Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 119:25-48

Prayer Point. Understanding and following the law of God (following Jesus) is very difficult.  Psalm 119 reminds us that we face formidable obstacles within ourselves and in the world around us.  Which obstacles are present in your life.  Lift those up to God and pray that he will give you the wisdom, the strength, the faith and the courage to follow Jesus.

Luke 4:38-44

Background. The central theme of Jesus’ early ministry is the power and authority of his teaching.  He speaks and demons flee.  His words cause the sick to be healed.  Those who have eyes to see recognize him to be the Christ (Messiah, the promised king sent to rescue God’s people).  Jesus silences them because his purpose is to reveal himself to the world through his crucifixion and resurrection. In other words, it’s not yet time.

You’ll also notice that the crowds wait until after sundown to gather outside Simon’s (Peter) house. The reason is that the Sabbath ran from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday and the Jewish authorities had ruled that healing was not appropriate on the Sabbath.  This will become a central point of contention between Jesus and the religious authorities.

Pay close attention to …

  • The method by which Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law and what it says about his power and authority.
  • The testimony of the demons and Jesus’ response to them.
  • Why Jesus withdraws from Capernaum even though the people there still sought him.
  • The content of Jesus’ message in verse 43 and what it says about his mission.

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)

1 John 5:1-12

Background. Most Jewish people in John’s day believed that membership in the children of God was a birthright. You were born into it and unless you lived an exceedingly sinful life you stayed in your entire life.  Your identity as a member of the nation of Israel was more than enough. John, who was Jesus’ disciples for three years, saw it differently.  A person becomes a child, not by birthright, but by miracle.  That person is literally “born again” or “born from above” or “born of God.”  John described it this way in the first chapter of his Gospel.

John 1:12 Yet to all who received him [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

This new birth will be connected to believing Jesus is the Christ. Christ is the Greek translation of Messiah, the hope of Israel.  Devout Jews in John’s day were waiting for the arrival of this Messiah.  The Messiah was the promised king sent by God to rescue his people and re-establish God’s peace and justice on the earth.  This new kingdom was often called by Jesus, “the kingdom of God” and the “kingdom of heaven.”

John will also talk about the “water,” “blood,” and “spirit” which testify to Jesus’ identity.  The water refers to Jesus’ baptism where the Holy Spirit descended on Him.  The blood is the blood he shed on the cross.  The Spirit is the Holy Spirit which Jesus poured out on the church after he ascended to heaven.

Pay close attention to …

  • What is true of everyone who believes Jesus is the Christ.
  • What a believer will do with regards to God’s children.
  • How obedience to God and love for God are connected.
  • Why God’s commands are not burdensome for those who are born of God.  Note that the world John refers to is sinful humanity that is separated from God.
  • What three things testify that God has given us eternal life through Jesus.
  • What is true of all those who have and do not have the Son.

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)

Daniel 5:1-12

Background. While the Bible is not clear how much time has passed between Chapters 4 and 5, we learn that the king referred to in Chapter 5 is not Nebuchadnezzar but someone named Belshazzar.  It turns out that this Belshazzar is either Nebuchadnezzar’s son or, more likely, his grandson.  [The term ‘father’ as used here is not unlike the same use of father in the expression of “king so and so did evil in the sight of the LORD and was not like his father David…”  David was referred to as the ‘father’ of virtually every king in Judah.]  The upshot is that Daniel is not known by this king and there is speculation that Daniel was quite old when this event took place.

Pay close attention to …

  • What the king and his guests drink from (vv. 2-3 )
  • The added insult — whom these people praised (v. 4 )
  • What the king and his guests saw and how they reacted(vv. 5, 6 )
  • For whom the king calls in this crisis (v. 7 )
  • The task set before these magicians, diviners and astrologers (v.  7)
  • The problem (vv. 8-9 )
  • Who suggests a solution (v. 10 )
  • Daniel’s Babylonian name (v. 12 )

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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