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~ Click on this link for today's January 3rd readings ~
Genesis 5:1-7:24 ~ Matthew 3:7-4:11
Psalm 3:1-8 ~ Proverbs 1:10-19
Old Testament - Today in Genesis chapter 5 we read about the genealogy from Adam to Noah. You will note that there are some long life spans here in this genealogy! These life spans are often interpreted to be either literal or symbolic - and many evangelical commentaries will say either is possible. (Similar to the 6 days of creation which I mentioned in the January 1 post below. Evangelical commentaries say that God certainly has the power to create the earth in 6 literal days - or the 6 days of creation in Genesis may be symbolic of thousands or millions of years - as "a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day" to God.) Those who believe these ages in this genealogy are literal believe this is the case because of a few reasons: 1. the human race was more genetically pure in this early time period, so diseases did not shorten life spans; 2. no rain had yet fallen on the earth - until the next chapter - so the expanse of water above the earth protected people from environmental factors; and/or 3. God gave people longer life spans so they would have time to fill the earth - per Genesis 1:28. Below is a portrait of Noah and his wife by Guy Rowe:
In Genesis 6 we read about the Flood. Most evangelical commentaries say that this was a literal flood that covered the entire earth, while some do say that it's possible that it was a flood that covered the Mesopotamian region of the earth. More seem to go with a literal flood covering the entire earth. I think with all of these questions - was the earth created in 6 days? did people live to be 900 years old? did the flood cover the entire earth? - we can get caught up in arguments on either side and miss the theological point. Points being... God created everything, God dictates how long we live, and God cares enough about continuing the human race to save a righteous family and the future human race from an increasingly evil world at the time. Basically - God's in charge and we are not... :) Which is a very good thing! Because God is a loving and compassionate God who wants us to live lives of freedom from sin and to love God and our neighbors. God's ways are not our ways... they are so much higher! I do absolutely believe the Bible to be the inerrant, inspired, very Word of God - so please don't hear my thoughts above as questioning this point at all. I just thing that the Bible does at times use amazing truthful stories and parables and symbolism and poetry to bring us theological truths - or, I should say, the Truth. And I certainly believe in the humankind & animalkind preserving Truth of Noah's ark! Below is "Noah's Ark" by American folk painter Edward Hicks from 1846:
Chapter 6 verses 5 & 6 stood out to me in today's readings: "Now the LORD observed the extent of the people's wickedness, and he saw that all their thoughts were consistently and totally evil. So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them. It broke his heart." I think it was this last sentence that really stood out to me - It broke his heart. God's heart was broken over our behavior. I love realizing that God has this type of compassion and care for what we do. What we do matters to God! When we are obedient and faithful and loving, God rejoices! When we are not, it breaks his heart. I hope it encourages you to know that God did not just create you and doesn't really care whether you do well in this life - he is rooting for you! He wants you to run the race well and receive the prize!
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Genesis titled "Coming to Grips with Genealogies" is at this link, "The Sons of God and the Daughters of Men" is at this link, and "The Flood" is at this link.
New Testament - Today's Matthew readings are incredible on so many levels. We begin by reading about John the Baptist going off on the Pharisees and Sadducees! John is not joking around here... :) I think one verse that really stood out to me was verse 8: "Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God." and verse 10: "Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire." I think what I hear John saying here is that we are called to truly repent and change our ways. Not just to say some nice words or just show up to church on Sundays - but to be transformed. Our lives should be visibly different from our past if we have really turned from our sins and turned to God. And this change will be evident by our lives producing "good fruit" - examples of which can certainly be seen in any of the Ten Commandments or loving our neighbor as ourselves and above all loving God with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength. Our lives should look very different from our past. Do they? Below is a stained glass image of John the Baptist used by permission and copyright held by cambridge2000.com/gallery:
Verses 16 & 17 are phenomenal as we see the three persons of the Trinity interacting with each other! God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit: "After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him."" Jesus' baptism is very significant because it is the act that opens up the public ministry phase of Jesus' life.
