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2019 Bible Reading

January 2019

The Law | February 1-7, 2019

CJ Johnson

Adult Ministries Director

EXODUS 20

I was a history major in college and the one math class I took didn’t go so well.  The truth is, math is not something I’m gifted at so thank you to all of the people like Jim Marshall and Fred Jaramillo who helped me out during my high school career. Now if you share my pain I know that at one point in time during your education you probably said, “When am I ever going to use this?”  I definitely think that’s still a valid question because I can’t remember the last time I used algebra. However, I do remember Jim Marshall explaining to me during an SAT tutoring session that all math is useful and a tool we need to understand.

Sometimes we view the Old Testament the same way we view math.  We often think since we have the New Testament and no longer need the law, it’s pointless to go through the pains of understanding it.  This week, we come to Exodus 20 and begin our reading of the law.  This will continue over the next couple of months as we go through Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (aka the infamous reading plan killers).  My hope for you is that you’ll see the significance of the law and how it is still relevant to us today. 

Now, it’s relevance does not mean I’m going to call for us to sacrifice an animal this week in church, but my encouragement is to not leave the law to the experts.  It is possible for all of us to understand what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:17 when he said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”   

Let’s break it down.  The law was first established as a part of the covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 12 when he promised him land, nation, and blessing.  Half a century later, while the Israelites are wandering after the Exodus, God establishes how his covenant people would function as a society and how they would worship him.  These laws reflect God’s standard of holiness. It is these laws that show us how incapable we are of reaching God’s standard and our need for someone to fulfill them for us, namely Christ.

I would encourage us to not let these next books become a reading plan killer.  Instead, see these passages as part of God’s eternal plan to bring salvation and glorify his son. The laws in Exodus through Deuteronomy all point to one main thing.  That Christ would come and perfectly fulfill them on our behalf.  Consider Hebrews 9:11-12,

“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”

Jesus deserves all the glory and honor. When we read the law, let us remember the Father’s perfect plan in sending his Son, and the humble submission of the Son who came and lived a perfect life so he could, once for all, become the perfect sacrifice to secure an eternal redemption for you. All of this because he loves you.

 



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Why Have You Forsaken Me? | January 22-28, 2019

Pastor Christian Powers

College Ministry Pastor

PSALM 22 & MARK 15

Lord, do you see me, do you hear me, do you even care about what I’m going through?

These words, and many like them, have been verbally uttered from the lips, and silently prayed from the hearts, of many throughout the centuries. They are words of pain, sorrow and grief. They communicate the turmoil that each of us go through because of the sin-stricken world we live in. All of us, at one time or another, have prayed, or will pray, this prayer.

There are many joys in this world, but let’s face it, living in a world with sin is hard! Regardless if it is our sin, or the sins of others, each of us are intimately acquainted with its harsh reality. Each of us have felt the pain of broken friendships, the betrayal of family, the loss of life, and many other things. This is called suffering, and it’s real, and it stinks.

Though each of us face varying degrees of suffering, none are exempt from it. It’s a non-negotiable in this life. That’s the consequence of living in a sinful world. Yes, some may try to numb the hurts and heartaches of this life, but none can completely escape them. And as we go through suffering, many of us have wondered if God sees and cares.

So, what are we to do? We must look upward! We must fix our eyes on our Savior! In Him, and Him alone, is our hope found!

This week we will read Psalm 22 and finish reading the Gospel according to Mark. In Mark 15 we read that when Jesus, the perfectly sinless Son of God, was on the cross about to die, He uttered the words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (15:34) These words are quoted from Psalm 22 and are meant to point us back there for the answer.

Psalm 22 was written about a thousand years before, and perfectly pictures the suffering Jesus would go through on the cross. And the question that is begged from this is, “WHY?!” Why would the perfect Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, willingly suffer on this earth, and ultimately be forsaken by His Father? The answer: for us. William MacDonald has said this:

…when we read of Christ’s deep, deep suffering, it should always be with the keen awareness that He bore it all for us. We should punctuate each statement with the words for me. He was forsaken—for me. When I hear Him cry, “Why are you so far from helping me…, I know that it was for me.[1]

May you be reminded this week that though suffering is real, and really hurts, our Lord doesn’t shrug us off with an uncaring attitude. Instead, He stepped down into our sin-stricken world to save us from that very suffering. And so, as you face painful situations, be reminded that Jesus was forsaken so that you wouldn’t be, and one day you will be with Him, FREE FROM SUFFERING.

The answer to the question we started with is YES, He sees, YES, He hears, YES, He cares. If you ever doubt that, just meditate on the cross.

 


[1] William MacDonald, The Believer’s Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 1995), 577.



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A Simple And Easy Trick | January 15-21

Pastor Rob Dietzel

Outreach & Men's Ministry Pastor

GENESIS 38

As a father of three, I can recall the days of constant interruptions. Often times our oldest son would come running up to Cari or me just BURSTING to tell us something on his mind regardless of whether we were already talking to someone.

Well he used to.

That was before Cari came up with this truly genius little technique.

We explained to him that if he wanted to talk and someone is already speaking, he needed to place his hand on our wrist and wait. Instead of interrupting, he simply placed his hand on my wrist and waited. I would place my hand over his to acknowledge him and continue my conversation. Once the conversation was done I’d give him my complete attention.

So simple. So gentle. So respectful.

It took some practice and a few light taps on our own wrists as gentle reminders but I am happy to report that the interrupting stopped. Not only did it stop but he also trained his younger twin brothers to do the same!

