Daily Bible Readings – Friday, April 25, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 118

Prayer Point. This psalm is a song welcoming the Messiah (Savior) to the city of Jerusalem. It’s true meaning was not realized until the crowds sang as Jesus rode 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. Give him thanks and remember that  his love to us endures forever.

Luke 24:1-12

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. At first light on Easter Sunday morning, women from Jesus’ community of disciples hurried to the tomb to complete the preparation of Jesus’ body for burial. They don’t find the body of Jesus. What do they encounter instead? Why do you think they reacted the way they did? Why do the angels say that they shouldn’t be surprised that Jesus had been raised from the dead? Why do you think they, and all the disciples, had such a hard time believing it?

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 Corinthians 15:51-58

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 following background to guide you.

Background. How will perishable people like us become imperishable and inherit the kingdom of God? Whose victory makes this transformation possible? Who or what was defeated? How are we to live today in light of this amazing future that Christ has opened for us?

What can’t “flesh and blood” and “perishable” inherit? How will this problem be solved? You’ll have to read tomorrow’s reading.

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 13:1-2, 11-16

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 is the firstborn male to be consecrated to the LORD?   Can you think of any “firstborn” males (in Israel) who had been consecrated to the Lord? (The firstborn male is to be dedicated to the Lord because of the price exacted of the Egyptians – all of the firstborn of both man and beast died on the night of the Passover.  Examples: Samson, Samuel, Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5); John the Baptist, and of course, Jesus.)

Verse 13 commands that “every firstborn among your sons” be redeemed.  What does “redeem” mean?  (It actually means to “buy back”.  The redeeming of the firstborn male was later to be designated to the tribe of Levi once the Israelites enter the Promised Land.  The redeeming is another reminder of what happened in Egypt.)

What will “your son” ask you in days to come as outlined in verse 14?  (“‘What does this mean?’  Say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt.  This is why I sacrifice to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.” (Exodus 13:14-15 NIV))

Again with the sign on the hand and forehead.  This must be significant.  What do these symbols represent?   (Heart and hand – thinking and doing)

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 – 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 – Palm Sunday, April 13, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 103

Prayer Point. Are looking for a reason to praise God? Psalm 103 gives you a number of options. Pick two or three and offer your own prayer of praise.

Luke 19:41-48

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 knows he is riding into his enemies’ stronghold. The people of Jerusalem will reject him as king and hand him over to Romans to be crucified. He will enter Jerusalem and continue on to the temple in the heart of the city. There Jesus will find a market setup in the outer court of the Gentiles (Gentiles were not allowed in the inner courts of the temple). Originally this market was created as a convenience to those who traveled to the temple to worship God. You could buy the animal sacrifice right at the temple, rather than bring one all the way from home. The moneychangers allowed pilgrims to exchange money for temple money, the currency that was used to pay the temple tax. What began as a convenience became a business with big profits made on the backs of poor pilgrims. It’s location in the Court of the Gentiles effectively shut out the Gentles from worshiping God.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus feels about Jerusalem. What does he wish would happen? Compare this to Luke 7:27-29.
  • How Jesus reacts to the sellers in the temple. Who is threatened by Jesus’ actions and what are they plotting to do?
  • Why the chief priests and teachers of the law are unable to kill 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 Timothy 6:12-16

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 Timothy is a personal letter from the Apostle Paul to Timothy, a young missionary that Paul mentored.  Timothy after serving with Paul on his missionary journeys was left behind in Ephesus to oversee the churches that were established there.  Paul writes to encourage and instruct his young protege.

Pay close attention to …

  • The fight Timothy is called to fight.
  • What he is to hold on to.
  • How long he is to keep the commands of God.
  • The hope that makes the struggle worth it.

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.

Zechariah 9:9-12, 12:9-11, 13:1, 7-9

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. Much of what we look at today will have a ring of familiarity about it because today is Palm Sunday which launches us into Holy Week.  We refer to Jesus entry into Jerusalem as the “triumphal entry”.  That could mean any of several things, but it is quite significant that Jesus is atop a donkey.  This marks the “triumphal” aspect for if the king is riding on a donkey then he has been victorious and comes in peace.  A king seated on a war horse, obviously, is off to battle.  Not so here.

