Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, January 11, 2014

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.

John 14:6-14

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.  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.

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.

Colossians 3:1-17

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 guide you.

Background. There is a pattern to Paul’s teaching in today’s reading:

1. This is who you are because of Christ.
2. Now be who you are.

Verse 1a: This is who you are because of Christ … _________________________________________

Verse 1b-2: Be who you are by … _______________________________________________

Verses 3-4: This is who you are because of Christ … ______________________________________

Verses 5-10: Be who you are by …___________________________________________
(What do you put to death? What do you put on?)

Verse 11-12a: This is who you are because of Christ … _______________________________________
(Therefore as _________________)

Verses 12b-17: Be who you are by … __________________________________________

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.

Isaiah 55:3-9

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 guide you.

Background. We see David mentioned again here with “my faithful love promised to David”. What is the faithful love promised?  What does the Lord advise (or command) so that “your soul may live”?  Of whom is Isaiah (the LORD) speaking in verse 4? [I believe the LORD is referring to David. For all his faults, David was viewed as faithful to God and righteous and upright in heart. See 1 Kings 3:6 ] In verse 5 things shift a bit. Who is being addressed here? [The Messiah – calling all both Jew and Gentile.] “For he has endowed you with splendor…” What do you understand that to mean? [If this refers to Jesus, then it is echoed by Paul in Philippians Chapter 2 verses 5-11 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” NIV]

Verse 6 encourages us to ____ ___ ____ and ____ __ ___. What is beautifully described in verse 7?  What is promised next?  Describe what verse 8 means to you: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.”

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 – Friday, January 10, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 138

Prayer Point. Psalm 138 gives us a number of reasons to praise God. Pick one or two that speak to you and use those to offer your own prayer of thanksgiving.

John 10:7-17

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 guide you.

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.

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.

Colossians 2:8-23

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 guide you.

Background. Paul’s letter to the Colossian Christians was written in the midst of the first controversy that gripped the early church. The question was: “Do you need to convert to Judaism and become a practicing Jew in order to be a true follower of Jesus?” Those who insisted that Gentiles follow Jewish practices were called ‘Judaizers’. This question had profound implications for the many Gentiles members of the Colossian church. Would they need to be circumcised (a ritual that every Jewish male went through to demonstrate that he had entered God’s family)? Would they need to follow Jewish cultural practices: dietary laws, Sabbaths and festivals (see verse 16)?

Pay close attention to …

  • Where Paul comes down on whether the Gentiles need to follow Jewish laws and customs to be followers of Jesus.
  • Who lives in Jesus (verse 9) and what God has done for the Colossians (and for us) through Christ (10-12)
  • The contrast between circumcision done by men and the circumcision done by Christ and why Jesus’ circumcision renders the old circumcision unnecessary.
  • The connection between the circumcision done by Christ and baptism (verses 12).
  • What Jesus did for the Colossians (verse 13-15) and why they should not see themselves as “second class” Christians (verse 16).
  • The purpose of the old Jewish practices and their relationship to Christ (verse 17)
  • What have the Judaizers lost according to Paul? (verse 19)
  • What are rules and regulations unable to do for us? (verse 23)

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 23:1-8

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 guide you.

Background. It is important to know that this passage in Jeremiah takes place before the people are carried away to Babylon.

Who are the shepherds of Israel? I don’t know. I know that the Levites were commissioned to “teach” the people the laws and ordinances of the LORD. Actually, I think that the shepherds of Israel are the leaders both religious and civil. What is the LORD’s complaint in the opening of this chapter?  What are the consequences to the shepherds?  What is the Lord’s solution to the problem of the errant shepherds?  What commitment does the Lord make to the sheep he has gathered?  Who is the supreme shepherd as described in verses 5 and 6? Compare with John 9:11-18.  What name does the Branch have? What does this name mean to you? Verse 7 talks of “the days are coming…” When will this be or has it happened already? [Actually, both. This was partly fulfilled when David’s eternal successor (Jesus) was born and when he returns to restore the earth to where it was before the fall.] Who are these “descendents of Israel”? [We are the children of Abraham – or the descendents of Israel – because of Christ.] This gathering of the Israelites can be seen both in their return from Babylon as well as when the Lord returns a second time to call his own. Why is David so important? See Luke Chapter 1 verses 67-75. [It is from a descendent of David that the Messiah will come.]

