Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 46

Prayer Point. It is easy to despair over the evil in our world. We fear for our safety. The wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. The economy is uncertain. Psalm 46 calls us to fix our eyes on another reality, God’s reality. Pray that we might know that God truly is “our refuge and strength” so that “we will not fear, though the earth give way.”

John 5:1-15

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

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

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

Background. The Jews were required by the Law of Moses to make three annual pilgrimages up to Jerusalem. John doesn’t tell us which feast it was, but Jesus as a good practicing Jew, makes the pilgrimage along with his countrymen.

Jesus encounters a lame man lying by the pool of Bethesda who had been crippled for thirty-eight years. The Jews of the time believed that the waters of the pool were stirred from time to time by an angel. The first man into the stirred waters was healed. This man had hoped for thirty-eight years for healing, but each time the waters were stirred, his hopes were dashed.

One other thing, the day that this healing occurred is important. This man was healed on the Sabbath (Saturday). The Sabbath, by God’s decree, was a sacred day where no work was to be done (see Exodus 20:8-11). The question was what constituted work. The religious leaders of the day considered both healing and carrying your mat to be work and therefor unlawful on the Sabbath day. This of course led to the absurd conclusion that God did not want people healed on the Sabbath and creates the tension you will see in today’s reading.

Pay close attention to …

  • The method Jesus uses to heal the lame man and what it says about his power.
  • The Jew’s surprising response the man’s miraculous healing and why.
  • Jesus’ warning to the healed man. Chronic conditions such as blindness or being crippled were widely seen in Jesus’ day to be God’s judgment for sin.

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.

James 4:13-17, 5:7-11

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. It is believed that the book of James was written by James the brother of Jesus. James was not one of the original apostles, but rose to become one of the leaders of the first church in Jerusalem (see Acts 15). James was written in the early days of the church when most Christians were Jewish and his emphasis was on living a holy life in response to what Christ has done for us.

What should a Christian’s attitude be towards future plans? Why? How is it possible to sin without doing anything?

James 5:7-11. At Christmas we celebrate the first coming of Jesus. Yet we also remember that we are waiting for his return, his second coming when He will put an end to death and evil once and for all. How are we to live today as we wait for His coming? What examples does James hold out as those who were rewarded by a loving God for their patience and perseverance (see the book of Job, particularly Job 42:10-17)?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

1 Kings 3:5-14

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

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

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

Background. Very early in his reign Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. In those days alliances were often confirmed in marriage between the parties. In this case Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh. This is strictly forbidden by the law of God (“You shall not intermarry with them [strangers, foreigners]…” Deut. 7:3 ESV) While the law was making reference to the peoples Israel drove from the land, the intent was that if the Hebrews intermarried with non-Hebrews, these non-Hebrews would prove a snare to them. Samson is perhaps the finest example and the disaster he suffered from the hands of Delilah (see chapter 16 of Judges).

[ESV Study Bible Notes p. 597 3:1 marriage alliance with Pharaoh. This is another dubious act to add to those in chapter 2. Deuteronomy warns against a ‘return to Egypt’ (Deut. 17:16) in terms of too-close relations with that nation. The Hebrew verb (khatan), translated ‘made a marriage alliance’ in 1 Kings 3:1, is translated ‘intermarry’ in Deut. 7:3, where the command not to marry foreigners is explicitly tied to a warning that such marriages will lead the people to serve other gods (Deut. 7:4). This becomes all too real for Solomon (1 Kings 11:3-4). Even though Solomon ‘LORD the lord’ (3:3), he is a king with a divided heart, failing to keep the Law of Moses wholeheartedly as David had instructed (2:1-4)”]

“Solomon loved the LORD … And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there for that was the great high place.” (1 Kings 3:3a, 4) As we continue through the Old Testament we will see the prominent place the “high places” has in the history of Israel (usually not for good). Until the Temple was built sacrifices were offered where the tabernacle was located but it was not forbidden to make such sacrifices in other locations called “high places”. Interestingly enough, the LORD was good enough to visit Solomon in a dream while he was at Gibeon.

[ESV Study Bible Notes p. 597 “3:2 the high places. This is the standard translation of the Hebrew bamot, but it is not clear that height (whether natural or artificial) was an intrinsic feature of these worship sites. The idea is simply that of publicly accessible structures (including unenclosed altars and temple with altars) within which or on which offering were made to God or the gods. The continuation and proliferation of these local places of worship (as opposed to the one place of worship described in Deuteronomy 12) is one of the main concerns of the authors of 1-2 Kings (1 Kings 22:43; 2 Kings 12:3; 14:4; 15:4; 35). Solomon begins by tolerating worship of the LORD at these places and ends up being drawn into full-blown apostasy (1 Kings 11:7-8), as also later do Israel and Judah (e.g., 12:28-31; 2 Kings 21:3-9).”]

