Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, January 26, 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.

Mark 7:31-37

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 to guide you.

Background. Why do you think Jesus took such an unusual approach to healing the deaf and mute man? This also would have violated Jewish cleanliness laws.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Galatians 2:1-10

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.  Ephesians 2:8 states: “By grace are you saved by Faith.” Paul’s purpose in writing was to persuade the Galatians that no Gentile needs to accept circumcision in order to belong to God’s covenant people (or to be a true Christian). Galatians 2:4 tells us that entrance into communion with the people of God comes by faith in Jesus Christ.

As you read this passage notice the turmoil on many levels that is stirred up because of the teaching that you needed to become Jewish (get circumcised) in order to be a true Christian.

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 13:2-18

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. Abram and Lot ended up in the same place: Bethel (which means “of God) a place where Abram had his first encounter with God and where he had built an altar to the LORD. All this to say that the area was familiar to him.

The problem: Abram and Lot both had large flocks and herds and the land could not support both. Abram, being the gentleman he was, offered first choice of the land to his nephew Lot.

How does that work out?
Lot chooses what he thinks are the choicest lands which are east of Bethel toward Sodom (much more about that later) and Abram remained in the land of Canaan.

Once Lot moves on, what does the LORD tell Abram to do?
“Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.”

What promise does the LORD make to Abram here?
“I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.” Not bad when you consider that, at this time, Abram has no offspring at all!

What is the final thing Abram does in this passage? Why is this important?
Abram is at Hebron and here builds (another) altar to the LORD. It is important because it shows just how important the LORD is to Abram. The altar, of course, symbolizes worship – a place where God meets people. (from Immanuel in Our Place; page 16; Tremper Longman III; P&R Publishing; 2001)

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 – Saturday, December 28, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 148

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

Luke 2:1-20

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

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

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Galatians 4:8-20

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

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

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, December 26, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 80

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

Luke 1:57-66

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? Using the following background as a guide.

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

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

Pay close attention to …

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Galatians 3:1-14

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following background to help you understand the main points of this passage.

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

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

Pay close attention to …

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

2 Samuel 7:18-29

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following background to help you understand the main points of this passage.

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

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

 

Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, December 24, 2013 – Christmas Eve

Prayer Psalm: 45

Prayer Point. Today’s psalm was written for the wedding of a Jewish King, but I think it is best understood in light of the great wedding when King Jesus will marry his bride, the church at the end of all things. The poet expresses a number of hopes for the world under the reign of this great king. Pick two or three that resonate with you and pray “your kingdom come.”

Matthew 1:18-25

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. The births of Isaac, Abraham’s son, and Samson were both miraculous and announced by an angel as Jesus’ was. What sets Jesus apart is that he is conceived by a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a critical part of Jesus’ identity and his mission.

The central dilemma of the Bible is that humanity, because of our sin, owes God a debt that not even eternity in hell could pay. No one but a human could pay the debt, but no human was capable of paying the debt. That is until Jesus came to earth. Because he is born of a virgin, Jesus is both fully God and fully man. As a man, Jesus has the right to pay humanity’s debt. As God, he has the capability of paying it.

This is who Jesus was, but God chose to set this plan in motion in partnership with an ordinary couple, Mary and Joseph. Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for a moment. His fiance is pregnant and he is not the father. If he goes through with the marriage he will bring great shame upon himself.

Pay close attention to …

  • Joseph’s great faith and courage even before the angel appears to him.
  • The angel’s message to Joseph which confirms his faith.
  • The connection between Jesus’ name which means “the Lord saves” and his mission.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Galatians 2:23-4:7

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following background to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background.

Sons were the exclusive heirs to their family estate in the Roman world. The boy from age six to sixteen was placed under the care of a slave who made sure that he went to class and stayed out of trouble. He was under the supervision of this slave until he came of age and received his inheritance.

Paul, the author of the letter to the Galatians, is comparing our experience to that of a young Roman heir. The slave that served as our guardian was the Law. We did not come of age and receive our full inheritance until Jesus (“this faith came”) entered the world. It was at that point that we went from a slave, the experience of the heir while he was still a child, to a full heir and son of God.

The Law of God did several things to us. It restrained us through fear of punishment. We were held back from acting according to all the dark desires of our heart. Second, the Law reminded us that we needed a Savior. The Law of God said that anyone who failed to keep it, that would be all of us, are under the curse of death. None of us is able to keep the law’s demands because we are born with corrupt hearts. The Law’s purpose is force us to face our broken selves, see the curse that we are under and create in us a need for Jesus.

