Daily Bible Readings, Saturday, April 15, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 27

Prayer Point. Fear and hardship are two enemies of our soul, calling us to give up.  The psalmist calls us to refocus our hopes and desires, “Seek his face! Your face I will seek!”  Pray that as we face difficulties in our lives that we will not take our eyes off of Jesus.

Romans 8:1-11

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. Paul has just discovered in chapter 7 that his battle with sin is so deep, that he is unable to save himself. Trying hard to follow God’s Law has left him in despair.  The Law, ironically, made Paul want to sin more. He was a prisoner of his sin and unable to free himself. If you don’t believe this, try this experiment.  Tell yourself not to lust for a day and watch what happens.  I’d imagine that your attempts would end the way Paul’s did.

Romans 7:24 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death!”

The answer to this desperate question comes in chapter 8. Two heroes will be introduced: Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Jesus will be compared to a sin offering in today’s readings. The Law of Moses demanded that unblemished animals be sacrificed for the sins of the people.  The animal symbolically died  for the sinner. The Scripture is clear that the blood of bulls and goats could not forgive sins.  This, instead, was a picture of what Jesus, our true sacrifice, would do for us.

Pay close attention to …

  • Who can free us from the law of sin and death and how.
  • What Jesus the Son did which the Law could not.
  • The contrast between life according to the sinful nature (flesh) and life according to the Spirit.
  • Who frees us from the control of the sinful nature.
  • What the Holy Spirit did for Christ that he will also do for us.

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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.

Lamentations 3:37-58

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

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

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

Background. Again!  Yet another comparison to Job.  Check out Chapter 38 and 39 of Job.  Can you draw any parallels with Lamentations 3:37-38?  What question is asked here that we ought to ask ourselves?  What is the author’s solution to the troubles he is now facing?  What is preventing prayer from getting through (verse 44)?  What change of perspective occurs in verse 54-55?  Why is the writer crying?  How long will the writer cry?   Read Psalms 34:19-22.  Make note of the parallels between Psalm 34 and verses 55-58.

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 what I have read?

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

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

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Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 74

Prayer Point. How do you pray when you lose something you believed was forever?  Asaph laments the destruction of his beloved city, Jerusalem, and God’s temple. He asks, “why have you rejected us forever, O God?” Think of someone in your life that is in this place and pray Psalm 74 on their behalf.

Mark 12:1-11

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. Jesus continuing in his role as a prophet, speaks a parable (a story) against the religious leaders in Israel. Considering the fact that in the Bible the vineyard was used as a symbol for Israel, who is the vineyard owner? Who are the tenants? Who are the servants in this parable? Who is the beloved son who is dragged outside of the city and killed? What does the owner of the vineyard do once his son his killed?

The story closes with a quotation from Psalm 118:22-23, “the stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.” This stone is a reference to Jesus who is killed but is raised to life and becomes of the capstone of a new community of God’s people. This new community will include both Jews and Gentiles. In other words, the risen Christ becomes the capstone of God’s new people, the church, the ones to whom the vineyard is now given.

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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 1:23-2:11

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. Why did Paul change his mind and decide not to visit the Corinthians? Why did he write a letter instead (that letter happens to be 1 Corinthians)? What did he hope that his letter would accomplish? What does this say about the nature of Paul’s relationship with the Corinthian church?

In verse 5, Paul speaks of a man who had been punished by the community. It is likely that this man was the one Paul had exhorted the Corinthians to expel from their church (see 1 Corinthians 5:1-5) who was living with his father’s wife. The idea behind the expulsion was the hope that the man would feel the seriousness of his sin, repent and return to following Christ. Apparently this man had experienced this change of heart. How does Paul encourage the Corinthians to treat this repentant man? What danger is there in continuing to be harsh and unforgiving towards this man?

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.

Lamentations 2:1-9

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 background to help guide you.

Background. Verse 1.  With what is the LORD covering Zion?  From where is the LORD hurling the “Splendor of Israel”?  What is the LORD’s “footstool”?  (Isaiah 66:1; Matthew 5:35)

Verse 2.     What aspect of God described in this verse should all give us pause?  How were “the strongholds of the Daughters of Judah” torn down?  What has the LORD done to “her kingdom and its princes”?

