Prayer Psalm: 128
Prayer Point: To fear the Lord is to obey him, trust him, and follow him. Meditate on the blessings that are promised in Psalm 128 to those who fear God. Repent of your unbelief. Pray for the faith to believe these promises.
There was a raging debate among Jewish rabbis about divorce in Jesus’ day. Some rabbis believed that it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife only for infidelity. Others believed that a man could divorce his wife for any reason, even if she burned the soup! The Pharisees bring the question to Jesus because they are trying to pigeonhole him by forcing him to take sides and turn certain factions against him. Does Jesus fit into either camp, why or why not? Why did God create a divorce law for Israel? How much value does Jesus place on marriage? How does Jesus feel about divorce and remarriage?
Children in the ancient world did not have the social standing that they have today. We worship youth in our culture and maybe overly so, but in Jesus’ day, children were often marginalized as we do the poor, the ugly and the elderly. How does Jesus view those who are not valued by our world? How are people to enter the kingdom of God? Who are they to identify with?
2 Corinthians 2:14-3:6
Paul uses the familiar image of a military hero marching through a conquered city with prisoners of war parading behind him. Christ is the conquering king and Paul and all Christians are his prisoners captive not by force, but by the force of his love. What does God do through his captive people? Why do some find the prisoners of Christ revolting while others find in them the fragrance of life?
What are the marks of a true messenger of Jesus? What will not motivate them?
Paul was a traveling missionary who planted new churches and encouraged existing ones. Local churches often asked these traveling ministers to come with letters of recommendation to prove their authenticity. What letters of recommendation does Paul offer the Corinthian church? What does this tell about the nature of Paul’s relationship with these Christians?
There was an Old Testament prophecy that declared:
Jeremiah 31:33 This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
God had given his people Israel the Ten Commandments, the law written on tablets of stone. But as the saying goes, “you can’t legislate morality.” The law of stone could only point out our sin. It could not change us. So God announced through his prophet one day, that he would write his law on the hearts of the people so that they would love him. In other words, God himself would change the hearts of his people. Paul refers to this in 2 Corinthians 2:3-6 as the law written with the Spirit of God on the hearts of his people.
What was the result of Paul’s ministry to the Corinthians (see verse 3)? Where did Paul (and us) get the power to do this?
Exodus 7:8-24 The Ten Plagues – the First (Blood)
Care to guess how old Moses was when he began his ministry to Pharaoh?
[Moses was eighty years old when he first spoke to Pharaoh. With the LORD age doesn’t matter: eighty is still young enough to serve the LORD. Aaron was even older – eighty-three.]
Moses and Aaron are strengthened by the LORD’s words (Chapter 6:1) and so march in to Pharaoh with great confidence. What demonstration do Aaron and Moses perform before Pharaoh? What are the results?
[Moses and Aaron make their staff become a serpent but Pharaoh’s magicians manage to do the same thing. There was only one difference: Moses’ serpent devoured the serpents of Pharaoh.]
If Moses and Aaron thought this demonstration would soften Pharaoh’s attitude about letting the people go, they are in for a great disappointment. On the contrary, Pharaoh’s heart becomes harder. What is next in store for Pharaoh?
[Moses and Aaron will meet Pharaoh on the bank of the Nile there to taunt him into letting the people go. Moses threatens Pharaoh that he will change the water of the Nile and the lakes and ponds into blood and not only that, he will also change the water in various vessels into blood. Pharaoh’s magicians also made the water turn into blood. Then the fish will die and there will be a great stench throughout the land. The only water untouched will be that which is dug for out of the ground. The water will be contaminated for seven days. And yet, Pharaoh is unmoved.]