We are taking a break for the summer until futher notice.

Welcome to Week 2 (Parables 3-8) of The Parables by Hampton Keathley IV Th.M.

3 types of Parables:

(1) Parabolic Sayings - these are the one-liners found in Luke 4-7

(2)Similitudes (The Parables of Matthew 13) - “The kingdom of heaven is like...” (These are all in Matt 13)

(3) Full Parables - a story told to make a point.

This week we continue to look (1) Parabolic Sayings (10 total).

We studied the first 2 last week and will study 6 more this week.

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(Monday, 12/03/07) Parable 3 & 4 of the Parabolic Sayings - The New Patch on an Old Garment & The New Wine in Old Wine Skins

The New Patch on an Old Garment

Luke 5:36-39

Also in Matt 9:16; Mark 2:21

This one will be treated together with the next parable.

The New Wine in Old Wine Skins

Luke 5:37

Hear It! Luke 5

Also in Matt 9:17; Mark 2:22

The Setting
The setting is the same as above: There is the question about fasting, the presence of the Bridegroom and the Pharisees are clinging to their old rules and regulations.

The Problem
What are the old garment and the new garment symbolizing? What are the new wine and the old wine skins symbolizing? The old garment and old wineskin are Judaism. The new garment and new wine are Christianity.

The problem was that the Pharisees liked the old system. They were at the top and didn’t want it to change. They had the power, prestige, praise, etc.

The Pharisees had written the Talmud and the Mishnah which were huge books filled with rules and their own interpretations of the scriptures. They gave more emphasis to their writings than the Word of God.

Why isn’t it possible to make repairs on the old system of Judaism? Time and again, Israel was disciplined and brought back to the land and given another chance. But not this time.

The Central Truth
Christianity is not a patch for Judaism. It is the replacement of Pharisaic Judaism because Pharisaic Judaism cannot contain Christianity. In what way? There was no place for Gentiles, Samaritans, blind, sick, lame, etc in Pharisaic Judaism. The law was no match for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I say Pharisaic Judaism because Christ was the fulfillment of Judaism, but it had been twisted into something evil.

This is not teaching a permanent replacement of Israel by the church as the Reformed theologians teach. Remember that the parables say something about a subject but not everything about the subject. We have to look elsewhere to see what the future holds for the Jews.

Application: Jesus did not come into my life to patch up the old man and just give me a new lifestyle. He came to give me a whole new life. He came to give me a new way to approach God.

The first two sayings proclaimed that Messiah is here. The next two sayings reveal what Messiah will do. He will do away with the old system and replace it with something new, something better. The old system cannot contain it.

(Tuesday, 12/04/07) Parable 5 of the Parabolic Sayings - The Blind Leading the Blind

Luke 6:39

Hear It! Luke 6

The Setting
After his discussion about Pharisaical Judaism being replaced by Christianity, Jesus demonstrates that the old system is over by picking grain on the Sabbath (Luk 6:1-5) and by healing on the Sabbath (Luk 6:6-11). He then gives the sermon on the mount (In Luke I believe the plain is a level place on the mountain) in which he teaches the ethic of love by contrasting the correct practice of love (i.e. the law) with those who do not love (i.e. the Pharisees). His teaching is rejection of the pharisaical legalistic system that Judaism had degenerated into and a rejection of the Pharisees themselves

We are also contextually in the midst of the third call of the disciples mentioned earlier. After calling the disciples in 12-19, he teaches the disciples how to love and to lead in verses 20-38. Then he gives another parabolic saying in 39-40.

The Problem
What is the danger of following the leadership and ritualism of the Pharisees?
If the disciples remain “blind,” they will not be able to lead either.

The Central Truth
The religious leaders had so perverted the law and Judaism that they couldn’t even recognize the fulfillment of the law and Judaism when He came. The Pharisees thought that the mere study of the law would lead to eternal life. But studying the law was the means to the end - knowing Jesus. The danger is this: if they don’t know what God is doing, where are they going to lead you? If you follow them, you will follow them to destruction.

(Wednesday, 12/05/07) Parable 6 of the Parabolic Sayings - A Pupil is not above his Master

Luke 6:40

Hear It! Luke 6

Also in Matt 10:24

The Setting
Same as above in Luke - the rejection of Pharisaic Judaism and the call to discipleship and leadership. In Matthew it is also in the context of a call to discipleship.

The Problem
There are several problems or questions here: How do the disciples develop as good teachers and leaders? What will happen if they don’t? What is the problem of following the Pharisees?

The Central Truth
A disciple cannot advance past his teacher.

Incidentally: There is a danger in just following one teacher - like Bill Gothard, Bob Theme, Larry Crabb, etc. There is a trend in Christianity today to make one guy into a guru and major in him. We need to move around and sit under several teachers so we can take what is good from all of them and hopefully discard what is not so good.

Jesus is calling the disciples to leadership positions in the new kingdom and if they don’t mature, their pupils will not mature either. Therefore, they need to develop as teachers and leaders.

How do they do this? I think there are two parts:

First is self-evaluation. (6:41-42)
Second is by doing what the Word says. (6:43)

Verses 41-42 show the self-examination. They need to evaluate their own lives and see the evil in themselves. If we don’t see the evil in ourselves we will not feel the need to do what the Bible says. James talks about the natural man who looks in the mirror (and doesn’t see any problems) and then goes on his way and does not “do” what the Word of God says.

Indirectly, we can apply this to the Pharisees who did not see their evil. They were self-righteous and saw no need for repentance.

The second part is by doing what the word says. Our James passage is still relevant to this point because that is one of James’ main points. Jesus will deal more with this with the parabolic saying about the two builders, so we will come back to that later.

How do you know who is a good leader? He goes on to tell how in the next few sayings.

(Thursday, 12/06/07) Parable 7 of the Parabolic Sayings - Good & Bad Fruit of Trees

Luke 6:43

Hear It! Luke 6

Also in Matt 7:16

The Setting
The call to discipleship and the Sermon on the Mount

Luke 6:41-42 - The problem of judging others and not looking at your own sin.

The Problem
Whom should you trust? Whom should follow? How can you identify false teachers?

The Central Truth
A fruitful lifestyle is a verification or validation of the message and messenger. Look at their fruit. Look at their lives. Good ministers are identified by their lifestyle. You can know their teaching is good if they have a lifestyle to back it up. Why can’t you have a bad lifestyle with a good message? If we are sincere, then we will practice what we preach. We will never match the maturity level of the message, but the question is whether or not there is integrity of heart. Is there a sincere desire to have God change me as the teacher in the process or is this message just for the multitudes.

Think about some tele-evangelists of the world. They preach that their congregation is to give until it hurts, but they themselves hoard the donations and live lives of luxury. They build mansions and buy airplanes. Their lifestyles do not match their message.

(Friday, 12/07/07) Parable 8 of the Parabolic Sayings - Wise and Foolish Builders

Luke 6:47-49

Hear It! Luke 6

Also in Matt 7:24

The Setting
We have just seen that the disciples need to grow themselves because they cannot lead people past where they themselves are. The first thing they needed to do is to evaluate themselves and see their own evil. Now we see the second ingredient.

The Problem
What is the danger of hearing but not doing?

We often talk about the wise man and the foolish man who built their houses on the rock and sand. Notice that this comes from the Matthew passage. The concept of the wise man and foolish man was from Hebrew wisdom literature. Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience. Luke is writing to a Gentile audience and leaves that out. Matthew mentions building on the sand, Luke just says ground. Jews would know that the non-rocky ground in Israel was sand. Luke’s audience would not have known that.

Same threat to both houses. The difference is in one’s response to the truth - one’s obedience.

