Bible Reading for January 30

  Genesis 32-33, Psalm 18, Proverbs 30, and Matthew 12:38-50


Genesis 32-33


Jacob has just been delivered from the house of Laban his father-in-law who dealt with Jacob the same way that Jacob dealt with his family.  Now, Jacob finds himself in a precarious position.  He has amassed a great amount of wealth in possessions and family, but he is in a sense homeless.  Jacob has no land from which to call his own.  Now, he is heading back to reunite with Esau and he has no idea how Esau will react to his coming.  Actually, Jacob is portrayed as extremely cautious and scared of Esau’s reaction to his presence and homecoming.

However, God has worked out the situation between Jacob and Esau.  Jacob does not know this, but Esau is no longer at odds with him and does not seek him any harm.  Instead, Esau will send an enormous welcoming party to great Jacob.  Jacob in turn interprets this welcoming party as a war party sent to destroy him, his family, and his possessions.  Jacob goes back to his old tricks and starts scheming.  He seeks to protect the greatest amount of his assets in case Esau is coming with an assassin squad.

Jacob’s plan was to divide his camp into two, so that if Esau attacked then only half of his possessions would be taken by Esau and the other half could escape.  Jacob also reached out to God and sought his protection.   Jacob’s plea to God was riddled with doubt, and he sought to secure God’s protection by forcing his hand.  Jacob does not realize that God will protect his obedient children.  Jacob had not come to the place Abraham had in Genesis 22 when God called him to sacrifice Isaac.  Jacob’s faith was still very weak.  However, Jacob’s argument was sound.  He could rely on God’s promises to him to protect him and bless his off-spring.  Jacob’s argument did reveal that he was riddled with guilt for his actions and in fact he had been quite disobedient to God.  He had reason to fear if God’s protection was based on his performance and obedience.  Jacob did not realize that God’s protection was based on God’s fidelity to the covenant and not his fidelity to the covenant.  God was going to protect Jacob not based on Jacob’s faithfulness, but based on God’s faithfulness.

Jacob finished his prayer, but he still did not realize God’s protection.  So, he devised a plan to buy Esau’s acceptance through extravagant gifts.  Jacob set out several waves of livestock as gifts that would encounter Esau’s entourage first.  Jacob hoped that these elaborate gifts would buy Esau’s acceptance.  Jacob sent these waves of presents ahead to soften Esau’s response to him.

To culminate Jacob’s preparation to meet Esau, Jacob fought all night with an unnamed man.  Jacob and this man fought all night, and at dawn the man dislocated Jacob’s leg.  However, Jacob would still not let go of the man.  Jacob demanded that the man bless him in return he would let him go.  In fact the man does bless Jacob with a new name, Israel, which will become the name of the nation.  God is telling Jacob that he will be faithful to his promise to him.  Jacob does not have to fear Esau.  Yet, Jacob responds in fear when his meeting of Esau is on the horizon.

At last, Jacob meets Esau and all of Jacob’s jockeying for Esau’s acceptance was not needed.  Esau accepted him without need of all the precautions that Jacob took.  God was at work in this situation, and Jacob could have trusted God.  Yet, Jacob did not even trust Esau’s initial response and persuaded him to allow Jacob and his family to travel slower to Esau’s land.  Jacob was buying more time so he could plan in case of problems.  Instead of responding in faith to God’s protection, Jacob left himself to his own devices and cunning to protect himself.  He would indeed pay a great price.


Jacob’s lack of faith is startling in contrast to Abraham and Isaac.  Even though Jacob has received the same promise from God, he is not willing to embrace that promise through obedience.  Instead, he embraces the promises of God through his own cunning, and in fact due to his own cunning he faces many obstacles that would hinder him for many years.  Jacob teaches us that God is true to his promises, but if we do not rely on God through faith then we will suffer many pains and problems brought on by our own doubt.  God will come true on his promises, but our path will not be as joyous and happy as if we had been obedient.  Obedience and faith make for a life that is joyous and fulfilling.  The lack of faith and disobedience leads to a life of looking over your shoulder and of thinking that God’s judgment is right around the corner.  We should not respond to life’s troubles by utilizing our own cunning, but by obediently relying on God and his plan for our life.  Obedience will lead to a fulfilled and joyous life.  Faithlessness and disobedience will lead to a life of looking over your shoulder.


Psalm 18


Psalm 18 is a majestic proclamation of God’s sovereign protection of David while Saul sought to destroy him.  David uses words like: rock, fortress, deliverer, shield, horn of salvation, and stronghold to describe God’s protection of him.   David declares that God is worthy to be praised, because he delivered David from his enemies.  David portrays God’s sovereignty and power with imagery like: the earth reeled and rocked, mountains trembled and quaked due to God’s anger, and he bowed the heavens and came down.  All of these images point to the fact that God is in sovereign control of all things.  It was God that protected David  in his time of need.