Pay close attention to …

  • These readings and how they relate to all the activity going on in Jerusalem as Jesus lives through these prophecies.
  • The emotion being encouraged (v. 9:9 )
  • What is being proclaimed (v.9:10 )
  • “…blood of my covenant…” (v. 9:11 )*
  • “Prisoners of hope…” (v.9:12 )

*The writer of Hebrews tells us “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins…” (9:22 NIV)  Indeed anything needing purification in the Old Testament required some amount of animal blood.  It would be a safe guess that there was enough blood shed in the thousands of sacrifices during the Old Covenant to float Noah’s ark.  Still that was insufficient.  The importance of blood in the scripture extends even to food.  Blood = life thus it was forbidden for anyone to eat food with blood in it.

John the Baptist first referred to Jesus as “the lamb of God”.  This lamb, like the hundreds of thousands before him, will have to surrender his life (blood) which will prove to be a sufficient sacrifice.

Continuing… (Zechariah 12:9-11)

  • “They will look on me, the one they pierced (v. 12:10 )**
  • Weeping in Jerusalem (v. 12:11 )

** Psalm 22:16-18 (NIV) “Dogs [Gentiles] have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.  I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me  They divide my garments among them and cast lost for my clothing.”

“Dog” was a common epithet for anyone who was a non-Jew.  Jesus also used it when he was asked to heal a Canaanite woman’s daughter of demon possession.  “The woman came and knelt before him. ‘Lord help me!’ she said.  He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.’  ‘Yes, Lord, she said, ‘but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’  Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.’  And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”  (Matthew 15:25-28 NIV)

Not finished yet… (Zechariah 13:1, 7-9)

  •  The sheep (v. 13:7 )

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 2, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 114

Prayer Point. We are called to both fear and love God as Israel did. Psalm 114 explains why. It is the power of God that causes the earth to tremble, but it is that same power that breaks the power of oppression and sets us free. Pray that God will fill you with a reverent fear of his power, but also gratitude that this same power rescued us from slavery to sin and death.

Luke 9:18-27

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

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

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

Background. While Jesus performed many miracles and preached with an unmatched authority, he largely kept his true identity as the Son of God under wraps.  He does want the world to know him, but he will reveal his divinity through his crucifixion and resurrection.  Consequently, the people are intrigued by him, but not quite sure who he is.  One possibility is that he is Elijah, which makes sense, because the Old Testament taught that Elijah would return before the coming of the Messiah (Israel’s long awaited liberator-king). That was the role John the Baptist played (Mark 9:9-13), for the role of Messiah (Christ) is reserved for Jesus.

Pay close attention to …

  • Whom the crowds believe Jesus to be.
  • Peter’s answer and Jesus’ response to his confession.
  • The unlikely future of the Son of Man (Messiah) and what it means for Jesus’ disciples.

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 Corinthians 3:7-18

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. Paul continues his contrast between the “ministry that brought death” with its letters on stone (a reference to the Law and the 10 Commandments) and the “ministry of the Spirit”. You can not understand this passage without the background of Exodus 20 where God gives the 10 Commandments through Moses. When Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the stone tablets written by God his face radiated with such an intensity that the people could not look upon his face. They could not bear to look at the reflection of God’s glory on his face.

Now, Paul says, things are different. Through the followers of Jesus Christ, there is a new ministry of the spirit. How is this ministry of the spirit different from the old ministry of death? Notice especially what Paul says about the veil. Who takes away the veil that the people had previously begged Moses to wear? What happens in verse 18 to those with unveiled faces?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

 

Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, December 29, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 93

Prayer Point. We saw the destructive power of the sea stirred by Hurricane Sandy’s winds as it brought the wealthiest city in the world to its knees. The ancients knew no greater power than the fury of a stormy sea, and yet God is greater still.  Imagine how we might live if we believed this.  Confess your fears to God and pray that the Holy Spirit will remind of God’s power.

Luke 2:22-40

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?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Background. This scene takes place in the temple complex. When the Gospels and the book of Acts refer to entering the temple or teaching in the temple, it is often not a reference to Herod’s temple itself, but rather to this temple complex, including a number of courts and chambers that surrounded the temple [ESV Study Bible Notes].

The time of purification dates back to the time of Moses when God gave him instructions regarding the purification rituals of the mother and child after childbirth. It can be found in Leviticus 12:3-4. Jesus, being the firstborn male, was to be called holy to the Lord. The ritual sacrifice was a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons for a poor family. A well to do family would have offered a lamb. So we know from this that Mary and Joseph had limited means.

Who was Simeon? What did he say about Jesus that Mary and Joseph marveled at? What does it mean that “this child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many will be revealed.”? Who did Anna speak to regarding Jesus? What were they looking for? Notice in verse 40 that it says “and the grace of God was upon him.” What do you think that means?

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.

