Year of the Bible – Psalm 36

Epiphany - Psalm 36
There is no fear of God before his eyes. – Psalm 36:1b
Psalm 36
David observes that the unrighteous do not do the will of God because they do not fear God – that is, they do not reverence Him and His Word. Their disobedience is sinful and serious, but they deceive THEMSELVES with boasting and personal flattery. But look closer, even on their deathbed, they are plotting rebellion against God. Then David turns to the wondrous character of God. He is the opposite of sinful men. God’s love has no limits. He remains the same, so whatever He promises He will do, He does. He gives the same promises to all men. He gives and gives without ceasing. By knowing Him, we are able to know truth. David ends his psalm with a request of God. He asks for preservation from these self-deceived disobedient men, preservation from a God who is faithful, always true to His Word and Promise.
Questions – Psalm 36
  1. What do sinful men do to help fool themselves, to blind themselves to their own weaknesses and failings?
  2. In what way is God’s character the exact opposite of self-blind, self-deceived men?
  3. What request should we make of God in the light of the sinful world around us?
Year of the Bible – Epiphany Week Three | Monday | Psalm 36 – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Romans 8-11

Epiphany - Romans 8

 

 

. . . through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8:2

Romans 8:1-11:36 (8:1-14)

Justification’s Comfort

King David would have loved to hear those words: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (8:1) How did this happen? Not by man living a life without sin (it is impossible), but by God placing our sins upon Christ and Christ at the cross obtaining forgiveness for us. How does forgiveness come to us? By the Holy Spirit, in the Word, in Baptism, God thereby giving us the heart of David, loving God for His forgiveness, wanting to do God’s good will out of love for God, not because of fear. Paul tells us that we Christians must not think that being a Christian will deliver us from suffering in this life. Even though we must undergo suffering while in the world, we can be confident of victory over the world. God will raise our bodies from the grave, so we need never give up hope. Nothing in all the world can separate us from God and His love – not even death itself! The Apostle Paul, having made this bold statement, then raises a difficult question: What about those who ARE separated from God’s love? How did this happen, especially to the Jews who rejected Jesus? This falling away, Paul explains, took place because of their hard hearts, because they wanted to be their own saviors rather than trust and rely upon Jesus to be their Savior. It was not God’s fault. It was man’s doing, man rejecting God’s grace. The Jews, though they had rejected God, however, could always be brought back to faith, for salvation depends not upon human merit or holy works and deeds, but upon God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Questions – Romans 8

  1. How is our condemnation for sin removed by God?
  2. Why do Christians suffer in this world?
  3. Why are Christians so confident about overcoming suffering in the world?
  4. What group of people tragically rejected Jesus?
  5. Could they be forgiven for their unbelief?
Year of the Bible – Epiphany Week Two | Saturday | Romans 8 – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Mark 14

Epiphany - Mark 14

 

 

 

“I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” – Mark 14:27b

Mark 14:27-31

We want to confess Christ. After all, what a wonderful Lord He is. What a great man! He did nothing but good. He healed and comforted, fed and pardoned, preached and encouraged. He fought for truth and justice and mercy. But men hated Him. Immediately after the Lord’s Supper, after singing a hymn with His disciples, Jesus brought His disciples to the Mount of Olives. This was a beautiful garden area, full of trees, filled with cool, sweet smelling air – but what Jesus had to tell His disciples was not very sweet. They were going to betray Jesus – run away from Him. Peter, who always thought that he could do greater things than the others, protested. What he heard was frightening! He would deny Jesus three times! Later, when Peter remembered these words, he broke down and wept. This is what we call the “Theology of the Cross.” When we think we are strong, we are weak. But what we see as weakness, especially Jesus’ weakness and suffering, is far stronger than it appears.

