Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, January 12, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 146

Prayer Point. When we put our faith in men we will always be disappointed, for all men die and their plans come to nothing. God alone who is eternal and alone can provide for us and secure justice and peace in our world. Confess to God those people and things you have trusted for your security and hope. Pray for the faith to trust him and praise him for the reasons listed in verses 5-10.

John 1:29-34

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. In Jewish Law, the people’s sins were transferred to a perfect lamb and the animal was sacrificed to God as a sin offering. John has this imagery in mind as he fulfills his life mission to point Israel to their Messiah.

Pay close attention to …

  • How John identifies Jesus and his purpose.
  • The purpose of John’s baptism (see verse 31).
  • How John knew that Jesus was the Lamb 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.

Ephesians 1:3-14

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. The book of Ephesians was a letter from the Apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus, a church plant that he oversaw. The letter opens in verse 3 with an extended prayer of praise to God the Father for the unfathomable blessings he has given us. In verses 3-14 Paul unpacks these treasures for us.

Through whom has God blessed us (verse 3)? For what purpose has God chosen us (verse 4 and verses 11-12) ? Through whom are we adopted by God the Father as sons? In Paul’s day only sons received an inheritance. To say that men and women were both sons was quite a radical statement. In God’s family, women are entitled to the same blessings that men receive through the gospel. What is the purpose of our adoption (verse 6)? How have we received redemption and forgiveness (verses 7-8)? What mystery has been revealed to us (verses 9-10)? What guarantee has God given us so that we might know that we have been included in His salvation and are full heirs of His inheritance (verses 13-14)?

The entire Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit work together to bring about salvation. Read the passage again and look for the role that each member of the Trinity plays.

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.

Genesis 1:1-2:3

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. According to the first verse, what was before the beginning?  How appealing were the heavens and the earth at this time?  Verse 2 tells us that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” What does “hovering” mean to you? [I think of things like helicopters or helicopter moms. A helicopter mom being someone who continues to do everything for her child long after he should be doing things for himself. Very attentive. Expectant.] In verse three we learn of the creation of “light”. What is remarkable about light?

We always think in terms of morning and then evening. What is different here? How could we be so wrong? “And there was evening and there was morning – the first day.” Do we really want to discuss this? [No!] The Jewish day beings at sundown; this is the biblical rationale for that.

Verse 6 talks of “waters to separate water from water”. What do you think this means? [This imagery is completely foreign to me and, I suspect, to the rest of us. One commentary associated water with the gods in the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian creation stories. If I were to take literally the waters above and beneath, I could understand the presence of water vapor in the heavens, but I doubt Moses was talking of that. j.t.] What is the expanse between the water under it and the water above it called? [Sky] The third day was a rather busy one. What were some of the things that happened on it? vv. 11-13 Why the emphasis on “seed”?

Verses 14-19 appear redundant or conflicting with verse 3. I relied on the ESV Study Bible for help on this one.

“1:14-19 This section corresponds closely with the ordering of Day and Night on the first day, involving the separation of light and darkness (vv. 3-5). Here the emphasis is on the creations of lights that will govern time, as well as providing light upon the earth (v. 15). By referring to them as the greater light and the lesser light (v. 16) the text avoids using terms that were also proper names for pagan deities linked to the sun and the moon. Chapter 1 deliberately undermines pagan ideas of regarding nature’s being controlled by different deities. (To the ancient pagans of the Near East, the gods were personified in various elements of nature. Thus, in Egyptian texts, the gods Ra and Thoth are personified in the sun and the moon, respectively.) The term made [ … ] need only mean that God “fashioned” or “worked on” them; it does not of itself imply that they did not exist in any form before this. Rather, the focus here is on the way in which God has ordained the sun and moon to order and define the passing of time according to his purposes. Thus the references to seasons (v. 14) or “appointed times” (ESV footnote) and to days and years are probably an allusion to the appointed times and patterns in the Hebrew calendar for worship, festivals, and religious observance (Ex. 13:10; 23:15).

Verses 20-23 tell us that the LORD created teems of living creatures in the water and the birds of the air. What does the LORD do here for the first time? [He commands that they be fruitful and multiply (increase in number) v. 22] Next the land creatures in vv. 24-25. What day is this? What else does the LORD do on the sixth day?  What is different with this last creation as compared with all the others? What commission does the LORD give on day six?  Why do verses 28-30 seem to repeat all that has been said? What politically correct behavior is encouraged in verse 30? [Vegetarianism or veganism] While we may not agree, what did God see before the end of the sixth day?

And for the grand finale: What did God do on the seventh day (hint: the sabbath day)?

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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