Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 5

Prayer Point. “In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Before you begin your day today, give your concerns to God, lay them at his feet and then sit in silence.  Having sat quietly, now go through the day with an expectation that God can and will act.

John 14:18-31

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

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

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

Background.  This is Jesus’ last night with his disciples before his death. He will be leaving, but he has promised to send the Holy Spirit in his absence. This is why Jesus says in verse 18 that I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” That coming refers to the Holy Spirit, and that is how the disciples will “see him” and “live” even though he is gone.

What will Jesus’ followers understand about his relationship with the Father through the Holy Spirit? How will they be related to Jesus through the Holy Spirit? What is the connection between obedience to God and love for God? What does God promise to do for those who love him?

Jesus easily could have revealed himself to the world through some incredible miracle as Judas wanted to see, but he chooses not to. Look to see how people come to know God and his teachings in the coming verses.  Jesus gives these teaching to his disciples directly because he is still with them. Who will teach the disciples once Jesus returns to his Father?

Why should the disciples be glad that Jesus is returning to his Father? Why did he feel the need to tell his disciples of his departure ahead of time?

Think about the context for a moment.  This is the Last Supper.  That night Jesus will be betrayed and arrested.  He is going to be crucified the next day.  What do you think Jesus means by ‘the prince of this world is coming’?  How is Christ the example of what it means to love and obey God?

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.

1 Peter 1:13-25

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. Now that Peter’s readers have received the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, how are they called to live in response? Who do they imitate? (See verse 16 Be holy because ______)

Whom do they now belong to? What was the purchase price?

Lambs were an important part of Israel’s story. It was a lamb that was sacrificed on the night Israel became a free people. The lamb was killed, the blood of the lamb was put on the doorposts of every Jewish house. When the Angel of Death came through, he “passed over” the homes with the blood of the lamb, but in the Egyptian homes without the lamb’s blood every first born son died.

Jesus is now being compared to that first born son. We are free not because God killed the firstborn son of our enemies, but because he sacrificed his firstborn son for our sakes. That was the purchase price of our forgiveness.

How do we purify ourselves through Christ (see verse 22)? What is the most important in our obedience to God according to Peter in verse 22. How is such a life possible according to verse 23?
Here is where it gets interesting, Jesus not only died to buy us back from death (verse 18-19), but Jesus also lived that we might be changed forever (verse 23).

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.

Exodus 15:1-21

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

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

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

Background.  What is this song about?  (The song is about the final defeat of the Egyptians by the LORD in the Red Sea.)

Why is this history delivered in song?  (Events are easier to remember if they are put to song.  Songs are used to tell stories, history, even theology.  Also songs are easier to convey from one generation to another.)

Who is the focus of this passage?  (The LORD is the central focus of this song.)
Which verse is repeated as “bookends” to this psalm?  (Verses 1 and 21)
What kind of a relationship is inferred beginning in verse 2?  (The relationship is more personal: “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.  He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” (v. 2 NIV))
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army have been hurled into the sea. (v. 4)  Why does this have a wider significance than just to the Jews?  (At that time Egypt was the “superpower” in the world.  An Egyptian defeat would send a strong message throughout the civilized world: who is this God of Israel? (v. 11)  See vv. 14-16)
Who, in this battle between Egypt and the LORD, is not mentioned?  (The Israelites are not mentioned.)
What were these people doing while all this was going on?  (They were spectators.  I think the point was that the people would see the awesome power of God and that they would then submit to him.  It proved to be wishful thinking.)
What is the destination of the people (the Israelites)?  (In this case, the destination is “the mountain of your inheritance – the place, O LORD, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O LORD, your hands established. (v. 17))

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 – Monday, April 28, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 2

Prayer Point. It is easy to forget about the power of God when we watch news or read the papers. Psalm 2 reminds us that Jesus, the Anointed One, is on the throne.  He is in control. Pray that these words might become real to us, that we might live in our world with bold, fearless love.

John 14:1-17

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

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

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

Background.  The setting of today’s reading is Jesus’ final meal with his disciples before his crucifixion the next day.  He has just informed them that he will be leaving, which greatly troubles them and he now seeks to calm their fears.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why Jesus’ departure and return to his Father should cause the disciples to rejoice.
  • The only way to know and go to the Father.
  • Jesus’ relationship to his Father.
  • The evidence that confirms that Jesus is who he says he is.
  • What is promised to those who put their faith in Jesus.

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.

1 Peter 1:1-12

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 guide you.

Background. 1 Peter was a circular letter written by the Apostle Peter and passed among the churches in what we call Western Turkey today. The church was rapidly expanding during this time and the Apostles oversaw and cared for growing numbers of churches scattered around the world. Letters such as these were a means for the Apostles to guide these churches while they were away.