Solomon has a vision in a dream where the LORD appears to him and says, “Ask what I shall give you.” (1 Kings 3:5 ESV) After acknowledging all the good that the LORD had done for his father David, Solomon proceeds to his request: “And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. … Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your people?” (1 Kings 3:7, 9) Here Solomon displays unique wisdom (if not common sense) in this request.

The LORD was impressed! (How often can you say that?) “And God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.’” (1 Kings 3:11-14)

Solomon then returns to Jerusalem and there gives thanks to the LORD before the ark of the covenant.

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, September 7, 2013

Prayer  Psalm: 42

Prayer Point. Spiritual dryness and general sadness can either drive us to our addictions that dull our emptiness, or we can allow that thirst to fuel our pursuit of God. Pray Psalm 42 today, that the emptiness and brokenness in your life will drive you to Jesus.

Mark 15:33-39

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. It is important to note the times here in this passage. Mark 15:33 Between noon and 3:00 p.m. there was darkness. This was not a solar eclipse. Darkness represents lament (Amos 8:9–10) and divine judgment (ESV Study Bible Notes). Jesus calls out to his Father asking why he had forsaken him. Mark 15:34 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Jesus utters the opening words of Psalm 22 and in so doing cries out to God in the immense pain of divine abandonment (see Isa. 59:2; Hab. 1:13), which he suffers as a substitute for sinful mankind . Yet the following verses of Psalm 22 also anticipate divine intervention on his behalf (cf. Heb. 5:7–9) (ESV Study Bible Notes).

Why was Jesus suffering the abandonment of God? What does this accomplish?

In verse 38 we see the temple veil torn in two. What is the significance to that happening? The curtain of the Temple separated, but also protected the people from the presence of God. Mark 15:38 The inner curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom, removing the separation between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (see Heb. 9:2–3, 12, 24; 10:19–20). Access to God is now provided by the unique sacrifice of Jesus, rendering the temple sacrifices obsolete (ESV Study Bible). In what way does the tearing of the curtain by God remove the separation from man and God? Who is the new sacrifice that atones for the sin of the people?

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.

James 5:7-12, 19-20

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. How are we to live as we wait for Christ’s return? How are we to handle suffering? How are we to treat each other?

In James 5:12, James echoes the teaching of Jesus in (Matthew 5:34-47). The problem here was that there were several levels to promises in the Jewish world. People swore by the temple, or Jerusalem or heaven itself. The promise was more binding or less binding depending on what you swore by. In other words, you swore by something to give yourself an out (like kids today who cross their fingers). James, and Jesus for that matter, wanted Christians to simply keep their word.

How should we respond in the following situations: sickness? Trouble? Happiness? A fellow Christian who has wandered away from following Jesus? Is this how you respond to these situations? Why or why not?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

1 Kings 12:1-20

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

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

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

Background. There is a paradox that runs through the stories of the Bible.  God is in control over the flow of human history and yet we are morally responsible for the choices we make.

How do we know that what happens to Rehoboam was part of God’s plan?  At the same time, how is Rehoboam responsible for what happens to him?

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 – Friday, September 6, 2013

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.

Mark 15:22-32

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. If it wasn’t painful enough to be crucified, here we see everyone from passersby to those who called for his death taunting Jesus and mocking him. Calling him the Messiah and the King of Israel they mocked him and told him to come down from the cross and then they would believe. Obviously they were not interested in the kingdom that Jesus had preached during his ministry.

What is it about Christ’s character that allows him to absorb the insults without destroying his enemies?

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.

James 4:13-5:6

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

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

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

Background. What should our attitude be towards future plans? What is wrong with holding onto plans too tightly? How is it possible to sin without doing anything?

For what sins does James indict the rich? How does this serve as a warning to 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.

1 Kings 11:26-43

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.  How does God’s judgment against Solomon begin? Where do Solomon’s enemies begin to emerge? What will the final judgment of Solomon look like?

The LORD proposes the very same covenant with Jeroboam as he had with David and then with Solomon, i.e., walk in the LORD’s ways, observe his statutes and ordinances and rules and in return the LORD would establish Jeroboam’s kingdom.  And, oh yes, NO IDOL WORSHIP!

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, September 5, 2013

Prayer  Psalm: 37

Prayer Point. Wicked men and women will continue prosper in our world and wield power.  That will not change until Christ returns.  What must change is our response to it.  Psalm 37 lists several sinful responses to the presence of evil. Repent by confessing to God the ones you see in your life.  Pray for the faith to trust God, delight in him, commit ourselves to following him and to place matters of justice into his hands.

