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.

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Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, June 5,2013

Prayer Psalm: 53

Prayer Point.  This psalm is a hellish view of our world and a desperate plea to God for help.  Take time today to pray this psalm on behalf of our brothers and sisters who live in war zones such as Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, Burma and the Sudan.

Luke 17:20-37

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following “Background” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The Pharisees were waiting for the Messiah who would bring the kingdom of God to earth. They looked forward to the coming of God’s anointed King (Messiah means “anointed one”) who would overthrow their oppressors, the Romans, and establish God’s eternal kingdom of peace and justice.

While the Pharisees anticipated the coming of the Messiah, Jesus will warn them that they are in danger of missing out on the blessings of the Messiah’s kingdom. To wake them up, Jesus will refer to two judgment stories from the Old Testament. The implication is that unless they change, they will share the same fate.

  • Noah and the Flood (Genesis 6-9)
  • Lot’s wife and the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19)

The Pharisees are waiting with anticipation for the coming of God’s kingdom and the judgment of their enemies. What they don’t realize is that unless they internalize the teachings of Jesus and repent, they will share the same fate.

Pay close attention to …

  • How is Jesus’ understanding of the kingdom different from the Pharisees. Why can’t it be seen? Where is it located?
  • What must happen to the Son of Man, the Messiah, before the coming of the kingdom (see verse 25)?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 7:2-16

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. In chapter six Paul argued that the love of Christ demonstrated through his death and resurrection, compels us to follow in his footsteps out of gratitude. For Paul this meant living life with his heart “wide-open” (6:11) as a tribute to Christ and with the hopes that the Corinthians will follow his example.

Paul’s relationship with the Corinthian church has not been an easy one. There have been good times, when they returned their love and supported Paul’s protege Titus (verses 6-7), but there have also been difficult times. This church had twisted the grace of God into a “get out of jail free card.” They reasoned that they could sin boldly and freely without fear because they were already forgiven by Christ. As a result, they not only tolerated open sin in their church, they celebrated it. This prompted Paul to write a scathing letter to call them to repentance (see 1 Corinthians 5:1-12 specifically).

Pay close attention to …

  • Why Paul’s short-term regret about the impact of his former letter gives way gives way to joy. What does this tell you about the nature of Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians?
  • The contrast between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow and repentance. The good that comes from godly sorrow. For an example of worldly sorrow try reading the story of Judas (Matthew 27:1-10).
  • Why Paul’s confidence in the Corinthians has returned (verses 11-16).

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 31:30-32:14

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Moses has very little left to say: a (swan) song and the blessings to the twelve tribes and then he will ascend Mount Nebo to die. Again Moses appeals to the people to remember. He wants them to remember their own personal history: what they had experienced while wandering through the desert. He doesn’t want to burden them with someone else’s story, a story which will have no significance to them. He wants them to call to mind all that the LORD has done for them during this rather lengthy trek. He puts all of this in song, a device used to make the message easier to remember. But will they?

Pay close attention to …

  • Moses’ opening plea (v. 2 )
  • His accusation to Israel (v. 5 )
  • What Moses hopes the people will do (v. 7 )
  • The LORD’s loving-kindness toward Israel (vv. 10-14 )

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 48

Prayer Point.  In Revelation 21 there is a vision of God’s city descending out of heaven to earth.  That is where all of history is headed; God living forever with his people. That same dream is sung in this psalm.  Don’t hide from the pain you will see today, but pray that in the midst of it all, you will not lose sight of this dream.  Rather than despairing, pray: “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Luke 17:11-19

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Leprosy was a killer disease with even greater social consequences. Lepers, because their disease was highly contagious, were forced to live apart from their family and friends, outside the city to await their deaths.

Ten lepers are healed by Jesus. In keeping with Jewish law, they showed themselves to the priests before in order to be admitted back into the community. It took great faith for these men to set out for the priest before Jesus healed them.

