Monday, January 3, 2011

Daily Bible Reading: Jan 3 - 9

January 3rd

Reading: Genesis 3:1-24

Genesis chapter 3 puts forth the plot and the theme of the whole of Scripture, and the whole of history. The plot begins to develop through the interchange between the Serpent, which is Satan, and the woman. Notice how Satan challenges the words of God and puts doubt in Eve's mind. This is a favorite tactic of the Devil and those in this world who do his bidding. That is why it is so important for you to know God's Word intimately and, in faith, believe it to be true. Otherwise, like Eve, you can easily be deceived into foolishly trying something you know is wrong to do.

Having sinned, Adam and Eve lost all that God had planned for them, including access to the Tree of Life, which would have allowed them to live forever. But, they were not the only ones who suffered this dreadful consequence. All mankind, every person who has ever been born, and ever will be born, has also lost access to the Tree of Life - at least as God originally planned it in the Garden. Additionally, because Adam represented all mankind, his act destroyed much of the "image of God" that man was originally created with. Now, unlike Adam who was created holy and good, all men are born with what is called a "sin nature." That is, we are all born with the desire to do wrong and we will die in our sins unless we are rescued by Jesus Christ. Only through Christ, the Seed of the Woman spoken of in Genesis 3:15, can we now gain eternal life. Because of Adam's sin, God cut off the physical avenue to the Tree of Life and does not allow man to obtain eternal life by his own efforts. Ponder the latter part of verse 22 where God, reflecting on man's act of disobedience says, "now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live for ever." Eternal life can only be achieved by God's terms. No longer would it be available to man by his own free choice and efforts, but must be found in the free act of the one God-man, Jesus Christ.

January 4th

Reading: Genesis 4:1-26

What a tragic story, Cain and Abel. It could have turned out so different, but Cain let his anger consume him. Within this whole ordeal we need to grasp the counsel that the Lord gave to Cain and apply it to our own lives. "if thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" During the early teen years, some young people as yourself struggle with feelings of being accepted - accepted by friends, adults, and sometimes even their parents. It's a wonderful time of your life as you begin to change physically, emotionally, and intellectually from childhood to adulthood, but it can have its accompanying challenges. Not the least of these challenges is a frustrated feeling of not being understood or accepted by others.

Unfortunately, when young people have these feelings they end up making decisions, doing things, or saying things that are wrong and disrespectful. Then, when they are reprimanded or scolded for their attitude, they respond "You just don't understand me" or "Why do you always yell at me?" Whereas parents often do have difficulty identifying with their young teen's feelings, they are not wrong to correct you when you are disrespectful. In essence, they are telling you in their own way what God was telling Cain, "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" In other words, I encourage you to realize that our relationships with our parents is definitely a two way street. You make up at least half the equation. If you do what is right, then you will experience the acceptance that you, in your frustration, feel is lacking. Whether you receive the acknowledgement right away from your parents or not, claim the promise that God gives in this passage. "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" The answer is a resounding YES in the heart of God.

January 5th

Reading: Genesis 5:1-32

Why would God write a "book" (this chapter starts with the line "This is the book of the generations of Adam") that simply tells us who was whose father? Well, first let me say that this chapter does not only say who "begat" whom (that is, who was born to whom). It does tell us about how long each person lived (and they tended to live quite a long time back then); it tells us about the character of some (see vss. 22 & 24 which tell us about Enoch); and, it tells us what at least one parent hoped for his child (see vs. 29 concerning the naming of Noah). We will address some of these things in future years when you read this section of the Bible again. I just mention them here because sometimes the more obvious, and seemingly mundane, tend to hide some of the other things that are written.

But, the question still remains: why would God write a "book" that is essentially a genealogy. Remember, this is God's Holy Word for us. It was written by men, but it was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so that even we can benefit from it today. I do not know all the reasons God would spend time listing fathers and sons, but let me offer a few likely suggestions. First, it helps establish the authenticity of the creation account and the anti-diluvian age ("anti-diluvian" is a big word for "before the flood"). People actually lived and had children and grew old (very old) and died. There are 10 generations identified here from Adam to Noah. These were real people, the Bible is not a make-believe story. Second, this tells of the special line of descendents from Adam through Seth. These are the one's who are referred to in Genesis 4:26 that called "upon the name of the Lord." Third, this brings us to Noah, a man God is going to use in a special way to "start anew" with the human race after the Flood (also called the "deluge"). We will read about this in the next chapter and it is significant that Noah walked in the faith of his fathers and was found righteous in God's eyes.

