Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Zipporah spirit

Moses, Zipporah and her sisters
by James Tissot

Moses, Zipporah and her sisters by James Tissot
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus 4-6

TO CHEW ON: "Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses' feet, and said, 'Surely you are a husband of blood to me!'" Exodus 4:25


In a curious little side story we read of Moses, his wife Zipporah, and their two sons Gershom and Eliezer on their way to Egypt. But something serious happened to Moses along the way. He was at death's door, having apparently roused God's wrath. Zipporah remedied the situation by circumcising their son.

Male circumcision was the sign of God's covenant. We don't know why Moses omitted doing this when Eliezer was a baby (it was to be done at eight days old - Genesis 17:10-12). Herbert Lockyer, author of  All the Women of the Bible* suggests: "Zipporah as a woman of Midian, did not share the spiritual values of her notable husband who found himself acting against the sacred tradition of Israel. … To keep the peace, Moses compromised with his unbelieving wife and withheld circumcision, the sign of God's covenant, from Eliezer."

However, Zipporah was not gracious about this, as she exclaimed (in abhorrence, anger?) "You are a husband of blood!" It would seem at that point relations between them were so strained, Zipporah and the boys turned around and went home to dad (Jethro) while Moses traveled on alone.

Zipporah appears only one more time in the Bible when she, her sons, and father meet Moses during the Israelites' wanderings (Exodus 18:2-5). After that "She disappears without comment from the history of the Jewish people in which her husband figured so prominently. … Neither as the wife of her husband nor as the mother of her children did she leave behind her a legacy of spiritual riches" - Ibid.

I take this as a cautionary tale. We too can become infected with the Zipporah spirit that would resist spiritual expression, growth, and obedience in our husbands. Rather than doing that, let's support and encourage them in their biblical role as the head of the home (Ephesians 5:23).

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to uphold Your pattern in marriage and in supporting and encouraging my husband in spiritual things. Amen.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 18

The Bible Project VIDEO: Exodus 1-18 (Torah Series)




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All the Women of the Bible  by Herbert Lockyer, Zondervan, 1988, one of the Related Resources available for this passage on BibleGateway.com

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Excuses, excuses

Graphic: gerait / pixabay.com
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus 1-3

TO CHEW ON: "But Moses said to God, 'Who am I that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?'" Exodus 3:11

In the Bible we meet many people who are not that different from us.

Today we read a discussion between God and Moses where God gives Moses the job to lead Israel out of Egypt but Moses counters God with excuses at every turn:

Moses: I'm nobody.
God: I will be with you - Exodus 3:11,12.

Moses: The people won't believe that You really sent me.
God: I'll give you supernatural signs - Exodus 4:1-9.

Moses
: I'm not a good speaker.
God: I'll be with your tongue - Exodus 4:10-12.

Moses wasn't the only Bible character to make excuses.
When God called Gideon to lead the people in opposing raiding Midianites:
Gideon: My family is small and insignificant.
God: Because I sent you, I will be with you - Judges 6:13-16.

When God called Jeremiah to be His prophet:
Jeremiah: I'm too young.
God: Don't say that; you shall go and you shall speak - Jeremiah 1:6,7.

When God sent Ananias to meet with Saul / Paul:
Ananias:  This job is too dangerous.
God: I know what I'm doing. My plan is way bigger than what you see - Acts 9:13-16.

The sobering thing is that God doesn't put up with excuses forever.
When Moses persisted in arguing with God, God appeared to lose patience and promised to send him a human helper, brother Aaron, who turned out to be a mixed blessing (Exodus 4:14).

As for people in Jesus' parables who had only excuses for the Master, most of them came to a bad end.

When the master returned and asked for an accounting of what his servants had done with what He had given them:
One-talent servant: I didn't do anything because I was afraid of you.
Master: You're lazy. You could have at least done something. Away with him! - Matthew 25:26-30

In the parable of those standing before the Son of Man as judge:
Those on the judge's left: You didn't come to us hungry, naked, sick or in prison.
Son of Man: I was there, as the hungry, naked, sick and imprisoned person you ignored. Away with you! - Matthew 25:41-46.

In the story of the Great Supper invitation, the master of the feast received these RSVPs:
Guest 1: I can't come; I'm too busy with my property.
Guest 2: I can't come; I'm too busy with my work.
Guest 3:
I can't come; I'm too busy with my family.
Master of the feast: Their invitations are cancelled.  Invite someone else - Luke 14:16-24.

You and I do well to ask ourselves, what is God asking us to do, and how are we responding? Let's take stock of our lives in this department and stop making excuses and get busy at what He's asking us to do, while we still have the opportunity.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to trust You for help instead of making excuses.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 17

The Bible Project VIDEO: Exodus 1-18 (Read Scripture Series)




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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Finishing well

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 48-50

TO CHEW ON: "'But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.'" Genesis 50:20

Joseph's brothers' reaction to him after their father's death reminds me of Jesus' wisdom when He said, "'For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you'" - Matthew 7:2 (NIV). The fact that these brothers feared Joseph would look for retribution after their father died speaks more about the condition of their own hearts and minds than Joseph's. They were obviously not accustomed to dealing with someone as guileless as he was.

