Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, January 20, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 63

Prayer Point. Do we really believe that God can and will satisfy our desires, or do we need something else? That is the key  question in following Jesus. Confess the substitutes for God that you have turned to satisfy your soul (money, relationships, career, etc) and pray for the faith to trust him fully.

John 5:2-18

Background. Jesus encounters a lame man lying by the pool of Bethesda who had been crippled for thirty-eight years. The Jews of the time believed that the waters of the pool were stirred from time to time by an angel. The first man into the stirred waters was healed. This man had hoped for thirty-eight years for healing, but each time the waters were stirred, his hopes were dashed.

One other thing, the day that this healing occurred is important. This man was healed on the Sabbath (Saturday). The Sabbath, by God’s decree, was a sacred day where no work was to be done (see Exodus 20:8-11). The question was what constituted work. The religious leaders of the day considered both healing and carrying your mat to be work and therefore unlawful on the Sabbath day. This of course led to the absurd conclusion that God did not want people healed on the Sabbath and creates the tension you will see in today’s reading.

Pay close attention to …

  • The method Jesus uses to heal the lame man and what it says about his power.
  • The Jews’ surprising response to the man’s miraculous healing and why.
  • How Jesus explains why he is working on the Sabbath and why it causes some of the Jews to try to kill him.
  • Jesus’ warning to the healed man. Chronic conditions such as blindness or being crippled were widely seen in Jesus’ day to be God’s judgment for sin.

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 10:19-31

Background. Each year the high priest made a sacrifice for the sins of the nation and entered the Most Holy Place in the temple and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the Ark of the Covenant. This was the only time in the year that the priest could enter this Most Holy Place and he could not enter without blood.

This ritual was a foreshadowing of the real thing. It pointed to the day that Jesus, our true high priest, offered himself as a sacrifice on the cross and entered the true Most Holy Place, the throne room of God in heaven. The moment that Jesus died, Mark 8:38 tells us that the curtain that covered the Most Holy Place in the temple was torn from top to bottom. The way to God had been opened through his Son. Jesus has secured for us a new way to relate to God the Father and today’s reading describes that way of life for us.

Pay close attention to …

  • How we should now relate to God since Jesus has opened up the way into God’s presence (see verses 19-23).
  • How we should relate to our fellow Christians (verses 24-25).
  • What warning is given to those who deliberately continue to sin after receiving Jesus’ forgiveness (verses 26-31).

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 43:44-44:5

Background. The King mentioned in this passage must be a sore spot with the LORD. Israel got a king because of a continuing veering toward the heathen. The LORD was supposed to be the King of Israel but that was not good enough. The people whined to God that they want to have a king like all the nations around them. The demand of the people to Samuel for a king outraged him. The LORD told Samuel to warn the people what demands such a king will make on the people [I suppose in an effort to dissuade them from this rash behavior]. “So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.’

“But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected as their king, but me. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.'” (1 Samuel 8:4-9 NIV) It was not the LORD’s original intention that Israel be led by a king.
Pay close attention to …

  • Who are now the fugitives (v. 43:14)
  • What the LORD calls himself in verse 43:15
  • The fate of the army, chariots and horses (v. 43:17)
  • What the LORD is doing in the desert (v. 43:19)
  • For whom the people are formed and why (v. 43:21)
  • How Israel is not wearying themselves for the LORD (v. 43:23)
  • Why the LORD blots out their (our) transgressions (v. 43:25)
  • Who sinned (v. 43:27)
  • What is in store for Israel (Jacob) (v. 43:28)
  • What plans the LORD has in store for Israel after the “scorn” of verse 43:28
  • On whom the Spirit of the LORD will be poured out and the blessings attendant with that (v.44:3)
  • Whose name is glorified, praised and proclaimed (v. 44:5)

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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