Daily Bible Readings – Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Prayer Psalm: 127

Prayer Point. Hard work can be an expression of love, but sometimes it can be an indicator of a heart that fails to trust God. We are called to be faithful, but it is God who builds the house (the temple) and God who sustains us.  Pray for the faith to believe this so that you might rest in God’s ability to provide.

Mark 9:42-50

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 often used strong language to call attention to serious problems. These suggestions are not meant to be followed literally, but to highlight the dangers of sin.

When Jesus refers to salt in verse 50 he has in mind salt’s preservative qualities.

Pay close attention to …

  • Jesus’ attitude towards the destructive power of sin and the danger it presents to us.
  • Jesus’ understanding of hell.
  • What it means for us to be “salty” and how it impacts our relationships with others. The dangers of losing your saltiness.

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 14:20-40

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. What do you notice about Paul’s instructions for organizing a worship service? Who participates? How is each person’s participation related to their spiritual gift? How does this compare to the way we worship on Sunday mornings? Are we lacking anything?

What should we pray for when someone speaks in tongues? Why? What is missing if there is no translation of what is spoken, prayed, or sung in tongues? Remember that tongues, like all the spiritual gifts, were not gifts for the benefit of the individual, they were gifts given to the individual for the benefit of the community.

How should the gifts of tongues and prophecy be practiced in the church? For a definition of the gifts of speaking in tongues and prophecy see the notes on 1 Corinthians 14:1-12.

Verses 34-36 are difficult to interpret for a number of reasons. 1. It violates our own cultural sensibilities when it comes to the equality between the sexes. 2. 1 Corinthians 11:5 clearly assumes that women did pray and prophecy in the church. The problem Paul is addressing is the lack of order in the Corinthian church. Everyone is out for themselves. Paul is not saying that women are not competent to speak, he is concerned that while prophecy was going on in the church service, there were women who were disrupting the worship service. Needless to say, Christians are deeply divided on this passage. Paul is not saying that women were not competent to speak, but his chief concern is that the spiritual gifts were practiced in an orderly and selfless way that builds up the whole congregation.

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 5:1-6:1

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. Armed with confidence Aaron and Moses march into Pharaoh’s presence and said (I think they may have demanded – j.t.) “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.’” (Exodus 5:1 NIV)  If you’ve ever seen The Ten Commandments then you will know that Pharaoh will be less than eager to be cooperative.  What is Pharaoh’s response?

[“Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go?  I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:2 NIV)  This is not all that unreasonable.  After all, Pharaoh had all this “free” labor – all he had to do was house, feed, and clothe the Israelites and he could work them literally to death.  Why would he want to let the people go?  We have to remember that the reason the Israelites were enslaved in the first place is because they had become a threat to Pharaoh’s national security (i.e., they became too numerous).]

Moses counters with what I think is a weak argument.  What is Moses’ argument?
[“Then they said, ‘The God of the Hebrews has met with us.  Now let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD to our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.’ (Exodus 5:3 NIV)  I think the argument is weak because why would Pharaoh care if the LORD smote the Israelites with plagues or the sword?  He would lose his workforce but at the same time he would also lose an imagined threat to his national security.  Bear in mind the Egyptians were fearful that if Egypt were attacked the Israelites would join with the invaders against the Egyptians.]

At this point the Egyptians have all the power and the Israelites have none. Pharaoh, wishing to exploit Israelite manpower and to keep the people busy told, them that henceforth they must gather their own straw for making the bricks and yet the tally of the bricks must remain undiminished.  How does Pharaoh sum up his personal feelings about these Hebrews?
[“Lazy, that’s what you are – lazy!  That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’  Now get to work.  You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.” (Exodus 5:17-18 NIV)]

Because of this unfortunate turn of events, the people sought out Moses and Aaron to impart to them their feelings regarding their circumstances.  What accusation do the people make against Moses and Aaron?  Remember way back in Chapter four how the people had believed that God had sent Moses and Aaron?  It is not just Pharaoh and the Egyptians who need to learn who is in charge here.
[The accusation levied against Moses and Aaron is that “You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Exodus 5:21 NIV)  These are the very words (killed by the sword) that were used by Pharaoh to “persuade” him to let the people go.]

What accusation does Moses make against the LORD?
[Moses is quick to place the blame where he thinks it belongs.  He cannot, at this point, know the LORD’s plan and so things, to him, look bleak.  “O LORD, why have you brought trouble upon this people?  Is this why you sent me?  Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”   Gutsy!

God then promises that he will bring Pharaoh low and that he will free the people “because of my mighty hand”.  (Exodus 6:1 NIV)

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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