Verse 3.      We have yet another description of what is going on in Jerusalem.   What is the metaphor used here?  Do you see a trend?  If it can happen to them can it happen to us today?  How is the approach of the enemy described? (verse 4)

In verse 4 the author combines the imagery of warfare and fire to paint a picture of Zion.  Why is all this destruction so meaningful in Jerusalem?  There is a spirit of presumption that Jerusalem would never be destroyed they could not imagine that God would destroy his own temple.

How is the LORD described in verse 5?  What had the people done to warrant this retribution?

What is the main target of the LORD’s wrath as depicted in verse 6?  What is the LORD’s attitude toward Jerusalem as characterized in verse 6?

It is my opinion that the Ark of the Covenant was stolen by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar.  How does verse 7 support my theory?

The destruction of Jerusalem appears to be personal.  What words used in verse 8 prove that to be true?  What is the significance of the “measuring line”? [Stretching out a measuring line was a prophetic image of impending destruction.]

Verse 9 shows that Jerusalem is completely laid waste.  What is the disposition of the king, the princes and the prophets?  What does “the law is no more” mean?

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 what I have read?

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Monday, April 14, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 69

Prayer Point. “I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.” Are you or someone you know in this place? Lift up Psalm 69 as your prayer. After you cry out to God, meditate on the fact that the suffering man in this psalm is Jesus and that he entered our pain. We are not alone, because Christ suffered for us on the cross.

Mark 11:11-25

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 guide you.

Background. During his life on earth, Jesus filled three roles: prophet, priest and king. As king Jesus rules creation and calls us to follow and obey him. As priest, he offers himself as a sacrifice for our sin and prays to the Father on our behalf. As prophet, Jesus speaks the words of God the Father to us.

In Mark 11 Jesus is not unlike an Old Testament prophet who not only spoke their messages, they often acted them out. That’s what is going on with the fig tree. Jesus is not angry with the fig tree. He is angry with what the fig tree represents. The fig tree is a stand-in for Israel and the missing fruit were the missing acts of love for God and love for neighbor. Most importantly Israel was supposed to be a light to the nations; to show the world through their very lives the love of God. But that dream had long been lost and Israel was a fig tree without fruit.

What does Jesus find in the temple that confirms that Israel is “fruitless”? What was the temple supposed to be? What has Israel made it instead? Uncircumcised Gentiles were not allowed to worship God in the inner courts of the temple. There was an outer court set aside for them where they could pray. The problem was that the market was set up in the court of the Gentiles. Not only were people being ripped off, the Gentiles were being crowded out.

What do you think is the significance of the withered fig tree?

What two heart attitudes does Jesus insist must be present when we pray?

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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 1:1-7

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

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

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

Background. Corinth was a prosperous Greek city located on a small strip of land that connected the northern and southern parts of Greece. The city as an important commercial center in southern Greece, Achaia, because it had ports with access to Rome on the west and Asia Minor (Turkey) in the east.

Let’s get some of the basic details of this letter down before we move on. What two men authored this letter? Who is the letter addressed to? Already we have a window into Paul’s missionary strategy. In Acts 18 we learn that Paul planted the church in Corinth, the largest city in the region of Achaia. The idea was to plant churches in the large cities with those churches carrying the gospel to the outlying areas. We see that this strategy is already working as there are Christians scattered through the region of Achaia.

Now that the formalities of Roman letter writing are out of the way, Paul begins the letter in verse 3 with a blessing. Why does Paul call God the “the God of all comfort”? What is the purpose of God’s comforting power in our lives? What two things flow into our lives from Christ? What is the purpose of distress in Paul’s and Timothy’s lives? How has God’s comfort in their lives impacted the Corinthians? What does Paul see in the Corinthian church that makes him hopeful in verse 7?

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.

Lamentations 1:1-2, 6-12

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 background to help guide you.

