Daily Bible Readings, Sunday, November 17, 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.”

Luke 16:1-13

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background.  Jesus taught that our possessions belong to God. We are only managers of God’s stuff, not owners. Some day we will have to make an account of what we did with his things.

This parable is a strange one because the master seems to praise his manager for his dishonesty. This story will confound you if you read it straight. Jesus’ stories are meant to throw us off our game in order to help us see the world through new eyes. This story drips with irony giving it an edge that drives the point home.

Pay close attention to …

  • What causes the manager to change the way he handled his master’s possessions.
  • How the master feels about having his money given away.
  • The lesson Jesus would like us to learn from this story (verse 9).

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.

Acts 28:14b-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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. As the book of Acts comes to a close, let’s take a step back at look at the ground we’ve covered. The book opened with the resurrected Christ giving a promise to his disciples:

Acts 1:8 But you receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of earth.

Acts is a story of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church in Jerusalem (chapter 2). The shockwaves of that event, Pentecost, radiate out like the ripples of a rock hitting the water; first Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria, and finally the ends of the earth. The message was given to Israel and then extended to the Gentiles, and so God calls a people for himself from every nation under heaven.

Who does Paul preach to when he gets to Rome? How does he explain his appearance in Rome? What sources does Paul use to convince the Jews of Jesus’ message about the Kingdom of God? Note that Law of Moses and the Prophets is the Jewish way of saying “Old Testament.” What kind of response does Paul get? Why does he decide to preach to the Gentiles? As the story ends, how do we know that the promise to take the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth has been fulfilled?

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.

Nehemiah 7:73-8:18

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. This reading of the Law of God by Ezra at the Water Gate is a pivotal moment in this book. Here the Law (Genesis – Deuteronomy)  is proclaimed and if that were not enough, those who did not understand were taught it [the law, the statutes, the rules, and the ordinances].

What do you notice about the way the people responded to the Law of God?  What do they do?  Compare their reaction to our reaction to the commands of Jesus?

It is extremely important to keep the Word of God before us at all times.

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.

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Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 78

Prayer Point.  This prayer is about passing the knowledge of God on to the next generation. Pray that your church will remember what God has done; not only in the Bible, but in our own lives. Pray that we will be faithful in sharing what God has done with the next generation, so they in turn will tell their children.

Matthew 15:21-28

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. Jesus expands his ministry beyond the borders of Israel to the cities of Tyre and Sidon in Phoenicia (Lebanon). Now comes the moment of truth, a Canaanite woman an “accursed” Gentile cries out to Jesus desperate for him to heal her demon-possessed daughter.

How does Jesus test the woman’s faith and critique the racist attitudes towards Gentiles that were common in Israel? What does Jesus see in this woman that moves him to heal her daughter? How was her great faith expressed?

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.

Revelation 18:9-20

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? You can use the following background to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Who mourns the demise of the whore of Babylon and why? What do each of these people miss the most? What is the one group that rejoices and why?

Think about this. We live in a time where there is great fear that the world economic system may collapse. Should Christians dread this event as our neighbors do?

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.

Nehemiah 9:26-38

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. The prayer continues in the same vein until the end of the chapter. The closing of the chapter reminds me of the kinds of bargains I have made with God: “Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests.” (Nehemiah 9:38 ESV) This is interesting because I think that the writer of Nehemiah believes that these people will be able to keep such an agreement. Why is it impossible for these people to keep this solemn agreement? What needs to happen in order to keep it?

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, November 11, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 79

Prayer Point.  Asaph stood among the ruins of what was Jerusalem, the capitol of Israel, and cried out, “How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever?” You probably know someone, who, like Asaph, is mourning the ruins of their life and wondering if God has abandoned them. Pray this psalm on their behalf.

Matthew 15:1-20

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. Considering that the heart of God’s law is to love God and love your neighbor (see Matthew 22:37-40) how did the Pharisees use their interpretation of the law (their tradition) to circumvent the law’s true purpose?

The law required faithful Jews to care for their parents in their old age, but oral tradition provided a way for selfish children to avoid this responsibility. By declaring all their property to be “corban”, given to God, they could tell their parents they had no money left to help them. Jesus placed His trust firmly on the biblical revelation and rejected the oral tradition which pious Jews believed was as binding as the law (Disciples Study Bible Notes).

The Old Testament contained elaborate laws on eating and hygiene that governed  whether or not a person was clean. The point of these laws was to remind the people that they were unclean because of sin and needed God to cleanse them. The laws were pictures that pointed to a deeper spiritual reality, not the reality itself. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law and they focused too strongly on the meticulous rules on what should be eaten. What does Jesus want us to focus on instead? What is it that makes us unclean? Can we conquer sin by changing our behavior or do we have a deeper problem?