Joseph for his part, though grieved, stuck with the conviction that he had expressed when he first revealed his identity to them (compare Genesis 45:7-8 and Genesis 50:20). He never did take revenge on those brothers. Unlike so many Bible characters, Joseph not only started and middled well, but he also ended well.

A sidebar article in my Bible sums up Joseph's life and suggests applications we can make for ours:

"The life of Joseph powerfully displays God's sovereign ability to bring to pass His destiny for an obedient individual. In his youth, Joseph received a vision of God's plan for his life. Shortly thereafter, it appeared that not only had the vision died, but that his life would be wasted away in slavery and prison. Nevertheless, Joseph remained faithful to God. That which had been meant for evil, God used to prepare and position His servant to realize the fulfillment of His vision for Joseph's life.


  • Ponder God's vision (Genesis 37:5-11). Do not share it prematurely but ask for His timing.
  • Expect God's favour in the sight of others (Genesis 39:4,21). God is able to make a way even when it seems impossible.
  • Remain faithful to God in all you do (Genesis 39:9). Do not compromise, especially when the vision is slow in coming.
  • Believe that God is sufficient (Genesis 41:14-57). He has given you the gifts you need to realize His purpose through you.
  • Trust in God's sovereign providence (Genesis 45:7; 50:20). He causes all thing to work for your good as you remain faithful to His calling and purpose for you."
by  Leslyn Musch, "Truth-In-Action through Genesis," New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 74 (emphasis added).



PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the story of Joseph. Help me to trust Your sovereignty in my life in a similar way. Amen.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 16
 

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Sometimes the way leads down

Israel on the move - by James Tissot
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 46-47


TO CHEW ON: "'I will go down with you into Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again....'" - Genesis 46:4


It was moving time for Jacob. At last he had received the word that Joseph was alive and had in fact invited him and the clan to move to Egypt where food was plentiful. This was a momentous occasion. It meant uprooting many families. It meant arduous travel, and Jacob was old. It meant exposing his family to the idolatrous culture of Egypt.

When he got to Beersheba, where Abraham had called on God (Genesis 21:33) as had Isaac (Genesis 26:25), Jacob "offered sacrifices to God" - Genesis 46:1. Matthew Henry comments:

"He had an eye to God as the God of his father Isaac, that is, a God in covenant with him. He offered sacrifices:
1] By way of thanksgiving for the late blessed change of the face of his family, for the good news he had received concurring Joseph and for the hopes of seeing him.
2] By way of petition for the presence of God with him in his intended journey.
3] By way of consultation. The heathen consulted their oracles by sacrifice. Jacob would not go till he had asked God's leave" - Matthew Henry - Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, p. 65.

God replied in a vision giving Jacob all the assurance he needed: "Fear not. I will make of you a great nation."

Note the directional words in what God said next: "I will go down with you into Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again." As well as Egypt seeming geographically down from Canaan, might their use signal to us God's awareness of one of Jacob's niggling concerns?

For by leaving Canaan for Egypt, Jacob was forsaking the land God had promised his family. He had, after all, made the trip back home from his father-in-law Laban's to inhabit it. Perhaps he was questioning, Will I slip out from under the shadow of God's protection by again leaving the land of promise? And would he ever get it back? In that nomadic culture, it wouldn't take long for the land to be inhabited by someone else. Leaving Canaan probably felt to Jacob like he was taking a step down, not up.

But down is sometimes how God directs. Matthew Henry again:

"Whatever low or darksome valley we are called into at any time, we may be confident, if God go down with us into it, that he will surely bring us up again. If he go with us down to death, he will surely bring us up again to glory" - Matthew Henry, p. 65.

The safest place to be is wherever God directs — even if it feels like down to us.


PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for being with me in the downs as well as the ups. Thank You for Your promise of being with me always (Psalm 139:7,8). Amen. 

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 15

MORE: Valley of Humiliation

"Then he began to go forward; but Discretion, Piety, Charity, and Prudence would accompany him down to the foot of the hill. So they went on together, reiterating their former discourses, till they came to go down the hill.

Then said Christian, 'As it was difficult coming up, so, so far as I can see, it is dangerous going down.'

'Yes,' said Prudence, 'so it is; for it is a hard matter for a man to go down into the valley of Humiliation, as thou art now, and to catch no slip by the way.'

'Therefore,' said they, 'we are come out to accompany thee down the hill.'

So he began to go down, but very warily; yet he caught a slip or two.'

- John Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress, "The Fourth Stage — the Valley of Humiliation" - Kindle Location 1091.

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.





Sunday, January 14, 2018

Through what lens do you view life?

Joseph reveals himself to his brothers

Joseph meets Benjamin (Artist unknown)
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 43-45

TO CHEW ON: "'And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now, it was not you who sent me here, but God...'" Genesis 45:7-8

Relationships within families have the potential to dredge up deep emotion. We get an insight into Joseph's at least three times in the story of how he is reunited with his family as we watch him weep.