Background. Let’s begin with a definition of what a lamentation is or what it is not.  According Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (1975): lamentation (noun) an act or instance of lamenting. [How helpful is that?  It begs the question.]  lament (verb) to mourn aloud: WAIL; to express sorrow or mourning for, often demonstratively: MOURN; to regret strongly.  (noun) a crying out in grief: WAILING; DIRGE; ELEGY; COMPLAINT.  That is probably what most of us think of when we think of lament or lamentation.  The biblical definition goes a little further: “Lamentations is not an emotional outburst but a formal expression of grief in a high literary style.  However, each lament moves rapidly from one topic to the next, revealing that the writer’s soul is still in turmoil.  Like most elegies, the lyrics in Lamentations deal with profound loss by recollecting past glories and cataloging what is now gone forever, lamenting the finality of the losses while at the same time seeking consolation in present sorrows and some hope for the future.” [ESV Study Bible Introduction to Lamentations p. 1477]  So although we may associate mourning and grieving with lamenting, the biblical view includes an element of hope.

Lamentations is ascribed to Jeremiah though the book does not itself identify its author.  It was written sometime between the fall of Jerusalem (587 B.C.) and the renaissance of temple worship (in 516 B.C.)  Clearly, if Jeremiah is the author, the earlier date is more likely since he will be dead by 516 B.C.  The lamentations are poems written acrostically which means little to those of us confined to a language other than Hebrew.  It means that the first verse begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet; the second with the second and so forth until the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet are expended.  What this means to us is that a great deal of thought and skill went into the writing of Lamentations.  The writer of Lamentations was no slouch.   There are five chapters of Lamentations.  Three chapters (1, 2, 4, and 5) each have 22 verses; the third chapter has three times as many verses as the other four.  If this is significant, it is lost on me.  [It is very important to remember that the “versing” of the scriptures was done long after the bible was compiled. – j.t.]

Verses 1-2 describes Jerusalem after the Babylonians have destroyed it (and its temple).  She is like a widow where once she was like a princess, she is now a slave.  Now she weeps and is deserted by her “lovers”; there is none to comfort her.  She is surrounded by her enemies.  All of this was foretold by Jeremiah and by other prophets, even Moses some 1,300 years before (Deuteronomy 32:15-38).  Verses 3-4 describe the desolation and the fear in Judah.  Judah now dwells among the nations (she had always thought herself better than they); there is no rest and as prophesied, she is overtaken by her pursuers.  Zion (i.e., Jerusalem) is desolate and there is no joy “and she herself suffers bitterly.” (Lamentations 1:4b ESV)  Verses 5-6 tell us that the writer knew why all this happened: “Because the LORD has afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions”. (Lamentations 1:5a ESV)  Verse 6 tells us that the princes are without strength.  The heartbreak is that the people could not see that their strength was in the LORD and so relied upon their own, which always, like fuel, runs out.  David wrote about 400 years before: “The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalms 27:1b KJV)  Who were Jerusalem’s “lovers”? (The “nations” and their false gods.)  How is it that even now Judah does not repent?  (Pride)

Verse 7 tells us that “Jerusalem remembers” all the precious things from days of old.  Well, one of those things they did not remember was Psalm 27:1b.  We have seen time and again that the faith was poorly transmitted from one generation to the next.  In Josiah’s time the Book of the Law had laid lost in the temple for many years.  Josiah was so moved (or upset, or broken for Judah’s sake) that he donned a mourning attitude and thus launched his religious reforms throughout the land.  But even his sons “did evil in the sight of the LORD”.   Where is the disconnect?  “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-21 ESV emphasis added)  Verse 7 continues telling us that Jerusalem’s enemies mocked and gloated at her downfall.  What does Jerusalem remember?  (The precious things from days of old.  “The good old days.”  They, like us, remember what they want to remember, not necessarily the truth of the thing.)  Why could none help her?  Why was Jerusalem mocked and gloated over?  (None could help her because it was the LORD’s doing.  Jerusalem was mocked and gloated over as a result of her pride – she would not humble herself before God.)

Verse 8 says that Jerusalem had sinned grievously and that all who had honored her now despise her and have seen her “nakedness”.  This nakedness harkens to the image of a marriage: the LORD was Jerusalem’s (more specifically Judah’s and Israel’s) husband.  This imagery is also alluded to in verse 2 “Among all her lovers she has none to comfort her…” (ESV)  Seeing her nakedness means she had broken her marriage vows (covenant) with the LORD.  Idolatry was the means by which the covenant was broken.  We also see that Jerusalem discovers shame: “for they have seen her nakedness; she herself groans and turns her face away.” (ESV)  Why is the image of marriage so important?  (It describes the relationship of Israel [& Judah] to God.  This is a constant theme throughout the entire bible.)  What is the “nakedness” that was seen?

