Reading through the Old Testament for the first time was like reading a novel of stories. Understanding the events of what took place but not getting out of it everything God intended because I was reading just to read (which was not a bad thing because at least I was reading). When I finished reading the Bible in its entirety, I thought, “What now?” LET ME STRESS THIS…the Bible is the living, breathing Word of God and I will never read it enough times to receive all that God has to say to me through it! If you are someone, like I was/am, who has a hard time discerning God’s voice over your own thoughts, reflect on how often you’re in His Word. If you want to recognize God speaking in your life, you have to know His voice, you have to know His character. Once you are so familiar with God’s character, it will be glaringly obvious the difference between Him and you.
So, this time around, I am taking my time with the Old Testament (with the whole Bible for that matter). Every word in the Bible, even the ones that seem irrelevant (like the dimensions of the tabernacle or the detailed instructions for each kind of offering…the struggle is real), have purpose, have life, are an example for each of us, instruction for how we are to live this life for God’s glory.
I’ve decided to document my journey through the Bible, book by book, and I pray it will bring insight to others as God speaks to me through His Word. I am currently reading through The Message translation so, unless otherwise specified, that’s where I’ll be quoting from.
Genesis starts off with the creation of the world. I’ll get controversial right off the bat with the whole creation versus evolution argument. I’d argue they are one and the same. The Bible says, “God spoke: ‘Light!’ and light appeared.” God spoke it, and BOOM there it was. I don’t think science disproves creation. I think the opposite, science points to creation…you just have to be willing to look. I’m not studied enough to elaborate on the science here but I have heard some amazing sermons on this topic. However, Romans 1:20 (NLT) says, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” We’ll never have all the answers and I don’t think Christians are the ones needing to be convinced here. But the great thing is that it’s not our job to convince anyone of anything…that’s God’s job.
“God spoke: ‘Let US make human beings in OUR image, make them reflecting OUR nature.” Take note that it doesn’t say in MY image, it says our. This is the first mention of the Trinity. What speaks to me more is the fact that this says we were made to reflect God’s nature. I have a whole different blog speaking to the fact that we are born in sinful nature…and I believe that. But we weren’t created that way. There is a difference between what God intended and what is…because God also created us with free will and Eve ate the apple (seriously got to thank her for that on the other side of eternity…not). The trick is moving from the sinful nature we were born in to the character of God we were created to reflect. That’s a process…one that can’t be accomplished without a relationship with God. How can you reflect someone’s character you spend no time with? John 1:1 (NIV), “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” I used to cringe when the pastor would preach about being in prayer and the Word…pray and read, pray and read, pray and read, and then pray and read some more. Why? Because it’s the most important part of our Christian walk and it’s the part everyone struggles with the most!!! BUT…how else can you spend time with God? And if a relationship with God is the only way to heaven… I’ll leave that there.
In the story of Cain and Abel, Abel brought God an offering “from the firstborn animals of his herd” and Cain brought God “produce from his farm.” The difference between the two offerings is that Abel didn’t have to work for his offering and Cain did. At first glance I thought Cain’s offering should be the better one because he had to work for it. But then God reminded me of my tendency to strive. I strive to do better and be better in all aspects of my life. The problem with striving is that you’re operating in your own strength and abilities. (The definition of striving: to make great efforts to achieve or obtain something; to struggle or fight vigorously.) Don’t misunderstand…I’m not saying not to work for things. I’m saying not to let that be the focus. When I focus on me, my abilities (or lack thereof), my accomplishments (or failures), my thoughts and opinions and attitudes, I am striving and will always fall short. When I focus on God, being in prayer, being in the Word, viewing the world through Kingdom eyes, the rest flows through me naturally without great effort…because I’m functioning from the spirit and character of God within me. We will be known by our fruits, by what our lives produce…but the only way to produce good fruit is to be rooted in Christ. We too often get it backwards and then wonder why we bear no fruit (or sparse fruit, or puny fruit…you get the picture).
Genesis is a big book and I’m not looking to write a book here…so I’ll continue with the story of Noah in my next blog. Have a blessed day!