Daily Bible Readings – March 4, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 39

Prayer Point. “Each man’s life is but a breath … he bustles about, but only in vain, he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.” Through David’s eyes we see a true perspective of the world. The question is: will we bury ourselves in more busyness and wealth-building or will we take our emptiness to God? If you are ready to go to God use verses 7-13 to guide your prayer.

John 18:28-38

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 Pharisees and teachers of the law believed that entering a non-Jewish home, where Jewish law practices concerning cleanliness were not practiced, would make them unclean.  Jewish law prohibited anyone who was ceremonially unclean from celebrating the Passover. This is why the Jewish officials escorting Jesus refused to enter the palace of the Roman governor. But this only serves to expose the hypocrisy of Jesus’ adversaries. It was unlawful to enter the home of a Gentile, but it is permissable to bring trumped up charges against the Son of God.

Pilate clearly wants this whole thing to go away and commands the Jewish officials to judge Jesus according to their law. Why do Jesus’ enemies reject this suggestion? Who, according to verse 32, is orchestrating the details of Jesus’ death?

The Jewish authorities hoped to present Jesus as a threat to Roman authority, so their charge was that Jesus claimed to be the “King of the Jews”. The penalty for insurrection in the Roman Empire was death by crucifixion. Does Jesus consider himself to be a king? What makes Jesus’ kingdom different from the kingdoms of our world? What does this tell us about following King Jesus today?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Philippians 3:1-11

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 to guide you.

Background. The question: “Do followers of Jesus need to be circumcised and follow the Jewish laws and traditions?” was a question that troubled the church in Paul’s day.  Many Jewish Christians argued forcefully that non-Jews who became Christians must also be made to follow Jewish customs. Paul argues against this teaching calling it “confidence in the flesh”.

Why did Paul have more reason that most Jews of his time to have “confidence in the flesh”? What is worth more to Paul than his Jewish identity and all his accomplishments? What is it that is a source of pride for you? What would it look like for you to let go of these things and instead base your self-worth on the fact that you belong to 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.

Proverbs 30:1-4, 24-33

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

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

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

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 – Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 124

Prayer Point. Let’s face it. We assume that safety, food in our refrigerator, health and our homes are a given. Psalm 124 reminds us where we would be without God. Take time today to thank God for the things we too often take for granted.

John 11:30-44

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. How do you think Mary’s question hit Jesus? Why do you think Jesus weeps when he knows that he is about to raise Lazarus from the dead?

What are the crowd’s two interpretations of Jesus’ weeping?Remember that Jesus pointed to his miracles as evidence that he was not a blasphemous, demon-possessed sinner, but truly the Son of God.

What is revealed about Jesus in his raising of Lazarus? What does this miracle tell us about his relationship with God the 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.

1 John 4:7-21

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

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

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

Background. Jesus was once asked what he thought was the greatest commandment. He replied with not one, but two commands: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” For Jesus these two commands were one because you can’t separate love for God from love of neighbor. You see this same theme in John’s writing.

Pay close attention to …

  • The command of verse 7.
  • The source of love in verse 7.
  • What is true of those who love (verse 7) and those who don’t love (verse 8).
  • How God demonstrated love for us (verses 9-10). Note that an atoning sacrifice (propitiation in some translations) is a sacrifice that turns God’s righteous wrath for our sin into divine favor.
  • The appropriate response to God’s love (verse 11).
  • How the invisible God can be made visible in our world (verse 12).
  • How we know that God lives in us and we in him (verse 13).
  • What does someone who lives in God and God in him believe (verse 15-16) and what does he do (verses 17-21). What does this say about the connection between knowing God and loving others?
  • The connection between perfect love and the absence of fear and why (verse 18).

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.

Proverbs 4:1-27

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

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

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Monday, February 24, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 106

Prayer Point. I can’t read this psalm without hearing the voice of the crucified thief pleading with Jesus, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Like us, he was a sinner in need to God’s forgiveness. Psalm 106 speaks of Israel’s sins, but what are yours? Confess them to God and ask him for his forgiveness and the hope of eternal life.

