Moments with God
New Testament Bible Reading Plan
This morning when I woke up, God brought me a devotion to share with all of you prior to working on Today’s Assignment. We are so close to the end of our current journey through the New Testament and this devotion will take you back to the beginning of our journey. It brings a fresh perspective to one of the earlier stories we read and shares an important lesson…a lesson that we all need to be reminded of and could very well be the reason that we needed to take on this 93 – Day Challenge. The prayer at the end of the devotion…you might want to print it out and keep it in the same place you store all your morning devotional materials. It’s a keeper!
The Last Place First
May 3rd, 2013 Kristi Huseby
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
My church has decided to read through the entire New Testament in eight weeks. When I first heard about this challenge, I confess I was a bit overwhelmed at the idea. How was I ever going to accomplish such an endeavor during the busiest season of my life? It seemed like such a huge amount of reading in such ashort amount of time! However, it is turning into one of the biggest blessings that I have ever experienced.
We began reading this past Monday. What makes this adventure unique, other than the fact that we’re reading the New Testament in eight very short weeks, is that the Bible from which we are reading has been altered a bit. (Before you start gasping for air and wondering what heresy we are committing, let me explain.)
We are using the New International Version, but the chapter and verse markers have been removed, so it reads like a story, rather than like an intellectual book. The books have also been rearranged by author, instead of in their traditional order. We are starting with the Gospel of Luke, followed by the book of Acts, since both were written by Luke. Next, we move into the writings of Paul, which are arranged in chronological order. Nothing has been taken from the Scriptures and nothing has been added; however, reading in this new format has allowed me to see the word of God in a fresh and new way.
This week we are reading the Gospel of Luke. The story takes place in Luke 2:41-50: Jesus is twelve years old and has traveled with his parents to Jerusalem. They are on their way home when Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus is not with them. (If you are wondering how this could happen, it is easy to understand when you have several children, a great number of relatives, and multiple caravans. It is not difficult to think that your child is with someone else, only to discover this is not the case; I speak from experience!)
“When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions.” (Luke 2:45-46)
“When his parents saw him they were astonished. His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’
“’Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he was saying to them.” (Luke 2:48-50)
I’ve always struggled with this passage of Scripture because it sounds like Jesus is scolding His parents. At first glance, it seems that He might be somewhat disrespectful. However, after reading these verses again, I saw something that I’d never noticed before: The story tells us that Mary and Joseph returned to Jerusalem, and then it took them another three days before they found Jesus! I had always thought that it took them three days to get back to Jerusalem.
Think about it: They had searched in Jerusalem for three interminable days before it dawned on them to look in the temple! Mary and Joseph had seen the angels, the shepherds, and the wise men. They’d experienced the virgin birth of their Son, but in the ten to twelve years since all of that had happened, they had forgotten who their Son really was, and they went last to the place they should have gone first. No wonder Jesus said what He did!
As I read this, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would have done the same thing? When I have a problem, what is the first thing I do? I get on the phone and talk to a friend; I try to fix it on my own, and, only after that doesn’t work, do I finally bring it to the One I should have turned to first.
Why is prayer always my last resort instead of my first inclination? Could it be that I’ve lost sight of God’s character and all He has done in my life? Could it be that I don’t really know the heart of God?
Lord Jesus, I confess that I have not always been faithful in turning to You and seeing You as my Best Friend. Help me to never take You for granted, but to always give You first place in my life. Grant me a passion for Your word of truth, that I may daily study the Scriptures and come to know You better. For You have assured me that I can count on You in good times and in bad to bring me wisdom to cope with any situation, as well as peace of mind from Your very presence. Thank you for the gift of Your written word, which never gets old, and which brings me guidance and comfort each time that I seek You therein. I pray these things in Your holy and precious name, O Christ Jesus, Amen.
Questions: When you have a problem, do you turn first to God, or do you turn to Him as a last resort? Is God your source of strength in good times, as well as in times of trial?
Today’s Reading Assignment – Hebrews 11 – 13
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1
Study Questions for Hebrews 11
Basic Christian Faith (1-2)
What is the author’s definition of faith? What are the things that we hope for and yet we do not see ? What is the character of Christian faith in view of verse l?
Why is it significant that the ancients were commended for their faith by God?
What fundamental truth about the existence of all things rests on faith? Why is it so important in our daily lives to have creation faith? Why can this fundamental faith only be understood by faith?
The Faith of Abel, Enoch, and Noah (4-7)
How was Abel’s sacrifice different from Cain’s? (Gen. 4:1-5) How did God witness to his faith? Why could Abel only go to God “by faith”?
What is the evidence that faith pleased God? What was it in Enoch’s life that pleased God?
What does the Bible tell us about Enoch? (Gen. 5:22,24) What does it mean to walk with God?
What two things must we believe about God in order to have faith that is acceptable to him? Why is each important in our life of faith? How can we best please God?
What can you tell about the time of Noah? (Gen. 6:1-14,22 ) How was Noah different from the people in his time? What characterized his faith?
According to Hebrews, what did Noah believe? What were the things “not yet seen”? What does it mean to have “holy fear” of God’s word? Why wasn’t it easy for him to hold God’s word absolutely in his time?
How did Noah show his faith? How was his faith rewarded? In what respect did Noah’s faith condemn the world?
What can you learn from these verses about faith that pleases God?
Faith that Believes in God’s Promise (8-16)
What was Abraham’s situation when God called him? (Gen. 11:27- 32; 12:1-4; Joshua 24:2) Describe Abraham’s response to God’s call as described by the author of Hebrews. (8)
On what basis did Abraham obey and go even though he did not know where he was going? (Gen. 12:2,3,7)
What enabled Abraham to live in the promise land like a stranger in a foreign country? What did he believe? What does “he lived in tents” imply about the life-style of the patriarchs? What can you learn from their faith?
