Prayer Psalm: 30
Prayer Point: How did God turn “our wailing into dancing”? The moment that Jesus was raised from the dead. Pray today that we might know the hope of the resurrection so that it changes our outlook on life and causes us to worship God with our lives.
It might be surprising to hear that prayer is a learned art form. I, at least, thought that prayer came naturally. Jesus, it appears, does not share my opinion. He gives his disciples words to say as they pray. Think of them as outline for prayer, something that you can try on your own.
How is God addressed and why is this important?
Who is the focus of the first two requests (verse 2)?
Hallowed be your name is simply a desire for God to be honored and worshiped in a way that he deserves. In Matthew’s version of the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 5:10) we learn that God’s kingdom is the place where God’s will is done. This is what it means to love God: to desire to see him worshiped and to want what he wants.
What three things are we to ask for ourselves (notice that the pronoun is ‘us’ not ‘me’)? This is what it means to love our neighbor when we pray. We want our neighbors and ourselves (us) to be provided for, to be forgiven and protected from temptation.
Verses 5-8. What kind of an attitude should we have as we approach God in prayer?
Verses 9-13 What is God like that should encourage us to approach him in prayer?
The opening of chapter 10 marks a change in John’s perspective of the vision. In chapter 4, John is invited into God’s heavenly throne room to see the world and world events from heaven’s perspective. Where is John’s new vantage point as chapter 10 opens?
A being called the “Angel of the LORD” appears at pivotal moments in the Old Testament stories. At times it is unclear whether the being is an angel or God himself. The same is true of the angelic being in Revelation 10. Based on what you have read, what in the description of this being would lead you to believe that this person may be Christ himself? Compare the description of this being to the description of God in Revelation 4:2-5. Remember that number seven is symbolic of God’s perfection. Where have we seen rainbows before in the Bible? See Revelation 4:3-6 and Genesis 9:12-17. What does this angelic being announce? Compare this to Daniel 12:1-4.
Compare what happens to John to Ezekiel’s commissioning as a prophet in Ezekiel 3:1-15. Why is John asked to literally eat the words of God? How is this connected to his mission?
Ezra 4:7, 11-24
A certainty in life is that those who are in power are ever vigilant of those who would deprive them of that power. It is also true that when one people appear to be thriving, envy and jealousy seize their neighbors. This was true in Jerusalem as well. Let’s face it, the Jews have never been a people warmly received. So when it became clear to the peoples about Jerusalem (the non-Jews) that the activity going on in Jerusalem might mean its resurgence on the world stage, they took it upon themselves to write to the king.
Who is raised up to oppose the rebuilding of Jerusalem? How do they succeed in convincing Artaxerxes, the king of Persia, to put a stop to the rebuilding effort?
9 Praise is unseemly on the lips of a sinner,
for it has not been sent from the LORD.
10 For in wisdom must praise be uttered,
and the Lord will make it prosper.
11 Do not say, “It was the LORD’s doing that I fell away”;
for he does not do what he hates.
12 Do not say, “It was he who led me astray”;
for he has no need of the sinful.
13 The LORD hates all abominations;
such things are not loved by those who fear him.
14 It was he who created humankind in the beginning,
and he left them in the power of their own free choice.
15 If you choose, you can keep the commandments,
and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.
16 He has placed before you fire and water;
stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.
17 Before each person are life and death,
and whichever one chooses will be given.
18 For great is the wisdom of the LORD;
he is mighty in power and sees everything;
19 his eyes are on those who fear him,
and he knows every human action.
20 He has not commanded anyone to be wicked;
and he has not given anyone permission to sin.
According to Sirach what is needed for meaningful praise? (“Praise is unseemly on the lips of a sinner, for it has not been sent from the LORD. For in wisdom must praise be uttered, and the LORD will make it prosper.” (Sirach 15:9-10 NRSV))
What are verses 15:11-20? (Here Sirach is attacking one of the most disputed areas in theology: choice. Calvin believed in predestination whereas Wesley did not. The story of Joseph is a great example of both of these points of view. Joseph clearly did not choose to be sold into slavery. He did not choose to be placed in prison falsely. In fact, he did not choose to become the second most important man in all of Egypt. Joseph’s brothers would have believed that they “chose” to do to Joseph what he did not want. They chose to sell him into slavery. Any yet all of this worked marvelously in God’s foreordained will. As the story concludes Joseph explains to his newly reconciled brothers: “But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19 NIV))