Verse 9 reiterates the violation of the marriage vows: “Her uncleanness was in her skirts.” (ESV)  There is a plea: “O LORD, behold my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed!” (ESV)  The ESV Study Bible suggests that the enemy was Babylon.  I think it goes much deeper than that.  Jerusalem was her own enemy.  She it was who did not listen to Moses and the prophets but “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you.” (Jeremiah 44:16 ESV) That, I think, is the enemy.  The result of the inattentiveness of Judah shows itself in that the present enemy (the Babylonians) have desecrated the temple “those whom you forbade to enter your congregation.” (v. 10b ESV)
What is meant by uncleanness? (Sinned grievously v. 8 – Idolatry – though not stated, is the prevailing sin against God.  Except for Josiah, all kings after him, “did evil in the sight of the LORD.)  Are we today guilty of the same thing?  How?

Verses 11 & 12 talk of the starvation rampant in Jerusalem during the fall of the city.  There is something like self-pity in verse 12 “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?  Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow which was brought upon me, which the LORD inflicted on the day of his fierce anger.”  There is a cross-reference in The ESV Study Bible to Daniel 9:12-15.  Daniel would have been written in about the same time-frame and certainly from a different perspective.  Daniel, at this time, was actually an exile in Babylon. “He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity.  For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem.  As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth.  Therefore the LORD has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice.  And now, O LORD our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.”  It was pretty clear to Daniel, who was hundreds of miles away, what was going on.  What does “starvation” refer to?  How is it symbolic of spiritual privation?  How does the passage from Daniel fit this situation?  (I think the people were so “dull of hearing” that they could not imagine that this chastisement from the LORD was warranted.  Daniel and the writer of Lamentations were keenly sensitive of Judah’s sins.)

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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, March 31, 2013 – Easter

Prayer Psalm: 148

Prayer Point. All of creation gets into the act of praising God with this psalm.   Look around you today, notice the beauty of all that God has made. Stars, planets, whales, oceans, mountains, lions, squirrels and eagles all exist to reflect the creative glory of God our Lord and Creator.  Join with God’s creation today in praising him.

John 1:1-18

Background. John begins his gospel or biography of Jesus by retelling the story of creation which is recorded in Genesis chapter 1. From Genesis we learn that God spoke the universe into existence. We understand through John that the words God spoke was an actual person, “the Word,” whom we know as Jesus. Jesus will be compared to light (verses 6-9). There are two groups of people mentioned in verses 10 and 11. The world refers to humanity in general, while “his own” refers to Israel, God’s chosen people.

John introduces us to a second character, John, who is John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus and not the author of this book which can make things a bit confusing.

Pay close attention to …

  • The Word’s (Jesus’) role in the creation of the world.
  • How Jesus the light is received by a world that is plunged in darkness. How Jesus is received by his own people.
  • What is promised to all those who receive Jesus.
  • What the Word does in verse 14 and how it changes the way we know God.
  • John the Baptist’s relationship with Jesus the Word. How he understands himself, how he understands Jesus.

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)

Romans 8:1-11

Background. Paul has just discovered in chapter 7 that his battle with sin is so deep, that he is unable to save himself. Trying hard to follow God’s Law has left him in despair.  The Law, ironically, made Paul want to sin more. He was a prisoner of his sin and unable to free himself. If you don’t believe this, try this experiment.  Tell yourself not to lust for a day and watch what happens.  I’d imagine that your attempts would end the way Paul’s did.

Romans 7:24 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death!”

The answer to this desperate question comes in chapter 8. Two heroes will be introduced: Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Jesus will be compared to a sin offering in today’s readings. The Law of Moses demanded that unblemished animals be sacrificed for the sins of the people.  The animal symbolically died  for the sinner. The Scripture is clear that the blood of bulls and goats could not forgive sins.  This, instead, was a picture of what Jesus, our true sacrifice, would do for us.

Pay close attention to …

  • Who can free us from the law of sin and death and how.
  • What Jesus the Son did which the Law could not.
  • The contrast between life according to the sinful nature (flesh) and life according to the Spirit.
  • Who frees us from the control of the sinful nature.
  • What the Holy Spirit did for Christ that he will also do for us.