The Central Truth
Who is the audience in the Sermon on the mount? Both believers and unbelievers. The multitudes were around him as well as his disciples. He talks about entering by the narrow gate - which is addressed to unbelievers. He talks about praying to the Father, giving, not judging, says they are the light of the world, etc. These are addressed to believers. In Luke, the focus is on Jesus’ disciples.

There are two applications - one for unbelievers and one for believers.

-For unbelievers: No obedience or application of the truth indicates unbelief. (in Matt)
-For believers (for the disciples who are learning about being good leaders): The application of the truth of God’s Word is foundational to a stable lifestyle. (in Luke)

Application: I think that this teaches that just reading through the Bible every year in personal devotions without letting the Bible “read through me” is incomplete.

Experience of problems, trials, etc. does not mean you are unsaved or unspiritual. The same winds blow against both. The issue is your response. Are you going to collapse or withstand it.

Luke 7:1-10 Healing of Centurion’s slave
Luke 7:11-17 The Raising of Widow’s son
Luke 7:18-30 John’s question and ministry

Luke records Jesus’ miracles in 7:1-17 in preparation for John the Baptist’s question in 18-20. Perhaps John is asking: “If you are the Messiah and I’m your forerunner, what am I doing sitting here in jail?” Instead of answering with a yes or no, Jesus points them to the signs which are a fulfillment of old testament prophecy. The answer is “yes,” but Jesus wants them to respond in faith by recognizing the fulfillment of scripture. Jesus quotes sections of Isa 35:5 and 61:1. If you will remember, we started in Isa 61:1, so we are still tracking on the same theme.

Welcome to the last 2 Prayers (39 & 40) of the 40 Great Prayers of the Bible series & the beginning of The Parable series!

We are finishing up the last 2 prayers (39 & 40) of the 40 Great Prayers of the Bible series on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday we will be reading the introduction to the new series called The Parables by Hampton Keathley IV Th.M. and hosted by We will only read the introduction of The Parables series on Wednesday and start Parable 1 on Thursday because the introduction is super long. The Parables are catergorized into 3 groups:
(1) Parabolic Sayings - these are the one-liners found in Luke 4-7
(2)Similitudes (The Parables of Matthew 13) - “The kingdom of heaven is like...” (These are all in Matt 13)
(3) Full Parables - a story told to make a point.

On Thursday we will start with the (1) Parabolic Sayings.

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(Monday, 11/26/07) Prayer 39 - Paul's Prayer for the Ephesian Church

Read First:
Eph. 1:15-23 & 3:14-21

Hear It! Eph 1
Hear It! Eph 3

Paul began the letter to the Ephesian church with one of the most important, yet concise, statements of God’s eternal purpose and work. God’s plan to redeem man kind through Jesus Christ began before the foundation of the world. Paul viewed the entire history
of humankind as designed to achieve the most glorious of God’s acts — the redemption of man from sin.

Paul brought the grand scheme of God’s redemption into a practical view by declaring that the Ephesians, having heard the gospel, believed and were sealed in the Holy Spirit, guaranteed their salvation. His prayer reflects on his hope that they understand God’s work.

What Can We Learn?
1. This prayer seems to be motivated by the great faith of the church and the love they held for their brethren.
2. Paul was primarily concerned that the Ephesians realize, not just a knowledge of God, but a deep, thorough, intense knowledge of Him.
3. He wanted the eyes of their heart (a most descriptive phrase) to be opened so that two things especially would be recognized:
(a) The hope of His calling
(b) The riches of the glory of his inheritance
4. Paul also wanted them to know the surpassing power exercised toward them, seen in God’s raising Jesus from death and seating him at His right hand.
5. Paul makes a significant statement regarding the position of Jesus as head over all things to the church.
6. In Ch. 3, that power was to produce a strength in the inner man.

Questions to Ponder
1. Why would Paul pray for people who already had a strong faith and displayed great love toward fellow Christians? Why would they need to know God any deeper than they did?
2. Read Rev. 2:1 -7. What light might this passage shine on the reason for Paul’s prayer?
3. Possibly foreseeing the danger that John identified in the passage in Revelation, what was the possible fear that Paul harbored on behalf of this church?
4. How do Eph 1:18 -19 relate to the first 14 verses of the chapter?
5. How many significant facts, all having their foundation in God’s work accomplished through Jesus Christ, can you list?
6. In 3:16-17, what is the purpose of being strengthened in the inner man?
7. Why do you think “knowing the love of Christ” is the final expression of Paul’s prayer?

(Tuesday, 11/27/07) Prayer 40 - Prayers of Worship in Heaven

Read First:
Rev. 11, 15, 16

Hear It! Rev 11
Hear It! Rev 15
Hear It! Rev 16

The Book of Revelation (some - times known as The Revelation of Jesus Christ), is one of the most interesting in the entire Bible. Much of it is written in a style called “apocalyptic” language. It is a picture language, meaning that the descriptions and events are figurative in nature, and as such, very difficult to understand. Most Bible scholars believe the language of the book comes right out of the Old Testament prophets.

It is not our intention here to exegete the book. Suffice it to say that it is a book of victory. The message is: Satan loses, and the Lord and His people win. The prayers in heaven reflect the power, might, glory of God.

What Can We Learn?
1. Rev 11
(a) The kingdom of the world is seen being transformed or transferred to the Lord, and is permanent
(b) The elders give thanks because of the exercise of God’s power in his beginning to reign
(c) It is as if heaven recognizes and understands the work of God in the affairs of men

2. Rev 15
(a) Read Ex. 15:1-18 to understand the reference to the song of Moses
(b) The victorious ones celebrate the conquering power of God
(c) Note the emphasis on the great and marvelous works, the righteous and true ways, and the unique holiness of God
(d) All this is possible because His righteous acts (or judgments) have been revealed

3. Rev 16
(a) This is a prayer acknowledging the enemies of God’s saints and prophets, and the fact that God had given them in turn what they imposed on God’s people
(b) The voices from the altar praise God for avenging them

Questions to Ponder
1. How important is it to you that God is seen as the sovereign ruler of the universe? What practical implications does this have on your life?
2. Describe the confidence reflected in the prayers.
3. In what ways have the works, the righteousness, the ways and the holiness of God worked to your benefit?
4. How do these prayers reflect the overall message of the Book of Revelation?
5. Why is there great emphasis placed on the fact that the righteousness of God has been “revealed?”

This completes The 40 Great Prayers of the Bible series!!!

(Wednesday, 11/28/07) Introduction to The Parables by Hampton Keathley IV

I’m so glad God didn’t make the Bible 66 books packed with thesis statements. Instead, He has spoken to us in narrative literature, stories, poetry, prophecy, apocalyptic literature, etc. One of my favorite forms is the parable.

What is a parable? A parable is a fictitious or made up story designed to teach a lesson through comparison. When you hear the story, you can relate it to your own life. It is like an illustration for the points in a sermon. It conveys its message of truth through analogy, through comparison or contrast.

All of you have heard of Aesop’s fables. After you tell a child a fable, you point out the moral of the story. A parable is like a fable in that it also has a moral or message behind the story. But parables are true to life. Parables are for adults. Animals and trees don’t talk. The power of a parable comes from the fact that you recognize that “that’s the way it is in real life.”

Parables are great because they tell a story that is easy to remember. How many of you can tell me the story of the three little pigs or Goldie Locks and the three bears? All of you. How many of you studied those stories this morning before you came to church? It is not like a bunch of principles we try to memorize and soon forget.

