Daily Bible Readings – Monday, April 7, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 35

Prayer Point. There are two ways we can respond to injustice.  We can seek vengeance, or, as Psalm 35 encourages us, leave matters of justice in God’s hands. Where do you see injustice in our world? Lift the victims of this injustice up to God in prayer and ask him to rescue them.

Mark 9:30-41

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 ministered to the crowds, but he concentrated his efforts on teaching his small community of disciples. He was not interested in gathering a large group, but starting a movement of committed disciples who were able to make new disciples and fill the world with his followers. We see this priority in today’s reading as Jesus gets away from the crowds in order to instruct his disciples privately. You’ll also notice that the disciples have a lot to learn before they are ready.

For example, the statement, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days will rise,” appears to us to be a straightforward prediction of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. The disciples don’t get it because their expectation of the Messiah (Son of Man) was of a conquering king, not someone who was going to die.

Pay close attention to …

  • The disciples’ argument on the road and how it further demonstrates their misunderstanding of Jesus.
  • The disciples’ attitude towards other followers of Jesus who were not “one of them” and Jesus’ response.

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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 14:1-9

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. For Paul, love is paramount, not the spiritual gifts. The gifts are unique God-given abilities to be used to love and serve God’s church. What spiritual gift does Paul hold out as an example of a gift that benefits the church?

Prophecy is more than telling the future. It is a spiritual gift where one hears a “word” from God and passes that message on to the church. In some cases, the message was about the future, in other cases, it was a word of encouragement or warning (see Acts 21:10-11). Speaking in tongues is the ability to speak in a language that is unknown to the speaker. One example is Acts 2:1-9.

Why is prophecy considered to be a greater gift than speaking in tongues? What sort of gifts did Paul encourage the Corinthian Christians to pursue?

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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.

Exodus 4:10-31

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. Moses really does not want to go to Egypt to release the people from bondage.  It was fine with him to complain to God that he (God) was not listening to the cries of his people in Egypt, but when the LORD commissions him to go, that is, as it were, “a horse of a different color”.  What is Moses’ next excuse for not carrying out the LORD’s will?

[“Moses said to the LORD, ‘O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant.  I am slow of speech and tongue.’” (Exodus 4:10 NIV)]

The LORD then tells Moses that he will prepare him and explains that it was he who gave man his mouth to speak, his ears to hear, and his eyes to see.  {This is not unlike the conversation the Job had with the LORD when he wanted to know why his life was so plagued.}   “Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”  (Exodus 4:12 NIV)  What is Moses’ last plea to the LORD?  {It is probably the kind of thing most of us would say given the same circumstance.}  What is the LORD’s reaction?
[“But Moses said, ‘O Lord, please send someone else to do it.’  Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses…”  (Exodus 4:13-14a NIV)]

The short answer is that Moses did not trust the LORD to come through in a pinch.  He was afraid that once he was in Egypt, the LORD would not perform his word.  The LORD is ever quick with a solution to a problem.  What is the LORD’s solution to this problem?
[“What about your brother, Aaron the Levite?  I know he can speak well.  He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you.  You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.  He will speak to the people for you and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him.  But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it.” (Exodus 4:14-17 NIV)]

Just to be clear, the LORD did not need the staff Moses carried to perform his signs in Egypt.  Note the use of the word “signs” with regard to the works Moses will do in Egypt.  “Signs” is the word John uses throughout his gospel with regard to the works Jesus performs.   Moses then asks leave of his father-in-law Jethro so that he may return to “Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.” (Exodus 4:18 NIV)  Of course, if they are all dead then the problem is solved.  The LORD revealed to Moses that those in Egypt who sought his life were dead thus it was safe for him to return.  He packed up his wife and two sons and with the staff headed for Egypt.  What does the LORD instruct Moses to do and what warning does he give him?
[“The LORD said to Moses, ‘When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do.  But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.  Then say to Pharaoh, “This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, ‘Let my son go, so he may worship me.’  But because you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.”’” (Exodus 4:21-23 NIV)]

So Moses, Zipporah, and their two boys head out for Egypt.  Along the way they stop for lodgings.  It was here “the LORD met Moses, and was about to kill him.” (Exodus 4:24 NIV)  After all the trouble the LORD had getting Moses to agree to go to Egypt, why would he want him dead now?  What does Zipporah do to prevent that tragedy?
[While the law was yet to be given, still there were ancient traditions which were carried on from generation to generation.  Among them, and perhaps most prominent is that of circumcision.  While the bible does not tell us that Moses was circumcised, it may be presumed because his mother hid him for the first three months of his life.  The rite of circumcision was to take place on the eighth day after the boy was born.  While it is likely that Moses was circumcised, he may not have been told that this rite is perhaps preeminent among the Hebrews.  This was clearly important to the LORD because it signified the covenant the LORD had with Abraham and his descendants.  Zipporah stepped in and circumcised her two sons and thus stayed the LORD’s hand, although how she would have perceived that the lack of circumcision was the problem, the scripture does not tell us.]

What is Zipporah’s quaint name for this ritual?
[Zipporah called this practice “a bridegroom of blood”. (verse 4:26)]

Next we turn our attention to Aaron.  He was sent into the desert by the LORD to meet his brother Moses.  Once they got back to Goshen they then gathered all the elders of the people whereupon Moses and Aaron performed some signs to prove to the people they were sent by God.  What kind of response did this evoke from the people?
[“He also performed the signs before the people and they believed.  And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshipped.” (Exodus 4:30-31 NIV)]

What signs would Moses and Aaron have performed?
[Moses would have changed the staff into a serpent and he would have turned some water into blood as outlined in the early part of chapter four.]

Obey. The three steps of Gospel obedience

  • Walk. 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 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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