Daily Bible Readings – Friday, March 14, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 51

Prayer Point. If you doubt that God can forgive even the worst sins, then you need to read this psalm. David, the author, has just committed adultery and then murdered the husband to cover his crime and yet there is hope for him. How do we come clean when we sin? Use this psalm as your guide.

Mark 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 goes against the grain. He calls a despised tax collector to be his follower. Not only does he call Levi, but he eats at his house. That was a big no-no. The Pharisees did not approve.

Levi (called “Matthew” in 3:18; see Matt. 9:9) collects taxes and thus collaborates with Herod Antipas who, in turn, collaborates with the Roman Empire. As the occupying political force in the Jewish land of Palestine, Rome and all who collaborated with Rome were despised by pious Jews. The taxation system was corrupt, and most tax collectors skimmed money from the taxes for themselves. “Beside the sea” (Mark 2:13) and “in his house” (v. 15) suggest that the tax booth used by Levi was by the Sea of Galilee and was used for taxing fishermen (ESV Study Bible Notes).

What was it about Jesus that made the Pharisees so mad? Who needed to hear the message? Why?

The conventional wisdom was that coming into contact with an unclean sinner made a holy person unclean. But when unclean sinners, lepers, and paralytics come in contact with Jesus, they become clean.

Fasting was an important part of the Jewish religion. Fasting is both an outward sign of humility and regret for sin, and an inner discipline that clears the mind and keeps the spirit alert (NIV Life Application Study Bible Notes).

Who is the bridegroom? In the Bible, the image of a bride is often used for God’s people. The bridegroom is God who loves them [Isaiah 62:5, Matthew 25:1-14, Revelation 21:2] (NIV Life Application Study Bible Notes).

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 Corinthians 3:16-23

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. Keep in mind that the “you” of verse 16 is plural. If we were in the south we could say “y’all are God’s temple.” What is God’s new temple on earth? How highly does God value his new temple?

Apparently there were great divisions in the early church as early Christians identified themselves as followers of Paul, Apollos and Cephas (Peter) not unlike the way Christians today hitch their wagons to Calvin, Wesley or Rick Warren. What does Paul exhort the Corinthian Christians to do instead of boasting and arguing about their great wisdom?

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 40:1-23

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 background to help guide you.

Background. Early in this chapter we learn that the Pharaoh’s chief baker and chief cupbearer are tossed in jail.  The chief baker is probably someone whom Pharaoh wanted to honor for some service rendered or some deed for which should be recognized.  Let’s just say the position was an honorary one.  The chief cupbearer – well that is something else altogether.  The chief cupbearer would have been a man in whom Pharaoh had complete trust – he was, in essence, the food taster.  In other places of scripture we can gather how important this court official was.  {Just a note: Nehemiah is the most notable (to us, that is) cupbearer in the Old Testament. – j.t.}

We saw earlier that Joseph was gifted with having dreams, and perhaps, the interpretation of them, though his method of delivery could be improved upon.  Anyway what do the chief cupbearer and chief baker have in common?
[Both the chief cupbearer and the chief baker “had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.” (Gen. 40:5 NIV)]

Joseph saw that these men were burdened and he asked them, “Why are your faces so sad today?”  (Gen. 40:7b NIV)  He then tries to encourage them by telling them that the interpretation of dreams belongs to God. So they told Joseph their dreams.  What was the cupbearer’s dream?  What was the baker’s dream?
[The cupbearer “said to him, ‘In my dream I saw a vine in front of me and on the vine were three branches.  As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes.  Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand. …
The chief baker “said to Joseph, ‘I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread.  In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.’” (Gen. 40:9-11 and 16-17 NIV)]

This was a case of “I have some good news and some bad news.”   What were the interpretations of the dreams?
[“‘This is what it means,’ Joseph said to him (the chief cupbearer).  ‘The three branches are three days.  Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.”’  Clearly this is the good news.  Now for the bad news.  “‘This is what it means’ Joseph said (to the chief baker).  ‘The three baskets are three days.  Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and hang you on a tree.  And the birds will eat away your flesh.’”  (Genesis 40:13-14 and 18-19 NIV)]

What is the only thing Joseph asks of the chief cupbearer?
[Joseph only wanted the cupbearer to remember him once he was back in Pharaoh’s service.  It was clear that the chief baker would not be of help to Joseph.]

How accurate was Joseph’s interpretation of the dreams?
[The chief cupbearer was restored after three days; the chief baker was hanged after three days.  “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.” (Genesis 40:23 NIV)]

Do you really think you would like to know the future?  (I would not.)

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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