John 11:17-29

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

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

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

Background. Jesus arrives in Bethany four days after the death of his friend Lazarus. By all appearances He has come too late to save his friend.

What does Martha already believe about the resurrection of the dead and about Jesus even before Lazarus is brought back to life?

The blind man’s healing revealed Christ to be the “light of the world” (see John 9:3-6). The raising of Lazarus from the dead will reveal Jesus to be ________________________ (see John 11:25).

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

1 John 3:18-4:6

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. John wants his readers to have confidence and peace before God. In today’s reading he will lay out the path to this destination. There will be things his readers must do and people they must avoid.

The path to peace and confidence before God and receiving from him whatever we ask, is to do what he commands. This is what he commands: believe in the name of his Son and love another.
Those who obey these commands live in him and he in them and this is confirmed by the Holy Spirit.

Pay close attention to …

  • What two things we must do to have confidence before God and expect to receive from him whatever we ask (verse 3:23).
  • John states that those who obey God’s commands live in God and he in them. Who confirms to us that God is living within us (verse 3:24).
  • How one can distinguish the Spirit of God from the spirit of antichrist. In other words what will teachers who are filled the spirit of God teach as opposed to those who teach according to the spirit of antichrist (verses 4:1-3).
  • How will true teachers relate to the teachings of John and the other apostles as opposed to false ones (verses 4:4-6).

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 3:11-20

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?

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, February 23, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 145

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

Mark 10:35-45

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 fear mixed with excitement as Jesus leads his disciples to Jerusalem. The disciples are afraid because the chief priests and teachers of the law, who were based in Jerusalem, were looking to kill Jesus. They are excited because they believe Jesus may be the Messiah and is about to establish the kingdom of God. They reasoned that as members of his inner circle, they would be given high positions in his new government. What the disciples don’t understand is that Jesus’ path to the throne leads to the cross. Instead of killing his enemies, he must first lay down his life for them.

Pay close attention to …

  • What Jesus says is going to happen to him.
  • The pressing argument that ensues among the disciples and how it demonstrates that the disciples don’t understand what is about to happen to Jesus.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

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

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

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

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?

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.

Proverbs 1:20-33

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

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

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

Background. How is wisdom characterized in verses 20-21?

[Wisdom is personified.  “She” takes on the characteristics of a person.  “She calls; she raises her voice; and she makes her speech.]

Do you hear the pleading of the writer in these two verses?

To whom does she pose her rhetorical questions?
[She speaks to the “simple ones” the “mockers” and the “fools”.  Wisdom wants to “sell” the benefits of herself over folly.  Wisdom represents life whereas folly always represents death.  Wisdom is not to be confused with knowledge.]

What is the benefit of positively responding to rebuke?
[“I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you.”]

Verses 24 and 25 reiterate the same ideas: reject me; no one gave heed; ignored my advice; not accept my rebuke.  What is the consequence of this?
[“I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you – when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.” (Proverbs 1:26-27 NIV)]

What are the further consequences of rejecting wisdom (truth)?
[“Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me.”  (Proverbs 1:28 NIV)]

This same theme comes up in Jeremiah in Chapter 29 verses 11-13: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

With what is the hatred of knowledge equated?
[The hatred of knowledge is equal to not choosing “to fear the LORD”.]