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, January 9, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 123

Prayer Point. Meditate on the image of the slave and his master and the maid and the mistress as it reflects the true state of our dependence on God. From this place of humility, ask God to provide us with our daily bread (what we need for today) and his mercy.

John 8:12-19

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 guide you.

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; 9:5; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). In today’s reading he declares “I am the light of the world.”

You will notice that the Pharisees challenge Jesus’ authority on two grounds: the identity of his witnesses and the identity of his father. Jewish Law, in which the Pharisees were regarded as experts, required that all testimony needed to be confirmed by two or three witnesses in order to be considered valid.

Second, you might remember that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit before his mother, Mary, married Joseph. Jesus’ detractors are questioning the legitimacy of his birth by asking, “who is your father?”

Pay close attention to …

  • What Jesus being the light of the world” means for those who follow him.
  • The witnesses which Jesus appeals to in validating his testimony.
  • How Jesus handles the question of the identity of his Father.

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.

Colossians 1:24-2:7

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 guide you.

Background. Paul sees himself as a servant of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.  His desire is to see Gentiles, like the Colossians, come to believe the gospel, receive its hope and forgiveness and become followers of Jesus Christ.  This is everything for Paul.

Pay close attention to …

  • The cause that Paul gladly suffers for.
  • The mystery that God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles through Paul.
  • The purpose of Paul’s proclamations, admonishments and teachings.
  • Why Paul wants these Christians to know the extent of his sufferings on their behalf.
  • If we began our journey with Christ through faith.  How do we continue to walk with Christ? (verses 6-7)

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.

Isaiah 45:14-19

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 guide you.

Background. Chapter 45 opens with the LORD commissioning Cyrus to carry out God’s plan. Cyrus is not a Jew, is not among the “Chosen People”. This will set the theme of the chapter. Clearly God can use anyone he needs to achieve his ends. What is the LORD doing in verse 14? {Look at Exodus 12:33-36 “The LORD had made the Egyptians favorable disposed toward the people…” NIV} [A similar thing; the Israelites regarded favorably by the “nations” and their wealth given to them.”] What do the “nations” acknowledge with respect to the LORD (see verse 14b)?  Now look at Exodus chapter 33 verses 17-23. [Moses hidden in the cleft of the rock while the glory of the LORD passes by…] How does verse 15 in Isaiah chapter 45 square with what is written in Exodus? [“‘But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.’” Exodus 33:20 NIV] So God “hides himself”, why? [So that we will not be destroyed and that he is the Savior of Israel. v. 15.] What is the fate of the unbeliever or idolater (see verse 16)?  What great promise is made in verse 17?  To whom is this promise made? [I believe the Israel spoken of here is that of the millennial period. That is why they “will never be put to shame or disgraced to ages everlasting.” v. 17b NIV j.t.]

Verse 18 sounds like a catechetical question: Why did God create the heavens and the earth? How does verse 19 indicate that “men are without excuse” (see verse 19 and Romans 1:20)? Where does truth come from?

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, January 8, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 117

Prayer Point. Think about your family, your workplace, your town and the missions projects we have around the world. Take some time today to pray that people in each of these spheres will be awakened to the love of God expressed in Christ and become worshipers of God.

John 7:37-52

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 Feast of Tabernacles commemorated Israel’s forty years of wandering in the wilderness between their liberation from slavery in Egypt and their entrance into the Promised Land. The people lived in tents (tabernacles, hence the name of the feast) during that time and there God taught them to rely on him daily.  When they were hungry, he gave them manna, daily bread. When they were thirsty, he split the rocks, providing fresh water for his thirsty people.

Pay close attention to …

  • What and who Jesus offers to those who are thirsty. Note the connection to the Feast of Tabernacles.
  • Why the temple guards are unable to arrest Jesus.
  • Who steps forward to defend Jesus and why his rebuffed.  Notice what the Pharisees don’t know about Jesus (see verses 27, 45-52 and Luke 2:1-7).

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.

Colossians 1:15-23

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 guide you.

Background. Jesus Christ lives at the center of the Gospel Paul preaches to the Colossian Christians.  This Jesus is both fully God and fully man.  In today’s reading, Paul will emphasize Jesus’ divine characteristics.

