Daily Bible Readings, Saturday, April 15, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 27

Prayer Point. Fear and hardship are two enemies of our soul, calling us to give up.  The psalmist calls us to refocus our hopes and desires, “Seek his face! Your face I will seek!”  Pray that as we face difficulties in our lives that we will not take our eyes off of Jesus.

Romans 8:1-11

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 guide you.

Background. Paul has just discovered in chapter 7 that his battle with sin is so deep, that he is unable to save himself. Trying hard to follow God’s Law has left him in despair.  The Law, ironically, made Paul want to sin more. He was a prisoner of his sin and unable to free himself. If you don’t believe this, try this experiment.  Tell yourself not to lust for a day and watch what happens.  I’d imagine that your attempts would end the way Paul’s did.

Romans 7:24 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death!”

The answer to this desperate question comes in chapter 8. Two heroes will be introduced: Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Jesus will be compared to a sin offering in today’s readings. The Law of Moses demanded that unblemished animals be sacrificed for the sins of the people.  The animal symbolically died  for the sinner. The Scripture is clear that the blood of bulls and goats could not forgive sins.  This, instead, was a picture of what Jesus, our true sacrifice, would do for us.

Pay close attention to …

  • Who can free us from the law of sin and death and how.
  • What Jesus the Son did which the Law could not.
  • The contrast between life according to the sinful nature (flesh) and life according to the Spirit.
  • Who frees us from the control of the sinful nature.
  • What the Holy Spirit did for Christ that he will also do for us.

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.

Lamentations 3:37-58

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 background to help guide you.

Background. Again!  Yet another comparison to Job.  Check out Chapter 38 and 39 of Job.  Can you draw any parallels with Lamentations 3:37-38?  What question is asked here that we ought to ask ourselves?  What is the author’s solution to the troubles he is now facing?  What is preventing prayer from getting through (verse 44)?  What change of perspective occurs in verse 54-55?  Why is the writer crying?  How long will the writer cry?   Read Psalms 34:19-22.  Make note of the parallels between Psalm 34 and verses 55-58.

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 – Sunday, April 6, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 145

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

John 8:46-59

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. What is God asking me to do?
  • Repent. How have I failed to obey what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.
  • Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey what I have read?

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

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

Romans 12:1-21

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

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

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

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

Pay close attention to …

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

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. What is God asking me to do?
  • Repent. How have I failed to obey what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.
  • Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey what I have read?

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

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

Exodus 3:16-4:12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. What is God asking me to do?
  • Repent. How have I failed to obey what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.
  • Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey what I have read?

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, March 30, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 46

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

John 6:27-40

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

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

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

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

Pay close attention to …

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

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. What is God asking me to do?
  • Repent. How have I failed to obey what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.
  • Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey what I have read?

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

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

Romans 8:11-25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. What is God asking me to do?
  • Repent. How have I failed to obey what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.
  • Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey what I have read?

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

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

Genesis 48:8-22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. What is God asking me to do?
  • Repent. How have I failed to obey what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.
  • Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey what I have read?

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

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

Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, March 23, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 34

Prayer Point. David is remembering when God miraculously saved him and allowing that memory to move to worship. Take time today to think about a time when God intervened in your life and offer God your own prayer of praise.

John 5:25-29

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 guide you.

Background. How would you describe Jesus’ (the Son) relationship with God the Father?  Who takes the lead?  What authority has God the Father given his Son?  Who does the Son seek to please? How are we caught up in this love story between the Father and the Son?

The Son of Man is not a generic title for Jesus, but a reference to the vision the prophet Daniel received which is recorded in Daniel 7:13-14.  In this vision there are two characters ‘The Ancient of Days’ (God the Father) and ‘one like a son of man’ (Jesus).

In my vision at night I looked and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.  He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.   He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away … (Daniel 7:13-14)

How does Daniel 7:13-14 shed light on who Jesus is?

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.

Romans 8:1-10

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. In Christ there is now no _______________.

Paul sets up a contrast between the ‘law of sin and death’ and the ‘law of the Spirit of Life’.  What is the Law of the Spirit of Life able to do, that the law of sin and death was unable to do? How did Jesus set us free from the law of sin and death?

