~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Genesis 8:1-10:32 ~ Matthew 4:12-25
Psalm 4:1-8 ~ Proverbs 1:20-23
Old Testament - Today in Genesis chapter 8 we read about the flood receding. Verse 1 jumped out at me - "But God remembered Noah and all the animals in the boat." I like that phrase "But God remembered" - but I have a hunch that it is a bit understated in God's love and compassion for Noah and all of creation. Verse 11 is also cool in that if you were ever wondering where our modern day peace symbol of a dove with an olive branch comes from originally - now you know - God's peace symbol to Noah! "This time, toward evening, the bird returned to him with a fresh olive leaf in its beak."
Genesis chapter 9 verse 3 is very intriguing. I forgot to mention this in previous day's posts - but, I read a commentary on the Garden of Eden and even thereafter that early people were strictly vegetarians - God had given Adam & Eve the fruits in the Garden to eat - and then Adam's son's cultivated the ground for plants / food. But here in verse 3 God is now saying that it is okay to eat the animals' meat for food - "I have given them to you for food, just as I have given you grain and vegetables." Very very interesting. You learn something new every day! :)
In Genesis chapter 9 verses 8 through 17 we are reading about the first major covenant of God's in the Old Testament called the Noahic Covenant. There are 6 more major covenant's that we will get to later this year - The first Abrahamic covenant, The second Abrahamic covenant, The Sinaitic Covenant (Moses on Mt. Sinai), The Phinehas Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant. So - Covenants are a big deal! This one is laid out in all 10 verses but can basically be summed up in verse 11 - "I solemnly promise never to send another flood to kill all living creatures and destroy the earth." And the rainbow is given as a sign of The Noahic Covenant. Keep this covenant in mind as we get to the book of Revelation at the end of the year... we'll come back to this... :)
In the remainder of chapter 9 we read about Noah's son's Shem, Ham and Japheth. Initially I asked myself, why is Noah so upset with Ham? The answer lies in verse 22 - "Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers." The last 3 words of this sentence were the issue - Ham told his brothers his father was naked. Instead of discreetly just covering up his father on his own, he told his brothers.... Are there times in our life where we could discreetly take care of problems of others, but instead we broadcast what the problems of others are?
There is tons of interesting stuff going on in the genealogy, but I'll just quickly point out verses 21 & 22 - "Sons were also born to Shem, the older brother of Japheth. Shem was the ancestor of all the descendants of Eber." Shem becomes translated in the future as Semites - i.e. Semetic peoples. And Eber is translated in the future as Hebrew. So, you can see that Shem's lineage is going to be the one from where Israel comes from.
New Testament - Matthew chapter 4:12 begins Jesus' ministry. Verse 17 is of note - "From then on, Jesus began to preach, "Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near."" You'll note that Jesus is echoing earlier words of John the Baptist - turn from your sins - repent. The message is obviously of utmost importance. And then you'll see several times in the gospel of Matthew "the Kingdom of Heaven." You'll later see in Mark and Luke's gospel's the similar term, "the Kingdom of God." They mean the same thing - but Matthew was using the term "Heaven" instead of "God" because he was writing for a Jewish audience, which did not like to verbalize God's name (out of respect). Per Zondervan's NIV Study Bible, the Kingdom of Heaven is essentially brought about through the ministry of Jesus and those that have faith in him - the establishment of God's rule in the hearts of people, the overcoming of evil, the removal of the consequences of sin, and a new order of peace. The idea of God's kingdom is mentioned nearly 50 times in the gospel of Matthew.
Verses 18 through 20 is something that I think all of us should reflect upon in our own lives - "One day as Jesus was walking along the shore beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers--Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew--fishing with a net, for they were commercial fishermen. Jesus called out to them, "Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!" And they left their nets at once and went with him." What would you do if you were at work today or tomorrow and Jesus came to you and said - "Come, be my disciple, and I will show you how to fish for people!" Like Peter and Andrew, would you go at once with Jesus? This is not an easy question for us to answer. But I think it is worth asking. I'm not advocating leaving your job here per se! :) However - I do have an amazing friend who indeed have felt the call of Jesus to leave his very nice architect job to become a missionary architect in Asia... The point of this passage I think is this - Jesus is indeed calling each one of us to follow him. We may not need to leave our jobs. But, the call may entail leaving some of our luxurious ways or lazy behaviors behind to truly follow him. Will you follow Jesus? Do you believe he is calling you?
Verse 23 nicely encapsulates Jesus' 3 main ministries that we will see over and over again in the gospels - 1. teaching, 2. preaching, and 3. healing. "Jesus traveled throughout Galilee teaching in the synagogues, preaching everywhere the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed people who had every kind of sickness and disease." Will you allow Jesus to teach you this year? Will you even allow Jesus to preach to you? And, this may be the toughest to surrender to - will you allow Jesus to heal you? My friends, we all need some healing from Jesus!
Psalms - Psalm 4 is a wonderful Davidic Psalm. Verse 7 jumped out at me today - "You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and wine." Do you believe that God's Spirit can give you greater joy than any amount of money or material good or even human love can give? Will you seek a deeper relationship with God here in 2005 and ask God for this holy joy?
Proverbs 1:23 is amazing to think about - "I'll pour out the spirit of wisdom upon you and make you wise." Do you want the spirit of wisdom this year? Do you want to be wise? Do you believe studying the Bible can give you the spirit of wisdom? Will you pray to God for the spirit of wisdom this year in 2005?
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!