Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, December 24, 2013 – Christmas Eve

Prayer Psalm: 45

Prayer Point. Today’s psalm was written for the wedding of a Jewish King, but I think it is best understood in light of the great wedding when King Jesus will marry his bride, the church at the end of all things. The poet expresses a number of hopes for the world under the reign of this great king. Pick two or three that resonate with you and pray “your kingdom come.”

Matthew 1:18-25

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? Using the following background as a guide.

Background. The births of Isaac, Abraham’s son, and Samson were both miraculous and announced by an angel as Jesus’ was. What sets Jesus apart is that he is conceived by a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a critical part of Jesus’ identity and his mission.

The central dilemma of the Bible is that humanity, because of our sin, owes God a debt that not even eternity in hell could pay. No one but a human could pay the debt, but no human was capable of paying the debt. That is until Jesus came to earth. Because he is born of a virgin, Jesus is both fully God and fully man. As a man, Jesus has the right to pay humanity’s debt. As God, he has the capability of paying it.

This is who Jesus was, but God chose to set this plan in motion in partnership with an ordinary couple, Mary and Joseph. Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for a moment. His fiance is pregnant and he is not the father. If he goes through with the marriage he will bring great shame upon himself.

Pay close attention to …

  • Joseph’s great faith and courage even before the angel appears to him.
  • The angel’s message to Joseph which confirms his faith.
  • The connection between Jesus’ name which means “the Lord saves” and his mission.

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.

Galatians 2:23-4:7

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.

Sons were the exclusive heirs to their family estate in the Roman world. The boy from age six to sixteen was placed under the care of a slave who made sure that he went to class and stayed out of trouble. He was under the supervision of this slave until he came of age and received his inheritance.

Paul, the author of the letter to the Galatians, is comparing our experience to that of a young Roman heir. The slave that served as our guardian was the Law. We did not come of age and receive our full inheritance until Jesus (“this faith came”) entered the world. It was at that point that we went from a slave, the experience of the heir while he was still a child, to a full heir and son of God.

The Law of God did several things to us. It restrained us through fear of punishment. We were held back from acting according to all the dark desires of our heart. Second, the Law reminded us that we needed a Savior. The Law of God said that anyone who failed to keep it, that would be all of us, are under the curse of death. None of us is able to keep the law’s demands because we are born with corrupt hearts. The Law’s purpose is force us to face our broken selves, see the curse that we are under and create in us a need for Jesus.

Some may be put off by the fact that Paul speaks only of sons. This only reflects the cultural reality that only sons were eligible to receive the family inheritance. Imagine how radical it was for Paul to address the church made up of men and women, Jew and Gentile, slave and free and call them all “sons of God.”

Pay close attention to …

  • The contrast between our lives before Jesus’ coming and after.
  • How Jesus freed us from the curse.
  • What the Holy Spirit does for us once we go from being a slave to a full son or daughter of God.

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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