Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday May 22, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 94

Prayer Point: How do you react when you or someone you know is afflicted by evil people? Do not seek justice for yourself, instead, ask God to take care of it instead. Do not seek your own vengeance, but place yourself in the care of the God who judges justly. Pray Psalm 94 on behalf on someone you know who is unjustly suffering.

Matthew 8:18-27

What does it take to be a follower of Jesus? What is the cost?

One note of clarification from Scot McKnight, the author of the Jesus Creed. Jewish burial practices in Jesus’ day was a two step process. When someone died, they were buried that same day and the family mourned for seven days. After a year, the bones were exhumed placed in a smaller bone box. Jewish tradition expected sons to stay and bury the bones of their father before moving on. It would have been unlikely that ’let me bury my father’ meant that the man’s father died that day, but that the man was waiting to bury the bones of the father. What would it have cost the man if he followed Jesus and did not stay to bury the bones of his father?

The sea, was the most feared source of power in the ancient world. What does it say about Jesus that the winds and the waves are at his command? What does it say about the disciples (and our) faith that we live with such fear?

Ephesians 3:14-21

Ephesians 3:14-21 is one of those moments where Paul breaks into spontaneous prayer. Notice that Paul involves the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in his prayer for the Ephesian church. Which member of the Trinity does Paul address in his prayer? What does Paul ask the Father to do through his Holy Spirit? What does he want the Ephesian church, and us, to know fully?

How would our lives be different if we believed the things Paul says about God as he closes the prayer in verses 20 and 21?

1 Samuel 16:1-13

David Anointed King The story of Saul and David (chapters 16-31:13) Now that Saul has been completely disqualified as king, David is introduced as his successor, and God trains David, through suffering, to lead his people. [ESV Notes p. 517]

Throughout all of Israel’s and the Church’s history, the LORD had, time and again, used the weak to display his power and strength. From early on, even as far back as Sarah who was 90 years old before delivering Isaac – “beyond the age of bearing children”; Joseph was young and powerless when he was sold into slavery in Egypt yet he became the next in power after Pharaoh; Deborah (a woman!) was raised up to defeat Jabin king of Canaan; Gideon and his 300 men to defeat Midian and so it continues even to the time of Paul who was told by the LORD: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” … “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” [2 Cor. 12:9-10 ESV] This time it is Samuel who is surprised at God’s choice of David.

So Samuel is grieving for Saul when the LORD asks him: “How long will you grieve over Saul?” [v. 16:1] The LORD then commissions Samuel to go to Jesse of Bethlehem. Before Samuel packs up his horn and oil, he raises his main concern: “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” [v. 16:2 ESV] The LORD’s response is curious: “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ I say this is curious because the notes from the ESV Study Bible (p. 517) indicate: “16:2 and say “I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.” This was a true but incomplete statement of the reasons for Samuel to come to Bethlehem (see v. 1), and yet the LORD told him to say it, so it should not be considered morally wrong. It seems that telling part of what one knows to be true, in order to conceal other information, is morally right in some situations, particularly adversarial situations such as this one. Moreover, the LORD had the right to hide his intentions from Saul, who had proved himself faithless.” [This explanation looks like it is dancing around the issue. The fact is that we see these events as completed in the past and then try to make sense of them. Samuel was a man of faith and was asking an obvious question regarding his personal safety. The instructions serve to give Samuel peace of mind and they come from someone whose authority is so much greater than his own. Samuel did not question the LORD. Why do we? We always apply today’s standards to the biblical context, which usually leads us to a point of judgment concerning the right and wrong of a given situation. God always wants us to act out of faith and sometimes we don’t get the answers we think we need. Here Samuel raises a question and the LORD gives him an answer; Samuel did not question the answer. “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” {Psalm 115:3 ESV} The same moral question arises when the LORD sends a spirit of deception or a spirit of delusion upon someone. This may have more to do with the working of the Holy Spirit than anything else. The LORD will take his Spirit from Saul; the ramifications of that may be such things as delusion and paranoia as we will see later. “…where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…” {Romans 5:20 ESV} The workings of God the Holy Spirit are so pervasive in our world today that they go unnoticed by most of us. These workings are the “grace [that] abounded all the more”. The greatest danger here is to accuse God falsely of not being just. j.t.]

So Samuel goes to Bethlehem and reviews seven of Jesse’s sons but the LORD has not chosen among them. The youngest, David, is in the pastures tending the sheep. He was least among his brothers. “Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, ‘Arise, anoint him, for this is he.’ Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward.” [1 Sam. 16:12-13 ESV emphasis added] The phrase “from that day forward” confirms the identity of the king in David, though he submits to Saul until Saul dies.

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