Some have argued that Jesus’ title as the “firstborn over creation” (verse 15) means that he was created and not equal with God. The word “firstborn” in this passage has do with Christ’s authority over creation otherwise it could not be said in verse 16 that “by him all things were created.”

Pay close attention to …

  • Christ’s relationship to God the Father (the invisible God)
  • Christ’s relationship to creation. See note above about the firstborn.
  • His role in the creation of the world (verse 16) and his ongoing role in creation (verse 17).
  • Christ’s relationship to the church.
  • What God the Father does for creation through Christ.
  • What the Colossians were before Christ and what God the Father has made them through Christ (verses 21 and 22).
  • How we hang on to what Christ has accomplished for us (verse 23).
  • Paul’s relationship to the gospel (verse 23).

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.

Exodus 17:1-7

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 guide you.

Background. Ever mindful of their trust in the LORD, and always remembering how well the LORD supplies his people, what great crisis of faith do the Israelites face next?  (As the Israelites camp at Rephidim, they find that there is no water to drink.  So they grumbled against Moses demanding water.)

What is Moses’ take on this new rebellion?  (“Moses replied, ‘Why do you quarrel with me?  Why do you put the LORD to the test?’” (Exodus 17:2 NIV))

What charge do the people lay at Moses’ feet?  (“Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” (Exodus 17:3 NIV))

This crowd was getting ugly; Moses went to the LORD and told him that they were ready to stone him.  What does the LORD instruct Moses to do?  (The LORD tells Moses to take with him some of the elders of Israel and with that famous staff in his hand; he was to strike the rock at Horeb.  The LORD promised him that the rock would then gush forth water for the people.)

Why is Moses told to take with him some of the elders of Israel?  (Witnesses!  The more the people see the more likely they are to believe or, if not believe, to remember the event.)

What does Moses name the place and why?  (Moses called the place Massah and Meribah because the people quarreled and tested (or tempted) the LORD.  [When I read something like that it tells me that perhaps the LORD was close to losing his patience with Israel.  Sick and tired about covers it.  We will see later that the LORD gets so frustrated with Israel’s rebellions that he threatens to wipe out the entire nation and begin again with Moses. – j.t.])

While the Hebrews were in this region (Rephadim or Massah and Meribah) they were attacked by the Amalekites.  Who are these Amalekites?  (See Genesis 14:7; it will also explain why these people are continually hostile to the Israelites.)  (The Amalekites are descendents of Esau, Israel’s older and twin brother.)

What was the indicator of victory or defeat in this battle?  (As Moses would hold up his hands the Israelites would be victorious; if he lowered his hands the Amalekites would prevail.)

What was done to assure victory for Israel?  (As Moses grew more tired, Aaron and Hur would hold up Moses’ hands and did so until victory was final.)

Why is it important that this battle be memorialized in a scroll?  (“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’” (Exodus 17:14 NIV)]

Why does the LORD say “make sure that Joshua hears it…”? (Exodus 17:14 NIV)  (I think it is a hint that the LORD is planning for Joshua to succeed Moses when he dies. – j.t.)

What does Moses prophesy after this battle?  (“The Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.” (Exodus 17:16 NIV))

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, January 7, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 103

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

John 6:30-33, 48-51

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. Pandemonium spread like wildfire through the hills beside the sea of Galilee. Jesus of Nazareth, one of their native sons, had fed a crowd of 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Crowds of people, believing Jesus to be the Messiah and wanting to make Him king, went on a frantic search for him. They found him on the far side of the lake.

Jesus understands that the crowd that pursue him are  motivated by and working for food that spoils.  What greater food are the crowds called to work for? What kind of work does God require for the food that endures to eternal life (see verse 29)?

One reason the crowds are so energized is that Jesus reminds them of Moses who led Israel from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. While Israel wandered in the desert, God provided daily bread or “manna” that fell like dew on the ground. They believed it was Moses who gave them “bread from heaven.” Jesus had given them a taste of Moses. They wanted him to do it again but Jesus has a greater bread in mind.

Who or what  is the true bread or bread of life that comes down from heaven? What happens to those who come to Jesus? Why doesn’t everyone come? Who is able to come to Jesus? What is Jesus’ mission on earth? Whose will is He carrying out?

