I'm on a journey to read through the Bible in chronological order. Taking it one day at a time, I will read based on a list I found on the internet and blog about what happened, thoughts provoked, emotions conjured, etc. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day twenty-eight: Genesis 46-47

Jacob (still sometimes being called Jacob and sometimes Israel which is extremely confusing) travels will all of this children and their families to Egypt and are allowed to settle and put up shop as shepherds. Naturally, Jacob is just a little excited to re reunited with his not-so-dead son :)

As the famine wears on, the people run out of money to buy grains. Joseph accepts livestock in exchange, but when the livestock runs out, he buys up all the land and doles out seeds to the people to plant their crops. The only stipulation is that one-fifth of all the produce must go back to Pharaoh.

On a side note. In my humble opinion, Socialism is a perfect system in theory. But in a fallen world, it doesn't always pan out. Joseph is insituting a Socialist run Egypt by maintaining all of the goods and doling them out as necessary. For this kind of situation, I think it's genius. God knew that the people would probably eat themselves to death if someone did not step in to take preventative measures to ensure their future. This is why He provided Joseph and gave him the means to make it happen.

17 Years later Jacob readies himself to die and makes Joseph promise him to bury in him in the land of his forefathers--not Egypt. Joseph promises.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day twenty-seven: Genesis 43-45

Jacob's family uses up all of the grain and need more. Jo's brothers reiterate that they cannot go back to Egypt without Benjamin. I understand that Jacob wants to keep his youngest safe, but this whole time another of his sons is in prison and they will die without more food...umm..hello! After finally agreeing to it, they set out for Egypt with oodles of gifts to appease Joseph. Upon their arrival, Jo sets up a great feast and openly welcomes them. The brothers are jumpy and skeptical. I've seen this type of behavior before when someone does something wrong, they are just antsy and are constantly in fear of punishment. Their past behavior is all catching up with them and they are totally psyching themselves out!

Before the brothers leave, Jo slips a silver cup into Ben's bag and later has his men track them down. The brothers swear they would never steal and claim that anyone shown to have stolen will become a slave. They completely break down when they see the cup in Ben's bag. The plead with Jo for Ben and offer themselves as slaves as well. Probably the first decent thing they've ever done!

Jo reveals himself to his brothers and shares a cool piece of faith. God allowed Jo to be sold knowing that he would help to prevent death during the time of famine. He ultimately saved his family by being sold many years before that. I am again humbled and awestruck at the ways God provides! The family returns home to gather their things and move closer to Egypt to be close to Joseph. Joseph promises to provide for his family and make sure they are well taken care of.

Joseph is probably one of my favorite characters so far. His faith and perseverance is a testimony to me. He also holds no resentment towards his brothers or anyone who laid a hand against him. He keeps the Lords ways in mind and trusts them fully. Today, I pray for Joseph-like faith!

Day twenty-six: Genesis 41-42

2 years later, Joseph is STILL in prison (for a crime he didn't even do!) Pharaoh has 2 unsettling dreams and seeks out someone to tell him what they mean. This is when the cupbearer says "oh yea, whoops I totally know a guy who can help you...my bad". As he did before, he makes it clear that he is not the one providing the answers, he gives all of the credit to God. This is pretty cool considering that he could have claimed to be some all-knowing prophet or something.

Jo tells Pharaoh that his dreams indicate 7 years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine. Pharaoh thinks Jo is so wise he puts him over EVERYTHING to get them through the next 14 years.

41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt." 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, "Make way!" Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. 44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt."

I am simply amazed at the blessings that God has given to Jo during all of this. First he is over a household, then a prison, then a nation?!?! Amazing.

The 14 goes as Jo predicted but during the time of famine, Egypt is saved because he stored up foods during the previous 7 years. His family back home starts to feel the strain from the famine and travel to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph immediately recognizes them, but they don't recognize him, so Jo decides to taunt them and have a little fun. He calls them spies and gives them a task to prove themselves. They have to leave one brother in prison while the others go and fetch Benjamin (the youngest). The reading ends with Jacob being hesitant and very reluctant to send his baby boy away, especially thinking that one son is already dead and knowing another is in prison.

Day twenty-five: Genesis 38-40

The soap opera-esqe stories continue...

