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Showing posts from January, 2020

bible reading feb 1

Bible reading for Feb 1:  Genesis 33; Mark 4.  "There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel." (Gen 33:20)  Naming places.   You've noticed by now that when people encounter God in the Old Testament they often give the place a name.  They may name a well, erect a stone memorial, or build an altar.  Hagar names a well, "the God who sees" (16:14); Abram names the mount of sacrifice, "the Lord will provide" (22:14); Isaac names a well, "God has made room for us" (26:22); and Jacob names the place of his dream, Bethel ("house of God")(28:19), and the place of his wrestling with God, Peniel ("the face of God")(32:30).  Here Jacob builds an altar to God and calls it "God, the God of Israel."  Giving names to sites was a way to recognize God's providence and to proclaim something about his character .   Jesus, God's Son, is the place where all the attributes of God are fully manifested .  He

bible reading jan 31

Bible reading for Jan 31:  Genesis 32; Mark 3.  "I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant..."   (Gen 32:10a) Homeward bound (Gen 32).   With Laban behind him, Jacob must now face his brother Esau .  We may seek to escape unresolved conflict, but eventually we must face it.  Jacob is afraid for his family's welfare as they return to encounter Esau, now heading toward them with 400 men. In humble prayer he acknowledges his own unworthiness and rests upon God's promise to do him good (32:9-12).  This is the faith of our fathers.   God spares Jacob and his family and there will be reconciliation between the brothers.   Wrestling with an angel (32:24-32).  After taking every measure to protect his family, he is left alone and wrestles all night with "a man" . We are not told how this contest came about. He had seen angels as he entered the land (32:1), and afterwards

bible reading jan 30

Bible reading for Jan 30:  Genesis 31; Mark 2.  "I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred." (Gen 31:13) So, you think your family is dysfunctional? (Gen 31)   The Bible is painfully straightforward in showing all the warts of family life , whether of saints or sinners. Deception, possessiveness, envy, and manipulation can fragment any family.   Jacob has met his match in his uncle Laban -- twenty years worth -- and now, while Laban is off shearing sheep, it's time to get out of Dodge. Meanwhile, Rachel steals the family's household idols . (I'm not making this up.)  Laban and his gang overtake Jacob's caravan, but violence was quelled when God warned Laban in a dream not to say anything "either good or bad" to Jacob (31:24). Don't touch my little gods.  These gods [Heb., teraphim ] were table-top idols a family would keep at home.

bible reading jan 29

Bible reading for Jan 29:  Genesis 30; Mark 1.  "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."   (Mark 1:1)  What is a gospel (Mk 1)?  "Gospel" means "good news", and often in the sense of an important announcement about a great historical event, like the birth, marriage, or beginning reign of a monarch.  The gospel about Christ is summarized in 1 Cor 15:1-8 -- it's the wonderful announcement of the life, death, and resurrection of God's Son, Jesus.  We might say that it is " the cradle, the cross, and the crown" at the center of history , which changes everything .  But the term " a gospel" (e.g., Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) usually refers to a biographical sketch of the life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Christ.  It is not really a biography, but more like a portrait .  Each gospel writer was selective in what details to include (Jn 21:25).     Lights, camera, action!   Mark gets right i

bible reading jan 28

Bible reading for Jan 28:  Genesis 29; Matthew 28.  Overview:  the book of Genesis can be summarized as follows:  from chapter 1 to 11 there are four key events : creation, fall, flood, and babel.  From chapter 12 to 50 there are four key people : Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  We are now reading about the adventures of Jacob.  Bait-and-switch, and a baby race (Gen 29).   Jacob, the guy who deceived his father by pretending to be Esau, is tricked into marrying Leah , rather than Rachel, whom he loves. ( I'm thinking there must have been a lot of wine served that night... )  Later, Rachel is given to be his wife, as well, but now he must serve another seven years.  Then the baby contest begins , which involves not only Rachel and Leah but also their maidservants.  This seems strange to us , but we must remember this was a day when there was no social security, no police, no medicare, no nursing homes, etc.  Healthy children, and strong healthy sons who can work and fig

bible reading jan 27

Bible reading for Jan 27:  Genesis 28; Matthew 27.  "...and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen 28:14) Jacob's dream (Gen 28).   The Lord establishes his covenant with the fleeing Jacob. The same covenant that was made with Abraham and Isaac, God now makes with Jacob.  In a dream he sees a ladder (Heb., sullam ), most likely a stairway of ascending stones reaching to heaven. (Perhaps even like the ziggurat of Genesis 11, only in this case it is God reaching down to man.)  He sees angels going up and down the stairway , and he understands this to be gateway to heaven .  He names the place Bethel ( beth-el means the "house of God"). Through Jacob's family line, therefore, will come blessing for the whole earth. The angels ascending and descending peacefully would indicate that God, through Jacob's descendant, would bring reconciliation between heaven and earth. Jesus himself understood this to be a pro