The overall framework and much of the material for this series is from class notes taken during Dr. Mark Bailey’s class on the parables at Dallas Theological Seminary. As I taught this series at my church, I modified it and added to it from other sources like Craig Blomberg’s and Dwight Pentecost’s books on the parables. Dr. Bailey said we could post it on, but as I’ve changed things, I wouldn’t want Dr. Bailey to be blamed for something I said that he didn’t say or maybe agree with. And as it was intended for a Sunday school class presentation, I wasn’t as careful to use footnotes everywhere I should have.

The Purpose of Parables:

Parables are told so that only those who really care will come to know the truth. Not so much because they understand the parable, but because they care enough to ask what it means after the story is finished and hang around long enough to have it explained to them. The others don’t really care and leave. Remember, the disciples didn’t understand the parables, but they asked what Jesus meant after the crowds left. They had a soft and open heart. Understanding is an issue of the heart. Those who have a hard heart, also have closed eyes and closed ears and they don’t understand.

Chiastic Structure
--> 1. “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
----> 2. “And in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,
------> 3. ‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
--------> 4. And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
----------> 5. For the heart of this people has become dull,
------------> 6. And with their ears they scarcely hear,
--------------> 7. And they have closed their eyes
--------------> 7’ Lest they should see with their eyes,
------------> 6’ And hear with their ears,
----------> 5’ And understand with their heart and return, And I should heal them.
--------> 4’ “But blessed are your eyes, because they see;
------> 3’ and your ears, because they hear.
----> 2’ “For truly I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men
--> 1’ desired to see what you see, and did not see [it]; and to hear what you hear, and did not hear [it].

At the center of the chiasm is the reason for the parables. Numbers 5,6 & 7 show that their hard hearts have closed their ears and eyes. Therefore they cannot see the kingdom that has come upon them.

Another purpose for parables was to reveal truths about the kingdom of God. Matt 13:10-13 says:

The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

So, whenever you read a parable, you need to ask yourself, “What does this tell me about the kingdom of God?” What do I mean by kingdom of God? We will come back to this a little later.

Also, notice Matt 13:12. It says, “Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” This is very important for understanding the rest of Matthew and the parables.

Matt 21:43 also talks about this. Matt 21:43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.”

What nation is Matthew talking about in 21:43? The church. The word “nation” is in the singular and therefore does not refer to the Gentiles. 1 Peter 2:9 refers to the church as a “Holy Nation.”

The message of Matt 21:43 is repeated over and over again in the parables. What will they lose because of their unbelief? They will lose the kingdom. They had the responsibility of being the custodian of God’s message of the kingdom, but missed the Messiah when He came.

Steps in interpreting the Parables:
The Passage

What is the passage? Is this found in only one gospel or is there a parallel account? The reason we check this out is because we need to decide which passage we will use as our main passage (usually the longest). We also need to be aware of the others so we can compare the different accounts. If we see any differences, we have to ask why that detail was left out or included? What does it tell me about the author’s intent, the intended audience, the main point of the parable, etc.

I prefer a literary approach which looks at the differences between accounts as clues to each gospel writer’s theme. I want to understand the point he is trying to make with this story, miracle, etc. Some prefer to try to recreate the historical event and take all the parts and meld them into one story.

The Parameters
Parables are told in an historical context. Jesus is drawing on culture, historical events, etc. We need to ask what the historical and cultural context are. For example, when Jesus tells the parable about the nobleman giving his servants ten minas and then going away to receive a kingdom, He is alluding to an actual event that took place only a few years before. Archalaeus received the “rulership” Judea from his father Herod, but before he could take over, he had to go to Rome to be confirmed by Caesar.

We also need to look at the immediate literary context. What is going on in the text both before and after the parable? What has just happened or what has just been said? Did Jesus perform a miracle immediately before or after the parable? Did that miracle illustrate the truth in the parable? In Matthew for instance, the pattern is to recount two signs immediately before or after a sermon. The signs illustrate and drive home the point of the sermon. If you check out the context, it will help you understand the main point of the parable.

Understanding the parameters or context will keep you honest and on target with your understanding of the main point of the parable.

The Problem
What is the problem that prompted the parable? When Jesus told a parable, He was dealing with either a Question or an Attitude - Often both at the same time. The question might be spoken or unspoken, after all, He could read their minds. Or He might be dealing with a bad attitude. We have to examine the context to see if a question was asked or implied. And we need to see if there is an attitude that needs to be dealt with, etc.

For example: In the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost sons of Luke 15, the context (15:1-2) reveals that the Pharisees were upset with Jesus for receiving and eating with sinners and taxgathers. The problem dealt with in the parables that follow are these: The unasked question is: What is God’s attitude towards sinners?

The bad attitude is the Pharisees self righteousness and condemnation of others. If you don’t understand the question, you can’t come up with the right answer.

The Progression
What is the flow of the narrative? Does it center around the characters (biographical)? the sequence of events (chronological)? a logical argument? or an ideological theme?

This is not as important as the other items in the list, but it is helpful to recognize the progression for organizing the story. For example, in the parable about the vineyard owner who went out to hire workers. He hired some at 6:00, 9:00, 12:00, 3:00 and 5:00 and the paid them at 6:00. That story is organized chronologically. You might best analyze the story by comparing what he did at each time. What did he do differently with each group? The parable of the Good Samaritan centers around three main characters. The Robbers, the Religious and the Righteous. The innkeeper is not very important in the story. Its progression is Biographical.

The Presentation
Analyze, organize and outline the events of the story according to the progression you picked.

The Point
Parables are told to make a point. They answer a question, deal with a problem, etc. What is the central truth or truths taught? Craig Blomberg has written a book on the parables and he says that the parable has as many points as it has characters. So, the Good Samaritan would have a main point that we learn from the actions of the Robbers, a main point we learn from the actions of the Religious (priest and Levite) and a main point that we learn from the actions of the Righteous (Samaritan).

The Program of God
How does the parable relate to the kingdom program of God? Remember, that we said the parables were told to reveal truths about the kingdom. What kingdom are we talking about? There is much debate about this between and among Reformed and Dispensational theologians. Some say the kingdom is already here. Some say that there is no kingdom program in effect now but that it is all in the millenium kingdom of the future. Others say there is a spiritual aspect of the kingdom in effect now and the aspect of the kingdom program that involves the physical earthly reign of Christ is definitely going to happen in the future. They opt for a both and approach.

Without telling you who is correct in this debate, we will just ask the following types of questions as we study each parable:

· What does this parable reveal about what God is doing to establish his kingdom (either here on earth now and/or in the future?)
· What does it say about who will be in the kingdom?
· about how they will get there?
· about what those who are there or are going to be there look like?

The Particulars
What secondary details of the story need to be understood? How do they relate to the main point or central truth? For example, maybe it would help to know how much a talent is worth in the parable about the talents? Do you need to understand hiring practices in the Middle East to fully understand the parable we mentioned earlier about the man who hired people at 6, 9, 12, etc? It definitely helps to understand marriage feast and banquet customs of that day when we come to the parable of the great banquet.

Some say that a parable is not designed to walk on all fours. In other words, every detail in the story doesn’t have to have an analogy. That is probably true. Every detail does not, but as I study the parables, I am amazed at how many details do have significance and do have an analogy.

E.g. The Prodigal son was said to have gone to work for a Gentile feeding pigs. Is that just an incidental detail not important to the story? I think it says more than that he was sinning. It links the whole parable back to the first two verses of the chapter. The Pharisees were condemning Jesus for eating with sinners and taxgatherers. Taxgatherers worked for Gentiles and the mention of the prodigal working for a Gentile shows that Jesus is dealing with their attitudes about the taxgatherers.

I think the reason people say that parables do not walk on all fours is because they are over-reacting to the practice of allegorizing scripture that sometimes takes place and which was especially prevalent in the Middle Ages. Back then, they would take a true, historical biblical event and make each part symbolize or mean whatever they wanted. And they came up with some very fanciful interpretations.