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)

Exodus 12:1-14

Background. The first leg of Moses’ mission culminates tonight.  His mission, at this point, is to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt and then to lead them to the Promised Land.  For a while now God (through Moses) has afflicted the land of Egypt (later referred to as “Rahab”) with what turned out to be ten plagues, the last of which, took the lives of the firstborn of Egypt.  This actually prompted Pharaoh to insist that these Hebrews depart from his land lest more damage be incurred.

This is the night when the angel of death will go throughout Egypt to claim the firstborn.  The land of Goshen (where the Hebrews lived) was to be spared, but unlike the previous plagues, the Hebrews actually had to do something to avert this one.  According to Moses each household was to sacrifice a spotless male lamb (or goat) of a year old and to take its blood and smear it on the door posts and lintel of the house.  This was so that when the angel of death saw the blood he would “pass over” that house.

Pay close attention to …

  • What month this event takes place (v. 2 )
  • Which animal was to be chosen from among so many (v. 5 )
  • Those families which are too small to consume a lamb (or goat) (v. 4 )
  • When the lambs are to be slaughtered (v. 6b )
  • How they must be clothed (v. 11 )
  • What will happen on this night (v. 12 )
  • The blood (v. 13 )

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)

Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, March 30, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 88

Prayer Point. Psalm 88 is a prayer of someone drowning in darkness and grief. Do you know someone in this place? Pray this psalm on their behalf.

John 19:38-42

Background. Two secret disciples of Jesus step out of the shadows to bury Jesus’ crucified body.  We met Nicodemus in John 3 who visited Jesus under the cloak of darkness and Joseph of Arimathea who is introduced in John 19.

It is Friday night, the beginning of  one of holiest Sabbaths on the Jewish calendar because it is also the Passover.  This special Sabbath was called the Day of Preparation. To have dead bodies hanging unburied would defile the Passover which is why Jesus is buried before sundown in a nearby tomb.

Pay close attention to …

  • The courage it must have taken Joseph and Nicodemus to claim the body of Jesus.
  • What did they risk with Pilate?
  • What did they risk from their fellow religious leaders?

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)

Hebrews 4:1-16

Background. The ancestors of the recipients of the book of Hebrews, the Israelites, made a tragic choice that cost them an opportunity to enter God’s Promised Land also referred to as God’s rest . Over a thousand years earlier, the Israelites looked out over the land that God had promised them, but they refuse to go in. Why? Because they feared the people of Canaan more than they believed in God’s power to keep his promises.

These Christians are tempted by the same fear and unbelief.  They have begun to follow Christ, but they, like their ancestors, are considering giving up the journey.  The opposition is too stiff and their faith is growing weaker by the day. The author writes to convince them not to succumb to fear and unbelief.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why the Israelites missed out on God’s rest (the Promised Land). (See Numbers 13-14 for this tragic story). What were they missing?
  • How they are to enter God’s rest and whose example they are to avoid.
  • The Sabbath rest in our future that is greater than the Promised Land that Joshua led Israel into a thousand years earlier.
  • How Jesus, their high priest, gives them the ability to persevere.

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)

Job 19:21-27

Background. This is the first time the word “redeemer” shows up in the Scripture and the last time “redeemer” is used is in Jeremiah.  So the expression “I know that my Redeemer lives…” is found only in the Old Testament.

Very briefly, the story of Job is that he is caught in the crossfire between God and Satan.  God makes a bet with Satan that Job is the most righteous man on earth.  “Sure, why not,” says Satan, “you protect him on every side, but let me have my way with him and he will curse you to your face.”  The LORD then gave Satan permission to assault Job but he could not touch his person.  Job proves God right, though he had no knowledge that this wager existed — he remains ignorant of it throughout the entire book.

Satan, tasting of sour grapes, gripes: “Skin for skin! … a man will give all he has for his own life.  But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” (Job 2:4-5)  Job was struck with boils from head to toe and who knows what else.  He does a good deal of cursing but he never curses the LORD.

Along come three of his “friends” who do something very strange upon seeing him.  They sit with him (as though at a wake) for, get this, one week without saying a word!  One week without speaking!

