Daily Bible Reading – Tuesday, April 22, 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.

Mark 16:9-20

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 guide you.

Background. Women were so lightly regarded that their testimony was disallowed in Jewish courts. Why do you think Jesus chose Mary Magdalene to be first to see him resurrected? How did the disciples receive her testimony? Did the testimony of the two additional disciples in verses 12-13 convince them?

Jesus is clearly upset by his disciples’ refusal to believe, but how do we know that he still accepts them? What mission does he give his unbelieving disciples? Why do think Jesus picks them? Was it because of their extraordinary faith? What hope does this give us who are also entrusted with the same mission?

The disciples begin to carry out Jesus’ instructions once he returns to heaven. How is it that this group of scared unbelieving disciples were able to fulfill such a difficult 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.

1 Corinthians 15:12-28

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? You can use the following background to guide you.

Background.  Apparently some in Corinth preached against the idea of the resurrection from the dead. How central is resurrection to the Christian faith? What are we left with without resurrection?

Paul refers to Jesus as the “first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (15:20) “Fallen asleep” was the term early Christians used to refer to physical death, emphasizing its temporary nature. For Jesus to be the “firstfruit” of those who have been raised from the dead, means that Jesus is the first resurrected human being with a new, perfect, imperishable body. If you want to know what your resurrected body will be like, take a look at Jesus in John 20.
Jesus as the“second Adam” is an important theme in 1 Corinthians. Notice how he compares and contrasts Jesus to Adam.

Through Adam all _______________________. Through Christ (the second Adam) all will be _________________. (1 Corinthians 15:22)

Why must all things be put under Christ’s feet? What will Jesus do once this happens?

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 12:28-39

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

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

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

Background. “The Hebrew title [of this book], ‘Names,’ is taken from the first line of the text, ‘These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob.’” (ESV Study Bible introduction to Exodus)  P. 139.

What does “Exodus” mean and where does it come from?  This word one can look up in the dictionary.  (“Exodus” means to go out.  This is the title of the second book of Moses in the Septuagint.)

What is Pharaoh’s directive to Moses and Aaron? (“During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Up!  Leave my people, you and the Israelites!  Go, worship the Lord as you have requested.  Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go.  And also bless me.” (Exodus 12:31-32 NIV))

Why do the “common” Egyptians urge the Hebrews to leave?  (“The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country.  ‘For otherwise,’ they said, ‘we will all die!’” (Exodus 12:33 NIV)

What do the Israelites ask of the Egyptians?  What is the Egyptian response?  Why? (See verse 36.)  (The Israelites “asked of the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing for the LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.” (Exodus 12:35-36 NIV))

How is the horde of Israelites described (i.e., how many of them left Egypt)?  This same terminology can be found in the gospels.  (There were 600,000 men on foot besides women and children. (v. 12:37))

Can you see in this passage where the LORD displays a lack of trust in the people?    (“So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading trough wrapped in clothing.” (Exodus 12:34 NIV)  It appears to me that the “rush” that the people were in prevented them from using leaven in the dough.)

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 – Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 68

Prayer Point. God is our conquering and victorious king and David invites us to praise him: “Praise be to the LORD, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.” Is there a situation in your life where God has recently delivered you? Take time today to thank God our king.

John 6:41-51

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 the second and greater Moses is the central theme of John 6. At the end of his life, Israel’s great liberator and founder commanded the people to look for a prophet like himself.

Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.

The question is: will Israel heed Moses’ words and listen to Jesus or will they reject him? Make no mistake, Jesus’ words are hard to accept. When the skeptical people demanded a miraculous sign from Jesus, he declared that he was “bread of life” sent by God to give life to the world.

