Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, July 25, 2013

Psalm Prayer: 50

Prayer Point. We’d like to think that God reserves judgment only for irreligious bad people, but this psalm reminds us that “good people” (verses7-15) and “bad people” (verses 16-23) alike have reason to repent. Where do you see yourself in the descriptions of the wicked and the good? Confess those areas to God and pray for the faith to trust him and live with gratitude.

Mark 5:1-20

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 background  to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. The Gerasenes was not only “the other side of the lake” (Sea of Galilee) it was also the other side of the tracks. Jesus has left the Jewish world and entered a community of Gentiles. You might notice that there are herds of pigs in this region. No God-fearing Jew would ever raise pigs and very few Jews would have traveled to this region, but Jesus sails across the lake to save one demon-possessed Gentile man.

Pay close attention to …

  • Where the demon-possessed man lived and what his life was like before he met Jesus.
  • The demons’ name and its significance.
  • The demons’ response to Jesus’ mere presence and what it says about His power and authority.
  • How the people of the region respond to Jesus’ miracle.
  • Why Jesus refuses to allow the healed man to leave with him.
  • How the people of Decapolis respond to the healed man (verse 20).

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.

Acts 15:1-11

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 to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. As the gospel spreads beyond Judea and Samaria and to the Gentiles, the Christians in Jerusalem and Judea become increasingly nervous about the direction of the church. Finally the tensions reach their boiling point when elders from the church in Judea arrive in Antioch …

What do these teachers from Judea teach the Gentile Christians in Antioch? Who opposes them? How does the church decide to resolve the issue? What is the issue at stake? What do you think would have happened had they gotten this wrong?

Who gets up to defend Paul, Barnabas, and the uncircumcised Christians? What event does he point to demonstrating that God has accepted the Gentiles without circumcision? See Acts 10:1-11:18.

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.

1 Samuel 28:3-20

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? Use the “Background” below to help you understand the main points of this passage.

Background. What has Saul, to his horror, now realized about his relationship with God? The Urim was a set of stones that was kept with the high priest’s clothing. These stones were used to determine the will of God. You might remember that Saul in his anger had slaughtered the priests of God at Nob (1 Samuel 22) and the lone surviving priest, Abiathar, fled to David taking the Urim with him.

What does Saul resort to in an attempt to break the LORD’s silence?

Sometime earlier Saul had banished all necromancers and mediums from the land. Necromancers and mediums (witches) were expressly forbidden by the law: “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers, do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.” (Lev. 19:31 ESV) “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” (Lev. 20:6 ESV)

This is why this is so important. The Philistines are massing themselves against Israel (chapter 29) and Saul is fearful “and his heart trembled greatly”. (1 Sam. 28:5 ESV) Saul is endeavoring to find the LORD’s will. He seeks out prophets and dreamers, and even uses the Umim all to no avail. The LORD has turned a deaf ear to Saul so he stoops to stratagems and tricks to find out the will of the LORD. In desperation Saul seeks a woman of En-dor who is a medium to inquire of her the LORD’s will.

What is surprising about how Saul’s plan worked? What message does Samuel’s ghost deliver to him?

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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