Friday, January 13, 2012

Reading the Bible in a Year: Day 1 (Part 2)

I guess it's time that I at finish sharing day one (even though I'm on day 14 right now...). I think I left off towards the end of Genesis 2, where God showed me something pretty cool about marriage that I never really thought of before.

In verse 24, the Word declares that "therefor a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Whenever the Bible (or any book) says "therefor," you gotta step back and ask yourself why. Some versions will say "for this reason..." For what reason? I had read this a while back and came to the conclusion that, like the Bible says, marriage was created because it is not good for man (or woman) to be alone. We all need a suitable helper. When God saw that it was not good for man to be alone, he designed and purposed a helper for him.

But now I see that it, perhaps, is a little more than that. God created Adam from the dust of the ground and very well could have done the same for Eve. He did not, though, and I believe that is important. In verse 23, the man says:
"This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman,'
for she was taken out of man."
Then, we see the "therefor." To me, that painted a more powerful picture of the bond God intends a man and his wife to share, and of the duty the man has for his wife. As men, we should hold fast to our wives, and treat them and provide for them just as well as we would our own bodies because they ARE of our own bodies. We should honor, respect, nourish, love, cherish, and protect them as we do ourselves, because together, a man and his wife are one. God says that not only in a sexually physical way, but in a literally physical way, as well as spiritually and emotionally. God gave women each so many unique gifts and strengths that men are missing, and vice versa. God created the two out of each other so as to eternally bond them together. Marriage was the first covenant God created. He values it infinitely, and desires us to do the same.

Reading through the Bible chronologically, I have come across so much OT scripture that represents Christ. I believe this is one of them. Christ left His father to be here with us on Earth, and to cling to US, the Church, and the two of us have become as one! If you let Christ live out in you and strive to die to yourself everyday, you are a part of this illustration of God's perfect view of marriage.

[Genesis 3] This is the fall. The consequences of the events in this book are told throughout the Bible and end with the mess of a world we live in today. As I was reading through the fall, though, I can't help but think that we're all like Adam and Eve. Sin takes almost the exact same route as it did in that book. Basically the serpent tempts Eve, who sins, and then tempts her husband, who sins. When asked by God about it, the sin takes the opposite path. Adam blames his wife, who blames the serpent. Who is at fault?


That sequence is so real, that I bet everyone can relate to it. Satan tempts you or your friend or your significant other. He clouds your thinking and tricks you into compromising. Once one person sins, it can quickly tempt others or you (i.e. gossiping, impurity, lying/cheating). Afterwards you may think "I can't believe whats-her-face talked me into that" or "I can't believe he/she let us fall like that".

People naturally like to blame others when they see sin manifest itself in the world or in their own life, but the truth is we all need to rise up and be accountable and humble. Silence Satan's lies with the name of Jesus, and stop sin from spreading before it already does. Ditch the idea that perfection is obtainable, and embrace God's grace.

The fall is referred to as an event, but in reality it is a condition. Without the cross, we would all be continuing to fall away from God. The sooner we can admit to ourselves (and to others and to God) that we are weak and are incapable of leading a sinless life, the sooner God can help us combat Satan through Christ and the guidance of His Spirit in us. We can do nothing alone but fall.

God's love and mercy, through Christ's sacrifice of atonement, allows us to stop falling and start rising. Check out this pretty sweet verse from St. Paul:
"For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"
-Romans 5:10

PS - There is no way with school and work and letting this Bible plan sink in that I'll be able to give an update of every day. Maybe next year when I am done, but it is just so overwhelming right now (in a good way!). All I can say is that if you have never committed to a plan to read the whole Bible, try it out! It's such an amazing experience.

PPS - I pray that what I post on here is representing the true Gospel. Please, as my brothers and sisters in Christ, let me know if the Spirit is telling you otherwise.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reading the Bible in a Year: Day 1 (Part 1)

I'm only on Day 5 of my chronological reading plan of the Bible, and I can already tell this is one of the best commitments I have ever made. Most of what I have read so far are passages that I have already read before - Genesis 1-11, Job 1-9. It's amazing though how God can teach or point out something totally new to you nearly every time you read something. Honestly I came into this dreading the first week or so when I would be reading chapters I'm already familiar with, but God totally rocked my quiet times and put me back in my place.

