Daily Bible Readings – Sunday, February 23, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 145

Prayer Point. Psalm 145 gives us a number of reasons that God is worthy of praise. Pick one or two that resonate with you and use them to worship God. Pray that these things will be remembered and passed on to our children.

Mark 10:35-45

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. There is fear mixed with excitement as Jesus leads his disciples to Jerusalem. The disciples are afraid because the chief priests and teachers of the law, who were based in Jerusalem, were looking to kill Jesus. They are excited because they believe Jesus may be the Messiah and is about to establish the kingdom of God. They reasoned that as members of his inner circle, they would be given high positions in his new government. What the disciples don’t understand is that Jesus’ path to the throne leads to the cross. Instead of killing his enemies, he must first lay down his life for them.

Pay close attention to …

  • What Jesus says is going to happen to him.
  • The pressing argument that ensues among the disciples and how it demonstrates that the disciples don’t understand what is about to happen to Jesus.

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.

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

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 Scriptures often speak of the value of a healthy fear of God.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.

Paul has just warned the Corinthian Christians that all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of what they did in their life (2 Corinthians 5:10). This fear can move us to wisdom as it motivates us to please God in all that we do (2 Corinthians 5:9). It is this healthy fear combined with love and appreciation for what Christ did for us through his death that drives Paul to serve the Corinthians and the cause of spreading the Gospel.

Paul makes this argument because some Christian teachers came to the Corinthian church and tried to discredit Paul; implying that he lacked the credentials necessary to be a real Apostle.

Pay close attention to …

  • How the fear of God and the love of Christ moves Paul to serve the Corinthians (verses 11-15).
  • What sets Paul apart from those who wish to discredit him (verse 12).
  • What it means to see someone from Christ’s perspective as opposed to a worldly perspective (verse 16-17).
  • How our new calling or ministry is connected to Christ’s ministry (verses 18-20).
  • The “great exchange” in verse 21. What Jesus became and what we became as as result. Note that Jesus becoming sin means that he took on our sin as was punished on the cross as if he had committed them.
  • The call to respond to God’s grace in verses 1 and 2 of chapter six.

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.

Proverbs 1:20-33

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. How is wisdom characterized in verses 20-21?

[Wisdom is personified.  “She” takes on the characteristics of a person.  “She calls; she raises her voice; and she makes her speech.]

Do you hear the pleading of the writer in these two verses?

To whom does she pose her rhetorical questions?
[She speaks to the “simple ones” the “mockers” and the “fools”.  Wisdom wants to “sell” the benefits of herself over folly.  Wisdom represents life whereas folly always represents death.  Wisdom is not to be confused with knowledge.]

What is the benefit of positively responding to rebuke?
[“I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you.”]

Verses 24 and 25 reiterate the same ideas: reject me; no one gave heed; ignored my advice; not accept my rebuke.  What is the consequence of this?
[“I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you – when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.” (Proverbs 1:26-27 NIV)]

What are the further consequences of rejecting wisdom (truth)?
[“Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me.”  (Proverbs 1:28 NIV)]

This same theme comes up in Jeremiah in Chapter 29 verses 11-13: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

With what is the hatred of knowledge equated?
[The hatred of knowledge is equal to not choosing “to fear the LORD”.]

What exactly is the “fear of the LORD”?
[That is a good question.  Verse 7 of this chapter tells us “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.”  That doesn’t really help.  I got some help from the ESV Study Bible Notes on page 1134: 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.  This is the core maxim of the book: the quest for wisdom begins with the fear of the LORD (cf. 9:10 and Ps. 111:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”).  “Knowledge” and “wisdom” are closely tied together in Proverbs: “knowledge” tends to focus on correct understanding of the world and oneself as creatures of the magnificent and loving God, while “wisdom” is the acquired skill of applying that knowledge rightly, or “skill in the art of godly living”.  …  The reason that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom is that the moral life begins with reverence and humility before the Maker and Redeemer.  The idea of a quest for knowledge sets biblical wisdom in the broad context of the ancient Near Eastern quest for truth, and this verse also validates such a quest as legitimate and good.  Thus it affirms a kind of “creational revelation,” the idea that one can find moral and theological truth through observing the world.  At the same time, it distinguishes the biblical pursuit of knowledge and wisdom from those of the surrounding cultures, for it asserts that submission to the Lord is foundational to the attainment of real understanding. (cf. Pa. 111:10; Prov. 9:10).  By using the covenant name “the LORD” in preference to the more generic “God,” this verse makes the point that truth is found through Israel’s God.  (For fearing the Lord in Proverbs as the right response to his covenant, see 1:29; 2:5; 3:7; 8:13; 10:27; 14:2, 26-27; 15:16, 33; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17; 24:21; 31:30.)  In addition, the verse asserts that fools despise wisdom and instruction, thus setting up the alternative between the two ways of wisdom and folly.  This contrast dominates the entire book, as the way of wisdom, righteousness, and the fear of the Lord is set against the way of folly, evil, and scoffing.”

The “fear of the LORD” is also seen as a profound respect for the LORD.  It must also be admitted that this fear has in it a sense of terror.  We saw earlier that Jacob had wrestled with God all night and “I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” (Gen. 32:30 ESV)  So there is a very real sense of terror when encountering God.  That attitude seems, somehow, to be lost on us today.]

What is the fate of those who will not accept “Wisdom’s” advice?
[“…they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.” (Proverbs 1:31 NIV)]

Waywardness and complacency are somewhat equated with what result?
[Waywardness will kill the simple; complacency will destroy fools.]

What are the benefits of listening to “Wisdom”?
[“… but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease without harm.” (Proverbs 1:33 NIV)  This verse might be especially meaningful given the amount of fear and terror we think we live under.  Most of our fears stem directly from a lack of belief in God and what he is able to do for us.]

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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