Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, December 23, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 8

Prayer Point: We gaze at the stars at night and are amazed that the God who made them knows our name, let alone cared enough to send his Son to earth. Take time today to meditate on and thank God for the miracle of Christmas.

John 3:16-21

Background. A religious leader, Nicodemus, visits Jesus at night. He is intrigued by Jesus’ teaching, but comes in secret because he fears his fellow Pharisees who strongly opposed Jesus. He’s afraid, but he is curious as to who Jesus is. Jesus will answer his questions by identifying himself as the Son (Son of God).

Pay close attention to …

  • What prompted God the Father to send his Son into the world.
  • What the Son was sent to accomplish.
  • The promises given to those who believe in the Son and the warnings for those who reject him.
  • Why some refuse to come to the Son and receive life.

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)

Ephesians 6:10-20 

Background. Ephesians is a letter from the Apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus which he founded. His purpose is to encourage these young Christians to stand firm in their faith in Jesus Christ. In today’s reading Paul uses the image of the armor worn by Roman soldier’s to describe the spiritual protection that God makes available to us so that we might stand against the attacks of the evil one.

When Paul speaks of powers, rulers, and authorities, he does not mean the men who ruled the Roman Empire, but the spiritual powers that made their domination possible.

Pay close to attention to …

  • The identity of our real enemies.
  • The defensive armor and weapon that God makes available to us.
  • The role of prayer in our war against the devil’s schemes and the spiritual powers of this world.

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 42:1-12        The LORD’s Chosen Servant

This chapter gives us some insight into the “servant”. I believe it is widely held among Jews that the servant spoken of here is, in fact, the people of God (the Jews). The Christian view is that this servant refers to no one but Jesus. Matthew cites this passage in Matthew 12:18-21 just after Jesus had healed someone in, of all places, the synagogue, on, of all days the Sabbath.

What are some of the characteristics the servant will bear? (He will have the Spirit of God upon him; he will not cry aloud nor lift up his voice; he will bring forth justice; he will not be discouraged nor grow faint. Jesus, contrary to one who might be seeking fame and fortune, actually asked those whom he ministered to not to speak abroad of what he had done for them.)

Why is the phrase “in whom my soul delights” so important? (This phrase is so important because twice during Jesus’ ministry this particular expression was used to confirm his credentials: “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.'” (Matthew 3:16-17 ESV) Again: “And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.'” (Matthew 17:1-5 ESV))

What does “I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations…” mean? (verse 42:6) (I can only give you my opinion on this. Since Jesus is the “servant”, he will then become the covenant for the people. The interesting thing about God and his covenants is that he likes to keep both parts of the covenant. Covenants are between at least two parties; in this case God and the people. Isaiah and all of Judah had seen the loss of the northern kingdom because of a broken covenant. The future of Judah also looked bleak. The point is that these people were not unfamiliar with covenants — though they were foreign to keeping them. This servant Isaiah speaks of, will fulfill all the terms of the covenant for the people. He will be what they are not: faithful. As for the “light for the nations”, well, Jesus called himself the “light of the world”. (John 8:12) Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, also prophesied about Jesus: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for he had visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David … to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:68, 79 (ESV))

Of what does the LORD remind us which, I doubt, we ever consider (in verse 42:8)? (I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other nor my praise to carved idols.” (ESV) I doubt we ever think about the glory of the LORD and yet in Revelation much time is spent describing this glory we ignore.)

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