Some may be put off by the fact that Paul speaks only of sons. This only reflects the cultural reality that only sons were eligible to receive the family inheritance. Imagine how radical it was for Paul to address the church made up of men and women, Jew and Gentile, slave and free and call them all “sons of God.”

Pay close attention to …

  • The contrast between our lives before Jesus’ coming and after.
  • How Jesus freed us from the curse.
  • What the Holy Spirit does for us once we go from being a slave to a full son or daughter 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.

 

Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, August 25, 2013

Psalm Prayer: 146

Prayer Point. Presidents, kings, elections and governments come and go, but only God is eternal. He, not princes nor governments, holds the world together.  Meditate on the description of our faithful God in this psalm, praise him for who he is, and pray for the faith to trust him during these turbulent times.

John 8:12-20

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? Using the following background as a guide.

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

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

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

Pay close attention to …

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Galatians 3:23-4:7

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following background to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Sons were the exclusive heirs to their family estate in the Roman world. The boy from age six to sixteen was placed under the care of a slave who made sure that he went to class and stayed out of trouble. He was under the supervision of this slave until he came of age and received his inheritance.

Paul, the author of the letter to the Galatians, is comparing our experience to that of a young Roman heir. The slave that served as our guardian was the Law. We did not come of age and receive our full inheritance until Jesus (“this faith came”) entered the world. It was at that point that we went from a slave, the experience of the heir while he was still a child, to a full heir and son of God.

The Law of God did several things to us. It restrained us through fear of punishment. We were held back from acting according to all the dark desires of our heart. Second, the Law reminded us that we needed a Savior. The Law of God said that anyone who failed to keep it, that would be all of us, are under the curse of death. None of us is able to keep the law’s demands because we are born with corrupt hearts. The Law’s purpose is force us to face our broken selves, see the curse that we are under and create in us a need for Jesus.

Some may be put off by the fact that Paul speaks only of sons. This only reflects the cultural reality that only sons were eligible to receive the family inheritance. Imagine how radical it was for Paul to address the church made up of men and women, Jew and Gentile, slave and free and call them all “sons of God.”

Pay close attention to …

  • The contrast between our lives before Jesus’ coming and after.
  • How Jesus freed us from the curse.
  • What the Holy Spirit does for us once we go from being a slave to a full son or daughter 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.

2 Samuel 24:1-2, 10-25 

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 to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Why do you think it was a sin for David to count his fighting men? Why does David choose three days of plague as his punishment? Do you think it was fair for Israel to be punished for David’s sin? What is it that brings an end to the plague? Who was it that played the role of Christ and interceded for his people? What accompanied the prayers that caused God to end the plague?

David declares he will not offer God a sacrifice that cost him nothing. We look forward into the future when Jesus said the same thing. He offered a sacrifice that cost him more than money, it cost him his life.

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, August 18, 2013

Psalm Prayer: 118

Prayer Point. Psalm 118 is a song of praise welcoming the Messiah, the Savior, to the city of Jerusalem. It’s true meaning was not realized until the crowds sang it as Jesus rode peacefully into Jerusalem on his way to the cross. Praise God today because when we cried out for help, he sent Jesus to die for our sins. Give him thanks and remember that because of Jesus’ righteousness his love to us endures forever.

John 5:30-47

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. The Law of Moses, the law given to Israel by God, summarized by the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20), required all legal testimony to be verified by two or three witnesses.  Jesus is claiming to be the Son of God, but the crowds are skeptical. The implied question is: where are the two witnesses to support your outlandish claims?

Pay close attention to …

  • Why Jesus doesn’t need John the Baptist (see  John 1:19-36 for John’s story) as a witness.
  • The witnesses that verify Jesus’ teaching.
  • The reason the Jews missed Jesus even though they were experts of the Bible (see verses 37-47).

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Galatians 3:6-14

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

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

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following background to help you understand the main points of this passage.

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

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

Pay close attention to …

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

2 Samuel 17:1-23

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?

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, March 10, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 66

Prayer Point. The poet of Psalm 66 remembers the acts of God which saved his people and he bursts out into song. What has God down in your life? Remember them.  Write them down and spend some time today thanking him.

Mark 8:11-21

Background. We have seen Jesus’ willingness to perform miracles for those who come to him in faith, but he never did them to convince a skeptic.

