August 24th-30th, 2014

Prayer of the Week:  

Almighty God, You have given Your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of this redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of His most holy life; through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 94:1-7, 2 Kings 5:1-17

Monday—Psalm 94:8, 2 Kings 8

Tuesday—Psalm 94:9, 2 Kings 9:1-18

Wednesday—Psalm 94:10, 2 Kings 9:19-37

Thursday—Psalm 94:11-12, 2 Kings 10

Friday— Psalm 94:13-14, 2 Kings 11

Saturday—Psalm 94:8-14, 2 Kings 8:1-15

Prayer List:  Wanda Palmer, Zack Swain and family at the loss of his grandfather * Jeannine Hope * Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Ruth Donohoe, Brianna Hope * Michelle Raglin, Polly Staley, Marcus Davis, Barnum Briscoe Family, Jane Pennington, James Haynie * Carl Rider, Faye Doyle, Raglin family, Collins family, Sue Kennington, Dexter Jackson

August 17th, 2014

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2 Kings 2:1-15

Today’s Scripture Focus:  2 Kings 2:1-15

                 Today we pick up the “History” section of scripture with the book of 2 Kings.  When we left off, Elijah had been raised up as a prophet to confront the kings of Israel, primarily Ahab.  God displayed power through Elijah in miraculous ways, but Elijah became discouraged and fled to the mountains.  It was there, in a still small voice, that God reminded Elijah that 7000 faithful prophets still lived in Israel, and that Elijah would mentor one of them named Elisha, who would take his place.  Elijah immediately went and found Elisha, and placed his mantle (a sheepskin overcoat) on him (I Kings 19).  Elisha left everything, and the two became inseparable.

In today’s scripture focus, we see that God is getting ready to take Elijah away.  As he prepares to set out from Gilgal, he tells Elisha to stay behind, but Elisha knows what is getting ready to happen, and refuses to leave his side.  The “sons of the prophets” mentioned three times here were part of the 7,000 mentioned in I Kings 19.  God had revealed to them through the Spirit that Elijah would be taken, and they point this out to Elisha, who responds with a terse “I already know—be quiet!”  He is both grieved at losing his spiritual father, and overwhelmed with the task before him of filling his role.

Seeing that Elisha is serious about following in his footsteps, Elijah asks Elisha if there is anything he can do for him before he leaves.  Elisha asks for a double portion of the spirit that is within Elijah.  He is not asking for twice as much spirit as Elijah—he is asking for the “double share” of the inheritance an eldest son would receive from a father at his death.  Only by exhibiting the same miraculous power that Elijah had shown would Elisha be accepted as his successor.  Suddenly, a fiery chariot comes and picks up Elijah, and he disappears in a storm cloud.  However, his mantle falls to the ground, and Elisha takes it up.

So, did Elisha receive the “double dose” inheritance?  He did.  Right before Elijah was taken up, he had struck the Jordan with his mantle and parted the waters, allowing he and Elisha to cross on dry land.  This was symbolic of Moses parting the Red Sea.  After Elijah was taken, Elisha takes the same mantle, strikes the Jordan, and it parts in the same way!  This is symbolic of Joshua crossing the Jordan.  Elisha had become the Joshua to Elijah’s Moses.  Not only would he have the power of his mentor—he would carry on the work he had begun.  God would continue to have a voice among an increasingly wicked Israel.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

Who is your spiritual father or mother?  Who has had the most influence in your life spiritually?  Do you have any spiritual children—those who look up to you for guidance in their walk with God? 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

August 17th-23rd, 2014

Prayer of the Week:  

Almighty God, You have given Your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of this redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of His most holy life; through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 93, 2 Kings 2:1-15

Monday—Psalm 94:1, 2 Kings 5:1-12

Tuesday—Psalm 94:2, 2 Kings 5:13-27

Wednesday—Psalm 94:3, 2 Kings 6:1-23

Thursday—Psalm 94:4-5, 2 Kings 6:24-7:2

Friday— Psalm 94:6-7, 2 Kings 7:3-20

Saturday—Psalm 94:1-7, 2 Kings 5:1-17

Prayer List:  Carl Rider, Faye Doyle,  Amanda Collins, Destiny Collins, Greg Tyson, Deonte Braxton, Timothy Jimerson, Wanda & Mandell Collins, Michelle Collins, Yvette Raglin * Wanda Palmer, Zack Swain and family at the loss of his grandfather * Jeannine Hope * Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Ruth Donohoe, Brianna Hope * Michelle Raglin, Polly Staley, Marcus Davis, Barnum Briscoe Family, Jane Pennington, James Haynie

 

August 10th, 2014

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Leviticus 26:1-13

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Leviticus 26:1-13

                 We are finishing up our study in Leviticus today.  Remember Leviticus is the “holiness handbook” of the Old Testament.  So far, we have seen within it regulations relating to holiness of the common people, holiness of the priests, and holiness of the calendar.  In the final chapters of Leviticus, we find instructions for maintaining holiness of the land itself, along with matters of commerce.  Chapters 25-26 comprise a speech given directly from God to Moses on Sinai.  Israel is commanded to let the land lay fallow every 7th year.  Every 50th year, or the year after seven sevens, is Jubilee, in which slaves are freed and land is returned to its original keepers.

Chapter 26 gives the blessings and curses that come with keeping these commands or failing to keep them.  How are the Jews supposed to survive if they don’t plant crops or tend vineyards every seventh year?  How can they engage in commerce if land and homes that are bought and sold revert to their original owners every 50 years?  God once again shows that holiness means doing things differently, and that involves trusting God to provide.  Living a holy life begins with worship (“do not make idols…observe my Sabbaths…reverence my sanctuary”).  Only by truly worshipping God can the people be holy in their business affairs.

