Day 4: Family Ties

Genesis 9-11; Matthew 4

Key Verses:

Genesis 9:8-11
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him,
“Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you […] I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

Matthew 4:23
And [Jesus] went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

Genesis 9 echoes the creation story of Genesis 1-3. As the earth emerges from the flood waters, it’s as if God has performed a re-creation. He gives the same mandate to Noah and his sons as he gave to Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” God establishes a covenant with Noah and all creatures of the earth – that He will never destroy the earth by flood. God’s promises are good. His promises are true!

Despite God’s goodness to Noah, Noah follows in the way of Adam and Eve as he makes a sinful choice in Genesis 9:21. Just as God cursed Adam and Eve after their sinful choice, curses flow after Noah’s sinful choice …but so do blessings.

Noah curses his son, Ham, but blesses Shem. As we read forward to Genesis 10, we see even more genealogy, and that Abram (whose name was later changed to Abraham) is a descendant of Shem (11:26). Noah is in the family line of Jesus! The royal seed goes through Noah to Shem to Abraham. God is preserving the family line of the promised one! He is fulfilling his covenant promises to his people!

Matthew 1 also traces Jesus’s family line all the way back to Abraham. In today’s reading, Matthew 4, we see the promised offspring of the woman, the one who will crush the serpent, face the same tempter. Jesus is the new Adam, but unlike the original Adam, He overcomes and does not sin. Instead of curses… there are blessings, and we, His people, are the benefactors!! This is good news. This is the gospel.

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Day 3: What Good is the Flood?

Genesis 6-8; Matthew 3

Key Verses:

Genesis 3:5-6
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

Matthew 3:16
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Genesis 6-8 is the story of the flood. The idea of God destroying the earth causes me to wrestle… really wrestle with God’s goodness. I’ve struggled to see how God’s goodness is revealed in destroying every living thing on the earth (except those few on the ark). Seriously, what good is the flood?

I believe God has patiently endured my questioning and given me not just one, but several glimpses of his goodness in this passage of Scripture.

  • Firstly, I believe God gave the world the opportunity to repent and be saved. Think about it… It took Noah and his sons a VERY long time to build that ark. Scholars debate on the specifics, but it was somewhere between 75-100 years of building. Don’t you think news would have spread about this crazy guy building this humongous boat? Don’t you think Noah tried to warn people of the coming flood? They had a chance to repent, believe and be saved… But they didn’t. And they perished.
  • Secondly, (and this is a hard one for me) every living thing deserved to be destroyed. The bible says “every intention of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God showed his grace by preserving a remnant.
  •  Thirdly, (and I love this) I see God’s tender, personal care for Noah and his family in verse 7:16, “And the Lord shut him in.” God, himself, shut the door to the arc and protected them from the deadly flood. He, personally, saved them.
  • And finally, Noah’s story is both a warning and a joyful proclamation to us. Just as those who were in the ark were saved from the flood… If we are found “in Christ” we will be saved from the judgment that is to come. God, in his mercy, warns repetitively throughout Scripture that there will be judgment for those who do not turn to Jesus for help. None of us are good enough to earn entrance into heaven. Jesus offers us a trade: we get his perfect record, and he gets our tarnished one. As a result, he received the punishment we deserve, and we get the reward that only he deserves. This is good news. This is the gospel.

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Day 331: The Goodness of God’s Word

Psalm 119:1-48; 1 Peter 3

Psalm 119…the longest chapter in the Bible, longer than some books! It is a highly structured acrostic poem containing 22 eight-lined stanzas (one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet). All eight lines within a stanza begin with the same Hebrew letter. The theme of this Psalm is the love of God’s word. In fact, only 7 verses out of 176 do not mention God’s word directly!

It is a bit ironic that we begin Psalm 119 on the same day as 1 Peter 3 – which contains both controversial and difficult to understand “words” of God!

First Peter 3 begins as an extension of Chapter 2. Peter applies the principle of submission to authority to several contexts…citizens submit to governments, slaves submit to masters and at the beginning of Chapter 3, he teaches that wives should submit to their husbands. This isn’t a gender issue – this is a marriage issue. Women are not commanded to submit to men. Wives are commanded to submit to husbands. There is a big difference!

God has patterned marriage to mirror the trinity… The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equal in divine essence, but each has a separate role. Peter acknowledges that women and men are “[both] heirs [in] the grace of life” (3:7) – but similar to the trinity, husbands and wives have different roles in the relationship.

Submission (in any context) is offensive to our modern culture. But Christ’s submission to the Father resulted in him laying down his life! Are we above Christ that we are exempt from submission in our relationships? I don’t think so.

Peter then switches gears slightly to address suffering – which the church was already undergoing. It is in this context that we find the very confusing passage describing Jesus preaching the gospel to imprisoned spirits from Noah’s day (1 Peter 3:18-21). What in the world is Peter talking about?? Well, I don’t think Peter meant for these verses to cause such a conundrum. His point was that if Jesus was righteous and still suffered at the hands of the unrighteous, then the church shouldn’t be surprised if they suffer in the same way (1 Peter 3:13-18).

There are varying interpretations of these verses. Some believe that Jesus spoke through Noah to the evil generation in Noah’s day. Others believe that Jesus went to hell after he died and spoke to all the evil spirits – including the unrighteous of Noah’s day. However you understand these verses, Peter is illustrating that Jesus suffered for doing right – just as the church is called to suffer for doing right.