As Jesus gets into the boat he warns his disciples to watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod. The disciples would have considered Herod and the Pharisees to be on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Herod was a Roman puppet, while the Pharisees encouraged a strict adherence to Jewish Law with the hopes that God would come and deliver his people from Roman rule.

Jesus sees them as the same yeast despite their differences. Yeast was a symbol of the corrupting effects of sin. A small amount quickly spreads and changes the whole batch of dough. N.T. Wright points out that both Herod and the Pharisees had a distorted view of God’s kingdom that Jesus needed to confront. Herod was attempting to establish himself and his line as the true kings of Israel. The Pharisees envisioned a kingdom where God saved only those who strictly adhered to Jewish Law as they interpreted it. Jesus’ kingdom was something different.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus responds when the Pharisees demanded a miraculous sign.
  • How the disciple’s failure to understand Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the four thousand is connected to their misunderstanding of Jesus’ warning against the yeast of Herod and the Pharisees.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

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

Galatians 4:21-5:1

Background. Abraham was given a divine promise that he would become the father of a great nation. The only trouble was that both he and his wife Sarah were well beyond childbearing age and they had no children. Years went by and there was still no son. Sarah grew impatient and offered Abraham her slave, Hagar, to provide him with an heir. Abraham agreed and a son, Ishmael, was born from his union with Hagar. Abraham believed that Ishmael was the heir God promised, but it was not to be. God had intended to give Abraham a son through his wife Sarah and he made good on that promise when she gave birth to Isaac when both were well in their nineties. Now there were two sons: Isaac, the son of the promise, and Ismael, the son born the ordinary way and there are two mothers: Hagar the slave and Sarah the free woman.

Paul will extend the metaphor by adding two covenants into the mix, which are represented by two mountains. The first covenant is represented by Mount Sinai where God gave the 10 Commandments to Moses. This covenant demanded that the people keep the commandments in order to be right with God. The trouble is no one can do it, so those who belong to this covenant are kept in slavery. This covenant is represented by the slave woman, Hagar.

The second covenant, the covenant God made with Abraham, is represented by Jerusalem which sits on Mount Zion and serves as a symbol of heaven, the place where God will make his home with his people. This covenant is a covenant of grace. Nothing was asked of Abraham in this covenant save that he believe that God could make good on his promises, that God could provide him with an heir even though he and Sarah were both in their nineties. This covenant is represented by Sarah, the free woman and mother of the son of promise.

The question raised in this passage is: what makes someone a child of a promise and what makes one a slave?

  • What makes the Galatians like Isaac; true children of promise (see verses 28-31).
  • Who are ironically the children of the slave woman (see verses 29-30).

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

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

Jeremiah 14:1-9, 17-22

Background. The ESV Study Bible tells me that Jeremiah is not a chronological account.  My difficulty is that I will never know when is when.   The scene here in Chapter 14 is dismal to say the least.  After centuries of prophets haranguing the people of how dissatisfied God is with their lip service, now the day of reckoning has arrived.  It is a testimony to the hardness of their hearts that Judah had no reaction when the Lord moved the Assyrians to carry off the ten northern tribes for the very sins Judah is committing.  In an earlier reading we saw that the Lord held that Judah was worse because she could see the punishment awaiting her and did nothing to prevent it.  “It’s not going to happen.”  That was the typical response to any prophet who predicted disaster.  Actually this is also among the sins of unbelief.  So when the disaster begins, where will the people go?  Jeremiah, at least, will beg God to relent (but he won’t).

Pay close attention to …

  • Judah’s grief (v. 1 )
  • The drought (v. 3-6 )
  • Who steps up to the plate (notice a sports metaphor) to  intercede for the people (vv. 7-9 )

Again the Lord admonishes Jeremiah not to pray nor intercede for the people.  The fastings and offerings they make to the Lord will avail them nothing.  Too little too late!  “Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.”  (Jeremiah 14:12 NIV)  Notice that the Lord uses aspects of nature to fight his battles because there is little anyone can do to counteract an assault by nature.

The false prophets try to curry favor with the people by telling them that the Lord didn’t mean it (the sword, famine, plague thing) and that Jeremiah is a false prophet out to discourage and demoralize the people.  The Lord has deigned that these false prophets will suffer by exactly what they prophesy against
(sword, famine & plague).

Continuing…   

  • The Lord’s message for the people (vv. 17-18 )
  • Jeremiah’s reaction and his audacious reminder (vv. 19-21 )

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.

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