Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 62

Prayer Point.  Before you start your day and enter this broken world full of problems, center yourself on God. Meditate on the opening words of Psalm 62, “My soul finds rest in God alone … he is my fortress and I will never be shaken.” Pray that these words will stay with you throughout the day, so that you will be able to stand when trouble comes.

Matthew 13:44-52

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’ mission is to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. But what exactly is the kingdom of God? In today’s reading, Jesus will tell four short stories or parables to show us what “the kingdom of God is like.”

What does the parable of the treasure in the field tell us about the value of Jesus’ message and the kingdom he came to establish? Notice that in the parable of the “pearl of great price” the kingdom is compared not to the pearl, but to the merchant seeking the pearl. What does this tell us about the kingdom of God and the way of life Jesus gave us?

Who gets caught up in the ‘nets’ of the kingdom of God? Do you think it is possible for someone to be involved in a church, serve even, and never be a true follower of Jesus? When and how will the true followers of Jesus be separated from the false ones?

In Jesus’ day, teachers of the law were a professional class whose job it was to study the Law of Moses and instruct the people in Israel as to the proper way to follow it. How is the kingdom of God consistent with the Old Testament Law? In what way is it something new?

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 10:1-11

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. God gives his commissioned prophet, John, the task of measuring the temple. The central question that needs to be answered is what is this temple that John measures (the measuring is symbolic of protection)?

It is important to remember that the book of Revelation is not a photograph of the future, but a God-inspired dream filled with Biblical images and symbols.  In chapter 11, there are several Biblical symbols that refer to God’s people, the church:

  • The temple. A temple is simply the place where God’s presence is concentrated. In the Old Testament the temple was the Tabernacle (a tent), and later the Temple in Jerusalem. With the coming of Jesus, the temple was Jesus himself (see John 2:19). After Christ ascended into heaven, the new place where God dwelled was in the hearts of Jesus’ followers (see Acts 2:1-4).
  • The two witnesses. John was commissioned to be God’s witness in chapter 10. Remember the scene where he ate God’s scroll in yesterday’s reading? John’s commissioning is one that has been given to all us. Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  • The two olive trees and two lampstands. We’ve seen lampstands in the book of Revelation as symbols representing the church (see Revelation 1:20). The olive trees supply the oil for the lamps. See Zechariah chapter 4 to see an example of how these go two together.

There are some numeric symbols that refer to a periods of time.

  • 3 ½ years = 42 months = 1260 days. Throughout the Bible, 3 ½ is used to describe a signficant period of trouble. Verses five and six contain two references to the prophet Elijah: the fire that consumed his enemies and the drought that Elijah initiated through his prayers (see 2 Kings 17:1-4 and 2 Kings 1:1-5). That drought lasted 3 and ½ years (see James 5:17-18).

 Based on your understanding of the symbols in this vision, what message of hope does God promise John and the churches that faced persecution under the Romans? What does God promise to do for his church, symbolized by the temple, the witnesses, and the lampstand and olive trees? What will happen to the church even when their enemies finally triumph over them?

What hope do we have in the end, despite whatever suffering we might endure today?

If there is a central message to the church it is this: It will be a difficult life for the church serving as witnesses to Jesus Christ, but God will preserve you until the end. One day we will see the culmination of all our hopes and dreams:

Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our LORD and of his Christ.”

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.

Nehemiah 12:27-31. 42-47

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. What do you notice about the way the Jews celebrate the completion of the wall? The Levites, or many of them, had taken to live outside the walls of Jerusalem; most of these people were the singers. Centuries before David had appointed that an important faction of the Levites would be those appointed to sing and to tend to the music (see 1 Chronicles 25).

What practices are reinstated once the celebration is over?

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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