Judah (one of Jacob's sons) gets married and has 3 sons. The eldest marries Tamar and is struck dead by God for his evilness. So the next son has obligations to marry and bear children with Tamar. He "spills his seed" so as not to impregnate her and is also struck dead but God. Judah sends her back to her father to live as a widow and she later tricks him into sleeping with her thinking she's a prostitute... come on Judah, why would you sleep with a prostitute in the first place?? Needless to say he knocks up his daughter-in-law and she gives birth to twins.

Meanwhile, Joseph is set up in a clutch position (well, as clutch as a slave-like position can be) in Egypt. His master's wife realizes what a hottie he is and tries to seduce him. I have got to give it to Joseph, he's got this woman nagging him daily to sleep with him and everyday he blatantly says NO! Respect... The wife takes advantage of a situation and makes it look like Joseph tried to sleep with her... Poor Joseph! His own family hates him, sells his into slavery, he gets a sweet deal but is then thrown into jail. The cool thing is how God provides the little things for him while he is on hard times. God puts him in a position of trust in Potiphar's house, and again while he is in jail. Sometimes it's the little things that help remind us that we are not alone :)

Joseph helps to interpret 2 fellow inmates dreams and asks one of them to remember him to the Pharaoh when he gets out. The dreams come true as predicted, but the man doesn't remember Joseph. What a jerk--Joseph lets him know that in 3 days he will be released from jail and restored in his job and all the asks for is a good word with the big guy. Pretty simple request right??

Day twenty-four: Genesis 35-37

Jacob traverses to Bethel per God's command and sets up shop for a while. Him and his people rid themselves of jewelry and idols and spend time just basking in the Lord. It's so easy to make excuses about why we don't have time for God... with all of this technology and distractions, we sometimes lose sight. How cool would it be to just rid ourselves of all of the distractions and just bathe ourselves in His light... for an hour? For a day? how long could you do this?

Jacob is renamed Israel and the passage flip-flops between calling him Jacob and Israel...kind of confusing. Rachel dies giving birth to his last son: Benjamin. Jacob makes is back to his father and gets to spend a little more time with him before he passes as well. Jacob and Esau are still getting along as they bury their father together. It feels like Isaac has been dying for a long time...since the brothers tricked him into giving the wrong one the birthright...no clue why it stretched out that long.

This is where the story of Joseph and his coat start. He makes enemies of his family when he tells them about dreams he's been having. Basically, they all insinuate that his family will bow to him.. obviously they aren't too keen about this. Jacob sends him out to report on his brothers one day. When they see him coming, they plot to kill him, but Reuben (the oldest) suggests throwing him into a cistern alive. His ultimate plan is to rescue him later and return him to Jacob. This plan goes awry when a caravan comes and the brothers decide to sell their own brother. Later, Reuben goes back to save him, but realizes he isn't there and is very distraught. I'm not sure where he dipped out to while they were making the transaction, but it seems he had no part in it. The brothers trick their father into thinking Joseph is dead...

I kind of started losing respect for these guys after the slaughtered an entire city. They seem to take things just one step too far. Mob rule I guess?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Day twenty-three: Genesis 32-34

On his journey home, Jacob sends word to his brother Esau that he is coming. He then learns that Esau is coming to meet him with what looks like an army. He gathers several hundred goats and sheep as a peace offering in an attempt to pacify his brother.

There is a strange scene where Jacob is left alone and wrestles with a mysterious stranger. The stranger disables his hip and turns out to be God. God renames him Israel and because of this meeting, Israelites no longer eat the tendon attached to the hip. Sometimes there are weird little side stories tucked into a main story. I see the relevance of this, but wish it were explained better and in more detail.

All of the gifts were unnecessary as Esau is stoked to see his brother (I guess time really does heal all wrongs?) regardless of the flocks. He even decides to travel forth with him... yay for family reunions!

