Wednesday, January 2, 2008

McCheyne Reading Plan: January 2

Genesis 2:

This chapter teaches us several things about God and man. We see first of all that God makes and declares things holy (his declaration of the Sabbath as holy). The seventh day is not holy in essence, only because the sovereign Lord has made it thus. All throughout this chapter we are reminded of the great love and care with which God provides for his creation (primarily the man). We also learn that while this God is loving he also has certain commands. And he has authority.

Man in contrast to the great God is but dust. As my eyes began scanning over this chapter I accidentally read a verse wrong. I started in the middle of it and saw a very significant statement about who man is. "then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground..." All I saw in that statement was "man of dust". Even though that is not specifically what the Lord is saying it is accurate. Psalm 103:14 says that the Lord remembers that we are but dust. What a significant contrast; man of dust, LORD God. We see that while God is in authority man is under authority. The man's need for companionship and "work" (some refer to as the dirty four-letter word) are actually before the Fall. We also can deduct that man must have been made for pleasure. Why else would God have put in trees that were "pleasant to the sight" and "good for food". What a gracious God to give his creatures such blessings. We also see that thus far man is free from shame.

One question comes from Genesis 2. Feel free to respond to it. Is there a significance in mentioning the tree of life with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Note that the tree of life is not forbidden. Therefore, did man reject the tree of life and embrace the forbidden tree? Is this an example of what happens when we reject Christ? What are your thoughts on this?

Matthew 2:

Man, the gospel accounts should never be drab. But I have to be honest and say that Matthew 2 is one of my least favorite chapters in Scripture. (I am certain that is not right to say--I am to tremble at all of the Word). As I read through this I have to ask--what about this is to cause me to tremble? Should I see myself in Herod? Should I be more like the wise men? Do I see the awesome power of God in fulfilling all that was spoken through the Prophets? Does this establish the trustworthiness of God and thereby cause me to rejoice and tremble? Verse 10 I believe serves as a rebuke to my sometimes (dare I say often) stagnant worship. "When they saw the star, the rejoiced exceedingly with great joy". Does seeing the fulfillment of the promise of a coming Messiah (that has came) cause me to rejoice exceedingly with great joy? It serves as a fitting rebuke--perhaps it's not so drab after all.

Ezra 2:

What am I supposed to take from Ezra 2? They had professional singers back in the day. Donkeys were more common than horses. Heads of families made freewill offerings (I can hear the Arminian now...see look...there it says freewill). They had a pretty fair amount of gold (at least I think). Lots of people came back. They had servants. A group of people could not provide their genealogies and were excluded as unclean. I am certain that is significant but not sure how. I would probably need to be an Old Testament scholar to really get Ezra 2. Can anyone help? It is pretty cool that God brought his people back like he promised; I know that much is true.

Acts 2:

Ezra edifies me little Acts 2 could preach to me for a year. Peter's "first sermon" was quite a bit better than mine. I also note that he was standing with the eleven. This must have looked pretty amazing. You have 12 different guys standing up and speaking in weird languages... although come to find out its not weird, it's native tongues. Would each have been speaking the same message in a different language to his tongues audience? Then Peter (it seems to me) begins speaking to the Jewish people in their native tongue. Verse 22--"as you yourselves know" implies a knowledge and willful rejection. Jesus was crucified according to God's plan. Verse 30, would it have been odd to call David a prophet? Verse 33, seems to be the answer to these men's question. It is really neat how Peter goes the long way around to show the Jesus-centered purpose for what they are seeing. He could have simply said it is the Holy Spirit--but instead he gives a history and points them to Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the gift of Jesus. Verse 37--Is this always the result of Holy Spirit anointed preaching? Perhaps so, perhaps not. In this case the Holy Spirit, speaking through Peter, brings about a "cut of the heart" and a desire to know what they must do. Peter's answer is to repent and be baptized. (Uh oh--that sounds like baptism is necessary for conversion, or at least reception of the Holy Spirit). This promise is for them, their children, and everyone whom God calls to himself (certainly that means the entire world doesn't it? OR is this effectual calling?)
I remember being told once that verse 40 was Peter's "altar call". Every time I read this verse now it makes me laugh. I also find it interesting that Peter is urging them to "Save yourselves form this crooked generation". Certainly, this would be a rejected form of preaching by Hyper-Calvinist. We must call men to repent and "save themselves". 3,000 people received the word and were baptized.

There is a ton of theological questions in this chapter--none of which I hope to delve into at this time. The only thing I want to mention is that when the Holy Spirit preaches the gospel we see things like 3,000 people saved. Granted sometimes gospel preaching does not lead to conversion--but certainly this should be our aim.

Lastly, it would take a long time to exposit 42-47. This section has always convicted me that THIS is what church should be like. Devoted to the word, to fellowship, to breaking of bread, to prayer! What is the result of this type of "fellowship"? Awe, Spirit working, unity. It is also astonishing how often they "met together". Day by day. That sounds strange to our modern "churchianity" ears. What if church is more than a building (am I starting to sound Emergent...)? What if church is fellowship of believers. But note that they "attended the temple together". So maybe there is some precedent for this "meeting place" after all. But maybe it's more than just the "meeting place". Maybe sometimes they have "church" in their homes. "Praising God and having favor with people." Certainly the favor with people would not last for long. More people coming to believe in Christ every day! Wow! Sign me up for this church.

May the Lord do such a work in our church that we might be used by the Lord in such a way. Knowing that I am part of the Church I have to ask myself. Am I devoted to the Word? Am I devoted to fellowship? Am I devoted to prayer? Am I devoted to breaking of bread? (And what does that even refer to, any suggestions?)

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