Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, December 28, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 148

Prayer Point. All of creation praises God. If we were quiet enough we could hear the melodies pouring out of heaven and rumbling from the depths of the sea. Be quiet for a while. Get outside if you can. Look at the world that God has made and join the praises of all creation.

Luke 2:1-20

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points?

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.

Galatians 4:8-20

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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 – Thursday, December 26, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 80

Prayer Point. This Psalm tells the story of God who led Israel out of slavery and “planted” them fertile soil of the Promised Land. They thrived until in pride they turned away from Him and His judgment came down upon them. Like Israel, our lives have been broken by sin, but we can still appeal to God for mercy.  Confess your sins to God and follow this psalm’s lead and ask God to restore us.

Luke 1:57-66

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. Elizabeth, the wife of the priest Zechariah and cousin to Mary, the mother of Jesus, gives birth to her son, John the Baptist. Elizabeth was an old woman and being childless was a great source of shame as most people at that time believed infertility to be a sign of God’s judgment.

It is now the eighth day after John’s birth, which was the day Jewish boys were named and circumcised. Boys were typically named after their father or a close male relative, but Elizabeth insists that he be named John in accordance to the instructions given by the angel (Luke 1:13). She speaks for her husband Zechariah, because he had been struck dumb by the angel for his unbelief and who could blame him, would you believe an angel in he told you that your elderly wife was about conceive?

Pay close attention to …

  • What happens to Zechariah when he names his Son in obedience to the angel’s instructions.
  • The reaction of the neighbors.

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.

Galatians 3:1-14

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. Abraham was revered as the father of the nation of Israel. You can read his story beginning with Genesis chapter 12. It was to Abraham that God first appeared and gave him the promise that we now know as the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ. In Genesis 12:1-3 God promised to make Abraham’s family into a great nation complete with a homeland and God’s protection, but the last promise was the greatest, “through you all the nations will be blessed.” This promise was fulfilled through Abraham’s descendant, Jesus, through whom the whole world is offered God’s forgiveness and blessing.

The key to understanding what Paul is saying in today’s reading is his argument that Abraham was made right with God, not by what he did (keeping the law), but by what he believed (the promises of God). You become a true child of Abraham, that’s how the Jews regarded themselves, not by keeping the law, but by believing in the promises that God gave to Abraham and fulfilled through Jesus Christ.

Pay close attention to …

  • The contrast between how the Galatians began to follow Jesus (“believing”) to what they were now trying (“law keeping”).
  • The reason God gave the Holy Spirit to the Galatians.
  • How it was that Abraham was declared “righteous” (right with God).
  • What is true of all those who try to make themselves right with God by obeying the Law.
  • How Jesus saved us from the curse of the Law.
  • Why Jesus redeemed us.

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 Samuel 7:18-29

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. Most approaches to religion go something like this: I do something for God. God does something for me. David takes it one step further. He will do something for God in response to what God has done for him. God you gave him a throne and a palace, now he will build God a temple. But David discovers that God doesn’t need nor want anything from him and so he offers up this prayer.

What does David do with his prayer? What does he offer up to God?  How will the LORD’s name be magnified forever, according to David? What house is David speaking of? What does David ask for and how does he know what to ask for?

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 25, 2013 – Christmas Day

Prayer Psalm: 2

Prayer Point. It is easy to forget about the power of God when we watch news or read the papers. Psalm 2 reminds us that Jesus, the Anointed One, is on the throne.  He is in control. Pray that these words might become real to us, that we might live in our world with bold, fearless love.

John 3:31-36

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. The speaker in today’s reading is John the Baptist, the prophet who was sent by God to prepare his people for Jesus’ coming. John is the “one who is from the earth” and he is comparing himself to Jesus, the “one who come from above (heaven)” and “testifies to what he has seen and heard.”

Pay special attention to …

  • How John compares himself to Jesus, the one from above.
  • Jesus’ (the Son’s) relationship with the Father (God the Father). Look specifically for who leads, who follows and what the Father has given to the Son.
  • What is true of those who believe the Son’s testimony and how many will accept it.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

1 John 4:7-16

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. John understands Jesus and in particular his life, death and resurrection to be the ultimate expression of God’s love. This act of love can not be understood apart from what it means for Jesus to be an atoning sacrifice. An atoning sacrifice is one that turns aside the wrath of God. God’s anger burned hot against us for our failure to love him and our neighbor, but through Christ and for those who belong to him by faith, that anger is gone.