David directly attributed his protection to God.  David stands in stark contrast to Jacob in the sense that David did not need to look over his shoulder due to his disobedience.  Instead, David was strong in his faith, because he could stand before God with a guiltless heart.  He had been obedient and he knew that God was on his side.  David was obedient and it brought him great confidence in a very tumultuous time in his life.

The sum of David’s confidence is revealed in verse 30.  He says, “This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”  David’s confidence came in the fact that he knew God to be trustworthy and he knew that God was on his side.  David did not have to fear Saul even though Saul seemed to be more powerful and greater then David at the time.  Instead, David could be confident in the protection and provision of God.  David was secure in the promise of God and he was focused because of his obedience.


We should seek to know the Word of the Lord and obediently live it; because, it will provide the confidence to live a life of faith.  Without the Word and David’s obedience to it, he would not have been able to stand strong against the attacks of Saul.  David would have been like Jacob and left to his own devices.  Instead, David was left with the confidence of the Lord being on his side.  His confidence came from his knowledge of God through is Word and his faith in God’s protection.  David was obedient and his obedience fueled his faith.  God was real to David and he did not have to fear his judgment; because, David had been obedient.  David is a picture of faith, while Jacob is a picture of fear and trembling.


Proverbs 30


Proverbs 30:7-9 is vastly important in understanding the biblical view of wealth.  At the heart of this proverb is the understanding that both poverty and riches bring their own temptations and problems.  The writer seeks to avoid both by asking the Lord for neither extreme.

First, the writer addresses the problem of riches.  The primary temptation that comes from riches is the heart attitude that there is no God.  The writer identifies this as a grave danger.  The reader of this proverb should understand that wealth leads one to be deceived concerning their own self-sufficiency.  The wealthy person is tempted to think that their life has come about due to their own hard work and success and not through the blessing of God.  They may even be tempted to think that God had no part in their wealth.  The problem with this attitude is that it leads to denying the existence and the worship of God.  At the root of anyone’s wealth is God.  God gives wealth and takes it away.  If anyone doubts this fact, then the book of Job has much to say to them.

Second, the writer warns of the problems associated with poverty.  The primary temptation that comes about due to poverty is to doubt God’s provision for you and to steal for your sustenance.  Doubt creeps in and the result is stealing and forsaking the provision of God.  Again, the result of poverty is much like that of wealth.  One’s condition leads them to falsely think that there is no God.

The writer recognizes the inherent danger in both of these positions and asks God to mediate these dangers by delivering him from either of these states.  The writer seeks to avoid the temptation to think that God does not exist because of his own efforts, and that God does not exist because of his state of life.  The temptation is to think that God does not exist, but that is a falsehood that leads straight to the depths of hell.  The writer correctly leads us to reject both of these positions and seek to acknowledge God in all that we do and in our financial situation.  We should be thankful to God for our blessings and reliant on God for our shortfalls financially.  God will provide and our faith is at stake when doubt creeps in.  We need to fight doubts and keep our eyes on God and remain faithful to him.


Seek neither poverty nor riches, but seek a life faithful to God.  The writer exposes the temptation to deny God based on our financial situation, and we need to fight against this urge and seek to maintain our faith in God’s provision for us.  It is paramount that we be people of faith.


Matthew 12:38-50


Jesus begins his indictment of those who do not believe him.  The religious elite, who were mounting in opposition against him had to be in Jesus’ mind while delivering this passage.  Matthew 12:38-50 reveals the heightened judgment that would be for those who rejected Jesus.  First, Jesus warned those that would reject his message that their judgment would be worse than Nineveh’s.  At least Nineveh heard the words of Jonah and repented.  In contrast, Jesus’ generation had the Messiah and many of them still wondered in disbelief.  The Messiah was greater than Jonah; therefore, the judgment of Jesus’ generation would be greater than the judgment of Nineveh.

Second, Jesus declared the judgment of his generation as greater than the judgment on the people of the south.  Jesus identified that at least the queen of the south came to Solomon to learn of his great wisdom, yet Jesus was greater than Solomon and many would not listen to his message.

Third, Jesus declares that the state of his generation would be worse than a person possessed by seven demons.  Jesus points to the hopelessness that is found when people reject him.  When Jesus comes and cleans their house and reveals all the problems that they have, and they reject him and let in the evil one once again, then they are even more culpable then before.  Jesus is pointing to the depth of his generation’s rejection.

Fourth, Jesus reveals who his family is.  Jesus is not denying his familial relationship with his mother and brothers.  Rather, he is seeking to teach his followers that if anyone would want to be a part of his family then they must obey him.  They must believe and their belief is their entrance into the family of Jesus.  No longer is the entrance by familial lineage, but the entrance is through faith and obedience.


We are to accept Jesus by faith and seek to obey his word.  A life apart of faith and obedience is a life that is destined for judgment.  We should run from judgment and run to faith in Jesus.         

