Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, December 30, 2012

Prayer Psalm: 34

Prayer Point. David, the anointed future king of Israel was forced to live the life of a fugitive as the current king of Israel sought to kill him. At a moment of sheer desperation, David fled to the land of the Philistines, the mortal enemies of Israel. Dragged before the king of the Philistines, he narrowly escaped with his life by pretending to be insane (see 1 Samuel 13:10-15). That is the occasion of this psalm. Worshiping the God who saves us. How has God rescued you? Offer God your savior your own prayer of praise.

Matthew 1:18-25

Background. The births of Isaac, Abraham’s son, and Samson were both miraculous and announced by an angel as Jesus’ was. What sets Jesus apart is that he is conceived by a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a critical part of Jesus’ identity and his mission.

The central dilemma of the Bible is that humanity, because of our sin, owes God a debt that not even eternity in hell could pay. No one but a human could pay the debt, but no human was capable of paying the debt. That is until Jesus came to earth. Because he is born of a virgin, Jesus is both fully God and fully man. As a man, Jesus has the right to pay humanity’s debt. As God, he has the capability of paying it.

This is who Jesus was, but God chose to set this plan in motion in partnership with an ordinary couple, Mary and Joseph. Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for a moment. His fiance is pregnant and he is not the father. If he goes through with the marriage he will bring great shame upon himself.

Pay close attention to …

  • Joseph’s great faith and courage even before the angel appears to him.
  • The angel’s message to Joseph which confirms his faith.
  • The connection between Jesus’ name which means “the Lord saves” and his mission.

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)

Hebrews 2:10-18

Background. The author of Hebrews writes to a group of discouraged Christians who have been persecuted and are considering a return to the Judaism they grew up with. This book was written to encourage them to hang on to their faith by pointing out all that Jesus had accomplished for them through his life, death and resurrection.

Central to Jesus’ mission is that he “made atonement for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:18). Sin, a failure to love God and our neighbor, demanded justice. God’s anger burned until that justice was satisfied. Jesus’ death in our place, extinguished God’s wrath and satisfied his justice. Because Jesus made atonement for our sins, those who cling to him by faith are no longer under his judgment and wrath.

Pay close attention …

  • How Jesus can identify with the suffering of his people.
  • How Jesus sees those he came to save.
  • Why Jesus became a man and his life and death changes our future.
  • How Jesus’ suffering can encourage those who are tempted to give up.

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 62:6-12 – Praying Watchmen 

Who is speaking here? (The person speaking is the one who is setting the watchmen in place. He would then be the King (i.e., the Messiah). The ESV Study Bible Notes cannot decide whether the speaker is the LORD or the Messiah. I fail to make a distinction: they are one and the same. — j.t.)

Now that we’ve straightened out who is speaking, who are the watchmen? (Actually that would depend on when one is living. Certainly the Old Testament prophets qualify as watchmen. They were the shepherds and teachers and leaders of the people. They would keep vigil praying day and night. In the new Testament, the watchmen are the Church. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ [Messiah] Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV))

Why would Isaiah say: “You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest … ” (Isaiah 62:6b ESV) (This reinforces the continual praying we are called to do. But more than that Jesus tells to keep petitioning God again and again. He cited this example: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.” Luke 18:2-8 NIV) I guess that means that God wants us to bombard him with our prayers.)

What promise does the Lord make through Isaiah here in Chapter 62? (“The LORD has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies and foreigners shall not drink your wine … but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the LORD, and those who gather it shall drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.”(Isaiah 62:8-9 ESV))

Verses 62:10-12 are images of an event which will take place more than 600 years later. Matthew cited this passage (Matthew 21:1-5) and Zechariah Chapter 9:9 in Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of the last week of his life.

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