Colossians 1:9-20

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

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

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Background. The “book” of Colossians, is a letter from the Apostle Paul to the church that he planted in the city of Colosse. Paul has moved on in his missionary travels, but he continues to guide this young church through letters such as the one we are reading today. How does Paul pray for the Christians in Colosse? What kind of life does he want them to lead? Who will provide the power to live in this way? What has God done for us that causes us to respond with such a life (see verses 12-14)?

We often think of the tiny Christ child this time of year. How does Paul paint a different picture of Christ? Who is He? What has He done? What is He doing today? How is Christ related to God the Father?  What is Christ’s position over creation? When Paul calls Jesus the first born of creation it does not mean that Jesus was created along with everything else. Being God, Jesus has always existed. In fact Paul says in verse 15 all things were created by Christ. “First born over Creation” is a title referring to Jesus’ lordship over all that God has made and not the first thing that God the Father created.

What is Jesus’ position over the church? What is His mission today?

Why is it important for us to come to know Jesus in this way?

2 John. While it appears that 2 John is a personal letter to a woman and her family, it is far more likely that the phrase “the chosen lady and her children” is a description of a local church. The church is often referred to as the ‘bride of Christ’. If this is the case, ‘your chosen sister’ 2 John 13 refers to the church that John was staying with at the time he wrote the letter.

In American churches we are used to talking about the faith in the past tense: When were you saved? Last week 20 people accepted Christ. We speak of our faith as an event in the past, but John does the faith as way of life, a process that is lived every day. Notice how many times John uses the verb “walk” in this letter to describe the Christian life. List them out. How does this list challenge your understanding of what it means to be a Christian?

What is it that gives John great joy (see verse 4)? What is John’s command to the church (see verse 6)? How is love connected to God’s Law and his commands? 

Having laid out the Christian way of life, what false teaching does John warn against (see verse 7)?

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 Samuel 1:1-2, 7-28

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

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

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Background. Elkanah (meaning: acquired by God, i.e. perhaps in exchange for firstborn [Num. 3:15; 45] a son of Korah – The Companion Bible p. 367) was a well-to-do man from “the hill country of Ephraim” (v.1) who had two wives: Hannah (meaning Grace) and Peninnah (meaning Pearl). He was of the tribe of Levi, of the sons of Korah – those who waited on the LORD in the tabernacle. Like Jacob’s two wives, one was favored and one was not. Hannah, though she had no children, was more favored than Peninnah, who had a brood of young. While the story of Samuel’s origins has some similarity to Jacob’s life, the story also bears some resemblance to the origins of John the Baptist almost a thousand years later. Hannah and Elizabeth were “barren”. Both women bore sons and both were dedicated to the LORD from an early age. Both were prophets and both played key roles in the Davidic monarchy: Samuel to establish David and John the Baptist to announce the coming of the Messiah, David’s successor. Probably because she was not (as) favored as Hannah, Peninnah used to provoke Hannah to tears each year when the “family” went up to Shiloh (i.e., “where the tabernacle and the ark were” The Companion Bible p. 367) to make their offerings to the LORD. [There is a similarity here between Sarah and Hagar too!] Evidently this was rather acute for Hannah for she went into the temple to ask the LORD to bless her with a son, and if he did so, she would dedicate all his life to the service of the LORD. Eli, the chief priest was very old and his eyesight wasn’t what it used to be, so when he saw Hannah praying (for she was moving her lips but not speaking aloud) he mistook her to be drunk. He admonished her against such behavior whereupon she told him of her plea to God. Eli sends her off with his blessing and a hope that God would “visit” her.

Well, he did. By the time of the next yearly sacrifice, Hannah had delivered of a son whom she named Samuel (meaning “asked of God”, or “God-heard” The Companion Bible p. 367). Hannah’s plan is to wean her son and then leave him at the temple. Her reproach is removed. Hannah was blessed with three more sons and two daughters. Why was Hannah so eager to “lend” her son [for the rest of his life] to the LORD from such an early age? (I think it was a couple of things: an act of thanksgiving for removing her reproach; and an act of faith that the LORD would use and bless Samuel in his service to God.) Her prayers were heard (and answered) which might serve as encouragement to others who knew of her plight.

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

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

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

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

 

Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, December 28, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 148

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

Luke 2:1-20

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

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

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Galatians 4:8-20

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

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

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, December 26, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 80

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

Luke 1:57-66

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

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

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

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

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

Pay close attention to …

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Galatians 3:1-14

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

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

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

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

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

Pay close attention to …

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

2 Samuel 7:18-29

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

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

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

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

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

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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