The law of sin and death (Old Testament) demanded death for those who broke it, unless someone who was perfect and lived up to its requirements gave up his life as a sacrifice for those who were condemned. Jesus’ death releases us from the curse of the law of sin and death so that we might live a  new life according to the law of the Spirit of Life.

How does life controlled by the flesh/sinful nature contrast to life controlled by the Spirit?  What will the Spirit of God do for our bodies that are deadened by sin?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

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

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

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

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

Genesis 44:1-17

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

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

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

Background. So Joseph “sells” all the grain these Hebrews can carry and then sends them on their way.  The very interesting thing here is that the boys go on their way fat dumb and happy.  For some reason, it does not occur to them that Zaphenath-Paneah may pull the same stunt again – which he does.  What is different this time?

[Joseph, again, puts the silver back into the grain sacks of his brothers, but this time he also put a silver cup (from his own table) into Benjamin’s sack.  It looks like these guys are not quick studies; they don’t seem to learn from their experiences.]

Joseph’s steward catches up with the Hebrews and accuses them of theft.  It is clear that Jacob’s sons did not check their sacks and, without looking into them, made a rash vow.  What was it?
[“But they said to him, ‘Why does my lord say such things?  Far be it from your servants to do anything like that!  We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks.  So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house?  If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.’” (Genesis 44:7-9 NIV)]

Now Joseph’s steward examined all the sacks of Judah and his brothers and lo and behold, they find the missing cup in Benjamin’s sack.  It now appears that Benjamin is under a death’s sentence.  These guys have got to be saying to themselves: “How are we ever going to explain this to dad?  This is his greatest fear and disappointment.  Remember how he said: ‘As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.’?”  Then they all return to Egypt, to Zaphenath-Paneah to face the music.  What hint does Joseph give his brothers as to his identity?
[“Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him.  Joseph said to them, ‘What is this you have done?  Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?’  (Genesis 44:14-15 NIV)]

Joseph decides not to imprison nor enslave these men of Canaan.  Instead, he decides to keep Benjamin with him and to release the others.  Is this not a sentence worse than death?

You will have to wait until next week for the exciting conclusion.

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, March 16, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 84

Prayer Point. Without pain, we would lose our hunger for heaven. Pray that God will use the pain in our lives to increase our longing for heaven, our true home, and God, our true Father.  Pray for God’s strength to persevere while we wait.

John 5:19-24

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 has just deliberately offended the crowd by violating their interpretation of the Sabbath Law. The Sabbath Law, which is the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8-10), directed the Israelites to work six days a week, but commanded them to rest on the seventh day; Saturday. Jesus healed a crippled man on the Sabbath (see yesterday’s reading – John 5:1-18) and commanded the man to carry his mat and walk.  Both activities, the healing and carrying your mat, were ironically considered to be work and therefore unlawful  on the Sabbath.

The Jews want to kill Jesus because he had the temerity to challenge their understanding of the Law of Moses. Who does he think he is anyway? God?

Pay close attention to …

  • The relationship between the Father and the Son (Jesus). Who takes the lead and who follows. What the Father has entrusted to his Son and for what purpose. Who is dishonored if the Son is dishonored.
  • What is true of those who believe the words of the Son.
  • Where Jesus gets the authority to give eternal life to those who believe in him.
  • The event that will vindicate Jesus’ claims (see verses 28-29).

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.

Romans 6:3-14

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

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

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

Background.

The picture here of baptism is one of immersion. Here the sinner is placed under the water which symbolizes the death or the drowning of our old lives. When the convert is raised out of the water, he is raised from the dead and into a new life.

In what ways does our baptism connect us to the life and death of Jesus Christ? What is the significance for us in Christ’s death? What has died in us as we died with Christ? What difference does Christ’s resurrection make in our own lives?

What is true about sin in our lives now that we have died and risen with Jesus Christ? Why can we never say “I am a sinner and I can not change”?

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 41:14-45

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. 