The crowds who pursued Jesus were hoping for someone who would miraculously give them free food. Jesus announces that the true bread is not the bread he fed the 5000 with. The true bread is Himself. How do the crowds respond to Jesus’ announcement that he is the true manna (see Exodus chapter 16) or bread from heaven? Why are they skeptical?

How does Jesus explain their unbelief? What does Jesus say here about how people come to him? Who draws the people to Jesus? How does Jesus relate Himself to the Father here in this passage? What happens to those who believe according to verse 47?

In what way is Jesus a greater bread than the manna that Israel’s forefathers ate in the desert? What will happen to those who eat the “flesh” 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.

Colossians 1:1-14

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

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

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

Background. The “book” of Colossians is a letter from the Apostle Paul to the church in the city of Colosse. Paul writes to encourage and guide this young church.

Letters in the ancient world followed a format similar to emails today.

From (verse 1) ___________

To (verse 2) ______________

Instead of a subject line, letters in the ancient world offered a blessing as a greeting (verse 2b).

Pay close attention to …

  • What two things causes Paul to be thankful for the church at Colosse (verse 4)
  • The source of the Colossians’ faith and love (verse 5).
  • How the Colossians first heard the gospel (verse 7).
  • What Paul specifically prays daily for this church (verse 9) and the purpose of his prayer (verse 10).
  • How God empowers us to live for him (verses 11-14).

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 8:1-3

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. Before your eyes glaze over… It is unfortunate that the richness of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy go untapped because of the minutiae [serious details] of the laws. Genesis and Exodus tell wonderful stories of the formation of the people of God and how he released them from bondage and the dramatic delivery of the Ten Commandments. The next three books actually serve as a manual for living. They are to the Old Covenant what the book (letter) of James is to the New. [j.t.]

Introduction to the book of Deuteronomy

Why is it important to follow every commandment Moses has delivered to the people (see verse 1)?  What was the purpose of the forty year exercise in the desert (see verse 2)? How had the Lord humbled the people in the desert (see verse 3)?  Read chapter 16 in Exodus about the “grumbling” of the people.  What is “manna” and what was the valuable lesson to be learned?  [Manna is the bread from heaven but the word’s origin actually comes from what the people said when first they saw it “What is this?”  “… to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” v. 3]   Where else in scripture is this lesson effectively demonstrated?  [In Chapter 4 of Matthew this is the verse Jesus quotes in response to Satan’s temptation that Jesus change the stones into bread when he was hungry after his 40-day stint in the desert.  Notice that Jesus spent 40 days in the desert – one day for every year that Israel spent there.]  What does this say about “give us this day our daily bread”?  [ Ref. Exodus Chapter 16: The point was to be so dependent on the LORD; that he would provide bread each day as needed.]

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 29, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 93

Prayer Point. We saw the destructive power of the sea stirred by Hurricane Sandy’s winds as it brought the wealthiest city in the world to its knees. The ancients knew no greater power than the fury of a stormy sea, and yet God is greater still.  Imagine how we might live if we believed this.  Confess your fears to God and pray that the Holy Spirit will remind of God’s power.

Luke 2:22-40

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?

Background. This scene takes place in the temple complex. When the Gospels and the book of Acts refer to entering the temple or teaching in the temple, it is often not a reference to Herod’s temple itself, but rather to this temple complex, including a number of courts and chambers that surrounded the temple [ESV Study Bible Notes].

The time of purification dates back to the time of Moses when God gave him instructions regarding the purification rituals of the mother and child after childbirth. It can be found in Leviticus 12:3-4. Jesus, being the firstborn male, was to be called holy to the Lord. The ritual sacrifice was a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons for a poor family. A well to do family would have offered a lamb. So we know from this that Mary and Joseph had limited means.

Who was Simeon? What did he say about Jesus that Mary and Joseph marveled at? What does it mean that “this child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many will be revealed.”? Who did Anna speak to regarding Jesus? What were they looking for? Notice in verse 40 that it says “and the grace of God was upon him.” What do you think that means?

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.

Colossians 1:9-20

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?

