Daily Bible Readings, Saturday, March 8, 2014

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.

John 17:20-26

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

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

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

Background. This is where the prayer gets exciting.  Jesus extends his prayer beyond his disciples to those who will receive the message from the disciples.  That means us!  What is Jesus’ prayer for us?  What is Jesus most concerned about and why?

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 4:10-20

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. Chapter 4 begins “therefore …” But therefore what and why? Here is what chapter 4 is responding to.

Philippians 3:20 Our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ … therefore … [chapter 4]

How are we to live on today with this promise as our tomorrow?  What are we to do and not do? List out the commands you see in verses 1-9.

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.

Ezekiel 39:21-29

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?

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, March 7, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 35

Prayer Point. There are two ways we can respond to injustice.  We can seek vengeance, or, as Psalm 35 encourages us, leave matters of justice in God’s hands. Where do you see injustice in our world? Lift the victims of this injustice up to God in prayer and ask him to rescue them.

John 17:9-19

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. John 17 is commonly known as Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer.”  Priests represent the people before God and in this prayer Jesus is representing us before his Father by praying for us.  Imagine.

Verse 9 tells us that Jesus is praying for his disciples, “his own.” How did these disciples come to belong to Jesus? What did Jesus do for his disciples while he was with them?  What does Jesus ask the Father to do for his disciples in his absence?  In case you were wondering, “to sanctify someone” is to make them holy, or to use Christian language, to make someone like 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.

Philippians 4:1-9

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

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

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

Background. Chapter 4 begins “therefore …” But therefore what and why? Here is what chapter 4 is responding to.

Philippians 3:20 Our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ … therefore … [chapter 4]

How are we to live on today with this promise as our tomorrow?  What are we to do and not do? List out the commands you see in verses 1-9.

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.

Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32

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

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

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

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

Background. Chapter 12: Ezekiel will portray visually what will happen to Judah.  The LORD has Ezekiel pack his bags for a journey [exile] in broad daylight in the sight of the people — it is important that the people watch Ezekiel pack his bags.  He does this expressly as a visual demonstration of what will happen to the Jews.

Chapter 13: The false prophets are exposed.  The false prophets are trying to encourage the people by telling them more of what they want to hear than what the LORD says.  Again, nature will ally with God to bring judgment to these false prophets.

Chapter 14: This chapter discusses that the idolaters will be judged and punished.  The prophets whom they seek out for comfort will be misleading them because they are false prophets.

Chapter 15: Jerusalem is likened to a vine which is now useless.  “I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful,” declares the Sovereign LORD.

Chapter 16: This chapter is an allegory of Jerusalem.  [Allegory: (1) the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence; an instance (as in a story or painting) of such expression.  (2) a symbolic representation: EMBLEM.]  It is descriptive of how the LORD had nurtured his people and the loving care he showered on them.  She proved adulterous/unfaithful.

Chapter 17: Another allegory this time the nation (people) is represented by a vine which is ultimately uprooted.  This is the fate of Jerusalem.   Let’s face it, the LORD will continue to pull out the stops in an effort impress upon his people to abandon their idols and their need for him.

Pay close attention to …

  • The opening proverb (v. 2 )
  • The clarification in verses 3 and 4
  • Another clarification in plain language in verses 19-20
  • The reward of repentance (v. 21 )
  • The LORD’s heart toward the death of the wicked (v. 23 )
  • The accusation of the people against the LORD (v. 29 )
  • The overall theme of this chapter (v. 32 )

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, May 18, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 33

Prayer Point.  Why should God be praised? Psalm 33 tells us that he is our creator, provider, sustainer, protector and savior. In what ways has God been these things for you? Remember them and thank him. After worshiping God, pray for the faith to trust God as you face the problems of today.

Luke 11:14-23

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

Background. Jesus’ opponents, dismayed by his miracles and unmatched teaching, are desperate to discredit him.  Beelzebub is a Hebrew name for Satan.

Pay close attention to …

  • The two ways that Jesus’ opponents tried to discredit him (verses 14-16).
  • How Jesus demonstrates the absurdity of their argument (verse 17-23).

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?

1 Peter 2:4-10

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.  Central to today’s reading are prophesies from Isaiah and the Psalms. Each one of these passages foretold the coming of Jesus.