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.

Revelation 18:1-8

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 Book of Revelation, the images used to depict Jesus and his faithful people are the lamb and the bride of the lamb. The images of the good also have their evil counterparts. The beast, Satan, stands in mockery of Jesus the lamb. The whore of Babylon, Satan’s world system, mocks the bride of the lamb.

The name Babylon is significant in Israel’s history, as it was the kingdom that completely destroyed Jerusalem, the temple of God, and carried God’s people into exile. Babylon represents the Satanic system that has historically opposed and oppressed God’s faithful bride.

What kind of a relationship did the kings of the earth have with the whore of Babylon? What benefit did the world’s merchants get out of their relationship with her?

What is God’s message to Babylon? What is God’s message to his faithful people? What is about to happen to the whore of Babylon?

This message has its roots in Israel’s history. Remember that God freed his people by sending plagues to bring their Egyptian oppressors to their knees. Just as Israel came out of Egypt, now the church is called to come out of “Babylon” for judgment is coming.

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.

Nehemiah 9:1-25

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

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

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

Background. Chapter 9 opens with a reference to the seventh month (Ethanim) and that for a reason not disclosed, the people met in assembly on the twenty-fourth of this month with fasting, in sackcloth and with dust on their heads. This is a gesture of extreme repentance and mourning (grief).

What have the people just listened to that has caused them to fast, mourn, and repent of their sins?  Along with confession and repentance of sin, how else do the people respond to God?

The prayer the people offer to God follows a basic outline:

  • Praise to God the Creator (9:5-6)
  • Recounting God’s history with Israel (9:7-31).  What does God do on behalf of his people?  How does Israel respond to God?  How does God punish his people?  Is this punishment forever?
  • A plea for help (9:32-36)
Take some time to offer your own prayer to God following this same outline.  Look around at his creation and offer him your praise.  Remember all the times he has been faithful to you and give him thanks.  Confess those times when you have been unfaithful to him and ask for his forgiveness. Ask him to give you what you need today.  

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, November 6, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 72

Prayer Point.  What will the world look like when Jesus’ kingdom fully comes to earth? Psalm 72 gives us a preview. What aspect of things psalm’s dream does not yet exist in our world? Lift those things to God and pray “your kingdom come.”

Matthew 13:53-58

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. Why is Jesus rejected in his hometown? Consider this: Jesus probably lived and worked as a carpenter in Nazareth for at least 15 years before he began his public ministry preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. Why does Jesus decide not to perform miracles in Nazareth? You might notice as you read the gospels that Jesus performed miracles as acts of compassion or to confirm someone’s faith, but never to convince someone that he was God. He was to be glorified, not by acts of power, but by submitting himself to the cross and rising from the dead.

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.

Revelation 12:1-12

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. Revelation 12 is one of several visions in this book that tell the story of human history from the perspective of heaven. There are three central characters that must be identified: the woman giving birth, the child, and the dragon.

The woman. Compare John’s vision of the woman to Joseph’s dream recorded in Genesis 37:9-11. What images are present in both dreams? How did Joseph’s father, Jacob, interpret the images in his son’s dream? How does that shed light on the identity of the woman in Revelation 12? Based on the parallels between the two dreams and the details of the story that unfolds in chapter 12, we will identify the woman with God’s people. She is Israel before the coming of Jesus and the church after his coming.

The child. In the background of John’s dream is the promise God made to Adam and Eve. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring [the serpent – identified with the dragon in Revelation 12] and hers; he [the child] will crush your heel and you will strike his head.” (Genesis 3:15) Who is this offspring? None other than Jesus Christ, who will destroy the dragon by his crucifixion and resurrection and rule as king forever.

The dragon. The dragon throughout the Bible represents the kingdoms that opposed God’s people, but most importantly the power behind these kingdoms, Satan. John and his readers would have identified the dragon with Rome and the power behind Rome, the Devil.

All battles on earth have a spiritual and heavenly dimension to them. As the story of Jesus and his church played out on earth, the battle also rages in heaven between the Archangel Michael and Satan the dragon. God’s people, flee to the desert where they are protected for 1,260 days, Revelation’s symbolic number for a period of trouble.