Jacob temporarily settles in a land near a small town. The son of the head of the town takes Dinah (Jacob's only daughter) and rapes her...then has the audacity to ask for her hand in marriage. Trying to keep a level head, Jacob and his sons decide that he can marry her and others can marry within the town if all of the males are circumcised in accordance with their beliefs. The town agrees to this. Not really sure why this seemed like a good idea... but...whatever. A few days later, while the men are all still in pain from being circumcised, Simeon and Levi kill every single man in the town while the other sons proceed to loot and pillage what they can. Seems like a pretty sadistic means of revenge... let them circumcise themselves, writhe in pain for a few days and then kill them. Naturally, Jacob thinks this was all a little extreme, but the brothers didn't like their sister being treated like a prostitute.

I don't have siblings, but I've seen the way my husband and his brother protect their sister. It's pretty ferocious. I can only imagine how easy it must have been for Simeon and Levi to make such a rash decision. Not justifying it by any means, just saying that its easy to see how quickly an idea can turn into an action. Especially with 11 brothers!!!

Day twenty-two: Genesis 30-31

Rachel and Leah have gotten themselves all worked into a frenzy. Rachel is mad that she's not having babies so she gives her servant to Jacob who has 2 sons. Then Leah gets mad that she hasn't conceived lately and gives her servant to Jacob who bears 2 more sons. The two even get in a buyout situation where Rachel agrees to let Leah have Jacob all to herself one night in exchange fer her sons produce. "You must sleep with me," she said. "I have hired you with my son's mandrakes." The whole concept just blows my mind... she hired her husband? Wha? Leah pops out a few more sons along with a token girl before God finally blesses Rachel with a child of her own--Joseph.

Jacob decides to leave Leah and Rachel's father (Laban) and return to the land of his father. There becomes a little dispute about livestock so Jacob flees without telling Laban. Before they leave, Rachel steals some things from her father's home. Laban catches up with them and accuses Jacob of robbing him. Sneaky Rachel keeps the treasures hidden in her camel's saddle while her father searches for them and then says she can't get off her camel because she's "on her period". Oh the things girls can get away with :) They decide everything is ok and make a covenant to not harm each other.

Jacob said that if the stolen items were found that the person should be put to death. I think he's being a little dramatic since he doesn't know his own wife stole the items and is so adamant to protect his integrity... wonder if the treasures will be found..

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day twenty-one: Genesis 27-29

Jacob again outsmarts his brother Esau. Isaac is preparing to die (and is blind at this point) and wants to bless his older son. Rebekah helps Jacob cook a tasty meal, covers him in goat skins and sends him in to receive the blessing. Once Esau realizes he's been gipped, he throws a fit...which is understandable. The kicker in all of this is Rebekah. Her husband is dying and she's trying to pull one over on him. I'm not too convinced about her character. At this point Jacob has yet to take a wife and Rebekah claims that life will just not be worth living if he takes a wife from a certain region...kind of a drama queen.

Jacob flees to avoid his brother's anger (and murderous thoughts). One night he falls asleep on a rock and dreams that he is at the gateway to heaven. He awakes and pours oil over the rock and vows to give God 10% of whatever he is given. This is the first time a real tithe has been mentioned.

Jacob goes to the land of his uncle and meets his 2 cousins: Leah and Rachel. He falls in love with Rachel and works 7 years for her hand in marriage. Daddy pulls a trick when he gives Jacob Leah instead..."oh yea, by the way we never let the younger daughter marry first..whoops!". Jacob works yet another 7 years just for Rachel. God sees that Jacob isn't exactly crazy about Leah and makes her able to have children and closes Rachel up. I get this sad image of Leah as she keeps giving Jacob sons hoping that each time it will make him love her. At the birth of her 3rd son Levi, she even wonders that aloud. By the time the 4th comes around, she says "this time I will praise the Lord". She has learned that just because she hasn't found favor in her husband, he has fond favor with the Lord.

Day twenty: Genesis 25-26

Isaac and Rebekah grow a little older and pray f the Lord to give them children. She becomes pregnant with twins and from the beginning they are fighting, even in the womb. The parents played favorites: Isaac loved Esau for his hunting and Rebekah loved Jacob because he was the baby. There is a weird scene that makes me think that Esau is not the brightest one... he give his birthright to Jacob for some soup... doesn't exactly seem like a fair trade to me!

There is a small side story about a water shortage and Isaac trusting God to provide. It is clearly shown that Isaac has immense faith like his father and that God plans to bless him greatly.

The last verse shows that in-law strife started waaaay back in the day.

When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.

