Daily Scripture Series – October 3rd

“God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3)

In 1876, inventor Alexander Graham Bell spoke the very first words on a telephone. He called his assistant, Thomas Watson, saying, “Watson, come here, I want to see you.” Crackly and indistinct, but intelligible, Watson heard what Bell had said. The first words spoken by Bell over a phone line proved that a new day for hum communication had dawned.

Establishing the dawn of the first day into the “formless and empty” earth (Genesis 1:2), God spoke His first words recorded in Scripture:”Let thee be light”. These words were filled with creative power. He spoke, and what He declared came into existence (Psalm 33:6,9). God said, “let there be light” and so it was. His words produced immediate victory as darkness and chaos gave way to the brilliance of light and order. light was God’s answer to the dominance of darkness. And when He had created the light, He saw that it “was good” (Genesis 1:4).

God’s first words continue to be powerful in the lives of believers in Jesus. With the dawning of each day. It’s as if God is restating His spoken words in our lives. When darkness-literally and metaphorically-gives way to the brilliance of His light, may we praise Him and acknowledge that He’s called out to us and truly see us.

Daily Questions

  1. When dawn breaks through the darkness, how will you celebrate God’s love and faithfulness?
  2. How has God’s light opened your eyes to see Him?

Daily Thoughts

Creator of Light, we praise You for dispelling the darkness of the world-opening our eyes to You and Your presence in our lives.

Genesis 1:1-4

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the ight was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

Bonus Information

Genesis means “origin.” Jewish scholars used this Greek title in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament (The Torah). The Hebrew title Bereshith is taken from the first word in the Hebrew text: “In the beginning (bereshith)” (Genesis, the book of many “firsts,” tells of the primeval history of the world in general and the patriarchal history of the people of Israel in particular. While not in any agreement concerning the specific dates for the primeval history, scholars suggest that Abraham moved to Canaan some two thousand years before Christ. Genesis is God’s account of the beginnings of the universe, the human race, and sin. It provides the background for His plan to save humanity through one family, the descendants of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-2)

 

We Must Hang Onto Our Faith

 

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you. Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God…..” “Followthe pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.” (2 Timothy 1:5-8, 13-14)

Faith, keep the faith, hang onto your faith, we hear it over and over again. In fact all scripture that was chosen for this Sunday in the back of my Bible, ALL revolved around faith. In the Old Testament it was a reading from the prophet  Habakkuk who was questioning his own faith and why was it that God seemed to be turning a deaf ear to all the suffering. Then there’s 2 Timothy, that I’ve chosen to take a closer look at, talks about faith, courage and not being ashamed, and then of course in Luke where Jesus talks about all you need is faith just the size of a mustard seed. All three of these are so relatable to what’s happening in today’s world. In fact, they couldn’t be chosen to be read at any better time when it seems there is so little faith to be found anywhere.

It can be so very difficult to talk about faith in times such as these. Just look at everything going on around us:

  • War in Ukraine
  • The devastation left behind from Hurricane Ian
  • The attack on our individual liberties
  • Our children under attack from all directions
  • Things we know to be true, because God claims them to be true, are under attack
  • Things that we know to be immoral are being advertised as “normal behavior” or “acceptable behavior”
  • The economy in total shambles, prices going beyond reasonable price hikes, food and energy shortages on the near horizon, in our very own country
  • Innocent people being persecuted simply for having dissenting voices while those who have committed real crimes are never held accountable

Just that alone makes it easy to understand why so many would be losing faith and struggling with the question, “Why God?” Just as the prophet Habakkuk asked why and felt he was losing his faith and asked God to help him make his faith stronger. It was OK with God that Habakkuk had faith that was faltering, because God can work with any amount of faith.

Jesus further emphasizes this same sentiment when His disciples are asking Jesus to help their strength to become stronger because, they too found it difficult to maintain their faith, with all that was happening around them, at their time. Jesus reassured them, and it should also reassure us, that even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed, God can work with even faith as small as that. It’s a reminder to us all, that we cannot allow ourselves to believe that if our faith is faltering that there’s no hope. That’s playing right into the hands of Satan if we allow ourselves to get to that point of hopelessness.