Background. The “book” of Colossians, is a letter from the Apostle Paul to the church that he planted in the city of Colosse. Paul has moved on in his missionary travels, but he continues to guide this young church through letters such as the one we are reading today. How does Paul pray for the Christians in Colosse? What kind of life does he want them to lead? Who will provide the power to live in this way? What has God done for us that causes us to respond with such a life (see verses 12-14)?

We often think of the tiny Christ child this time of year. How does Paul paint a different picture of Christ? Who is He? What has He done? What is He doing today? How is Christ related to God the Father?  What is Christ’s position over creation? When Paul calls Jesus the first born of creation it does not mean that Jesus was created along with everything else. Being God, Jesus has always existed. In fact Paul says in verse 15 all things were created by Christ. “First born over Creation” is a title referring to Jesus’ lordship over all that God has made and not the first thing that God the Father created.

What is Jesus’ position over the church? What is His mission today?

Why is it important for us to come to know Jesus in this way?

2 John. While it appears that 2 John is a personal letter to a woman and her family, it is far more likely that the phrase “the chosen lady and her children” is a description of a local church. The church is often referred to as the ‘bride of Christ’. If this is the case, ‘your chosen sister’ 2 John 13 refers to the church that John was staying with at the time he wrote the letter.

In American churches we are used to talking about the faith in the past tense: When were you saved? Last week 20 people accepted Christ. We speak of our faith as an event in the past, but John does the faith as way of life, a process that is lived every day. Notice how many times John uses the verb “walk” in this letter to describe the Christian life. List them out. How does this list challenge your understanding of what it means to be a Christian?

What is it that gives John great joy (see verse 4)? What is John’s command to the church (see verse 6)? How is love connected to God’s Law and his commands? 

Having laid out the Christian way of life, what false teaching does John warn against (see verse 7)?

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 Samuel 1:1-2, 7-28

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?

Background. Elkanah (meaning: acquired by God, i.e. perhaps in exchange for firstborn [Num. 3:15; 45] a son of Korah – The Companion Bible p. 367) was a well-to-do man from “the hill country of Ephraim” (v.1) who had two wives: Hannah (meaning Grace) and Peninnah (meaning Pearl). He was of the tribe of Levi, of the sons of Korah – those who waited on the LORD in the tabernacle. Like Jacob’s two wives, one was favored and one was not. Hannah, though she had no children, was more favored than Peninnah, who had a brood of young. While the story of Samuel’s origins has some similarity to Jacob’s life, the story also bears some resemblance to the origins of John the Baptist almost a thousand years later. Hannah and Elizabeth were “barren”. Both women bore sons and both were dedicated to the LORD from an early age. Both were prophets and both played key roles in the Davidic monarchy: Samuel to establish David and John the Baptist to announce the coming of the Messiah, David’s successor. Probably because she was not (as) favored as Hannah, Peninnah used to provoke Hannah to tears each year when the “family” went up to Shiloh (i.e., “where the tabernacle and the ark were” The Companion Bible p. 367) to make their offerings to the LORD. [There is a similarity here between Sarah and Hagar too!] Evidently this was rather acute for Hannah for she went into the temple to ask the LORD to bless her with a son, and if he did so, she would dedicate all his life to the service of the LORD. Eli, the chief priest was very old and his eyesight wasn’t what it used to be, so when he saw Hannah praying (for she was moving her lips but not speaking aloud) he mistook her to be drunk. He admonished her against such behavior whereupon she told him of her plea to God. Eli sends her off with his blessing and a hope that God would “visit” her.

Well, he did. By the time of the next yearly sacrifice, Hannah had delivered of a son whom she named Samuel (meaning “asked of God”, or “God-heard” The Companion Bible p. 367). Hannah’s plan is to wean her son and then leave him at the temple. Her reproach is removed. Hannah was blessed with three more sons and two daughters. Why was Hannah so eager to “lend” her son [for the rest of his life] to the LORD from such an early age? (I think it was a couple of things: an act of thanksgiving for removing her reproach; and an act of faith that the LORD would use and bless Samuel in his service to God.) Her prayers were heard (and answered) which might serve as encouragement to others who knew of her plight.

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, April 29, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 64

Prayer Point.  Before you pray this psalm, put yourselves in the shoes of someone you know who is a victim of injustice. Following the flow of this psalm pray that: God will hear them, cause the plans of the wicked to backfire, and that God’s intervention will cause our world to fear and worship him.