When we allegorize the historical events of scripture that is bad. But parables are themselves allegorical (symbolical) because the events and people in the stories that Jesus told are not real, and they do stand for something else in the real world. For example, in the parables involving a vineyard, the vineyard owner obviously stands for God. We know that from OT passages that refer to Israel as God’s vineyard, and because Jesus himself interprets the parable of the sower for us.

The point I’m trying to make is this: Although every detail may not have significance, most do. We just need to exercise control and make sure our interpretations are legitimate.
The Principles

The Principles
Of course when all this analysis is done, the most important thing to ask is “How can we apply this?”

There are three types of Parables

(1) Parabolic Sayings - these are the one-liners found in Luke 4-7

(2) Similitudes (The Parables of Matthew 13) - “The kingdom of heaven is like...” (These are all in Matt 13)
(3) Full Parables - a story told to make a point.

The proper way to study parables is to examine the setting to see what the context of the saying is, then identify the problem that prompts the parable or parabolic saying. And finally, determine what central truth is being taught.


Tomorrow we will begin studying the (1) Parabolic Sayings.

Small introduction for Parabolic Sayings: Physician heal Thyself, No one sews a new patch on an old garment, No one puts new wine in an old wineskin. A blind man cannot guide a blind man can he? These are what we call the parabolic sayings. I’m sure you’ve heard all these sayings before, but do you know what they mean? There are several short parabolic sayings of Jesus found in Luke 4, 5, 6 and 7 which I believe the meanings of each build on each other and parallel the message and ministry of Jesus.

(Thursday, 11/29/07) Parable 1 of the Parabolic Sayings - "Physician Heal Yourself" - Luke 4:23

"Physician Heal Yourself" - Luke 4:23

The Setting
In Luke 3 Jesus is baptized and in 4:1-13 He goes into the wilderness and is tempted by Satan. He then returns to civilization to begin His public ministry. He begins in the synagogue in Nazareth, his home town. He asks for the scroll. They give him the scroll, and he reads from it. In Luke 4:16-19 He reads Isa 61:1-2.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,

Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are downtrodden,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. “ (NASB)

There is a whole lot more we could talk about in this passage, such as why Jesus stopped where he did and didn’t even finish the verse. That suggests that the coming of Messiah would be in two phases. But for our purposes, the passage in Isaiah is about the coming of Messiah. In verse 21 Jesus says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus is plainly stating that He is the Messiah!

What is the response of the people? They say, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” Which means, “This can’t be the Messiah.” This also reveals that they don’t believe in the miraculous birth.

Notice the center of the chiasm. It is above giving sight to the blind. Where is Jesus? In Israel. What is going to be the major problem Jesus faces in his ministry? It is blindness to the truth. What was the center of the chiasm in Matt 13? They could not and would not see.

It is in this context that he quotes the proverb/parable: “Physician, heal yourself.”

The Problem
Why isn’t there a better reception of Jesus in Nazareth? Because they couldn’t accept the fact that someone they grew up with was the Messiah.

The Central Truth
The rejection at Nazareth was a failure to believe in Jesus as more than the son of Joseph. When they say “Physician, Heal Thyself,” they are saying that Jesus is “sick too.” He is no different than the rest of them.
That is the problem today. People do not think that Jesus was anything more than just a good man, a great teacher or something like that. Certainly, they don’t believe that He was God.

They had heard about his healings in Capernaum (vs. 23) and expected him to do the same at home. They are blind to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah who can do what Isa 61:1-2 says He will do. But He cannot do that for those who won’t believe. His home town wouldn’t believe.

He goes on to say, “No prophet is accepted in his home town.” Likewise, Jesus was not accepted as the Messiah in his home town. This is in fact further proof that Jesus is a prophet because they are rejecting him. Throughout history prophets were usually rejected.

Why does he go on to discuss Elijah and Elisha? Because Elijah and Elisha were rejected in Israel and ministered to Gentiles outside of Israel. Jesus was better received by Samaritans and Gentiles. This also fits the theme of Luke’s theology of Gentile opportunity for salvation.

The people understood the references to Elijah and Elisha because they were enraged (vs. 28).

After this, Luke records two miracles which illustrate Jesus bringing relief to the downtrodden (remember the quote from Isa). He casts out demons in Luk 4:31-37 which sounds very much like the first part of the quote about freeing captives. Who is more captive than a demon possessed person? He cures disease in Luke 4:38-44 and a person with a disease in that day was certainly downtrodden. They were considered unclean and alienated. He demonstrates very well that He fulfills the Isa 61 passage.

In chapter 5 Luke begins recording three calls by Jesus for disciples.

The Call of Peter
- He helps the disciples catch a boatload of fish in 5:1-11.
- He heals a leper in 5:12-16
- He heals a paralytic in 5:17-26. These miracles are designed to confirm His authority to the disciples and contrast him with the religious leaders.

The Call of Levi
- 5:27-30 Jesus calls Levi, a tax gatherer, and the Pharisees disapprove of Jesus’ associations.

The Call of the 12
- 6:12-16.

(Friday, 11/30/07) Parable 2 of the Parabolic Sayings - Fasting and the Bridegroom - Luke 5:33

Fasting and the Bridegroom - Luke 5:33

Hear It! Luke 5
Also in Matt 9:14, Mark 2:19

The Setting
In Luke 5:27-32 Jesus was eating with the tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees looked down on this practice because their theology said that God didn’t love sinners, and godly people didn’t associate with sinners.

The Problem
The Pharisees want to know why Jesus and his disciples are not fasting.

Jesus’ answer: “You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you?” It helps to understand the marriage customs of that day. After the wedding, there was a week long marriage feast. As long as the bridegroom was there, there was much celebrating. That was not a time for mourning. This is Kingdom imagery. The one who is bringing in the kingdom, the Messiah, is here!

Pentecost sees an allusion to the day of atonement. If he is correct, then the significance is that this gives us an indication of what a proper motivation for fasting is--mourning. There was only one time in Israel’s calendar of events that they were required to fast--the day of atonement. You were supposed to fast and beat your chest in mourning over your sinfulness. All other fasts were instigated by culture or personal choice. Therefore, to demand that someone fast, other than on the day of atonement, was ritualistic legalism. And Jesus goes after that throughout his ministry. When the Messiah/bridegroom shows up, that is not a time to fast.

If the Day of Atonement imagery is not what is being alluded to, another possible connection is Zech 7-8 esp. 8:19 The Jews were fasting for themselves and not for God in Zechariah’s time and Zech predicts that all fasts would be turned into feasts. The feast imagery is imagery of the kingdom and that is what Jesus is proclaiming - the presence of the kingdom.

The Central Truth
There is no need for fasting when Messiah is present. He would deal with the issue that was the reason for the day of atonement and for fasting. Jesus is claiming to be the Messiah who eliminates the need to fast.

Jesus goes on to say that there will come a time when the bridegroom will be taken away, then they will fast in those days. The word “taken away” is term of violence and foreshadows His rejection and death.

When Jesus was crucified, the disciples went away beating their breasts... that is a picture of the day of atonement. When every eye sees Him, there will be mourning in Israel (Zech 12:, Olivet Discourse).

SUMMARY of Thursday & Friday

The first parabolic saying revealed that the people needed to recognize that Jesus was more than the Son of Joseph. He was the fulfillment of Isa 61. When Jesus claims to be the bridegroom, it is also a major claim to Messiahship.