I've been blessed enough to have amazing in-laws... wouldn't trade them for the world!

Day ninteen: Genesis 22-24

There are a lot of instances in the Bible so far of time that God knew what the outcome was going to be, but set up a path for us to follow. He knew Adam and Eve would fall, he knew Lots wife would look back...this time He plays almost a cat and mouse game with Abraham. He tells him to sacrifice his only son and at the last minute, He provides a ram in his place.

You can think this story is a little messed up and wonder why God would even request such a thing, or you can see the beautiful similarities between this and the Gospel. Abraham was willing to give up his only son but a ram took his place. Now a ram and lamb aren't the same thing, but I think that's what makes it so much better. A lamb evokes images of a pure innocent being, a ram...not to much. It seems only fitting that a ram would save an earthly son and a lamb would embody the salvation of sins.

Once Isaac is older, Abraham seeks to find a wife for him. He makes a servant surrender an oath that he will bring back a woman to him from his land (not Canaan) and not take Isaac there per God's instructions. They make an oath by placing a hand under the person's thigh... I can only imagine how awkward that would be if someone did that today. The servant is sucessful on his mission and brings back Rebekah for Isaac. The whole story is really cool how it unfolds. Rebekah and her people are totally ok with her just up and leaving to marry a man they've never met just because God said that's what needed to happen...if only I had such faith!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day eighteen: Genesis 19-21

God sends 2 angels to check out the situation in S&G. After only a few hours it becomes very clear that Lot and his family are the only ones that are righteous and can be spared. The only thing that bugs me is that all the men come to Lot's house and beg him to allow them to have sex with the 2 guests (angels). Lot says they can have his daughters and do what they want with them... I understanding he's trying to protect the angels, but is it really necessary to throw his daughters under the bus like that ?!?! Lot is allowed to leave with his wife and daughters and get to safety. His wife perishes after looking back at the destruction. It's an intense symbol of her lack of desire to completely turn over a new leaf. She still had some desire for those evil ways the suffered greatly for it. Once to safety, his daughters get him drunk and sleep with him to carry on the family line...so far today's reading is like a really bad soap opera.

Abraham and Sarah move to a new city where Abraham tells the king Sarah is his sister to avoid getting killed. This is the second time he's done this... I understand his reasoning but I'd be pretty ticked if Travis did this to me!

Sarah gives birth to Isaac and is finally rewarded for her faithfulness! She gets a little jealous and sends away her maid and Ishamael because she wants to make sure HER son gets all the goods. God allows this to happen, but promises Abraham that Ishmael will also become a great nation and be provided for. I just don't always like Sarahs's attitude...she is impatient, has Hagar sleep with her husband, then resents her for getting pregnant, then resents her even more when she has a child of her own! Unbelievable...

Day seventeen: Genesis 16-18

This portion of scripture has always baffled me. Sarai gives her servant Hagar to Abram to bear children. Then when Hagar conceives, she resents Sarai and Sarai treats her like crap. What blows my mind is that Sarai even had the idea in the first place. I am always conflicted about this...are her actions mistrusting of God's provisions, or is she simply being proactive and in turn following God's will? Sometimes I know that the Lord works through others to bring about his will, is this one of those cases, or is Sarai just jumping the gun trying to get a leg up on starting the long line of descendants they have been promised? Later in the reading, Sarah (now called that) even laughs out loud at the idea that she will bear a son in her old age.

Chapter 17 is all about circumcision and the covenant God established with those who are circumcised. I'm not really going to comment other than the fact that even the adults had to get circumcised...Abraham was 99 at this point...ouchies!

God reveals to Abraham his plans for Sodom and Gomorrah. He pleads to not kill any righteous with the wicked. He basically talks the Lord down to not destroying the city at all if he can find just 10 righteous men there....TEN in the ENTIRE city! Seems pretty fair right?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Day sixteen: Genesis 12-15

So starts the story of Abram. He leaves his home and everything he knows to travel across the country with his nephew and wife because the Lord told him to. The whole time he's traveling, God is reassuring him of his future blessings: I will grant all this land to you and your offspring; your enemies will be my enemies, your friends, my friends; I will make your name great and people will be blessed just by knowing you. Because of my faith, I know that God is on my side, but how great would it be to have Him actually telling you these amazing things?!?!

