God’s Hand in Human History

Today’s reading: Genesis 49:1-Exodus 1:22

We finish Genesis and begin Exodus today. Genesis has taken us from Creation and the Fall of Man through the life of Joseph. Along the way, we met Noah who obeyed God and saved life in the flood. Then came the incident of the Tower of Babel and the divisions of humanity by languages. God later called a man named Abram and made a covenant with him that would result in blessing for all the families of the earth. Abram, renamed Abraham, was tested and proved faithful as he waited on God to fulfill His promises. We traced the life of Abraham’s son, Isaac, his son, Jacob (or Israel), and his twelve sons, particularly Joseph.

Now in Exodus, the story jumps ahead about 400 years. Israel’s descendants, sometimes called Hebrews, were still in Egypt, but now they are not prosperous and comfortable. They are enslaved. We will pick up the story of a baby named Moses as we see God’s hand in human history.

I was challenged in today’s reading to walk by faith because God rules over all things in the small and great details of life. Faith is an essential element of the believer’s life. Scripture reinforces and enlightens our faith, but it doesn’t eliminate it. We never know so much that we can dispense with faith. But faith is in God who revealed Himself in His Word and constantly reassures us of His power and presence in every situation.

As you read this book of Exodus, you can expect the first 20 chapters to be narrative in a readable and fast moving style similar to Genesis. After chapter 20, the rest of the book reports on the details of God’s law for the ancient Israelites as they live and worship Him. Beware that you may find this a bit slower going, but it is worth it and in Cover to Cover I will show you how every daily reading has gems of truth and wisdom that immediately apply to our lives.

 

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on line.

[For more reflections on these passages see the January 19 readings in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Weekend Bible Readings

Saturday’s reading: Genesis 41:37-43:34

Sunday’s reading: Genesis 44:1-45:28

Monday’s reading: Genesis 46:1-48:22

Here are our assignments through Monday. I hope you will enjoy each reading. See you again on Tuesday.

 

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on line.

[For more reflections on these passages see the January 16, 17, and 18 readings in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

God’s Presence, Consistent Character, and Success

Today’s reading: Genesis 39:1-41:36

Joseph is an exemplary figure when it comes to steadiness in the midst of trials and prosperity. His circumstances fluctuated wildly from extreme prosperity to desperate straits. He went from being his father’s favorite to being in danger of death at the hands of his brothers. He was a slave, a trusted servant of Potiphar, a prisoner, and the second to Pharaoh of Egypt.

Through all of that he did not waiver in his faithfulness to the Lord. He is to be admired, but, certainly, it was God who gave him grace and strength to endure and, in the end, to serve as the deliverer of his family from famine and possible death.

I often ask myself, “which is harder to endure, want or plenty, failures or victories? In which circumstance am I most severely tested and tempted to be unfaithful to the Lord?” It always seems to me that having plenty is more dangerous than having little.

How about you? Are you more susceptible to temptation in times of prosperity or in times of need?

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on line.

[For more reflections on today’s passage see the January 15 reading in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

War: Just or Unjust?

Today’s reading: Genesis 34:1-36:30

It is no simple matter to evaluate the wisdom or necessity of waging war. As I said, “it is hard to find a wise person or a godly action anywhere” in the story of the rape of Dinah and the subsequent murder of the Hivites.

If you had been Dinah, Jacob, or Simeon and Levi what course of action would you have taken?

I am glad that God promises to guide us when we are faced with difficult decisions and confusing options. Pleasing God is the first priority but putting Him first will make the options and decisions more clear. Here are some of the promises of God’s guidance and leadership in the Psalms:

Psalm 23:1-3

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3     He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

Psalm 48:14 that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.

Psalm 73:24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on line.

[For more reflections on today’s passage see the January 13 reading in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

 

Change of Heart

Today’s reading: Genesis 31:22-33:20

Are you impressed with the way God used the trials in Jacob’s life to humble him? As a young man, I was struck by a humorous statement attributed Confucius: “He who go out to set world on fire, usually come home for more matches.”  I learned a lot of things the hard way during the decades of my 20’s to 40’s and returned home from four terms on the mission field, not for more matches, but for more understanding of God’s Word and to recover my faith in the truth of the gospel.

Jacob certainly went out proud and sure of himself. He came home wealthy but also wary of his brother, Esau.

How has God used trials and experience in your life to build godly character?

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on line.

[For more reflections on today’s passage see the January 12 reading in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

 

 

Weekend “Cover to Cover” Bible Readings

Saturday’s reading: Genesis 25:1-26:35

Sunday’s reading: Genesis 27:1-29:14

Monday’s reading: Genesis 29:15-31:21

Here are the readings through Monday. I hope you will enjoy these readings. I am taking a break from writing. See you again on Tuesday.