One of the lepers is a Samaritan, an ethnic group reviled by the Jews because they worshiped the God of Israel in a distorted way.

Pay close attention to …

  • The one leper out of ten who returns to Jesus. What separates him from the others? Where is he from?
  • The reason for his healing (verse 19).

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 6:3-7:1

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. In the previous reading Paul argued that it is Christ’s initiative that moves us to change.

2 Corinthians 6:14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one [Jesus] died for all, and therefore all [sinners] died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again.

In other words, Jesus lived a self-less sacrificial life and we are called to live the same life out of gratitude. Paul continues that argument in today’s reading. Imitating the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ, he lived with his heart “wide open” with the hopes that the Corinthians will respond.

Paul in verses 6:14-7:1 will specifically describe the impact that the Corinthian’s new relationship with God will have on their relationships with the pagan world that Christ had rescued them from. The metaphor he will use is the yoke, which bound two oxen together for pulling the plow. To be yoked with Christ excludes the possibility of being yoked to the paganism of their past. Belial (verse 15) is simply a word used to describe a foreign god or idol.

Pay close attention to …

  • What it meant for Paul and his companions to live with their hearts wide open and what we asks the Corinthians to do in response (verses 6:3-13).
  • How being yoked with Christ impacts their relationship with the idol worship of the past and those who continue to practice it.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 30:11-20

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? You can use the following “Background” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Our nearness to God, I think, has always been a serious issue for us. As we read about the Jews and their sojourn through the wilderness, we learn that they fashioned for themselves an idol to help represent the presence of God among them. While it was not perfectly clear to them, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob understood that to worship any other god than the LORD constituted worshipping a “false” god. Jacob even had a serious run-in with his father-in-law (Laban) over just this issue (see Genesis 31:22-55): Laban had accused Jacob of stealing his household gods [actually Rachel had stolen them unbeknownst to Jacob]. Even while Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the command not to make graven images, the impatient Hebrews (Moses had been gone for about forty days) felt a need to “see” their God. They fashioned for themselves the golden calf and proceeded to worship it as God. As far as Moses was concerned, ignorance of the law was no excuse.

Pay close attention to …

  • How close the word is to the people (v. 14 )
  • The conditions of life and death (vv. 15-16 )
  • The results of turning away from the LORD (vv. 17-18 )
  • The choices of life and death (vv. 19-20 )

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Monday, June 3, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 44

Prayer Point.  Jesus spoke of two enemies of the soul, the rocks (our struggles) and the thorns (our triumphs). When we are successful, we forget that it was God, not us, that brought it about. When we struggle, it is easy to blame God and give up. Psalm 44 is a psalm for both the rocky and thorny periods of our lives. If you are struggling, or know someone who is, focus more on verses 9-26 and turn it into your own prayer for help. If life is good, meditate on verses 1-8 and turn it into a prayer of praise.

Luke 17:1-10

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Sin and temptation are a normal part of our life experiences as fallen human beings. It is a struggle so deep, that none can overcome it without the help of his or her fellow Christians. We have a responsibility to each other; to avoid tripping each other up and to forgive each other.

The common teaching in Jesus’ day was to forgive someone three times for the same offense. Anything more than that was considered to be enabling sin.

Pay close attention …

  • The warning Jesus issues to those who cause someone to fall into sin.
  • How many times we are to forgive someone who sins against us. Notice what the disciples ask for in order to meet this standard.
  • The power of even a small amount of faith.
  • Verses 7-10. Is it possible to earn God’s love through our obedience? What is the best our efforts can achieve?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The Scriptures often speak of the value of a healthy fear of God.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.

Paul has just warned the Corinthian Christians that all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of what they did in their life (2 Corinthians 5:10). This fear can move us to wisdom as it motivates us to please God in all that we do (2 Corinthians 5:9). It is this healthy fear combined with love and appreciation for what Christ did for us through his death that drives Paul to serve the Corinthians and the cause of spreading the Gospel.