Verse 3 in chapter 26 begins a series of blessings that are promised if the people will walk in God’s ways.  This relates to the keeping of Sabbath years and Jubilee, but also to the rest of the holiness regulations given in Leviticus.  If the people carefully seek to live holy lives, God will bless the land with abundance.  Harvest will overlap with harvest, instead of the normal two month gap between the gathering in of grain and grape.  Neither ferocious beast nor human enemy will harm anyone.  The people will be fruitful, and will have to actually throw away last year’s crops to make room for the next year’s.   This was a big deal in an arid climate prone to famine.

The rest of the chapter is a series of curses, or consequences for not keeping the holiness standards.  The curses each begins with “but if”, and increase in severity as the chapter goes along.  The curses are not simply designed to punish, but to cause the people to repent.  If the people won’t let the land rest, God will cause them to be taken into captivity so the land will be forced to rest.  This is exactly what happened.  Israel never kept the Sabbath years until after the Babylonian Exile, and the land was given rest during their decades of captivity.  At the end of the list of blessings and at the end of the list of curses, God reminds Israel “I AM the LORD”.  The key to holiness is submission to God.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

For Israel, land was the primary source of wealth.  For us today, our net worth is determined by what we own and how much money we have in the bank.  What does it mean to conduct our business in a “holy” way today?  How do we handle money differently than non-Christians?

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

 

August 10th-16th, 2014

Prayer of the Week:  

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without You, may by You be enabled to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 92:8-15, Leviticus 26:1-13

Monday—Psalm 93:1, 2 Kings 1

Tuesday—Psalm 93:2, 2 Kings 2

Wednesday—Psalm 93:3, 2 Kings 3

Thursday—Psalm 93:4, 2 Kings 4:1-20

Friday— Psalm 93:5, 2 Kings 2:21-44

Saturday—Psalm 93, 2 Kings 2:1-15

Prayer List:  Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Save-a-lot employees, Heather Martin, Deran Braxton, Michele Raglin, Family of Sue Cox * Young family * Carl Rider, Faye Doyle,  Amanda Collins, Destiny Collins, Greg Tyson, Deonte Braxton, Timothy Jimerson, Wanda & Mandell Collins, Michelle Collins, Yvette Raglin * Wanda Palmer, Zack Swain and family at the loss of his grandfather * Jeannine Hope * Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Ruth Donohoe, Brianna Hope

August 3rd, 2014

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Leviticus 23:1-3

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Leviticus 23:1-3

                 Our scripture focus this week finds us once again in that section of Leviticus known as the “Holiness Code”.  Chapters 17-20 dealt with holiness in daily life.  21-22 covered holiness standards for priests.  Chapter 23 begins a section detailing holy time.  Even the calendar God’s people used had to be holy!  Israel followed a lunar calendar, meaning each month had 28 days.  The new moon was day 1 and the full moon was day 15.  Every seventh day was a Sabbath—a holy day when work was prohibited.  There were also seven festival days each year, or a “Lord’s Week” of extra Sabbaths, each with their own agricultural, historical, and theological meaning.

The first cycle of holy days were the spring festivals of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits.  Originally, Jewish months and days had no names (month names were added later).  This was to distinguish them from the pagan calendar, in which months and days had names corresponding to gods.  This is true of our calendar today.  The spring festivals began each year in the “first month” on the full moon, about the time that barley was harvested.  This corresponds with our March or April.  It was during the spring festivals that Israel remembered their deliverance from Egypt.  The primary sacrifice of these festivals were the burnt offering.

Next on the calendar came the summer festival—the feast of Weeks.  From Passover, Israel was to count exactly seven weeks (hence the name).  Then, on the 50th day after Passover, a feast was to be held corresponding with the wheat harvest.  This falls in May or June on our calendar.  Bread was to be baked with the first grain harvested each year and presented at the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) as an offering.  The primary sacrifice of Weeks was the fellowship offering.  While Passover corresponds with our Easter, Weeks corresponds with Pentecost Sunday (“pente” means “50”).  Weeks celebrated the giving of the Law to Moses.

The third cycle of festivals were the fall feasts (and fasts), which fell during the grape and olive harvests.  These began in the seventh month—the equivalent of our September or October.  These feasts were Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles.  The primary sacrifice of these festivals was the sin offering.  While most festivals were days of feasting, the Day of Atonement was a day of fasting.  Anyone who ate or worked on that day would be cut off from the people.  The fall festivals commemorated God’s protection in the wilderness. Some teachers believe that in the same way the spring and summer feasts correspond with key events in salvation history, Christ’s second coming will fulfill the fall feasts.

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

Why are special days important?  How do Sundays and holidays help us be better Christians now?

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?

 

August 3rd-9th, 2014

Prayer of the Week:  

Let Your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend Your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without Your help, protect and govern it always by Your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Scripture Focus:

Sunday—Psalm 92:1-7, Leviticus 23:1-3

Monday—Psalm 92:8, Leviticus 25:1-28

Tuesday—Psalm 92:9, Leviticus 25:29-54

Wednesday—Psalm 92:10-11, Leviticus 26:1-22

Thursday—Psalm 92:12-13, Leviticus 26:23-46

Friday— Psalm 92:14-15, Leviticus 27

Saturday—Psalm 92:8-15, Leviticus 26:1-13

Prayer List:  Delferd Sloan, Larry and Jesse Grossman, Save-a-lot employees, Heather Martin, Deran Braxton, Michele Raglin, Family of Sue Cox * Young family * Carl Rider, Faye Doyle,  Amanda Collins, Destiny Collins, Greg Tyson, Deonte Braxton, Timothy Jimerson, Wanda & Mandell Collins, Michelle Collins, Yvette Raglin * Wanda Palmer, Zack Swain and family at the loss of his grandfather * Jeannine Hope