What does Peter call these Christians in verse 1?

Peter mentions all three members of the Trinity (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in relation to this church. Notice how the three members of the Trinity work together:

_____________ according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.
through _________________________________ of the Holy Spirit.
For ________________________ to Jesus Christ and ______________________.

Peter’s letter in typical fashion of his time follows a familiar pattern: Author, recipient, greetings and now in verse three Peter begins with a blessing.

What has God the Father done that causes Peter to praise him? What are we born into through Christ? What is special about the inheritance we receive? How does this inheritance give Peter’s readers hope even though they are presently suffering? What good can come of trials?

When Peter speaks of prophets, he means the prophets of the Old Testament (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Moses, etc.)  What guided these prophets? What two things did they point to? Whom were they serving?

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.

Exodus 14:21-31

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

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

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

Background.  When last we left our heroes (the Israelites), they were poised between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea.  Things look hopeless.  What does the LORD do?  (He divides the sea in twain as an escape for the Israelites; he throws the Egyptians into confusion.)

The Egyptian host pursues the Hebrews.  Let’s allow that you don’t know the rest of the story of the flight from Egypt.  Why do you think Pharaoh continued to follow the Israelites?  Does this seem reasonable to you?  (Pharaoh pursued the Jews because the LORD had hardened his heart (Exodus 4:21; and 14:8).  It is unreasonable to me that Pharaoh would follow after the Israelites simply because of the wonders done in Egypt culminating with the death of the firstborn of the land.  Have you ever been so “mad” that you cannot think straight?  Pharaoh would have been so blinded to his own limitations (and his own sin) that he would do something so irrational as to pursue the Hebrews into the sea.)

What moment of sanity do the Egyptians demonstrate in a vain attempt to salvage their mission?  (They say, “Let us get away from the Israelites!  The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt.” (Exodus 14:25 NIV))  How successful are they?  (Not very.  All of the Egyptians in pursuit of the Hebrews were drowned in the midst of the sea.)

What (temporary) ray of hope do the Israelites display regarding their faithfulness to the LORD, as a result of this final encounter with the Egyptians?  (“And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” (Exodus 14:31 NIV))

Why do I think that this display of faith is temporary?  (The history of the Israelites with Moses shows that they will not remain faithful.  Moses demonstrates the power of God to the people in an effort to secure their trust in God, but time and again they complain and seek to return to Egypt.)

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, April 27, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 113

Prayer Point. This psalm offers us some reasons to praise the name of the Lord.  Meditate on the ones that resonate with you and offer God your own prayer of thanksgiving.

John 14:1-7

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.  The setting of today’s reading is Jesus’ final meal with his disciples before his crucifixion the next day.  He has just informed them that he will be leaving, which greatly troubles them and he now seeks to calm their fears.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why Jesus’ departure and return to his Father should cause the disciples to rejoice.
  • The only way to know and go to the Father.

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.

1 John 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. 1 John is a letter from the Apostle John, a close friend of Jesus, to the churches he oversaw in what is now western Turkey.  The letter was a circular letter, meaning that it was circulated among each of the churches and read aloud to the congregations.

John emphasizes that he is a witness of Jesus.  Notice how he drives this point home in the first four verses.  How has John experienced Jesus? What is John’s relationship with the Word of Life (Jesus) and God the Father?  What message does John have for his readers? Why does he write to them?

What message has John received from God that he passes on to his readers and to us? What is God? What does it take to be in fellowship with God? What happens to us if we walk in the light of God?

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.

Exodus 14:5-22

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

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

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

Background.  How do we know that Pharaoh has not learned his lessons from the LORD?  What does Pharaoh do next?

What does the LORD do to Pharaoh to provoke him to action?

What is the first response of the Israelites?  How much have the Israelites forgotten?

What does the LORD say to Moses to provoke the people to move (verse 15)?

What is the whole point of the exercise?  (The whole point is to depend upon God.)

How does the LORD protect his people?  (The cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.)

Here’s an easy one: the Israelites are poised between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army.  How does the Lord solve this problem for the last time?

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 – Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 118

Prayer Point. Psalm 118 is a song of praise welcoming the Messiah, the Savior, to 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 because when we cried out for help, he sent Jesus to die for our sins. Because of Jesus, God’s love  endures forever.

John 1:1-18

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. 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 Word 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 another John, John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus and not the author of this book.

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.

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.

Luke 24:13-25

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.  On the Road to Emmaus

Jesus appears to two of his disciples who clearly don’t recognize him. They had believed that Jesus was the one who was going to redeem Israel. What had just happened that in their minds ruled out this possibility? What news had they just received that makes their sadness even more unbelievable? What was the teaching that the disciples had missed according to Jesus?