God blesses Abram and Lot so much that they have to split paths because the land can't support all of them at once. This seems like a positive problem :) I didn't think anyone could ever be TOO blessed, but these two just might take the cake. But trouble in paradise comes when there is a rebellion against one of the kings over the lands and Lot is kidnapped and his possessions seized. But no worries, Abram is so blessed he just calls on the 300+ warriors he just happens to know and they get everything back.

Abram starts getting a little inquisitive as God keeps telling him his offspring will be great, but he's still yet to produce a child. God tells him to count the stars...cause that's how great his offspring is going to be. Abram asks how he can be sure that he will receive the land promised to him. The Lord gives him a sign as a covenant promise that Abram will receive everything coming to him. He tells him that his descendants will suffer and be enslaved for 4 generations, but after their trials they will rewarded beyond measure.

I just love the theme that has been recurring throughout everything I have read so far--God allows trials to happen knowing full well what will come from them. We just have to be patient, faithful and endure in order to receive our blessing. God is good all the time, all the time God is good!!

Day fifteen: Job 40-42

The story of Job comes to a conclusion...

Job admits to God that he's got nothin'. He thought he had things to say, but realizes he should keep his mouth shut. God challenges him again by asking him if he could tame a behemoth or take a crocodile as a pet. As no man of the time would ever even consider doing these things, how much more of a dumb idea is it to challenge God? God points out that He is accountable to no man and owes us nothing. I love this reminder becuase it makes me think back to all the blessings I have received in my short lifetime and realize how much God does for us simply because he WANTS to, not because he HAS to!

Job's response is simple,

2 "I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.

3 You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.

The Lord then blesses Job twice as much as he had been blessed before. I think the main thing to take away from all of this is not that Job was patient (I just read what felt like 100 chapters that proves contrary), but that Job persevered. Job was not perfect (although he sometimes thought he was), but he handled his trials with about as much dignity as one could have. Yes it was miserable, yes it was hard, yes he complained, but in the end he learned a valuable lesson that blessed him beyond comparison and enriched his relationship with God.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day fourteen: Job 38-39

Ladies and gentlemen, the moment we have all been waiting for... God answers Job.

God opens by basically saying "who the heck is speaking when they have no idea what they are talking about? Man up and I'll give you an answer.." God responds for these entire 2 chapters asking Job where he was when the world was created, who controls the oceans and the skies, who causes crops to grow, who provided animals for his use and enjoyment and who has infinite knowledge of the universe. Job has yet to say anything back, but I can only imagine that he is feeling like a 3 year old that got caught breaking into the cookie jar before dinner--red handed.

God's response reminds me of when Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden... they were brought down a notch real quick and so was Job.

I remember when I was little my parents kept my "fanking stick" (I was too young to put a "s" and "p" together) on top of the fridge. Once I learned its location, I would immediately climb on the chair to retrieve it if I did something I knew would warrant a spanking. Of course my parents would always figure out where I hid it and I would be punished twice as bad. Parents don't like to have their authority challenged, and neither does God. I would take a spanking any day over being chewed out by the Almighty!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day thirteen: Job 35-37

Elihu continues and makes a great point--we don't cry out and ask for God to respond when things are going great, so why should He respond to our arrogance when things go to pot? He reminds Job to not worry about others receiving their judgment, let God worry about such things. I'm really liking this guy...

A really cool part of this reading is in chapter 37 where Elihu describes all the ways God provides for and governs the earth. If He can handle all of that, who are we to question Him? He makes rain fall, ice freeze, lightening strike...I am rejuvenated by these words!!!!

5 God's voice thunders in marvelous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.

6 He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,'
and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.'

14 "Listen to this, Job;
stop and consider God's wonders.

15 Do you know how God controls the clouds
and makes his lightning flash?

16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge?

Day twelve: Job 32-34

The youngest of Job's friends has remained silent up until this point. When he realizes a quiet has settled, he lets himself go. He explains that age does not always bring wisdom and that he has some good points--the other's arguments have no footing and are meaningless. He challenges Job for claiming to be blameless and scold him for questioning why God has yet to speak

13 Why do you complain to him
that he answers none of man's words?

14 For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though man may not perceive it.

I found his response to be refreshing and very well spoken. I love that the youngest of the group waited patiently in the wings and then just blows everyone away with these amazing words. Elihu is an inspiration !