It may be that you are the child of many generations of Christians. Rejoice in God for that gift of parents and grandparents and maybe even great-grandparents that served the Lord and passed their rich spiritual heritage on to you. On the other hand, it may be that you do not have such a rich Christian heritage to claim. Maybe your parents are "first generation" Christians, or maybe you are the only Christian in your home. If that is the case, remember that God started with Seth and He can start with you. Pray that you will be used of Him to raise up many generations of faithful men and women.

January 6th

Reading: Genesis 6:1-22

It was certainly a wicked time in which Noah lived. The Scripture says that "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in all the earth" and that the thoughts of man's heart was "only evil continually." Because of this God determined he would destroy man and even all flesh. It was a very dark time in the earth. Yet, in the midst of all this an amazing statement is made. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (vs. 8).

Now you need to remember that Noah was a man born in sin like all men. However, God sovereignly granted His grace to Noah among all men. Noah, apparently, was responsive to God's grace for it is said that he "was a just man and perfect in his generations." In addition to these characteristics attributed to Noah, there is one other statement said of Noah, that he "walked with God." This was the same compliment that was attributed to Enoch in the previous chapter.

Solely on the basis of His grace, God chose Noah and his family to be the one's through whom He would preserve mankind. Noah was a man who was committed to God. Throughout this whole process of building an ark in the midst of a wicked generation, it is said that Noah did "all that God commanded him" (vs. 22).

When we look around us today, we too could say that we live during wicked times. Man's heart is no different today than it was at Noah's time. The question is, however, have you found grace in God's eyes. It may seem hard for you to live a Godly life in the circumstances in which you live. I don't know them, but God does and He is more than willing to grant you the grace you need to follow His ways. Like Noah and Enoch of old, I encourage you to set your heart on the things of God and learn to "walk with God" each and every day. A daily walk with God starts with beginning each day with God in prayer and reading of His Word. Reflect upon His Word and seek Him in prayer throughout that day as you face decisions and make choices. Ask God regularly to give you a heart for Him.

January 7th

Reading: Genesis 7:1-24

In this passage of Scripture we read of the awful destruction of the whole earth. God in His sovereignty determined that the wickedness of man had reached the extent that He needed to destroy His whole creation, including man. However one man, Noah, "found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen. 6:8). In verse 9 of chapter 6 Noah's character was revealed to us as he is described as "a just [righteous] man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." This wonderful standing before God is reiterated in verse one of the chapter assigned for today. Notice how God says, ".for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation."

It is because of this standing before God that God Himself calls Noah and all his family into the ark (vs. 1). This call into the ark was Noah's call into the safety of the Lord and providentially provided protection from His wrath and judgment which was to fall upon all the earth.

It is a precious thing when God extends His loving grace to us, but we should never rest in His grace with an attitude of complacency. For, the same act of loving grace extended to us that redeems us from God's own wrath, is also the impetus that inspires us to walk in an obedient life. Notice Noah's response in verse 5 to all God said.

"And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him."

We saw this great character attribute of Noah in chapter 6. Take a look at verse 22 of chapter 6. See how it states the same thing? "Thus did Noah according to all that God commanded." Our prayer should be that we too, by the grace of God, would be enabled more and more to walk in faithful obedience to all that we are instructed by His Word - the Bible.

January 8th

Reading: Genesis 8:1-22

Have you ever wondered how long Noah spent in the Ark? If you are not careful you will think that since it rained 40 days and 40 nights, Noah spent only a little over a month in the Ark. You know what? Maybe the rockiest part of Noah's trial was over, but his time of waiting on the Lord and barely begun. Notice what it says in verse 11 of chapter 7. The rains began, "in the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month." It may have rained for 40 days and 40 nights, but it took a long time for all that water to evaporate from the earth and soak into the ground. Even then, the ground needed to dry up before Noah and all the animals could walk on it.

Look at verses 13 and 14 in the chapter you just read and try to comprehend the length of time Noah was holed up in the Ark. Verse 13 says, ".in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth." For almost 11 months Noah had been nowhere but in the Ark. It was his refuge, but it was also a place where I am sure he felt he had no control of what was going on. All he could do was to wait, and trust on the Lord.

