Daily Bible Readings – Monday, November 11, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 79

Prayer Point.  Asaph stood among the ruins of what was Jerusalem, the capitol of Israel, and cried out, “How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever?” You probably know someone, who, like Asaph, is mourning the ruins of their life and wondering if God has abandoned them. Pray this psalm on their behalf.

Matthew 15:1-20

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. Considering that the heart of God’s law is to love God and love your neighbor (see Matthew 22:37-40) how did the Pharisees use their interpretation of the law (their tradition) to circumvent the law’s true purpose?

The law required faithful Jews to care for their parents in their old age, but oral tradition provided a way for selfish children to avoid this responsibility. By declaring all their property to be “corban”, given to God, they could tell their parents they had no money left to help them. Jesus placed His trust firmly on the biblical revelation and rejected the oral tradition which pious Jews believed was as binding as the law (Disciples Study Bible Notes).

The Old Testament contained elaborate laws on eating and hygiene that governed  whether or not a person was clean. The point of these laws was to remind the people that they were unclean because of sin and needed God to cleanse them. The laws were pictures that pointed to a deeper spiritual reality, not the reality itself. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law and they focused too strongly on the meticulous rules on what should be eaten. What does Jesus want us to focus on instead? What is it that makes us unclean? Can we conquer sin by changing our behavior or do we have a deeper problem?

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 18:1-8

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. In the Book of Revelation, the images used to depict Jesus and his faithful people are the lamb and the bride of the lamb. The images of the good also have their evil counterparts. The beast, Satan, stands in mockery of Jesus the lamb. The whore of Babylon, Satan’s world system, mocks the bride of the lamb.

The name Babylon is significant in Israel’s history, as it was the kingdom that completely destroyed Jerusalem, the temple of God, and carried God’s people into exile. Babylon represents the Satanic system that has historically opposed and oppressed God’s faithful bride.

What kind of a relationship did the kings of the earth have with the whore of Babylon? What benefit did the world’s merchants get out of their relationship with her?

What is God’s message to Babylon? What is God’s message to his faithful people? What is about to happen to the whore of Babylon?

This message has its roots in Israel’s history. Remember that God freed his people by sending plagues to bring their Egyptian oppressors to their knees. Just as Israel came out of Egypt, now the church is called to come out of “Babylon” for judgment is coming.

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 9:1-25

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. Chapter 9 opens with a reference to the seventh month (Ethanim) and that for a reason not disclosed, the people met in assembly on the twenty-fourth of this month with fasting, in sackcloth and with dust on their heads. This is a gesture of extreme repentance and mourning (grief).

What have the people just listened to that has caused them to fast, mourn, and repent of their sins?  Along with confession and repentance of sin, how else do the people respond to God?

The prayer the people offer to God follows a basic outline:

  • Praise to God the Creator (9:5-6)
  • Recounting God’s history with Israel (9:7-31).  What does God do on behalf of his people?  How does Israel respond to God?  How does God punish his people?  Is this punishment forever?
  • A plea for help (9:32-36)
Take some time to offer your own prayer to God following this same outline.  Look around at his creation and offer him your praise.  Remember all the times he has been faithful to you and give him thanks.  Confess those times when you have been unfaithful to him and ask for his forgiveness. Ask him to give you what you need today.  

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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