bible reading jan 26

Bible reading for Jan 26:  Genesis 27; Matthew 26.  Genesis 27.   Rebekah and Jacob deceive Isaac , and Jacob receives the blessing intended for Esau.  As wrong as that action was, Isaac did not reverse his blessing .  Perhaps he remembered that this is what the Lord had said earlier.  It was God's will that the birthright and covenant blessing belong to Jacob.  From this day forth there is an even deeper divide between the two sons.  Jacob, however, will now enter God's school of training under his uncle Laban, a consummate con artist. Jacob, the trickster, will himself be tricked, and will learn some very hard lessons.   ==============    "Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her." (Matt 26:13) Jesus is arrested (Matthew 26).  At the house of Simon the leper, a woman anoints Jesus' head with very expensive ointment .  The disciples view this as a waste, but this

bible reading jan 24--25

Bible reading for Jan 24:  Genesis 25; Matthew 24. Bible reading for Jan 25:  Genesis 26; Matthew 25.  Pray for the March for Life this Friday in Washington, D.C., that many in our nation's capital and the nation's media would pay attention to this call for repentance.  "Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."  (Amos 5:23-24 ESV)  ==========  "Jacob said, 'Swear to me now.' So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright."  (Genesis 25:33-34) Abraham dies (Gen 25).   Abraham dies, and is buried by Isaac and Ishmael.  The first generation of Ishmael's lineage is recorded .  Remember, Genesis is a book of "beginnings", and Ishmael has been blessed, his sons becomi

illumination needed

"The unfolding of your words gives light;  it imparts understanding to the simple."   (Psalm 119:130)  "Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures..." (Luke 24:45) Not routine.   It is important that we read the Scriptures aware of the presence of God , and that we are asking the Holy Spirit to help us understand and apply the Scriptures rightly.  We must be sensitive especially to those areas the Spirit is drawing our attention to, and then pray about those truths, commandments, or promises. This is the teaching ministry of our Lord to us through the Holy Spirit.  We need him to illumine our minds and hearts as we read.    J. I. Packer explains this:  "The work of the Spirit in imparting this knowledge is called 'illumination,' or enlightening. It is not a giving of new revelation, but a work within us that enables us to grasp and to love the revelation that is there before us in the biblical text as heard and read, and as

bible reading for jan 23

Bible reading for Jan 23:  Genesis 24; Matthew 23. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel and said to the servant, "Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?" The servant said, "It is my master." So she took her veil and covered herself."   ...  Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.  (Gen 24:63-65, 67 ESV)  It's all arranged.   The courtship that we see in chapter 24 of Genesis is, well, it's not even a courtship, it's an engagement by faith, sight unseen. It's an arranged marriage .  And such a marriage is far, far removed from anything our post-modern culture would find acceptable.  And yet, how  beautiful and dignified

bible reading for jan 22

Bible reading for Jan 22:  Genesis 23; Matthew 22. Death and burial of Sarah (Gen 23).   The first piece of land Abraham officially owns in the land promised to him and his descendants is a burial place for Sarah, near Hebron.  Even though Ephron offers to give the land to Abraham it was probably only a Mideastern formality, for he adds, "...a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between you and me?" (23:15)   He slips the price in there very smoothly.  Nevertheless, Abraham insists on paying full price with no haggling.  He honored his wife in her life, death, and burial.    My take-away: as believers we should observe the customs of our land .  The Apostle Paul wrote, "...but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all" (Rom 12:17-18).  And, "Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, re

bible reading for jan 21

Bible reading for January 21:  Genesis 22; Matthew 21. "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." (Genesis 22:12 ESV) Yesterday, I was planning to make some cornbread and wondered if the quart of buttermilk in our refrigerator -- which has been there... awhile -- was still good to use.  The label had a certain date on it (I shall not say), but the proof came in opening the container and seeing and smelling what was inside.  Thankfully, it was good and cornbread will be on the menu today!  Labels can say one thing, but sometimes what's inside needs to be tested to see if it matches the label .  So it is, and has always been, for men and women who wear the label, "believers in God".  The testing of faith (Gen 22).   James says that this testing of Abraham showed "...that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his

bible reading day 19--20

Bible reading days 19-20 (Jan 19-20):  Genesis 20-21; Matthew 19-20. "Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink." (Gen 21:19) God blesses Abraham and Sarah (Gen 20-21).   They live as resident aliens , or nomads, in the land that God promised to them.  The Lord  protects and provides for them, despite Abraham's fears about the protection of his wife (or himself, 20:1-18). The long-promised son, Isaac, is born .  His name means "he laughs", for now the laughter of Sara's unbelief (18:12-13) has turned into the laughter of joy and wonder (21:6-7). The time comes for Hagar to leave, and God again cares for her and provides for her son Ishmael (21:9-21).  God will multiply and prosper his descendants, though they will often be at odds with the tribes of Israel. Two wells.   A steady water supply was vital in the middle-east . God "opens Hagar's eyes" to se