Paul makes this argument because some Christian teachers came to the Corinthian church and tried to discredit Paul; implying that he lacked the credentials necessary to be a real Apostle.

Pay close attention to …

  • How the fear of God and the love of Christ moves Paul to serve the Corinthians (verses 11-15).
  • What sets Paul apart from those who wish to discredit him (verse 12).
  • What it means to see someone from Christ’s perspective as opposed to a worldly perspective (verse 16-17).
  • How our new calling or ministry is connected to Christ’s ministry (verses 18-20).
  • The “great exchange” in verse 21. What Jesus became and what we became as as result. Note that Jesus becoming sin means that he took on our sin as was punished on the cross as if he had committed them.
  • The call to respond to God’s grace in verses 1 and 2 of chapter six.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 30:1-10

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. When I was in school, the good sisters used to tell us (regarding learning anything): “Three times for the normal mind!” That may be a good rule of thumb, but apparently Moses believed that three times was hardly enough. The book of Deuteronomy is a “re-telling” of the covenant (law) but considerably more than three times. He knew these people much better than we could. However, the principle remains as valid for us as for them. I have lost count how many times Moses encouraged the people to remember their covenant, but the most memorable (for me anyway) is found in Deuteronomy Chapter 6 (which I have harped on from the beginning — and I mean from when we began this adventure about two years ago) where it states: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on our hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:4-9 NIV) It is clear from this passage that virtually every thought shall be held captive to the love of God. When Paul was addressing some of the shortcomings of the church in Corinth (they had that nasty business of a man sleeping with his father’s wife…) he echoed this sentiment: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” This is how fervently we ought to treasure what has been delivered to us: the word of God.

Pay close attention to …

  • What Moses presumes (read: prophesies) about the people (v. 1 )
  • The next thing Moses presumes about the people (v. 2 )
  • The promise hanging out there (v. 3 )
  • The next promise (v. 5 )
  • The “surgery” called for (v. 6 )*
  • Who gets the “curses” now (v. 7 )
  • The remainder is a “re-telling” of the previous verses.

* Throughout all of Israel’s history the primary metaphor used against them is that their hearts were uncircumcised. Circumcision was an outward sign of a covenant between God and his people. Clearly, circumcision of itself can do nothing. The rite of circumcision only came along after Isaac was born. Abraham’s first son (by Hagar) was only circumcised once Isaac was born some thirteen years after Ishmael. [That is why Jewish boys go through the “Bar Mitzvah” at age thirteen.] Ishmael was the son of the “flesh” whereas Isaac was the son of the “promise”. Once God fulfilled his promise, he had it sealed by the act of circumcision. Circumcision is only a sign, it doesn’t do anything. Jeremiah appeals to circumcision this way: “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, circumcise your hearts, you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done — burn with no one to quench it.” (Jeremiah 4:4 NIV) Jeremiah spoke this even as the barbarians were at the gates of the holy city.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, June 2, 2013

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.

Matthew 13:44-58

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Jesus’ mission is to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. But the question is: what exactly is the kingdom of God? In today’s reading, Jesus will tell four short stories or parables to show us what “the kingdom of God is like.”

Pay close attention to …

  • What the parable of the treasure in the field says about the value of the kingdom of heaven.
  • What the story of the merchant and the pearl tells us about the proper response to discovering the kingdom of heaven. Notice that the kingdom of heaven is compared to the treasure in the field in first parable and to the merchant in the second.
  • What two kinds of fish get caught up in the net of the kingdom of heaven and when they are separated.
  • How Jesus is received in his hometown and why.
  • In Jesus’ day, teachers of the law were a professional class whose job it was to study the Law of Moses and instruct the people in Israel as to the proper way to follow it. How is the kingdom of God consistent with the Old Testament Law? In what way is it something new?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Revelation 10:1-11

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The opening of chapter 10 marks a change in John’s perspective of the vision. In chapter 4, John is invited into God’s heavenly throne room to see the world and world events from heaven’s perspective. In chapter 10, John’s perspective shifts back to earth.

