Daily Bible Readings – Friday June 22, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 91

Prayer Point: I’d imagine that this psalm was a favorite of Jesus’. He experienced the terrors of the night in the Garden of Gethsemane. Even though he went to cross the next day, God the Father rescued him from the grave on the third day. Jesus understood that God the Father was his shelter, refuge and fortress. And that is what  gave the courage to live the that he lived. These promises are also ours, not because we deserve them, but because we belong to Jesus. Pray for the faith today to believe this.

Matthew 18:21-35

“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

The conventional wisdom among rabbis in Jesus’ day was that a person should forgive someone three times. Anything beyond that was enabling. Peter, sensing that Jesus has a more expansive view of forgiveness, increases it to seven times.

How much larger is Jesus’ understanding of forgiveness than our own?

What is your impression of the servant who was forgiven the debt of 10,000 talents? Do you think he deserves his fate?

Here is some background information on the debts that were owed. A talent was the largest unit of measure and 10,000 was the largest number used in Greek language in the first century. In other words, this debt is astronomical.

The debt owed the unmerciful servant is considerably smaller by comparison but is still significant. A denarius was a day’s wage, so one hundred denarii was a third of laborer’s annual salary. Can you imagine taking a financial hit like that?

Here’s something else to think about. Jesus turns the tables on us in verse 35 by identifying the unmerciful servant with us. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart. If we are unmerciful servants, who is the forgiving king? What did it cost the king to forgive us?

What are some of the 100 denarii debts that are owed you? How does the understanding of the debt we owe God affect the way we are able to forgive those who hurt us? What will happen to us if we fail to let go of the debts that are owed us?

Romans 2:25-3:8

The Jews in Paul’s day believed that they were born into a special relationship with God and relied on their ethnicity and their observance of Jewish law and traditions to secure their relationship with God.  They divided the world into two groups God’s people (the circumcised) and not God’s people (the uncircumcised.)

Is being circumcised as a Jew and keeping Jewish Law enough to make someone right with God? What does it take for someone to truly be “circumcised”? Can anyone live up to this standard, in other words, can anyone not be a lawbreaker?

What according to Paul is a greater and truer form of circumcision than outward circumcision? What performs this true circumcision?

If having the Law and being circumcised cannot make you right with God, does it have any value? Why or why not? Does the unfaithfulness of religious people (the circumcised) nullify God’s faithfulness?

Paul is making his case quite clear that no one can be right with God by keeping his law because none of us do it. Many of Paul’s opponents accused him of giving sinners a license to sin, but Paul instead will show us a new way to be right with God.

Numbers 13:1-3, 21-30        The “Brave” Spies

How many “spies” were chosen from each tribe to explore the land of Canaan?  (One spy or “explorer” was sent from each tribe making a total of twelve men.)

What do a couple of the spies bring back with them from their exploring?  (A couple of men carried a cluster of grapes back to the camp.  They also brought back some pomegranates and figs.)

How many days were these explorers (i.e. spies) in the land?  (Forty!)

What mixed message do the spies bring to Moses and the rest of the assembly? (“They gave Moses this account: ‘We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey!  Here is its fruit.  But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.’” (Numbers 13:27-28 NIV))

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