Friday, January 4, 2008

McCheyne Reading Plan: January 4

Disclaimer: In posting these thoughts, questions, and ramblings I feel it wise to give a disclaimer. There are many people that are far more knowledgeable and gifted in expositing the Word of God than I. These thoughts are not intended to be in-depth analysis of the text. They are thoughts. They are questions. They are ramblings. It will be a display of what God is teaching me through His Word. In depth study will be done at a different time. It is also good to know the author's goal. 1) To be accountable in reading through Scripture. 2) To share these thoughts with others. Possibly for someone else's edification; possibly for my own. 3) To glorify God through His Word. 4) To spur one another on in taking up Scripture and reading! So without further ado, here are today's readings:

Genesis 4:

This chapter was difficult to read devotionally. It raised far too many questions in my mind. Half way through I had to pray that the Lord might humble my heart and cause it to tremble at His Holy Word.

I know there is some conflict surrounding what Eve said. Is she saying that "she produced God" or is this her "thanking God for continuing grace". No clue. All I know is that God is continuing grace, and if her statement was the first it displays a misunderstanding.

Why did God accept Abel's sacrifice and not Cain's? I do not think it has anything to do with the type of sacrifice they are offering. It is not that Abel's had blood and Cain's did not. The only difference I see is that Abel brought the firstborn and fatty portions (choicest) and Cain merely brought the first thing he could find (or so it appears). Perhaps if we turn to Hebrews 11:4 we can see that it was because Abel offered up his sacrifice "by faith". What then does this communicate about our worship? What application does this have to use?

There is great significance in this communication between God and Cain. His response to God's displeasure is telling of his heart. He is prideful and feels that God is unjust in not accepting his offering. He is dishonoring God's holiness and His sovereign freedom. His anger at God and man is apparent. I wonder, does my heart rise up like this at times?

Whatever we think of Cain's response (was it remorseful or bitter) it begs a question. Do we feel the weight of our iniquity as Cain did? "My punishment is greater than I can bear". Oh, if sinners would grasp this! Let us run to Jesus because of the truth of this statement.

Where did all these people come from? It seems as if there are other people--who else would Cain be afraid of? Where did he find a wife? I suppose it would have been a sister or a niece. I really have no clue.

The most significant thing I took from Genesis 4 is that at the end of it people have begun to call on the name of the Lord.

Matthew 4:

It helps reading Matthew 4 that I just read Genesis 3. I can see the difference between Jesus and Adam and Eve. Jesus responded with God's Word unadulterated. Eve twisted God's Word, Adam put on a skirt; listened to his wife; and ate like she told him to. This teaches that our only hope when Satan assaults is the Word of God. I think if you look at it closely you can see that Eve tried to reason with Satan. Jesus accepted the Word of God fully and proclaimed it to Satan. God's Word has power--simple reason does not!

Apparently Satan knew the value of Jesus. He was willing to give him the whole world. (Since when was it his to give?).

I am continually amazed at how all of these seemingly insignificant events are actually fulfilling Scripture. Even Jesus moving and living in Capernaum. It is awesome the depth God goes to display His wisdom and beauty.

It is interesting that Jesus continues the message of John the Baptist. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! (How people can say that "repentance is not part of the biblical gospel" astounds me).

It's pretty cool reflecting on the life-altering responses of these fishermen. It would have taken quit a bit. Contrast that to our easy-believism. Do we really "leave our nets to follow him"?

Jesus was popular. At least for awhile, and maybe not for the right reasons.

Ezra 4:

Oh, how wicked is man when we do not get our way. Certainly the "adversaries of Judah and Benjamin" did not really intend to help. How wicked, though, did they become after the men of God turned them down. One of the things that hits me is that I have noticed many Christians (myself included) that have done things the way the adversaries do. I know there have been times in my life when I did not get my way and rather than trust God's sovereign hand I tried getting back at them. Lord, forgive me for this foolishness. May this never be the type of underhanded methods that Christians use to "get their way"--even if it be a holy task.

Acts 4:

Verse 4 again confirms the mighty power of the Word. "Many of those who heard the word believed". 5,000 people now from the original 120. There is so much power when God's Spirit attends the preaching of His Word. Lord, I pray that you bring that to New London. Help us to be bold proclaimers of the Word. Our only hope is that you may accompany your Word.

Why would Peter have preached the exclusive nature of Jesus Christ to Jews? We use verse 12 so often in reference to pagans that have many gods. It is true that Christ is the only name under heaven by which men might be saved in reference to false gods. But it seems that what Peter is doing is proclaiming Jesus as God Himself. For there is no one but God that saves. And if it is only in the name of Jesus--then it is a declaration that He is God Himself. (Thoughts?)

Acts 4:19-20 has always been a challenge to me. "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard". Could I honestly say that? My struggle with personal evangelism is a record against that. Lord, I beg that you might give me such a big vision of you that I might be more like Peter and John. I want to be able to say with an honest heart, "I can not help but to speak of Jesus".

After reading the story in Acts 4 for the first time, I remember putting in my first Bible: "Why don't we pray like that"? What I meant at the time was, "Why are our pray meetings not accompanied with wall shaking and us going out in boldness?" Today I still ask that. But now I mean, "Why do we not have such a God-centered, historical, sovereignty of God, passionate, deep-rooted, in the midst of suffering type of prayers?" Why does our theology not shape our prayers like it did in biblical times? Is this the reason why we are not experiencing boldness after our praying?

It would also be pretty great to see the type of love and unity reflected in the summary at the end of Acts 4. In all humility I must say that our church in many ways reflects the love and unity that is spoken of. Praise God for this, and may he drive us deeper!

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