Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 5

Prayer Point. “In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Before you begin your day today, give your concerns to God, lay them at his feet and then sit in silence.  Having sat quietly, now go through the day with an expectation that God can and will act.

Matthew 21:12-22

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. There are unfulfilled dreams for the temple which drives Jesus’ anger.  He quotes Isaiah 56:7 as he overturns the tables of the sellers and moneychangers. Here a fuller picture of that dream:

Isaiah 56:6-7 And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD and to worship him … these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house [temple] will be called a house of prayer for all nations.

In the temple of Jesus’ day, there was only one place where Gentiles could come to worship God and that was the outer court called the Court of the Gentiles. That was the court where the moneychangers and sellers set up shop effectively shutting out the Gentiles from worshiping. Could you imagine worshiping God in the middle of a market? These conniving opportunists had all but killed God’s dream that the nations of the world worship him there.

It gets worse. These moneychangers and sellers also gouged the pilgrims who had no choice but to purchase their services. The poor were exploited and the foreigners were excluded in the house of God.

What does Jesus do once he shuts down the sellers and moneychangers? Who responds positively to Jesus’ actions in the temple? Who is indignant?

Verses 18-22 sound quite strange to our ears until we understand what it means for Jesus to be a prophet. Prophets not only spoke their messages, they acted them out. The fig tree in this story is a prop, a symbol for something else. Considering what you have just read, who do you think the fig tree represents? Why is the fig tree cursed? What kind of fruit was Jesus looking for in Israel that was absent?

The disciples are amazed at Jesus’ power. What will take for his disciples to do the things that Jesus did?

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.

2 Peter 1:12-21

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. 2 Peter is a letter that was written by the Apostle Peter and circulated among the churches that existed at the time. The letter opened with him encouraging the churches to grow in their faith and an observation that if they weren’t experiencing growth it was because “they had forgotten that they had been cleansed from[their] past sins.” (2 Peter 1:9)

Peter will also remind the churches to pay attention to the words of the prophets. This is a reference to what we call the Old Testament and in particular books such as Isaiah, Daniel and Ezekiel. Peter does not see these books as contradictory to the teachings of Jesus, but are made “more certain” in that their words were fulfilled by the life of Christ.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Peter wants to encourage these Christians now that he knows that he is nearing the end of his life (verse 8-9, 12-14)
  • The message that Peter shared with these Christians, what he saw, what he passed on. Compare Mark 9:2-12 to verses 16-18.
  • The respect Peter gives to the Old Testament prophets in verses 19-21.

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.

Amos 3:1-11

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. For all the impending disaster, still the opening line of Chapter 3 bespeaks the LORD’s anguish: “Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt:…” (Amos 3:1 ESV emphasis added) The LORD then warns them that judgment is coming because of their iniquities. He goes on to point out that he had continually sent warnings and signs and prophets to proclaim, but to no avail. “For the Lord does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7 ESV) So Israel shall be surrounded by its enemies (notably Assyria) and will not succeed against them. Review the rhetorical questions in verses 2-6. How do they apply today?

What sins in Israel are provoking God to bring judgment (see verses 9-11)?

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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