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (Isaiah 28:16)

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone …” (Psalm 118:22)

“A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” (Isaiah 8:14)

Jesus is the (living) stone in each of these passages. Those who rejected him as the Son of God stumbled and fell. Yet for those who believed in him, Jesus is both a cornerstone and capstone of a new temple that God is building.

God’s presence in the Old Testament was concentrated in the temple in Jerusalem. The temple is simply the place or spiritual house  where God’s presence lives and where one goes to worship him.  In today’s reading, Peter will speak of a new temple that is built on the cornerstone of the crucified and risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

The priests were those who served God in the temple and offered sacrifices and prayers on behalf of God’s people.  In today’s reading there will be a new priesthood to go along with a new temple.

Pay close attention to …

  • The identity of the living stones which make up God’s new spiritual house or temple.
  • Why Jesus is a stumbling stone for some and a cornerstone for others
  • The new priests in verse 9.
  • Why God chose to bestow this honor on those like us who were not a people and had not yet received God’s mercy.

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?

Ezekiel 43:1-12

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

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

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

Background. An allusion was made on Wednesday in the “Background” cited from Chapter 10 regarding the departure of the glory of the LORD.  This chapter draws a completely different picture, some think of the time of the restoration.
Because of the complexities regarding this passage I will defer to The ESV Study Bible for clarification.

From The ESV Study Bible p. 1564
“40:1-48:35 Vision of Restoration.  With the last date formula in the book appearing in 40:1 [‘In the twenty-fifth year of our exile…’], Ezekiel arrives at the beginning of the end.  The post-destruction oracles of chs. 33-37 concluded with a promise of divine presence that anticipates the final words of the book (cf. 37:26-28; 48:35).  The oracle against Gog in chs. 38-39 appeared to interrupt the movement toward realizing that presence.  That interpretation, however, assumes a reading of the book that focuses on the human plane, which is not Ezekiel’s perspective.  The most important thing is not human hope but divine glory.   The Gog oracle established God’s absolute supremacy among the nations. The book’s final vision accomplishes this same purpose, but within  the community of God’s own people.  Understood this way, the details of Ezekiel’s vision (which may strike the modern reader as mundane or obscure) take on their proper vitality and significance.  The vision of chs. 40-48 is a direct counterpart to the pre-destruction visions in chs. 8-11, in which the abominations practiced in Jerusalem drove the holy God from his temple.  In chs. 40-42, Ezekiel is again taken on a tour, this time of the new temple, which culminates with the return of the glory of God (43:1-5).  The voice of the LORD now instructs Ezekiel in the regulations for Israel’s renewed worship life (43:6-46:24).  When the “tour” resumes, Ezekiel witnesses the river flowing from the temple which brings life to the world (46:19-47:12).  The book concludes with the division of the land among the tribes with the new city and new temple at its heart, with equal access for all (47:13-48:35).

“With regard to the meaning of this passage as a whole: (1) Some interpreters understand this vision as a prophecy that will be fulfilled literally, with a rebuilt temple and Israel dwelling in the land according to its tribes —  a future millennial kingdom on the earth.  Many who hold this position believe that literal animal sacrifices will be offered, but that in the future millennial kingdom they will function as reminders of the complete and sufficient death of Christ, a function different from what they had in the OT.  (2) Other interpreters see this vision of a new temple and a renewal of the land of Israel as an extended, detailed metaphor predicting the presence of God among his people in the new covenant age (that is, his presence in the church).  (3) Another view is that the vision predicts God’s presence among his people in the new heavens and new earth (cf. Isa. 66:17;
2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 21:1), not as physical details that will be literally fulfilled but as symbolic indications of the great blessing of the future age.  In this interpretation, the details about worship and sacrifices are symbols of the centrality of the worship of God: the temple represents the orderliness and beauty of God’s heavenly dwelling place; the priests and their sacrifices represent the service and worship of all God’s people; the division of the land represents the allocation of places to live for all God’s people; and the river represents the outward flow of God’s blessings to his people forever.  (4) Finally, it is possible that there are both literal and symbolic elements in this vision, and that, as with the visions in Ezekiel , this vision describes future realities.  Almost all interpreters agree that Ezekiel 40-48 is one of the most difficult passages in the entire Bible.