Bible Reading for January 24

  Bible Passages: Genesis 24, Psalm 12, Proverbs 24, and Matthew 9:9-34


Genesis 24


Abraham and Isaac had just suffered a great tragedy in the death of Sarah, Abraham’s wife and Isaac’s mother. While grieving, Abraham considered Isaac and his mourning. Therefore, Abraham made a covenant with his chief servant to find a wife for Isaac. Abraham sent his chief servant to his family back in Nahor, so that Isaac would not marry a woman of Canaan. Abraham did not want his son mixing with the women of Canaan and their wicked paganism. The chief servant agreed and went off to Nahor in Mesopotamia.

The hand of God and his providence is displayed mightily in the rest of this story. The chief servant found his way just outside the desired city and he stopped and waited. He set up a test and asked the Lord to lead the right woman into it. The test was in regards to the well. Abraham’s servant would wait until a virgin would offer him water and offer to water his camels. The servant asked the Lord to show him Isaac’s wife by her fulfilling this test. Sure enough, Rebekah came along and offered Abraham’s servant a drink and then watered his camels until they could not drink anymore. Then, the servant went to investigating who this young lady was. He found out that Rebekah was the niece of Abraham and fit Abraham’s requirements completely. Now, all the servant had to do was get her to come back with him to meet Isaac.

Rebekah took the servant back to the family house and her family offered him sanctuary there for the night. At this time, Abraham’s servant explained who he was and what his purposes were in coming. Upon hearing that Abraham’s servant was there to seek Rebekah as Isaac’s wife. They reasoned that it had to be of the Lord, so they called for her. After hearing the proposal from the chief servant, Rebekah surprisingly agreed.

The story is utterly unbelievable, and shows one the overarching glory of God’s sovereignty. All of these situations were not coincidences, but they were the hand of God guiding the search for Isaac’s wife. Genesis 24 screams that God can be trusted with any circumstance. God is in control and his desires will be done.

Even though the family tried to keep Rebekah around for ten days, the Lord lead her to leave and meet her husband to be. It would have been amazing to be able to witness Isaac and Rebekah’s first meeting. Can you imagine being Isaac and, unbeknownst to you, your father’s servant comes riding up with your wife to be, who you have never met, on his camel. According to the description of Rebekah given in Genesis 24, Isaac probably approached his father’s chief servant thinking. Who is that beautiful girl with him. I wonder if she will go on a date with me. Then, Isaac meets her and finds out that she has come to be his wife.

Can you imagine Rebekah’s thoughts as the chief servant tells her that the handsome young man approaching her is the man she has agreed to marry? What butterflies! She is probably thinking: Does he think I’m pretty, do I even think he is handsome? The thought probably even crossed her mind: What am I doing here, and why did I agree to come back and marry this guy?

However, through all the questions and turmoil, God has sovereignly brought Isaac and Rebekah together and no doubt remains concerning this couple and their relationship. He has fashioned Isaac for Rebekah and he has fashioned Rebekah for Isaac. Amongst all the questions, all the butterflies, and all the doubts, God is confidently presenting his chosen man Isaac the wife that he has chosen for him. What an amazing story!


You cannot read Genesis 24 and not see the sovereign hand of God at work in the lives of Isaac and Rebekah. Genesis 24 shouts to us that we can trust God and his purposes for us. It calls us to obey him even when we can’t see the finished product. It calls us to a simple faith that is anything but simple to live out. It calls us to trust God with our everything.


Psalm 12


The beginning of Psalm 12 is striking, “Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.” David recognizes the ultimate condition of humanity. There is no man of God, there is no prophet, and there is no godly king, so the only one that David can run to for salvation is God. We all are in the same predicament. There is no prefect man, there is no perfect prophet, there is no perfect government ruler, but there is all perfection in one man – the man Christ Jesus. He is the perfect man, he is the perfect prophet, and he is the perfect king. Due to David’s recognition that only God can save, he is led to pursue the words of God.

David describes these words of God as pure words which are like silver purified seven times. David is saying that God is the only person who is trustworthy. God is the only person who utters pure words. We can take God’s words to the bank every time. No wonder David went to God’s Word when he felt he was in trouble. No wonder David went to God’s Word when he felt the world crumbling down around him. No wonder he went to God’s Word when he needed encouragement and could not get it anywhere else.


When you feel the world crumbing down around you or you feel like you have nowhere else to turn; then, turn to God and his Word. Run to the Bible and especially to the Psalms and find comfort and solace there. Run to God and he will give you rest, he will comfort you, he will save you.


Proverbs 24


Solomon calls his son to eat honey especially fresh honey from the comb. Then, Solomon explains what he means. He is not just talking about physical honey, but he is using honey as a metaphor for wisdom. He is calling his son to pursue wisdom like he would pursue fresh, delightful honey. Solomon offers his son motivation to pursue wisdom. He say that wisdom will give his son a future that is bright and welcoming. However, a future devoid of wisdom will lead to his son being cut off and cast out.