Welcome to Week 8 (Prayers 36, 37, 38) of the 40 Great Prayers of the Bible

Due to the Thanksgiving Holiday we will only be participating in Web Bible Babes' Bible Studies on Monday (11-19), Tuesday (11-20) & Wednesday (11-21). We will finish the last 2 Prayers (39 & 40) next week.

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Monday (11-19-07) Prayer 36 - The Lord's Prayer

Read first:
Matthew 6:9-15

Hear It! Matthew 6

The “Lord’s Prayer” is part of the section of scripture we call the Sermon on the Mount. Here, in one place, is the longest discourse of Jesus. In this sermon, Jesus confronted the accepted spirituality of his day and challenged it to a purer and more perfect state. He penetrated custom and religious ritual to reveal the will of God and divine expectation for kingdom people.

The challenge to a purer and more perfect spirituality is just as demanding in his teaching on prayer. His teaching is contrasted to the practice of “hypocrites.” Sincerity, simplicity and honesty are the marks of this prayer. Deep faith in God is in the heart of one praying.

What Can We Learn?
1. Begin with praise. One way to do that is to hallow God’s name (or to give it the honor, respect, reverence it deserves. Cf. 6:9. Study the names of God and use them in prayer).
2. Pray with kingdom priorities in mind (cf 6:10. See Mt. 6:33).
3. Seek the provision of God (cf. 6:11. See Lk. 11:9; Jas 1:17; 1 Tim 6:8).
4. Pray for human relationships ( cf. 6:12. See Mt 6:14 -15; Mt. 18, Mk 11:25).
5. Pray for protection against temptation (cf. 6:13).
6. End in praise (cf. 6:13. Praise God’s sovereignty, authority, majesty, and eternal nature).
(Thanks to Don Stevens for the above ideas)

Questions to Ponder
1. Why should prayer begin with words that honor or revere the name of God?
2. How can praying “kingdom priorities” shape both our prayers and our actions?
3. What happens to the person who seeks daily provision from God?
4. Why is forgiveness such a major concern to Jesus? Why is our forgiveness dependent on our willingness to forgive?
5. Note the following six steps of temptation. How do they work, and how can prayer help?
---(I) Deceit
------(II) Delight
---------(III) Desire
------------(IV) Deliberation
---------------(V) Defeat
------------------(VI) Despair
6. What kind of God do you pray to?

Tuesday (11-20-07) Prayer 37 - Jesus' Prayer for His Disciples

Read first:
John 17:1-26

Hear it! John 17

This prayer is much more the “Lord’s prayer,” than is the model prayer recorded in Matthew 6. There, the intent was to instruct in how to pray. Here, Jesus prays for his disciples, both the ones following in person and those who would follow later (including you and me!).

It is sometimes called the “High Priestly Prayer,” since Jesus fills the role of great high priest for the church.

The prayer begins by making a clear distinction: Jesus had been speaking to his disciples for four chapters. Now he spoke to the Father. Read Mt. 13 – 16 as necessary background to understand the prayer.

What Can We Learn?
1. A basic outline of the passage
(a) 17:1-5 Jesus prays for himself
(b) 17:6-19 Jesus prays for his disciples
(c) 17:20-26 Jesus prays for future believers
2. In praying for himself, Jesus affirmed the purpose of the Father and sought to glorify God in himself.
3. Jesus was seriously concerned for the spiritual health and well-being of his disciples. A major portion of this prayer is for their strength of faith.
4. It was of major importance to Jesus that his disciples be sanctified in the truth (equated with God’s word).
4. Compare 17:21 with 13:34 -35. It seems that Jesus knew that how his disciples handled the stresses of life would relate directly to what the world would accept.
5. This is a prayer that eternal concerns for those who follow Jesus.

Questions to Ponder
1. What would you say is the heart or “spirit” of this prayer?
2. Why do chapters 13 – 16 so effectively serve as an appropriate background to this prayer?
3. In what way is eternal life in knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ who was sent by God?
4. From John. 17:18, explain how the mission of the disciples is an extension of the mission of Jesus. In what ways are the two missions similar? In what ways different?
5. Verses like 17:21 are sometimes used to promote the idea of unity. Do you think Jesus had organizational unity in mind here or spiritual unity? Is there a difference between the two?
6. Jesus did not pray for the “world” but for disciples. Why do you think he focused on disciples instead of those in tremendous spiritual need?
7. How can we have Christ’s joy fulfilled in ourselves?

Wednesday (11-21-07) Prayer 38 - The Church's Prayer for Boldness

Read First:
Acts 4:23-31

Hear It! Acts 4

The background of this prayer begins at Acts 3. Peter and John were on the way to the temple to pray, and healed a lame man. Though there was much rejoicing and excitement among the people, the Jewish religious leaders arrested Peter and John and put them in jail. The next day, the leaders realized that they had no legitimate charge by which to hold them, nevertheless they tried to silence their preaching of Jesus, the claim of the resurrection from the dead and further spread of any news about the miracles of healing. Peter and John, of course, did not agree to this silence and affirmed that they would obey God, not men.

What Can We Learn?
1. Although we call this a prayer for boldness, in reality it is a prayer that results from boldness in Peter and John. This prayer might be more appropriately called a prayer of praise, but it does contain a specific request for confidence to speak the word.
2. vs 24 — The prayer begins with a statement of confidence in God. Any confidence we may develop to speak the word boldly begins here.
3. vs 25-27 — Much of these verses is a quote from Psalm 2. They recognized that opposition to Jesus and the plan of God was fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.
4. vs 28 — Literally, the text refers to what “the hand of you and the plan of you sets bounds before to become. ” They had some sense that even the ungodly leaders actually helped bring about God’s will.
5. vs. 29-31 — They asked for boldness to do their part knowing that God would do his part.

Questions to Ponder
1. Discuss the ways and reasons that so many things come back to the foundation of God as creator and sovereign over the universe.
2. How do Paul’s words from Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us,” echo the idea that the raging of God’s opponents do nothing but accomplish his will?
3. Read the following verses: Acts 2:4; 4:8; 4:31; 9:17; and 13:9. Discuss the meaning of being “filled with the Holy Spirit.”
4. Read Eph 5:18. In what way(s) might this apply to us today?
5. In what way could the request in vs 29 (for God to take note of the threats by the rulers) be something of a veiled imprecatory prayer?
6. Why do you think these Christians believed they needed boldness?
7. Why didn’t they just depend on God to keep working miracles?
8. Why were there physical manifestations at the conclusion of the prayer?

Happy Thanksgiving

No Web Bible Babes on Thursday (11-22-07) and Friday (11-23-07) due to the Thanksgiving Holiday! I hope ya'll have a BLESSED holiday filled with fun, family and friends!!!

Welcome to Week 7 (Prayer 31-35) of the 40 Great Prayers of the Bible

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(Monday, 11-12-07) Prayer 31 - David's Prayer for Guidance

Read First:
Psalm 139

Hear It!

When faith grows and matures it is able to perceive or understand some things about God that weren’t possible before. When David received God’s gracious and merciful forgiveness for his sin with Bathsheeba, it opened up an avenue for an even deeper appreciation of the nature and character of God.

In Psalm 139, David reveals his understanding of God and His relationship with man. In this psalm are some of the deepest and most challenging concepts of that divine -human connection. It is to the fact of the great difference between God and man that David makes his appeal for guidance. Don’t miss the plea of the last part of this psalm.