The first time was just after his brothers came to Egypt seeking food. He recognized them but they didn't recognize him (Genesis 42:8). The first time he met them he spoke roughly to them, imprisoned them for three days and, before sending them on their way, demanded they return with their younger brother. Then he overheard this conversation amongst them (spoken in their native tongue—not the language of the Egyptians - Genesis 42:23):
"Then they said to one another, 'We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.'
And Reuben answered them, saying, 'Did I not speak to you, saying, ‘Do not sin against the boy’; and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us.'” - Genesis 42:21-22.

He realized they hadn't forgotten about him. In fact their treatment of him haunted them and they were feeling guilty. His reaction: "And he turned himself away from them and wept."

Again in today's reading, just before he told his brothers who he was, he "...wept aloud and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it" (Genesis 45:2). He wept again when he met his full brother Benjamin (Genesis 45:14).

But I don't believe these were primarily tears of hurt and pain. For in the years between when his brothers sold him and this time of reuniting, he had worked through the bitterness, self pity, blame etc. Because now instead of scolding his brothers, he put the responsibility of what had happened to him on God: "'So now it was not you who sent me here, but God'" Genesis 45:8.

Oh to have a similarly God-centered view of life that cancels out blaming others and instead interprets all circumstances through the lens of God's sovereignty as Joseph does: "And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance" - Genesis 45:7.

As a commentary on this verse in my Bible expresses it:

"Trust in God's sovereign providence. He causes all things to work for your good as you remain faithful to His calling and purpose for you" - R. Russell Bixler,  notes on Genesis, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 74.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your sovereign working in my life. Please help me to view the circumstances of my life (even the difficult, bitter ones) through the glasses of Your providential love. Amen. 

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 14

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.




Saturday, January 13, 2018

Scars

Image: Pixabay
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 41, 42


TO CHEW ON: "Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: 'For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house.'" Genesis 41:51 


Overnight Joseph's fortunes turned around completely. He went from wearing prison rags to fine linen and pure gold. He went from being a prisoner to a powerful vizier, and from responsibility for a few in prison to administering the entire land. He went from having the reputation of a would-be rapist and liar to someone who was wise and trustworthy. In the days, weeks, and years that followed, He went from being alone to having a family.

But the thirteen or so unpleasant years in Egypt left their scars. They are seen in the names he gives his sons. He calls the first Manasseh which literally means "Making Forgetful." It signifies how he can now put behind him not only his time in Pharaoh's prison but his painful family memories: "For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house" - Genesis 41:51.

He names his second son Ephraim which means "Fruitfulness": "For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction" - Genesis 41:52.

It all looks so good for you, Joseph. But beware. For inevitably God will cycle around what you haven't yet dealt with. Is there still infection festering under those scars? How will you react when God ushers those brothers back into your life? Will you be bitter and vengeful, or forgiving?

For this is what God often does — re-introduces the old unfinished business to test our growth, show us our own real selves and where we're spiritually immature, and point out to us where we still have some growing to do.


PRAYER: Dear God, I too have scars left from experiences in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Help me to deal with old issues so there is no residue of bitterness or unforgiveness in my life. Amen.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 13

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Surrounded by Favour

Image: Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: Genesis 38-40

TO CHEW ON:
“So Joseph found favour in his (Potiphar’s) sight and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.”  Genesis 39:4.

“But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy and He gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” Genesis 39:21


One of the notable things of Joseph’s life was the favour that was upon it. This favour was evident despite his circumstances. We read he found favour with his Egyptian boss, Potiphar, then later with the prison keeper, and eventually with Pharaoh himself. What is this “favour” that surrounded his life?

The English word “favour” (noun) has many definition nuances. Quoting the first three definitions from Dictionary.com,  favour is:
1] something done out of good will rather than from justice of remuneration.
2] friendly or well-disposed regard.
3] the state of being approved or held in regard

The Hebrew word translated “favour” is chen, also translated grace, elegance, and acceptance.


A look at some other places the Bible speaks of “favour” helps us understand its dynamics. We see that:
  • God’s favour can be seen on someone’s life as early as childhood. That was the case with Samuel (1 Samuel 2:26) and Jesus (Luke 2:52).
  • Favour can be part of one’s inheritance. God favoured Israel because of His covenant with their patriarchs (2 Kings 13:23).
  • David praises God for His presence, which brings favour (Psalm 21:6).
  • The writer of Proverbs connects favour with mercy and truth (Proverbs 3:3,4), finding wisdom (Proverbs 8:35), goodness (Proverbs 12:2), and living in ways that please God (Proverbs 16:7).

I like Barbara Billett’s description of the potency of God’s favour:
“The favour of God will open doors that men say are impossible to open. It will change regulations and give you preferential treatment to get you where God wants you to go (Esther 2:17; 5:8; 8:5). … Favour will … cause you to be noticed and cause people to be drawn to you like a magnet” - Barbara Billett, Praying With Fire, p. 88.

God’s favour is something we long for. Let’s pray for favour for us and our children. Let’s pay attention to the principles of Godly living connected with receiving it. But let’s also desire it for the right reasons—not for personal gain or promotion but so that we will be in positions of usefulness for God’s kingdom and glory.

