was referenced in Chapter 5 verse 5. It can apply here as well.

[ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1666

“5:5 … Since Beersheba was in Judah, it is not clear what its significance was for the Israelites. Perhaps people from the northern kingdom made pilgrimage there, remembering its association with the patriarchs (Gen. 21:14-19, 31; 26:23, 33; 46:1-5); perhaps they also felt that there was a special power available there.”]

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

 

Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 26

Prayer Point. Psalm 26 doesn’t describe my life because Jesus is the only one man who can pray this prayer with integrity. Imagine him praying as he is crucified between two thieves. He is the one who lived a blameless life on our behalf. He is the one bore the punishment for our failures. God hears us because we belong to the blameless one, Jesus. Use Psalm 26 to praise God for Jesus.

Matthew 22:34-46

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. Why did the Pharisees get involved when they were rivals with the Sadducees? We see here that it is because Jesus is upsetting the power balance. The Pharisees and Sadducees both were interested in keeping the Mosaic law, but they were also interested in keeping the status quo.

Why were the Pharisees asking Jesus what was the greatest commandment of the law? What is the heart of the law according to Jesus? What does this look like?

(Verses 41-46) Here we see Jesus quoting Psalm 110:1 of David. What Jesus quotes is a Psalm that the Pharisees already beleived had to be speaking about the Messiah. The problem is if the Messiah is the Son of David, how could David call him Lord? In Israel it would be considered strange for a father to call his son Lord. How can he call him his son, ‘Lord’ and yet be his father at the same time?

They don’t want to accept what Jesus is pushing. The son of David has to be greater than David himself.

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.

Revelation 1:9-16

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The Letter begins in 1:9-20. How does John identify with his readers? Here is one detail to help you make sense out of John’s circumstances. John is the island of Patmos, an island off the western coast of Turkey, because he had been exiled by the Roman government. Imagine the disappointment, fear and doubt that the seven churches must have experienced being deprived of their leader and the despair John must have felt. Why is it important for God to send a message of encouragement at this time?

“In the Spirit” (verse 10). This is a description of an intense time of prayer under the influence of the Holy Spirit. What John “sees” is a vision or a dream given him by the power of the Holy Spirit. What is John commanded to write down and send to the seven churches (this became the content of the book of Revelation)?

In his vision, John sees a mysterious figure with eyes of fire standing among the seven lampstands holding seven stars.What do the lampstands represent? What do the stars represent? (Verse 20 tells us).

Who is this mysterious figure? Here are some things to help you answer this question. Remember that what John is describing is a vision, a dream. In visions, images are symbols. The question becomes how do you figure out the meaning of the symbols. The best approach is to ask yourself, where have we seen these images in the Bible before and do they shed light on how to interpret this passage? The description of the mysterious man is full of references to other prophecies in Scripture, here are some examples:

  • “One like a son of man” is a reference to a vision recorded by the prophet Daniel in Daniel 7:13-14. This is a vision of the ascension of Jesus into heaven.
  • Compare the clothes and appearance of the mysterious figure to the Daniel’s vision of God in Daniel 7:9 and 10:4-6.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Amos 7:10-17

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. Who is the one who tattles to King Jeroboam about the king’s fate? What did Amos predict about Jeroboam? What does Amaziah say to Amos and how does that fulfill prophecy (see Amos 2:12b)? What is Amaziah’s advice (command) to Amos? What is Amos’ clever response? What curse-like prophecy does Amos see for Amaziah?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

 

Daily Bible Readings – Monday, December 9, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 25

Prayer Point. “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.” Are we ready to pray this? Are there areas of our lives that we will not lift up to God? Confess those parts of your life to God and pray for the faith to believe that “all the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful.”

Matthew 22:23-33

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 Sadducees were a sect of Judaism that did not believe in “dangerous ideas” such as life after death and the resurrection which helped them curry favor with the Roman authorities. Because they Sadducees downplayed ideas that might inspire the people to revolt, the Romans gave them the positions of authority in Israel including controlling the temple. Here we see that they are trying to get Jesus to discredit himself.

How does Jesus’ answer demonstrate the reality of the resurrection? What will this resurrected life look like?

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.