Pay close attention to …

  • The connection between loving others and knowing God and in particular knowing that God the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
  • The connection of Jesus’ sacrifice and the love we are to show others.
  • Whose love came first, God’s love or our love.

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.

Micah 4:1-5, 5:2-4

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 is the opening lament in Chapter 10:1-2? (Prosperity has brought corruption. “Their heart is deceitful, and now they must bear their guilt. The LORD will demolish their altars and destroy their sacred stones.” (Hosea 10:2 NIV))

What seems to be at the root of many of Israel’s problems (Chapter 10:4-5)? (They are dishonest. “They make many promises, take false oaths and make agreements; therefore lawsuits spring up like poisonous weeds in a plowed field.” (Hosea 10:4 NIV) [When I see the word “oath” I immediately think of taking an oath – that would be to call God to witness what is about to be said. If these people are making false oaths as I understand it, this suddenly becomes a very serious offense. Saying something like “I swear to God” may come easily to our tongues, but words are quite weighty – especially those words. This is an act of lip service too. – j.t.])

What is the glaring offense described in verses 10:5-8? (Idolatry – the age-old issue in Israel. The golden calf will be carried off to fill the treasury of the king of Assyria. “The high places of wickedness will be destroyed – it is the sin of Israel.” (Hosea 10:8a NIV) “Then they will say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’” (Hosea 10:8b NIV) These words struck me because these are the same words Jesus quotes to the women of Jerusalem while he was on his way to his crucifixion in Luke 23:30.)

The Lord charges Israel of sinning and continuing to do so. He plans punishment for Israel (Ephraim) because of it. What does this sound like? (Reference is made to “the days of Gibeah”. This event is recorded in Judges 19:22-26 which also mirrors a similar event in the life of Lot when he was visited by two “strangers” [read angels] whom the townsmen wanted to “know”. This sounds like “…you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23b NIV) [This particular reference is alluding to a pledge by the “trans-Jordan” tribes to commit themselves to the conquering of Canaan which is west of the Jordan. – j.t] “When I please, I will punish them; nations will be gathered against them to put them in bonds for their double sin.” (Hosea 10:10 NIV) So there is a day of reckoning!)

What is in store for Ephraim and Judah according to verse 10:11? (It looks like what we call “hard labor” with “yokes” and “plowing”.)

What is the point of this “hard labor”? (The point of “hard labor” is to bring Israel and Judah to repentance: “…for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12b NIV))

Israel proves dull of hearing and remains unrepentant. What is the key to Israel and Judah’s obstinacy in verse 10:13? (“Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors, the roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be devastated – as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children.” (Hosea 10:13b-14 NIV))

Verse 10:15 portends the end of the kingdom: “Thus will it happen to you, O Bethel, because your wickedness is great. When that day dawns, the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.” Things don’t look all that promising.

The “last days” Micah speaks of will be the time of the return of Jesus who will restore the earth to a state better than it was before Eden.

The opening verses discuss that the LORD’s temple will be established. Why will many nations go to the house of the God of Jacob (i.e., the LORD’s temple)? (“He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” (Micah 4:2b NIV))

From where do the law and the word of the LORD go out? (“The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem [Zion].” (Micah 4:2b NIV))

What, exactly, will the LORD be doing in Jerusalem? (“He will judge between many people and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.” (Micah 4:3a NIV))

Micah and Isaiah happen to be prophesying during the same time (Isaiah from 739-681 B.C. and Micah from 733-701 B.C.). Allow me to quote from Isaiah Chapter two: “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:3-4 NIV)

Now notice Micah 4:3b: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” What two reasons may account for the verbatim-like nature of Isaiah Chapter two and Micah Chapter four? (The first reason I can think of is that either Isaiah had heard Micah speak using these words or that Micah had once heard Isaiah using these words in his prophesying. I think it is likely that one had heard the other and then adopted the phraseology as his own. I doubt that it matters in the end. Remember that Micah never identifies himself as a prophet whereas Isaiah may actually have been on the government payroll. [Official prophets were, in fact, paid by the king. — j.t.] It seems uncanny that both men would employ exactly the same words. The second reason I can think of is that since the scripture is the result of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that he brought these identical thoughts to two different men — during the same period — as a means of driving home the message. These verses do refer to the time of Jesus’ return and the millennium.)