Pay close attention to …

  • How Job feels about his friends’ judgment of him (v. 22 )
  • What Job wants “written in stone” (usually we think of the Ten Commandments as the origin of this expression, but here it is rendered as “engraved on a rock forever!”) (v. 24-25)
  • The first reference to resurrection in the Bible (meaning that Job is thought to have been the first book of the Bible that was written down) (v. 26 -27)

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)

Daily Bible Readings – Friday, March 29, 2013 – Good Friday

Prayer Psalm: 40

Prayer Point. How can we repay God for his kindness and salvation? We can do nothing but offer ourselves in gratitude. Think about the ways God has demonstrated grace in your life. Confess to him the areas of your life you are afraid to offer him. Tell him your troubles and ask him to save you once again.

John 13:36-38

Background.  The setting is the upper room where Jesus celebrated the “Last Supper” with his disciples.  This is the night of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest;  the night before his crucifixion. He has just announced to his disciples that he will be leaving.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Peter reacts to the news that Jesus will be leaving and that he cannot follow.
  • The difference between what Peter says he is willing to do and what Jesus predicts he will do.

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)

1 Peter 1:10-20

Background.  The church that Peter wrote to greatly revered the prophets, who, by the Holy Spirit, predicted the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The writings of these prophets can be read in our Old Testament.  They include: Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and many other minor prophets.  Imagine their shock when Peter says that these great men were serving them, those who would receive the good news of Jesus Christ.

Pay close attention to …

  • The life we are called to live in response to the good news of Jesus (verse 13).
  • The life we are to live because we are God’s children (verse 14-15).
  • The life we are to live because God is a righteous, impartial judge (verse 17).
  • What it cost God to purchase us (verses 18-20).

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)

Genesis 22:1-14

Background. Jesus is called the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  The lamb or the ram in this story touches on this theme.

Pay close attention to…

  • In this dark and nearly horrific story where do we see glimpses of God the Father and where do we see glimpses of Christ?
  • Think about who will later give up his only Son to take the place of Isaac

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)

Wisdom 1:6-2:1, 12-22

Wisdom of Solomon

Wisdom is one of the books of the apocrypha which is not part of the bible we use.  The following is from The New Interpreter’s Study Bible:

The Wisdom of Solomon (also known as the book of Wisdom) is an anonymous work.  It is clear, however, that the author adopts the persona of King Solomon.  For example, the author’s quest for wisdom in Wisdom 7:1-14 can be compared to Solomon’s plea in 1 Kings 3:6-9.  Also, the author’s reference to God’s command to build the Temple (Wis. 9:7-8) can only parallel the Solomon of the OT.  Pseudepigraphal writing — i.e., writing under the assumed name of a famous person — is a well-attested genre of the ancient world, and the Wisdom of Solomon is one celebrated example.  The author of this book, therefore is conventionally referred to as “Pseudo-Solomon” (here abbreviated Ps-Solomon).

It is almost universally accepted that the book of Wisdom was written in Greek by an Alexandrian Jew.  Although some scholars have argued for an original Hebrew or Aramaic version, these arguments have not proved persuasive.  The presence of occasional Semitic idioms and syntax in a Greek composition does not argue for a Semitic original but simply reflects the mixing of cultures and languages during the time in which the Wisdom of Solomon was written.  Irrespective of what may have been the background, the Wisdom of Solomon is truly a Greek composition.  Nor is there reason to assign the authorship of the book to more than one writer.  The presence of certain words and phrases throughout the book argues for its unity.

As is the case with so much of ancient literature, it is very difficult to pin down the date of composition with any degree of certainty.  A date somewhere between 100 BCE (Before the Common Era) and 50 CE (Common Era) has been the broad consensus.  A date before 70 CE is reasonable, in part because the author neither mentions nor alludes to the cataclysmic event of the destruction or the Jerusalem Temple in that year.  Some have proposed a more specific date, during the reign of Gaius Caligula (37-41 CE).  This date may be defended on two bases.  First, there is a clear undercurrent of strong persecution (see. 2:12-5:14), which would make sense in Caligula’s reign.  Second, the author’s vocabulary consists of a significant number of words and usages that are unattested elsewhere before the 1st century CE.

Wisdom of Solomon 1:16-2:1, 12-22
Chapter 1
Verse 16
16 But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death;
considering him a friend they pined away
and made a covenant with him,
because they are fit to belong to his company.