So Joseph is freed and summoned to Pharaoh’s court whereupon Pharaoh recounts both of the dreams which he had.  What is Joseph’s rather succinct assessment?
[“Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, ‘The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same’” (Genesis 41:25)]

But, that is not all.  What is the interpretation of the dreams?
“It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.  Seven (!) years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, but seven (!) years of famine will follow them.”  (Genesis 41:28-30a NIV)

What is the significance of the dream being in two forms?
[“The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.”  (Genesis 41:32 NIV)]

The next scene is one of shameless self-promotion.  Who else could Pharaoh have chosen to undertake the management of the country’s resources than Joseph?  So Joseph is chosen by the very wise Pharaoh to take care of Egypt’s food supply.  And more than that!

How high does Pharaoh raise Joseph?
[Joseph is named second only to Pharaoh in power and authority.  He becomes, as it were, like a prince among the people.]

Why, do you suppose, Pharaoh changed Joseph’s name?  (The bible is not helpful with this question.)
[We have seen this several times already.  God changed Abram’s name to Abraham; God changed Jacob’s name to Israel; and we have seen that Daniel and his friends names were changed when they were removed to Nebuchadnezzar’s court in Babylon.  Abram’s name was changed to Abraham after “he believed God” about God’s promises that he would become the father of many nations.  Jacob’s name was changed because he wrestled with God and prevailed – which is what Israel means.  Joseph would have been considered very wise and shrewd – especially, as it turns out, he was right – that Pharaoh would have honored him with a new name.

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 – Saturday, February 15, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 136

Prayer Point. God deserves our gratitude because he is both our Creator and our Savior. Make this psalm your own by meditating on God’s creation and remembering the times he has rescued you and offering your thanks in response.

John 8:47-59

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obey. 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.

Romans 14:1-23

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. In a church there are going to be some people who have stronger faith and others who have weaker faith.  For Paul, strong faith is related to a better understanding of Jesus, the gospel, and how it is lived out. In this chapter, those with stronger faith understood that there is no problem with eating meat or that the special holidays from Judaism no longer needed to be honored. But those of weaker faith had not yet come to that level of wisdom.So what do you do if there is a difference of opinion?  How are those of strong faith to treat those of weak faith?  Why?

What freedom has Paul chosen not to exercise?  Why?  For what purpose are we sometimes called to give up our rights and freedoms?

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 24:28-38, 49-51

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. Hospitality is shown to Abraham’s servant (quite unlike the kind of hospitality we are accustomed to today).  The servant then replays the events that had just happened outside.  Whom do we meet for the first time?

[We meet Rebekah’s brother Laban.  He will be instrumental in the story of Jacob many years later.]

What is Laban and Bethuel’s response to the servant’s offer of Isaac as husband to Rebekah?
[“Laban and Bethuel answered, ‘This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other.  Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has directed.’” (v. 24:50-51 NIV)]

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 – Friday, February 14, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 91

Prayer Point. Are you or someone you know struggling with fear? Meditate and pray through this psalm. Remember that because God rescued Jesus from the grace, he will also be a refuge to those who belong to Jesus.

John 8:33-47

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 guide you.

Background. When Jesus offers freedom to the Jews who began to follow him, they are deeply offended. As natural born citizens of the nation of Israel they believed, as we say in New England, they were “all set.” To be full-blooded descendents of Abraham securely placed them among God’s people or so they believed.

What are all men and women slaves to whether they be Jewish or not? According to Jesus, what does it take to be a true descendant of Abraham or a child of God? Is it a matter of genetics or something else? What does it take to be a child of the devil?

To be a true child of Abraham, you must do the things Abraham did (verse 39). What did Abraham do? He simply believed the promises of God and lived his life accordingly.

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.

Romans 13:1-14

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 guide you.

Background. How are Christians called to relate to the governments they live under?  Why?  Do you think this includes corrupt and oppressive governments?  Think about the government the Roman Christians lived under.

How does Paul summarize the second half of the Ten Commandments (Romans 13:9-10)?  What are we to do as we wait for the return of Jesus (this is what Paul means by ‘the night is almost over the day is almost here’)?  Should we spend time speculating about when Jesus is coming or is God calling us to do something else?

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 27:46-28:4, 10-22

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. What is Rebekah’s worry about Jacob’s bride?

[“If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from the Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.” (v. 27:46 NIV)

What is Isaac’s advice?
[“Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel.  Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.” (v. 28:2 NIV)]

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.