To what promise does verse 11 refer to? What does Abraham’s faith, as seen in verses 11 and 12, teach us about faith?
What were the unfulfilled promises in verse 13? How could these aliens and strangers endure in a foreign land? What was their hope? (13-15)
Why is God not ashamed to be called their God? (16)
Faith that Overcomes Death (17-22)
In what sense was it so difficult for Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering as God commanded? (Gen. 22:1-2) According to Hebrews 11:17-19, how did Abraham overcome the seemingly total contradiction between God’s promises and his commands? (17, 19)
How did Isaac and Jacob each plant hope in the hearts of their descendants? (20, 21) Explain the meaning and the significance of blessing the descendants.
What was Joseph’s hope? What instructions did he give about his bones? (Gen. 50:24-26)
What hope can we share with the Patriarchs? How can we be certain of our hope?
Moses’ birth (23)
In what respect were the circumstances surrounding Moses’ birth hopeless? (Ex. 1:8-22)
What can we learn from Moses’ parents’ faith? How might his parents’ faith have influenced his life? (Ex. 1:22-2:10)
Moses’ decision (24-27)
What decision of faith did Moses make after he grew up? (24,25) Think about what Moses gave up. What is the limit on “the pleasures of sin”?
Why did Moses make this decision? What did he believe? What were his rewards? What was the cost?
Why did leaving Egypt with the people of Israel incur the king’s anger? (cf. Ex. 2: 12 ,15)
How was Moses able to persevere, not giving up and turning back? What can we learn here?
Moses’ act of faith (28)
In what respect was keeping the Passover an act of faith? What did those who kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood believe about God? (Ex. 12)
What was accomplished by keeping the Passover? (Ex. 12:24-36.) What does this teach about God?
How does Moses’ faith reflect Heb. 11:6? i) Believing that God exists ii) Believing that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
The Faith of the Exodus Generation (29-31)
What kind of faith did the people of Israel have? (Ex. 14:13-29) What was the fate of the Egyptians? Why did they have this result although they had attempted to cross the Red Sea?
What does their fate show us about the nature of the faith of the Israelites?
What was the choice of the Israelites before the impregnable walls of Jericho? (Josh. 6:11-17) With what conviction would the Israelites march around them? How was their faith vindicated?
Who was Rahab? (Josh. 2:1-24, James 2:25. Matt. 1:5) What was the cost of her faith? How was her faith rewarded?
The Faith that Won the Victory (32-40)
What are the common characteristics of the faith of the faithful men quoted in verse 32?
What are the three kinds of descriptions of explain about the faithful men? (33-37)
What does it mean by “administered justice”? Who does the author refer to? Who does the author refer to when he mentioned about those who shut the mouths of lions? (Daniel 6:17-22, 1 Sam.17:34-37 1 Chron. 11:22, Judges 14:5-6)
Who is in the author’s mind when he speaks of those who “quenched the fury of the flames”? (Daniel 3:23-27) How about the one who escaped the edge of the sword? (1 Kings 19:2) Why was their faith commendable?
How is their victory reveal the power of faith?
Describe the instances of the women who received their dead back to life. (1 King 17:17-24, 2 Kings 4:18-37, Luke 7:11-14, Acts 9:36-41) Why did the author say “a better resurrection”? (35a) How did the faithful keep their faith even when they were not delivered from various kinds of physical sufferings?
Why were they worth more than the whole world? In what respect did they have everything although they lacked many things in the world?
Through this passage what do you learn about the superiority of their faith?
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2a
Study Questions for Hebrews 12
Fix Our Eyes on Jesus (1-3)
What does it mean to be surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses? (see chapter 11) What can hinder our walk of faith? How does sin entangle?
What is it like to run a race? How is it like a life of faith? What does a runner fix his eye on as he is running a race? What did Jesus fix his eye on as he endured the cross? How is he our inspiration?
Our Father’s Discipline (4-13)
What is our struggle against? What had the Hebrews endured already? (10:32-34) How did this compare to Jesus’ suffering? To ours?
What does God say to his sons? What are hardships? Is it possible to live by faith without God’s discipline? Why does God discipline his sons? (10-11)
What does verse 12 and 13 mean?
Warning Against Refusing God (14-29)
What two things are we told to do in verse 14? Why would this be hard for the Hebrew living in Israel at that time?
How could someone who called on Jesus become like Esau?
What mountain is verses 18-21 referring to? What was happening at the time described? What were they required to do before that?
What mountain does a believer in Jesus come to? What does the term “heavenly Jerusalem” further define it? What kind of assembly awaits us there? Who else is there?
Considering this letter so far, what have we been warned of over and over again? What will remain after God’s soon to come shaking?
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
Love Each Other (1-6)
How did the previous chapter end? What exhortation does this chapter begin with? How are we to love one another?
What is the first example given on how to love? (2) What may be the possibility? How did Abraham experience this? How is waiting for someone to come to our houses countered? (3)
What does verse four mean? What is the source of contentment? Can money and possessions provide contentment? Who should we trust in?
Jesus Christ is the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever (7-25)
How are spiritual leaders to be examples? Do you know of an elder’s faith in Jesus that you can use as an example and encouragement? How can Bible study add to the list of examples to follow?
What does it mean to our lives of faith that Jesus does not change? How does the study of the gospels help us understand who Jesus is? How should he affect the way we study the Old Testament?
What would “ceremonial foods” mean to a Hebrew? What strange teachings do you think the author was referring to? What is the true source of grace? (10) How does Jesus inability to change reflect this?
Considering the whole letter, what city are we looking forward to?
What should our lips be always ready to do?
What does verse 17 say about spiritual order? What kind of life should leaders live? (17)