Solomon’s words were true for his day, they were true for the nation of Israel, and they are true for us today. We should pursue wisdom – the Bible – like it was honey. It should be our greatest desire. How we should yearn to be mighty in the scriptures.


Pursue wisdom in the Word of God like it is honey to be devoured and enjoyed.


Matthew 9:9-34


The horrible sight of bigotry is put on display in Matthew 9:9-13. Jesus exposes in the Pharisees the most reprehensible bigotry there is. Matthew 9:9 starts out with a shocking discovery. Jesus called a tax collector to be one of his disciples. Does Jesus have any qualifications for his disciples? Apparently not, at least this is what the Pharisees are thinking. Jesus then moves to highlight and expose the grotesque bigotry that plagues the Pharisees. This attitude of bigotry is revealed when the Pharisees bypass Jesus and go to his disciples with their question. “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Basically, why does Jesus have time for such lost causes?

Jesus responds by exposing their heart. He tells them, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but those who are sick [do].” He then pointedly tells them to go learn this statement, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” Basically, Jesus exploded over the lack of mercy and the bigotry that was in the hearts of the Pharisees. Instead of looking down on the tax collectors and sinners, the Pharisees should have been rejoicing that Jesus was doing something with the very people that no one else would care about. The Pharisees thought that God was all about looking at the religiosity of the person, but they were sorely mistaken. God values mercy and not sacrifice. Basically, God cares about your heart and not just about your outward actions.

John’s disciples questioning Jesus about fasting, follows Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees (Matthew 9:14-17). John the Baptist’s disciples were wondering why Jesus did not have his disciples fast. Jesus answered in a very straightforward way. The bride does not fast while the bridegroom is present. Only after the bridegroom leaves does the bride fast. Basically, Jesus is telling John’s disciples to enjoy his, God’s, presence with them for the present time for there will come a time that Jesus will not be with them. Jesus is making a claim to divinity. Jesus is claiming to be the Messiah.

Not only does Jesus claim to be the Messiah, but he backs it up too. Matthew 9:18-26 has Jesus performing two very amazing miracles. First, Jesus heals a woman with constant menstrual bleeding with only a passing touch of contact. In fact, Jesus did not initiate the contact, but the woman sought out Jesus in faith and touched his garment as he passed believing that she would be healed. Jesus knew her thoughts and responded to her faith. Second, Jesus met a man who’s daughter had just died. The man asked Jesus to come and bring her back to life. Jesus accommodated this man’s request. Jesus sent away all the musicians and mourners, and he brought this girl back to life. If anyone had second thoughts about Jesus as the Messiah, then how else could they explain these two miracles? Only God has the power to read minds and raise people from the dead.

Jesus performs two more astounding miracles, but the most significant thing in Matthew 9:27-34 is the statement by the Pharisees, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.” The Pharisees have hardened their heart against Jesus and will not see him for who he is. They will not believe. The Pharisees become a stark example of someone who encounters the wonder of Jesus and leaves willingly refusing to believe their own eyes and the truth. Instead, the Pharisees concoct their own version of reality and reject Jesus. What dangerous actions they have committed, and if they do not repent they will split Hell wide open.


Realize that our hearts are easily drawn to bigotry, and we can easily deceive ourselves about our true condition. Instead of running from God and his truth, run to God and his truth. However, the only way you can run to God is on his terms explained through his Word. To run to God you have to be a student of his Word.

Bible Reading for January 22

  Bible Passages: Genesis 20-21, Psalm 10, Proverbs 22, and Matthew 8:1-22


Genesis 20-21


Abraham has just passed several faith tests in the previous chapters, but he is confronted with another problem.  Will he respond in faith when he encounters another situation like that of Pharaoh (see chapters twelve) seeking Sarah as his wife?  Abraham must choose between God’s protection and his own protection.  Abraham chooses to rely on his own means of protection, so he tells king Abimelech that Sarah is just his sister and not his wife.

At this point, Abraham has jeopardized the promise of God, and it is God that must step in and fix the problem.  Abraham was unable to protect himself and the promise of God, so, God steps in to fix the problem.  God visited Abimelech in a dream telling him he was going to die.  Abimelech responded to God by pleading for his life and arguing his innocence.  God listened to Abimelech’s argument and agreed, but God still put the ball in Abimelech’s court.  Abimelech had to obey God if he wanted to live.  Would Abimelech be able to do what Abraham could not?  Abimelech took God at his word and let Abraham and Sarah go. In addition, he sent Abraham and Sarah on their way with monetary gifts to prove that he was innocent and he desired to remain innocent.