Chapter 2
1 For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,
“Short and sorrowful is our life,
and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end,
and no one has been known to return from Hades.

———————————————————————————————————————————–

12 “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
because he is inconvenient to s and opposes our actions;
he reproaches us for sins against the law,
and accuses us of sins against our training.
13 He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a child of the LORD.
14 He became to us as a reproof of our thoughts;
15 the very sight of him is a burden to us,
because his manner of life is unlike that of others,
and his ways are strange.
16  We are considered by him as something base,
and he avoids our ways as unclean;
he calls the last end of the righteous happy,
and boasts that God is his father.
17 Let us see if his words are true,
and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
18 for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him,
and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
19 Let us test him with insult and torture
so that we may find out how gentle he is,
and make trial of his forbearance.
20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

21 Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,
for their wickedness blinded them,
22 and they did not know the secret purposes of God,
nor hoped for the wages of holiness,
nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;
23 for God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity,
24 but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his company experience it.

The “Pseudegraphical” writing = someone attributed to Solomon this “wisdom”, for which he was so famous in an attempt to apply his credibility to this work.  “If Solomon wrote it then it must be good.”  By the time this was written Solomon was long dead.

As stated above, it is very likely that this book was written after Jesus died.  Re-read this passage and see how much this reading describes the events of the last hours of Jesus’ life.  Of course if it were written after Jesus died then there would be no “prophetic” aspect to it.

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Wisdom of Solomon

 

Wisdom is one of the books of the apocrypha which is not part of the bible we use.  The following is from The New Interpreter’s Study Bible:

 

The Wisdom of Solomon (also known as the book of Wisdom) is an anonymous work.  It is clear, however, that the author adopts the persona of King Solomon.  For example, the author’s quest for wisdom in Wisdom 7:1-14 can be compared to Solomon’s plea in 1 Kings 3:6-9.  Also, the author’s reference to God’s command to build the Temple (Wis. 9:7-8) can only parallel the Solomon of the OT.  Pseudepigraphal writing — i.e., writing under the assumed name of a famous person — is a well-attested genre of the ancient world, and the Wisdom of Solomon is one celebrated example.  The author of this book, therefore is conventionally referred to as “Pseudo-Solomon” (here abbreviated Ps-Solomon).

 

It is almost universally accepted that the book of Wisdom was written in Greek by an Alexandrian Jew.  Although some scholars have argued for an original Hebrew or Aramaic version, these arguments have not proved persuasive.  The presence of occasional Semitic idioms and syntax in a Greek composition does not argue for a Semitic original but simply reflects the mixing of cultures and languages during the time in which the Wisdom of Solomon was written.  Irrespective of what may have been the background, the Wisdom of Solomon is truly a Greek composition.  Nor is there reason to assign the authorship of the book to more than one writer.  The presence of certain words and phrases throughout the book argues for its unity.

 

As is the case with so much of ancient literature, it is very difficult to pin down the date of composition with any degree of certainty.  A date somewhere between 100 BCE (Before the Common Era) and 50 CE (Common Era) has been the broad consensus.  A date before 70 CE is reasonable, in part because the author neither mentions nor alludes to the cataclysmic event of the destruction or the Jerusalem Temple in that year.  Some have proposed a more specific date, during the reign of Gaius Caligula (37-41 CE).  This date may be defended on two bases.  First, there is a clear undercurrent of strong persecution (see. 2:12-5:14), which would make sense in Caligula’s reign.  Second, the author’s vocabulary consists of a significant number of words and usages that are unattested elsewhere before the 1st century CE.

 

Wisdom of Solomon 1:16-2:1, 12-22

Chapter 1

Verse 16

16 But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death;

                considering him a friend they pined away

                and made a covenant with him,

                because they are fit to belong to his company.

 

Chapter 2

1 For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,

                “Short and sorrowful is our life,

                and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end,

                and no one has been known to return from Hades.

 

———————————————————————————————————————————–

 

12 “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,

    because he is inconvenient to s and opposes our actions;

    he reproaches us for sins against the law,

    and accuses us of sins against our training.

13 He professes to have knowledge of God,

    and calls himself a child of the LORD.