Pay close attention to …

  • What the dragon attempts to do to the child when he is born and how his plan is thwarted. Compare this to Matthew 2:13-23 and Luke 24:36-52.
  • What happens to the woman after the birth of the child.
  • Compare the 1260 days to the 42 months (1260 days) that the witnesses are protected in Revelation 11:2-3.
  • What God is promising to do for his faithful people (Israel, the church) during this 3 ½ years of trouble (1260 days).
  • What happens to Satan in the aftermath of the war. The name ‘Satan’ is actually a title meaning “prosecutor or accuser.” Where was Satan before the battle? Where is he now? Who has taken the prosecutor’s place (see Romans 8:31-34)?
  • The opponents of the early Christians would have attributed their suffering to the fact that they had abandoned the gods of their ancestors. How does Revelation 12 explain the church’s suffering?

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.

Nehemiah 13:4-22

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 help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Eliashib was, unfortunately, related to Tobiah – unfortunate for Eliashib that is. Perhaps now that Nehemiah has returned to Susa to see the king Tobiah will be able to execute his master plan. You may recall that Tobiah, along with Sanballat and some Arab (Geshem by name) had conspired to bring down all activity in Jerusalem. Tobiah took this opportunity and his close relational connection to Eliashib to move his quarters into the temple itself.

What reforms begin to erode in Nehemiah’s absence? Why were these problems significant? How does Nehemiah, God’s great leader, attack the problems he encounters?

The exclusion of the Ammonites and Moabites from the temple may sound ethnocentric to us, even racist. But notice the reason. These peoples had opposed the people of God from the very beginning. They tried to obstruct them as they entered the Promised Land and Tobiah, the Ammonite, opposed the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple from the very beginning.

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, November 5, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 62

Prayer Point.  Before you start your day and enter this broken world full of problems, center yourself on God. Meditate on the opening words of Psalm 62, “My soul finds rest in God alone … he is my fortress and I will never be shaken.” Pray that these words will stay with you throughout the day, so that you will be able to stand when trouble comes.

Matthew 13:44-52

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’ mission is to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. But what exactly is the kingdom of God? In today’s reading, Jesus will tell four short stories or parables to show us what “the kingdom of God is like.”

What does the parable of the treasure in the field tell us about the value of Jesus’ message and the kingdom he came to establish? Notice that in the parable of the “pearl of great price” the kingdom is compared not to the pearl, but to the merchant seeking the pearl. What does this tell us about the kingdom of God and the way of life Jesus gave us?

Who gets caught up in the ‘nets’ of the kingdom of God? Do you think it is possible for someone to be involved in a church, serve even, and never be a true follower of Jesus? When and how will the true followers of Jesus be separated from the false ones?

In Jesus’ day, teachers of the law were a professional class whose job it was to study the Law of Moses and instruct the people in Israel as to the proper way to follow it. How is the kingdom of God consistent with the Old Testament Law? In what way is it something new?

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.

Revelation 10:1-11

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

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

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

Background. God gives his commissioned prophet, John, the task of measuring the temple. The central question that needs to be answered is what is this temple that John measures (the measuring is symbolic of protection)?

It is important to remember that the book of Revelation is not a photograph of the future, but a God-inspired dream filled with Biblical images and symbols.  In chapter 11, there are several Biblical symbols that refer to God’s people, the church:

  • The temple. A temple is simply the place where God’s presence is concentrated. In the Old Testament the temple was the Tabernacle (a tent), and later the Temple in Jerusalem. With the coming of Jesus, the temple was Jesus himself (see John 2:19). After Christ ascended into heaven, the new place where God dwelled was in the hearts of Jesus’ followers (see Acts 2:1-4).
  • The two witnesses. John was commissioned to be God’s witness in chapter 10. Remember the scene where he ate God’s scroll in yesterday’s reading? John’s commissioning is one that has been given to all us. Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  • The two olive trees and two lampstands. We’ve seen lampstands in the book of Revelation as symbols representing the church (see Revelation 1:20). The olive trees supply the oil for the lamps. See Zechariah chapter 4 to see an example of how these go two together.

There are some numeric symbols that refer to a periods of time.

  • 3 ½ years = 42 months = 1260 days. Throughout the Bible, 3 ½ is used to describe a signficant period of trouble. Verses five and six contain two references to the prophet Elijah: the fire that consumed his enemies and the drought that Elijah initiated through his prayers (see 2 Kings 17:1-4 and 2 Kings 1:1-5). That drought lasted 3 and ½ years (see James 5:17-18).

 Based on your understanding of the symbols in this vision, what message of hope does God promise John and the churches that faced persecution under the Romans? What does God promise to do for his church, symbolized by the temple, the witnesses, and the lampstand and olive trees? What will happen to the church even when their enemies finally triumph over them?

What hope do we have in the end, despite whatever suffering we might endure today?

If there is a central message to the church it is this: It will be a difficult life for the church serving as witnesses to Jesus Christ, but God will preserve you until the end. One day we will see the culmination of all our hopes and dreams:

Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our LORD and of his 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.

