Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Readings for June 17 2012

Our readings this week are:

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 – Between last week’s reading where Israel demands a king and this week’s reading a young warrior named Saul has proved himself to be a gifted military leader, he has been anointed by Samuel to be king, the 12 tribes have selected Saul to be king, Saul wins a mighty military campaign, and Samuel gives a final speech to the tribes of Israel. In chapter 13, Saul manages to irritate Samuel by taking over Samuel’s role in giving a sacrifice for an upcoming battle against the Philistines and Samuel declares that non of Saul’s sons will follow him as king (I don’t get it either.) In chapter 14, Saul and his son, Jonathan, have success over the Philistines but a controversy erupts over the eating of food on the day of battle (again, I don’t get it either) and the end of the chapter records that Saul was in near continual battle with his neighbors. Now in Chapter 15 Saul wins a war against the Amalekites and had EVERY man, woman, and child put to death except for the king. He also had nearly all of the cattle, sheep, etc., killed except for the best. Because Saul did not have everything put to death, Samuel, in the name of the Lord, rejects Saul’s kinghood and Saul begins a decent into madness. Our reading begins with Samuel traveling to Bethlehem to anoint the next and future king, David. What are God’s instructions to Samuel (verses 1-3)? Who was the man that Samuel meets and invites to a sacrifice near Bethlehem (verse 5)? How does the Lord see humans (verse 7)? How many sons does Samuel think might be the new king (verse 10)? Who is the last son and what is he doing (verses 11-15)? What is the physical description of this last son? Which of these 15 verses might be a key verse for you?

Psalm 20 – This almost sounds like a benediction at the end of a worship service. Who is this psalm addressed to? What can, or should, God do for this person (verses 1-4)? What should we do for this person (verse 5)? Whom will the Lord help and how (verse 6)? What do some people take pride in and who should we take pride in (verse 7)? Whom will God give victory (verse 9)?

Ezekiel 17:22-24 – Chapter 17 is a parable of 2 eagles and a cedar/vine. One great eagle plants a cedar which grows into a vine that the eagle cares for. The vine turns to another great eagle who ignores the vine. Will the vine thrive and live? The parable is explained as Babylon, the current prince in Judah and Egypt. Our reading is the last 3 verses of the chapter. What does the Lord promise to do? If the parable earlier was about the cedar/vine which is the current prince in Judah, what do you think the new cedar represents? Who will benefit from the new cedar? What can the Lord do with trees? If this is considered an additional parable, what do you think the Lord is saying?

Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15 – When is it good to give thanks to the Lord and by what means (verses 1-3)? Why (verse 4)? What are the righteous like (verse 12-15)?

2 Corinthians 5:6-17 – In verses 6-9 Paul continues with a metaphor about our body being a temporary home before we go to our true home with the Lord. (Verse 7 seems to come out of left field and not fit with 6, 8, and 9). Paul is most famous for his insistence that we are saved by faith and not works yet verse 10 seems to be contrary to that position. What is Paul well known for in verse 11? By whom? What does he want from the church in Corinth in verse 12? What do you think the underlying assumption is of verse 13? Another way of putting that is “What are some of the criticisms of Paul by some Corinthians?” Who controls what Paul does and why (verses 14-15)? What has changed for Paul and other Christians because of Christ (verse 16-17a)? In these verses, which one or two might be a key verse for you? You should also read verses 18-21 since these seem to sum up God’s work of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Mark 4:26-34 – From last week to this week we skip the parable of the soils and its explanation. I think we covered Matthew’s version last year. Unfortunately, though, we skip the stated purpose of parables stated in verse 12 which comes from Isaiah 6:9-10. We also skip a warning about judging others in verses 24-25 ( I don’t think verse 25 is about wealth and poverty). In our passage we have two short parables about God’s kingdom. The first is in verses 26-29. What is the role of the farmer (what two things does he do)? What happens despite the farmer? The second parable is in verses 30-32? What is the kingdom of God like? Look up “mustard plant” on the internet and check out its characteristics. Does it look like a tree that birds can nest in? Jesus might be using a bit of hyperbole. How did Jesus continue to speak to the crowds?

May the Word of God be planted in your heart, mind, and soul and may it grow like the mustard seed so that all will know the benefits of God’s Kingdom.

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