Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, January 3, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 72

Prayer Point. What will the world look like when Jesus’ rule is fully established on earth?  Psalm 72 gives us a preview of his kingdom and what it will mean for the weak, needy and the oppressed. Pray for a situation that you know of that desperately needs to come under the rule of King Jesus.

John 10:7-17

Background. Jesus revealed himself in a series of important “I am” statements that are recorded in the gospel of John (see John 6:35; 6:51; 8:12; 9:5; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). In today’s reading he is both “the gate for the sheep and the good shepherd.”

The central image is this passage is the village sheep pen that was common in Israel in Jesus’ day. Sheep owned by local shepherds were often kept in common pens during the night for safe keeping. In the morning, the shepherd came and called to his sheep and only the sheep from his flock, who recognized his voice, followed him out the gate and into the pasture.

Shepherding is used throughout the Bible as a metaphor for leadership whether it is religious leaders such as priests, scribes, Sadducees or Pharisees or political leaders such as kings.

Pay close attention to …

  • What is true of the person who enters through Jesus the gate. What is true of those who try to slip over the wall.
  • What sets Jesus apart as a good shepherd as opposed to the others who were thieves, robbers or hired hands.
  • How many sheep pens hold sheep from Jesus’ flock. What do the sheep from the different sheep pens have in common.
  • Why the Father loves his Son, the good shepherd.

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 11:13-22

Background. Hebrews was written to encourage a group of Christians of Jewish ancestry who were considering giving up following Jesus. They were experiencing persecution, suffering that would cease if they returned to returned to Judaism. The writer inspires them to hang on by pointing to heroes of the faith that have gone before them.

Faith is defined as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1). This is the kind of faith that made men like Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). In today’s reading, the writer continues to tell Abraham’s story and introduces us to Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Ironically, these were all heroes of Israel’s past, but they are being used here to inspire these Christians to keep their faith in Jesus.

Pay close attention to …

  • What is true of all the men of faith that have been listed so far (Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham) (see verses 13-15).
  • How Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph are examples of faith, believing the promises of God even if they didn’t live to see them fulfilled. Here are the Old Testament stories that the writer of Hebrews is referring to: Abraham (Genesis 22), Isaac (Genesis 27 – this one is a little ironic!), Jacob (Genesis 49) and Joseph (Genesis 50:24-25).

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)

Genesis 28:10-22

Background. Jacob got his name because of what he was doing when he was being born with his twin Esau. Jacob was grasping at Esau’s heel — “he grasps the heel” which somehow came to mean, as the NIV footnotes indicate, he deceives. Jacob was his name: he deceives. He was not a very “nice” man. He was also a coward because once he swindled his brother of his rightful inheritance and in fear fled for his life. All of this may (certainly would have been) unnecessary because, even before the twins were born, it was prophesied that “the older [Esau] will serve the younger [Jacob]” (Genesis 25:23b NIV)

So here we are, Jacob is on the run looking for a bride, but not from among the Canaanites as his father Isaac had requested. Jacob went off to Haran, to the land of his grandfather Abraham in search of a wife. He makes a stop for the night in a place formerly called “Luz” but which Jacob renamed “Bethel”.

Pay close attention to …

  • What Jacob uses for a pillow (v. 11)
  • The dream Jacob has
  • What the LORD says to Jacob in this dream (vv. 13-15)
  • What Jacob realizes (v. 16)
  • What Jacob renames the place (v. 17)
  • Jacob’s vow (v. 20-22)

“Bethel” actually means “House of God”.

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)

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