Daily Bible Reading – Sunday, May 26, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 115

Prayer Point.  An idol is anything we trust for our security and significance outside of God. We all have them and without God’s intervention, we will become like the lifeless gods we serve. What idols have a hold on your heart? Confess them to God today and pray for the faith to believe that God will keep his promises and satisfy our souls.

Matthew 12:33-45

Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.

Read. Read the passage slowly either alone or in a group and answer the following questions:

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following “Background” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. We tend to think of sins in the plural. For example: I committed three sins today.  I lusted.  I yelled at the guy who cut me off in traffic. I got aggravated with my spouse. Jesus understood sin to be a singular problem.  You have a corrupt, sinful heart.  What we call sins, Jesus would consider to be only symptoms of a sin-corrupted heart. Jesus is looking for something deeper than behavior modification.  He seeks heart transformation.

Even religious people have hearts that are infected with sin, or, should I say, especially religious folk.  The besetting sin of the Pharisees and teachers of the law is pride. As Israelites they saw themselves as “in” God’s favor, while the rest of the nations of the world, the Gentiles, were “out”. Jesus will use two examples where Gentiles (the men of Nineveh – see the book of Jonah, the Queen of the South (Sheba) – see 1 Kings 10:1-13) proved more responsive to God than all of Israel, in an attempt to shame the Pharisees to repent of their religious arrogance.

Pay close attention to …

  • The connection between a tree and its fruit and the human heart and its actions.
  • The source of a man or woman’s words and actions. What must change if a person’s words and actions are to change.
  • The only sign Jesus will offer the Pharisees and teachers of the law when they demanded a sign from him.
  • How the Gentiles (the Queen of the South and the men of Nineveh) demonstrated greater faith than the Pharisees and teachers of the law.
  • What will happen if we don’t replace the vacuum left by expelled demons with God.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Share. What can I share and with whom can I share it?

Repent. How have I failed to obey and share what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.

Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey and share what I have read?

Final Prayer. Pray for the faith to believe the promises of God so that you might obey and share what you have learned.

Revelation 7:1-17

Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.

Read. Read the passage slowly either alone or in a group and answer the following questions:

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following “Background” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The book of Revelation teaches us that we live in the best of times and the worst of times. It is the best of times because Christ our savior has laid down his life for us securing our forgiveness and has risen from the dead securing our future. God’s victory is assured, no matter what the world throws at us. It is the worst of times because we are waiting for the return of Jesus Christ. The enemy still has the power to strike and make our lives miserable, but he lacks the power to kill our souls. God does not promise to shield us from suffering, he promises to shield us through our suffering.

God’s people, those who will be shielded through suffering are symbolized by the 144,000 described in verses 4-8. This includes people from Israel who remained faithful to God and those who were adopted into God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The imagery here also calls to mind the Exodus story when God rescued his people from slavery in Egypt (see Exodus chapters 11 and 12). In this story, God’s judgment was poured out on Egypt through the plagues, but God’s people, whose homes were marked (sealed) by the blood of the lamb were protected. We see the same thing happening in Revelation 7. The angels have been given power to harm the land, the sea, and the trees, but not before God’s people are sealed so that they will be saved through the judgment. Just as Egypt was judged and Israel saved through the judgment, so also will God’s people be saved when God brings judgment on the earth.

Pay close attention to …

  • The symbol that is used to describe God’s protection of his people; to shield them through suffering.
  • The people who are left standing at the end of God’s judgment (verse 9). Where are they from? What are they wearing? What are they shouting?
  • How the angels, the elders (representatives of God’s people in heaven) and the four living creatures (symbolic of God’s creation) respond to sight of God’s redeemed people (verses 11-12).
  • What Jesus, the Lamb, does for his people who suffered patiently.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Share. What can I share and with whom can I share it?

Repent. How have I failed to obey and share what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.

Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey and share what I have read?

Final Prayer. Pray for the faith to believe the promises of God so that you might obey and share what you have learned.

Deuteronomy 11:1-12

Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading.

Read. Read the passage slowly either alone or in a group and answer the following questions:

Listen. What is the passage saying? What are the main points? You can use the following “Background” and “Pay close attention to …”  sections to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. Moses is recounting the events of the exodus and the subsequent time in the wilderness.  He would like to impress upon the people that it is of supreme importance for these Hebrews to relay these stories to their children (see Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Deut. 8:3) and to remember that the word of God is more important than their very food.  Here he is putting these truths into practice.

Pay close attention to …

  • The first command in this chapter (v. 1 )
  • Whom he is speaking (v. 2 )
  • The reason to observe all the commands (v. 8-9 )
  • What is different in the “new” land versus Egypt (v.10-12 )

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Share. What can I share and with whom can I share it?

Repent. How have I failed to obey and share what God is asking me to do? Confess those failures to God and ask for his forgiveness.

Believe. Which of God’s promises would I need to believe in order to obey and share what I have read?

Final Prayer. Pray for the faith to believe the promises of God so that you might obey and share what you have learned.

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