Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, February 16, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 43

Prayer Point. The author of Psalm 43 believes God has abandoned him but notice how he prays: “Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  Pray this on behalf of someone you know who is going through a difficult time.

John 1:43-51

Background. You became a rabbi in Jesus’ day by becoming the disciple of a rabbi. Disciples literally followed their rabbis everywhere they went. They lived together. They ate together. The disciple watched the rabbi carefully because his purpose was to learn to do what the rabbi did and become like him. Rabbis accepted new disciples with the words, “follow me.”

In verse 51 Jesus speaks of the heavens opening and angels of God ascending and descending on the son of man. This is a reference to two important passages in the Old Testament:

  1. Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel and became Israel’s namesake, had a dream where the heavens opened and he saw a ladder reaching to heaven with angels ascending and descending upon it. God stood above the ladder and announced to Jacob that he was included in the promises God had given to his grandfather and father, Abraham and Isaac. See Genesis 28:10-22.
  2. The Son of Man is a reference to another divine dream, which was given to the prophet Daniel. In this vision, Daniel sees a figure called the “son of man” ascending into heaven, led into the presence of God the Father, seated on a throne and given authority to rule heaven and earth. See Daniel 7:13-14.

By mixing these two images, Jesus is saying that the ladder that Jacob saw in his dream is the Son of Man.

Pay close attention to …

  • What Philip does immediately after being invited to follow Jesus.
  • How Philip describes Jesus to Nathanael and how Nathanael responds.
  • How Jesus demonstrates his power to Nathanael and how Nathanael now sees him.
  • The greater thing that Nathanael will see.

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)

Titus 3:1-15

Background. Titus, who was a member of Paul’s missionary team, has been left behind on Crete to strengthen the churches that Paul established. Titus’ mission is to select elders for these churches and to teach the people how to live their lives in a way that is consistent with the gospel they have been taught.

Pay close attention to …

  • How the Cretan Christians are to relate to those outside the church; their rulers, fellow citizens.
  • What their lives were like before they followed Jesus.
  • What caused their lives to change. 
  • Why God saves us, how he saves us and the purpose for which he saves us.
  • What Titus is to stress in his teaching and what he is to avoid.
  • How divisive people in the church are to be handled.
  • Why the Cretans must devote themselves to do what is good (see verse 14).

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)

Deuteronomy 7:17-26

Background. The Lord seeks to assuage the fears of the Israelites in the campaign to conquer the land. He wants the people to trust that he is able to achieve this goal. He also recognizes that the people are fear-filled when it comes to face to face combat. In this passage the Lord reminds the people just how he overcame the powerful Egyptians through such things as flies, frogs, locusts, palpable darkness, fiery hail to mention only a few. The same forces will be brought to bear on Israel’s enemies as they begin to take the land.

Pay close attention to …

  • The argument of the people (v. 7:17 )
  • What the Lord’s answer to these objections is (vv. 7:18-21 )
  • How the Lord will drive out the nations (vv. 7:22-24 )
  • The images of their gods (v. 7:25 )
  • The gold and silver (v. 7:25 )
  • What not to bring into your house (v. 7:26 )

I suppose one of the difficulties of having a God whom one cannot see is that one may come to think that God is not even there. This is echoed much in the Psalms with voices of frustration, particularly when it appears that the godless are prospering. In Old Testament times many people (good ones too) thought that personal prosperity was a sign of God’s favor. Job was remarkably prosperous (in today’s terms he was probably a multi-millionaire) and yet he suffered the loss of everything. Happily for Job his attitude was enviable: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21 NIV) Job didn’t lose just his wealth, he lost, in one day, his ten children. Evidently Job’s wealth was not a snare to him as cautioned in Deuteronomy 7:25. [Job was fully restored after his ordeal but that was because he proved faithful in everything. — j.t.]

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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