How do Isaiah Chapter 2:2-3 and Micah 4:3 differ from Joel 3:10? (Very near the same words are used in reverse order: Joel 3:10 “Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears.” Oddly enough, Joel is also speaking of the time of, or just before, Jesus returns. This is also the time when God will pour out his Spirit on all flesh. All three prophets are, I believe, speaking of the same time and perhaps the same event. — j.t.)

How does Micah describe this time of peace? (“Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken.” (Micah 4:4 NIV))

Let us forge ahead and attack something all of my study bibles would rather eschew, namely Micah 4:5 “All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” As good evangelicals we shy away from such thoughts as “All the nations may walk in the name of their gods…” During the millennium (i.e., before the White Throne Judgment) it may be allowed for non-believers not to believe. I just think it is impossible to ignore the truth once it (or in this case He) becomes self-evident. Jesus would never prevent someone from believing a lie — everyone is allowed to be stupid. It would be stupid because it could not be ignorance which literally means lacking knowledge or intelligence. These people would have at their disposal all of the knowledge and intelligence they require in order to believe. After all, seeing is believing and Jesus will be here. This choice to be an unbeliever will, in time, have major and serious consequences.

What is the LORD’s plan in Micah 4:6-8? (Micah is speaking here of the millennium: “The LORD will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever. … the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:7, 8 NIV))

Flashback from the millennium to the time of Micah and Isaiah (prior to the Babylonian Captivity). What is the message Micah is endeavoring to bring to the people? (Micah is telling the people of Judea that the time is coming when they will be brought to Babylon. “Writhe in agony, O Daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the LORD will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies.” (Micah 4:10 NIV) At this point, to suggest that the Judeans would be defeated must have been akin to treason. Remember the prophesies of the false prophets: the LORD would not do this to us [or words to that effect]. — j.t.))

Micah tells the people something they already know which is that “many nations are gathered against you.” (Micah 4:11 NIV) Once the LORD gives the Jews the upper hand over their enemies, what are they to do with their enemies’ ill-gotten gain? (“You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the LORD, their wealth to the LORD of all the earth.” (Micah 4:13b NIV))

What does “devote” mean in verse 4:13? (When the LORD wants things “devoted” to him, it means he wants them completely destroyed. King Saul learned a hard lesson regarding the “devoted things” in 1 Kings 15. Every time I hear the phrase “devoted to the LORD ” I immediately think of Samuel and his encounter with Saul. Samuel’s first words to Saul are: “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” (1 Samuel 15:14 NIV) Read 1 Kings 15 for the thrilling encounter between the king and the prophet.)

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, January 5, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 29

Prayer Point. Several months ago I stood on East Beach and was amazed by the power of Sandy’s winds and the crashing of the normally placid sea. 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.

John 15:1-17

Background. Jesus revealed himself in a series of important “I am” statements that are recorded in the gospel of John (see John 6:35; 6:51; 8:12; 9:5; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). In today’s reading he declares himself to be “the true vine” and his Father, “the gardener.”

The Bible often compares God’s people to a grape vine and God to the gardener or vineyard owner. Jesus continues this image, although in today’s reading he declares himself to be the vine and God’s people to be branches belonging to the vine.

The scene Jesus describes was common for his day. Unfruitful brunches were cut off and burned to allow the vine as a whole to flourish and become more fruitful.

Pay close attention to …

  • Which branches are cut off and burned and which branches are pruned and why.
  • What it takes for a branch to bear fruit.
  • The kind of fruit that God the Father (the gardener) is looking for in the vine branches (the disciples of Jesus). See verses 9-17.
  • God’s definition of love and how it was demonstrated to us.
  • What God the Father will do for those who remain in Jesus the vine and love others as Jesus commanded us.

