Prayer Psalm: 37
Prayer Point: Wicked men and women will continue prosper in our world and wield power. That will not change until Christ returns. What must change is our response to it. Psalm 37 lists several sinful responses to the presence of evil. Repent by confessing to God the ones you see in your life. Pray for the faith to trust God, delight in him, commit ourselves to following him and to place matters of justice into his hands.
The disciples’ question, “did this man sin or his parents?” is rooted in a common belief in Jesus’ day that birth defects such as blindness were largely regarded as divine punishment for sin. What does Jesus say is the reason for this man’s blindness? In what way does this miracle demonstrate what it means for Jesus to be the ‘light of the world’?
The healing of the man born blind causes a stir among the people and he is brought before the Pharisees to have the miracle investigated. The Pharisees were highly regarded in Israel as the guardians of Jewish law and tradition. They were looked to by the people as the interpreters of the law. For example, the Ten Commandments prohibited work on the Sabbath that is Saturday. The average man on the street needed to know what constituted work so as not to profane the Sabbath. The Pharisees were part of a long tradition that stipulated what was and what was not allowed on the Sabbath. They had concluded, unfortunately, that healing was work and therefore illegal on the Sabbath.
Why do the Pharisees reject Jesus’ miracle which could not be denied?
What observations can you make about the leadership of the church in Antioch? What roles did they fill? How did they work together? How did they make decisions? Who seems to be in charge?
A teacher was what we call a preacher today. Teachers studied the Bible and explained it to the church. A prophet was someone who received a specific message from God and relayed it to the church. One example is the prophet Agabus (see Acts 11:27-28).
Where did the leaders of the church in Antioch get the idea of sending away Barnabas and Saul to do God’s work? The church in Antioch has five leaders, but God calls them to give two away. Could you imagine our church doing that?
How would you describe Barnabas and Saul’s mission? What did they do? Where did they do it? What kind of opposition did they run into? How was the opposition overcome? Who is leading this mission? Who is the power source of this mission?
Job 16:16-22; 17:1, 13-16 – Job answers Eliphaz again
Eliphaz reappears in Chapter 15 and begins another tirade of accusation against Job telling him that it is his own words which condemn him: “Your own mouth condemns you, not mine; your own lips testify against you.” (Job 15:6 NIV) Jesus went through a similar condemnation when he appeared before the high priest to answer charges against him for blasphemy: “Again the high priest asked him [Jesus], ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’” (Mark 14:61-64 NIV) Like Job, Jesus was blameless (even more so).
Eliphaz asks Job if God’s consolations are enough; has Job’s heart turned to anger? Eliphaz goes on to point out that man is corrupt and vile and now is easily terrified. Such is the fate of sinners. Well Job, by all appearance, fills that bill. “They [the godless] conceive trouble and give birth to evil; their womb fashions deceit.” (Job 15:35 NIV)
Job makes it rather clear that his “friends” do not appreciate the evil he has suffered. If Job were in their shoes, he could easily treat them as they are treating him but he would rather encourage the afflicted and comfort them. Next Job again addresses God.
Now men jeer at Job and mock him. God has turned him over to evil men and thrown him into the clutches of the wicked. Job has become God’s target. Haven’t we all felt like that at least once? What is Job’s assessment of himself before God? (“…my hands have been free of violence and my prayer is pure.” (Job 16:17 NIV))
Who is this “advocate” Job talks about. (I think he’s talking about God. Job really believes he is righteous before God and that God is also righteous. I also think that Job thinks that God is this intercessor and friend mentioned in verse 16:20: (“My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend.” (Job 16:20-21 NIV) This type of language brings to mind the opening of the Book of Job which is not unlike a courtroom setting. Satan is acting like an accuser and now Job needs an advocate, a defender – someone to intercede for him. – j.t.)
Verse 1 of Chapter 17 sounds depressing: “My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me.” The truth is that the grave awaits us all – we might all do well to think about that. As the chapter progresses so does the grim picture. What picture does Job paint of his hope (verses 17:13-15)? (“If the only home I hope for is the grave, if I spread out my bed in darkness, if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’ where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me?” (NIV) I am pretty sure I would have reached this point long before now if we were talking about me. This is the seeds of why Job is regarded as a patient man. – j.t.)