Daily Bible Readings – Monday May 28, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 9

Prayer Point: I believe that the hardest of Jesus’ teachings is his command to love our enemies and turn the other cheek. My immediate reaction is” What about justice? What about my security? See if Psalm 9 has anything to say about God and justice and security and pray for the faith to believe its promises.

Matthew 12:22-32

The people of Israel in Jesus’ day lived with the expectation that a great king, a descendant of King David, would come to restore peace and justice in Israel. This Messiah or Christ would establish God’s eternal kingdom on earth. What does Jesus do that causes the people to believe that he might just be this king? What is the Pharisee’s counter-explanation and what makes it so ridiculous?

It is the unbelief of the Pharisees that causes them to willfully blind themselves to who Jesus is and what he is doing. They would rather believe that demons were casting out other demons than believe that Jesus is in fact sent from God to establish his kingdom on earth.

What sin can be forgiven? Note that Jesus uses the title, “the Son of Man” to refer to himself (see Daniel 7:13-14). What sin cannot be forgiven?

1 Timothy 1:1-17

The book of 1 Timothy is a personal letter from the Apostle Paul to Timothy who was a member of his missionary team that traveled around the Roman Empire establishing new churches. Paul was the leader and Timothy, being considerably younger, was mentored by him. Timothy has reached a new stage in his development. He is now on his own, as Paul has moved on from Ephesus to the province of Macedonia.

What kind of language does Paul use to describe his relationship with Timothy in verse 2? What mission has Paul given Timothy in the city of Ephesus (see verse 3)? How were the false teachings hurting the church? What does true teaching produce (see verse 5)?

Apparently, these “teachers” were fighting over minutiae in the Old Testament Law while ignoring the purpose of the law which is to love God and our neighbor. In other words they were using the law “improperly.” The Law was primarily written to expose sin, which is why Paul says in verse 9 that the law is made for lawbreakers and not the “righteous.” These false teachers were starting fights about how to apply Jewish law, when Paul calls them to simply follow Jesus’ way of love. If they do that, they won’t have to worry about breaking the law.

For Paul, love for God flowed out of understanding the depths of God’s love for us, not fighting over details. How big was God’s love in Paul’s life? What was Paul like when God’s grace came to him? For what purpose did God save Paul, the worst of sinners? Why do you think worship of God flows so naturally out of Paul?

Proverbs 10:1-12

“The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.” (Luke 11:31 NIV) I will endeavor to connect these proverbs with Jesus.

Just a word or two about the purpose and teaching of Proverbs. Taken from The NIV Study Bible p. 954. “According to the prologue (chapter 1:1-7), Proverbs was written to give “prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young.” (1:4), and to make the wise even wiser (1:5). The frequent references to “my son(s)” (1:8, 10; 2:1; 3:1; 4:1; 5:1) emphasize instructing the young and guiding them in a way of life that yields rewarding ends. Acquiring wisdom and knowing how to avoid the pitfalls of folly lead to personal well-being, happy family relationships, fruitful labors and good standing in the community. Although Proverbs is a practical book dealing with the art of living, it bases its practical wisdom solidly on the fear of the Lord (1:7; see Psalms 34:8-14). Throughout the book reverence for God and reliance on him are set forth as the math to life, prosperity and security. Such godly wisdom is a virtual “tree of life” that yields the happy life that God fashioned the creation to produce…..

“The major collections of proverbs that follow range widely across the broad spectrum of human situations, relationships and responsibilities offering insights, warnings, instructions and counsels along with frequent motivations to heed them.”

It is important to keep in mind that the proverbial sayings do not connect from one verse to the next. They are written in couplets, which only means that the first part of the proverb is retold in the second part, as you will observe.

Case in point: “A wise son brings ___________ (joy) to his father, but a foolish son _______________ (grief) to his mother.

“Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death.” Check out Chapter 19 of Matthew to see how Jesus put this proverb into his teaching. (The young man who came to Jesus asking “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus then tells him, in essence, to love God and to love his neighbor to which the young man responds that he had done that. But the young man still thought something was lacking. Jesus told him to rid himself of his wealth – give it to the poor. The man was sad because he had great wealth.)

“He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1:53 NIV) How does this restate verse 3? (“The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.”)

What does verse 4 condemn? (Laziness)

Review Luke Chapter 15 – the Prodigal Son. Can you see a connection here with verse 5? (We have two sons: one remained at home to work the fields – the wise son; the other leaves with his inheritance and squanders it – like “sleeping during a harvest”.)

Please read Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43 as you look at verse 6 of Proverbs 10. [“Jesus told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, “Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?” “An enemy did this,” he replied. The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?” “No,” he answered, “because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At the time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.” …

“Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are the angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.’” (Matthew 13:24-30 and 36-43 NIV)
What, from Matthew 13, are the blessings to crown the head of the righteous? (“The righteous will shine like the sun.”)

What kind of violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked according to Matthew 13? (“They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”)

The responses from the two previous questions also address the seventh verse of Chapter 10 of Proverbs.

There are numerous verses throughout the Book of Proverbs which talk about the wise heart accepting commands, rebukes, corrections etc. As for the chattering fool coming to ruin, look as close as verses 10 and 14 in this same chapter to see that point made again. While not speaking to this proverb, Jesus has some choice words regarding “chatter”. “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean’. (Luke 15:10b-11 NIV) And, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33-37 NIV)

“The man of __________________ (integrity) walks securely, but he who __________ _____________ ________ (takes crooked paths) will be found out. (v. 9)
Verse 10: “He who winks maliciously causes grief…” (Proverbs 10:10a NIV) We understand winking as a sort of acknowledgement, perhaps a certain familiarity or as a signal of a joke. Winking in this society was looked upon more suspiciously as described in Proverbs 6:12: “A scoundrel and villain who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart – he always stirs up dissension.” (Proverbs 6:12-14 NIV) As early as Job we can see the seamy side of “winking”: “Why has your heart carried you away, and why do your eyes flash [read “wink”] so that you vent your rage against God and pour out such words from your mouth?” (Job 15:12-13 NIV) We think of winking as harmless, and I believe it is, but in those days it was an indicator of something untoward. Even in Acts: “In the past God overlooked [read “winked at”] such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:30 NIV) This would more describe our current notion of winking. The verse closes with the unflattering refrain we saw in verse 8: “and a chattering __________ (fool) comes to __________ (ruin).
Verse 11: “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life…” The Psalmist put it this way in Psalm 39: “I said, ‘I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.” (Psalm 39:1 NIV) It seems to me that if our aim is to have a “mouth of the righteous” the best route would be to limit the time we use it. “The less said the better.” “If you cannot say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” Peter put it best when asked by Jesus: “‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’” (John 6:67-68 NIV)
“______________ (Hatred) stirs up dissension, but ____________ (love) covers over all wrongs.” (Proverbs 10:12 NIV) Peter rendered this thought this way: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)

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