Daily Bible Readings – Saturday, January 18, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 110

Prayer Point. This psalm is a hymn of praise to king Jesus (compare verse 1 to Luke 20:40-44). If you feel like giving up, worship God through prayer by thanking him for raising Jesus from the dead and making him both Lord and King.

John 2:13-22

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 in his ministry fulfilled three roles. He is king. He is our priest in that he intercedes for us before God the Father and he offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Finally, he is also a prophet, one who has been sent by God to call us to repent of our sins and return to a right relationship with God and our neighbor.

What spurs Jesus into prophetic action when he enters the temple in Jerusalem?

Originally the buying and selling of animals was a great idea. Instead of traveling all the way to Jerusalem with the animal for the sacrifice in tow, you could conveniently buy the sacrificial animal right there at the temple. But over time two problems crept in. First was corruption. The sellers took advantage of the poor pilgrims who came to the temple to worship and sacrifice by charging exorbitant prices. The second is that they set up shop in the temple courts, or the Court of the Gentiles to be more precise. This was the only place where Gentiles could come and pray, but the market had effectively excluded them from the worship of God.

What do the disciples remember after witnessing Jesus overturning the tables of the money-changers and sellers? Verse 16 is a quote from Psalm 69:9 which was a prophecy about the coming Messiah. Take some time to read through it as it will provide some good background as to what Jesus will experience in his ministry.

The Jews, probably the chief priests, who controlled the temple and profited greatly from it, challenge Jesus’ authority to disrupt the marketplace in the temple. What sign does Jesus offer as evidence that he has authority over the temple? Why do the disciples understand what he was saying only after he rose from the dead?

The temple is simply the place where God’s presence is. Sometimes the temple was a building, but it is clear that Jesus is not talking about the existing temple in Jerusalem. Who is the temple that Jesus says he will raise in three days?

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.

Hebrews 4:1-13

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. Over a millennium earlier, the ancestors of the people addressed in Hebrews stood on the borders of the land God had promised them. It was a rich land flowing with “milk and honey.” There was a problem: the land was populated by a powerful race of people. When news of their enemies’ strength reached their ears, their hearts melted and in unbelief they refused to enter the Promised Land.

Their descendents are now faced with the same choice.  Do we follow Jesus despite the opposition or do we give up and go home? This book was written to encourage these embattled Christians to keep going.

One other item is worth mentioning. The Promised Land is also called God’s rest. This is a reference to the Creation story where God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.  That seventh day of rest, the Sabbath, points ahead to the kingdom of heaven when God’s creation will reach its final purpose and we will enter his rest.  The Promised Land is a picture of our final “resting” place, heaven.

Pay close attention to …

  • What it takes to enter God’s promised rest.
  • Why “they”, that is their Jewish ancestors, fell short of the Promised Land.

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 6:9-22

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. Again we see the word “account” – similar to a financial reckoning. A better word than “story”. What are Noah’s chief characteristics according to verse nine? [He was blameless and righteous.] What activity is attributed to Noah? [He walked with God.] Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. These boys are the fathers of three nations. The sons of Ham will build an empire in Egypt later referred to as the “Land of Ham”. In verses eleven and twelve we have a re-telling of how corrupt man had become and how God had determined to purge the evil. We shall learn shortly just how the Lord will achieve his end.

We know that the Lord commissioned Noah to build an ark. Until the Lord described the ark I have an impression Noah had no idea what it was. What were the dimensions of the ark according to verses 14-16? [The ark was to be built of cypress; coated with pitch (waterproofing) inside and out; 450 feet long (more than a football field by 150 feet); 75 feet wide and almost four stories (45 feet) high. There will be three decks and a great door on its side.] We have no idea just how far from a waterway Noah was while he was undertaking this task. Many years ago Bill Cosby gave a great re-telling of this event, certainly with a humorous bent. Regardless, it must have taken a great deal of faith to build this ark (it could not have been inconspicuous) and to suffer the taunts of his neighbors and friends. What does the LORD intend to do? What, apparently, is the LORD’s attitude? [The Lord intends to bring a flood upon the whole earth and his attitude is: I made it I can destroy it. This does not sit well with us when we think of God as being loving. I will tell you what it means to me: the LORD has an abhorrence of sin unequal to you or me.

As Habakkuk, speaking of the Lord, will say thousands of years later: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.” (Habakkuk 1:13 NIV) Another thing is that the evil of those days must certainly be worse than the evil of our days – otherwise the LORD would have returned by now. “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matt. 24:37-39 NIV) I have always understood “As it was in the days of Noah” to mean that Jesus will return once the world becomes as depraved as it was in Noah’s time.] What will the Lord do after the flood? [“But I will establish my covenant with you.] What is Noah to do to preserve creation? [He is to bring pairs (male and female) of every living creature and bird into the ark with him. He is also to store enough victuals for the journey. That’s interesting since Noah doesn’t yet know how long the journey will be.]

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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