Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 49

Prayer Point: The apparent prosperity of the wicked is one of the hard realities of our world. We despair because we value the wealth of this world, more than riches of the world to come. Pray that we might see the world from God’s  perspective, so that we will pity the destiny of the wicked and wrap our hearts around the hope of the resurrection.

Mark 1:1-8 

Background. The simplest meaning of the word ‘gospel’ is good news. If you dig a little deeper, it is good news that alters the course of human history. The Romans believed that the birth of Caesar Augustus, whom they regarded as a son of the gods, was “gospel” for the whole world. Mark believes Jesus’ story is the Gospel. Jesus’ life story, his birth, death and resurrection is the news that changes everything.

The prophet Isaiah predicted that shortly before the beginning of Jesus’ ministry on earth, a voice would call from the desert, urging the people to prepare for the coming of God the Lord. That person is John the Baptist, who dresses and acts the part of a prophet of God, one who receives a specific message from God and communicates it to the people.

Pay close attention to …

  • John’s message and how he prepares the people for the coming of their Savior.
  • How John compares himself and his ministry to Jesus.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.
What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

2 Peter 2:1-10 

Background. 2 Peter is a letter that was written by the Apostle Peter and circulated among the churches that existed at the time. In the first chapter Peter encourages the churches to grow in their faith, in this chapter he shifts to warn these Christians of false teachings that have infiltrated the church and threaten to derail their faith.

Pay close attention to …

  • Whether false teachers (prophets) among God’s people are anything new.
  • How successful these teachers will be in deceiving people.
  • God’s judgment on false teachers and the examples of past judgment that are given.
  • How God throughout history has rescued his faithful ones while at the same time bringing judgment on the wicked.

Listen. Believe. Obey. Share.
What is the passage saying? About God? About ourselves? (Listen)
What is God asking us to believe? (Believe)
What is God asking us to do? (Obey)
Who can we share this with? (Share)

Isaiah 9:8-17       Still Considering the Second Coming (Advent)

The opening of this section (verse 9:8-10) tell us that “The LORD has sent a word against Jacob, and it will fall on Israel: and all the people will know, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria who say in pride and in arrogance of heart: ‘The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.'” This is discussing the divided kingdom. The kingdom had been divided now for many years; and this was not the LORD ‘s desire. To be sure the LORD did not want Israel to have any king (but himself) at all. Even in his time Moses had warned the people what it would be like to be subject to a king. (See Deuteronomy 17:14-20) Unmoved by Moses, in the time of Samuel the people asked to have a king appointed over them. Here Samuel goes into some detail in outlining exactly what the king shall require of his subjects. (Read 1 Samuel 8) But the people knew better and were given Saul to rule over them We saw how well that worked. The book of 1 Samuel relates the rise of the kingdom.

There was one kingdom which lasted for only three kings. Upon the death of Solomon the kingdom was divided (from sheer stupidity) which you can read beginning in 1 Kings Chapter 12. This actually brings us to the point: the divided kingdom. The opening lines of this section (Isaiah 9:8-12) are directed specifically to Israel (Ephraim — the northern kingdom) and the pride which engulfed her.

What is in store for Ephraim? (The anger of the LORD will be leveled against Ephraim (for now — later Judah). “For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.” (Isaiah 9:12b ESV) God stretches out his hand to save and also to judge. The Samaritans [the northern kingdom] don’t consider for a moment that the problems they are experiencing with their neighbors and enemies are a message from God. Their pride keeps them afloat. Time will tell.)

What do verses 9:13-17 describe concerning the LORD’s anger? (This is the judgment befalling Ephraim: they will be destroyed (and hence dispersed); they will not “inquire of the LORD of hosts” [probably because they don’t think what they are doing is wrong]; their guides and teachers are leading them astray.)

Who is the “head” and who is the tail spoken of in verse 9:15? (The elder and honored man is the head and the prophet who teaches is the tail. Jesus also gives warning: “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much more will be required, and to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” (Luke 12:48b ESV) Teachers and preachers take heed.)

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