Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, October 26, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 32

Prayer Point.  Secret sin is a burden that saps our strength. Why suffer if our sins are forgiven and covered through Christ? Confess your sins to God today. Rejoice in his forgiveness. Submit yourself to him and allow him to teach you the way you should go.

Matthew 12:33-42

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. Complete this analogy based on what Jesus says in verses 33-35:

A tree is to its fruit as a person’s _____________________ is to their _________________.

Jesus compares the Pharisees to a “brood of vipers.” Why are these religious people incapable of saying anything good? What must be cured if we are going to change? What is in our future if we do not change?

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law rightly perceive that Jesus is attacking their credibility, so they demand that he perform a miraculous sign to “prove” that he was the Messiah. Jesus never performed a miracle to prove himself to an unbelieving person. The Pharisees and teachers of the law demand a sign. What is the only sign that Jesus offers them?

Jesus uses two examples from the Old Testament where Gentiles demonstrated greater faith than Israel did. He does this to shame them. We should pay close attention to them because pride is the sin that especially trips up religious people. Because we belong to God, we begin to see “outsiders” as being our inferiors. In Jonah’s day, it was the violent and vile Assyrians who repented before the Israelites did.

In Solomon’s day, the Queen of the South traveled a great distance to listen to the wisdom of this great king (see 1 Kings 10:1-13). Jesus, who is a greater king than Solomon, is here and ironically his own people won’t listen to him.

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Repent. How have I failed to obey 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?

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

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

Philemon

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

Background. Philemon is a personal letter from Paul to a wealthy slave owner named Philemon, hence the name. Slavery was pervasive in Roman society, and the church was slowly coming to grips with the implications of Christ’s teaching and the institution of slavery. Philemon was a Christian, but he was also a slave owner.

Paul writes on behalf of Philemon’s runaway slave, Onesimus, who has become a Christian through Paul. As a runaway, Onesimus was in serious legal trouble, but under Paul’s guidance, he agrees to return to his master. Paul is not condoning slavery, but is practicing the Christian idea of “submissive subversion”. Just as Christ took down Rome, and the power behind Rome (death), by submitting to death on the cross, so also Christians were called to bring down injustice, not through armed revolution, but by submitting to it. See 1 Corinthians 7:21-24; Ephesians 6:5-9.

Notice that Paul could order Philemon as to what he should do, how does Paul appeal to him instead? How does Paul refer to Onesimus? Does he consider Onesimus to be property or something else? How does Paul want Philemon to consider Onesimus from this point forward?

How does Onesimus’ new identity in Jesus undo his status as a slave? Why do you think Paul and Onesimus decided to ask Philemon for Onesimus’ freedom rather than demand it?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Repent. How have I failed to obey 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?

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

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

Ezra 4:7, 11-24

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. We know from history that those who are in power are ever vigilant of those who would deprive them of that power.  It is also true that when one people appear to be thriving, envy and jealousy seize their neighbors.  This was true in Jerusalem as well.  Let’s face it, the Jews have never been a people warmly received.  So when it became clear to the peoples about Jerusalem (the non-Jews) that the activity going on in Jerusalem might mean its resurgence on the world stage, they took it upon themselves to write to the king.

Who is raised up to oppose the rebuilding of Jerusalem? How do they succeed in convincing Artaxerxes, the king of Persia, to put a stop to the rebuilding effort?

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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