Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 119:1-24

Prayer Point:  Walking in obedience to God is the path to blessing and a full life.  The trouble is that we don’t (see verse 5) because following Jesus is not easy. We need help. This section of Psalm 119 asks for God’s assistance in a number of ways.  Pick one that speaks to you and make it your prayer today.

Luke 9:1-17

This chapter represents a milestone in Jesus’ training of his disciples. Jewish religious education followed a simple pattern:

  • Watch the rabbi (teacher).
  • Work alongside the rabbi.
  • Go out on your own and practice what the rabbi taught.
  • You graduate by becoming a rabbi with your own disciples.

What stage in their training are the disciples entering? What are they sent to do? Notice that the disciples are going to do the very things that Jesus had been doing. How were the disciples to be provided for? How would they decide where to minister? Notice the shape of their training. Jesus is setting up his disciples to replace him.

Why was Herod the Tetrarch frightened by the disciple’s mission?

Why does Jesus ask his disciples to feed the crowd of five thousand? How does it fit into his teaching style? What do the disciples contribute to the miracle? What does Jesus do with their contribution? What can this example teach us about how we are to work alongside God?

Acts 27:9-26

It is getting on into September and October, a season of rough weather in the Mediterranean Sea. The Centurion is anxious to move on, but Paul urges them to stay in the port of Fair Havens, for he sees nothing but trouble ahead.

Whose advice is heeded? What happens when they put out to sea? Who alone on board is not afraid? Why? What does this person know? Compare Acts 27:23-24 to Acts 23:11.

Paul’s life mirrors the life of Christ in many ways. Both understood their final destiny. Jesus’ path led him to the cross outside Jerusalem, Paul’s road would end in Rome. Both knew God’s plan for their lives, both were committed to serving God and both lived their lives fearlessly. You might compare Paul’s experience in the storm to that of his Savior. See Luke 8:22-25.

Jonah 1:17-2:10 – Jonah’s Prayer of Repentance

How does Chapter two begin? (Chapter two beings with what might be described as one of a prophets favorite words (Hint: Jesus used it a great deal himself) — “Woe”.)

Let’s face it, the bible is pretty much opposed to sin and iniquity so it cannot be a big surprise that prophets are on a continuous campaign against it. What sin is Micah talking about here which is of special offense to God? (Micah is talking of defrauding someone of his land (fields or vineyards) meaning a man’s inheritance. According to Micah iniquity is often plotted (by the evil) on “their” beds. That would be, generally speaking, at night (i.e., in darkness so that their deeds will not be seen). The LORD often refers to the Jews (both of the northern kingdom [Israel] and the southern kingdom [Judah]) as his inheritance. I think it is because of this that the LORD takes particular exception when this type of theft is carried on at a smaller scale. There is a stunning example of this sin in 1 Kings 21. Here Ahab (a very baaad king with an even worse queen: Jezebel) covets (actually lusts over) a vineyard belonging to his neighbor Naboth. Ahab whines to his wife about it and she then arranges to have Naboth arrested and convicted on some trumped up charge of having cursed both God and the king — the punishment of which is, of course, death. First we have a serious case of coveting someone else’s property (a violation of the tenth commandment); next we have a plot to accuse someone falsely (a violation of the ninth commandment); which ultimately [if things go right for Jezebel] leads to the death of Naboth (i.e., murder — a violation of the sixth commandment). While it is true that Jezebel was the brains of this unholy duo, Ahab just happened to be on his bed when all of this evil plotting was going on. Read 1 Kings Chapter 21 for all of the delicious details including how the LORD made his own sentiments known on the subject. Elijah was the prophet in Israel at this time. He was perhaps the most formidable prophet in all of the Old Testament: he confronts Ahab regarding this sin. The upshot: the LORD frowns on this type of behavior. — j.t.)

When is all this evil carried out? (“At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it.” (Micah 2:1b) Of all the cavalier attitudes displayed by President Clinton during the Monica Lowinsky episode, the most offensive to me was, when asked why he would do such a thing, he said: “I did it because I could.” In other words: it was in his power to do it.)

“They defraud a man of is home, a fellowman of his inheritance.” (Micah 2:2b NIV)

What is the LORD’s plan for these evil people, actually the whole nation? (The LORD plans to show these disobedient people, on a grand scale, just what it means to be deprived of one’s inheritance: “We are utterly ruined; my people’s possession is divided up. He takes it from me! He assigns our fields to traitors.” (Micah 2:4 NIV) The “he” referred to in this verse could be either God or the Assyrian invader (who would be acting as God’s agent).)

What is the ever-unchanging chant of the prophets (that would be false prophets)? (“‘Do not prophesy,’ their prophets say. ‘Do not prophesy about these things; disgrace will not overtake us.’ Should it be said, O house of Jacob: ‘Is the Spirit of the LORD angry? Does he do such things?'” Again, the prophets cannot see that the people are not keeping the covenant; they are sinning. It is the job of the prophet to redirect the people to keep them on the “straight and narrow” as it were.)

What kind of prophet are the people looking for? (“If a liar and deceiver comes and says, ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,’ he would be just the prophet for this people.” (Micah 2:11 NIV))

So judgment is on its way, and if judgment comes so also will deliverance. Let’s understand this one thing: the people of Israel are going to be judged and they are going to be punished. That is the sad truth. But there is a hope. They will be delivered, but only after the punishment is meted out.

What is the promise of deliverance?(“I [the LORD] will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. … Their king will pass through before them, the LORD at their head.” (Micah 2:12a, 13b))This chapter is a prayer of repentance for Jonah.  It is clear Jonah thinks he will survive this respite in the belly of the great fish.  This prayer doesn’t sound anything like anything I would say if I have been through what Jonah had been through.  “In my distress I called to the LORD…” — in my distress… this is my distress.  Jonah thinks that this time is equal to death: “From the depths of the grave I called for help and you listened to my cry.”  (Jonah 2:2 NIV)  Jonah expresses his hope of survival.  He then addresses the event itself:  “You hurled me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me.” (Jonah 2:3 NIV)  “I’m a gonner” is what he must have thought.  “I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.”  (Jonah 2:4 NIV)  Jonah must have had some great prayer and reflection time during those three days.  “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD [don’t we all?], and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.”  What does Jonah say which may have brought about his being hurled onto the dry land?  (“But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you.  What I have vowed I will make good.  Salvation come from the LORD.” (Jonah 2:9 NIV)  I believe it is here that Jonah may have wished for two things: (1) to have a heart to bring God’s message to Nineveh and (2) actually to proclaim the word of the LORD.  You will remember that Jonah was what you might say reluctant to go to Nineveh with all those pagans and such.  The end result: “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited [hurled] Jonah onto the dry land.” (Jonah 2:10 NIV))

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