Revelation 1:1-8

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

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

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

Background. The popular perception is that the book of Revelation is a vision of the end of the world. While the book certainly deals with the return of Christ, it would be wrong to say that this book is exclusively about the distant future. It has something to say to us right now (see Revelation 1:19) and is it did for the book’s readers in the first century AD. A proper understanding of chapter 1, will be key to understanding the imagery in the rest of the book.

Prologue 1:1-3. Whose revelation is it? When will the events described in this book take place? Who received the revelation? How was the revelation communicated to him? What promise is given to those who take the time to read the book of Revelation?

Greetings and Blessings 1:4-5a. it is important to remember that that the “book of Revelation” is a letter written to a specific group of real people at a certain time and place.Who is the author of the letter? Who are the recipients? The Roman province of Asia comprised the western part of what we call Turkey today. The seven churches were churches that John (the author of the Gospel of John and 1,2,3 John) ministered to in the later part of his life.

Typical of letters from this time period, John includes a blessing (grace and peace to you …) in his greeting to the seven churches.How is each member of the Trinity (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) described in his blessing? Numbers in Jewish tradition and later in the Christian writings are highly symbolic and this will be important to remember as you read this difficult book. Seven is the number signifying perfection or completion. So, seven spirits of God does not mean that God has seven holy spirits. It is a statement about His perfection.

Worship 1:5b-8. What is about God, what has he done in the past, what will he do in the future that causes John to respond in worship?

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.

Amos 7:1-9

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. Amos receives three visions in verses 7:1-9. What does the first vision concern? (verse 7:1) What does Amos do? What is the Lord’s response? [The vision concerns a plague of locusts and Amos asks the LORD to relent. The LORD relents.]

What does the second vision reveal? Again, what does Amos do? Again, what does the LORD do? [Here the LORD is calling for judgment by fire. Once again Amos beseeches the LORD to have mercy. The LORD shows mercy.]

What is different about the third vision and Amos’ response? What is the LORD’s response? [Amos finally gets it. Judgment is Israel’s destiny (with good reason).] How many times must the LORD plead with his people (us)? Amos begins to understand how much the LORD has been offended and he begins to see things as the LORD sees them.

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 – Sunday, December 8, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 149

Prayer Point. New songs were sung when God intervened and saved his people by defeating their enemies.  God’s ultimate victory was Christ’s death and resurrection. Meditate on what that victory means for us and pray a prayer of thanksgiving to God.

Matthew 22:15-22

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. The Pharisees and the religious leaders of Israel understood full well that Jesus’ actions in the temple (Matthew 21:12-17) and the three parables (Matthew 21:23-46) were spoken against them. Rather than humbly repent before their God, they attempt to discredit Jesus by asking a question about the most volatile issue of their time, paying taxes to the occupying Roman Empire.

Jesus knew they were putting him in an awful position. For if he answered yes, he would lose favor with the people. If he answered no, he could bring the wrath of the Romans down on his head.

How does Jesus answer their questions? Does he fall in the camp of those who want to cooperate with the Romans, or those who wish to overthrow them, or neither?

On one side of the silver denarius was a profile of Tiberius Caesar, with the Latin inscription “Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus” around the coin’s perimeter. On the opposite side was a picture of the Roman goddess of peace, Pax, with the Latin inscription “High Priest”[ESV Study Bible Notes].

As humans we are all created with the image of God stamped on us. To give God the things that are God’s would simply mean to give our lives to God.

What do you think Jesus would tell us today?

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.

Jude 7-15

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

Background. How are Jude’s readers to withstand the attack of these false teachers? Why should they ignore their teaching? It is not enough to shut their ears to the lies, they must fill their minds with the truth. How are they to ‘build themselves up’ in verses 20-21? How are they to treat those who are struggling with their faith (verses 22-23)?

Verses 24-25 are a closing prayer that is often used as a benediction today as a closing to a worship service. Who makes this possible for us to stand firm? Why is God worthy of our faith and our praise?

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.

Amos 5:18-27

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

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

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

Background. The people of Israel regarded the “day of the LORD” as the day where God  rescued them from the evil people who oppressed them.  Why should Israel not look forward to this ‘day of the LORD’?

How does the LORD feel about the people’s feasts? and their burnt offerings? their songs? What does the LORD want for Israel?  Is it possible to worship God while at the same time treat your neighbor unjustly?

Love for God cannot be separated from living justly and loving your neighbor as yourself.

What is the penalty for Israel’s empty worship and unjust living (see verse 27)?

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.