Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 119:25-48

Prayer Point. Understanding and following the law of God (following Jesus) is very difficult.  Psalm 119 reminds us that we face formidable obstacles within ourselves and in the world around us.  Which obstacles are present in your life.  Lift those up to God and pray that he will give you the wisdom, the strength, the faith and the courage to follow Jesus.

Mark 4:1-20

Background. Jesus used simple stories or parables to teach the people about God’s coming kingdom. He came to earth to re-establish God’s rule on earth (“your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” if you remember from the Lord’s Prayer) and prepare the people to enter this new kingdom.

Jesus often told those stories to the crowds, but in today’s reading, he waits until he is alone with his disciples to explain it. The emphasis is that no one will be able to receive Jesus’ teaching and enter his kingdom unless God enables him to do it.

Pay close attention to …

  • The identity of the seed, birds, soil, rocks, thorns and the good harvest.
  • What prevents the seed of God’s word from producing a harvest in a person’s 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 5:1-14

Background. There is a pattern to Paul’s moral teaching: what we are commanded to do always flows out of what we have become through the grace of God. This is important. Religious or legalistic ways of relating to God say, “live right and you will be accepted as a child of God.” The gospel that Paul preaches says, “live right because you are already a child of God.” Religion feeds off fear. The gospel fuels a life of love through gratitude.

Ephesians 5:8 For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. (your identity by God’s grace) Live as children of light. (command to live out of this new identity)

Pay close attention to …

  • What should not exist in the lives of God’s dearly loved children.
  • The contrast between what the Ephesians once were and what they have become (verse 8).
  • What it means to live as children of the light (verses 8-15); what you do, what you don’t do.

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 41:1-16

Background. The tone of Isaiah’s prophecy changes from a “far” vision (the promise of the restored earth in Chapter 40) to a nearer one. The “one from the east” is, in fact, Cyrus (the great) who, in a couple of hundred years, will defeat the Babylonians and will be responsible for the release of the Jews from exile. Isaiah and Jeremiah were warning the Jews of the southern kingdom that the LORD would execute judgment on the nation and drive them into captivity. Unfortunately no one listened. Isaiah, here, is talking about the time after the exile. A couple of chapters later (Isaiah 44:28) he will even identify Cyrus by name.

Pay close attention to …

  • How the LORD will use the “one from the east” (vv. 2-3)
  • Who will get the credit (glory) for what the “one from the east” does (v. 4)
  • The reaction of those people whom Cyrus advances on (vv. 5-6)
  • Whom the nations look to for help (v. 7)
  • What encouragement Israel gets (vv. 8-14)
  • What “pet name” the LORD uses for Jacob (v. 14) which actually refers to Israel’s insignificance before God
  • Who will help Israel (v. 14)
  • What metaphor Isaiah uses to describe how the LORD will use Israel (vv. 15-16)

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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