Who am I to even think that I don't need to read the book of "X" chapter "X" verse "X" because I have already read it a thousand times? Isn't it referred to as a living book? The very words of God? It reminds me of a passage from Isaiah:
"As the rain and snow
come down from Heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the Earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
-Isaiah 55:10,11
When I first read that passage a while back, it made me think of missions witnessing. It was a comforting verse I thought of when I needed to know that despite how things looked, God was using His word through me whenever I shared it. Now, though, I can apply that to any reading. God has a purpose and desire for every quiet time you spend with Him. He can and wants to teach you something about Himself. He wants to grow with us intimately everyday!

My first day of reading included Genesis 1-3. I don't really want to summarize anything, but rather my thoughts and what stood out to me.

[Genesis 1] First off, the creation sequence bears a striking resemblance to what scientists believe the "evolution" of life on earth was. Photosynthesizing creatures, then sea creatures, then land. I don't really give any thought or credit to scientific origin theories, but the fact that their arriving at the same conclusions despite efforts to alienate themselves from creation-thinking is just really cool and satisfying to me.

In verse 2, the Spirit of God is described as "hovering over the waters." What a loving and beautiful picture of God! I read probably a million times before, but this time it just stuck out to me and really comforted me. It made me think of a similar verse from 2 Chronicles that we read during my mission trip to Los Mochis:
"The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole Earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him."
-2 Chronicles 19:9
In the first few verses of scripture, we see the essence of our marvelous God and Creator. He is loving and caring towards His creation. He hovers across the waters (even when the Earth was new and formless) to make sure everything is just so, and probably also to enjoy what He has done. Try to just picture that scene: God's spirit hovering over the waters. Awesome, isn't it? Truly awesome.

Skipping down to verses 7 and 8, I noticed something else really awesome. Please forgive me if this is dumb or obvious, but when I read that God separated the waters "above the expanse from the waters below the expanse" and that he "called the expanse Heaven," I immediately thought... "Woah, this is talking about waters in Heaven!" I know this sounds like a basic thing and you're probably thinking "Oh yeah, waters in Heaven, Zack, whoop-de-stinkin-do." To me, though, that was just really cool. God referenced Heavenly waters in Genesis, and I had missed it until now. These waters that God gathered in Heaven way back in Genesis are the same waters that God promises to His people through both Isaiah and Jesus Himself:
"Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters.
You who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me
listen, that you may live."
- Isaiah 55:1-3
Through Isaiah, God uses the waters of Heaven as an invitation to those who are lost and need the LORD, and advise them to stop investing themselves in worldly desires that do not satisfy the soul like only the waters of His love can.
"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
-Jesus Christ (John 4:14)
Here we see God again inviting His people to drink of His waters. Not only that, but we see Him consistently making a separation between what Earthly and Heavenly satisfaction. In the beginning God set His waters aside with a purpose and plan in mind. He new that only they can truly give eternal joy, satisfaction, and life. He separated them from our own with the infinite expanse of the Heavens, and advises us to do the same with our own desires. We must greatly distance ourselves from the unfulfilling desires of this world that and cling to His waters and His Kingdom. Any other desire will disappoint us and trap us and corrupt us. This isn't an easy task, and we cannot do it without Christ! But what joy is there in thinking of the great expanse of God's living, Heavenly waters, and how He invites us to drink of it and live! He hovers over us to give us love and support when we call on Him. He intricately and carefully designed us. He offers us and promises us His waters, with which we will thirst no more, hurt no more, and suffer no more.

I thought when I started reading Genesis 1 I would be going back to the basics. Wrong! Right from the start, God is working miracles and preparing a place for me, for us. Working hard to make sure He is there when we need Him. How great is our God?

