Prayer Psalm: 93
Prayer Point: The sea was the most feared force in the ancient world and consequently was equated with the power of evil. What do you fear the most? Meditate on the truth that the pounding waves of our greatest fears can not shake God nor the world he has made. Pray for the faith to believe it as you go throughout the day.
A man approaches Jesus asking him to settle an inheritance dispute with his brother. What is a far greater danger to this man than losing his portion of his inheritance? Why is it foolish to dedicate your life to accumulation of wealth? How does the rich fool’s life contrast to the “give us this day our daily bread” life that Jesus calls us to?
James 1:2-8, 16-18
James was a letter written for a general audience and circulated among the churches. The “12 tribes scattered among the nations” refers to the church scattered around the Roman Empire and beyond. It is an intensely practical letter focusing primarily on how the faith is to be lived out in every day life.
What are Christians to do with suffering? What good can come from suffering (see verses 3-4 and 12)? What are Christians to do when they find themselves confused and lacking wisdom? How should Christians live when they are poor? How should they handle wealth?
What should Christians not do in response to temptation? Where does temptation lead?
Who is the source of all good things? When James talks about birth in verse 18, he is not talking about physical birth, but spiritual re-birth. We are the first-fruits in the sense that Jesus is bringing in a harvest of people whom he has saved. We are the first-fruits of the creation that Jesus is restoring. Who has made this happen?
Leviticus 25:1-17 The Sabbath Year and the Year of Jubilee
Well, if the week has seven days, and one is to rest on one of the seven days (the Sabbath), it stands to reason that the LORD would declare, with regard to tilling the land, that the seventh year would be a year of rest for the land.
Now, if planting is forbidden, how are the people to gather food for themselves? (“Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you – for yourself, your manservant and maidservant, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your lands. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.” (Leviticus 25:6-7 NIV))
What makes the Year of Jubilee the Year of Jubilee? Again with the sevens. Seven times seven comes to forty-nine. Seven sabbaths of years. During the seventh (!) month (that month of the New Year, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths) the trumpet will sound on the tenth day of the seventh month (the Day of Atonement). What happens then? (“Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines.” (Leviticus 25:10-11 NIV) It is traditional in our culture to refer to marriages which have reached fifty years as a “Golden Jubilee”. I wonder if there is a connection to this.)
“In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to his own __________________. (Property)
If land had to be sold during the time up to the Year of Jubilee, how was it to be returned to the rightful owner? (The price of the land was to be, what we call, prorated. “You are to buy from your countryman on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. And he is to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops. When the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what he is really selling you is the number of crops.” (Leviticus 25:15-16 NIV))
The Lord wants to believe his people are honest. What does he tell them to encourage them to honesty? (“Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God.” (Leviticus 25:17 NIV))