Paul reminds Timothy and all of us in 2 Timothy that we need to rekindle our faith always because faith is a gift that comes directly from God Himself. It’s also important to note that the gift of faith was never meant to be timid. After all, look at Paul, those letters he wrote Timothy and to many of the churches Paul had started, were all from prison. And why was he in prison? Was it because he was timid in his faith? No way, instead it was just the opposite, it was because he was given the courage and power of God to stand up for his beliefs and his faith, knowing very well that it could result in his death, which of course that’s exactly what the outcome was.

Yet, during all of Paul’s persecution he wrote letters of encouragement to people like Timothy to stress the importance of holding onto that faith, no matter how weak or strong it might be, because God did not give any of us the spirit of cowardice, instead He gives us the spirit of power and love so that we can rise above persecution and the evil that might surround us.

There are so many battles that are in need of fighting right now and yes, it can make us want to run the other direction and bury our heads in the sand, hoping that it will all go away. But, when we do that, it makes us look as if we are ashamed of our Lord and that we are afraid to stand up against the forces of evil that wants nothing more than for us to take a knee to that evil and not God.

No matter how weak that we might think our faith is, it’s never too weak for God to work with for His good. This is vital for all believers to understand and hold onto. It’s our faith and especially our collective faith that’s going to help us fight the battles that lie ahead of us.

As Christians we must never be afraid to follow in the footsteps and the pattern of behavior that Jesus has provided for us. What’s extremely important here is that in order to fight against all that’s wrong in our country we must understand that God is asking for us to be unashamed of the truth and it is our duty to Him to be His warriors in guarding this truth, because He has entrusted us with His truth through His Holy Spirit.

It’s not going to be easy, but we need to band together as one united front in our faith to stop the continuing evil that is encroaching upon our individual liberties and the threat that it has to not just our country but to the lives of our loved ones and especially the children of this country. If we can’t stand as warriors together to guard and protect His truth, what future are we giving our children?

Remember, God has more faith in us than we tend to have in Him, and He will give us the victory over evil, if and only if, we are willing to stand with Him in the battle!

Daily Scripture Series – October 2nd

“I will come to you and fulfill my good promise.” (Jeremiah 29:10)

It makes you wonder sometimes if Israel doubted that God’s prophecy for them would be fulfilled when they lived as exiles in Babylon. Did they feel despair? Did they worry they’d be there forever? Through Jeremiah, God had said, “I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 29:10). Sure enough, seventy years later, God caused the Persian king Cyrus to allow the Jews to return and rebuild their temple in Jerusalem.

In seasons of waiting when it seems like nothing is happening, God hasn’t forgotten us. As the Holy Spirit helps us to develop patience, we can know that He’s the Hope-Giver, the Promise-Keeper, and the One who controls the future.

Daily Questions

  1. How does understanding God’s character help you when you’re waiting?
  2. What’s the relationship between doubt and faith?

Daily Thoughts

Dear God, help us to have faith in You as we wait. Show us how to handle doubt and display faith instead.

Jeremiah 29:4-14

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle donw; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters…Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Bonus Information

sometimes the prophet Jeremiah is called the “weeping prophet” because of the way he grieved over the people being taken captive by Babylon. In Jeremiah 13:17, we read: “If you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the lord’s flock will be taken captive.” It’s just one expression of the prophet’s many tears shed for his people. Lamentations 2;11 also describes Jeremiah’s tears as he observed the fall of Jerusalem.

 

Understanding the Bible

Often I like to do more than the Sunday Reflection or the Daily Scripture Series and this time I’d like to go with a weekly series I’m calling “Understanding the Bible”. I hope you will enjoy it.

Understanding the Bible

The History Books

Our own lives are stories that bein at our birth and then ends with our deaths-at least in earthbound terms. When someone asks us to tell that story, we don’t share every detail. Instead, we select and emphasize episodes that have some significance to us and to the people to whom we are speaking to.

I will tell my story differently to grandchildren, same as you. I will tell a potential employer a different story, the same as you will do. However, both stories will be accurate in either case.

Knowing our life story helps us understand who we are in the present. For instance, the man whom I fell in love with and married encouraged and supported me when I wanted to learn more about my faith so that I might grow in it and then be able to share it with others. I spent hours a day researching, going to church, attending focus groups, prayer groups, you name it. But he was OK with that, because he understood it was becoming an important part of the story of my life.