And now all the earth was dry and, guess what, Noah was not allowed to leave the Ark. I am sure Noah was anxious to be out in the fresh air and feel that freedom to move and do different things. Yet, patiently he waited for God's timing. Finally, over one month after Noah looked upon the ground and saw it was dry, the Scriptures declare, ".in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried." One year and ten days of confinement to preserve Noah and his family and to prepare them and the earth for the rest of history.

Have you ever had an enduring trial where you simply had to wait on God for the issue to resolve or the answer to come? More than once in our family we have faced the situation where one of our children, as an infant, had fallen so ill as to face the distinct possibility of death. I remember being in the hospital with one of our children, not knowing if she would live or die. We could only hope, trust and believe that God would have mercy upon her little life. Because my wife and I stayed in the hospital day and night with our daughter, it became like the Ark to us in the sense that we knew nothing for those days but hospital walls, hospital cots, hospital food and hospital halls. And we knew that, in the physical, her safety was to be found with in those walls.

Though we were only in there for days, instead of Noah's months, it was still a tremendous feeling to walk out onto the hard dry ground and see and hear all the wonderful sights and sounds of God's beautiful earth. In fact, it was almost overwhelming. I can't even imagine what feelings swept over Noah and his family as they looked out upon the earth and actually walked out of the Ark onto dry ground.

When in the depths of a trial, reflect on what Noah did. He trusted God, he listened for God's voice, and he obeyed what he knew God wanted him to do. And, in the midst of his being preserved by God, it seemed I am sure like the ultimate resolution would never come. Yet, Noah patiently waited on the Lord and did not budge from his place of current safety until God clearly spoke and released him to venture forth.

".they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).

January 9th

Reading: Genesis 9:1-29

What a packed passage of Scripture we have read today. God blessing Noah and his children; God declaring His covenant with Noah, his descendents, and even every living creature; the promise of God to never again destroy the earth with a flood and the creating of the rainbow as a reminder; the starting of a new humanity in the earth through Noah and his sons; the drunkenness of Noah and the shameful behavior of Ham; the humble respect shown by Shem and Japheth; and, the resulting blessings and cursing proclaimed by Noah. There is so much more here than we can contemplate together in the little time we have. Many of the topics raised in the latter part of chapter 9 will have to wait until we come back to this passage the next time we read through it together. What I want to focus on here in this initial reading is the covenantal faithfulness of God.

Our God is a covenant making and a covenant keeping God. And it is in this unchanging nature of Him that we can find our rest, our hope and our salvation.

A covenantal purpose God had for man in creation, from the beginning, was for man to fill the earth and exercise dominion over this creation. We read about this in Genesis Chapter 1 when we first read about the creation of man. We have read how man sinned; how he fell into great wickedness; and, how God was so grieved that He determined to destroy man from the face of the earth. Yet, in all this, God preserved a way to continue His covenantal purpose for making man. Through Noah and his family, which God miraculously and sovereignly rescued from His own wrathful act of judging all mankind, God kept alive His covenantal purpose for man.

When we read these first several verses of chapter 9, it is as if we are transported back to the sixth day of creation and God is speaking with Adam. Yet, things are different now. There is no earthly Eden; man is not in a state of innocence; creation is now subject to the curse of the Fall; and, the whole physical make-up of creation has been drastically altered by all the convulsive activities of the flood. This was still a beautiful world that Noah and his family had entered into when they exited the Ark. It was still a world which declared the handiwork of a mighty Creator, but it was not the pristine world of Eden, nor the near idealistic world of the pre-flood age. No, this was a new, beautiful, but uniquely harsh world unlike anything they had experienced before.

In this new, unsure world, God in His covenantal faithfulness came to Noah and assured him of his standing before God. God assured Noah of the covenantal calling that he had placed on mankind from the beginning was still there for Noah. And, God made a new covenant with Noah and all creation that out of His love and faithfulness He would never again destroy the earth and all living creatures by the act of a flood. This covenant, like so many of God's covenants has a sign by which we are reminded of God's covenantal faithfulness. That sign, of course, is the beautiful rainbow that God so often brings forth after a passing shower.

Did it rain today where you are? Has it rained recently and have you seen God's covenantal sign of faithfulness in the sky? Children get so excited when they see a beautiful rainbow; even we adults are thrilled by the sight. The next time you see a rainbow, don't be simply caught up in the beauty of the sight, remember that our God is a covenantal God, and He faithfully keeps all His covenants.

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