In verse 26 Did not the Christ have to ______________________ and then _____________________.

Once again Jesus has to open their eyes. The scripture here also says that he opened the scriptures to them. What did Jesus do to open the eyes of the two disciples? What happened to their hearts as they talked with Jesus on the road?

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.

John 20:19-23

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

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

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

Background. It is the evening of the first Easter Sunday. The disciples have already heard the report from Mary Magdalene that she had seen Jesus alive. What makes you think that the disciples are having a difficult time believing the good news? What do the disciples finally see that causes them to believe?

Does Jesus disown his disciples for their pitiful lack of faith? What mission does he give them despite their flaws? What power do they receive to carry out Jesus’ mission?

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.

Exodus 12:1-14

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 background to help guide you.

Background. Very briefly, the Hebrews celebrate the Passover complete with the blood on the doorposts and lintels of their homes.  What month is the Passover to begin?  Why so much detail?  Why is the blood so important? Read chapter 4:18-23.

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.

Isaiah 51:9-11

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 background to help guide you.

Background. What is Isaiah asking the LORD to do?  Just to let you know, Rahab is a nickname for Egypt.  (This Rahab is not to be confused with the Rahab whom Joshua will encounter in his battle of Jericho.)  What is being described in verse 10?  What is the great promise outlined in verse 11?  How does this connect with Easter?

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 – Good Friday, April 18, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 54

Prayer Point. What does David believe and pray for when he is attacked by his enemies? Meditate on David’s answer and allow the psalm to help you address your fears with prayer.

John 13:36-38 (Morning), 19:38-42 (Evening)

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. (Morning) On the night Jesus was betrayed, he tells his disciples that he is leaving for a place where they cannot come.  This is quite distressing because Jesus’ disciples believe that he is about to be crowned king.

Where is Jesus going that Peter cannot yet go?  Why do you think Jesus predicts that Peter will disown him?

(Evening) The Jewish Day of Preparation was the day before the Sabbath (Friday).   The day of preparation ended at sun down so both men would have had little time to complete the burial, therefore they buried Jesus in a tomb nearby.  Both Nicodemus (you can read his story in John 3) and Joseph of Arimathea were secret disciples of Jesus.  Why do you think they chose this time to come out in the open?

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.

1 Peter 1:10-20

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

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

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

Background. When Peter speaks of prophets, he means the prophets of the Old Testament (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Moses, etc.)  What guided these prophets? What two things did they point to? Whom were they serving?

This teaching did not originate with Peter. He was with Jesus after the resurrection and before his return to heaven. Here is what Jesus taught Peter and the other disciples concerning the Old Testament.

Luke 24:46 … This is what is written [in the Old Testament]: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Now that Peter’s readers have received the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, how are they called to live in response? Who do they imitate? Who do they now belong to? What was our purchase price?

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 3:1-9, 19-33

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

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

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

Background. Compare verses 1-9 of Chapter 3 with the first two Chapters of Job.  What is the principal difference?

How would you describe the great shift of attitude beginning in verse 19ff?   Can you see another parallel with Job?  How is hope rekindled beginning in verse 31?  Can you see a difference between the LORD’s attitude in Chapter 2 and here (vv. 31-33)?

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, April 6, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 145

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

John 8:46-59

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

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

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

Background. How does Jesus explain the accusations and unbelief of his hearers? Jesus’ explanation further infuriates the crowd. Remember that they believed that they were “all set” because of their status as biological descendants of Abraham. They believed that pagans like the Romans, prostitutes, and tax collectors were the real sinners. But Jesus goes after these religious and moral people and boldly says, “No, the enemy lies within.” That’s why the wild charges start flying. “You are a Samaritan [fighting words for a Jew in those days] and demon-possessed.”

How does Jesus answer the charge of being demon-possessed? What is his mission? What motivates him?

“Are you greater than our father Abraham?” That indeed is the central question. If the answer is “yes” then Jesus is indeed God and must be followed and obeyed. If your answer is “no” then Jesus was either a lunatic or a bold-faced liar. As GK Chesterton and CS Lewis pointed out, there is no middle ground. There is no possibility that he was just a nice teacher. Jesus’ life and ministry does not leave open that possibility. Does Jesus see himself greater than Abraham?

The phrase “I am” was one of the sacred names of God. What is Jesus claiming when he says, “before Abraham was, I am!”?  The penalty under the Law of Moses for blasphemy (claiming to be God when you are not is a good example) was death by stoning. How did the crowds interpret what Jesus claimed? How does Jesus get away?

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.

Romans 12:1-21

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

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

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

Background. After having spent the first eleven chapters of his letter to the Romans describing the grace and love of God the Father demonstrated through the life, death and resurrection of his Son Jesus, Paul now lays out the life we are to live in response.

