Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 120

Prayer Point. The psalmist models for us a simple way to handle fear: “I call on the LORD in my distress and he answers me.” Act on that promise today. Lift up your concerns to God and wait for him to answer.

John 9:18-41

Background. Jesus’ opponents, the Pharisees, are in a bind.  A man born blind can suddenly see, but he was healed by Jesus on the Sabbath.

The Pharisees had built their reputation with the people through their strict observance of the Law of Moses. They interpreted the law for the people and had very publicly declared that healing on the Sabbath was forbidden.  The fourth commandment, found in Exodus 20:8-11, prohibited any work on the Sabbath (Saturday). The Pharisees considered healing to be work and therefore unlawful  on the Sabbath. But the question lingers: how could Jesus heal this man if he was a sinner?  To accept the miracle was to admit that Jesus was right and they were wrong.  To deny the miracle was to deny what was plain to everyone; the man was blind, but now he sees.

Some other details that may be helpful: when the healed man is called back before the Pharisees he is asked to “give glory to God.” (see verse 24) This is simply the Jewish way of saying, “swear to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” When the Pharisees accuse the healed man of being “steeped in sin at birth” (verse 34), they were referring to his blindness at birth.  Birth defects were seen as divine punishment for sin.

Finally, Jesus will refer to himself as the “Son of Man” in verse 35. This is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14 and a bold assertion of Jesus’ divinity and power to heal and to be the final authority of the Law’s true meaning.

Daniel 7:13-14 In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.  He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every nation worshiped him.

Pay close attention to …

  • Why the formerly blind man’s parents are afraid to vouch for their son.
  • The blind man’s testimony to the Pharisees and why it enrages them.
  • Who is truly blind in this story.
  • How the Pharisees missed the opportunity to have their guilt removed.

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 10:1-13

Background.  Paul has been contrasting two types of righteousness throughout his letter to the Roman Christians.  There is righteousness that comes from obedience to the Law of God.  This form of righteousness depends on our effort to keep the Law of God perfectly. There is a second form of righteousness that is received by faith as opposed to our effort.  This righteousness is given by God as gift to those who believe his promises. It is not an earned wage.

It is sad to note that many of God’s people who had the Law failed to discern its purpose. It was given to show that they could not keep it, nor could they earn God’s blessings.  It was created to make them desperate for God’s grace (see Romans 7:21-24). But many stubbornly clung to their own righteousness and so missed the opportunity to receive the righteousness that God gave freely.  It is only by this righteousness by faith that anyone can be saved.

In verse 4 Paul writes, “Christ is the end of the law.” The word ‘end’ has the meaning not of doing away with the law, but completing the law. Jesus kept the law to its full extent, to its completion, for us.

Pay close attention to …

  • Paul’s desire for those within Israel who were not yet saved. Note that in many ways they remind Paul of himself before he encountered Christ.  (See Acts 9:1-19 and Philippians 3:4-6)
  • What those in Israel missed despite being zealous for God.  Which form of righteousness they cling to.
  • The contrast between the righteousness that is by law and the righteousness that is by faith.
  • The specific promises and truths that must be believed in order to be saved.
  • Whether there is any difference between how a Jew and a Gentile becomes right with God.

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 25:8-17

Background. Here we learn that Jeremiah has been bringing his message to the people for the past twenty-three years.  (King Josiah had died some four years earlier.)  Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, is now king and nowhere near as righteous as was his father.  Jeremiah’s complaint to the people is that regardless of who the prophet is the people refuse to listen.  (Let’s face it, Jesus had the same problem in his own time.)  Jeremiah speaking: “They said, ‘Turn now each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the LORD gave to you and your fathers for ever and ever.  Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not provoke me to anger with what your hands have made.  Then I will not harm you.’ ” (Jeremiah 25:5-6 NIV)  However, the people do not listen.

Pay close attention to …

  • The LORD’s plans for the obstinate (“stiff-necked”) (vv. 8-11 )
  • How long the Jews are to “serve the king of Babylon” (v. 11 )
  • What is offered to Jeremiah from the LORD to take to the “nations” (v. 15 )

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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