Today is January 1st and the first day that I begin the McCheyne Yearly Bible Reading Plan. I am horrible at sticking to this things--hopefully being involved with other brothers in this endeavor will keep me more accountable. Today's readings are Genesis 1, Matthew 1, Ezra 1, and Acts 1.
If this were the only chapter I had read of Scripture I could still discern much about God. I would discover quickly that this God spoken of is sovereign as the Creator. It appears that all He has to do is speak and something happens. He seems to be so authoritative that everything listens and acts even upon a word from His mouth. Furthermore, everything He makes is good. I could also discern that this God is loving. With everything that he gives to this man that He has created we can detect that he loves like a Father and rejoices to give. I could also tell from this chapter that of all the created beings man is the climax. Things are put under man's authority and it is man alone that is created in the image of this God.
As I consider Genesis 1 in light of the rest of Scripture it causes me great astonishment that God would so bless he man that would later crucify Him. Certainly His love is astonishing and unfathomable. It is also encouraging to know that this powerful God did not stop creating in Genesis 1. Still today he shines the light of the knowledge of the glory of Christ into the heart of man; and with the same power with which He spoke in creation He still says, "Let there be light" and it is so.
As I open up Matthew I must consider the contrast between the beauty of Genesis 1 and the dire need for a Savior to rescue his people from their sins. One of these people (or perhaps all of them) in this list must have really done something wrong to cause this grand contrast. It does, however, look like the one command the people were obedient in is to be fruitful and multiply. I also note the unusual way that Jesus the Anointed One came to the earth. This Jesus has been born of the Holy Spirit. Did not Genesis 1 just teach that like begets like? Is this the Son of a man or the Son of God. Does Immanuel mean more than a name? Is it really true that God is with us?
Reflecting on Matthew 1 in light of the rest of revelation we readily embrace that man has indeed "messed up" Genesis 1. We know from the full story of revelation that since the first man we have run away from God instead of to him. We know that we treasure our sin instead of treasuring our Creator. We are indeed in bondage to our sin. This is why the Anointed One, Jesus the Christ, must come and rescue his people from their sins. (I do also note a potential verse pointing us to particular atonement--Jesus came to rescue "his" people). What a blessed thing that God Himself would come to our rescue!
Ezra did not strike me nearly as much as Genesis or Matthew thus far. The only thing that really stuck out to me is the mighty working of God to stir the hearts of men to accomplish his purposes. (v1) How marvelous it is that the Lord has the power to stir the hearts even of unbelievers to accomplish his purposes. (I also note that this text might be pointing us to an idea of effectual grace/calling/purposes of God). He also stirs the spirit of his people. (v5) My prayer after reading Ezra is this--Lord, stir my heart to accomplish your glorious purposes!
Often when I read Acts I reflect on the present day church. This is probably not fitting. Our goal is still the same--to enjoy Him and spread the glory of God to the nations. Our mission field and specific callings are somewhat different. God has different plans (specifically speaking) for us than he did for the early apostles. Nevertheless, I do believe that he has the same plan (generally speaking) and desire for us--to enjoy Him and spread His glory to the nations.
A few things I notice that are lacking in our church life that was present in Acts 1 are: waiting upon the Holy Spirit, being in one accord, devoting ourselves to prayer. I wonder if our mission is still Acts 1:8? I wonder if we are accomplishing that in our own power or in the power of the provided Holy Spirit? I guess we could tell by whether or not we are exalted or Jesus.
I also notice the promise that Jesus is coming back! Which leaves me praying, "Come Lord Jesus". As I reflect on my personal failures at living the gospel and being a bold Acts 1:8 type of witness, I am only left with the hope that Jesus Christ will still come and rescue me from my wanderings and going after other affections. May the Holy Spirit come in power.