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank You for Your favour on my life and the life of my family, seen in many ways. I pray that it will increase so that I will realize the purpose and destiny for which You have placed me here on earth. Amen.


PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 12

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Full-circle

Image: Pixabay
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 35-37

TO CHEW ON: "And he built an altar there and called the place El Bethel, because there God appeared to him when he fled from the face of his brother." Exodus 35:7

Have you experienced God as the God of the full-circle. I have. Though I left home at 18 to work and went away to university halfway across Canada, I ended up teaching in the town a few miles from where I grew up and marrying a man who, as a kid, played in a community band with my dad and brother.

It seems that bringing us back to where we've been before is often God's way of working in our lives.

That was His way with Jacob. Years earlier, while running away from his murderously angry twin Esau, he stopped exhausted at a "certain place," put a stone under his head for a pillow and slept. But over the next hours that no-name place became "Bethel" as God met Jacob there in a dream, comforted him with His presence and promised to bring him back to that very spot. Read about it in Genesis 28:10-22.

Now, many years later, on the way back to the home of his childhood, Jacob is coming full-circle in various ways. The first is re-connecting with his brother, that Esau from whom he had run away all those years ago. He was scared about that meeting, but it turned out okay (Genesis 32:1-33:20).

Then he arrived back to the spot of his dream. I can just see him, looking around, trying to identify landmarks, a familiar tree, perhaps, and certainly that stone he had used as pillow. No doubt he thought back to the promise God had made to him those many years ago. (I wonder if he remembered the promise he had made to God, or whether he kept it - Genesis 28:15,22.)

God spoke to him again at that spot (joy of joys!). He reaffirmed his name change from Jacob (Deceiver, Supplanter) to Israel (Prince with God; He Strives With God; May God Persevere) and promised to make a nation of his family. Looking back over the years since he had been there, he could see how faithful God had been in keeping His promise. A part of that promise ("in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed") echoes down through the years even to us celebrating that blessing — the coming of Jesus — during the Advent season just past.

Take a little time today to reflect on how God has brought you full-circle.
  • Has He or does He keep bringing the same people into your life?
  • Has He brought you back to significant physical locations?
  • Does He remind you of past promises He has made to you? What about the ones you've made to Him?
  • Ask Him to show you what these full-circle experiences mean.
  • Thank Him for His faithfulness.


PRAYER: Dear God, thank You that you plan, know and see all my days; nothing happens randomly. Help me to notice the patterns in my life and to understand how and why you bring me back. Amen.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 11

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

 


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

When giving is receiving

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 32-34

TO CHEW ON: "'Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.' Then he urged him, and he took it." Genesis 33:11

Esau's first refusal of Jacob's gift may have been inspired by Middle East etiquette. But I believe Jacob was genuinely relieved when his brother finally accepted his present of goats, sheep, camels, cattle and donkeys (Genesis 32:13-15).

The impulse to give springs from a variety of motivations:

Sometimes we give because it is just the thing we do in our culture, as in leaving a small gift for someone after staying in their home or when celebrating someone's birthday or wedding anniversary.

At other times we give because we don't want to feel beholden or in the debt of someone.

And sometimes we give because we are so full of the generosity poured out on us, we can't help but spill it over onto others.

Esau didn't have a gift for Jacob, so perhaps one can assume this gift of Jacob's was not given to conform to custom. I'm sure there was some assuaging of guilt on Jacob's part. Maybe he saw his material gift as a sort of payback for absconding with the birthright and blessing, which were rightfully Esau's as firstborn son. However, Jacob also cites God's gracious dealings with him as a reason for his generosity.

In the end Esau's acceptance of Jacob's gift (signifying, perhaps, that he forgave Jacob?) was itself the greatest gift Jacob could have wished for.

Let's be aware of the dynamics of gift-giving, and be motivated above all by God's generosity to us. And let's also be alert to the fact that sometimes our gracious receiving a gift from someone is in itself a gift to them.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your generous gift of Jesus. Help me to give out of a heart that is full of gratefulness to You, and to be sensitive to times when giving means receiving. Amen.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 10

MORE: Gift-giving customs

Giving gifts, especially in business, carries a different significance in the various regions of the world. The article "International Gift-giving Protocol" explains appropriate gift-giving customs in various countries and cultures in the world.

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Is it time for a change?

Image: Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: Genesis 29-31

TO CHEW ON:
“Then the LORD said to Jacob, ‘Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.’” Genesis 31:3

Here at the beginning of the year, it’s not unusual to think about changes we would like to make in the coming 12 months, or that seem inevitable by the way they insert themselves into our awareness.

The latter was Jacob’s experience.

He had lived near Laban, his father-in-law for twenty years (Genesis 31:41). It was certainly longer than his mother had anticipated (she talked about an absence of “a few days” - Genesis 27:44).  But now change was in the air. Several things alerted Jacob to it:

1. His brothers-in-law, Laban’s sons, were restive and talking about how he had stolen their father’s wealth (and thus their inheritance) - Genesis 31:1.

