Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, November 7, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 71

Prayer Point.  When you get older and your strength begins to fade it is easy to become discouraged and wonder if God has forsaken you. That is the fear expressed in Psalm 71. Pray this psalm today on behalf of an elderly person you know who is facing these fears.

Matthew 14:1-12

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. Why did Herod decide to keep John the Baptist alive despite John’s public condemnation of him? What changes Herod’s mind?

How does Herod interpret Jesus’ miracles in verse 1? Why? Think about similarities between John’s message and Jesus’ ministry (see Matthew chapter 3, especially verse 1).

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 14:1-13

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. Throughout the book of Revelation the message has been clear, despite the present suffering, God will preserve his people and they will emerge victorious in the end. As chapter 14 opens we see a vision of our future hope. What symbol refers to Jesus? How is Jesus’ people, his church described? How is God’s ownership and protection of his people symbolized? Why are they singing and how did they learn the song? Who joins the singing? From last week you might remember that the 4 living creatures represents creation which reflects God’s glory and the elders, God’s people who have died and are now in the presence of the Lord.

(14:6-13) What role do the three angels play? What is their message to the unbelieving world? What is their message to the church? Think about John and his readers, think about all the Christians who suffer persecution. This is the central message of the book. Persevere today. Stay faithful today. God’s salvation is coming tomorrow.

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 7:1-26

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. This chapter begins with the introduction of Ezra and it recounts his rather impressive genealogy which numbers among it such heroes as Hilkiah (the chief priest during the time of Josiah – who held Judah together during Josiah’s minority – see 2 Kings 22), Phinehas the son Eleazar who received honorable mention from God as being instrumental in staying the LORD’s plague against Israel (in Numbers 25), and perhaps most notably, Aaron the brother of Moses. Let’s just say that Ezra comes from good stock. Like so many before him, Ezra enjoyed the LORD’s favor.

Why is Ezra’s background and the role he will play in Jerusalem vital to the rebuilding efforts? How does Artaxerxes, the King of Persia, serve God’s purpose and pave the way for Ezra’s mission? It was believed that a defeated people pointed to a defeated God. How does God prove once again that he is still God even when his people are in exile?

Artaxerxes’ reason for such generosity is purely self-serving: he wants to get on the LORD’s good side: “What ever is decreed by the God of heaven, let it be done in full for the house of the God of heaven, lest his wrath be against the realm of the king and his sons.” (Ezra 7:23 ESV emphasis added)

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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