Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, February 13, 2013 – Ash Wednesday

Prayer Psalm: 130

Prayer Point. We have created the oceans of pain and misery in this world. So how can we expect God to hear us when cry out for mercy? Because with God there is forgiveness. Follow Psalm 130 in prayer today by lifting up to God the pain of your life and brokenness of our world. Thank him for his forgiveness. Make space in your life to wait quietly for his answer.

Luke 18:9-14

Background. Pharisees were highly regarded in Jesus’ day for their commitment to following law of Moses. Tax-collectors were rightly despised because they profited from the misery of their countrymen by serving the hated Roman government and defrauding their neighbors.

Pay close attention to …

  • Whose prayer is accepted and why.
  • What these prayers teach us about true repentance.

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 12:1-14

Background. The book of Hebrews was written to a group of Jewish followers of Jesus who were experiencing persecution. It was severe enough for them to consider abandoning their faith in Jesus and returning to the safety of Judaism. This book was written to encourage them to cling to Jesus and to persevere in their new faith.

In chapter 11, the writer provided several examples of persevering faith from their Jewish history and now in chapter 12 the writer starts to point them to Jesus.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus can inspire us to persevere when we are persecuted.
  • How Christians should interpret suffering, especially what it tells us about our relationship with God.
  • How we should treat others despite our suffering.

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)

Jonah 3:1-4:11

Background. Jonah is one of my favorite prophets probably because we have so much in common. He was, what I like to call, a “reluctant prophet”. The Lord had called Jonah to go to Nineveh to warn the people there to repent “or else”. The “or else” was that the Lord would rain fire and brimstone on the city. Jonah, astute enough in the scriptures, realized that the Lord would show compassion on Nineveh if they turned from their wicked ways. As a result Jonah’s course of action was to leave town by way of a ship headed for Tarshish (probably modern day Spain). Not to be outdone, the Lord caused a great tempest to batter the ship on its journey. All the hands on deck were desperate to save ship, cargo and crew. As non-believers, each prayed to his god for mercy with no result. They needed to know who was responsible for their plight. They determined who the culprit was the old fashioned way: they drew lots. Meanwhile Jonah was below deck sound asleep (Jesus faced a similar situation during his ministry). So the men came to Jonah and presented to him their findings. He acknowledged that he was, in fact, running away from his God. Jonah told the chief of the crew to throw him into the sea and the tempest would then pass. Reluctantly the men threw Jonah overboard and immediately the sea became calm. That is not all. A great fish came along and swallowed up Jonah. Jonah was then left to “cool his heels” for three days to meditate on obeying the command of the Lord. After the three days and some serious repentance, the great fish vomited Jonah onto dry land. Here we pick up the story.

Pay close attention to …

  • What the Lord told Jonah to do (v. 3:2 )
  • What Jonah did (this time) (v.3:3 )
  • How many days it would take to walk through the city (v. 3:3 )
  • What Jonah said (v.3:4 )
  • How far Jonah got (v. 3:4 )
  • What the Ninevites did (v.3:5 )
  • What the king of Nineveh (Assyria) does (vv. 3:7-9 )
  • What God did (v. 3:10 )
  • What was Jonah doing (vv. 4:1-3 )
  • The question the Lord asks Jonah (4:4 )
  • To what Jonah then does (v. 4:5 )
  • What does the Lord do for Jonah (v. 4:6-7 )
  • Jonah’s attitude once the vine is gone (v. 8 )
  • What concern the Lord had (v. 11 )

Jonah knew that the Lord was compassionate and forgiving (unlike himself). He was reluctant because he did not want to go in the first place and I assure you that when he went preaching throughout the city there was no sense of urgency in his message nor any passion. Just a short monotone delivery of what, in English, is an 8 word sermon. His obedience was what might be termed as perfunctory. Jonah is thought to have delivered his message in the middle of the eighth century (750 B.C.) Perhaps Hosea was aware of Jonah’s prophecy and may have learned from it for he says: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rater than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6) Jonah had been shown great mercy in that his disobedience did not cost him his life. Few are the prophets who experience a “second chance”: “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time…” (Jonah 3:1) Compassion was not Jonah’s long suit (and unfortunately nor is it mine — j.t.). Can we see why this reading is quite appropriate for Ash Wednesday — the first day of Lent?

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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