A being called the “Angel of the LORD” appears at pivotal moments in the Old Testament stories. At times it is unclear whether the being is an angel or God himself. The same is true of the angelic being in Revelation 10.

Pay close attention to …

  • Based on what you have read, what in the description of this being would lead you to believe that this person may be Christ himself? Compare the description of the angel to the description of God in Revelation 4:2-5. Remember that the number seven is symbolic of God’s perfection. Where have we seen rainbows before in the Bible? See Revelation 4:3-6 and Genesis 9:12-17.
  • What does this angelic being announce? Compare this to Daniel 12:1-4.
  • Compare what happens to John to Ezekiel’s commissioning as a prophet in Ezekiel 3:1-15. Why is John asked to literally eat the words of God? How is this connected to his mission?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 29:16-29

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. I doubt we can understand today the depth of importance the prohibition against idol worship carried. We have been looking at Deuteronomy for a couple of weeks now and the overriding focus has been on idol worship. The remainder of this chapter will also delve into that subject and the results of forgetting what the people should have remembered. Deuteronomy may be a re-telling of the law, but it is also a call to remember.

Pay close attention to …

  • What turning away from the LORD is compared to (v. 18 )
  • The warning against arrogance (v.19 )
  • The bad news (vv. 20-2 1)
  • The effects of the broken covenant (vv. 22-23 )
  • What the nations ask when they see this disaster and the reason (vv.24-25 )
  • The problem (vv. 25-26 )
  • The prophecy (v28 )*

*So much time and energy has been devoted to the issue of false gods and that’s just in this one book. It is an unfortunate truth that the issue of idolatry had plagued the Israelites ever since the death of Moses.

The kingdom of Solomon was divided because of his failure to remain faithful to the LORD. He was the wisest man alive at that time who thought that the counsel of God was inferior to his own. The LORD had commanded that he not marry “foreign” women for they would prove a snare to him. Solomon knew better. While he had 700 wives (and 300 concubines) the only wife mentioned is the “daughter of Pharaoh”. The insult here is that this marriage links Solomon to the one place with the bitterest memory. By the time Solomon dies he had managed to apostatize (separate) himself from God without much heart for repentance. (Whether he actually repented of his sins is anyone’s guess, but he is credited with writing some of the greatest wisdom contained in the Scripture, most of which was written shortly before he died. — j.t.)

When the kingdom divided after the death of Solomon, the foundation of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) was idolatry. Jeroboam (I) set up two centers of worship: Dan in the north and Bethel in the south. The objects at these sites happened to be “golden calves” which hearken to the days of the trek through the wilderness.

The fall of Samaria (the Northern Kingdom) came about in 722 B.C. or about 498 years after the death of Moses. Samaria’s “treacherous sister” (Judah) fell in 586 B.C. or about 634 years after Moses.

The prophecy was delivered so many years before which serves to prove God’s patience. The whole story is tragic and, likely, unnecessary. But this prophecy was fulfilled twice but to no one’s benefit. — j.t.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, June 1, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 43

Prayer Point.  The author of Psalm 43 believes God has abandoned him but notice how he prays: “Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  Pray this on behalf of someone you know who is going through a difficult time.

Luke 16:19-31

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following “Background” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. In today’s reading, Jesus will describe heaven and hell as locations that are separated by a large chasm, but where communication between the two worlds is possible. It is doubtful that Jesus’ intention is to give us a realistic image of the afterlife, but rather, the described features of heaven (Abraham’s side or bosom) and hell enhance the plot of this story. The point of the story is not to say that heaven and hell are two worlds divided by a great chasm, but to explain why some will miss out on heaven and find themselves in hell.

