Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, December 12, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 37

Prayer Point. The wicked prosper in our world and that won’t change until Christ returns. What can change is our response. Psalm 37 lists several sinful responses to evil. Repent by confessing to God the ones you see in your life. Pray for the faith to trust God, delight in him, commit yourself to following him and to leave justice in his hands.

Matthew 23:13-26

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. Jesus served in three different capacities. He was a prophet, priest and a king. In this passage, Jesus is playing his prophetic role. Notice the language “woe to you …”

For whom does Jesus have words of condemnation and why?

The Pharisees and teachers of the Law had the responsibility of interpreting the Law of Moses and teaching the people to follow it. Clearly they have failed in their responsibility since they lacked the ability to interpret the Law for themselves.

Oaths. When it came to oaths, the Pharisees believed that it is all about what you swore by. If you swore by the gold of the temple you were legally bound to keep it, if you swore by the temple, you could break it. It was like keeping your fingers crossed. What is Jesus’ view of oaths and how is greater than the Pharisees?

Tithes. The Law of Moses required the people of Israel to give 10%  of their income to God, a law that the Pharisees kept fastidiously. What had they missed? What more was Jesus looking for?

What part of the person did the Pharisees concentrate on? What was God concerned about – the outside or the inside?

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 2:8-17

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, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, has been exiled to the island of Patmos for his faith. He is separated from the churches in Asia (Western Turkey) that he served and loved with all his heart. Like him, they are discouraged by the opposition they are faced from the Romans who appeared to be the undisputed powers of this world. But God sees the world differently and allows John to see a vision of Christ to encouraged him and the churches he served. Jesus commands John to pass on seven letters to the seven churches in Asia. Revelation 2:8-11, the letter to the church in Smyrna and Revelation 2:12-17, the letter to the church in Pergamum, are the second and third of these seven letters.

You may notice that John writes “to the angel of the church in Smyrna.” 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 is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again …”) to each church.

The synagogue of Satan in verse 10 refers to a group of Jews who rejected Jesus’ teaching and opposed the church in Smyrna. The throne of Satan in verse 13 is most likely a reference to a temple in Pergamum that was a center of worship of the Roman Emperor. In 27 BC, Caesar Augustus authorized the building of a temple in Pergamum to the god “Augustus”, Caesar himself, and the goddess “Roma”, the Roman state. The Romans were more than willing to allow its people to worship their own gods, so long as they worshiped the emperor and the Roman state as a god. This is where Christians ran into trouble with the Roman s. They would worship no one other than King Jesus. Because the temple to the Roman Caesar was in their city, the Christians there were most susceptible to this type of persecution. John equated the worship of Rome’s Caesar with Satan himself.

Balaam was a prophet who was hired to curse God’s people, whose story can be found in Numbers 22-24. We don’t know much about the Nicolaitans 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.

Manna is a reference to the daily bread God gave to Israel while they wandered in the wilderness on their way to the promised land (see Exodus 16). Jesus also referred to himself as the manna, the true bread that has come down from heaven (John 6:48-51). The significance of the “white stones” is uncertain.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus views the Christians in Smyrna despite their poverty and suffering.
  • What Jesus asks the Smyrnans to do in the face of coming persecution.
  • What Jesus will give the Smyrnans if they overcome (think: patiently endure persecution).
  • What Jesus finds commendable in the church of Pergamum.
  • The criticism Jesus has of the church in Pergamum and what will happen to them if they don’t repent and return to God.
  • What is promised to the church in Pergamum if they overcome.

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 9:1-10

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 description of judgment of Israel sounds very determined. The LORD will root out all Israel from wherever they seek refuge. No stone will be unturned. High and low; east and west; there will be nowhere a place of escape. As though to underscore how displeased the LORD was with Israel he likened them to the Cushites. These were pagan peoples who lived south of Egypt (ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1674) These Cushites were not the chosen people and the inference is that Israel is no longer regarded as the “chosen people”. The only hope left Israel is: “‘… and I will destroy it from the surface of the ground, except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,’ declares the LORD.”

Verse 1 reminds me very much of Samson’s last breath where he had prayed to the LORD to regain his strength just one more time in order to defeat the Philistines by destroying their temple and crushing all the people in the collapse of the building. Things do not look good for Israel. As we have seen this object lesson of Israel’s does not move Judah toward repentance.

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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