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)

Romans 15:7-13

Background. John, the disciple of Jesus, said that “we love because he first loved us.” The experience of God’s love for us is meant for us to be enjoyed, but also reflected to others. You will see this same connection in today’s reading. Paul teaches in Romans 15 that our treatment of others must flow from Jesus’ gracious treatment of us.

These words were badly needed by the diverse church that had gathered in Rome (the original recipients of this letter). The congregation was made up of Jews who both followed Christ and the Jewish traditions and Gentiles who knew little of the Jewish practices of circumcision and keeping kosher. It was easy for the Jews to look down on the Gentiles who were new to following the God of Israel (whom Christians follow by following Jesus).

In the background of today’s reading is a promise made to Israel’s patriarchs (founders) that God would bless their nation for the purposes of blessing the whole world through them (see Genesis 12:1-3). Rather than being arrogant

Pay close attention to …

  • The connection of Christ’s acceptance of us and the command to accept others.
  • The connection between Jesus’ service to the Jews and the Gentiles becoming worshipers 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)

Joshua 1:1-9

Background. Of the over 600,000 people who fled from Egypt, there were only two of the original bunch who actually entered the Promised Land: Joshua was one of them. I think that is significant. Even Moses was denied entrance to the land flowing with milk and honey. The other was a fellow named Caleb. Moses had commissioned one man from each tribe to scout out the (Promised) land shortly after the Hebrews’ departure from Egypt. Ten of the spies came back with bad reports of how dangerous the conditions and the men were and that the Hebrews would not be able to overcome them. If the Hebrews had pursued the venture they would have had the LORD to go before them. “These were those listed by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who listed the people of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho. But among these there was not one of those listed by Moses and Aaron the priest, who had listed the people of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai. For the LORD had said of them, ‘They shall die in the wilderness.’ Not one of them was left, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.” (Numbers 26:63-65 ESV) For most of the forty years’ journey in the wilderness, Joshua was Moses “right hand man”. He was commissioned by Moses and by God in front of the whole congregation so that an orderly transition of power could be effected. So Joshua has credentials. As a point of interest Joshua is the same name that Jesus had.

Pay close attention to…

  • What the LORD says to Joshua (vv. 2-10)
  • The promise the LORD makes personally to Joshua (v. 5)
  • What Joshua is to do with the book of the Law (v. 8)
  • The benefit of being obedient (v. 8b)
  • Where the LORD will be (v. 9)

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, January 4, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 89

Prayer Point. It is easy to begin our prayers with what ails us when we are suffering,. Psalm 89 suggests a different path. Don’t get me wrong, Ethan the Ezrahite cries out to God, but that comes in verse 38. The first half of the psalm is an outpouring of praise to the faithful God who has promised a king, a son of David, who will reign forever restoring peace and justice to this world. We know this king’s name. His name is Jesus. Begin your prayers today thanking God for Jesus and all that he accomplished for us. Once you have done that, call attention to what bothers you about this world and cry out, “O Lord, where is you former great love?”

John 14:6-14

Background. Jesus revealed himself in a series of important “I am” statements that are recorded in the gospel of John (see John 6:35; 6:51; 8:12; 9:5; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 15:1, 5). In today’s reading he declares himself to be “the way, the truth and the life.”

This conversation between Jesus and his disciples Philip and Thomas takes place on the night of Jesus’ arrest and the evening before his death. The disciples believe that they are the verge of a great victory which will topple the Romans and end with Jesus on the throne. They don’t understand that Jesus’ road to victory will go through the cross, the grave, his resurrection and his return to heaven and so they are devastated to hear that he will be leaving them. Jesus reassures them that one day they will be with him where he is going (heaven) and that they know the way. Thomas is confused for he knows neither the place where Jesus is going, nor the way. Jesus then responds, “I am the way, and the truth and the life.”

Pay close attention to …

  • Where the way of Jesus leads (verse 6).
  • What Jesus the truth reveals to us. If you really knew me, you would know … “ (verse 7)
  • Jesus’ relationship with God the Father and how they work together.
  • What is true of those who have faith in Jesus and what they will be able to do when Jesus leaves.

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)

Hebrews 11:23-31

Background. Hebrews was written to encourage a group of Christians of Jewish ancestry who were considering giving up following Jesus. They were experiencing persecution, suffering that would cease if they returned to returned to Judaism. The writer inspires them to hang on by pointing to heroes of the faith that have gone before them (see Hebrews 11:1-22) mentioning the “faith heroes” of Israel’s past such as Abraham, Jacob and Joseph.