Jesus is referring to one of the great moments in Israel’s history when God saved his people from starvation in the wilderness by giving them manna. This bread from heaven appeared every morning outside their tents like the morning dew. Now Jesus says he is the true and greater bread from heaven.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why the crowds have a difficult time accepting that Jesus had come down from heaven.
  • What it takes for someone to come to Jesus and believe in him.
  • How Jesus, the bread of life is greater than the bread (manna) that God gave Israel in the wilderness.

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.

Hebrews 11:13-22

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. Hebrews was written to encourage a group of Christians of Jewish ancestry who were considering giving up following Jesus. They were experiencing persecution, suffering that would cease if they returned to returned to Judaism. The writer inspires them to hang on by pointing to heroes of the faith that have gone before them.

Faith is defined as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1). This is the kind of faith that made men like Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). In today’s reading, the writer continues to tell Abraham’s story and introduces us to Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Ironically, these were all heroes of Israel’s past, but they are being used here to inspire these Christians to keep their faith in Jesus.

Pay close attention to …

  • What is true of all the men of faith that have been listed so far (Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham) (see verses 13-15).
  • How Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph are examples of faith, believing the promises of God even if they didn’t live to see them fulfilled. Here are the Old Testament stories that the writer of Hebrews is referring to: Abraham (Genesis 22), Isaac (Genesis 27 – this one is a little ironic!), Jacob (Genesis 49) and Joseph (Genesis 50:24-25).

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.

Genesis 21:1-21

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.  Speaking of “remembering Abraham” it is now about a year later and…  What promise was fulfilled?

[“Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised.  Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.  Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. (v. 21:1-3 NIV)]

Keep in mind that names were very significant in biblical times.  What does “Isaac” mean?
[From the footnotes in the NIV we learn that Isaac means “he laughs”.]

What is significant about Isaac’s name?
[Way back in Chapter 17 the LORD announced to Abraham that he would have a son by Sarah.  Abraham prostrated himself in homage to the Lord but while in that position he sniggered thinking, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?” (v. 17:17 NIV).  Abraham denied laughing but thought the notion of having a baby at age 100 ludicrous.  Interestingly, and unaware of what Abraham had done, once Sarah had heard this good news her reaction was very much the same as her husband’s.]

Sarah and Hagar go head-to-head once again but this time Sarah has a bargaining chip.  What does Sarah demand of Abraham and what promises does the Lord make to him (two promises)?
[Sarah demands that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away; the Lord reiterates that “it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned”; and “I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring.” (vv. 21:12-13 NIV) emphasis added]

So, the next morning, Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael off with some provisions and “a skin of water”.  The two wander in the desert until the water was gone and then they sat down to die.  She saw a “bowshot” away from her son because she could not watch the boy die.

What happens next?  What is the significance of “bowshot”?
[Hagar and Ishmael were not present when the LORD had promised Abraham that he would make of Ishmael a great nation for they were despondent.  An angel of the LORD opened Hagar’s eyes to reveal a well of water.  The LORD, at that time, made to Hagar the same promise regarding Ishmael as he had made to Abraham.  The “bowshot” is significant because in time Ishmael will become an archer. (v. 21:20)]

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 – Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 38

Prayer Point. Will God save us from the consequences of our own sin? Psalm 38 is proof that he does. In this psalm God will save us not only from the suffering due to others’ sin, but also the struggles that come from our own failures. What are you struggling with today? Confess your part in them to God, but also boldly ask him to save you.

Matthew 23:1-12

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. ‘Moses’ seat’ is a symbolic reference to the authority of Moses. The Pharisees act as interpreters of the law for the Jewish people and therefore were the successors of Moses.

Why should the Pharisees be obeyed? Why shouldn’t they be copied? What is the problem with the Pharisees’ practice of the law?

What is Jesus’ vision of leadership and how does it to contrast the Pharisees’ view of authority?

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 1:17-2:7

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

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

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

Background. John sees a vision of the risen, glorified Jesus in a dream induced by the Holy Spirit. What is Jesus’ message to John? John lives in a time of fear when the Romans wielded great and invincible power. They had ruled for hundreds of years and the end of their empire was nowhere in sight. How does Jesus declare himself to be greater than the power of Rome and all the powers of this world?

