Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, December 29, 2013

Prayer Psalm: 93

Prayer Point. We saw the destructive power of the sea stirred by Hurricane Sandy’s winds as it brought the wealthiest city in the world to its knees. The ancients knew no greater power than the fury of a stormy sea, and yet God is greater still.  Imagine how we might live if we believed this.  Confess your fears to God and pray that the Holy Spirit will remind of God’s power.

Luke 2:22-40

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?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Background. This scene takes place in the temple complex. When the Gospels and the book of Acts refer to entering the temple or teaching in the temple, it is often not a reference to Herod’s temple itself, but rather to this temple complex, including a number of courts and chambers that surrounded the temple [ESV Study Bible Notes].

The time of purification dates back to the time of Moses when God gave him instructions regarding the purification rituals of the mother and child after childbirth. It can be found in Leviticus 12:3-4. Jesus, being the firstborn male, was to be called holy to the Lord. The ritual sacrifice was a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons for a poor family. A well to do family would have offered a lamb. So we know from this that Mary and Joseph had limited means.

Who was Simeon? What did he say about Jesus that Mary and Joseph marveled at? What does it mean that “this child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many will be revealed.”? Who did Anna speak to regarding Jesus? What were they looking for? Notice in verse 40 that it says “and the grace of God was upon him.” What do you think that means?

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.

Colossians 1:9-20

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?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Background. The “book” of Colossians, is a letter from the Apostle Paul to the church that he planted in the city of Colosse. Paul has moved on in his missionary travels, but he continues to guide this young church through letters such as the one we are reading today. How does Paul pray for the Christians in Colosse? What kind of life does he want them to lead? Who will provide the power to live in this way? What has God done for us that causes us to respond with such a life (see verses 12-14)?

We often think of the tiny Christ child this time of year. How does Paul paint a different picture of Christ? Who is He? What has He done? What is He doing today? How is Christ related to God the Father?  What is Christ’s position over creation? When Paul calls Jesus the first born of creation it does not mean that Jesus was created along with everything else. Being God, Jesus has always existed. In fact Paul says in verse 15 all things were created by Christ. “First born over Creation” is a title referring to Jesus’ lordship over all that God has made and not the first thing that God the Father created.

What is Jesus’ position over the church? What is His mission today?

Why is it important for us to come to know Jesus in this way?

2 John. While it appears that 2 John is a personal letter to a woman and her family, it is far more likely that the phrase “the chosen lady and her children” is a description of a local church. The church is often referred to as the ‘bride of Christ’. If this is the case, ‘your chosen sister’ 2 John 13 refers to the church that John was staying with at the time he wrote the letter.

In American churches we are used to talking about the faith in the past tense: When were you saved? Last week 20 people accepted Christ. We speak of our faith as an event in the past, but John does the faith as way of life, a process that is lived every day. Notice how many times John uses the verb “walk” in this letter to describe the Christian life. List them out. How does this list challenge your understanding of what it means to be a Christian?

What is it that gives John great joy (see verse 4)? What is John’s command to the church (see verse 6)? How is love connected to God’s Law and his commands? 

Having laid out the Christian way of life, what false teaching does John warn against (see verse 7)?

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.

1 Samuel 1:1-2, 7-28

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?

Obey. What is God asking me to do?

Background. Elkanah (meaning: acquired by God, i.e. perhaps in exchange for firstborn [Num. 3:15; 45] a son of Korah – The Companion Bible p. 367) was a well-to-do man from “the hill country of Ephraim” (v.1) who had two wives: Hannah (meaning Grace) and Peninnah (meaning Pearl). He was of the tribe of Levi, of the sons of Korah – those who waited on the LORD in the tabernacle. Like Jacob’s two wives, one was favored and one was not. Hannah, though she had no children, was more favored than Peninnah, who had a brood of young. While the story of Samuel’s origins has some similarity to Jacob’s life, the story also bears some resemblance to the origins of John the Baptist almost a thousand years later. Hannah and Elizabeth were “barren”. Both women bore sons and both were dedicated to the LORD from an early age. Both were prophets and both played key roles in the Davidic monarchy: Samuel to establish David and John the Baptist to announce the coming of the Messiah, David’s successor. Probably because she was not (as) favored as Hannah, Peninnah used to provoke Hannah to tears each year when the “family” went up to Shiloh (i.e., “where the tabernacle and the ark were” The Companion Bible p. 367) to make their offerings to the LORD. [There is a similarity here between Sarah and Hagar too!] Evidently this was rather acute for Hannah for she went into the temple to ask the LORD to bless her with a son, and if he did so, she would dedicate all his life to the service of the LORD. Eli, the chief priest was very old and his eyesight wasn’t what it used to be, so when he saw Hannah praying (for she was moving her lips but not speaking aloud) he mistook her to be drunk. He admonished her against such behavior whereupon she told him of her plea to God. Eli sends her off with his blessing and a hope that God would “visit” her.

Well, he did. By the time of the next yearly sacrifice, Hannah had delivered of a son whom she named Samuel (meaning “asked of God”, or “God-heard” The Companion Bible p. 367). Hannah’s plan is to wean her son and then leave him at the temple. Her reproach is removed. Hannah was blessed with three more sons and two daughters. Why was Hannah so eager to “lend” her son [for the rest of his life] to the LORD from such an early age? (I think it was a couple of things: an act of thanksgiving for removing her reproach; and an act of faith that the LORD would use and bless Samuel in his service to God.) Her prayers were heard (and answered) which might serve as encouragement to others who knew of her plight.

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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