Daily Bible Readings – Thursday June 14, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 74

Prayer Point: Some prayers are laments. This psalm is a desperate cry to God from the ashes of Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem. Foreign armies had overrun it and the people wonder if God has rejected them forever. You might not be in this place, but you probably know someone that is. Pray this psalm on their behalf.

Matthew 16:13-20

Who do the crowds believe the Son of Man (Jesus) to be?

Once again Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man which is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

Jesus presses the question further, “But who do you say that I am?” How does Simon Peter reply who Jesus is? According to Jesus, who revealed this to Peter?

Why does Jesus give Simon the name ‘Peter’? What is the rock upon which Jesus will build his church?

This has been a hotly debated topic for centuries. The answer from our tradition is that the “rock” is Peter’s confession, “you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” and not the Apostle himself.

Galatians 5:16-24

There is a certain freedom in the gospel if we understand it correctly. Once we were alienated from God and under the curse of death because of our sin. But when we could not save ourselves, Jesus stepped out of heaven, lived the righteous life we did not live and died a death of judgment that we should have died. Jesus died to set us free. We do not have to pay for our sins. Our sins are forgiven. It is a free gift from God.

This is  a beautiful, but dangerous truth. It has been feared by Christian leaders for centuries. If you tell people they are free, won’t they just go crazy and do whatever they want? We have a choice now that Christ has set us free. We can live according to our sinful nature and satisfy its cravings or we can live by the Spirit. How does these acts of the sinful nature contrast to the “fruit of the Spirit”?

Sometimes the struggle in being a Christian is to believe in who you are and what you already have through Jesus. What has already happened to every Christian according in verse 24? How would our lives be different if we actually believed this?

Ecclesiastes 11:1-8   “Cast Your Bread upon the Waters”

“Cast your bread upon the waters…”  In keeping with the tenor of the Book of Ecclesiastes the ESV Study Bible writes on p. 1208: “11:1  To cast … bread up on the waters is a metaphor without any contemporary parallels [see what I mean?], so interpreters are uncertain about its meaning.  Three suggestions are most common: (1) It refers to maritime commerce.  (2) It refers to taking steps to spread out one’s financial resources in multiple directions [in today’s parlance: do put all your eggs in one basket]. (3) In older Jewish and Christian interpretation, it was taken to refer to giving to the poor, in which case finding it again represents others being kind in return [or in today’s parlance: what goes around comes around].”

Not satisfied with that I explored The Life Application Bible on page 1155 “11:1-5 In these verses Solomon summarizes that life involves both risk and opportunity.  Because life has not guarantees, we must be prepared.  “Cast your bread upon the waters” means that life has opportunities and we must seize them, not merely play it safe.  Solomon does not support a despairing attitude.  Just because life is uncertain does not mean we should do nothing.  We need a spirit of trust and adventure, facing life’s risks and opportunities with God-directed enthusiasm and faith.”

Verse 2 suggests spreading the wealth around, to hedge your bets, as it were.  Any investor will tell you the same thing, i.e. don’t put all your eggs in one basket [as indicated above].

What does verse 4 seem to be advising against?  (Laziness)

What kind of imagery does Solomon use to drive home the point that we cannot understand the work of God?  (“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb…” (Eccl. 11:5a NIV))

What is the Teacher telling us in verse 6?  (I think he is telling us that just because you plant, the work does not stop there.  The fields will still need attention – they can’t take care of themselves.)

According to verse 8 why should a man remember “the days of darkness”?  (Since “meaninglessness” is the running theme in this book, Solomon suggests that the dark days bring appreciation to a meaningless life.  When things go well all the time, we begin to take the good times for granted.  A rainy day, by contrast, enhances the splendor of a fair day.)

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