Mark 15:12-21

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

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

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

Background. Next we see Jesus before Pilate and Pilate asking the Jewish leaders, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews? The chief priests shout back to Pilate, “Crucify him!”

Why do the leaders call for Jesus to be crucified? Why does Pilate then ask “what evil has he done?” Why does Pilate finally relent and call for the crucifixion of Christ?

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.

James 3:13-4:12

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 to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. In the Jewish mind, wisdom is not simply knowing something, it is knowledge put into action. What sorts of actions indicate true wisdom (from heaven)? What are the marks of earthly, unspiritual and devilish wisdom?

What are the root causes of our conflict? What should we do with our desires? Why does God often not give us what we ask for?

For James, “the world” is “the world system.” That is the values, aspirations, way of relating to each other that are prevalent in our world. Friendship with the world is ______________ towards God. Why? What should we do about our sin?

How is slandering someone, “playing 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.

1 Kings 11:1-13

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 to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. What sets Solomon on the path to worshiping other gods? Could anyone had lived the life Solomon lived without damaging their soul? What punishment is threatened against Solomon? (See 1 Kings 9:6-8.) For whose sake will this punishment be left incomplete?

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 – Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Prayer  Psalm: 119:25-48

Prayer Point. Understanding and following the law of God (following Jesus) is very difficult.  Psalm 119 reminds us that we face formidable obstacles within ourselves and in the world around us.  Which obstacles are present in your life.  Lift those up to God and pray that he will give you the wisdom, the strength, the faith and the courage to follow Jesus.

Mark 15:1-11

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. We see here that the whole council held a consultation early in the morning. During this time they bound Jesus and carried him away to Pilate. Pilate asks Jesus in verse 2, “Are you the King of the Jews?” This is an important question. Notice Jesus’ response, “You say so.” Here once again Jesus is turning the world upside down. It is important to understand that any claim to be King of the Jews would be met with Roman punishment. Crucifixion was the form of punishment they used to squash any insurrection. (Remember, the thought inside the Jewish mind was that the Messiah would come and defeat the Romans and establish his kingdom). But notice what Jesus does here. He stands quiet and does not answer the charges brought before him.

Why does Jesus remain quiet? What kind of kingdom is he going to establish?

Pilate stands amazed that Jesus does not answer any of the charges. There was a custom that the Roman governor in the province could release a prisoner for the people during the festival of Passover. Pilate asks if he should release the, “King of the Jews”. The chief priests stirred up the crowd and had them ask to release Barabbas, an insurrectionist and murderer, instead.

What are the Jewish leaders motivated by here?

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.

James 3:1-12

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 to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. What should give us pause before we pursue a teaching role in the church? Why are our tongues so dangerous? What damage can the tongue cause? What good can it do? In verse 8 James declares that “no man can tame the tongue.” What hope does this give us, if any? How do we go about changing so that fresh water flows out of us instead of salt water?

“You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?  For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. ” – Jesus (Matthew 12:34)

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

1 Kings 9:24-10:13

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 to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. How would you describe Solomon’s accomplishments? Is there anything that troubles you?

Solomon builds a fleet.  He and Hiram send seamen off to Ophir (which is believed to be near present day Ethiopia) and returned with 420 talents of gold (or 31,500 lbs.; or 504,000 oz. which at $1,700 per ounce comes to: $856,800,000 in US dollars today).  Let’s just say that Solomon was very rich indeed!  It is more than probable that this wealth was at the root of his later problems.  “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.  It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:10 ESV)

What brought the Queen of Sheba (probably in modern day Yemen) to King Solomon’s court? What did she discover once she got there?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Psalm Prayer: 36

Prayer Point. David contemplates the contrast between the wickedness of the human heart and the brilliance of God’s love. In what way do you identify with the description of the wicked man?  Confess those to God and receive his forgiveness. In what ways have you experienced the faithfulness of God? Praise him for those. In what ways are you being challenged or being oppressed by sinful people? Pray for the faith to trust God.

Mark 14:66-72

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. Previously, in Mark 14 we see Peter following Jesus, but at a safe distance. He went into the courtyard and stayed there warming himself while Jesus was being put on trial. Earlier in Mark as we have read the Lord Jesus prophesied that Peter would deny Jesus three times before the cock crowed twice. A servant-girl of the high priest notices Peter as a disciple of Jesus. Of course Peter denies this. The persistent servant-girl goes on to the bystanders outside and pleads her case again. Once again Peter denies it. Then after a little while the bystanders say to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” (NRSV). One again Peter denies it, but this time with an oath. Then Peter remembers the words of Jesus, “Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.”

