Daily Bible Readings – Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 38

Prayer Point. Will God save us from the consequences of our own sin? Psalm 38 is proof that he does. In this psalm God will save us not only from the suffering due to others’ sin, but also the struggles that come from our own failures. What are you struggling with today? Confess your part in them to God, but also boldly ask him to save you.

Matthew 23:1-12

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. ‘Moses’ seat’ is a symbolic reference to the authority of Moses. The Pharisees act as interpreters of the law for the Jewish people and therefore were the successors of Moses.

Why should the Pharisees be obeyed? Why shouldn’t they be copied? What is the problem with the Pharisees’ practice of the law?

What is Jesus’ vision of leadership and how does it to contrast the Pharisees’ view of authority?

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 1:17-2:7

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. John sees a vision of the risen, glorified Jesus in a dream induced by the Holy Spirit. What is Jesus’ message to John? John lives in a time of fear when the Romans wielded great and invincible power. They had ruled for hundreds of years and the end of their empire was nowhere in sight. How does Jesus declare himself to be greater than the power of Rome and all the powers of this world?

What does Jesus command John to do? John had seen the humanity of Jesus. He ate with him, he fished with him. Why was it necessary for John, and the seven churches, to see such a dazzling image of Jesus?

In yesterday’s reading (Revelation 1:12-15) we saw Jesus standing among seven lampstands and holding in his right hand seven stars. What do the lampstands and the stars represent? If Jesus stands among the lampstands in this vision, what assurance does that give the seven churches who are undergoing persecution?

Revelation 2:1-7 is the first of seven letters that were sent to each of the seven churches in Asia (Western Turkey) that John oversaw. You may have noticed that John actually wrote “to the angel of the church of Ephesus.” This is not a guardian angel, the letters would not make any sense if this was the case, but a figure of speech referring to “the heart” of the local church. These letters are to be understood as personal messages from Jesus (“the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand …”) to each church.

What words of praise does Jesus have for the church in Ephesus? What words of warning does he have for them? What will happen to them if they don’t repent, that is humbly return to God? What promise does Jesus offer to the Ephesians if they overcome (think: patiently endure persecution)? For a fuller description of the tree of life see Revelation 22:1-5.

Jesus references a group called the Nicolaitans. Not much is known about this group except to say that they were a group of Christians who had fallen into false teaching and practiced a life style that compromised with the pagan society.

As we look at each of these seven letters, see if any the shortcomings and successes are reflected in your own life.

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 8:1-14

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 opening of this chapter needs some explanation which might not be gleaned just by reading it.

[ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1672

“8:1-2 The Hebrew terms for summer fruit (gayits) and for end (gets sound alike. In Hebrew literature this kind of wordplay is very common. Beyond this, ‘summer fruit’ did signify the last of the harvest. See Jer. 8:20:

‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended.

and we are not saved.’

The long summer of God’s patience has finally come to an end, and there has been no harvest of repentance.”]

[The word temple used in verse three can be translated also as palace. There was only one temple and that was in Jerusalem and not in Israel. Perhaps “palace” would be a better choice because what was practiced in Israel’s places of worship was idolatry. – j.t.]

The NIV translates the first verses thusly:

“This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. ‘What do you see, Amos?’ he asked.

‘A basket of ripe fruit,’ I answered.

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

“‘In that day,’ declares the Sovereign LORD, ‘the songs in the temple [palace] will turn to wailing. Many, many bodies – flung everywhere! Silence!’

“Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land.”

What is the charge leveled against Israel in verse 4? On what is their heart bent? How do the people dishonor the Sabbath? What does “deal deceitfully with false balances” (v. 5b) mean? What are the poor and needy likened to in verse 6?(Merchandise) The LORD has sworn that he will never forget any of their deeds. How does that manifest itself? The LORD talks of the sun going down at noonday and darkness in broad daylight. What does he say about the feasts and the singing? To what does the LORD liken this miserable day of judgment? (v. 10b) What kind of famine does the LORD promise to send? Where can the word of the LORD be found? What is to become of the “lovely virgins and the young men”?

What is the guilt of Samaria? The principal sin of Samaria (Israel) had always been idolatry. This is further underscored by “As your god lives, O Dan” in verse 14. Dan was one of the two places where Jeroboam (I) established a golden calf as an alternate place of worship for the Northern Tribes (outside of Jerusalem). The mention of Beersheba is explained in the ESV Bible Study note below which was referenced in Chapter 5 verse 5. It can apply here as well.

[ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1666

“5:5 … Since Beersheba was in Judah, it is not clear what its significance was for the Israelites. Perhaps people from the northern kingdom made pilgrimage there, remembering its association with the patriarchs (Gen. 21:14-19, 31; 26:23, 33; 46:1-5); perhaps they also felt that there was a special power available there.”]

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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