2. Laban no longer seemed favourable to him either - Genesis 31:2.

3. God spoke to Jacob (the Bible doesn’t say exactly how) and told him what the change was to be. He was to return home.

It’s interesting to see what changes God told other Bible characters to make.
  • God spoke directly to Abram (later Abraham) telling him to leave home and and old associations for points unknown - Genesis 12:1.
  • God engineered a bush fire out of which He told Moses to lead Israel out of Egyptian slavery - Exodus 3:10.
  • God told Joshua to move forward - Joshua 1:2.
  • God came to Gideon as the “Angel of the LORD” and told him to fight against Israel’s oppressors, the Midianites. To start that process he was to destroy his family’s idols - Judges 6:14,25.
  • God gave many directives to Elijah. He told him where to find supplies (1 Kings 17:3-4,9), when it was time to come out of retirement and get back to work (1 Kings 18:1), who to anoint as ruler and prophetic successor (1 Kings 19:15-16) and what judgments to pronounce on evil King Ahab (1 Kings 21:18,19; 2 Kings 1:3).

In the New Testament
  • God told Ananias to go and pray for Saul—a seemingly dangerous assignment because Saul was legendary as a persecutor of Christians - Acts 9:10-16.
  • God told Peter to go to the house of Gentile Cornelius - Acts 10:19,20.
  • God told the early church’s prophets and teachers who to appoint for special assignments - Acts 13:1,2.
  • God told Paul and Silas to avoid certain places (Asia and Bithynia) and to go to others (Macedonia), on their missionary journey - Acts 16:6-10.

We see that God communicates directives about many things in a variety of ways. What is He whispering (or shouting) in your ear? Let’s be open and obedient to His directions for change this year.


PRAYER: Dear Father, help me to catch Your signals about the changes You are asking me to make in 2018. Amen.
 


PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 9

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

Monday, January 08, 2018

The power of a blessing

Jacob leaves home - Artist unknown
Jacob leaves home - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 25-28

TO CHEW ON: " ' May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples.' " Genesis 28:3 NIV

The answer to Isaac and Rebekah's prayers, the twins Esau and Jacob, are who we read about today. Theirs sounds like a toxic family where father and mother favor different children. Mother and son #2 trick father and son #1 out of bestowing and receiving the blessing usually reserved for the firstborn son. In such a less-than-perfect beginning the destiny of nations is set.

This incident contains three blessings.
- The blessing Isaac gives to Jacob (thinking he is blessing Esau) - Genesis 27:27-29.
- The blessing Isaac speaks over Esau (after the one he has planned for him is spoken over Jacob) Genesis 27:39-40.
- The blessing with which Isaac sends Jacob away from home - Genesis 28:3-4.

["Bless: behrahch #1288 - To bless, salute, congratulate, thank, praise, to kneel down. In OT times, one got down on his knees when preparing to speak or receive words of blessing … From God's side, he is the Blesser, the One who gives the capacity for living a full rich life" - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Live Bible NIV, Kindle location 126,606.]

Several things strike me as I read about these blessings.

1. They are a big deal. Esau is distraught when he discovers Jacob has tricked Isaac into giving him the firstborn's blessing (Genesis 27:34).

2. The words of blessings, once spoken, cannot be retracted. My Bible's notes expand:
"The ancients knew far better than we moderns about the power of the spoken word. A blessing, a curse, a creative word, a destructive word, can all have great effects when spoken in faith" - R. Russell Bixler, notes on Genesis, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, KL 9792.

3. These blessings address the big picture and change the course of history.
  • Isaac's inadvertent blessing of Jacob contains a blessing of spiritual prosperity (Genesis 27:28), political supremacy (Genesis 27:29), and a curse on enemies (Genesis 27:29).
  • Isaac's blessing of Esau is as big as he can make it without contradicting his words to Jacob. The conflict predicted between his descendants (the Arabs) and the descendants of Jacob (the Jews) continues to this day.
  • Isaac's blessing on sending Jacob away is warm and expansive, pronouncing a blessing of many children and an inherited land.

Though we don't have a custom of bestowing blessings on our children in a formal way, we do bless and curse them when we praise or belittle them, tell them they have what it takes or give them the message we think they are failures. Let's watch our words to them. We can also bless them even when they're not present as we pray into their futures. We have no idea of the impact our words of blessing or cursing will have on their histories, let alone the destinies of our families, communities, nation, even the world.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to bless my children and grandchildren with positive words and faith-filled prayers. Amen.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 8

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  Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Seed promises

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 22-24


TO CHEW ON: "'In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.'" Genesis 22:18

Isaac had obviously been with Abraham before when he made an offering, for he knew what things were needed and noticed that they didn't have one of them. Abraham's answer to Isaac's question, "Where is the lamb?" was masterful in its avoidance. He didn't say, "You're going to be that lamb." Instead he said: "God will provide for Himself the lamb," which was not only tactful, but prophetic.

His answer illustrated his faith—a faith so genuine it earned him a big section in the Hebrews 11 gallery of heroes (Hebrews 11:8-10; 17-19). He believed that because Isaac was the child of promise, God would achieve His purposes through Isaac even if He had to raise him from the dead to do it.

