"All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-7
I trust you are enjoying the first couple weeks of bible reading! I have had a wonderful time thus far and even my children have joined in. I love how even though the Bible was written so long ago over a large span of years and by a wide variety of authors, it remains relevant and powerful. The life of God is in it, and no matter what stage of life you are in, God can use His living word to meet you. He will cause things to pop out of the page and hit you right in the heart, whether you are 5 years old or 80! Walking with God is progressive...we will never plateau in our understanding of Him, and one of the greatest vehicles is through the written scripture. From now on, we will post every friday on the relevant reading for that week...so next friday will be week 3...we are just playing catch up here which is why i'm covering two weeks. Having said that, I find it impossible to give you a comprehensive summary of the past two weeks. I'm simply going to bring out points and hope that you feel free below to post any and all of your thoughts/revelations on the reading...so here we go:
Firstly I would like to touch on our approach to God. Proverbs 1:7 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge..." You notice it says THE BEGINNING...thus our starting place of reverence and awe. I think sometimes we picture God as weak and needy. We imagine Him as the old Grandfather figure who is lonely and weak, begging us to notice Him. And we may feel like we are doing Him some great kindness by noticing Him or reading the word, etc. These are thoughts about God that are so far removed from who He is. These are thoughts that are not worthy of Him. You will find as you read through the Bible that the Holy Spirit will address your incorrect thoughts about His character. Let yourself feel the distance and come in line with who God actually is... It is a privilege to be disciplined by Him, to be loved by Him - to even be on his radar at all. Our reading in Genesis describes a God who is full of power, all-knowing, omniscient, all wise, able to create from nothing with just a word. It reveals a God who is holy and hates evil. It reveals a God of love and covenant promise, a God of sovereign choosing...let us when we come to the word pray that God reveals himself to us for who He is, and rips away our wrong conceptions that are unworthy of His character...Then there's the fantastic truth that this powerful, awesome God desires us - to know us and fill us with His life. That we were created to walk with Him under His rule and government and that when we walk in His ways with Him we will find the greatest fulfillment...
"For every Christian will become at last what his desires have made him. we are all the sum total of our hungers." Tozer
I found it fitting to include a quote from the author of our last book - The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. It is important to recognize that we all have priorities - whether we realize that or not - and those priorities and desires determine our life choices. Matthew 6:21 says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." I want to commend all of you for making the word of God a priority this year. May God meet us and continue to change our perspectives more and more so that the things that really matter are at the forefront of our thoughts and decisions. Throughout this year as we read and seek God, he will uncover our heart motives. He will challenge the ones that don't line up with our faith. He will point out issues of lordship, and ask for our obedience and trust. He will show us where we don't measure up to his word and he will let us feel the distance. May we, like the psalmists be real with where we stand but find our final resting place in the goodness and faithfulness of God. If we really believe that He IS OUR TREASURE, we will continue to seek after Him, regardless of our life circumstances...and within the process we will find an unwavering faith...
Proverbs 2:1-5 says, "My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God." These are all active words...apply, turn, store up, call out, cry aloud...i think you get the idea...There is an active pursuit here, with the promise of receiving what we ask for...Proverbs all throughout has encouraged us to ask for with wisdom, and promises that God WILL grant it to those who ask...so if you want wisdom, simply ask and ask and ask and ask...until you have received.
Matthew 5:6 says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled." Can you find enough faith to believe that this is true? Again feel the distance and ask God to help you believe His word...and never give up until you find it's fulfillment. One of my favorite stories in Matthew is the woman who has the issue of blood in Matthew 9:20-22. She was desperate. She had been sick for 12 years. She was anemic and weak. She also, because of her bleeding was ceremonially unclean which would have kept her isolated and excluded. She was breaking the law by walking through the crowds and touching people...she was in pain..but her desire for Jesus, her desire to be whole and her faith took precident over circumstances. It's this desperation for God...an "undignified" passion that brings a response from God. He knows we desperately need Him - we just are slow to understand that..and we forget that over and over...
Mt. 7"8 says, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." If we truly believed God would meet us when we asked, we would never stop seeking, asking and knocking..and our measure of desire and resolve reflects how little or how great our faith is...if God is true to His word, I will keep seeking until I've discovered. If i give up, I show that I don't really believe God will be faithful to His promise, or that His promises are for others that are "better" than me...which leads me to Abraham..the father of our faith...a man who "believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." Was he perfect? Certainly not!! But from the start we see that God is not about moral perfection. He is after a people who will simply believe, trust and obey Him...in every area, not just the areas that are easy. Abraham could've grown discouraged and weary. He could have focuses on how he didn't measure up. He could've focused on his failures. Afterall, God had promised him descendants and he had none. He was old and he had wandered in tents most of his life. He tried to fulfill the promise of God in his own strength with Ishmael. By now his perspective could have been negative and faithless. He could have grumbled and complained. Instead in Romans 4:18-21 it says, "Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "so shall your offspring be." Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old-and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God hd power to do what he had promised..." Once he had received the promise and had enjoyed his miraculous son, God asked for that as well. Even in this Abraham didn't waver...he offered his son isaac...the fulfillment of his life promise. Hebrews 11:17 says, "By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death."
God is so good. He chooses such ordinary people, like you and me. And He offers us such an extraordinary life with Him. We simply have to believe what He says. We can't make ourselves good enough for his approval. The beattitudes in Matthew 5 should make it clear to us that we need to be a new creation to please Him. Try to live that way in your own strength and I promise you an epic fail. We just need a new nature, the righteousness of Christ, and it all comes by faith. There is no failure that can disqualify you from the promises of God...just believe, pursue, obey...ask, seek, knock...
I'm gonna end with a Psalm because I haven't touched upon it much and it is one of my favorite books. Psalms keeps it real - it's like the outworking of your faith in this life of trial and struggle. The psalmists will often say, and i paraphrase - "things stink right now, everything's hard and I almost cant take it"...but then he normally refocuses...like, "but my God is strong and good and loving"..He faces what is going on, but instead of ending in a funk, he declares the character and promises of God. It's similar to what Abraham must've been like. He didn't ignore the fact that his body was as good as dead, but instead of stopping there he considered the power and promise of God. Instead of wavering, HE GREW STRONGER IN HIS FAITH. He grew stronger as the situation grew more and more impossible....Let us strive for this depth in God as we read His word.
"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his DELIGHT is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.." Psalm 1:1-3