[Genesis 2] I could spend so much time sharing how fascinating this chapter is to me. It's basically a more detailed account of the creation of man and woman. The scene that is described is so incredible:
"the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of them man, and he brought her to the man."
-Genesis 2:21,22
It reminds me almost immediately of a surgery scene, where a physician will use anesthesia and operate on a patient while they are sleeping. This is written way before the idea of putting someone to sleep for surgery (or even the idea of surgery itself) were even thought of, so we can be absolutely sure the person who is narrating this book (presumably Moses) is not making this up (I would never suggest that any part of the Bible is made up, but Genesis and the creation story get attacked so frequently by atheists that it is so sweet and legit and satisfying to note scriptures that can be used to combat those claims). There is something incredibly awesome about this scene though...

Many people have said that men have one less rib because of the creation of women. It's a myth that is certainly not true, though something even more amazing IS true: the rib is the only bone in the body that can be used to reconstruct damaged bone and...... (drum roll please...).... regenerates itself. That's right! In fact, physicians today use the bone in reconstructive surgeries. The rib has to be removed perfectly in order for it to grow back, but hey, we're talking about the Great Physician here, aren't we? He does all things perfectly (He even says so after each step in creation, calling His work "good.") and takes great pride in His work.

After reading that verse and reflecting on research I had come across, I couldn't help but just sit there in awe of His glory and wisdom and perfect design.

I think I'll stop there and pick back up in a little while. On the seventh day God rested and probably just admired it all and let it sink in. Let us do the same! Rest, and let God's perfection and glory sink in. Seek His waters and drink of them. Rest peacefully, knowing his eyes are watching over you. Rest in Him, loved and cared for.

Isn't our God amazing?

Monday, January 2, 2012


It's kinda sad to see 2011 go, because it was such a monumental time period for my life (probably most definitely the most monumental, eventful, fun, growth-filled, and important year of my life) for reasons just about all who read this know. I got married, moved to our own place, found new friends, got a new pet and a new job. I love 2011.

God's movement in my life isn't transient, though. It's constant. And I want to commit to growing in Him daily, both as an individual and together with my wife. There is not a reason in the world why 2012 can't be just as filled with adventure, romance, God, growth, and fun; I have a feeling it totally will be.

I'm not a fan of "resolutions," because they rarely work for me, but one goal I have set for myself that I am excited about is reading the whole Bible in a year. Only being a Christian for about four years means that there is so much of the Bible I have yet to even scratch the surface in. Entire books and prophets, even. Plus, reading the bible daily is the one sure way to constantly grow in Him and know Him better, so I started a chronological reading plan of the whole Bible on New Years Eve (which you can find on YouVersion); so far it has been great.

However, I know that the hard part of committing to such a plan hasn't even begun. Will you pray with me as I begin this journey?

Anyway, Happy New Year everyone! I know this is late, but I've been busy! The good kind of busy. Kaitlin and I had a really nice two-week break from work (since we both work with kids and therefor still get Christmas break!). I hope everyone has also had a nice New Years day and Christmas!

One last thing before I call it a post: the subject of "change." Many people look at a new year and find it the perfect time to start all these changes in their lives. Eating healthier, working out more, praying more, reading more, etc. I don't think all of that is bad, but don't let it consume you. God has already made you new, and is continuing to do so:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)
The source of the voice telling you to change is ultimately either God or Satan. Pray and be sure before you leap into something. If you feel the urge to change or make resolutions, give it all to Him, and let Him guide you to change as He sees fit. He has been molding you and changing you constantly since the moment He entered your heart, mind, body, and soul. Pray, pray, pray, and pray some more. There is no rush to figure something out soon so you can start changing at the beginning of the year. Let God's timing take over, lest you become your own God. And most importantly, don't look back on regrets of the past year. Look forward to the future. Don't try to make this year different; try to make your life follow God's perfect will. Jesus reminded his followers to seek first the Kingdom of God, and everything else will follow and present itself to them (Matthew 6:33). Paul says in his letter to the Philippians that although he has not achieved his goal yet or taken hold of all that Christ meant for him, he focuses his energies on "forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. [He presses] on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [him] heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Seek Him and His kingdom, growing in Him daily. He'll take care of the rest. You are precious to Him and incredibly loved. If there is anything in the world that you need, ask Him first! He will never fail you. In fact, He alone will not fail you. He is your Helper, your Guide, your Savior, your Love, your Father, your Everything. He makes all things glorious. He makes all things new.