What are our Isaacs? Is it our sense of calling? Our hopes and dreams for a marriage, or a project? Our careers? Our own children? Whether these things have already come to pass and we're clinging to them (in almost idolatrous fashion) as the answer to how God is going to make our lives significant, or they are still in the future, could we tie them up and put them on the altar like Abraham did Isaac?

Talking about offerings, I am reminded of another "offering" passage: "I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service" - Romans 12:1. Paul is pleading with the Roman Christians to sacrifice their very selves.

Abraham's faith got a big promise from God: "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed." Was God talking about the seed of a son, or the seed of faith, or both?

There is a "seed" promise for us too if we make that "living sacrifice" of ourselves and all the things that are dearest to us. Here it is:
"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity" - John 12:24-25, NLT.


PRAYER: Dear God, it is hard for me to sacrifice my "Isaacs." Each relinquishment is a test of faith in You and Your promises. Help me to have the unflinching faith of Abraham to let You have complete control and say over all those things that are dearest to me. Amen.

PSALM TO PRAY - Psalm 7

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Hagar the single mom

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 19-21


TO CHEW ON: "And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, 'What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.'" Genesis 21:17.


I can't help but feel sorry for Hagar. First she is pressed into service as surrogate mom by her mistress. When she gets pregnant, Sarah is so cruel to her (after she senses Hagar now despises her for her [Sarah's] inability to get pregnant) that Hagar flees to the wilderness. There an angel finds her and tells her to return to Sarah. She does and births Ishmael.

Now, about 16 years later,* at the party to celebrate Isaac's weaning, Sarah catches sight of teenage Ishmael "scoffing" (Genesis 21:9; Galatians 4:29 says that Ishmael "persecuted" Isaac). And Sarah insists that Hagar and Ishmael must go.

An aggrieved Abraham sends Hagar away and again she's with her son, abandoned in the wilderness. But no, she's not abandoned. For again an angel of God comes to her, points her to water and promises a future for her son. (And he does live a long life of 137 years - Genesis 25:17).

There are other instances of God making special provision for single parent families.

  • He provides for the widow of Zarephath and her son by sending Elijah to them. During his stay the oil and flour for bread never run out  - 1 Kings 17:8-16. Later when her son dies, Elijah restores him to life - 1 Kings 17:17-22.

  • Another widow avoids her sons becoming slaves of the person she owes money to when Elisha performs the miracle of the oil that keeps on pouring till all containers are full - 2 Kings 4:1-7.

  • Jesus restores a widow's son to her - Luke 17:12-16.

  • God promises to take the place of the absent spouse: "For your Maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name" - Isaiah 54:5 (also Hosea 2:19,20).

  • He will help parent the fatherless child: "You are the helper of the fatherless" - Psalm 10:14 (also Psalm 68:5 and Psalm 146:9).

What a comfort to know that God has a special compassion for single parents and their kids. If that includes you, claim and live in that. For those of us who aren't single parents, let's do all we can to be God's caring hands and feet to them and their children.

PRAYER:
Dear God, thank You for Your care for those single parents needing help with their children. Help me to have empathy and an alertness to help them. Please be with widows and divorced and abandoned wives in a special way for all they must face, whatever stage they are at in life. Amen. 

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 6

The Bible Project VIDEO: Exodus 12-50 (Torah Series)



*"16 years later" because Moses was 86 years old when Ishmael was born (Genesis 16:16). He was 100 years old when Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5). This party was for Isaac's weaning, which would have happened when Isaac was about two or three years of age.

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.


Friday, January 05, 2018

Plot points in God's story

Image: Pixabay
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 16-18

TO CHEW ON: "And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you." Genesis 17:11


You probably own a few things that signify watershed moments in your life — the Bible you were given at your baptism perhaps, a wedding ring, maybe the clothes your daughter wore when she was dedicated. As people we benefit from such tangible reminders of our history, the things we've experienced, and the promises we've made.

God has sealed His dealings with humanity with signs and markers too. Here are some of them:

1. Rainbow — a sign marking God's promise to never again destroy all humanity by flood (Genesis 9:12-15).

2. Circumcision "... a sign to identify the people of the Abrahamic covenant for it literally touches the male at his point of propagating life" - R. Russell Bixler, Genesis study notes, New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p.27.

3. Blood, painted on the lintel and door frames of the house — a sign that the death angel should pass over that house (Exodus 12:13).

4. Unleavened bread — to remind the Israelites that God had brought them out of Egypt (Exodus 13:6-10).

5. Sacrifice of firstborn animals —  a reminder of God sparing Israel's firstborn sons the night the death angel visited (Exodus 13:16).

6. Scarlet cord draped from the window of a house —  a sign that marked Rahab and her family for rescue from Jericho (Joshua 2:12, 17-18).

7. Altar of 12 stones — a sign to remind the Israelites of how God helped them cross the Jordan River to Canaan (Joshua 4:1-7).

8. Dove as the Holy Spirit, ascending and alighting on Jesus at His baptism — a sign of God's favour on Him (Matthew 3:16).