What does Jesus command John to do? John had seen the humanity of Jesus. He ate with him, he fished with him. Why was it necessary for John, and the seven churches, to see such a dazzling image of Jesus?

In yesterday’s reading (Revelation 1:12-15) we saw Jesus standing among seven lampstands and holding in his right hand seven stars. What do the lampstands and the stars represent? If Jesus stands among the lampstands in this vision, what assurance does that give the seven churches who are undergoing persecution?

Revelation 2:1-7 is the first of seven letters that were sent to each of the seven churches in Asia (Western Turkey) that John oversaw. You may have noticed that John actually wrote “to the angel of the church of Ephesus.” This is not a guardian angel, the letters would not make any sense if this was the case, but a figure of speech referring to “the heart” of the local church. These letters are to be understood as personal messages from Jesus (“the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand …”) to each church.

What words of praise does Jesus have for the church in Ephesus? What words of warning does he have for them? What will happen to them if they don’t repent, that is humbly return to God? What promise does Jesus offer to the Ephesians if they overcome (think: patiently endure persecution)? For a fuller description of the tree of life see Revelation 22:1-5.

Jesus references a group called the Nicolaitans. Not much is known about this group except to say that they were a group of Christians who had fallen into false teaching and practiced a life style that compromised with the pagan society.

As we look at each of these seven letters, see if any the shortcomings and successes are reflected in your own life.

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.

Amos 8:1-14

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. The opening of this chapter needs some explanation which might not be gleaned just by reading it.

[ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1672

“8:1-2 The Hebrew terms for summer fruit (gayits) and for end (gets sound alike. In Hebrew literature this kind of wordplay is very common. Beyond this, ‘summer fruit’ did signify the last of the harvest. See Jer. 8:20:

‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended.

and we are not saved.’

The long summer of God’s patience has finally come to an end, and there has been no harvest of repentance.”]

[The word temple used in verse three can be translated also as palace. There was only one temple and that was in Jerusalem and not in Israel. Perhaps “palace” would be a better choice because what was practiced in Israel’s places of worship was idolatry. – j.t.]

The NIV translates the first verses thusly:

“This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. ‘What do you see, Amos?’ he asked.

‘A basket of ripe fruit,’ I answered.

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

“‘In that day,’ declares the Sovereign LORD, ‘the songs in the temple [palace] will turn to wailing. Many, many bodies – flung everywhere! Silence!’

“Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land.”

What is the charge leveled against Israel in verse 4? On what is their heart bent? How do the people dishonor the Sabbath? What does “deal deceitfully with false balances” (v. 5b) mean? What are the poor and needy likened to in verse 6?(Merchandise) The LORD has sworn that he will never forget any of their deeds. How does that manifest itself? The LORD talks of the sun going down at noonday and darkness in broad daylight. What does he say about the feasts and the singing? To what does the LORD liken this miserable day of judgment? (v. 10b) What kind of famine does the LORD promise to send? Where can the word of the LORD be found? What is to become of the “lovely virgins and the young men”?

What is the guilt of Samaria? The principal sin of Samaria (Israel) had always been idolatry. This is further underscored by “As your god lives, O Dan” in verse 14. Dan was one of the two places where Jeroboam (I) established a golden calf as an alternate place of worship for the Northern Tribes (outside of Jerusalem). The mention of Beersheba is explained in the ESV Bible Study note below which was referenced in Chapter 5 verse 5. It can apply here as well.

[ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1666

“5:5 … Since Beersheba was in Judah, it is not clear what its significance was for the Israelites. Perhaps people from the northern kingdom made pilgrimage there, remembering its association with the patriarchs (Gen. 21:14-19, 31; 26:23, 33; 46:1-5); perhaps they also felt that there was a special power available there.”]

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.