Moses and the Prophets (verses 29 and 31) served as God’s messengers to the people of Israel in the Old Testament. These messengers were sent, primarily, to teach the people the will of God and to warn them of God’s judgment for their failure to follow it.

Pay close to attention to …

  • How the rich man’s attitude towards Lazarus is the same on earth as it is in hell.
  • Why the rich man was condemned to hell and why Lazarus was taken to heaven. (See Luke 6:20-26).
  • Why warning the rich man’s five brothers is futile. Whom have they already ignored and whom will they ignore even when he rises from the dead?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:10

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Paul, at this stage of his life, is beginning to face his mortality. He understands that his current body, his earthly tent, is temporary. It would be easy to despair when faced with the end of your life, but Paul has a hope that will sustain him past the grave and give him the strength to live fully in present.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why our outward wasting away, the deterioration of old age, shouldn’t cause us to lose heart.
  • The future blessings that will overshadow our present sufferings.
  • What will replace our current earthly “tent” (body).
  • Who guarantees for us the future Paul speaks of.
  • Why death is preferable in some cases for a Christian.
  • How we must live today as we look ahead to standing before the judgment seat of Christ.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 29:2-15

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Moses, here, recaps the rather brief history (if you consider their history could only have been about 600 years at that point) of the Israelites and just how much the LORD had done for them over the years. Further, he reminds them that observance of the covenant will bring with it great rewards and failure to observe will bring unmitigated disaster.

Pay close attention to …

  • The reason for the Hebrews’ being in Canaan (v. 12-14 )
  • Who else is included in this covenant (vv.14-15 )

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, May 30, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 37

Prayer Point.  Anger at the unpunished evil in our world can easily derail our spiritual lives. Psalm 37 calls us to respond differently. Pray for the faith to: trust and commit your life to God, delight yourself in him, be still before him, wait patiently for him, to do good to those who do evil and have compassion on the wicked who will perish if they don’t return to God.

Luke 16:1-9

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” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

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

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

Pay close attention to …

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 3:1-18

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following “Background” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Apparently, there was some question regarding Paul’s credibility and in chapter three he will address it. He comes not with letters of recommendation, but something better. Look for that as you read today.

In verse 7 Paul will begin to contrast the “ministry that brought death” with its letters on stone (a reference to the Law and the 10 Commandments) and the “ministry of the Spirit”. You cannot understand this passage without the background of Exodus 20 when God gave the Ten Commandments through Moses. When Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the stone tablets, on which the commandments were written, his face radiated the reflected glory of God with such an intensity that the people could not look upon his face. In order to speak to the people, Moses is forced to wear a veil.

Now through the ministry of the Spirit, Paul declares, things are different.

Pay close attention to …

  • Paul’s “living” letters of recommendation which render written ones unnecessary.
  • The source of our competence to serve as ministers of God’s new covenant (God’s new relationship with us through Christ).
  • How the ministry of the spirit is greater than the old ministry of death. Notice especially what Paul says about the veil. Who takes away the veil that the people had previously begged Moses to wear.
  • What happens in verse 18 to those with unveiled faces.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 16:18-20; 17:14-20

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? You can use the following “Background” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. If we could learn anything from reading the Old Testament it is this: they cannot be trusted to rule themselves. Moses proved himself to be the paragon of any prophet/leader in Old Testament times. Any prophet would blush to be compared to him. Chapter 18 will speak of a “Prophet” like Moses who will be raised up from among the people. That would be a ponderous mantle to assume. In this chapter he will address nature and mission of the judges and the kings.

Pay close attention to …

  • What the judges should do and should not do (vv.16:19 -20)
  • Who is to select (choose) the king (v.17:15 )
  • Who the king cannot be (v.17:15 )
  • What the king must not do (v.17:16-17 )
  • What the king must write for himself and what he is supposed to do with it (v. 17:18- 19)
  • How the king is to consider himself (with respect to everyone else) (v. 17:20 )

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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