Pay close attention to …

  • What we are to offer God in response to his mercy (verse 1).
  • What we are no longer to conform to and the new pattern of thinking that replaces it (verse 2).
  • How we are to view ourselves (verse 3).
  • How we are to see ourselves to relation to other followers of Jesus. The purpose of our gifts (talents, time and resources) (verses 4-8).
  • The objects of our love (verses 9-10).
  • How we respond to our own struggles (verse 12) and the struggles of others (verse 13).
  • What loving our neighbor looks likes (verses 14-21).

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.

Exodus 3:16-4:12

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 background to help guide you.

Background. What does the Lord predict about the Israelites and what does he predict about Pharaoh?

[The LORD predicts that the Israelites will listen to Moses and that Pharaoh will not.]

So Pharaoh will not let the people go.  What plans does the Lord have in store for Pharaoh?
[“So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them.  After that, he will let you go.” (Exodus 3:20 NIV)]

Moses launches yet another objection to his qualifications to do the job.  What is Moses’ complaint this time?
[“Moses answered, ‘What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, “The Lord did not appear to you”’” (Exodus 4:1NIV)]

The LORD then demonstrates (on a small scale) his power and the power he will give to Moses when he goes into Egypt to liberate the Jews.  What three demonstrations of power does the LORD show Moses?
[God made a staff turn into a serpent; he made Moses’ hand leprous and then cleansed it; he promised to turn the water in the Nile to blood.]

What is Moses’ last objection to him as a choice to do this work?
[Moses complains that he is not eloquent.  But “the Lord said to him, ‘Who gave man his mouth?  Who makes him deaf or mute?  Who gives him sight or makes him blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go; I will help you speak and will teach what to say.’” (Exodus 4:11-12 NIV)]

We will see how Moses and the Lord will come together to achieve the goal, i.e., to get the Hebrews out of Egypt.

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 30, 2014

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 6:27-40

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 people of Israel were enslaved by the Egyptians for four hundred and fifty years until God sent Moses to rescue them. This victory was temporary, because it was God’s intention to send a second and greater Moses who would lead his people out of bondage to sin and into eternal life. Moses foreshadows Jesus. His miracles point to the greater miracles that Jesus will perform. One of which was the manna or daily bread that God fed his people each day in the wilderness.  With no crops with which to make bread, manna appeared each morning on the ground like the dew giving the Israelites just enough to get through the day. Today Jesus will speak of a greater bread.

Pay close attention to …

  • The food Jesus encourages the crowd to work for and why it is greater than the miracle bread and fish he had just given them (see John 6:1-15).
  • The work we must do to receive the food from God that endures to eternal life.
  • What bread Jesus offers the people that is greater than the bread God gave to the Israelites through Moses.
  • What is promised to those who come to Jesus, the bread of life.
  • Who will come to Jesus and why.
  • Why Jesus came down from heaven.
  • The Father’s will in verse 40.

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.

Romans 8:11-25

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. What does it mean for us that we have the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead living in us according to verse 11? What is true about us now that we have the Holy Spirit?

In Christ there is now no obligation to _________________. (verse 12)

What will happen if we live according to the sinful nature (flesh in some translations)?  How do you put to death your sin?  How does God’s Holy Spirit go to war against fear, the core of our flesh and sinful nature?  How does God’s Holy Spirit help us in our present struggles with sin and the sufferings we experience in this world?

How does Paul deal with his present suffering in verse 18? What hope does he have for himself in God’s creation?

Paul calls the first signs of the future restored creation the fruits of the Spirit.  In some sense this new world has already begun for ourselves because we have these firstfruits. While the new world has already begun what do we look forward to? How does this hope impact us and the way we live today?

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.

Genesis 48:8-22

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. As Jacob is about to die, Joseph brings his two sons to Jacob for him to bless them.  What does Joseph do to make things easier for Jacob?  What unusual action does Jacob take?

[Joseph approaches Jacob with Ephraim on his (Joseph’s) right and Manasseh on his left.  Ephraim would then be on Jacob’s left and Manasseh was on the right.  Jacob then, as he blesses Joseph’s two sons, crosses his hands over the children so that the right hand lands on Ephraim and his left hand on Manasseh.  So Ephraim is treated as the firstborn.  Jacob had appropriated Joseph’s sons as his own (above).]

How did Joseph feel about that?
[Joseph probably thought that Jacob just made a mistake: “Joseph said to him, ‘No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.’” (Genesis 48:18 NIV)]

Jacob makes it clear that he made no mistake: “‘I know, my son, I know.  He too will become great.  Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.’  He blessed them that day and said, ‘In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing: “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.”’”  (Genesis 48:20 NIV)

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.