What Can We Learn?
1. God is all-knowing (139:1-6)
2. God is all-present (139:7-12)
3. God is all-powerful (139:13-16)
4. God’s greatness is beyond human comprehension (139:17 -18)
5. The psalmist’s choice of God over all others (139:19-22)
6. The psalmist’s request to the all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful God (139:23-24)

Questions to Ponder
1. If verses 1-6 are an accurate description of how well God knows us, make your own list of things God knows about us (you!).
2. Where do people go when they attempt to flee or hide from God? Why doesn’t it work? Why do they keep trying to hide?
3. What are some of the practical implications of the fact that it is by God’s power that we are formed in our mother’s womb? In other words, how extensive is God’s understanding of the way we’re made?
4. What are some of the things about God that are beyond your comprehension?
5. What emotions do you feel when reading David’s request for God to “search me . . . and know my heart?”
6. 139:24 can be translated “way of pain” instead of “hurtful way.” What are some of the ways of pain that people follow?

(Tuesday, 11-13-07) Prayer 32 - Isaiah's Prayer for Mercy

Read First:
Isa. 64:1-12

Hear It! Isaiah 64

Prophecies of Comfort (40–66):
Having pronounced Judah’s divine condemnation, Isaiah comforts them with God’s promises of hope and restoration. The basis for this hope is the sovereignty and majesty of God (40–48). Of the 216 verses in these nine chapters, 115 speak of God’s greatness and power. The Creator is contrasted with idols, the creations of men. His sovereign character is Judah’s assurance of future restoration. Babylon will indeed carry them off; but Babylon will finally be judged and destroyed, and God’s people will be released from captivity.

Chapters 49–57 concentrate on the coming Messiah who will be their Savior and Suffering Servant. This rejected but exalted One will pay for their iniquities and usher in a kingdom of peace and righteousness throughout the earth. All who acknowledge their sins and trust in Him will be delivered (58–66). In that day Jerusalem will be rebuilt, Israel’s borders will be enlarged, and the Messiah will reign in Zion. God’s people will confess their sins and His enemies will be judged. Peace, prosperity, and justice will prevail, and God will make all things new. — Talk Through The Bible

What Can We Learn?
1. 64:1-2 — This is a frequent but puzzling question of those who believe in God. God’s presence would have a chilling effect on the nations.
2. 64:3-4 — Read 1 Cor. 2:9. Paul understood that God had brought those amazing things to pass in Christ.
3. 64:5-7 — This is a concise, accurate statement of the problem of sin.
4. 64:8 — This is the attitude that changes a person from rebellion and desire to shape one’s own life, to submission to God and to the molding of his hand.
5. 64:9 — There is a simple but profound plea expressed here. Isaiah leans completely on the fact that, as the people of God, they could depend completely and safely on him.
6. 64:10-12 — The picture painted here had not actually occurred in Isaiah’s day, at least not physically. He may have been speaking of what was to be, or perhaps he was describing a spiritual wilderness and destruction.

Questions to Ponder
1. Have you ever wanted to ask the question of 64:1-2? If so, why? What were the circumstances that moved you to ask this kind of question?
2. Make a list of God’s works that amaze you.
3. Make a list of things that we need to understand about sin and our relationship with God based on 64:5 -7.
4. In what ways are you cooperating with Isaiah’s desire in 64:8? What kind of shape do you think you’re in?

(Wednesday, 11-14-07) Prayer 33 - Jeremiah's Praise for God's Wisdom

Read First:
Jeremiah 32:17-27

Hear It! Jeremiah 32

Jeremiah was in trouble. He was an outspoken prophet who had declared God’s judgment on Jerusalem. King Zedekiah had heard enough doom and gloom and had imprisoned Jeremiah in the court of the guard.

Meanwhile, the Babylonians were besieging Jerusalem. God also sent word to Jeremiah that he was to buy a field from his cousin, Hanamel. That field stood as a kind of window of optimism, a hope that although Babylon would take Jerusalem, at some point in the future God would bring his people home.

Jeremiah’s prayer acknowledges God’s wisdom foretold to him in prophecy.

What Can We Learn?
1. The first thing we might consider is whether this prayer is one of confidence in God, or one of hesitation and doubt. Some translations make 32:25 read like Jeremiah is questioning why God instructed him to buy the field.
2. Note the following points of praise in Jeremiah’s prayer:
(a) God is creator, thus nothing is too hard for him
(b) He dispenses loving-kindness yet holds people responsible for their sins
(c) He is wise and understands the ways of men
(d) Through signs and wonders he has made a name for him self
(e) He brought Israel out of Egypt and brought them to the Promised Land
3. 32:23 is a concise statement identifying Israel’s problem
4. 32:24 is a statement about the inevitability of God’s judgment

Questions to Ponder
1. Natural attributes of God Incomparable 2 Sam. 7:22
(a) Invisible John 1:18
(b) Inscrutable Is. 40:28
(c) Unchangeable Num. 23:19
(d) Unequaled Is. 40:13–25
(e) Unsearchable Rom. 11:33, 34
(f) Infinite 1 Kin. 8:27
(g) Eternal Is. 57:15
(h) Omnipotence Jer. 32:17, 27
(i) Omnipresence Ps. 139:7– 12
(j) Omniscience 1 John 3:20
(k) Fore-knowledge Is. 48:3, 5
(l) Wise Acts 15:18
(from Nelson’s Topical Bible Index)

2. If God possesses these attributes, should it encourage our trust in him? How?
3. From Jeremiah’s prayer, what does he seem to think is the thing that gets in the way of God’s ability to accomplish whatever he wants?
4. Comment on the following verses: Isa. 46:9-13; Dan 2:20-22; Eph 3:8-13; Ps 65:1-2

(Thursday, 11-15-07) Prayer 34 - Daniel's Prayer of Confession

Read First:
Daniel 9:4-19

Hear It! Daniel 9

Daniel had been taken into Babylonian captivity in about 606 B.C.
He distinguished himself in many ways, but none more so than his faithfulness to God throughout his lifetime. In his youth, he stood firmly in his faith, and on many occasions, he refused to bow to the pressures of his times, opting instead to follow God’s will.

Now, as an old man (prob. In his 80’s or more) he had seen a new world power arise. He turned to study the scriptures and discovered the time of Israel’s captivity (70 years), from Jeremiah’s prophecy. He knew the time for Israel’s return was near, so he had great concern for his people. Thus his prayer here.

What Can We Learn?
1. It is important that Daniel’s prayer was motivated by a study of scripture.
2. Daniel’s prayer was accompanied by fasting, and wearing sackcloth and ashes, symbols of grief and mourning.
3. Daniel’s study reminded him, not just of Israel’s return to the Promised Land, but the reason they were taken from it to start with.
4. Daniel made repeated use of the pronouns “I, we and our.” (40+ times) in this prayer. His prayer was intensely personal; humble and confessional.
5. Daniel’s confession of sin is specific with regard to the kinds of sins of which he and his people were guilty.
6. Daniel makes a clear contrast between the goodness and righteousness of God and the sinfulness of the people.
7. Daniel remembered God’s deliverance in times past, and calls upon God to do the same again.
8. His climactic plea is for God to save Israel for his own name’s sake.

Questions to Ponder
1. Have you ever experienced an intense desire to pray following a particular study of something in the Bible? If so, share it with the class.
2. Fasting is frequently mentioned in connection with prayer. Though no verse in the Bible demands that we fast, it seems that fasting was assumed to be something we would practice. Why do you think modern Christians seldom fast, and how do you think we could encourage the practice?
3. How important do you think it is that we confess both our personal sins and that of our nation?
4. What “kind” of sins would you list if making confession for our nation?
5. How would you contrast God with the church today?
6. In what ways would God glorify himself today by showing mercy and forgiveness to us? Is his salvation still performed for his own name’s sake? Discuss how this might be true .

(Friday, 11-16-07) Prayer 35 - Habukkuk's Prayer of Praise

Read First:
Hab. 3:1-19

Hear It! Habakkuk 3

The author of this book is Habakkuk, about whom little is known apart from his name, which is derived from the Hebrew word meaning “embrace” or “embracer,” and the fact that he is called a “prophet” (1:1; 3:1), which suggests that he was a prophet by profession.