Day eleven: Job 29-31

Job is starting to go a little too far. He never curses God, but really gets whiny in these verses and questions what God is doing. "Have I not done everything right? I haven't cheated, stolen from my neighbor, etc because these are sins that are worth judging". He begs God to answer him so that he can get this all straight. Its interesting to note that God has not said a word or given him and sign up to this point. I feel like Job sometimes feeling like I am being punished and not getting a response. Sometimes, God wants us to work it out the hard way before we can see the true glory of His plan.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day ten: Job 24-28

This is finally where Job just gets it all out there. He flatout tells his friends that he will never admit he has been unrighteous, and maintains his spiritual integrity.

I'm a bit confused about some contradictions...Job has been complaining that the wicked have it easy and never receive punishment and almost questions God. But now, he is saying that the wicked will get theirs (in a very long, eloquent speech) and that wisdom belongs to God alone. Does anyone have clarification for this?? I feel like I am reading in circles...

I know God's response to all this must be coming and I can't wait to see what He says...

Day nine: Job 21-23

Aha...its starting to come together a bit! His friend's main argument is that the wicked never prosper (their crops fail, children die, cattle can't reproduce), but Job points out that a lot of times they DO prosper... and that's why he's so frustrated.

Good ol' Eliphaz again makes a great point--Job is as not perfect as he thinks he is. He lists out numerous things Job has done nothing about (helping widows, not feeding the hungry,etc.) and implores him to rid the evil in his heart.

Job says he has consistently followed God's ways and now in this time of grief, He is nowhere to be found...

I think that at this point, there is a little right in what everyone is saying. The friends have no right to judge, but are still in a position to offer encouraging words. Job is starting to lose sight and has some great ideas, but still needs to be brought back to reality. No one is perfect, and God's infinite wisdom and ways should never be questioned.

Day eight: Job 17-20

This past week and weekend were crazy busy getting ready for and participating on my best friend's wedding... I kind of fell behind but am starting back today (5 days is too much to catch up on right now!).

The back and forth dialogues between Job and his friends continue. I am starting to get a little confused about where all this is going. Job's friends are still by his side (although rebuking him, they are still there!) but Job laments that all his friends have turned their back on him. I can't decide if his friends are really being mean, or Job is just so in despair he can't see anything good. They just go back and forth both presenting good and bad arguments for their case, but they need a mediator! I'm hoping the next few passages help to put all of this in context...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day seven: Job 14-16

I've reached an epiphany moment in this reading. Halfway through Job's continual lamenting, Eliphaz replies to him yet again. Job's response is basically, "do you never shut up? I just wanna say my peace but you just won't shut up!". Sometimes, when we face trials, we want to know how to fix it and seek out advice. Other times, we just want to vent about it and have an eager listener. That is what Job is wanting out of this all along. His friends sat in silence with him for a week, but then when he started crying out, they didn't just let him talk it out.

This is such an applicable story to anyone!! When Travis and I were going through pre-marital counseling (or as his roommates called it "Pre-Marital Success counseling"--PMS :)), Travis learned a valuable lesson. Girls like to vent, and guys like to fix. Sometimes the girls don't want fixing, they just want to be heard. Job is doing the same thing here, he just wants to be heard! The power of solidarity in silence is a very powerful thing that every good friend, wife, husband, companion, family member, etc. should master. Today I pray to be a better listener.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day six: Job 10-13

Job continues his lament...asking God for death and challenging his ways, "evil men go untouched, so why are you doing this to me??". The third friend again rebukes him and reminds him of the work the Lord is doing. He attempts to show him the evil in his heart, but Job refuses to listen still. I have encountered many Jobs in my short lifetime. I have learned that God can only use those around them and then we have to sit back and let the master work...

Job gets really angry at those who rebuke him and basically ask them to leave him alone. He wants to present his case to God and leave others out of it. No man lived perfectly (except for Jesus) so up until now, while Job was a righteous and upstanding believer, he was far from perfect. From what I am reading, he honestly thinks he has never, ever done anything wrong (even in his heart of hearts) and is totally confused why God is doing this. But, he's missing the point! God isn't doing this to punish him, He's doing it to strengthen him. But Job is too focused on himself to get beyond that...

