Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 109

Prayer Point:   We often wonder where God is when we, or someone we love, is harmed by evil. David experienced this and he cried out, “O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent.”  But God is not far away, because if you read this psalm closely you will hear that the voice in this psalm is none other than Jesus lamenting the betrayal of Judas. We can reach out to God in prayer, because Jesus has experienced what we have and more. We can forgive our enemies, as Jesus did, because justice is God’s responsibility and not our own.  Raise up to God the injustices you’ve experienced and pray that you will be able to leave matters of justice to God.

John 4:1-26

What causes Jesus to withdraw from Judea to return to his home region of Galilee?

Between Judea and Galilee was Samaria which most Jews went out of their way to avoid. Samaria was home to the Samaritans, regarded by their Jewish cousins as “half-breeds”, a people who had been a part of the nation of Israel, but had intermarried with other ethnicities and had corrupted the worship of the God of Israel.

Why do you think Jesus “had to” go through Samaria even though most Jews of his day avoided it?
Why does the woman find it strange that Jesus would ask her for water from her water jar?

Jesus is breaking all sorts of cultural taboos. He breaks the barrier between Jew and Samaritan. He also tramples on the strict tradition against a man speaking to a woman that he is not related to. On top of that, this Samaritan woman has such a bad reputation (for reasons that will become obvious later in the story) that she is forced to draw water alone at noon. She had been shunned by the other women in the community. Finally, anything she handled would have been considered unclean and yet Jesus asks her for a drink.

What kind of water does Jesus offer this sinful woman? Jesus says, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.” What do you think Jesus is talking about (see also John 7:37-39).

How does Jesus reveal this woman’s true thirst in verses 15-18?

Unnerved by the confrontation, the Samaritan woman reacted the way many of us would in this situation, she changes the subject. The question is a reference to a religious battle between the northern and southern regions of Israel that stretched back for generations.

Hundreds of years earlier, the kingdom of Israel split into two because of the oppressive rule of David’s fool of a grandson, Rehoboam. Israel now had two kings and two kingdoms, but one temple a nd place to worship God, which was located in the capital of the southern kingdom. The northern king feared that his people would desert him and so he constructed his own temple in the north and claimed it as the true place for the worship of God. That battle continued to rage in Jesus’ day.

How does Jesus answer this polarizing question? Who is right? What is coming that will make this debate irrelevant? Who is standing before this woman who has the authority to introduce this new form of worship?

Acts 6:1-15

The Jewish community in Israel was divided into two subcultures: the Hebraic and Grecian Jews. Hebraic Jews were those who maintained their native language (Aramaic), while Grecian Jews adopted the Greek language and some Greek cultural practices. What problem arose between these two groups? How did the Apostles solve this problem? What kinds of men were selected to serve in this new ministry? The seven men that were selected were the first deacons to serve the church. Who chose the deacons? Who commissioned (laid hands on) the deacons? What happened to the church as a result of this new deacon ministry?

The deacons were raised up to run the food distribution ministry of the church. Was their ministry strictly limited to distributing food? What does Stephen (one of the deacons) do? What happens to him?

Judges 13:16-24  – The Lord is revealed to Manoah

The “stranger” is appreciative of Manoah’s offer of food, but what does he say? (“The angel of the LORD replied, ‘Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the LORD.’ (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the LORD.)(Judges 13:16 NIV))

Why do I keep referring to the angel of God as “stranger”? (This comes from Hebrews 13:2: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (NIV))

What request does Manoah make of the “stranger”? (Manoah wants to know the angel’s name.)

What “amazing” thing does the LORD do while Manoah and his wife watch? (“Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the LORD. And the LORD did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame.” (Judges 13:19-20 NIV))

What occurs to Manoah because of this “amazing” thing? (“Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. When the angel of the LORD did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of the LORD.” (Judges 13:20-21 NIV))

What fear-filled thing occurs to Manoah? (“‘We are doomed to die!’ he said to his wife. ‘We have seen God!’” (Judges 13:22 NIV))

Again a woman heralds the voice of reason. What does Manoah’s wife tell him to allay his fears? (“But his wife answered, ‘If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, not shown us all these things or now told us this.’” (Judges 13:23 NIV))

“The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.” (Judges 13:24 NIV)

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