Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, April 21, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 103

Prayer Point. Are looking for a reason to praise God? Psalm 103 gives you a number of options. Concentrate on two or three and offer your own prayer of praise.

Matthew 7:15-27

Background.  There is a metaphor (trees and fruit) and a concept (wisdom and foolishness) that bears some explanation in today’s reading.  Jesus is comparing the heart, that is the center of a person – their motives, to a tree and a person’s behavior as the fruit of the tree.

For a Jew in Jesus’ day, wisdom and foolishness were not indicators of someone’s intellect, but of their moral compass.  A wise person was someone whose life was in harmony with the will of God, whereas a fool was someone who rebelled against God.

Pay close attention to …

  • How a false prophet can be identified.
  • Why some who call Jesus, “Lord,” will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
  • The definition of a wise and foolish man and what happens to each one when the storms of life come.
  • The crowds’ reaction to Jesus’ teaching.

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 Peter 5:1-11

Background.  The Apostle Peter wrote this letter to encourage Christians in what we call Western Turkey today.  Most likely this letter was circulated among the churches and read out loud to each congregation.  Peter understood himself to be an elder or shepherd of God’s church. What is interesting is that we don’t see then the rigid hierarchy in the church that we see today.  Peter sees himself as an elder writing to his fellow elders.

The letter addressed different groups within the church which will be apparent in today’s reading.

Pay close attention to …

  • Peter’s instructions to his fellow elders. Look closely at the attitude with which they serve.  How they relate to the church.  What should and should not motivate them.
  • The challenge he gives to young men (verse 5).
  • The instructions given to everyone in the church (verses 6-11).  What are the themes?

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)

Exodus 28:1-4, 30-38

What is Moses to make for his brother Aaron (and his four sons) and why?  (“Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron, to give him dignity and honor.” (Exodus 28:2 NIV))

How are the “skilled men” supposed to know how to fashion these garments?  (“Tell all the skilled men to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron…” (Exodus 28:3 NIV))

What garments are these “skilled men” supposed to make? (“These are the garments they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash.” (Exodus 28:4 NIV))

What is the purpose of all this tailoring?  (“They are to make these sacred garments for your brother Aaron and his sons, so they may serve me as priests.” (Exodus 28:4 NIV))

Verse 30 mentions something called “Urim and Thummim”.  What do you suppose these are?  (Actually, we don’t know exactly what these items are.  We know that they were used in decision-making.  “Also put the Urim and Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord.  Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord.” (Exodus 28:30 NIV))

What interesting feature is on the ephod?  What was its purpose?  (The ephod was to have bells around the hem; they were to announce the priest’s presence and so that he would not die when he enters the Holy Place.)

What color was the ephod to be? (The ephod was to be blue in color.)

What is to be written on the gold plate designed for priest’s turban?  (“Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: HOLY TO THE LORD.” (Exodus 28:36 NIV))

What is the purpose of the blue cord attached to the turban?  (“It (the cord) will be on Aaron’s forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be.  It will be on Aaron’s forehead continually so that they will be acceptable the LORD.” (Exodus 28:38 NIV))

Wisdom 1:1-15 (Not Scripture, but still worthwhile reading for the Christian)

Background.
The title of this book is somewhat misleading.  Solomon had nothing to do with it.  The writer “borrowed” Solomon’s name to give the book some credence (believability) and some weight, after all Solomon was the wisest man ever to have lived to that point.

Wisdom of Solomon

Wisdom is one of the books of the apocrypha which is not part of the bible we use.  The following is from The New Interpreter’s Study Bible:

The Wisdom of Solomon (also known as the book of Wisdom) is an anonymous work.  It is clear, however, that the author adopts the persona of King Solomon.  For example, the author’s quest for wisdom in Wisdom 7:1-14 can be compared to Solomon’s plea in 1 Kings 3:6-9.  Also, the author’s reference to God’s command to build the Temple (Wis. 9:7-8) can only parallel the Solomon of the OT.  Pseudepigraphal writing — i.e., writing under the assumed name of a famous person — is a well-attested genre of the ancient world, and the Wisdom of Solomon is one celebrated example.  The author of this book, therefore is conventionally referred  to as “Pseudo-Solomon” (here abbreviated Ps-Solomon).

It is almost universally accepted that the book of Wisdom was written in Greek by an Alexandrian Jew.  Although some scholars have argued for an original Hebrew or Aramaic version, these arguments have not proved persuasive.  The presence of occasional Semitic idioms and syntax in a Greek composition does not argue for a Semitic original but simply reflects the mixing of cultures and languages during the time in which the Wisdom of Solomon was written.  Irrespective of what may have been the background, the Wisdom of Solomon is truly a Greek composition.  Nor is there reason to assign the authorship of the book to more than one writer.  The presence of certain words and phrases throughout the book argues for its unity.

As is the case with so much of ancient literature, it is very difficult to pin down the date of composition with any degree of certainty.  A date somewhere between 100 BCE (Before the Common Era) and 50 CE (Common Era) has been the broad consensus.  A date before 70 CE is reasonable, in part because the author neither mentions nor alludes to the cataclysmic event of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in that year.  Some have proposed a more specific date, during the reign of Gaius Caligula (37-41 CE).  This date may be defended on two bases.  First, there is a clear undercurrent of strong persecution (see. 2:12-5:14), which would make sense in Caligula’s reign.  Second, the author’s vocabulary consists of a significant number of words and usages that are unattested elsewhere before the 1st century CE.

Chapter 1
1  Love righteousness, you rulers of the earth,
    think of the LORD in goodness
    and seek him with sincerity of heart;
2  because he is found by those who do not put him to the test,
    and manifests himself to those who do not distrust him.
3  For perverse thoughts separate people from God,
    and when his power is tested, it exposes the foolish;
4  because wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul,
    or dwell in a body enslaved to sin.
5  For a holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit,
    and will leave foolish thoughts behind,
    and will be ashamed at the approach of unrighteousness.

6  For wisdom is a kindly spirit,
    but will not free blasphemers from the guilt of their words;
    because God is witness of their inmost feelings,
    and a true observer of their hearts, and a hearer of their tongues.

7  Because the spirit of the LORD has filled the world,
    and that which holds all things together knows what is said,
8  therefore those who utter unrighteous things will not escape notice,
    and justice, when it punishes will not pass them by.
9  For iniquity will be made into the counsels of the ungodly,
    and a report of their words will come to the LORD,
    to convict them of their lawless deeds;
10 because a jealous ear hears all thing,
    and the sound of grumbling does not go unheard.
11 Beware then of useless grumbling,
    and keep your tongue from slander;
    because no secret word is without result,
    and a lying mouth destroys the soul.

12 Do not invite death by the error of your life
    or bring on destruction by the works of your hands;
13 because God did not make death,
    and he does not delight in the death o the living.
14 For he created all things so that they might exist;
    the generative forces of the world are wholesome
    and there is no destructive poison in  them,
    and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.
15 For righteousness is immortal.

Pay close attention to …

  • To seeking the LORD with sincerity of heart (v. 2 )
  • The holy and disciplined spirit (v. 5 )
  • What God is witness to (v. 6 )
  • How the words of the ungodly will convict them of their lawless deeds (v. 6 )
  • What destroys the soul (v. 11 )
  • God and death (vv. 12-13 )
  • Righteousness (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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