Daily Bible Readings – Monday, March 4, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 80

Prayer Point. Just as a flower cannot bloom without the sun, the human soul cannot live without God. God led Israel out of slavery and made them a free people,  causing them to flourish like a vine planted in the fertile soil of the Promised Land. They thrived until pride caused them to turn away from God and his judgment came down upon them. The world we experience today is broken for the same reason.  We broke it with our sin, but we can still appeal to God’s mercy.  Confess your sins to God and follow this psalm’s lead to restore us: “Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us that we may be saved.”

John 7:14-36

Background. The question of Jesus’ authority is at the heart of today’s reading. He has openly challenged the religious leaders’ interpretation of the Law.  He brazenly healed a man on the Sabbath even though the teachers of the law believed healing to be work and therefore a violation of the 4th Commandment (see Exodus 20:8-11). Who does Jesus think he is anyway? God?

Jesus teaches in the temple during the Feast of Tabernacles, which commemorated God’s provision for Israel while they wandered in the wilderness for forty years.  (See the book of Exodus for that story. It involves bread from heaven, water flowing out or rocks and meat delivered to their door.) His teaching is that of a great rabbi, but the idea of a self-taught rabbi was as absurd as a self-instructed doctor would be today. It just wasn’t done and yet Jesus, who had no rabbi, speaks with a wisdom unlike anyone who had come before him and the people don’t know what to do with him.

Pay close attention to …

  • Whom Jesus claims as his “rabbi”, the source of his teaching (see verse 16).
  • What it takes to learn the source of Jesus’ teaching (verse 17)
  • Whose honor a true teacher pursues (verse 18).
  • The people’s great sin (verse 19).
  • The connection between knowing Jesus and knowing God the Father, the “One who sent him.”
  • How Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of the belief that is unlawful to heal on the Sabbath.(verses 21-24)
  • Why the crowds are skeptical of Jesus (verses 25-27)
  • Where Jesus claims he is from, how the crowds respond and why the crowds’ plans are frustrated (see verse 30). How others in the crowd responded and why (verse 31). What the Pharisees plan to do (verse 32).
  • Where Jesus is going that he cannot be followed (verses 33-36)

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)

Romans 4:1-12

Background. Paul has spent much of this letter to the Romans arguing that both Jews (the circumcised) and Gentiles (the uncircumcised) have equal standing before God. Neither is acceptable to God (justified or righteous) through their obedience. Both are sinners; moral religious types and immoral pagans both need the forgiveness of God because both are deserving of his judgment.

There is now a new righteousness made available to us through Christ through his perfect life, death and resurrection in our place. We obtain this righteousness,not through our obedience,  but by receiving it by faith in Jesus. This may have surprised many of Paul’s Jewish readers but he will show that it has always been this way. Abraham the father of the nation of Israel is Exhibit A.

Pay close attention …

  • How  righteousness (think: right or acceptable to God) was credited to Abraham.
  • The difference between wages that are earned and those that are credited as a gift.  Which one applies to Abraham and to us. (The word justified means to declare righteous or innocent)
  • Which came first Abraham’s righteousness or his circumcision. (This is important because many Jewish followers of Jesus did not think that the uncircumcised could be right with God without getting circumcised and following Jewish Law.)
  • Who can claim Abraham as their “father”.


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)

Jeremiah 7:1-15

Background. Thus far we have seen that Jeremiah was called very early in life: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV)  He has had some harsh words (from the Lord) for Israel (the Northern Kingdom); then he focuses his attention on Judah, who, it appears, is considered worse than Israel from God’s perspective.  The echo throughout what we’ve covered so far is ” ‘return, faithless people,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 3:14 NIV)

The theme throughout all of lent is one of repentance.  That is church talk for “return, faithless people”.  While we were studying Deuteronomy we saw that Moses was always urging the people to “remember”.  Remember what the Lord had done for them; remember their sins; remember to obey the voice of the Lord, and especially to remember “…that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord”. (Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV)  Perhaps the most important thing Moses tried to impress on his people was: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts [minds — j.t.].  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you talk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands [i.e., in what you do — j.t.] and bind them on your foreheads (i.e., in your mind (or heart) –j.t..].  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”  (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NIV)  Back to Jeremiah.

So Jeremiah might not be someone one would want to invite to a party: he was not what you might call a barrel of laughs.  As a result, he did not have many friends, but those whom he had were treasured and faithful.  His most notable friend served him as a secretary (scribe).  The word often used in the Old Testament to describe a prophecy was “burden”.  I believe that Jeremiah was truly burdened and anguished by the apostasy (falling away) he was witnessing in Judah (and Jerusalem).  Perhaps during this season of Lent we might dwell (meditate) on our own shortcomings and errors (sins) and at what cost it was to “blot them out”.  “Repent!” &”Remember!”

The tabernacle had originally been set up (it was a tent) in a place called Shiloh.  It so happened that Israel had gone to war with her perennial enemy the Philistines.  Israel was being sorely beaten by these heathen uncircumcised Philistines.  What to do … someone got the brilliant idea to bring to the battlefield the ark of the covenant.  The Hebrews reasoned that if the ark were with them then the Lord would secure victory for his people.  They were in for a huge disappointment.  The Philistine raids were a visitation from the Lord for Israel’s sins.  The upshot is that Israel was again defeated but, worse than that, the ark of the covenant was captured by the heathen uncircumcised Philistines.  Israel was trying to manipulate God in to doing its will.  They were using the ark as a talisman (a “lucky charm” as it were).

Pay close attention to …

  • Where Jeremiah is told to stand as he gives his message (v. 2 )
  • The opening remarks from the Lord that Jeremiah delivers (v. 3 )
  • What the Lord does not want the people to do (v. 4 )
  • What the Lord, then, wants the people to do (vv. 5-6 )
  • What the house of the Lord is likened to (v. 11 )
  • What the Lord wants the people (certainly the elders and teachers) to remember about Shiloh (v. 12 )
  • Just how impartial the Lord is (v. 14 )
  • The warning (v. 15 )

The first thing that Jesus did during the final week of his life was to “cleanse” the temple.  This is the passage he quotes as he turns over the tables of the money changers and sellers.  The event is recorded in Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17 and Luke 19:46.

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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