Although the prophecy is not dated according to the reign of a king, internal evidence presupposes a date between the death of King Josiah (609 B.C.) and the beginning of the Babylonian captivity (605 B.C.). The deplorable conditions of the people (1:2 –4) imply a date after the untimely death of Josiah at the Battle of Megiddo (609 B.C.) and during the wicked reign of King Jehoiakim (609 –597 B.C.; cf. Jer. 22:13–23). Along with ephaniah and Jeremiah, Habakkuk warned of God’s approaching judgment through the Chaldeans, i.e., the Babylonians.

Realizing Israel’s iniquity and need for punishment, Habakkuk is perplexed with the moral dilemma of how a holy God could employ the more deplorably wicked Chaldeans to chastise His children. God responds by asserting His sovereign prerogative as to the choice and the timing of His retribution. Though it may appear unreasonable, His way is best. Thus the prophet learns that to believe what God says and to heed Hi s warning is to be numbered among the righteous who shall live by faith (2:4). Consequently, Habakkuk’s theme is faith triumphant over apparent difficulties.
(Believer’s Study Bible)

What Can We Learn?
(a) 3:1 “Shigionoth” is a dithyramb —a type of music with impassioned staccato and quick changes of rhythm and emotion (cf. Ps. 7: title, note). The root of “Shigionoth,” sagah (Heb.), depicts the movement of a drunken man and is here used to denote Habakkuk’s strong emotional pressure.
(b) 3:2 This is the only petition presented in the prayer. Since it inspires fear, “Your speech” refers not to what follows but to what precedes, the prediction in 1:6–11. In the present context, God’s work is the exercise of His goodness and power on behalf of His people. Habakkuk prays for God’s redemptive intervention during the period of their chastisement (“in the midst of the years”).
(c) 3:3–15 Habakkuk recalls Israel’s history: God’s majesty displayed in Sinai (vv. 3, 4), the plague in the desert (v. 5), the conquest of Canaan (vv. 6 – 10), the solar miracle in Gibeon (v. 11), and the victories accomplished by God for His people (vv. 12–15). “Selah” is used 71 times in the Psalms and three times in this prayer (cf. Ps. 3:2).
(d) 3:16–19 Anticipating the consequent calamity which shall ensue and lead to famine and death, the prophet voices one of the greatest expressions of undaunted faith, the most beautiful exhibition of the power of true religion to be found anywhere in the Bible. Habakkuk declares that although everything fails, he will trust in YAHWEH. No affliction, however severe or trying, can sever the believer from his Lord. (Believer’s Study Bible)

Questions to Ponder
1. Why do you think so many prayers are recorded in scripture as songs? What importance does this seem to place on expressing praise or other forms of prayer in musical expression?
2. What is the picture of God drawn by Habakkuk in verses 1-7?
3. How is Habakkuk’s complain in 1:1 - 3 answered in his prayer of praise?
4. What is Habakkuk saying about his faith in 3:16-19?
5. Why is Hab. 2:4 such an important statement for an Old Testament prophet to make?
6. How does Habakkuk ’s prayer of praise ultimately reflect his faith in spite of questions and lack of complete understanding?

Welcome to Week 6 (Prayers 26 - 30) of the 40 Great Prayers of the Bible

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(Monday 11-05-07) Prayer 26 - David's Prayer at His Son's Rebellion

Read First:
Psalm 3

Hear It!

The background to this Psalm is thought to be David’s flight from his son Absolom, who had grown in popularity and power and not only challenged David’s throne, but highly embarrassed him by his behavior.

David found himself in the unenviable position of having to flee for his life, but in that flight, he was reassured of God’s protective love and care.

David also found strength in the commitment and dedication of trusted followers. He will later grieve deeply over the death of Absolom. Though God sustains, God will not remove the consequences of all life’s problems.

What Can We Learn?
1. David’s statement in 3:1 is exactly the emotional experience of many when besieged by difficulties.
2. The doubtful statement of 3:2 is often the response of those around us. It is the statement of one who has no faith in God.
3. Selah, is a word that probably indicates where a musical rest or pause should occur. It probably represents a means of emphasis to what is being read or sung. Perhaps a crescendo.
4. It’s been suggested that this Psalm is the inspiration for the children’s prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep . . . .”
5. Cromwell is considered by many to be the bravest man who ever lived. Someone asked him, “What is the explanation of your bravery?” Cromwell replied, “Because I fear God, I have no man to fear.” (Through the Bible Commentary)
6. This psalm says that when you’re down, God will lift you up!

Questions to Ponder
1. Make a list of the various negative emotional responses people make when trouble hits them.
2. Make another list of the ways people attempt to create doubt in our minds that God can’t or won’t help us.
3. How can we be sure that God’s help will come despite our own emotional troubles and the doubtful words of other people?
4. How do you think a person develops the kind of faith David displays in this psalm?
5. Explain David’s choice of words to express his thoughts in 3:7
6. What does it mean that, “salvation belongs to the Lord?”

(Tuesday, 11-06-07) Prayer 27 - David's Prayer of Praise

(Note from Christina: In today's study, questions are not asked regarding the scripture reading. Instead they use colors and arrows to bring home the point. I am not exactly sure what that point is yet but hopefully we will figure it out together!)

Read First:
Psalm 8

Hear It!

PRAISE — an act of worship or acknowledgment by which the virtues or deeds of another are recognized and extolled. The praise of one human being toward another, although often beneficial (1 Cor. 11:2; 1 Peter 2:14), can be a snare (Prov. 27:21; Matt. 6:1–5). But the praise of God toward people is the highest commendation they can receive. Such an act of praise reflects a true servant’s heart (Matt. 25:21; 1 Cor. 4:5; Eph. 1:3–14).

Our praise toward God is the means by which we express our joy to the Lord. We are to praise God both for who He is and for what He does (Ps. 150:2). Praising God for who He is called adoration; praising Him for what He does is known as thanksgiving. Praise of God may be in song or prayer, individually or collectively, spontaneous or
prearranged, originating from the emotions or from the will.

The godly person will echo David’s words, “My praise shall be continually of You . . . And [I] will praise You yet more and more” (Ps. 71:6, 14).

Psalm 8:1-9
(1) O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
(2) From the mouth of infants and nursing babes
You have established strength Because of Your adversaries,
To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.
->When I consider Your heavens,
the work of Your fingers,
----->The moon and the stars,
------->which You have ordained;
(4) What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
(5) Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
(7) All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field,
(8) The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
(9) O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

(Wednesday, 11-07-07) Prayer 28 - David's Prayer for a Pure Heart

Read First:
Psalm 19

Hear It!

This Psalm contains one of the verses considered by some to be a key verse in the entire book. Psalm 19:14 reads: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

For this reason, though the words of the psalm do not directly plead for a pure heart, it is the condition of the heart that is at the core of the petition.

There are other items of interest with regard to this psalm. The Believer’s Study Bible notes: “Psalm 19 illustrates the two general categories of revelation: [1] natural revelation, God’s revealing of Himself through the created order (vv. 1– 6); and [2] special revelation, God’s revealing of Himself through the Scriptures (vv. 7–11).”

It is important to note that the Psalmist ascribes certain things to God, evidenced in His works and in His Law. It is in light of God that the Psalmist makes one simple request concerning the condition and actions of his heart.

