Prayer Psalm: 93
Prayer Point This past week we saw the destructive power of the sea as it brought the proudest and wealthiest city in the world to its knees. The ancients knew no greater power than the fury of a stormy sea, and yet God is greater still. Imagine how we might live if we believed this. Confess your fears to God and pray that the Holy Spirit will make real the power of God.
Jesus often told stories or parables to describe the kingdom of God, the community where God’s will is followed and obeyed. This story speaks to how God rewards the subjects of his kingdom.
Considering that a denarius was the common wage for a day’s labor, is the landowner unfair in what he pays his workers? Why then do the workers who worked a full day get upset with this landowner? Can you think of a situation where God’s generosity to someone who doesn’t deserve it would anger you?
1 Corinthians 14:1-12
For Paul, love is paramount, not the spiritual gifts. The gifts are unique God-given abilities to be used to love and serve God’s church. What spiritual gift does Paul hold out as an example of a gift that benefits the church?
Prophecy is more than telling the future. It is a spiritual gift where one hears a “word” from God and passes that message on to the church. In some cases, the message was about the future, in other cases, it was a word of encouragement or warning (see Acts 21:10-11). Speaking in tongues is the ability to speak in a language that is unknown to the speaker. One example is Acts 2:1-9.
Why is prophecy considered to be a greater gift than speaking in tongues? What sort of gifts did Paul encourage the Corinthian Christians to pursue?
How does Ezra’s repentance inspire the people around him? How does the repentant hearts of the people move them to take action?
*Sirach is a Jewish holy book written about 100 years before the coming of Christ. It is not considered to be Scripture by the Jewish faith nor our tradition, but the book is still worth reading. We offer Sirach in addition to the Old Testament readings.
13 While I was still young, before I went on my travels,
I sought wisdom openly in my prayer.
14 Before the temple I asked for her,
and I will search for her until the end.
15 From the first blossom to the ripening grape
my heart delighted in her;
my foot walked on the straight path;
from my youth I followed her steps.
16 I inclined my ear a little and received her,
and I found for myself much instruction.
17 I made progress in her;
to him who gives wisdom I will give glory.
18 For I resolved to live according to wisdom,
and I was zealous for the good,
and I shall never be disappointed.
19 My soul grappled with wisdom,
an in my conduct I was strict.
I spread out my hands to the heavens,
and lamented my ignorance of her.
20 I directed my soul to her,
and in purity I found her.
With her I gained understanding from the first;
therefore I will never be forsaken.
21 My heart was stirred to seek her;
therefore I have gained a prize possession.
22 The LORD gave me my tongue as a reward
and I will praise him with it.
What is Sirach looking for? (Our journey throughout this book has been a search for wisdom.)
What does he resolve to do after he finds wisdom? (“For I resolved to live according to wisdom, and I was zealous for the good.” (Sirach 51:18 NRSV))
He tells us that the Lord gave him his tongue as a reward. What does he plan to do with it (perhaps we should all do the same thing)? (“The Lord gave me my tongue as a reward, and I will praise him with it.” (Sirach 51:22NRSV))