Nehemiah 12:27-31. 42-47

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

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

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

Background. What do you notice about the way the Jews celebrate the completion of the wall? The Levites, or many of them, had taken to live outside the walls of Jerusalem; most of these people were the singers. Centuries before David had appointed that an important faction of the Levites would be those appointed to sing and to tend to the music (see 1 Chronicles 25).

What practices are reinstated once the celebration is over?

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, November 4, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 58

Prayer Point.  Psalm 58 is an angry prayer because David is confronted by a world where powerful men rule with injustice and cruelty. The anger seems unbecoming of a man of God, but notice that David leaves vengeance and justice in God’s hands and does not seek it on his own. Use the prayer to guide your prayers as you are confronted with injustice today. God can be trusted.

Matthew 13:36-43

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus tells a short story or parable about a farmer who planted wheat in his field. That night, however, his enemy came and sowed weeds so that the weeds grew up among the wheat. The owner’s servants realized what happened and asked to pull the weeds, but the farmer refuses for fear of uprooting the good seed. The time for sorting the good from the bad will come at the harvest.

Jesus often told such stories to the crowds, but he explained them to his disciples when they were alone. Who is the farmer in the story? Note that “Son of Man” is a title taken from Daniel 7 which Jesus used for himself to assert that he was God (see Daniel 7:13-14).Who is the enemy? What is the harvest? Who are the weeds? Who are the wheat? What does this story tell us about the nature of the church? Should we expend energy trying to have a “pure church” today?

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.

Revelation 10:1-11

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

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

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

Background. The opening of chapter 10 marks a change in John’s perspective of the vision. In chapter 4, John is invited into God’s heavenly throne room to see the world and world events from heaven’s perspective. In chapter 10, John’s perspective shifts back to earth.

A being called the “Angel of the LORD” appears at pivotal moments in the Old Testament stories. At times it is unclear whether the being is an angel or God himself. The same is true of the angelic being in Revelation 10.

Pay close attention to …

  • Based on what you have read, what in the description of this being would lead you to believe that this person may be Christ himself? Compare the description of the angel to the description of God in Revelation 4:2-5. Remember that the number seven is symbolic of God’s perfection. Where have we seen rainbows before in the Bible? See Revelation 4:3-6 and Genesis 9:12-17.
  • What does this angelic being announce? Compare this to Daniel 12:1-4.
  • Compare what happens to John to Ezekiel’s commissioning as a prophet in Ezekiel 3:1-15. Why is John asked to literally eat the words of God? How is this connected to his mission?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Nehemiah 6:1-19

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. Evidently Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab must have thought Nehemiah was a moron for they tried to lure him to Ono which is somewhere outside of Jerusalem. It would never have occurred to Nehemiah that there might be something amiss meeting with three of his enemies. These people could not defeat Nehemiah with a frontal assault so they tried a more subtle approach.

What new approaches does Sanballat take to sabotage the rebuilding of Jerusalem? What qualities Nehemiah possess, as a leader and a man of God? Is he merely a nice man, or is there something more to him?

As the pressure from Sanballat intensifies, how does Nehemiah respond? Where does Nehemiah’s courage originate?

What happens to Israel’s enemies, once the walls of Jerusalem were completed?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, November 3, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 29

Prayer Point. I remembering standing on East Beach, watching the sea whipped in an angry frenzy as Hurricane Sandy brushed our shores. These natural forces, as awesome as they are, are only dim reflection of the power of God. Lift up your fears to God and meditate on the truth that our powerful God will bless us, his people, with peace.

Luke 12:22-31

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. What are we as followers of Jesus commanded NOT to worry about? What does Jesus point to as proof that God is both willing and able to provide us with the necessities of life? If we are not supposed to worry about the necessities of life, what should be our central concern instead?

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.

Acts 20:7-12

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. This miracle takes place in the context of church service. What strikes you about the way Paul and the Christians at Troas worshiped together? How does God confirm the truth of what Paul is preaching – despite the fact that Paul went “on and on”?

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.

Nehemiah 5:1-19

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. To be sure, the obvious enemy was Sanballat and his cohorts but there was another. We can deduce that there was a serious famine in the land at that time because people were mortgaging their homes, selling themselves and their children into slavery. The building of the wall was just an added burden of the people of the land. What was depressing was that the wealthier Jews were exacting usury (illegally high interest) from their own. There were provisions in the Law of Moses regarding usury and slavery (of Jew to Jew) but these were being ignored.

How does Nehemiah attack the debt crisis facing the poor in the city of Jerusalem? How is Nehemiah different than the governors that preceded him with regards to the poor?

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.