When you contrast Abimelech and Abraham, the faith of Abimelech is surprising when compared to the lack of faith of Abraham.  Abraham has benefited from the extended experience of the presence of God in his life; yet, it is Abimelech that acts in an honorable way.  Clearly, Abraham has not learned to completely rely on God and his promises for his health and happiness.  The question still remains whether Abraham will make a fitting covenant partner.  Can Abraham obey God in simple faith?  Up to this point, the answer is no.

Genesis 21 transitions from Abraham’s lack of faith to Abraham’s receiving of the promised heir. Even though Abraham is a non-deserving covenant partner, God blesses him with the Son of Promise.  Isaac is born, and he is the fulfillment of God’s promise given in Genesis 12 ( reiterated in Genesis 15 and 18).  Both Abraham and Sarah seem to have learned their faith lessons, and are relying on God completely.  They obediently keep the law in all the ways that God has commanded them.  Not only did God come true on his promises towards Isaac, but he also came true on his promises given to Hagar and Ishmael.

Genesis 21:8-21 tells us of the provision and protection that God gave to Hagar and Ishmael.  In this story, Sarah again doubts the provision of God and sought to provide by herself for the inheritance of Isaac.  She responded to Ishmael’s mockery of Isaac by having him sent away.  Abraham by God’s leading followed Sarah’s request.  Here again, we see the promise of God to Abraham and to Hagar and Ishmael threatened.  However, God would step in and provide the protection that Hagar and Ishmael needed.  Genesis 21 ends with these looming questions: Can Abraham and Sarah pass a test of faith?  Are they appropriate covenant partners for God?


God will come through on his promises.  Our responsibility is to merely trust him.  We get into trouble when we try to take control of our own lives and forget the power and provision of God.  All too often, we act more like Abraham and Sarah in their disobedience.  The call from this passage is the same call from the rest of Abraham and Sarah’s life.  Trust God and he will take care of you.  He will come through on his promises.


Psalm 10


Psalm 10 calls attention to the actions and attitudes of the unrighteous.  First, it reveals the godless actions of the unrighteous.  They do all manner of wickedness and seem to get no punishment.  The psalmist begins by asking these two questions: “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”  Then, the psalmist reveals examples of the evil actions of the unrighteous.  It appears to the psalmist that the unrighteous are getting by with their abuse of the poor, their greed, their pride, and all manner of other things.  The heart attitudes of the unrighteous are revealed by their own thoughts, “there is no God.”  The unrighteous live in light of the fact that they do not think they will ever have to give an account.

In the second part, the Psalmist turns to the realization that God is righteous and he will come to the aid of the weak.  He will also judge the wicked.  The psalmist goes from seeking the Lord’s action on behalf of those misused to resting in the fact that God will have the last word.  No sin will go unpunished and no abuse will be swept under the rug.  As the Psalmist says, “call his wickedness to account till you find none.”  Psalm 10 moves from questions to comfort.


Sometime, one might be tempted to question God’s wisdom and justice due to the perceived ease at which the wicked live their lives.  Some days it does not seem that God will ever punish the wicked; then, when one observes the lives of the righteous no peace can be found.  It does not seem fair and in reality it may not be fair at the time.  However, Psalm 10 points us to the fact that God will have the last word.  He will stand up and defend the fatherless and the widowed.  He will comfort the helpless.  He will embrace the downtrodden.  He will also judge the wicked.  Psalm ten reminds us of the punishment of sin and the goodness of God.


Proverbs 22


Proverbs 22:1 is a great word: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”  Our culture values success at all costs.  Rarely are the downtrodden considered as the successful person steps over them.  However, Proverbs 22:1 reminds us that our actions mean something.  We are to live our lives knowing that our actions enhance or detract from our reputation and our reputation is important.  Proverbs 22:1 reminds us that we live on this planet with other human beings that are valuable.  We are not to just trample over them to make a buck or get recognition.  Instead, we are to consider our actions and live a life of character.  We are to treat people with the respect that they deserve.

Proverbs 22:4 also gives one something to think about.  If riches and honor are what we desire, then we are to be humble and fear the Lord.  God gives us a recipe to gain riches and honor and it is to live in light of an authoritative God.  So, how we live and our attitude towards God is important and can either render wealth or poverty.


Be careful to not get caught up in the race to the top and forget that there are human beings living around us.  God urges us to seek a good name and favor instead of wealth and power.  The point is to live life circumspectly – aware of our surroundings and aware of our God.  Proverbs 22:4 builds on this idea.  In God’s economy, there is only one way to get wealth and prestige and that his through humility and fear of the Lord.   So, test God and see: Will he bless you if you live a humble life devoted to the fear of the Lord? I think he will.


Matthew 8:1-22


Matthew 8 follows directly after the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus has just finished instructing his followers on how to live a godly life of obedience.  First, Jesus encounters a leper who had great faith.  The leper came to Jesus and openly declared Jesus’ ability to heal him.  Jesus healed this man after his display of great faith.  The leper illustrates what someone of faith looks like – a person who believes in the power of God.