Questions – Mark 14

  1. What good things did Jesus do for people that would make us want to praise Him before men?
  2. What startling news did Jesus have for His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane?
  3. What was Peter’s lesson about strength and weakness?
Year of the Bible – Epiphany Week Two | Friday | Mark 14 – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Luke 4

Epiphany - Luke 4

 

 

“I tell you the truth,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” – Luke 4:24

Luke 4:14-37

Jesus began his ministry in the region of Galilee, where He had grown up. As long as He was preaching and teaching in areas that were outside of His hometown, He was well received. But when He returned to Nazareth, this one who had grown up before the eyes of men as a humble carpenter’s son—that this one was the Son of God—this reason and experience could not be accepted. By what standards could anyone know the Christ? Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…freedom for the prisoners…recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.” These are the signs of God’s covenantal people, those who know God and are His children. These mark the God of Israel when He comes into the flesh for the purpose of redeeming His creation. The people of Nazareth could not accept that one from among their own people, one who did not fit their self-exalted notions of personal grandeur, could be their savior, a savior of grace. In unbelief they put Him to the test, demanding miracles and signs—which of course, would have been of no value to them because of their lack of faith. Jesus reminded them of the ministry of Elijah. When Israel rejected God, God chose the Gentiles. Unable to constrain themselves at this insult, the Nazarenes rushed at Jesus to kill Him. So Jesus went to Capernaum, a small town on the north side of the Sea of Galilee. There the Son of God delivered the poor and oppressed with mere words, and His teaching and preaching was received in faith.

Questions – Luke 4

  1. Where did Jesus first begin to preach?
  2. What was the problem of the people of Nazareth—why could they not believe in Jesus as the Messiah?
  3. What was the work of the Messiah, as Jesus expressed it from Isaiah?
  4. Why were they angry at the suggestion that God would give His grace and love to the Gentiles?
  5. What city did receive Jesus and serve as the base for much of His ministry?
  6. What must we possess before the Word of God is of benefit to us?
Year of the Bible – Epiphany Week Two | Thursday | Luke 4 – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Isaiah 18-21

Epiphany - Isaiah 18

 

 

O my people, crushed on the threshing floor, I tell you what I have heard from the Lord Almighty, from the God of Israel. – Isaiah 21:10

Isaiah 18:1-21:17 (21:1-10)

God does hear the prayers of the needy, the poor who look to Him for deliverance. In these four chapters God lays out the coming destruction that would fall upon the nations that turned against Israel and her Messianic hope. But God also left the peoples of these countries—Gentile countries—with a hope of a new day when all nations would find unity with Israel in the faith of a Messiah manifested to the world, in Christianity. God directs His first accusation again Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s kings were able to descend at will upon Egypt as the Nile River rose. They lived in the protection of mountains and prospered with trade. It seemed as though God was not watching or caring when they oppressed the poor. But God was watching and in justice He crushed them with famine and drought. It would not be until the time of the Messiah that they would be permitted to return to the favor of the Lord. Christianity flourished in Ethiopia and Abyssinia. In our text, God then turned in prophesy against Egypt. Egypt, the mighty power that oppressed Judah, God’s people, would be turned into a host of feudal states, warring constantly against each other (7th Century BC), never to rise again to her former glory and unity, never to find the wisdom that would bring unity and peace to her nation. But God also held out the Messianic promise to the Egyptians. God would send His word to Egypt, both in the establishment of Jewish colonies and in the great epiphany of Christianity after the resurrection of Christ. They too, would be permitted to know the Lord, the God of Israel, and take up a place among the chosen people of God. In chapter 20 God turns to the impending doom that is coming upon Egypt and Ethiopia that will take place at the hand of the king of Assyria. They would be disgraced because of the disgrace they had imposed upon God’s people. The same fate would come true for Babylon, Edom and the peoples of Arabia. No one may hurt or harm God’s people without God bringing justice and vindicating them!

 

Questions – Isaiah 18

  1. What promise does God make to His people experiencing oppression.
  2. Even though God executed justice upon the Ethiopians, what promise did he make to them, a promise of hope?
  3. When did Egypt fall into feudalism and division?
  4. What hope did God give to the Egyptians?
  5. What kingdom would destroy Egypt?
  6. What kingdom did God use to destroy the southern Kingdom of Judah, taking her people away into captivity, but was later punished by God for having done so?
Year of the Bible – Epiphany Week Two | Wednesday | Isaiah 18 – © John W. Fiene


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