What Can We Learn?
1. We sometimes overlook the power of “natural revelation,” that truth of God revealed by the creation itself , but this is the concern of the first six verses. Note 19:1: “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”
2. The statements here regarding God’s Law are similar to those in Psalm 119. Note the following from the Word in Life Study Bible regarding the effects of God’s Law (His word).
(a) Avoiding sin and pursuing godliness (Ps. 119:3, 11, 36, 102, 133).
(b) A motivation and basis for praising God (119:7, 171).
(c) A pure lifestyle (119:9).
(d) Readjustments in our priorities (119:14, 92) and values (119:16, 20, 37, 48, 72, 103, 111, 127).
(e) Insight into our purpose on earth (119:19, 32, 125).
(f) Avoiding and learning from God’s rebuke (119:21–22, 67, 71, 75, 118).
(g) A basis for evaluating criticism and opposition (119:23, 41 –42, 51, 61, 69, 84–88, 98, 161).
(h) A source of wisdom and guidance for day-to-day life (119:24, 66, 105, 130, 176).
(i) Encouragement, hope, and comfort (119:25, 28, 41, 49–50, 52, 55, 61, 81– 83, 114, 166).
(j) Something valuable with which to occupy our minds (119:27, 55, 62, 97, 147–148) and conversation (119:46, 164, 172).
(k) A basis for truth, honesty, and integrity (119:29–30, 99–100, 104, 163).
(l) A sense of freedom (119:45).
(m) A source of new songs (119:54).
(n) An accurate basis for self-examination (119:59).
(o) Fellowship with like -minded believers (119:63, 79).
(p) A solid foundation for our faith (119:66, 89–90).
(q) Protection and peace (119:114, 165).
(r) The ability to discern right from wrong (119:136, 138–139, 158).
(s) A motivation and basis for prayer (119:169–170).
(t) The Lord’s help (119:173–174).
3. The Word of God is characterized as being: [1] perfect, i.e., complete and without fault; [2] sure, i.e., not variable; [3] right, i.e., straight; [4] pure, i.e., without alloy; [5] clean, i.e., without impurities; and [6] true, i.e., utterly dependable. The law of the Lord produces two dramatic effects in men. First, the law “converts” or “restores” the soul. Second, the testimony of the Lord imparts wisdom. (Believer’s Study Bible)

Questions to Ponder
1. How important is it that our prayers be uttered in light of God’s revelation?
2. In what ways can we, in prayer, acknowledge the works and words of God?
3. What does “nature” reveal about God?
4. Can we pray for God to act on our behalf if we ignore or refuse to obey his word?

(Thursday, 11-08-07) Prayer 29 - David's Prayer to His Sheperd

Read First:
Psalm 23

Hear It!

Psalm 23, the shepherd’s psalm, was composed by David, who himself was a shepherd in his youth:
(a) David was out keeping sheep when Samuel the judge came to his father Jesse’s home to find a king of God’s choosing (1 Sam. 16:11).
(b) The youngest of eight sons, David was left behind to tend sheep when his three oldest brothers went to battle. However, he occasionally visited them (17:12–20, 28).
(c) David used skills honed during years of shepherding to kill Goliath (17:34–37 & 40–51).
(d) David is remembered as having been chosen by God and taken from the sheepfolds to shepherd the people of Israel (Ps. 78:70–72).

Psalm 23 reflects David’s career shift. While the first four verses paint a pastoral picture, the last two have David sitting at a banquet table, most likely as king, while his enemies— those over whom God has made him triumph—look on. Having grown up in rural places, David had come to the city to exercise authority and power.
(Word in Life Study Bible)

What Can We Learn?
1. This psalm is one of the most beloved passages of the Bible, one of the crown jewels of Scripture.
2. Although it is customarily thought of as the “Shepherd Psalm,” and rightly so, this psalm of David actually encompasses three distinct scenes:
(a) the shepherd scene (vv. 1 –4),
(b) the host or banquet scene (v. 5), and
(c) the home or heavenly scene (v. 6).
3. The shepherd motif is used here and elsewhere in the O.T. (cf. Is. 40:11; Ezek. 34:11) to characterize God.
4. It is also a marvelous foreshadowing of the “Good Shepherd,” who loves the flock (v. 1; cf. John 10:11 –15), feeds the flock (v. 2; cf. John 10:9 & 21:15–17; Acts 20:28), tends and cares for the flock (“restores my soul,” v.3; cf. Is. 40:11; John 21:15–17; 1 Pet. 5:1–4), protects the flock (“rod,” v. 4; cf. John 10:11–15; Acts 20:29–32), and seeks the lost and straying sheep (“staff,” v. 4; cf. Luke 15:3–7).

Questions to Ponder
1. Look carefully at the shepherd. How exactly does he care for his sheep (vv. 1–4)?
2. “I fear no evil” ( v. 4) is a bold statement. What does it mean for you to say that?
3. Enemies are prominent in the psalm prayers and appear here. Who are your enemies?
4. Why is it important to us that David chose such a pastoral scene to describe that which the Lord provided to him?
5. What is the meaning of the words, “I shall not want?”
6. The picture of “the valley of the shadow of death” is a stark one. As someone has said, the moment that gives you life begins to take it away from you. All of us are in death’s valley. How does David’s statement embolden you to face such a fragile life?

(Friday, 11-09-07) Prayer 30 - David's Prayer for Forgiveness

Read First:
Psalm 51

Hear It!

It is generally accepted that this Psalm was written following David’s sin with Bathsheba and following the confrontation of the prophet Nathan.

2 Sam 11:1-17 and 12:1-15 record both events. David committed adultery with Bathsheba. Perhaps he thought no one would know of the sin, but when Bathsheba revealed that she was pregnant, David compounded the sin by first trying to deceive her husband Uriah, then having him killed by ordering him to a place in battle where he was sure to die.

Nathan, in the role of God’s prophet, enabled David to pronounce his own guilt in the matter. At some point, this psalm resulted from David’s prayers.

What Can We Learn?
1. J. Vernon McGee gives an illustration to show that sin is complicated, and complicates life. If I said I had a crooked stick behind my back, everyone would have a different idea of how it looked. But, if I said I had a ruler and it was perfectly straight, all would know exactly what it looked like. In the same way, sin complicates, but goodness keeps life simple.
2. David uses three different words to describe his violation of God’s will:
(a) Transgressions — depicts a spirit of defiant disobedience against God; To transgress is to step over the boundaries of God.
(b) Iniquity — represents a perversion, a distortion of that which is straight; that which is altogether wrong.
(c) Sin — denotes a missing of the mark, a deficiency with respect to intent or purpose; we don’t come up to God’s standard, and it is in that sense that all of us today are sinners.
3. Evil is that which is actually wrong. David uses this word to speak of the fact that he was wrong. He admitted it.
4. David found himself under the conviction of his sin.
5. David demonstrates to us the valid reasons and method of confession.
6. Hyssop (Ps. 51:7) was a Middle Eastern plant used frequently in purification rituals among the Hebrews. It was used to apply blood to the doorposts during Passover (Ex. 12:22) and as part of the red heifer sacrifice (Num. 19:6). Hyssop was also used to cleanse lepers and to purify houses of leprosy (Lev. 14:6, 9, 49–52).
7. David also demonstrates the effective plea for cleansing and communion.
8. The word “create” in vs. 10 is the same word as in Gen. 1:1. It is suggested that in both places God creates something out of nothing. In Ps 51, what David needs is a new heart, not a renovated, rebuilt old one.
9. David also shows us that true repentance is a result of something that happens in the heart.

Questions to Ponder
1. In what ways can we relate to David’s despair over his sin?
2. Is it possible for some forms of anxiety and depression to be the result of spiritual problems and sin? If so, how and why?
3. Why do you think vs. 13 is in this psalm?
4. How does a person develop a broken and contrite heart?