Then Peter links the flood waters to baptism (vs. 21) and concludes by describing the result of Jesus’ suffering… “[He] has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him” (1 Peter 3:22).

So to summarize, Peter begins this section by commanding us to submit to different authorities. He then holds up the suffering Christ as the ultimate example of submission, and he ends with the truth that now all angels, authorities and power are subjected to Him.

Wow! What an amazing teaching!! God’s Word is deep and wide and living and active. His precepts are tantalizingly good!

In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word (Psalm 119:14-16).

Day 321: Hall of Faith

Psalms 84, 86-87; Hebrews 11
(Psalm 85 was read on Day 227)

Faith. Without it, it is impossible to please God.

The author of Hebrews has laid out his case for the Supremacy of Christ. He has exhorted them to not drift away from Christianity back to the familiar ways of Judaism – but rather to strive to keep the faith.

Now he gives an entire chapter full of examples of faith from the Old Testament. These are people who persevered to claim their reward. Think of the encouragement this would bring to these young Jewish converts…

First, they would see that God’s grace pre-dated Abraham, and reached all the way back to Abel! This would remind them that their new faith in Christ was the exact same faith which was credited to Noah and Abraham as righteousness!

They would also be encouraged that imperfect men such as Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Japheth were included as men of faith. Perfection is not a requirement. It is faith in God which justifies the sinner.

Ultimately, they would be challenged to pattern their lives after these Old Testament heroes – men and women who suffered greatly because they believed a God they could not see and died before God’s promises were fulfilled. Yet they continued to trust in the goodness of God…

Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me (Psalm 86:3-7).

Faith is not just some shot in the dark, wishful thinking. A true, saving faith is a sure anchor for the soul based on the truth of God’s word. It is the belief that the unseen is more real than the seen.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).

What do we hope for? A city on a hill, the New Jerusalem, filled with the glory of the Lord. We look forward to the day when every tear will be wiped away and the dim reflection of His presence in this world will be seen clearly in all His glory. We hope for Jesus and the wedding feast of the lamb and an eternity in perfect relationship with the Savior and with fellow man. These aren’t just wistful dreams – these are truths that we should be willing to die for!!!

Where is your faith? Do you place your hope in your own fleeting material wealth or aspirations of success? Is your hope in your spouse or in your children? Or is your hope in the unseen, yet eternal God who is trustworthy and true? Don’t sacrifice eternity for a lesser, instant pleasure.

Strive to enter His rest; persevere in your faith, and be one who overcomes to the end!

Day 4: Family Ties

Genesis 9-11; Matthew 4

Genesis 9 echoes Genesis 1. As the earth emerges from the flood waters, it’s as if God has performed a re-creation. He gives the same mandate to Noah and his sons as he gave to Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”

Then we see Noah following in the way of Adam and Eve as he makes a sinful choice in Genesis 9:21. Once again, curses flow (Noah curses his son, Ham) …but so do blessings.

Back in the garden, after God finished cursing Adam, Eve and the serpent, He made a promise – a promise that one day, a descendant of the woman would destroy the serpent. In some ways, the rest of the Old Testament is the story of God preserving a family line for Jesus. Cain killed Abel, so God gave Adam and Eve another son, Seth. The promised descendant would come from Seth. Years later, Noah emerges as a descendant of Seth, and God preserves Noah’s family.

Noah curses Ham, but blesses Shem. As we read forward to Genesis 10, we see even more genealogy, and we see that Abram (whose name was later changed to Abraham) is a descendant of Shem (11:26).

Matthew 1 traces Jesus’s family line all the way back to Abraham. In today’s reading, Matthew 4, we see the promised descendant of the woman, the one who will crush the serpent, face the same temptor. Jesus is the new Adam, but unlike the original Adam, He overcomes and does not sin. Instead of curses… blessings flow – and we are the benefactors!! This is good news. This is the gospel.

Day 3: What good is the flood?

Genesis 6-8; Matthew 3

Genesis 6-8 is the story of the flood. The idea of God destroying the earth causes me to wrestle… really wrestle with God’s goodness. I’ve struggled to see how God’s goodness is revealed in destroying every living thing on the earth (except those few on the ark). Seriously, what good is the flood?

I believe God has patiently endured my questioning and given me not just one, but several glimpses of his goodness in this passage of Scripture.

  • Firstly, I believe God gave the world the opportunity to repent and be saved. Think about it… It took Noah and his sons a VERY long time to build that ark. Scholars debate on the specifics, but it was somewhere between 75-100 years of building. Don’t you think news would have spread about this crazy guy building this humongous boat? Don’t you think Noah tried to warn people of the coming flood? They had a chance to repent, believe and be saved… But they didn’t. And they perished.
  • Secondly, (and this is a hard one for me) every living thing deserved to be destroyed. The bible says “every intention of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God showed his grace by preserving a remnant.
  •  Thirdly, (and I love this) I see God’s tender, personal care for Noah and his family in verse 7:16, “And the Lord shut him in.” God, himself, shut the door to the arc and protected them from the deadly flood. He, personally, saved them.
  • And finally, Noah’s story is both a warning and a joyful proclamation to us. Just as those who were in the ark were saved from the flood… If we are found “in Christ” we will be saved from the judgment that is to come. God, in his mercy, warns repetitively throughout Scripture that there will be judgment for those who do not turn to Jesus for help. None of us are good enough to earn entrance into heaven. Jesus offers us a trade: we get his perfect record, and he gets our tarnished one. As a result, he received the punishment we deserve, and we get the reward that only he deserves. This is good news. This is the gospel.

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