Second, Matthew uses the story of the Centurion to illustrate again what true faith looks like.  The Centurion understood the type of power Jesus wielded.  The Centurion, too, was a man of power and he knew that his soldiers would obey his every command.  In the eyes of this man, Jesus wielded this same power over disease and sickness.  The Centurion comes to Jesus and asks him to merely speak the word so his son can be healed.  Jesus heals the Centurion’s son and comments to his followers concerning his great faith.

Third, Matthew reiterates Jesus’ authority over sickness and disease.  Those who were sick could come to Jesus in faith that their diseases would be healed.  Jesus has the power over disease; the question is, Do people trust him?

Fourth, Matthew illustrates the immense cost of following Jesus.  Jesus was a man that had no home and no possessions.  Yet, he was the ruler of the universe.  His earthly ministry was a lonely ministry that was rot with misunderstanding; however, his kingly rule will be an entirely different story.  The call to follow Jesus is to forsake all your earthly things and your relationships to gain something that is far more priceless and that is a relationship with God the creator of the universe.  In obtaining a relationship with him, then you will inherit all the things you think you are giving up.


Jesus calls us to a life of faith.  We are to take him at his word and live in light of our belief in him. The leper was able to put his own fear and doubts away and seek healing from Jesus.  The Centurion was able to put away his own fear of humiliation and he sought help from the only one who could help his son.  Jesus is the means of victory over the things in life that hold us captive.  However, we have to embrace Jesus through simple faith.  We cannot hold on to earthly treasure or relationships, but we have to embrace Jesus so that we gain these temporal blessings.

Bible Reading for January 15

 Bible Passages: Genesis 5-6, Psalm 3, Proverbs 15, and Matthew 3


Genesis 5-6


Genesis 5 is an interesting passage.  Many may be tempted to breeze right by it without giving it a lot of attention.  This would be unfortunate.  We see in the genealogy God’s sovereign protection of his promises.  At any stage of the genealogy, a tragedy could have very well appeared, but God providentially oversaw the whole progression.  God is faithfully bringing about the fulfillment of his promises.

We also see the great amount of time that each person in the genealogy lived.  It is interesting to lay out the ages on a graph and see that Noah was born not long after Adam’s death.  The timings of births and deaths are always important.

The story of Enoch is also highlighted.  Enoch was the man who walked with God and was taken by God directly to heaven.  We see that God honors a faithful life.  God truly honored Enoch who was the great grandfather of Noah, who is the next person that looms large in the storyline of Genesis.

Genesis 6 introduces us to the situation of Noah.  We are faced with the interpretive dilemma of who are the sons of God in verse two.  Yet, it is sufficient to say that the sins of humanity were abundant and God proceeded to act to do something about this sin problem.  God is going to bring about a worldwide flood and Noah is going to be the only means of salvation that God will provide.  The trouble is that Noah will face a hard-hearted generation.

In verse eighteen, we are introduced to the covenant that God made with Noah.  It is this covenant and the idea of covenant that will guide the rest of the biblical story.  It is this covenant that Jesus fulfills.


God protects his promises and God will fulfill his promises.  God will also honor a life given to him.  Take for example Enoch.  We also see that God calls ordinary people often times to do extraordinary things.


Psalm 3


In Psalm 3, David’s troubled circumstances are apparent.  He is fleeing from danger and his enemies are out to get him.  We hear the confidence of his pursuers in verse two, “there is no salvation for him in God.”  David’s pursuers think that God is on their side, or at least that God has forsaken David.

Yet, we see David’s confidence in God’s will and his protection.  David sees God’s protection in his sleeping and waking.  David is confident of the Lord’s protection.  David runs to God in this time of trouble.  What an amazing example David sets.


Run to God for his protection when your enemies mount against you.  God will protect his chosen.


Proverbs 15


The first three verses are striking.  Proverbs 15:1 is one of the most familiar Proverbs.  It is true that a soft answer turns away wrath and a harsh answer stirs up anger.  Yet, Proverbs 15:2 is also striking.  “the tongue of the wise commands knowledge, but the mouth of fools pour out folly.”  Verse two warns us to be careful who we listen to for advice.  The wise are who we should run to for advice.  Why?  Verse three tells us that God is watching.  We should realize that God is present and we should seek to honor him.


Speak softly and life will go better for you.  Seek wise people’s counsel.  Live like God is watching because he is.


Matthew 3


Mathew 3 is Matthew’s introduction to John the Baptist.  It is significant that Matthew starts out with John’s message of repentance.  However, when this is viewed in light of Matthew 2, it is not surprising.  Israel needs to repent and embrace their Messiah.  John the Baptist is preparing them to meet their Messiah if they would listen.