The writer of Hebrews in today’s reading continues to walk through Israel’s history and pick out inspiring figures who trusted God and put their faith in his promises even if they didn’t see these promises fulfilled within their life time. These were all examples of faith because they believed in something they couldn’t see and they were certain of things that had yet come to pass (see Hebrews 11:1)

Pay close attention to …

  • How Moses’ faith impacted the way he lived and what he valued. (See Exodus 1-4 for the whole story.)
  • What the people were able to do through faith in God (see verses 29-30). See also Exodus 13:17-14:31.
  • How faith turned the prostitute Rahab into a hero. See also Joshua 2:1-24 and 6:22-23.

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)

Exodus 3:1-12

Background. Moses. Try to limit that to forty pages. When Moses was born, it was not fashionable to be a Hebrew but especially a boy child. Unfortunately for Moses, he was both. A decree issued by the Pharaoh called for the execution of all boys born among the Hebrew slaves. Moses’ mother hid him and then put him in an ark and set him afloat in the Nile. The ark was rescued by the daughter of Pharaoh who cherished the cargo and adopted Moses as her own.

In time Moses was made aware of his Hebrew roots and sought to be reunited to his kindred. Now he, who was once prince of Egypt, was subjected to the oppression of every Hebrew. Unfortunately Moses happened, in a fit of righteous anger, to kill an Egyptian. Fearing for his life, he fled to the wilderness and after many days came upon Jethro, the priest of Midian. Since Jethro had no sons, Moses moved right in. He married one of Jethro’s daughters and became a shepherd. While he may have been distressed about the plight of the Hebrews, he was not of a mind to do anything about it. This is where we pick up the story.

Pay close attention to …

  • Where Moses finds himself (v. 1)
  • What he sees (v. 2)
  • Whose presence Moses is in (v. 2)
  • What the “angel of the LORD” says (v. 5)
  • Who is this “angel of the LORD” (v. 6)
  • What Moses does (v. 6)
  • What the LORD wants Moses to do (v. 9)
  • Moses’ response (v.11)
  • God’s promise to Moses (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)

Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, January 3, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 72

Prayer Point. What will the world look like when Jesus’ rule is fully established on earth?  Psalm 72 gives us a preview of his kingdom and what it will mean for the weak, needy and the oppressed. Pray for a situation that you know of that desperately needs to come under the rule of King Jesus.

John 10:7-17

Background. Jesus revealed himself in a series of important “I am” statements that are recorded in the gospel of John (see John 6:35; 6:51; 8:12; 9:5; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). In today’s reading he is both “the gate for the sheep and the good shepherd.”

The central image is this passage is the village sheep pen that was common in Israel in Jesus’ day. Sheep owned by local shepherds were often kept in common pens during the night for safe keeping. In the morning, the shepherd came and called to his sheep and only the sheep from his flock, who recognized his voice, followed him out the gate and into the pasture.

Shepherding is used throughout the Bible as a metaphor for leadership whether it is religious leaders such as priests, scribes, Sadducees or Pharisees or political leaders such as kings.

Pay close attention to …

  • What is true of the person who enters through Jesus the gate. What is true of those who try to slip over the wall.
  • What sets Jesus apart as a good shepherd as opposed to the others who were thieves, robbers or hired hands.
  • How many sheep pens hold sheep from Jesus’ flock. What do the sheep from the different sheep pens have in common.
  • Why the Father loves his Son, the good shepherd.

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)

Hebrews 11:13-22

Background. Hebrews was written to encourage a group of Christians of Jewish ancestry who were considering giving up following Jesus. They were experiencing persecution, suffering that would cease if they returned to returned to Judaism. The writer inspires them to hang on by pointing to heroes of the faith that have gone before them.

Faith is defined as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1). This is the kind of faith that made men like Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). In today’s reading, the writer continues to tell Abraham’s story and introduces us to Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Ironically, these were all heroes of Israel’s past, but they are being used here to inspire these Christians to keep their faith in Jesus.

