Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 119:49-72

Prayer Point.  Walking God’s path is not easy as this section of Psalm 119 reminds us. Scattered throughout the psalm are appeals to God for help. Pick one or two that resonate with you and make it your prayer this morning.

Matthew 13:10-17

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. Jesus spoke in parables to the crowds, but he explained them when he was alone with his disciples. Why did Jesus speak exclusively in parables to the crowds? Look at the Jesus’ use of the prophet Isaiah’s words in verses 13-15 for the answer. What is Jesus giving the disciples by explaining the parables to them?

Ultimately the parable of the sower is a story about the secrets of the kingdom of God (verse 11). Keep this mind as Jesus explains the meaning of the story in tomorrow’s reading.

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.

Revelation 5:1-10

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. The vision from heaven’s perspective continues in chapter 5. God is seated on the throne, with a sealed scroll in his right hand. The scroll represents God’s plan to restore Creation, rescue his people, and rid the world of evil once and for all. What is it that causes John to weep at the sight of this scene? Who steps forward to open the scroll? What is interesting about this Lamb? Who must this Lamb be?

What do the four living creatures (representative of the reflection of God’s glory in creation) and the 24 elders (representative of God’s people, Israel and the church who have died and are in heaven) do once the Lamb opens the scroll? What do they sing about?

Throughout history God’s people sang “new songs” in response to a “new action” performed by God to save his people.

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 6:1-22

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. Darius made search and found that a decree was issued by Cyrus authorizing the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, further that it was to be financed from the royal treasury. That goes a bit further than the decree as reported in Chapter 1: “And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:4 ESV)

Darius’ decree for the rebuilding of the temple began with a warning to Tattenai, governor of the province Beyond the River to “keep away”. Let the work proceed and not only that, Tattenai is to provide for the cost of the building “is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River.” (Ezra 6:8 ESV) And if that weren’t enough, the governor is to provide “whatever is needed – bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require – let that be given to them day by day without fail, that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons.” (Ezra 6:9-10 ESV) The penalty for anyone altering the edict is that he be impaled on a beam from his own house and that the house is to be completely destroyed, i.e., made into a dunghill.

It is clear from this that the LORD is working in the heart of Darius to get the temple built. There are now no excuses for the structure not to be built. All obstacles have been swept away. Why is Darius so eager to see the temple built? Can we see the obstacles in our own lives which need to be swept away?

Do we experience the same sense of urgency (in terms of importance not in terms of time) regarding God as Darius? How do we get to the point where “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart”? (Deut. 6:5-6 ESV) Is not this the thing the LORD really wants from us?

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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