14 He became to us as a reproof of our thoughts;

15 the very sight of him is a burden to us,

    because his manner of life is unlike that of others,

    and his ways are strange.

16  We are considered by him as something base,

    and he avoids our ways as unclean;

    he calls the last end of the righteous happy,

    and boasts that God is his father.

17 Let us see if his words are true,

    and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;

18 for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him,

    and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.

19 Let us test him with insult and torture

    so that we may find out how gentle he is,

    and make trial of his forbearance.

20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death,

    for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

 

21 Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,

    for their wickedness blinded them,

22 and they did not know the secret purposes of God,

    nor hoped for the wages of holiness,

    nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;

23 for God created us for incorruption,

    and made us in the image of his own eternity,

24 but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,

    and those who belong to his company experience it.            

 

The “Pseudegraphical” writing = someone attributed to Solomon this “wisdom”, for which he was so famous in an attempt to apply his credibility to this work.  “If Solomon wrote it then it must be good.”  By the time this was written Solomon was long dead.

 

As stated above, it is very likely that this book was written after Jesus died.  Re-read this passage and see how much this reading describes the events of the last hours of Jesus’ life.  Of course if it were written after Jesus died then there would be no “prophetic” aspect to it.

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Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, March 28, 2013 – Maundy Thursday

Prayer Psalm: 102

Prayer Point. The scriptures command us to rejoice with those rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. This psalm is a prayer for those who sick, nearing the end of their life or just in a place of deep sadness and despair.  Think of one person who is in this place and pray Psalm 102 on their behalf.

John 17:1-11

Background. In John chapter 17 we are given the rare opportunity to listen in on a conversation between Jesus the Son of God and God the Father.  This prayer was offered in the Garden of Gethsemane moments before his betrayal and arrest.  It affords us a glimpse into the love the Father and Son shared for each other.

The word “glorify” will appear numerous times in Jesus’ prayer.  To glorify someone is to make them known to others so that they may be loved and worshiped.

Pay close attention to …

  • Jesus prays for himself (verses 1-5). What Jesus has done for his Father and how he brought glory to his Father.  What Jesus asks his Father to do for him. The authority the Father gave to Jesus. How we benefit from Jesus’ authority.  The nature of eternal life.
  • Jesus prays for his disciples, “those [God the Father] gave me out of the world” (verses 6-11). To whom the disciples first belonged and to whom they were given. What Jesus gave his disciples and how the disciples responded. What Jesus asks his Father to do for his disciples and why.

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)

1 Corinthians 10:14-17; 11:27-32

Background. Today is Maundy (Holy) Thursday the Christian holiday that commemorates the Last Supper Jesus celebrated with his disciples on the night he was betrayed; the night before his crucifixion.  The Last Supper is celebrated by Christians all other the world. It is called the Lord’s Supper, communion or Eucharistic (which means “thanksgiving”). Today’s readings in 1 Corinthians discuss the significance of the bread and cup of the Last Supper and our present day   observance of communion.

Pay close attention to …

  • The connection between the cup of thanksgiving and the bread to the blood and body of Christ and its implications for us as Christians (10:14-17).
  • Why God judges harshly those who eat the bread and drink the cup of communion in an unworthy manner.

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 20:7-11

Background. “Jeremiah then returned from Topheth [probably an overcrowded cemetery (from ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1409)] where the LORD had sent him to prophesy, and stood in the court of the LORD’s temple and said to all the people, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Listen!  I am going to bring on this city and the villages around it every disaster I pronounced against them, because they were stiff-necked and would not listen to my words.” ‘”   (Jeremiah 19:14-15)

When word of this gets out “the priest Pashhur son of Immer, the chief officer in the temple of the LORD…“ had Jeremiah put in the stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the LORD’s temple.  He will be confined in the stocks for one day.  Jeremiah is winning no popularity contest in Jerusalem.  Actually Jeremiah does Pashhur one better: he prophesies that Pashhur and all his family will witness the fall of Jerusalem and the attendant carnage and then be carried off to Babylon and will die there.

Naturally, Jeremiah has a complaint about his current situation…

Pay close attention to …

  • How alone Jeremiah feels (v. 7 )
  • The cost of faithfulness (vv. 8-9 )
  • What the people plan against Jeremiah (v. 10 )
  • The LORD being true to his word (v 11 )

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)