The first part of Understanding the Bible will focus on those books that continue the story of Israel as they cross into the Promised Land (a period also known as the Conquest). We will follow the story through the time of the Judges, the United Monarchy (when Israel was a unified nation), the Divided Monarchy (when Israel was divided into Israel in the north and Judah in the south-two kingdoms), the exile, and the restoration of God’s people from exile, and the restoration of God’s people from exile. In other words, we will explore the books of Joshua through Esther.

Old Testament History

The Bible contains the grand redemptive story of God. It is vitally interested in history-events that actually happened in space and time. The first five books of the Old Testament, the Torah, begin the story with creation and carry it forward through the account of the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. It then continues on with the Wilderness Wanderings and ends with the Israelites on the eastern shore of the Jordan River as they listen to a sermon by Moses preparing them for their entry into the Promised Land.

Theological History

History writers must be selective and interpretive in their account of the past. John 21:24-25 shows a clear awareness of this for the Gospel story. Some histories are interested primarily in politics and military or economic issues. While there are numerous kings and many battles in Joshua through Esther, the primary focus of these histories is on God’s mighty deeds and his relationship with his people. For this reason, we can call the history of the Old Testament theological history. And because the focus of the story is on God’s passionate desire to bring his sinful human creatures back into relationship with him, we can also call Joshua through Esther redemptive history. It is also possible to think of these books as covenantal history since God in His wisdom describes His relationship with His people by means of a succession of covenants.

When we call biblical history “theological” (or “redemptive” or “covenantal”), we ae simply naming what is most important for the biblical author. The label “theological history” reminds us that what is most significant is God and His relationship with His people, not military, political, or economic issues.

Redemptive history emphasizes those divine actions in which God saves His people.

Though the focus is on God and his relationship with His people, it is deeply rooted in a reliable presentation of actual events. Our faith is a historical faith. God enters history to redeem His people. If we deny the historical nature of our faith, then, our faith is in vain.

Rooted in the Torah

The story does not begin in Joshua but in the very first chapters of Genesis. We cannot understand Joshua through Esther without recalling the background of the story.

The Torah opens, as the name of the book of Genesis implies, at the very beginning with creation itself (Genesis 1-2). Genesis, after all, is the Greek term for “origin.” God created the cosmos and all its creatures, including humanity. At the beginning, humans were morally innocent, but then they rebelled against God (Genesis 3), fracturing their relationship with their Creator and with each other. The stories that follow in Genesis 4-11 (Cain and Abel, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel) show that humans keep sinning against God. God punishes them, but he also stays involved and seeks reconciliation leads eventually to the call of Abraham through whom he seeks to bring a blessing to “all peoples on earth” (Genesis 12:3). This promise-often called God’s covenant with Abraham-continues through the generations from Isaac to Jacob and then on to Jacob’s twelve sons. At the end of the book of Genesis, the descendants of Jacob are in the land of Egypt escaping the ravages of a famine.

When the book of Exodus opens, the descendants of Abraham have “multiplied greatly” (Exodus 1:7) but are now enslaved by an unnamed pharaoh. God hears the cries of His people, and the reluctant pharaoh finally allows the Israelites to leave, but not until Egypt experienced a series of devastating plagues. However, once Israel had departed under the leadership of Moses, Pharaoh changed his mind and overtook them as they camped on the shore of the Red Sea (also known as the Reed Sea). This was all part of God’s plan to demonstrate His glory against this prideful human ruler. God opened the sea and the Israelites escape, but He closed it on the pursuing Egyptians.

The rest of the Torah describes the wanderings in the wilderness. At the start, God gave the law to Israel on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-24) and instructed themto build the tabernacle (Exodus 25-31 and 35-40). Far from being grateful, the Israelites continually complained and rebelled against God, as well as against Moses their divinely appointed leader. Eventually God condemned the Israelites whom He had sved from egypt to spend forty years in the wilderness (Numbers 13-14). Thus, as the second generation gathered on the Plains of Moab across the Jordan from Jericho, Moses preached to them and demanded that they not repeat the sins of their ancestors as they entered the land. We know this sermon as the book of Deuteronomy. The last chapter of the Torah narrates the death of Moses. A new era is about to start.