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on line.

[For more reflections on today’s passage see the January 9, 10, and 11 reading in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Guidance through Signs

Today’s reading: Genesis 23:1-24:67

In my challenge on this passage, I wrote: “Rarely, if ever, rely on signs [for guidance in making decisions].”   Do you agree? Have you relied on signs for guidance in making important decisions? If so, how has that turned out?

The point is that the Bible gives many specific guidelines for believers which should be applied to the decision making process. There are some examples of biblical characters using signs to find guidance. Abraham’s servant, in today’s passage, is one. Gideon is another (Judges 6:36-40). But remember our principle of biblical interpretation: do not use narrative passages as normative for every situation. I should probably amplify that principle to say: do not use narrative passages as normative for every situation unless didactic passages support it. Here I am using didactic in the sense of something which is “designed or intended to teach.” [1]

So having re-thought this, I still think you should be cautious of relying on signs for guidance.

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on line.

[For more reflections on today’s passage see the January 8 reading in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

[1] See: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/didactic

Selfish or Selfless?

Today’s reading: Genesis 19:30-22:24

Anyone who thinks that people are basically good will find the Bible to show otherwise. The lives portrayed in Scripture are full of conflict. Abraham has tensions with Abimelech. Lot fathers two sons by his conniving daughters. Those sons are the patriarchs of tribes that would be hostile to Israel. There is conflict between Ishmael and Isaac.

What’s the problem?

The heart is the problem. Just as we can see in the lives of Lot’s daughters, merely changing our surroundings does not solve our heart problems, our pride, lust, impatience, and all the rest. We need much more than a fresh start in Zoar, we need new hearts.

What is the solution?

As Abraham said to Isaac, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering…” And He has. God tested Abraham to the limit, but, at the last moment, provided a ram for the offering. God spared Isaac but He did not spare His own Son as an offering, so great was His love for His people and for His own holiness (Romans 8:32). Through the offering of His Son all who believe in Him are given new hearts and reconciled to God.

This is the path to salvation and the solution to the perpetual conflict in human existence.

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on line.

[For more reflections on today’s passage see the January 7 reading in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

 

God’s Covenant People: who are they and what do they have?

Today’s reading: Genesis 17:1-19:29

Today we read of God’s covenant with Abraham which even included a change of his name. We will see this covenant unfolding throughout the Bible as I have already commented in Cover to Cover.

There is nothing more precious to God’s people than the assurance of belonging to Him. God through His covenant which was fulfilled by Jesus Christ has done many things for us. These include what theologians call the ordo salutis or order of salvation:

Election- He chose us (Ephesians 1).

Calling- He called us to Himself (Romans 8:28-30)

Regeneration- He gave us a new spiritual birth resulting in our conversion by faith and repentance (John 3:1-21)

Justification – He declared us righteous through faith in Jesus Christ who is the propitiation, the offering to satisfy the just wrath of God, for us (Romans 3:21-26)

Adoption – He gave us power to become the sons of God (John 1:12)

Sanctification – He works in us to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12,13)

Perseverance – He promises to complete the work He began in us when we see Christ (Philippians 1:6; 1 John 3:2-3).

Glorification- He gave us His glory and promises to come for us and to show us more of His glory (John 17:20-24; 14:1-3).

Salvation is multi-faceted but it is all based on God the Father’s grace, Jesus Christ’s work on the cross, and the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives. We are assured of belonging to God because He has done everything necessary to make us fit to be His own people, His children.

Is this assurance of belonging to God not the most precious thing to your faith? If you are trusting in Christ for your acceptance before God and your salvation, you are assured of all the above and glory awaits you. Praise the Lord!

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on line.

[For more reflections on today’s passage see the January 6 reading in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Covering for Sin

Today’s reading: Genesis 9:18-12:9

Now we come to the incident of Noah’s drunkenness and his sons’ reactions to it.  Here is a poignant lesson in our need and our responsibility. We need mercy and covering for our sin.  We are responsible  to show mercy to others and minimize their sin and failures. I find this challenging, but, by God’s grace, I want to be faithful as I have opportunity to apply this truth.

From Noah the lineage is carefully traced from his three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  Following Shem’s descendants we come to one Terah and his son Abram, (later to be called Abraham.).  We learn that God called  Abram with these words:

1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3

This is one of the pivotal passages in all the Bible and we will refer to it again in the course of our reading. God called a pagan man and made a covenant with him. The rest of the Old Testament records the unfolding of that covenant.

Meanwhile, look out for the sinner who has fallen drunk and naked in the way. He (or she) needs covering.

NOTE: Your thoughtful comments and respectful criticisms are welcome below. Please allow a day or two for approval to see your reply on line.

[For more reflections on today’s passage see the January 4 reading in Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days]