Matthew 7:36-50

Background.  Hospitality, sharing meals and touching were highly significant acts in Jesus’ culture.  Holy people did not eat with sinners and certainly did not allow themselves to be touched by them. To eat with someone was to identify with him, but we see a certain amount of reserve in Simon the Pharisee.  He has failed to offer water to Jesus to wash his feet, violating one of the most basic rules of hospitality in that day.  Simon eats with Jesus, not so much to enjoy him, but to examine him.

Pay close attention to …

  • The hospitality of the sinful woman in contrast to Simon’s and why.
  • How the parable of the moneylender explains the source of love for God.
  • Why the sinful woman went home forgiven and why Simon failed to love.

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)

Colossians 3:18-4-18

Background.  Roman society demanded blind obedience from wives, children and slaves to husbands, fathers, and masters without demanding that those in authority act responsibly towards those under them.  The Romans ordered their society in this way because they considered women, children and slaves to be inherently inferior.  While the Apostle Paul will ask wives to submit to their husbands, children to obey their parents and slaves to obey their masters, his teaching is a direct challenge to Roman culture. For Paul, submission is not an admission of inferiority, but a mark of their new relationship with Jesus Christ.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why children, wives and slaves asked to submit to their fathers, husbands and masters. Who are they really serving? What is promised to those who endure suffering? It is interesting that one member of Paul’s mission team, Onesimus, was a runaway slave (see Colossians 4:8). For more information see the book of Philemon.
  • The unroman-like demands that Paul places on masters, husbands and fathers and why.
  • How the Colossians are to pray (verses 4:2-4).
  • How they are to relate to outsiders (verses 5).
  • What should season their conversations (verse 6).
  • How the final greetings (verses 7-18) shed light on the relationships between the Colossian church and Paul and his mission team.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

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

Leviticus 16:1-19

Within the tabernacle (the tent of meeting) there was a room called the Most Holy Place.  It was cordoned off by a curtain and in it was the Ark of the Covenant, the place where God’s presence was concentrated.  Why wasn’t Aaron the High Priest allowed to enter the Most Holy Place any time he chose?  For more on the death of Aaron’s sons see the story of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10.  What was the ritual Aaron had to go through?  Why do you think it was so involved?  What does it say about God?  What does it say about us?

Luke 27:50-51 And when Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  The earth shook and the rocks split.

Wisdom 9:1, 7-18  (Not Scripture, but still worthwhile reading for the Christian)

1    “O God of my fathers and LORD of mercy,
who have made all things by your word,

7    You have chosen me to be king of your people
and to be judge over your sons and daughters.
8    You have given command to build a temple on your holy mountain,
and an altar in the city of your habitation,
a copy of the holy tent that you prepared from the beginning.
9    With you is wisdom, she who knows your works
and was present when you made the world;
she understands what is pleasing in your sight
and what is right according to your commandments.
10    Send her forth from the holy heavens,
and from the throne of  your glory send her,
that she may labor at my side,
and that I may learn what is pleasing to you.
11    For she knows and understands all things,
and she will guide me wisely in my actions
and guard me with her glory.
12    Then my works will be acceptable,
and I shall judge your people justly,
and shall be worthy of the throne of my father.
13    For who can learn the counsel of God?
Or who can discern what the LORD wills?
14    For the reasoning of man is worthless,
and our designs are likely to fail;
15    for a perishable body weighs down the soul,
and this earthy tent burdens the thoughtful mind.
16    We can hardly guess at what is on earth,
and what is at hand we find with labor;
but who has traced out what is in the heavens?
17    Who has learned your counsel,
unless you have given wisdom
and sent your holy spirit from on high?
18    And thus the paths of those on earth were set right,
and the people were taught what pleases you,
and were saved by wisdom.”

Pay close attention to …

  • The subject of the writing
  • How all things were (v. 1 )
  • How wisdom is personified (v. 9 )
  • How wisdom works (v. 11 )
  • What weighs down the soul (v. 15 )
  • How people were saved (v. 18 )

One note on wisdom: when I was discussing the subject of wisdom with our resident bible scholar (Nathan), he clarified that the wisdom spoken of in the Old Testament was more what we think of as righteousness and justice; the wise person would do the right thing (even when no one was looking).

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)