Now - I think what happens just after Jesus' baptism is something each of us should take heed of - the devil comes in full force after Jesus. I heard someone tell me just before I was baptized about 6 years ago that whenever we make a public declaration that we love Jesus and God and that we want to follow him, the devil and temptation very likely will appear. The devil isn't happy when we are moving forward in our love of Jesus and loving others - and he wants to derail it. And that's what we see here in chapter 4 - Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit have just declared "Game On!" with Jesus' public ministry via the baptism - and then who should show up coming after Jesus? If the devil showed up to tempt Jesus, don't you think he might try to show up in our lives when we are starting something big in our faith walk? Fortunately, Jesus gives us all the answers we need in chapter 4 to thwart the devil's attacks.
Chapter 4 verse 4 I believe is one of the most important verses for us to commit to memory in all of the Bible: "But Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say, `People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.'" (NLT). Or, you might recognize this verse a bit better in NIV format: "Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” This is such a powerful spiritual truth that Jesus is conveying - we will not live full and true lives if we live simply on bread alone. We need spiritual nourishment - food - from every Word of God. Where do we get this Word of God? You got it - the Bible. And note that Jesus says "every" word of God. This means the whole Bible is spiritual food for us. All of it. Not just the parts we like the best. :) We can learn something and be nourished by even the long genealogies! Seriously. So - I want to applaud you for going through the One Year Bible here in 2008 - you will be getting nourishment from "every" Word of God this year! Below is an oil painting by Juan De Flandes from 1504 - (he actually painted this piece for Queen Isabella of Spain's private altar at that time):
One other important point to make in Matthew 4:4 and the 2 other temptations in this chapter. We see the devil tempting Jesus with things that may look enticing to Jesus or to us. But they are lies. And note - this is important - how Jesus fends off the devil's temptations and lies - by quoting Scripture! Jesus knew Scripture (well, yes, technically He is Scripture...:) The point is this. I do believe that we need to do more than just read the Bible. We need to memorize many portions of the Bible to protect us when the devil is attacking. If we have Scripture memorized, when we are tempted, we can quickly call to mind a verse or two that will bring us back into right state of mind - focusing back on God, Jesus, and their love and strength available through the Holy Spirit. If we don't have Scripture memorized, as Jesus clearly did in this chapter, we are at risk of falling prey to the deception and lies of the temptation. So - I am mostly preaching this to myself! :) But, I really want to do more memorization of Scripture in 2008. I have several verses down - but not enough. Proverbs 3:5-6 certainly comes to mind for me often when I am worried or stressed and it transforms my state of mind immediately! What can you apply in your life today based on how Jesus rebuked the devil's temptations?
Very important to note is what happened when Jesus rebuked the devil's temptations with Scripture, the Word of God, in verse 11: "Then the Devil went away." Amen to that! :)
Bible.org's commentary on our readings today in Matthew titled "The Baptism of Jesus" is at this link, "The Temptation of Jesus, Part 1" is at this link, "Satan's "Leap of Faith"" is at this link, and "The Third Temptation of Jesus" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 3 is a wonderful Psalm of David's, when he was fleeing his own son Absalom - details of which we will read about later this year. Verse 5 stood out to me today: "I lay down and slept. I woke up in safety, for the LORD was watching over me." God watches over us as we sleep! I like that a lot! I hope this verse comforts you as you sleep tonight!
Bible.org's commentary on Psalm 3 titled "Confidence from Answered Prayer" is at this link.
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 1 verses 17 and 18 teach us this today: "When a bird sees a trap being set, it stays away. But not these people! They set an ambush for themselves; they booby-trap their own lives!" I think these verses basically say that birds are smarter than those who conspire to do harm to others - Are you with me on this thought?? :) Speaking of smart birds and one who conspires to do harm to another...:
Worship God: Reading about The Flood today in Genesis 6 reminded me of the older song by Jars of Clay called "Flood." This was a powerful song for me before I became a Christian. I definitely appreciate Jars of Clay's ministry and they are great live! Here's a live version of "Flood."
Is your world a Flood? Click here for Rescue!
Please join me in memorizing a verse of Scripture today:
"Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:4 NIV
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: Back to my reflections above about how Jesus rebuked the devil's temptations today with Scripture. Are you memorizing Scripture on a regular basis? Are you bringing Scripture to mind when faced with temptation or sadness or whatever ails you? I would love to know which verses you have found useful in your life? Do you have advice on how to best go about memorizing Scripture? Will you join me in my plan to memorize more Scripture verses in 2008? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!