What exactly is the “fear of the LORD”?
[That is a good question.  Verse 7 of this chapter tells us “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.”  That doesn’t really help.  I got some help from the ESV Study Bible Notes on page 1134: 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.  This is the core maxim of the book: the quest for wisdom begins with the fear of the LORD (cf. 9:10 and Ps. 111:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”).  “Knowledge” and “wisdom” are closely tied together in Proverbs: “knowledge” tends to focus on correct understanding of the world and oneself as creatures of the magnificent and loving God, while “wisdom” is the acquired skill of applying that knowledge rightly, or “skill in the art of godly living”.  …  The reason that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom is that the moral life begins with reverence and humility before the Maker and Redeemer.  The idea of a quest for knowledge sets biblical wisdom in the broad context of the ancient Near Eastern quest for truth, and this verse also validates such a quest as legitimate and good.  Thus it affirms a kind of “creational revelation,” the idea that one can find moral and theological truth through observing the world.  At the same time, it distinguishes the biblical pursuit of knowledge and wisdom from those of the surrounding cultures, for it asserts that submission to the Lord is foundational to the attainment of real understanding. (cf. Pa. 111:10; Prov. 9:10).  By using the covenant name “the LORD” in preference to the more generic “God,” this verse makes the point that truth is found through Israel’s God.  (For fearing the Lord in Proverbs as the right response to his covenant, see 1:29; 2:5; 3:7; 8:13; 10:27; 14:2, 26-27; 15:16, 33; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17; 24:21; 31:30.)  In addition, the verse asserts that fools despise wisdom and instruction, thus setting up the alternative between the two ways of wisdom and folly.  This contrast dominates the entire book, as the way of wisdom, righteousness, and the fear of the Lord is set against the way of folly, evil, and scoffing.”

The “fear of the LORD” is also seen as a profound respect for the LORD.  It must also be admitted that this fear has in it a sense of terror.  We saw earlier that Jacob had wrestled with God all night and “I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” (Gen. 32:30 ESV)  So there is a very real sense of terror when encountering God.  That attitude seems, somehow, to be lost on us today.]

What is the fate of those who will not accept “Wisdom’s” advice?
[“…they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.” (Proverbs 1:31 NIV)]

Waywardness and complacency are somewhat equated with what result?
[Waywardness will kill the simple; complacency will destroy fools.]

What are the benefits of listening to “Wisdom”?
[“… but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease without harm.” (Proverbs 1:33 NIV)  This verse might be especially meaningful given the amount of fear and terror we think we live under.  Most of our fears stem directly from a lack of belief in God and what he is able to do for us.]

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, February 22, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 33

Prayer Point. Psalm 33 praises God because he is our creator, sustainer, protector and savior. How have you experienced God in these ways? Remember them and worship God in response then pray for the faith to trust God as you face the problems of today.

John 11:1-16

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

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

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

Background. Jesus’ friend Lazarus is gravely ill. What does Jesus say is the purpose of Lazarus’ sickness? Compare this to man born blind in John 9:1-3. How does this explain Jesus’ decision to delay his arrival until after Lazarus’ death? What is Jesus planning to do?

Jesus deeply loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, but this did not stop him from allowing them to experience the grief of Lazarus’ death. What greater purpose could Jesus have above the happiness of his dear friends?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

1 John 3:11-18

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

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

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

Background. Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve.  Both men brought sacrifices to God, but God only accepted Abel’s because of the sin Cain harbored in his heart. Cain, rather than confess his sins to God, chooses instead to strike out against God and murdered his brother.  You can read the full story in Genesis 4. Cain serves as an example of what it means to be a child of the world as opposed to a child of God.

Pay close attention to …

  • The message we heard from the beginning.
  • How Jesus is the definition of love.
  • What love looks like for God’s people. Note the specific example that John gives in verse 17.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Genesis 35:1-20

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

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

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

Background. Bethel was the first place where Abraham camped after he left Haran.  He set up an altar there.  Also it was here that Jacob had his famous dream of the angels ascending and descending on a stairway from heaven.  Here it was that God renews his promise to Jacob that “… Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth…” (Genesis 28:14).  Let’s just say that Bethel hold some importance in Hebrew history.

What does Jacob tell all of his people to do upon setting out?
[“So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.’” (Genesis 35:2 NIV)]

What is the first thing Jacob does upon arrival in Bethel?
[The first thing that Jacob does upon arrival in Bethel is to build an altar to the LORD.  “…and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed himself to him.”  (Genesis 35:7 NIV)]

What does Jacob remember of his return trip from Paddan Aram?
[“And God said to him, ‘I am God Almighty, be fruitful and increase in number.  A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body.  The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.’”  (Genesis 35:11-12 NIV)]  This is a fufillment of a promise that Jacob made to God in Genesis 28:20-22.

