Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, January 2, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 34

Prayer Point. David is remembering when God miraculously saved him and allowing that memory to move to worship. Take time today to think about a time when God intervened in your life and offer God your own prayer of praise.

John 6:1-14

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 guide you.

Background. Moses, the man who led Israel out of slavery in Egypt, made this prophecy over 1000 years before the coming of Jesus:

Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.

Among the events that Moses was most remembered for was the manna or daily bread that God miraculously provided his people while they wandered in the wilderness. That miracle provides the background for today’s reading as it profoundly impacted the people’s response to Jesus’ miracle.

Pay close attention to …

  • How Jesus tests his disciples in verse 5 and how well they perform.
  • The way Jesus performs this miracle and what it tells you about his power.
  • What is left over and why it is significant.
  • The people’s response to the miracle in light of Deuteronomy 18:15.

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.

Ephesians 4:1-16

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 guide you.

Background. Paul is calling the church in Ephesus, the church to whom this letter was addressed, to live a “life worthy of the calling you have received.” This is key to understanding this passage. Paul is not saying, “do this and you will received God’s blessing.” He is saying, “you have received God’s blessing, now live a life worthy of that grace.” What is Paul talking about? In the first chapter of this letter he tells the Ephesians that they were chosen by God to be forgiven, adopted as his children and to become holy and good people. This is all grace in that these are blessings that were not earned, but freely given by God.

Having described that grace, Paul in Ephesians 4, describes what life should look like in response to that grace.

Paul will also use the word “grace” in a different sense in verses 7 and following. “Grace” in today’s reading refers to the spiritual gifts (abilities and talents that are sometimes ‘supernatural’) that the Holy Spirit gives to each Christian (verse 7). These gifts determined the roles (apostle, prophet, evangelists, pastors and teachers) people played in the church.

Pay close attention to …

  • How the Ephesians are commanded to treat each other (verse 2).
  • What they are to work hard to maintain (verse 3).
  • What unifies each Christian (verses 4-5).
  • What determines each person’s unique role in the church, the body of Christ.
  • The purpose of each person’s gift (grace).

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.

1 Kings 19:1-8

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 guide you.

Background. Elijah then tells Ahab to eat and drink before the rains come. Ahab eats and drinks and Elijah ascends to the top of Mount Carmel to wait. Elijah tells his servant to scout out the sky toward the sea and report what he finds. The servant reports, “There is nothing.” (1 Kings 18:43 ESV). Elijah sends him on this errand a total of seven (!) times. “And at the seventh time he said, ‘Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’ And he [Elijah] said, ‘Go up, say to Ahab, “Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.” (1 Kings 18:44 ESV) Ahab mounts his chariot and rushes to Jezreel (where he had a palace about 20 miles north of the capital city Samaria). Oddly, “the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.” (1 Kings 18:46 ESV) I have no idea why Elijah would want to go into the “lion’s den” and the scripture is no help here, but what it does suggest is there was something to what Obadiah said in 18:12 (“And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you I know not where.” – ESV)

Elijah was unfazed by the supposed threats of Ahab. But when it came to a woman, he “ran for the hills” as it were. Wasn’t it William Congreve who said, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned”? Anyway, Jezebel [which means ‘unmarried’, but she was) may not have been scorned, but she was mmm ‘miffed’ shall we say. “Then Jezebel sent a message to Elijah, saying, ‘So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them [the 450 false prophets] by this time tomorrow.’” (1 Kings 19:2 ESV) Elijah made haste to the land of Judah (probably safer there – no extradition treaty) to escape Jezebel. He came to Beersheba and left his servant there while he went off into the wilderness. As the scripture puts it, “Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life…” (1 Kings 19:3 ESV)

Elijah, whom I regard as a giant among the people of God, suffered a crisis of faith. He became fearful. He had brought a dead boy back to life, he called down fire from heaven, he opened heaven’s skies, and he rode to Jezreel on foot faster than Ahab who was in a chariot. He was drenched in the power of God and yet now he was afraid. In some respects this may demonstrate his humility – he doesn’t take the LORD or his power for granted. “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19:4 ESV) He then lies down and sleeps under a broom tree (“a bush with many branches and twigs, small leaves, and clusters of flowers” ESV Study Bible Notes p. 636). The angel of the Lord came and touched him and instructed him to eat (for he had prepared “cake baked on hot stones and water” v. 19:6 ESV) for the journey was too great for him. “He arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb [Mt. Sinai], the mount of God.” (1 Kings 19:8 ESV) This is, of course, the same place where the LORD delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses, after he had fasted for forty days and forty nights.

[ESV Study Bible Notes p. 636
“19:5 an angel touched him. Elijah has been responding so far only to Jezebel’s ‘messenger’ (v. 2). Now it is God’s turn to take the initiative with an ‘angel’ or messenger of his own. It is God’s first move in leading Elijah back onto the path of faith from which he has strayed.”]

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.

One thought on “Daily Bible Readings – Thursday, January 2, 2014

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