Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 119:73-96

Prayer Point.  The God who made us is  the God we must obey if we seek to live with wisdom. His law are the path to life. But there are obstacles that block our attempts to follow him: our own ignorance, sin, and the brokenness of our world. What is getting in your way as you try to follow Jesus?  Lift those to God, ask him to remove them that we might live according to his will.

Luke 8:16-25

Background. In yesterday’s reading, Jesus compared his teachings, the very Word of God, to seeds planted by a farmer.  In today’s reading, he will liken his words to light.

In our educational system, it is enough that a student knows and understands the ideas taught by the teacher, but Jesus is looking for something more from his disciples and from us.

Pay close attention to …

  • What Jesus expects us to do with the light of his teaching and what will happen if we     don’t (verses 16-18).
  • Jesus’ true family and its connection to what is to be done with his teaching (19-21).
  • What is lacking in Jesus’ disciples as they are caught in the storm (22-25).
  • The reaction of the disciples’ after Jesus calms the storm.

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 13:1-14

Background. The first eleven chapters of Romans lays out what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. Chapters 13-15 describe the life we are to live in response to God’s grace and mercy. In verse 9 Paul will use some of the 10 Commandments to describe that grace-filled way of life.  For Paul, the Law is not the way we make ourselves acceptable to God, but it does gives us a way to express to our neighbors the love that God the Father has poured into our hearts through Jesus Christ.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Christians are to relate to those who are in authority (verses 1-9).  Note that these Christians lived under the pagan, cruel and corrupt Roman Empire.
  • The one rule that sums up all the commandments (verses 8-10).
  • How we are to live knowing that Christ’s return is near (verses 11-14).

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)

Leviticus 19:1-18

What is the first pronouncement in Chapter 19?  (“Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:1 NIV))

The next verse is a nod to the fifth commandment and to the fourth commandment.  Can you name them?  (The fifth commandment is a reminder to “Honor your father and your mother.”  The fourth commandment: “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.” (Exodus 20:12 and 8))

Given that then next item is one of the LORD’s pet peeves, it surprises me that it is not delivered earlier in this chapter.  What am I talking about?  (“Do not turn to idols or make gods of cast metal for yourselves.  I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:4 NIV))

To which commandment is LORD referring in verse 4?  (The LORD is referring to the second commandment.)

In verses 5-6 of Chapter 19, the LORD lays out strict guidelines (or are they commands?) regarding the consumption of the fellowship offerings.  What are they?  (The offerings are to be eaten for only the first two days.  Any remaining must be burned with fire on the third day.)

Why, do you suppose, the offerings to be eaten cannot be eaten on the third day?  (The offering is impure on the third day and the consequences of ignoring this command is to be “cut off” from the people.)

“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.  Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen.  Leave them for the poor and the alien.  I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:9-10 NIV)  Apart from the obvious reason of urging his people to have a heart for the poor and the alien, what other message can be gleaned from this verse?  (I think the message is that the LORD has freely given; you must freely give.  It is not unlike forgiveness.  Freely we have been forgiven; we must be able to forgive freely.)

Verse 11 discusses at least two of the Ten Commandments.  Which ones are they?  (The eighth commandment forbids stealing; the ninth commandment condemns giving false testimony against one’s neighbor.  Lying and deceiving are two peas in a pod.  Giving false testimony is lying.)

What is the difference between lying, giving false testimony, and swearing falsely by the LORD’s name?  (The big difference is that taking the LORD’s name falsely is put in a category all by itself.  That is the third command.  This is serious because by doing this one is asking God to swear that a lie is the truth.)

Verse 13 warns against defrauding your neighbor or robbing him.  What command does this one address?  (Defrauding and robbing are key elements of stealing – i.e., a violation of the eighth commandment.)

Verse 13 further warns against holding back the wages of a hired man overnight.  This also is a clear violation of the eighth commandment.

“Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God.  I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:14 NIV)  Does this prohibition fall under one of the Ten Commandments?  (Since I think every prohibition can be categorized somewhere among the Ten Commandments, I place this one with the sixth commandment – against murder.  What is your opinion?)

“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” (Leviticus 19:15 NIV)  How can these two offenses be listed among the Ten Commandments?  (Since showing partiality to the poor and favoritism to the great would be, shall we say, exaggerating, and since exaggerating is less than truthful, i.e,. a lie, I believe these violate the ninth command which prohibits false witness.)

Slander is always a lie.  “Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life.” (Leviticus 19:16b NIV)  What commandment does this fall under?  (This one can possibly fall under two commands: the sixth which prohibits murder and the tenth against coveting what does not belong to one.  David will certainly be found guilty of this offense in the case of Uriah the Hittite which was later identified as murder.  King Ahab went from coveting his neighbor’s vineyard to killing him for it.)

The culmination of this set of instructions ends with Jesus’ declaration of the second of the two greatest commandments, i.e., love your neighbor as yourself.   Why is the command against seeking revenge just “plain good sense”?  (Since revenge “is best served cold” it tends to take its toll more on the one holding the grudge than on the object of the revenge.  Objectively speaking, seeking revenge or holding a grudge is a waste of time.)

Six commands govern our behavior to our “neighbors”.  The first four govern our behavior toward God.

Verse 19 prohibits planting a field with two kinds of seed, the wearing of clothing of two kinds of material and the mating of different kinds of animals.  I can understand not crossbreeding animals.  I don’t pretend to understand the other two.  So I sought some help from both the NIV Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible.  The NIV Study Bible: p. 172  “19:19 Do not mate … plant … wear.  Such mixing symbolically violated the distinction God established in the creation order.”

The ESV Study Bible: p. 243  “19:19  Two different kinds of domesticated animals are not to be crossbred, and types of cloth are not to be worn together.  Ceremonial holiness requires that things stay in their proper sphere, just as Israel must observe its separation from the nations (20:22-26)”

Wisdom 13:1-9  (Not Scripture, but still worthwhile reading for the Christian)

For all people who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature;
and they were unable from the good things that are seen
to know the one who exists,
nor did they recognize the artisan while paying heed to his works;
2    but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air,
or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water,
or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world.
3    If through delight in the beauty of these things people assumed them to be gods,
let them know how much better than these is their LORD,
for the author of beauty created them.
4    And if people were amazed at their power and working,
let them perceive from them
how much more powerful is the one who formed them.
5    For from the greatness and beauty of created things
comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.
6    Yet these people are little to be blamed,
for perhaps they go astray
while seeking God and desiring to find him.
7    For while they live among his works, they keep
and they trust in what they see, because the things
that are seen are beautiful.
8    Yet again, not even they are to be excused;
9    for if they had the power to know so much
that they could investigate the world,
how did the fail to find sooner the LORD of these things?

Pay close attention to …

  • How the writer describes these folks who appear to be ignorant of God (v. 1 and Romans 1:18-20 )*
  • How the writer leads us through all of creation and its wonders and beauty to bring us to faith in God (vv. 3-9 )

*On Monday I pointed out that wisdom at that time was thought of as doing the right thing.  This suggests that to do the opposite (to do the wrong thing) is foolishness.  As Paul puts it: “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:22-23 NIV)  [As described here by Paul, wisdom appears to be much as we think it today: i.e., expertise in some field of study — 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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