Week 2 January 7-13, 2018

There are several striking characters in Scripture who have captured our hearts and imaginations with the mountains they moved through faith.

We celebrate the drama of Moses lifting up his staff to part the Red Sea and deliver Israel from the slavery of Egypt; We promote the bravery of young David, who handed in a sword for a slingshot and slayed the petrifying Philistine Goliath with one perfectly placed pebble; We even plead for the preaching ability of the Apostle Peter, who proclaimed the gospel of Christ at Pentecost and witnessed the immediate conversion of 3,000 souls.

The only problem with giving hail to our biblical heroes, is when we focus on the faith of men, we sometimes fail to point to the provision of God.

A closer reading of those miraculous accounts will teach us that God is the hero of the story as a gracious Father who always provides. After Moses parted the waters he sang "The Lord is my strength and my song and He has become my salvation" (Exodus 15:2); Right before David reached for a stone to kill Goliath he said, "The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine" (1 Samuel 17:37); And directly after the account of Peter's Pentecostal sermon, Scripture states, "…the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47).

When we arrive at the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac in Genesis 22, most of us once again face the strong temptation of casting our spotlight on the wrong person.

At first glance, Abraham is a man we should rightly praise as the father of the faithful. God initiated a covenant with him to establish a holy nation from his lineage. Immediately after Abraham received this astounding news, the Bible reveals, "he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). As we follow the journey of Abraham through the pages of Genesis, we see a faith that was severely tested, but also a faith that continued to bear the fruits of righteousness under each and every trial.

But as we encounter Abraham in Genesis 22, climbing up the mountain with Isaac to sacrifice his own son in obedience to God's command, we are so struck by Abraham's faith that most of us miss the main point of the story.

As Abraham lifted his hands to slaughter Isaac and was stopped by the angel of the Lord, he was informed that God was instead going to provide the sacrifice for him with a nearby ram caught in the thicket. Abraham was so moved by God's provision that he renamed that sacred place on the mountain, "The Lord will provide" (Genesis 22:14). This sacrificial provision of the ram was a foreshadowing of when God would later make His greatest provision in offering Jesus Christ as the final sacrifice for the sins of humanity. It was as if God in that moment was saying to Abraham, "You don't have to sacrifice your son for me, because I am getting ready to sacrifice my son for you."

One of God's names in the Old Testament is "Jehovah Jireh" which means, "The Lord Provides." This is the main point of Genesis 22, and the main point of your life. Where we are weak, God provides strength; where we are lost, God provides direction; where we are in danger, God provides protection; where we are sinful, God provides grace; and where we are condemned, God provides salvation. These provisions from God are all manifested in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God provided His Son to be our strength, our direction, our protection, our grace, and our salvation. Will you, like Abraham, exercise your faith today by trusting in a God who always provides?

Giving Glory to Our Great Provider

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A Messiah Who Meets Our Needs

As we walk through the recorded miracles of Christ in the first few chapters of Mark, make sure to pay attention to two things with each miracle: (1) Jesus always meets physical needs before He address the spiritual needs: (2) Jesus’ power reaffirms that He is God. For example, in the account of Christ feeding the 5,000 in Mark 6:30-44, Jesus met their bodily hunger with physical bread, but his demonstration of power in turning five loaves and two fish into a feast pointed to His ability to meet their spiritual hunger as a savior who is the “bread of life.”

Tips to Keep You on Track

          

          Scripture is a lot like cheesecake: It is best enjoyed by savoring small bites instead of swallowing large slices. As you continue in this reading plan, find one passage or even one verse of Scripture that speaks to your heart and meditate on it. Think about the truth of that verse when you are driving to work, when you are in line at the grocery store, and when you are wide awake at night staring at the shadows on the wall. The more you meditate on small passages of Scripture, the more God will take His Word and begin making permanent imprints in the deepest parts of your soul.

Week 3 Readings: January 14-20

-Day One:  Genesis 28-29; Mark 11

-Day Two:  Genesis 30-31, Psalm 11; Mark 12

-Day Three:  Genesis 32-34, Psalm 145; Mark 13

-Day Four:  Genesis 35-37, Psalm 12; Mark 14

-Day Five:  Genesis 38-40, Mark 15

TOOLS FOR NEXT WEEK’S TREASURE HUNT

A Delight and Not a Duty

Off-colored comedian George Carlin made a surprisingly profound statement once about older Christians and their practice of reading Holy Scripture. Carlin remarked, “I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me – they’re cramming for their final exam.” Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth behind that humorous quip. Often times we read Scripture for information and not for transformation, and we see Bible reading as a duty and not a delight. Psalm 1 paints us a much different portrait. The Psalmist says that a blessed man “delights in the law of the Lord” and that he “meditates” on God’s law “day and night” (Psalm 1:2). Perhaps we don’t delight in reading our Bibles every day because we are too busy cramming for a test, and we don’t notice that we should be pursuing a person. The wise man delights in the law of the Lord because he knows the law always points to the majesty of God as the lawmaker.

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