“No matter which interpretation one adopts, certain primary emphases are quite clear.  The whole vision may be understood as describing the actual presence of God within the temple of the new community: chs. 40-42 prepare for it; ch. 43 realizes it; chs. 44-46 provide the rules for it; ch. 47 describes its effects; and ch. 48 lays out access to it.  The vision thus also presupposes threads and themes of earlier oracles: the supremacy of God; the requirements necessitated by his holiness; revitalization by the Spirit of God; honoring God by living in accord with his holiness; and ensuring the sanctity of the community by maintaining divine justice.”      From The ESV Study Bible p. 1564

Pay close attention to …

  • What the LORD’s voice sounded like (v. 2 )
  • What enters the temple and where it enters (v. 4 )
  • The “someone” speaking from inside the temple (v. 6 )
  • Why Ezekiel is told to describe the temple to the people of Israel (v. 10 )

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?

Daily Bible Readings – Friday, May 17, 2013

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.

Luke 10:38-42

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

Background. Unlike most rabbis of his day, Jesus enjoyed the company and the hospitality of women. He did this all while living a sinless life.

Pay close attention to …

  • Which of the sisters, Mary or Martha, chooses the better and why.

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?

Hebrews 8:1-13

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. A covenant is simply an agreement between two or more people. Because of man’s sin, the covenant required a mediator or priest who served as a go-between God and his people. This priest represented the people before God in the temple and offered sacrifices on his and their behalf.

The writer of Hebrews will speak of two covenants in today’s reading. The old covenant which was mediated by Israel’s  priests and the new covenant which is mediated by Jesus. The author sets up a comparison between:

  • the Old Testament priests and Jesus
  • the tabernacle (temple) on earth and the tabernacle in heaven.
  • the old covenant and the new covenant.

Pay close attention to …

  • The location of the temple where Jesus serves as opposed to the high priests of Israel.
  • The connection between the earthly tabernacle (temple) and the heavenly one.
  • Why Jesus and the new covenant he mediates is superior to the old covenant and Israel’s priests who mediated it.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the early Jewish Christians.  You are being persecuted for your faith in Christ and you are considering a return to the traditional Judaism you grew up with.  How does what you’ve read encourage you not to go back?

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?

Ezekiel 34:17-31

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. The opening of Chapter 34 concerns the shepherds (teachers and leaders) of Israel and their lack of attention to their callings.  Their job is to take care of the sheep, after all they are clothed (with fleece) and fed (curds) by these sheep.  These shepherds have ruled harshly and brutally (v. 4).  As sheep scatter (which they do when treated harshly) they are left to fend for themselves thus exposing themselves to the dangers of becoming prey to wild animals.  The LORD will tend to the sheep himself since he can’t rely on the shepherds.

Pay close attention to …

  • The complaint of the LORD (vv. 17-19 )
  • The shepherd the LORD chooses for his sheep (v. 23 )
  • The “hands of those who enslaved them” (v. 27 )

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?

 

Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, May 16, 2013

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 thankless  often because we forget what he has done for us. Psalm 105 recounts the things 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.

Luke 10:25-37

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 question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life”, was a common one in Jesus’ day.  The Jews were expecting the arrival of their Messiah who would break the powers of evil and establish God’s eternal kingdom on earth.  The expert in the law in today’s reading is simply asking: “God’s kingdom: who’s in and who’s out.”

The usual answer was Jews who kept the Law reasonably well; that is Jews who  loved God and loved their neighbor. Samaritans and others of outside of the nation of Israel were generally excluded.  The law expert will give a similar answer, but Jesus will tell a story that will blow his assumptions out of the water.

The law expert will ask a second question.  Who is my neighbor?  Jewish rabbis did not include those outside of Israel (especially Samaritans) in the definition of neighbor.

Pay close attention to …

  • The true neighbor in Jesus’ story (verses 30-36).
  • The point of Jesus’ story (verse 37).

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?

Hebrews 7:18-28

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

Background.  A covenant is simply an agreement between two or more people.  A marriage, a peace treaty and the US Constitution are all examples of covenants.  The covenant in this passage speaks of a special relationship between God and his people, Israel.  With each covenant there are requirements, blessings if the requirements are kept and curses if they are broken.   You can think of the Old Testament Law as the requirements that Israel must fulfill in order to receive God’s covenant blessings.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why the old Covenant, the former Law and its regulations, is weak and useless.
  • Why Jesus is the guarantee of a better covenant.
  • What makes Jesus a permanent priest and what that means for us.
  • What makes Jesus a greater high priest than all the others.

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?

