Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, November 14, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 86

Prayer Point.  How do you pray when your back is against the wall? Psalm 86 shows us how to worship and plead with God in the darkest of times. Pray this psalm on behalf of someone you know that is struggling. If you are in a difficult place, pray it on your own behalf.

Matthew 16:1-12

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. Jesus never performed a miracle to prove who he was. He only performed miracles as an expression of compassion or to confirm a faith that was already present. What motivated the Pharisees and Sadducees to ask Jesus to ask for a miraculous sign? What is the only sign that Jesus is willing to give them?

The sign of Jonah worked for Jesus on two levels. First, Jonah was an Old Testament prophet who in a sense came back from the dead. He was swallowed by a great fish, yet three days later he was vomited onto a beach. Jesus will soon die, but will emerge from the tomb on the third day.

The story of Jonah is also a critique of the pride and arrogance of the Jewish religious authorities. Jonah was sent to the Assyrians, a mortal enemy of Israel, to warn them of God’s coming wrath. Jonah runs away because he is afraid of what might happen. They will believe the message, repent and God will forgive them.  God caught up with Jonah as his ship sailed to Tarshish, and caused him to be thrown overboard and swallowed by a fish. The great irony of the story is that the Assyrians repent while Jonah is angry that they have received the same grace he received. By the end of the story the Assyrians are embraced by God while Jonah, the prophet of God is on the outside looking in. So it was with the Pharisees and Sadducees. They spurned Jesus and the grace he offered, but it was the tax-collectors, prostitutes and even the Gentiles who flocked to Jesus.

With this in mind, what do you think Jesus means by “watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees? Yeast or leaven was symbolic of sin in Jewish culture. What did they get wrong concerning Jesus?

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 18:21-24

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. The final destruction of the whore of Babylon sparks celebration and worship in heaven. Look at the themes in the songs of the multitudes (19:1-3), the twenty-four elders (representing faithful Israel and the church that has died and entered the presence of God – 19:4-5) and the great multitudes (19:6-8). What acts of God and characteristics of God are they responding to? Consider offering your own prayers of worship to God following these same themes.

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.

 

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