We cannot question why it seems some go unpunished for unspeakable acts, and seemingly perfect people encounter great tragedy. The fact is, God doesn't punish us for our wrongdoing-- Jesus took all the blame! That is the glory of the gospel!! God's wrath has been withheld! When we face trials, it is not because we cursed our neighbor or told a lie, its because God wants to break us down so he can rebuild us.

Besides, who are we to judge who should and shouldn't be punished?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day five: Job 6-9

The saga of Job continues...

After Eli's eloquent speech, Job feels the need to respond. He asks God to bring death and goes on and on about how miserable to terrible his life is. He has forgotten how good he had it and how much support he still has--all this time his friends are still there, yet he complains that his friends are wishy-washy and have left him. Another friend gives a speech (not quite as good as Eli's) again rebuking him for his bitter words and reminding him that God will never leave the righteous. Job then asks "how can a mortal be righteous". This my friends, is a very good question. One I don't think I could even try to answer...

Job clarifies some of his other lamentations which is good because it cleared up some of my questions. He feels that he has no right to question the work of God. His life sucks, yes, but he simply wants death or wants to know what he did wrong so he can fix it--but he never questions God actual actions. So many people try to taunt God and summon an answer, but Job never does this...and I like that. There is also some foreshadowing of Jesus in the last portion of this reading...Job wishes for someone to arbitrate between him and the Lord so that God will no longer strike him with affliction. Its kind of cool knowing that very soon, this amazing mediator will come! Too bad Job didn't know that...but I guess that's kind of the point.

Day four: Job 1-5

Job has always been a personal hero of mine... but I had never read the entire story in detail so I was missing out on a crucial person--Job's BFF Eliphaz. When Job gets down, Eli rebukes and builds him up in an amazing "sermon".

Job was living a cush life until he caught Satan's eye. God let Satan take away his crops, animals and children and he responds with "you give and take away, I will bless your name". Then Satan personally afflicts him. His wife is telling him to stop acting crazy and denounce God. His response? "We accept good from God, why not accept the bad?" He never curses God, but does grieve and cry out. During his mourning, his friends sit in silence with him for 7 days... I can name a few friends that would do that with me and I count myself blessed to be able to say that :) He begins to curse the day he was born and ask why he was even allowed to live if he was just going to face all this turmoil. Then his genius friend Eli says, "hey, you may not like this, but I gotta say it... how many lives have you touched? How much glory have you brought to God? From what I've seen, God never strikes the righteous down, so hang in there buddy!" My favorite quote from his long "sermon" has got to be in Job 5:18--"For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal". If you haven't read this story, do yourself a favor and read it. If you are feeling lonely or abandoned, read Job 4 and 5 (Eliphaz's sermon) and take comfort in knowing that the God who allowed affliction to befall Job will never leave you and is only giving you these momentary troubles to strengthen and build your character!

Day three: Genesis 8-11

I had a crazy busy weekend, but am not going to let that stop me from my mission!! I was unable to read and report on Saturday and Sunday, but will make up the slack today :)

We start out with Noah waiting for the flood waters to recede. The faith and perseverance him and his family must have had astounds me. One of my favorite parts has to be when the dove is released and comes back with an olive branch. During that time, an olive branch was seem as an offering of peace. The branch along with the dove is such a poignant reminder to Noah to remain faithful and calm while the waters receded.

From what I have read, animals were off limits for eating up until this point. In the garden, God gives Adam and Eve all the plants of the earth to eat, but makes no mention of the animals. This passage is the first time eating of animals in mentioned as "ok"..."Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything". After which Noah is told to not eat anything that still has its "lifeblood" in it. From what I can find, this basically is God's way of teaching them to prepare and cook meat before they eat it to avoid illness (something that had to be taught since they had never eaten meat before).

When God creates the covenant between Himself and man to never again flood the earth, he puts a rainbow in place as a reminder of this covenant. I like that when God is explaining this to Noah, He says that He will put out the rainbow whenever it rains as a reminder to Himself as well as Noah. Now, I think we all know that God doesn't need a reminder, but I think its cool that He put it in such terms so that our human brains feel a little bit better about it all.