Matthew also introduces us to baptism which will be significant for John the Baptist and for Jesus.  John is the one to whom Jesus comes to be baptized.  Jesus’ baptism then is important to the rest of the New Testament teaching on baptism.  We are to be submissive to baptism because Jesus was.


John’s message of repentance still rings true.  Have we repented of our sins and turned in submission to Jesus as the Lord of our life.  What that means is, “Have we made Jesus our king?”  If we have, have we followed Jesus example in believer’s baptism?  Baptism was important to Jesus, should it not be important to us?

Bible Reading for January 14

 Bible Passages: Genesis 3-4, Psalm 2, Proverbs 14, and Matthew 2


Genesis 3-4


Genesis 3-4 highlights the total destructiveness of sin.  Adam and Eve yielded to the temptation by Satan, and they forsook the command of God instead of trusting God and finding their delight in him.  They sought the delight of their own hearts lead by their stomachs.  We see the diabolical battle between our wills and God’s commands.  Because of our disobedience we are under the judgment of God and apart from him offering us his grace we are destined to eternally be under the judgment of God.  Thankfully, the story does not end in Genesis 3-4.  We do not have to languish under the judgment of God; because, he has provided a means of salvation through the sacrifice of his son.  The first Adam and his fall pushes us to consider the second Adam and his triumph.  The second Adam is Jesus Christ the Son of God.

The story of Cain and Abel illustrates the rapid destructive nature of sin.  Adam and Eve took of the forbidden fruit, yet Cain committed the first murder of his brother Abel.  How quickly sin captures and destroys.  Adam and Eve’s family would never be the same.  No matter how bad it gets, God is still at work accomplishing his plan of redemption.  Sin will not thwart God’s plan.


Run to God and flee sin.  You run to God by knowing his Word and obeying it.  Obedience reveals your relationship to God.  If you obey God’s Word, then you have a relationship.  If you do not obey God’s Word, then you do not have a relationship with him.


Psalm 2


The last line of the Psalm is vital.  “It states, “blessed are all who take refuge in him.”  The point is that no geopolitical power or kingdom can provide one with security.  Only the Lord and his appointed king seated on Mt. Zion can provide anyone with real security.  The psalmist’s point is that no matter how strong a geopolitical entity believes themselves to be they cannot compare to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  God is in control and countries or rather governments would do well to recognize this.


Place your faith in God and not your government.  Governments cannot save one’s soul, but God can.


Proverbs 14


Proverbs 14:2 declares once again that whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, and he who is devious in his ways despises the Lord.  Our actions reveal the disposition and focus of our heart.  If we go through life without regard for God and his will, then we show the fact that we despise the creator of the universe.  However, if we go through the motions and make it appear like we love the Lord but in all reality we are still living according to our own will, then we still show that we despise the creator of the universe.  What a horrific message we can send when in fact we believe we are ok.

Proverbs 14:12 also reiterates this point.  “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”  Basically, a man or woman can thing he/she is doing right, but if it is based on his/her own understanding and not the Word of the Lord, then he/she will still experience spiritual death.  There is no hope for eternity.  Yet, the reverse rings true.  If a man/woman bases their life on obedience of the Word of God, then he/she can be confident in their future with God.


We must live in such a way as to fear the Lord.  If we live in the fear of the Lord, then we will live under his blessing and we will have a hope for the future.  To live under the fear of the Lord is to live realizing that God is the ultimate being and his Word leads to life.  Disobedience to him brings about death.  Therefore, one lives with a healthy submission to God.


Matthew 2


Matthew 2 points us to consider three things.  First, the wise men from outside the Promised Land who were outside the covenant with God were more prepared for the entrance of the Messiah than the people of God.  Israel should have seen the star, recognized the significance, and proclaimed the Lord’s deliverance from the highest mountains.  Instead, we have the wise men who understand the signs and were seeking to worship the Lord.  What an indictment against Israel, but also what a great sign that God’s promises are for the whole world.

Second, we see that God is still acting to protect his covenant.  He sent the wise men another way home and sent Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to Egypt.  God is actively working to bring about his covenant.

Third, in lieu of the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, we see that our enemy often sets his sights on innocent and defenseless children.  King Herod was one in a long list which also includes Adam Lanza (the suspected killer at Sandy Hook).  Russell Moore makes the great point that Satan’s attacks on the seed of the woman will not and cannot render the promises of God void.  The seed of the woman will still crush the head of the serpent.  Satan’s efforts to thwart God’s plan will not be successful.  Mathew 2 shows us that God’s plan will not be thwarted.  Satan can try but God will prevail.  Satan may kill some of our children, but God’s promises for them still stand.  I encourage you to read Russell Moore’s blog post interpreting the Sandy Hook tragedy.


We must be prepared to accept the Messiah.  We should seek to be like the wise men instead o the Israelites.  We can also trust that God is still at work fulfilling his promises.  God is working on our behalf if we have a relationship with him.  We can also see that Satan is still our adversary, but God will work on our behalf to fulfill his promises.