Speaking of interruptions…

Genesis 38 is a significant interruption in our story of Joseph. In chapter 37 we learn how Joseph (and thus the entire nation of Israel) would end up in Egypt rather than Canaan. In the midst of Joseph’s narrative, chapter 38 tells us why this destination trip was necessary. This trip was necessary because the people of Israel needed to be separated from the evil people of the lands. This is clear from the actions described in Chapter 38.

The influence of these evil people on Judah and his family are exposed. Not only did his children commit wicked deeds, Judah himself participated in great immorality. The evil powers at work behind this sin are still at work today; yet the same God who providentially conquered evil and sin is alive and well and unchanging this very day.

While most parents would agree that their children don’t want to wait for anything, let’s be completely honest that most of us still hate waiting for what we want.

Yet some of the greatest figures in the Bible — Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David — all had to wait for many years for God’s promises. Everything that happened in the meantime was used to prepare them, inwardly as well as outwardly. Then, when they reached their promise, they were blessed beyond measure.

God invites us to trust in His goodness today and his faithfulness tomorrow. A simple and easy trick for us to experience His love and peace is to stop interrupting His timing and relinquish control to our heavenly Father. It unites our hearts with His. It creates a level of maturity and character that we will take with us into the future, and it enables us to enjoy his future blessings all the more.

Psalm 27:14 – “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

 

 



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What Is Man? | January 8-14

Pastor Chris Johnson

Senior Pastor

PSALM 8

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal, they lay down for the night and went to sleep.

Some hours later Holmes woke up, nudged his faithful friend and said, "Watson, I want you to look up at the sky and tell me what you see." Watson said, "I see millions and millions of stars." Sherlock said, "And what does that tell you?"

After a minute or so of pondering, Watson said, "Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three in the morning. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Metereologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day today. What does it tell you?"

Holmes was silent for about 30 seconds and said, "Watson, you idiot! Someone has stolen our tent!"

Theologically, Watson got it both right and wrong. God is powerful and we are small, but we are not insignificant. We see in Psalm 8 that David is marveling at the majesty of God in creation. In fact, the psalm begins and ends with this glorious declaration, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” After considering the amazing size of creation, David is amazed at the condescension of the Creator toward humanity. He asks rhetorically in verse 4, “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” God is indeed big, but He is also benevolent and kind toward lowly humanity.

God has given man dignity and dominion: “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5). God gave humanity dominion over the earth and put all other living creatures under him (Genesis 1:28). In fact, “heavenly beings,” translated from the word elohim, is probably better translated “God.” In other words, “Man was created as God’s own representative on earth, over Creation, but lower than God.”1 As a result of sin and the Fall, man has not rightly or fully ruled the earth, but when Jesus returns, man’s rule will be fully realized (I Corinthians 15:25-27).

What this means is that all people have worth, value, and honor because God has made all people in His image and for the purpose of His glory. We further understand our worth and value when we consider the cross of Christ. We are made by God and redeemed by Christ through faith in Him.

Later this month, we will be celebrating Sanctity of Life Sunday, immediately followed by Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 21 and 22). Psalm 8 ties the two days together perfectly. We believe the womb should be protected and that racial prejudice is wrong because God is mindful of man and we should be as well. Yes Watson, God is powerful and people are small, but not insignificant in God’s eyes.

“Oh Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all of the earth!” Psalm 8:1

 


1 John Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament (Victor Books, 1985), 797.



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In the Beginning | January 1-7

Brad Hayen

Pastor of Christian Education and Missions

GENESIS 1 + PSALM 1-2

I love to read. I love to start a new book, whether it’s a novel or a biography or even a textbook. It used to be that when I’d pick up a book, I wouldn’t be content until I’d finished it no matter what. Now, that’s not so much the case. I’ve found that there are some books that just aren’t worth my time to keep reading. I’ve found that I can usually tell within just a few pages now whether I’m going to keep reading or not.

The beginning of a work of literature is vitally important. I am certainly conscious of that as I write these words to you. In the space of the first few lines a gifted author will set the tone for the work while also introducing us to the major characters and themes which will follow.  This is one of the hallmarks of great literature. While both Genesis and Psalms are certainly more than just great literature, they also do what great literature does.

Genesis begins not only by introducing the major characters of Scripture (God, of course, and mankind), but also by answering the biggest questions of philosophy: Who are we? Where did we come from? What is our purpose? Not only is it tremendously informative, God, through Moses, also does it in a way which is beautiful, almost poetic, in itself. We might not get all of our questions thoroughly answered in the first paragraphs. But we are immediately beckoned into hearing more. Our interest is piqued.

Similarly, Psalm 1 and 2 introduce us to the characters (if a collection of poems can have characters) who will play a major role in the book of Psalms as a whole: the wise and the foolish, those who submit to God’s reign, and those who rebel. They also introduce us to the choices to be made in this life and the consequences of those choices. How does one become blessed? How does one prosper? What happens to one who is wicked? Does God take notice of what mankind does? How does He feel about it? What will He do about it?

Just as a good writer carefully structures his beginning, so an attentive reader allows himself to be engaged by the author. Maybe you are sitting down for the first time with the intention of reading the Bible through. Maybe you have done it numerous times. Whatever you are beginning this year, we invite you to do it together with us in community. This blog is intended to keep us on (or at least near) the same page for this journey this year. We hope that by reading together we will encourage one another to experience the Word of God consistently this year. Each week, one of the Grace Chapel staff will contribute a blog like this. If you would like this emailed to you each week, click HERE. It will be a reflection inspired by one of the readings from this week’s read-through-the-Bible program section. If you would like a copy of the reading schedule, click HERE.

We invite you to explore, or re-explore, what God has communicated to us from the beginning.



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