Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, January 5, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 2

Prayer Point. It is easy to forget about the power of God when we watch news or read the papers. Psalm 2 reminds us that Jesus, the Anointed One, is on the throne.  He is in control. Pray that these words might become real to us, that we might live in our world with bold, fearless love.

John 11:17-27, 38-44

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. Jesus arrives in Bethany four days after the death of his friend Lazarus. By all appearances He has come too late to save his friend.

What does Martha already believe about the resurrection of the dead and about Jesus even before Lazarus is brought back to life?

What does Jesus say is his purpose in raising Lazarus from the dead (see verse 42)?

Compare this to John chapter 9 and the man born blind. The blind man’s healing revealed Christ to be the “light of the world”. The raising of Lazarus from the dead reveals Jesus to be the ________________________ and the ______________.

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 6:10-20

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?You can use the following background to guide you.

Background. Ephesians is a letter from the Apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus which he founded. His purpose is to encourage these young Christians to stand firm in their faith in Jesus Christ. In today’s reading Paul uses the image of the armor worn by Roman soldiers to describe the spiritual protection that God makes available to us so that we might stand against the attacks of the evil one.

When Paul speaks of powers, rulers, and authorities, he does not mean the men who ruled the Roman Empire, but the spiritual powers that made their domination possible.

Pay close to attention to …

  • The identity of our real enemies.
  • The defensive armor and weapon that God makes available to us.
  • The role of prayer in our war against the devil’s schemes and the spiritual powers of this world.

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.

Jonah 2:2-9

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. [From the ESV Study Bible Notes p. 1683]

“The title of the book is the name of the main character, Jonah. The book is anonymous, and there are no indicators elsewhere in Scripture to identify the author. The foundational source for the book was likely Jonah’s own telling of the story after his return from Nineveh.

“The primary purpose of the book of Jonah is to engage readers in theological reflection on the compassionate character of God, and in self-reflection on the degree to which their own character reflects this compassion, to the end that they become vehicles of this compassion in the world that God has made and so deeply cares about.

“The genre of Jonah is debated. The book has been read as an allegory, using fictional figures to symbolize some other reality. According to this interpretation, Jonah is a symbol of Israel in its refusal to carry out God’s mission to the nations. The primary argument against this view is that Jonah is clearly presented as a historical and not a fictional figure . Another proposal is that the book is a parable to teach believers not to be like Jonah. Like allegories, parables are also based on fictional and not historical characters. Parables, however, are typically simple tales that make a single point, whereas the book of Jonah is quite complex and teaches a multiplicity of themes. The book of Jonah has all the marks of a prophetic narrative, like those about Elijah and Elisha found in 1 Kings, which set out to report actual historical events. The phrase that opens the book (‘the word of the LORD came to’) is also at the beginning of the first two stories told about Elijah (1 Kings 17:2, 8) and is used in other prophetic narratives as well (e.g., 1 Sam. 15:10; 2 Sam. 7:4). Just as the Elijah and Elisha narratives contain extraordinary events, like ravens providing bread and meat for the prophet (1 Kings 17:6), so does the book of Jonah, as when the fish ‘provides transportation’ for the prophet. In fact, the story of Jonah is so much like the stories about Elijah and Elisha that one would hardly think it odd if the story of Jonah were embedded in 2 Kings right after Jonah’s prophetic words about the expansion of the kingdom. The story of Jonah is thus presented as historical, like the other prophetic narratives….

“… Jesus, moreover, treated the story as historical when he used elements of the story as analogies for other historical events (see Matt. 12:40-41) This is especially clear when Jesus declared the ‘the men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah.’ (Matt. 12:41 ESV)”]

So …
What is going on here? Where is Jonah when he prays? [Symbolically speaking Jonah is in the grave. This is precisely the image Jesus refers to in Matthew 12:38-42.] What is the first thing Jonah says in his prayer? [He cries out in his distress and the LORD hears him.] What does verse four say about Jonah’s spirit of perseverance? [His hope to look again toward the holy temple.] Verse five talks about drowning; what does verse six tell us? [The Lord brought up his life from the pit.] What is the symbolism of this whole adventure? [As Jesus used it – to show the hope of the resurrection.] How does verse eight speak to us today? [That we actually forfeit grace that could be ours.] Can you see how verse nine foretells of the crucifixion? [The sacrifice with thanksgiving. The Eucharist is a remembrance of the Lord’s death until he comes again.] What is Jonah’s final cry in this section? [“Salvation belongs to the LORD!”]

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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