The last mention of Noah is about him planting a vineyard, getting drunk on wine and passing out naked. His oldest finds him and leaves him naked while telling his two brothers all about it. They proceed to cover him and receive a blessing while the other son receives curses. An interesting part of the Noah saga, but still learning why its relevant...

The last look of these passages is the Tower of Babel in which God creates all the languages of the earth. I'm wondering why God didn't create everyone speaking different languages to begin with. He knew they would build a city and tower, and then later inflicted them with different types of speech. Jut another time where God knew what was going to happen and let us go our own way for a time until he corrected it...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day two: Genesis 4-7

Oh Cain and Abel... where to begin. The first murder in the Bible all over a little offering jealousy. Abel gave his tithe with a pure heart, and Cain gave what he felt like giving to just get by. When God wasn't happy, Cain killed Abel (because this seems like a much more logical idea than offering God more crops with a grateful heart). This is another time where God asks a question that he already knows (in the garden, he asked Adam and Eve where they were when they hid from Him). I feel like its His way of giving us a chance to fess up to what we did. What is cool is that after God cursed Cain's crops for life, He also put a protective mark on him so that no man would kill him for what he did. He gave Cain a tough punishment (took away his livelihood), but gave him nothing that was beyond what he could bear.

After moving to Enoch, Cain takes a wife and starts a family. What gets me is--if Adam and Eve only had Cain and Abel, where in the world did this wife come from? So far, there is no mention of anyone else on earth...kind of strange. They later had another son -Seth- and other children followed, but prior to Seth, no other children are mentioned.

Noah and the flood have always brought up questions for me. God knows everything that will happen, so He knew that when he made mankind, they would turn evil and corrupt the perfect world He created. Yet He did it anyway. Then He brought the flood to wipe out the evil and corrupt to start anew. It begs me to trust in God's infinite wisdom that He knew just what He was doing. It may seem a little backwards and weird to us, but He knew that it was the right way to do things. I've seen this in my own life and ask "why did you let me go down that road when you knew I was just going to burn myself?". Sometimes we have to walk through the fire to claim redemption.

Another question (pretty silly but...) how did God destroy the fish and creatures of the sea with a flood? If anything, they would just have more space to enjoy themselves...digest that for a minute.

I can't imagine the amount of trust and perseverance Noah and his family had. They knew the tragedy that was about to befall the earth and had to push through it knowing that afterward they would be the only ones left alive on the ENTIRE EARTH. God has given me much smaller tasks than that only to have me second-guess and doubt his wisdom. Today, I pray for Noah-like faith.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day one: Genesis 1-3

Just about everyone knows what goes down in the earlier chapters of Genesis. God makes the earth and humans, humans sin, humans flee from the garden and go on leading their sinfilled lives...

But as I read through the creation account, I am struck with a question I've never asked before. At the end of each creation day, it says "there was evening and there was morning" which marked a "day". But half of these "days" occurred before God put the sun and moon in the sky as markers for us to keep track of day and night. I just think it is very interesting that it is described as evening and morning before there was even a sun and moon...very interesting.

In Chapter 2, you learn a little more about the detail that went into creating Adam and Eve. I wonder why God made Adam and then waited a little while before creating Eve. He says no suitable helper could be found, but if he already knew there wasn't going to be a helper, why not just make her at the same time?

I cannot even imagine how scared they were after being approached by God after eating of the fruit. I imagine these two little mice being blasted away by a lion's breathy roar.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In the beginning...

It recently came to my attention that I have never read the Bible from cover to cover. As a Christian I feel very convicted about this and have come up with a simple, motivating remedy. I will read daily and blog about what I gleaned from my reading. I am a fan of the streamlined, chronological approach to reading the Bible and have printed off a schedule for the next 365 days. I hope you will learn just as much as I know I will over the next year, and hopefully this blog will help to keep me motivated!

I chose 2cor416.blogspot.org (2 Corinthians 4:16) as my page link because I find the verse profoundly beautiful: "Therefore we do not lost heart, but though the outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day." This is what I hope to accomplish through this journey; that I will decay and shed away the parts of me that are not glorifying to God or edifying to others and renew my spirit in the Lord.