Pay close attention to …

  • What is true of all the men of faith that have been listed so far (Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham) (see verses 13-15).
  • How Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph are examples of faith, believing the promises of God even if they didn’t live to see them fulfilled. Here are the Old Testament stories that the writer of Hebrews is referring to: Abraham (Genesis 22), Isaac (Genesis 27 – this one is a little ironic!), Jacob (Genesis 49) and Joseph (Genesis 50:24-25).

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)

Genesis 28:10-22

Background. Jacob got his name because of what he was doing when he was being born with his twin Esau. Jacob was grasping at Esau’s heel — “he grasps the heel” which somehow came to mean, as the NIV footnotes indicate, he deceives. Jacob was his name: he deceives. He was not a very “nice” man. He was also a coward because once he swindled his brother of his rightful inheritance and in fear fled for his life. All of this may (certainly would have been) unnecessary because, even before the twins were born, it was prophesied that “the older [Esau] will serve the younger [Jacob]” (Genesis 25:23b NIV)

So here we are, Jacob is on the run looking for a bride, but not from among the Canaanites as his father Isaac had requested. Jacob went off to Haran, to the land of his grandfather Abraham in search of a wife. He makes a stop for the night in a place formerly called “Luz” but which Jacob renamed “Bethel”.

Pay close attention to …

  • What Jacob uses for a pillow (v. 11)
  • The dream Jacob has
  • What the LORD says to Jacob in this dream (vv. 13-15)
  • What Jacob realizes (v. 16)
  • What Jacob renames the place (v. 17)
  • Jacob’s vow (v. 20-22)

“Bethel” actually means “House 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)

Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, January 2, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 33

Prayer Point. Why should God be praised? He spoke the world into existence.  He keeps the world together and foils the plans of evil men even today. He is also our hope who will restore our creation.  What has God created that inspires you?  Thank him for what he has made. How is God intervening in your life?  Thank him for what he is doing.  What promises has he made?  Ask God for the faith to hope in him.

John 6:34-42, 48-51

Background. Jesus revealed himself in a series of important “I am” statements that are recorded in the gospel of John (see John 6:35; 6:51; 8:12; 9:5; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). In today’s reading he declares “I am the bread of life.”

In declaring himself to be the “bread of life” Jesus is making an allusion to Israel’s desert wanderings which you can read more about in the book of Exodus. God freed Israel from 450 years of slavery in Egypt, but 40 years of wandering in the desert laid between them and the promised land. It was in the desert that God’s people learned to trust him as water and food were scarce in the wilderness. God split the rocks and provided water for his people when they were thirsty. He provided them daily bread or manna when they were hungry.

Those were miracles, vital parts of Israel’s history, but the arrival of Jesus is something bigger. Israel had daily bread in the wilderness, but Jesus is THE bread of life.

Pay close attention to …

  • What is true of those who come to Jesus and believe in him.
  • Why some will accept Jesus’ teachings and why others had a hard time believing him.
  • How Jesus, the bread of life, is a greater miracle than the bread God provided in the wilderness.

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)

Hebrews 11:1-12

Background. Hebrews was written to encourage a group of Christians of Jewish ancestry who were considering giving up following Jesus. They were experiencing persecution, suffering that would cease if they returned to returned to Judaism. The writer inspires them to hang on by pointing to heroes of the faith that have gone before them.

Pay close attention to …

  • The definition of faith in verse 1.
  • How the lives of Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham exemplify this faith.
  • The only way sinful people like us can please God (verse 6).

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)

Genesis 12:1-7

Background. Abram was living comfortably in a place (city?) called Haran. (And just to make things really confusing Haran is also the name of one of Abram’s brothers — in this case, Lot’s father. Lot, you may remember, was Abram’s nephew). Once Abram’s father Terah died the LORD told Abram to “come follow me” as it were. The LORD sends Abram off to Canaan but not without a carrot! The carrot offered here is that Abram, who is childless, will become the father of many nations and that all the world will be blessed through him. One other thing: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” (Genesis 12:3 NIV)

Pay close attention to …

  • How old Abram is (v. 4)
  • What Abram does (v. 4)
  • Who joins him (vv. 4 & 5)
  • What God promised Abram (v. 7)
  • What Abram does once he arrives in Canaan (v. 7)

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share

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