Prayer Psalm: 88
Prayer Point: How do you sing when there is nothing to sing about? Psalm 88 shows us how. This psalm is a lament written from a place of deep pain and sorrow. Pray this psalm on behalf of someone you know who is in this place. It may even be you.
Jesus performs his first public miracle on the third day after his baptism. Jesus and his disciples, along with his mother Mary, had been invited to a wedding in the village of Cana which was just a few miles from his hometown Nazareth. Weddings in Jesus’ time were feasts involving fine wine and food that stretched for days. But at the height of the feast, the hosts have run out of wine, much to their embarrassment.
What in the story leads you to believe that Mary is expecting her son to perform a miracle? Why do you think Jesus’ initial response is “my time has not yet come”?
Tim Keller suggests that Jesus is thinking about his wedding day when he has the wedding feast to end all wedding feasts (See Revelation 19:9). He most likely is thinking about what it will cost him to provide wine for his wedding feast which is of course his death.
Jesus does perform the miracle of changing the water into fine wine. What does this miracle reveal about Jesus? How do the disciples react to the miracle?
The chief priests are clearly shocked by the courage displayed by Peter and John. What are they forced to notice about these courageous ordinary men in verse 13? Why are they powerless to punish Peter and John? What do they futilely attempt to stop? How does Peter respond to their command to stop preaching in the name of Jesus?
Think about this. Just weeks before, Peter had denied Jesus three times. What is making the difference?
Peter and John are set free and report to the church all that they had experienced. How does the church respond? What do you notice about the way they pray?
The church’s prayer meeting opens with the words of Psalm 2 which they applied to their current situation. It is the powers of this world, the Romans, Herod and the Jewish authorities who conspired against Jesus. Now they are persecuting the church, but they are not afraid. The powers of this world can do nothing other than what God wills.
What does the church request of God in verses 29-30? What don’t they ask for? How does God respond to their prayers?
Judges 9:1-16; 19-21 – Abimelech, the almost forgotten son
As mentioned yesterday, Abimelech begins to make his presence felt. Abimelech had seventy half-brothers. Evidently Gideon (Jerub-Baal) had many wives but one concubine. I am personally at a loss to explain the difference between how one became a wife verses how one became a concubine. It was, apparently, a distinction keenly felt in ancient Israel. Abimelech must have been treated as illegitimate and of no consequence. Thus he took matters in his own hands.
Abimelech is clearly on a power grab. What does he do to eliminate the competition? (He embarks on a crusade to kill all seventy of his half-brothers.)
Who escapes this murderous rampage? (One of Gideon’s sons – Jotham by name – escaped by hiding.)
What do the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo do to Abimelech? (“Then all the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered beside the great tree at the pillar in Shechem to crown Abimelech king.” (Judges 9:6 NIV))
What poetic device does Jotham employ to try to warn the citizens of Shechem of Abimelech’s evil intentions? (Jotham uses a parable to show the people of Shechem of the danger they have put themselves in.)
What is the point of the parable Jotham employs? (Clearly the thornbush represents Abimelech. Jotham’s objective is to point out to the people that they have dishonored the memory of Gideon in choosing Abimelech. Remember the thornbush’s warning: “The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon.’” (Judges 9:15 NIV))
What blessing/curse does Jotham bring upon the people of Shechem and Beth Millo? (“…if then you have acted honorably and in good faith toward Jerub-Baal [Gideon] and his family today, may Abimelech be your joy, and may you be his, too! But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelech and consume you, citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo and consume Abimelech.” (Judges 9:19-20 NIV))
What becomes of Jotham? (“Then Jotham fled, escaping to Beer, and he lived there because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech.” (Judges 9:21 NIV) Fear seems to be a family trait of Gideon’s (except of Abimelech))