Henry Blackaby, in his book Experiencing God, says this about the way God works—the actions behind the list of signs, above:

"God works in sequence to accomplish His divine purpose. What He did in the past was accomplished with a kingdom purpose in mind. What He is doing in the present is in sequence with the past and with the same kingdom purpose. Every act of God builds on the past, with a view toward the future" Experiencing God Workbook, p. 124.

If you look back over the signs I've listed (and there are many more), can you see a thread? Are they not all part of God's history of salvation—from God's promise to never again destroy all humanity by flood, to His establishing His covenant of nationhood with Abraham, to His keeping of that nation through Egypt's slavery and their wilderness wanderings to, finally, the coming of Jesus, the lamb that would save us all?

God's message of love to us through these markers and signs is a reason for awe, worship, and making our lives available to God, to carry news of that salvation thread to our contemporaries.  

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your plan of salvation and how you have threaded signs of it through the Bible story. Help me to be alert to the signs of Your working in my life. I pray, with David, "Show me a sign for good...." Amen. 

PSALM TO PRAY: - Psalm 5

MORE: Personal markers

It is good to reflect on the signs, objects or markers that tell the story of God at work in our lives. For me those include significant Bible verses, certain books, a special song...

If we read the accounts of God giving His people signs, one of the reasons He gave the sign, in almost every case, was to help parents explain God's ways their children and grandchildren.

Could you use the signs, objects or markers you recalled to tell to your children and grandchildren the story of how God has worked in your life?

The Bible Project VIDEO - The Covenants (Theme Series)




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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Thursday, January 04, 2018

Fear vs. faith

Image: Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: Genesis 12-15

TO CHEW ON: “Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Genesis 15:5-6


Abram and his wife Sarai were childless when God came to him with a promise of innumerable descendants. Despite what it looked like, Abram believed this would happen – believed to the extent that God, who saw into his deepest heart, “accounted it to him as righteousness.

What we believe has everything to do with our thoughts. Here Abram gave mental assent to God’s promise despite how circumstances pointed to the contrary.

Are there things in your life that are at odds with God’s promises to you? Are you reacting to those circumstances with worry, anxiety, fear, and confusion instead of faith? Joyce Meyer in her article “Where the Mind Goes the Man Follows” says:

“I like to think of our inner life as a house made of thoughts that is constantly being built. It is within these ‘walls’ of our thinking that each of us lives. Every thought we accept is like another brick in the wall of the house we are building….

[…] One of the greatest weapons that you and I have is the truth of God’s Word. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, ‘For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood] but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ.’ If we don’t lead wrong thoughts away captive, the wrong thoughts will lead us away captive.” – Joyce Meyer.

If there is something over which you fret because of the way the situation looks, try this. In one column write down your worry. In a column beside it write what God’s Word says about it. Now every time thoughts of anxiety, fear, worry, and confusion come into your mind about this thing, counter them with God’s promise to you.

Do this with day-to-day worries like:

- Flu is going around and I fear for the safety of my family - versus Psalm 91

to big life-direction issues:

- I’m afraid I’ll miss God’s will for my life – versus Isaiah 30:21


PRAYER: Dear God, please help me establish the discipline of replacing fear and unbelief thoughts with faith thoughts from Your word. Amen.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 4

The Bible Project VIDEO: Genesis Part 2 of 2 (Read Scripture Series)



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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

"Let us build"

TODAY'S SPECIAL:  Genesis 8-11

TO CHEW ON: "And they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top is in the heavens, let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.'" Genesis 11:4

On April 15, 2010  the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland began spewing its magma and ash clouds in earnest.  It took only a day until thousands of flights in Europe and America were grounded.

The ability of such a relatively small and commonplace natural event to impact the lives of millions of people on earth illustrates how fragile our life on planet Earth is and how out of human control. The systems which are the very foundations of our civilization are vulnerable. We've seen this before. Events like 9-11, computer viruses, physical plagues and pandemics, natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes bring proud human societies to their knees.

Humanism, a thought system that looks to and depends on  human wisdom for the answer to all of life's questions, is attractive to our proud, independent, ambitious human spirits. The seeds of this worldview were planted by Satan in Eden (Genesis 3:5). It was flowering nicely at the time of Babel (our reading today)and continues to proliferate till our time.  Dreams of reaching heaven by a building then have morphed into continuing attempts to defeat gravity, illness, even death. And human discoveries have led to innovations which benefit us all, impacting how we travel, communicate, and the length and comfort of our lives.  But despite all that, we humans are still not in control. God is.

He works in the lives of individuals  (Proverbs 16:9) and rulers (Proverbs 21:1). He can frustrate the plans of the wisest  (Isaiah 44:25) and control the destiny of nations (Jeremiah 18:7) He can punish oppressors and mete out justice (Isaiah 49:26). Nature is in His power (Job 26:5-14).

In view  of this, we may be tempted to take the opposite approach from the humanist and become passive, saying, What does it matter what I do? It's all controlled by God anyway.