Ezekiel 18:1-4, 19-32

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. Chapter 12: Ezekiel will portray visually what will happen to Judah.  The LORD has Ezekiel pack his bags for a journey [exile] in broad daylight in the sight of the people — it is important that the people watch Ezekiel pack his bags.  He does this expressly as a visual demonstration of what will happen to the Jews.

Chapter 13: The false prophets are exposed.  The false prophets are trying to encourage the people by telling them more of what they want to hear than what the LORD says.  Again, nature will ally with God to bring judgment to these false prophets.

Chapter 14: This chapter discusses that the idolaters will be judged and punished.  The prophets whom they seek out for comfort will be misleading them because they are false prophets.

Chapter 15: Jerusalem is likened to a vine which is now useless.  “I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful,” declares the Sovereign LORD.

Chapter 16: This chapter is an allegory of Jerusalem.  [Allegory: (1) the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence; an instance (as in a story or painting) of such expression.  (2) a symbolic representation: EMBLEM.]  It is descriptive of how the LORD had nurtured his people and the loving care he showered on them.  She proved adulterous/unfaithful.

Chapter 17: Another allegory this time the nation (people) is represented by a vine which is ultimately uprooted.  This is the fate of Jerusalem.   Let’s face it, the LORD will continue to pull out the stops in an effort impress upon his people to abandon their idols and their need for him.

Pay close attention to …

  • The opening proverb (v. 2 )
  • The clarification in verses 3 and 4
  • Another clarification in plain language in verses 19-20
  • The reward of repentance (v. 21 )
  • The LORD’s heart toward the death of the wicked (v. 23 )
  • The accusation of the people against the LORD (v. 29 )
  • The overall theme of this chapter (v. 32 )

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?

Daily Bible Readings, Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 119:121-144

Prayer Point.  Sometimes life is difficult even when you do the right thing. What do ask for when you are in this place? Notice the requests that are made in verses 121-144 and make these your prayers. If you are not in the this place, think of someone you know who is and pray the requests on their behalf.

Luke 10:17-24

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’ seventy-two disciples return from their first mission flush with joy at their success. See yesterday’s reading (Luke 10:1-16) for details on their mission.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus interprets the success of their mission (verses 18-19).
  • What Jesus calls them to rejoice over instead of their success (verse 20).
  • Why Jesus is so joyful as he prays to his Father (verses 21-22).
  • Why the disciples are blessed above kings and prophets.

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?

Hebrews 7:1-17

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

Background. Genesis 14 tells the story of Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek, priest of God and king of the city of Salem, which was later renamed Jerusalem.  When Abraham’s nephew Lot was captured, Abraham led a raid to recover his relative and his possessions.  God granted Abraham success and in gratitude Abraham gave ten percent of the spoils to Melchizedek believing him to be God’s representative.  Some believe that Melchizedek may have been an early appearance of Christ himself. Jesus is declared to be a priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Pay close attention to …

  • How the writer of Hebrews proves that Jesus, as a priest in the order of Melchizedek,  is greater than all of Israel’s priests.  Pay close attention to who pays the tithe to whom.
  • What the Levitical priesthood is incapable of delivering, that Jesus, as a priest of the order of Melchizedek, can deliver.

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?

Ezekiel 11:14-25

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. Chapter 8 brings Ezekiel [while in the Spirit] into the temple to witness the idolatry being practiced there.  Chapter 9 tells of the judgment visited upon the idolaters in the temple.  The cleansing begins.

Chapter 10 should be one of the darkest days in Israel’s history: the Glory of the LORD departs from the temple.   1 Kings 8 gives us the description of what it was like when the LORD filled the temple with his glory.  That was one of the most memorable days in Jewish history.  The imagery Ezekiel was experiencing must have been profound and complete for he cries in verse 11:13: “Ah, Sovereign LORD!  Will you completely destroy the remnant of Israel?”  (NIV)

Pay close attention to …

  • Who and where the sanctuary is (v. 16 )*
  • The promise after all this (v. 17 )
  • The “undivided heart” and the “new spirit” (v. 19 )
  • What this “heart of flesh” leads to (v. 20 )

* The Israelites believed that the LORD had only one place to be worshipped.  Just after the ten tribes broke away from Judah, the king (Jeroboam) established two cities for worship in Israel: Dan, in the north and Bethel in the south.  His fear was that his people would go to Jerusalem to worship at the temple and not come back.  That reminds me of the “Iron Curtain” or the Berlin Wall both of which were to keep people in.  See 1 Kings 12:25-33 for more detail.

“‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet.  Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.'” (John 4:19-20 NIV)  This is the “Woman at the Well” with whom Jesus spoke.

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?

Daily Bible Readings, Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 94

Prayer Point.  We live in a world where the most vulnerable, widows, orphans and refugees are often oppressed with impunity. Many say, “the Lord does not see,” as innocents are slaughtered in wars or abortion clinics. Pray on behalf of the weak and oppressed today. Pray that God will be their fortress and will reestablish justice on the earth.

Luke 10:1-17

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

Background. Jesus trained several circles of disciples during his time on earth.  There were the three: Peter, James and John, the twelve apostles and a larger group of seventy-two disciples. Although the three and the twelve enjoyed more of Jesus’ attention, Jesus did train the larger group of seventy-two disciples to carry on his ministry.  His method was quite simple: the disciples watched Jesus preach and heal the sick.  After a set period of time they graduated to the next stage of their training. Jesus sends them out to do what they had watched him do.

Jesus will reference several towns in today’s reading.  Korazin and Bethsaida are Jewish towns.  Tyre and Sidon are towns outside of Israel that were known for pagan worship. Sodom was an ancient city that God destroyed by fire because of its wickedness (see Genesis 19:1-29).

Pay close attention to …

  • The first step of the seventy-two disciples’ mission (verse 2).
  • What they are not to do and what they are not to bring (verse 4).
  • What the disciples are to look for when they enter a house (verse 6).
  • What the disciples are to do in the houses they enter.
  • What they are to do should they be rejected.
  • The mood of the seventy-two upon their return.

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?

Hebrews 6:13-20

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. Abraham was an important figure to the readers of Hebrews.  He was the founder of the Jewish  nation and the first to receive the promises of God (see Genesis 12:1-5; 15:1-6).  Just as Abraham hung on to the promises of God, so also the Christians addressed in Hebrews are to hang to the promises of the Gospel.

The image of Jesus our high priest looms large as today’s reading comes to a close.  In the Old Testament, man’s sin separated him from the presence of God. God’s presence was concentrated in the inner sanctuary of the temple behind a thick curtain.  No one could enter the presence of God, save the High Priest, and he only once a year and never without a sacrifice.  The priests that served in the temple were descendants of Aaron, who in turn was a descendant of Abraham’s great-grandson, Levi. Jesus is a priest of a higher order, the order of Melchizedek that was greater than Abraham himself (see Genesis 14:17-20).

Pay close attention to …

  • The assurances these Christians are given that given that God will keep his promises. How God guaranteed his promises to them.
  • The ‘hope and anchor for the soul’ and the guarantee that God will fulfill his promises to these Christians and to us.

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?

Ezekiel 7:10-15; 23-27

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

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

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

Background. A very brief summary of Chapter 5:  Ezekiel is commanded by the LORD to shave his head and his beard.  This is an act of humiliation — this is not to be confused with an act of humility.  King David at one point had sent emissaries to the king of the Ammonites to comfort him over the death of his father.  Because trust is such a commodity, the king and his advisors decided that David could not be sincere.  David’s ambassadors were sent back with half of their beards shaved and their garments cut out at the buttocks.  David’s response was predictable.  This account is found in 2 Samuel 10.  Even as recently as the close of World War II the French humiliated any collaborator by shaving his head (man, woman and child).

This humiliation is a visual object lesson of what awaits Jerusalem when the Babylonians come upon them.  Chapter 5 is the LORD ‘s oracle against Jerusalem.

Chapter 6 concerns Ezekiel’s prophecy against the mountains and hills of Judah/Jerusalem.  Throughout the Hebrews’ history their places of choice for idol worship was in “high places”.  The term of “High Places” is synonymous with false gods.  The very righteous king Josiah went throughout the land of both Judah and Israel bent on destroying all of the “high places” to purge this idolatry from the land.  This prophecy shows us that idolatry crept back into the land.
Ezekiel has addressed the city of Jerusalem, the hills and mountains, now he turns his attention to the people themselves.

Pay close attention to …

  • The LORD’s anger against the people (vv. 3-4 )
  • The sense of urgency of the message (vv. 10-12 )
  • The three sources of the LORD’s fury (v. 15 )
  • How desperate the people will become (v. 26 )

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?