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Scripture

Daily Bible Reading for August 30, 2014, with Commentary: John 10-12

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Context: Jesus spoke to the people of His day in a way that they could easily understand.  Individually, we may not know much about shepherding, but we have resources available at our fingertips which can help us understand the message Jesus was trying to get across to His listeners.  Jesus came to lead people to Him, not force them to go the direction He wanted.  Jesus is the shepherd.  He knows each sheep in His flock.  He looks out for them.  He is willing to risk His life to save them from danger.  Jesus message, and His divine claims, divided people’s opinions of Him, with some believing and some ready to kill Him.  The death of Lazarus was another teaching opportunity.  Jesus could have saved Lazarus as soon as He heard he was sick.  Jesus could have immediately traveled to save him.  Yet Jesus waited and arrived four days after Lazarus’ death.  Four days!  According to Jewish tradition, they continued to check the body for three days after death to ensure the person really was dead and not comatose.  Jesus ensured everyone knew Lazarus was dead before he was raised again.  The dinner hosted in Bethany did not occur immediately following the revival of Lazarus.  It was at this dinner that Mary cleaned Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume and her hair.  Here, Judas is shown as a selfish thief, although he attempts to disguise his selfishness as concern for the poor.  Jesus rebukes him, as their will always be the poor to care for but He will be on this earth for only a short time.  The perfume used by Mary cost on year’s wages.  Today, people will spend that on a new car or house for themselves, but how many would spend it to honor a friend?  Interestingly, Judah would go and betray Jesus for less than half the amount the perfume was worth.  Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is not nearly as detailed as the other Gospels.  The author, John, makes it clear that at the time, he and the other disciples did not understand the importance or significance of the event or Jesus’ predictions of His death.  Despite all that Jesus had done, all the miracles He had performed, many still doubted.  The Pharisees refused to believe in order to protect themselves and their positions.

 

World History:  Are you a shepherd?  No?  Neither am I, but in order to understand chapter 10, it is important to understand being a shepherd.  Several shepherds would often put their sheep together in a cave or pen at night.  Yet, the  shepherds could look at all the flocks together and know which sheep belonged to them.  The sheep also knew their shepherd.  They knew his voice and, come morning, would follow their shepherd when he called to them.  Instead of being herded by dogs, the sheep were led by the voice of their shepherd.  It was a loving relationship between the sheep and their shepherd.

Daily Bible Reading for August 29, 2014, with Commentary: Hosea 8-14

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Context: Today’s reading switches back and forth between prophetic (Hosea) and Divine (the Lord).  Chapter 8 contains the first Divine complaint, that Israel has turned away from the Lord and seeks false security.  Chapter 9 holds the first prophetic complaint (1-9), which is that Israel has deceived itself into thinking all is well because of the economic prosperity the country has been seeing.  In 9:10-17, we have the second Divine complaint, that Israel has turned against the Lord and, as punishment, they will be scattered.  Chapter 10’s prophetic complaint (1-8) regards idolatry and social disorder, while the Divine complaint (9-15) condemns the military arrogance held by the Israelites.  The military can and will fail.  Chapter 11 begins with a theme of love.  The Lord loves Israel and is frustrated with them.  Chapter 12 - 13:4 is prophetic: Israel had turned against the Lord, been dishonest, and rejected Him.  For that, they will be judged.  Chapter 13:4-16 is the final Divine complaint, along with a warning that Israel will be judged, as will any nation who has turned against the Lord.  The final chapter is a call to repentance, first by the prophet (1-3), then by the Lord (4-9).  It also contains a Divine promise as to what will happen if and when they repent.

World History: Hosea was writing about Israel, but that does not mean that this book is irrelevant today.  The final part of this book, Israel being restored, has not yet come to fruition.  Books of prophecy, such as Hosea, should also serve as a warning to us today. 

Daily Bible Reading for August 28, 2014, with Commentary: Proverbs 20-21

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Context: Today we continue reading some of the many proverbs which shows the wisdom of Solomon.  Solomon was wise, not because of himself, but because the Lord had given him great wisdom.  If we wish to obtain the same wisdom as Solomon, we must also seek it from the Lord.  Reading these proverbs is a good way to start, but we must also pray that the Lord will reveal these truths and how they can be applied to our lives.  We must study, as well as read the proverbs.  No matter our position, we should use our life to show a life that is pleasing to the Lord. 