Two scriptures come to mind. (Clicking on the linked words, below, takes you to the verse in four different translations.)
  • Jesus told a story (Luke 19:12-26) of a man who lived passively . His master scolded and punished him when he found the man had done nothing with the money he had been given. It shows us that we will be held responsible for how we steward our talents and opportunities.
  • James speaks about making plans (James 4:13-17). The upshot of his advice is - make plans but view them with realism and humility.    

PRAYER: Dear God, You have all power and might over nature and people. Help me to live realistically before You today, stewarding everything You have given me and acknowledging You as the source of it all. Amen.

PSALM TO PRAY - Psalm 3

The Bible Project  VIDEO: Genesis 1-11 (Torah Series)



 
MORE: What do humanists believe?
The Humanist Manifestos are documents which outline the basic tenets of humanism.

Here is the original "Humanist Manifesto i," dated 1933. Its handling of religion and what religion means to the humanist is particularly interesting.

The most recent version, Humanist Manifesto iii, was revised in  2003.

What strikes me about the ideas in them is how familiar they are! Isn't this the worldview of science, education, and the media?

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Take a walk (with God)

"Noah building the ark" - Free Bible Illustrations

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 4-7

TO CHEW ON: "And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

"This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God." Genesis  5:24, 6:9

What a thing to say about someone: that they walked with God.
  
Walk is an incredibly rich word. I love my dictionary's precise definition of walk as a verb: "Move at a regular and fairly slow pace by lifting and setting down each foot in turn, never having both feet off the ground at once." (Sounds pretty grounded, doesn't it?)

Walk has many shades of use, both as a verb and noun. We say police walk the beat (travel over an area on foot). When someone walks away from something we mean they abandon it.  A person charged with a crime but not convicted walks. Someone who doesn't deserve it walks right into a well-paid job. In baseball, four pitches deemed by an umpire to be out of the strike zone allows the batter free passage (a walk) to first base.

In the middle of all these definitions is the archaic walk that best fits our verse: "used to describe how someone lives or behaves: walk humbly with your God."

But my imagination doesn't want to separate the physical act of walking from this definition of walk as behavior or lifestyle. They complement each other so well. Let's let our minds wander over the walks we find in the Bible and discover what they have to say about walking with God as a lifestyle.

  • The God-pleasing walk for Israel's Old Testament leaders and people was characterized by obedience (1 Kings 8:58; 2 Kings 23:3; Psalm 81:13).
  • Amos's brilliant rhetorical question "Can two walk together unless they are agreed?" (Amos 3:3), perfectly connects staying in step with someone when we're out for a walk and our need to be synchronized to live-walk together with each other and God.
  • Isaiah also joins the physical motion of walking with the spiritual benefits of waiting on God: "…they shall walk and not faint" - Isaiah 40:31.

Some of the Bible stories where walking takes place are also interesting.

  • Before sin entered the world it seems Adam and Eve joined God in walks around Eden. For the day they sinned "… they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day." That day they hid instead of joining Him and He called out " 'Where are you?' " What a heartbreaking picture of broken friendship (Genesis 3:8,9).
  • Perhaps we can credit Abraham with giving us the prayer walk. For after the angels told him their intention to destroy Sodom, "… Abraham went with them to send them on their way." As they went he begged God to spare the city for righteous people living in it - Genesis 18:16-33.
  • Finally, one of my favorite walk stories is of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, walking, all unbeknownst to them, with the resurrected Jesus (Luke 24:13-16). What a rich walk that was, where Jesus "… beginning at Moses and all the Prophets expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself" - Luke 24:27.

Today, let's invite Jesus into our progress through the day. Let's be obedient. Let's walk in step with Him and wait on Him, if need be, instead of running ahead. Let's share our concerns with him (pray as we walk), let Him teach us, and  then let's enjoy our leisure with Him. Today, let's walk with God!

PRAYER: Dear God, please walk with me today—or perhaps better said, show me how to walk with You. Amen. 

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 2

The Bible Project VIDEO: Image of God (Theme Series)




Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Monday, January 01, 2018

The hovering Spirit

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

Today we begin our new Bible reading plan from The Bible Project! 
You can download a PDF of it HERE
 
Image: Pixabay

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Genesis 1-3

TO CHEW ON: “The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:2


Here, early in Genesis, we have the first mention of the Holy Spirit, active in creation. The word used to describe His action (rachap) means to “hover”:
“The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters” - Genesis 1:2 AMP.

Maybe it’s a stretch, but I can’t help but transfer the picture of the Spirit moving, hovering, brooding over the unformed earth to Him moving, hovering, brooding over my 2018—this new and yet unformed year of my life.

I notice that the first thing that God created after that “hovering” was light—created several days before even the light-makers were made (on the fourth day - Genesis 1:14-19).

My prayer for this year is that the Spirit’s presence will also fill my life with light. May it cause something beautiful and useful to be formed from each of 2018’s yet unlived days. May the verdict be: “And God saw that it was good.”

PRAYER:
Dear Holy Spirit, move, hover, brood over my life today. Bring Your light and creative life to this day and each day and moment of 2018. Amen. 

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 1

The Bible Project VIDEO:  Genesis 1-11 (Read Scripture Series)



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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible,
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)


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