Prayer Psalm: 49
Prayer Point: The economy is a great source of fear and uncertainty today, yet Psalm 49 warns us that our wealth can never give us security. “… those who trust in their wealth … No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough – that he should live on forever and not see decay.” But there is someone who can rescue us from death, his name is Jesus. Because Jesus lives, “God will redeem my life from the grave.” Pray that we will no longer put our trust in the economy and instead build our security on God.
Why did Herod decide to keep John the Baptist alive despite John’s public condemnation of him? What changes Herod’s mind?
How does Herod interpret Jesus’ miracles in verse 1? Why? Think about similarities between John’s message and Jesus’ ministry (see Matthew chapter 3, especially verse 1).
Antioch was a unique church for its time. This church was the result of the first outreach to the Gentiles. While other Christians preached exclusively to Jews, this church took the radical step of preaching directly to those outside the Jewish community (see Acts 11:19-ff). Peter, one of the apostles from the Jerusalem church, travels to Antioch to check on what is happening. He was initially supportive of the idea that Gentiles did not need to become Jews in order to follow Christ. Why does Peter withdraw from the Gentiles? Who goes along with it?
How is Peter’s refusal to eat with Gentiles (he is bowing to Jewish custom) an affront to the gospel? The word “justified” is a legal term which means to declare someone innocent. What is it that makes us justified or right with God? Why can’t following Jewish law and getting circumcised justify us?
Peter should have known that no one kept Jewish law, not even observant Jews. If we could, why would God have gone through all the trouble of sending Jesus to die for our sin? The law and the traditions were meant to expose our sin and our need for Jesus, they were never intended to be the cure.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 A Time for Everything
Certainly over forty years ago there was a popular folk song entitled: Turn Turn Turn which had taken its lyrics from the first 8 verses of this chapter. To be sure it was an anti-war song. I think it is important for everyone to review these verses to help to add perspective to his life. All too often we will enter one of these phases of life (the negative or unhappy aspects of life) and we do not look to the other end of the verse to see the brighter side of a bad situation.
What has God placed in the hearts of men according to verse 3:11? (“He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…”)
Verse 3:12: “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be _______________ (happy) and ______ ___________ (do good) while they live.” (NIV)
According to verse 3:13 what is the gift of God? (“That every man may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God.”)
“I know that everything God does will endure forever; _________________ can be added to it and _________________ can be taken from it.” (Eccl. 3:14 NIV)
So why does God do this? (“God does it, so men will revere him.”)
Verse 3:15 harkens to verse 1:10 “Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.” So life is cyclical; what we now refer to as the “Circle of Life”.