Here we see Peter get out of trouble in the most human of all actions, he lies. Jesus, on the other hand, confesses he is the Son of Man in verse 62. What is the reason for Peter’s denial? What is motivating him? What does this tell us about Christianity that we are allowed to see our “heroes” fall? Remember he does not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in him yet. What would you do if asked the same questions under the same circumstances?

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.

James 2:14-26

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. What must accompany faith in order for faith to be true faith? Who else believes and has a faith without appropriate action? What do the examples of Abraham (see Hebrews 11:8-19) and Rahab (see Joshua 2) teach us about faith?

Many people have trouble with this portion of James because it sounds to them that God accepts people because of their good deeds. But ask yourself this: are the deeds of Rahab and Abraham the cause of their faith or the result of it? What did Abraham believe that enabled him to offer his son Isaac (see Hebrews 11:17-19)? How would your life change if you fully believed God’s promises to you?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

1 Kings 8:65-9:9

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. After the two week festival for the dedication for the temple was over, God appeared to Solomon. In this vision God restates his covenant that he made with Solomon’s father, David, and offers it to Solomon. Covenants between a greater king (God) and a lesser king (in this case Solomon) contained the following elements: the requirements of the covenant, blessings if the requirements were kept, and curses if the covenant was broken. What does God require of Solomon and his sons? What blessings does God offer them? What curses are threatened if Solomon (or his sons) breaks the covenant?

It strikes me that the central issue for the Israelites is that they cannot see God and thus worship him as the heathen worship their gods (which they can see).  “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6 ESV)  The issue has always been about faith.  Here again God is insisting that we be unwavering in our faith, but we seldom see with the eyes of faith. As the history of Israel unfolds, the recurring theme is their inability to trust the LORD.  A very short trip through the wilderness with the Israelites will demonstrate how quickly faith/trust evaporate, as water in the desert air.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Monday, September 2, 2013

Psalm Prayer: 9

Prayer Point. Why should God be thanked and praised? Psalm 9 reminds us that he secures justice for us (we don’t do it ourselves), he protects the oppressed, provides for the needy and gives hope to the afflicted and that is just the beginning.  Read through this psalm slowly and pick two or three examples that you have personally experienced and thank God for them.

Mark 14:53-65

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 here is taken to the chief priests, scribes, and elders. It is nighttime, which is a highly unusual time to have a trial. Jesus is being questioned and many people come as witnesses against Jesus, but none of them can get their story straight. As it says in Mark 14:56, “For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree” (NRSV).

Why do these false testimonies happen? For what reason do they have this illegal trial in the first place? How does Jesus respond to the allegations against him?

In verse 61 the high priest asks the question that will cause great turmoil and uproar among the leaders “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” (NRSV). What is Jesus’ answer? What is it about Jesus’ answer that so enrages the high priest and the scribes and elders? Who does Jesus claim to be? How does the crowd respond?

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.

James 2:1-13

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 to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. James is a circular letter written by James, the brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem, to the Christian churches scattered around the world. James focuses his letter on how the gospel is to be lived out in the community of the church. True faith is a faith that is lived out.

Why do you think favoritism towards wealthy people and discrimination against the poor is a problem today as it was in James’ day? What false ideas do we have about the poor? How does God’s view of the poor contrast to the way the world sees the poor? Who, according to James, is more likely to oppress the church? What is the royal law and how does showing favoritism violate it? If you break one part of the law you break _________________. What, according to James, is the most important virtue for a 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.

2 Chronicles 6:32-7:7

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. 2 Chronicles 6:32 to the end of chapter 6 records the conclusion of the prayer offered by Solomon at the dedication of the temple. Not unlike Jesus when he prays for posterity (you and me) in John 17:20, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…” (ESV), Solomon prays for the “foreigner” or “stranger” in the land. What does Solomon pray on behalf of foreigners who will come to worship at the temple? What is Solomon’s hope for the nations of the world?

What is Solomon’s prayer for Israel when they go to war?

Notice that for Solomon, in verse 36, that it is not “if” Israel sins against God, but “when.”Why is Solomon so sure that Israel will sin against God? What does Solomon ask of God when Israel sins against Him and is carried off into captivity? Where does he get the idea for this prayer? See Deuteronomy 30:1-6.

How do you know that God has heard Solomon’s prayer for the temple?

There are few things, I suppose, which are as impressive as a demonstration of the LORD’s approval.  Up to this point, Moses was the only one who had ever experienced speaking with God face to face (remember the burning bush?).  Here, the LORD sent fire from heaven which consumed all the burnt offerings and sacrifices and his glory filled the temple such that the priests could not enter.  Everyone present bowed with his face to the ground.  It must have been an impressive sight.  Echoing throughout this event was the refrain from Psalm 136: “For his steadfast love endures forever.”

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.