Tragedy strikes Jacob.  What was it?
[Rachel dies in childbirth.  She gives birth to a son.]

What does Rachel name her son?  What does Jacob name her son?
[Rachel names her son Ben-Oni {meaning “son of my trouble” NIV Footnotes}.  Jacob renames him Benjamin {meaning “son of my right hand”}.]

Where is Rachel buried?
[She is buried in Ephrath (that is Bethlehem).]

What very devastating thing happens next?
[Reuben took it upon himself to sleep with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah (Rachel’s handmaid).  This is similar to a declaration of war between father and son.]  NIV Study Bible Notes p. 61:
“35:22 Reuben’s act was an arrogant and premature claim to the rights of the firstborn (see 2 Sam. 3:7; 12:8; 16:21; 1 Kings 2:22).  For this he would lose his legal status as firstborn (see Gen. 49:3-4; 1 Chron. 5:1).”  [Personally, I think it is much worse than this.  I think it is an act of complete disrespect for his father and, in this case, given that Bilhah was Rachel’s handmaid, I’m sure it pained Jacob all the more. – j.t.]

The next few verses recount the sons (and not the daughter) of Jacob and who their mothers were.  Note that all but one of Jacob’s children (including Dinah) were born in Paddan Aram and only Benjamin was born in the land of Canaan.

This chapter closes with the death of Isaac.  Who was there and how old was Isaac when he died?
[Isaac was 180 years old and both of his sons were with him when he died.]

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 – Friday, April 21, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 107

Prayer Point. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107 gives us numerous examples of the love and faithfulness of God. Meditate on one of the examples that resonates with you and offer God a prayer of thanks.

John 10:31-42

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 has just claimed to God, not only with his words (see John 10:30) but also with miracles (see John 10:25, 32). How does the crowd respond and why? Death by stoning was the punishment for blasphemy according to the Old Testament.

The Jews had waited for centuries to see the face of God and now that he is among them, they don’t recognize him. To be fair, we wouldn’t recognize him either. We have been too busy creating God in our own image, that when he showed himself, he would not match our preconceived notions of him. What evidence is offered to the crowds that proves that Jesus is who he says he is? Why do you think the crowds are unable to kill Jesus? Why do some believe?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

1 John 3:1-10

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

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

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

Background. The Gospel is the story of God’s love that has been lavished on us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  It is a love that will not leave the heart unchanged of the one who receives it.

Pay close attention to …

  • Our new identity because of the love God lavished on us.
  • Why the world does not recognize our new identity.
  • When our new identity will be fully revealed.
  • The purpose of Jesus’ appearance with regards to our lives.
  • What is true of one who has been born of God.
  • The difference between a child of God and a child of the devil.

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.

Genesis 32:22-33:17

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. Jacob has sent everyone else ahead and he is left alone.  What happens that night?

[Jacob wrestles with a man all night long.  Jacob does not over power the man, but the man does not over power Jacob either.]

What does the “man” do to Jacob as they wrestle?
[He touches the socket of Jacob’s hip “so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man”. (Genesis 32:25 NIV)]

What does Jacob require of the “man”?
[Jacob wants him to bless him.]

What does the man do for Jacob?
[The man gives Jacob a new name: Israel which means “he struggles with God”. {NIV footnotes}]

What does Jacob (Israel) name the place of the struggle?
[Jacob calls the place Peniel (which means “face of God”)  It is also called Penuel.]