Bible Reading for January 13

 Bible Passages: Genesis 1-2, Psalms 1, Proverbs 13, and Matthew 1


Genesis 1-2


Genesis chapter one is all about God. It starts by introducing us to the one who philosophers have called the ultimate being. The point being that Genesis one introduces us to the taxonomy of creation.  God is the highest form of being because he created all other beings and all other forms of life.  God is the ultimate being by virtue of his creative power and authority.  Genesis one declares this from the beginning, “In the beginning, God created…” God was before everything as we know it, and he has authority over all things because he created them.  We are not to worship the sun, moon, or stars.  We are not to worship the land or the sea.  We are not to worship the natural order.  We are not to worship the universe.  God is the only one worthy of worship, because, he is the one that created everything.  At the very beginning of Genesis one, our minds are drawn to God as the ultimate being.  God is worthy of worship because he is our creator.

We also see that God is a trinity.  Genesis one does not explicitly declare that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but it does give some subtle clues that the rest of the Bible will take and fill in.  First of all, it was God who created the heavens and the earth.  The Father is leading the creation process.  Second, the Holy Spirit was hovering over the face of the waters.  The Holy Spirit was active in the process.  Third, God spoke the world into existence and according to John 1 the Word is the Son.  Therefore, Genesis one must be interpreted in light of the trinitarian teaching of the whole Bible.

Another observation is that man is the pinnacle of the creative order.  When we get to Gen. 1:26, special emphasis and care is given to the creation of humanity.  We see that humanity is created in the image of God, and because of humanities place in creation they are given dominion or authority over all other living things.  Humanity is God’s image bearers, to the rest of creation.  Humanity has a special place in God’s plan as God’s visual representatives on earth.  What a special part of God’s plan humanity gets to play.

Genesis two reveals to use the importance of the seventh day, but it also zooms in and highlights the sequence of events that surround the creation of man.  Starting in verse seven of chapter two, we see that God took great interest and utilized much creativity in creating Adam.  However, it did not take Adam long to realize that he had no companion that corresponded to him like the rest of the created order.  God took this situation and showed Adam how much he loved him by creating Eve.  God provided a companion for man by creating woman, and showed Adam that he would provide for him.  God’s provision is on display in Genesis two.


We must realize that God is the ultimate being and we are not.  God is the only one worthy of worship.  There is no creature or part of creation that can supersede God.  God is the creator and deserves all the glory, honor, and praise.  Furthermore, we must also realize our role in God’s plan.  We are the pinnacle of his creation.  We are his image bearers.  We should seek his deliverance from our natural bondage to sin, and pursue being his image bearers on earth.  We should seek to bring the earth under dominion and rule properly as the pinnacle of creation.


Psalm 1


Psalm one sets out two different pictures of life.  First is the picture of the blessed man and second is the picture of the wicked man.  Psalm one clearly points to the difference between these two men being their relationship to the law of the Lord.  The blessed man loves the law and the wicked man hates the law.  In other words, the blessed man hears the law and responds in joy and obedience.  In contrast, the wicked man hears the law of the Lord and responds in disgust and hatred.

Psalm one highlights the fact that the blessed man knows and continually meditates on the law of the Lord.  The blessed man has an encounter with the law regularly.  However, the wicked man hates the law and runs from it.  His running gets him nowhere.  He can’t even stand up on the Day of Judgment.  Instead, he will be totally consumed.  The point is to highlight the desirability of the blessed and to warn people about the fate of the wicked.


We need to be good students of the Bible.  If we do not find ourselves loving the Word of God then we are in danger of being judged as a wicked person.  Our relationship to the Bible is important.


Proverbs 13


Proverbs 13:13 highlights the importance of our attitude towards God’s Word.  If we despise the word of God then we will face destruction.  However, if we love God’s commandments then we will be rewarded.  Again, our position and disposition towards the Bible reveals whether we will be blessed or judged by God.  We have to take the Bible seriously.

Proverbs 13:24 should be recognized by every parent.  It commands us to discipline our children and to love them by using corporal punishment.  The social notion “no spanking” is ruled out by Proverbs 13:24.  A loving parent will at times get their child’s attention by spanking them.  It will be done in love and for their own good.


Love your Bible and don’t be afraid to spank your children.


Matthew 1


Genealogies always  point to the protection and governance of God.  Without God’s providence the lineage of the genealogy would surely be broken.  Ultimately, God is seen as in control through Jesus’ genealogy.  This point is further driven home by the fact that Matthew connects the genealogy to God’s stepping in a providing the needed information for Joseph to marry Mary.  God’s providence is highlighted in Matthew 1.


God cares about his plan and his people.  If you are one of God’s people, then you can be confident that God will bring about his plan.  Therefore, God’s people have a hope that extends past the grave.  God is in control so we can trust him.

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