Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday June 13, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 119:73-96

Prayer Point: Psalm 119, the longest of all the psalms, is a tribute to one man’s devotion to God and his laws, his way of life. This section is a plea to God to help him overcome the barriers we face in following God. There is our limited minds. There are enemies in this world. There is suffering that discourages us. Pray that God will overcome them all in our lives.

Matthew 16:1-12

Jesus never performed a miracle to prove who he was. He only performed miracles as an expression of compassion or to confirm a faith that was already present. What motivated the Pharisees and Sadducees to ask Jesus to ask for a miraculous sign? What is the only sign that Jesus is willing to give them?

The sign of Jonah worked for Jesus on two levels. First, Jonah was an Old Testament prophet who in a sense came back from the dead. He was swallowed by a great fish, yet three days later he was vomited onto a beach. Jesus will soon die, but will emerge from the tomb on the third day.

The story of Jonah is also a critique of the pride and arrogance of the Jewish religious authorities. Jonah was sent to the Assyrians, a mortal enemy of Israel, to warn them of God’s coming wrath. Jonah runs away because he is afraid of what might happen. They will believe the message, repent and God will forgive them.  God caught up with Jonah as his ship sailed to Tarshish, and caused him to be thrown overboard and swallowed by a fish. The great irony of the story is that the Assyrians repent while Jonah is angry that they have received the same grace he received. By the end of the story the Assyrians are embraced by God while Jonah, the prophet of God is on the outside looking in. So it was with the Pharisees and Sadducees. They spurned Jesus and the grace he offered, but it was the tax-collectors, prostitutes and even the Gentiles who flocked to Jesus.

With this in mind, what do you think Jesus means by “watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees? Yeast or leaven was symbolic of sin in Jewish culture. What did they get wrong concerning Jesus?

Galatians 5:1-15

Why does Paul equate submitting to circumcision to a return to slavery?

The term ‘justification’ is a legal term meaning to ‘declare someone to be innocent or righteous.’
What will happen to the Galatians’ relationship with Christ if they attempt to justify themselves by keeping Jewish Law and submitting to circumcision? What does God value more than circumcision (verse 6)?

Under Paul’s teaching, the Galatian church had flourished with a spirit of joy and freedom. What has happened to this church now that they were following Jewish Law as a means of making them “real Christians”? How have they changed? How are they ironically violating the spirit of the Old Testament Law which was “love your neighbor as yourself”?

Ecclesiastes 9:11-18         Chance

What is the next pearl of optimism from the Teacher?  (Well, there isn’t one, but he does say this: “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” (Eccl. 9:11 NIV))

What does Solomon say about when a man’s hour will come?  (“Moreover no one knows when his hour will come: … so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.” (Eccl. 9:12 NIV))

What example does Solomon talk about which greatly impressed him (in verses 13-16)?  (“There was once a small city with only a few people in it.  And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it.  Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom.  But nobody remembered that poor man.  So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.”  But the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are no longer heeded.” )

Verses 17 and 18 appear to be something like a re-telling of verses 13-16 except for that part of the one sinner destroying much good.

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