Why does Jacob name the place Peniel?
[“So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.’” (Genesis 32:30 NIV)]

What physical affliction will Jacob suffer for the rest of his life?
[He will limp because his hip socket is out of place. (Gen. 32:31)]

What was the surprise waiting for Jacob when he meets Esau?
[While Esau had reason enough to kill his brother Jacob, rather he rushes to meet him and kisses him on the neck.  Jesus recounts a similar scene in Luke 15 in the parable of the Prodigal Son.  There are striking similarities as well as contrasts:  in both cases it was the younger son who was the offending party; both went to far countries for a long time; both return home with lowered expectations (Jacob to his brother who probably hates him; the Prodigal to his father who improbably loves him); both are very surprised at the final outcome.  Jacob was prophesied to receive the blessing of Isaac as the firstborn (though he used deception to accomplish it); the prodigal was the second born but only wanted his inheritance; The prodigal wanted his father to treat him as the “hired help” and Jacob only wanted peace with Esau.  Jacob was willing to lavish on Esau all that the father of the Prodigal had heaped on his son.]

How do we know that Jacob was fully reconciled to Esau?
[Jacob insists that the gift he offers to Esau be accepted even though Esau has great wealth of his own.  “But Esau said, ‘I already have plenty, my brother.  Keep what you have for yourself.’  ‘No, please!’ said Jacob.  ‘If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me.  For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.’”  (Genesis 33:9-10 NIV)]

Jacob declines an offer by Esau to escort him to his destination.  Jacob went to Succoth instead and built shelters for himself and his animals.  In fine Hebrew tradition, Succoth means something too: shelters! (Gen. 33:17)

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, February 20, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 105

Prayer Point. Romans 1 tells us that our sin is rooted in our failure to recognize God and give thanks to him. We are often ungrateful because we forget what he has done for us. Psalm 105 recounts what God did for Israel, but what has God done for you? Take note of the big and small things He has done for you and offer Him your thanks.

John 10:19-30

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’ opponents are faced with an conundrum.  They claim he is a demon-possessed sinner, but they  can’t explain how a “sinner” just opened the eyes of the blind.  So during the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) they decide to ask Jesus outright, “Are you the Christ? (that’s Greek for Messiah or Anointed One).

How has Jesus already plainly ‘told‘ them who he was?  How does Jesus explain their unbelief?   Who has given Jesus his sheep?  What is it impossible to do to one of Jesus’ sheep? How does Jesus understand his relationship with God the 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.

1 John 2:18-29

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

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

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

Background. John tells his readers that this is the ‘last hour’.  This refers to the period of time between the ascension of Jesus into heaven and his return.  It is the last hour in the sense that nothing else need happen before the return of Christ.

John will warn his readers against anti-Christs. An anti-Christ is one who serves the devil who seeks to undo the work of Christ and block the expansion of his kingdom around the world.

Pay close attention to …

  • The marks of an ‘anti-Christ.’  What an anti-Christ does.  What an anti-Christ denies.
  • How Christians are called to resist anti-Christs.
  • The mark of someone who is born of God.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Genesis 32:3-21

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

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

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

Background. As Jacob approaches Seir in the land of Edom, he sends emissaries to his brother in order to establish peace (or reconciliation) between them.  He informs Esau how rich he has become and how much God has blessed him.  “Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.” (Genesis 32:5)

Of course, Jacob had reason to be fearful of his brother.  When last we saw Esau he was breathing threats against Jacob and just waiting for Isaac to die so that he could carry them out. (Gen. 27:41)  When Jacob’s messengers returned they told him that Esau was coming to meet him with four hundred men.  A show of force?  What is Jacob’s plan?
[Jacob divides his family and his wealth into two parts so that if Esau had plans for evil and not for good that all would not be lost.]

Jacob reminds the “God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac” of what?
[Jacob reminds God that he told Jacob to return to the land of his birth and that he would prosper his family and begs that God would deliver him and his family from the hand of Esau.  “But you have said, ‘I will surely prosper you and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’” (Genesis 32:12 NIV)]

Apparently that was not good enough…

Jacob decides to bribe his brother into peace.  What does he offer?
[“… he selected a gift for his brother Esau: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys.” (Genesis 32:14-16 NIV)  “For he thought, ‘I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” (Genesis 32:20 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.