 

Daily Bible Reading for August 27, 2014, with Commentary: Psalm 102-104

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Context: The writer of Psalm 102 could be anyone who has ever had a time of suffering or stress or sorrow or weakness in their life.  As a man, in the hours before His death, Jesus could have prayed this psalm to His Father.  It is a psalm we can find comfort in when going through a difficult time, knowing we are not alone.  Psalm 103 was written by David.  It is a psalm of great praise!  David was rejoicing when he wrote this psalm!  Praising the Lord for all the mercies, no matter how small that He has given us.  The author of Psalm 104 is unknown, yet like the psalm before it, it is one of great praise!  Psalm 104 praises our wonderful Creator!

 

Daily Bible Reading for August 26, 2014, with Commentary: 1 Chronicles 15-19

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Context: David’s first attempt at moving the ark ended in disaster.  Instead of relying on others to tell him how it should be moved, David followed the instructions of the Lord, given through Moses.  The day the ark came to Jerusalem must have been a great day!  I imagine that the people who were there would remember that day for the rest of their lives.  They would tell the story of the singing and joy in Jerusalem to their children and grandchildren.  David arranged for the music.  It was a joyous occasion!  At least one psalm (Psalm 105), was written by David about this occasion.  David sought to build a house for the Lord, but the Lord told him that it was not for him to do.  David’s heart was in the right place, but the Lord had other plans.  David marvels and is overwhelmed at the promises the Lord has made to him.  David was very successful in battle and he continued to follow the instructions of the Lord not to collect horses, unlike Solomon.  Notice all the spoils of war acquired by David.  These were later used by Solomon to build the Temple.  In chapter 19, God shows us that although David could be hot-headed at times, he tried to live in peace.  In this case, it was the Ammonites who made war against David, who had sent a delegation to express sympathy.  

Daily Bible Reading for August 25, 2014, with Commentary: Numbers 9-12

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Context: In chapter 9, the Israelites are again instructed to celebrate the Passover, and are also given instructions for celebrating by those who are ceremonially unclean.  Notice that when Moses had a problem, he took it to the Lord.  The Lord would lead the Israelites, by a fire at night or cloud during the day.  We should put the Lord at the head of our lives, to lead us, just as He did for the Israelites.  In chapter 10, the final preparations are made for the Israelites to resume their journey.  The Lord had given detailed instructions on how the Israelites were to march.  Chapter 11 shows the complaints by the people and by Moses.  The people complained about God and His provisions, where as Moses complained to God.  However, Moses was taking on more than God had given him, which is why he was strained.  Nevertheless, God gave him help in the form of 70 elders.  These elders became known as the Sanhedrin, who thousands of years later, met one night and sentenced Jesus Christ to death.  The Lord also provided a significant amount of meat for the Israelites and they were punished for their gluttony.  In chapter 12, Miriam and Aaron speak out against Moses.  Miriam is the instigator and for that she is punished with leprosy.  Moses, like Jesus, is meek and forgiving and prays for her health to be restored.

The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection, for the week of August 24-30, 2014, is John 10:25-30.  Jesus has been asked to speak plainly and tell those listening if He was really the Messiah.  Jesus had been performing miracles, granting forgiveness, and teaching without being trained, yet they still demanded more proof!  In response, Jesus again turns to the metaphor of a sheep and a shepherd.  As you meditate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s passage, consider to which flock you belong: that of Jesus or the world?

 

Jesus answered them,“I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me,but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.I and the Father are one.”  (John 10:25-30, ESV)

 

Are you a shepherd?  Are you familiar with shepherding in ancient Rome?  No?  Well, very few of us probably are.  How do you picture shepherds leading their flock?  Being herded with dogs?  Or, perhaps it is done by horseback?  Today it may be done that way, but years ago, shepherds led with their voice.  The sheep knew and recognized their shepherd’s voice.  It was a voice of safety and protection.  At night, multiple shepherds would pen their flocks together, yet each shepherd was able to tell their sheep from the others.  In the morning the shepherds would call out to their flocks and the sheep would each follow their shepherd.  A shepherd protected his sheep from any one or any thing they may come to harm them.

 

Jesus is the shepherd.  We are the sheep.  The Jews questioning Jesus were not part of His flock.  They did not recognize His voice, they did not follow Him, they did not trust in Him.  What about you?  Are you part of His flock?  Listening for His voice?  Following Him?  Does He know you as one of His sheep?

 

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