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365 Challenge

Abram called out. (Gen 11-14)

Wesley Skinner

 

The writing of Genesis is beautiful. It's not not like our current writing. When I write I want my voice and passion to come through. I give my thoughts and make comments. Sometimes I think there might be a glimpse of something special. Maybe some way I understand something differently than someone else or my quirky random observations. But it's not epic. That word gets tossed around flippantly in our culture, but the writing of Genesis has something of grandeur. It reminds me of the beginning of Lord of the Rings when you get a recap of things when the ring was formed. Only here, we start with something more significant, the creation of the world and everything in it. And the Creator who is personally responsible and near. Genesis comes at you in waves, 30,000 foot view, then zoom in on one person of the story. Up to this point, the narrative has been on all humanity, Noah and his family being the one exception. But now we are going to begin following one man. 

Of all the people in the world God chose Abram. God came to him and told him to go. He didn't tell him where, only that he would be blessed and through him all nations would be blessed. This sets up something really special, we begin seeing a pattern develop. We see what a far reaching impact can be made through one man. One man, Adam, sinned in the garden casting the death sentence on all mankind. One man, Noah, was chosen to preserve mankind and animals during the flood. Now, one man, Abram, will be a blessing to all nations. God uses one man. One man can make a difference. And we will see this pattern continue. 

I think that is why I like the thought of this verse being the beginning of missionary sending, one man makes an eternal difference. For me, Abram is the first missionary. He is called to leave his home, family and comfort to go and bless all nations. Do we see that happen during his lifetime? Not really, if Abram, as a missionary were to write an update letter to his supporters, it wouldn't be filled with stories of dozens of people turning to God from idolatry. He might not have much to report at all, but the ground work is laid by him for blessing to follow, because he is obedient to go. 

I also think it is important to note that abram didn't have it all together, he is afraid of pharaoh and dishonors his wife. (And again later!) God didn't choose abram because he was perfect. That means there is hope for us!

Random observation of the day: Shem was not born before God told Noah about the flood. According to my calculations, there were about 100 years that passed from god telling Noah about the flood and it happening, then it says 2 years after the flood where Shem was 100 he had a son. Shem was born 2 years after God told Noah to build an ark. 

Don't skip the genealogies! Part 2(Gen 7-10)

Wesley Skinner

Day 3 is really interesting. The flood happens. God establishes a couple of new things. We see division take place. 

Random observation of the day: if you add up the ages of the people up to the time of the flood 1. Noah was really old compared to everyone else before having kids( unless Shem, ham, Japheth were not his first kids but only the ones who came out of the flood with him.) 2. The oldest man to ever live, methuselah, either died during the flood or just before it. 

So the flood happens, but it isn't until after the flood when I think so much interesting stuff takes place. 

1. Seasons

8:22“As long as the earth endures,

seedtime and harvest,

cold and heat,

summer and winter,

day and night

will never cease.”

God establishes seasons. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Imagine life without seasons. It would be like San Diego. Or no seed time or harvest. Did that mean up to that time food just grew unhindered and was always ready? Guess there weren't many prayers for patience. Life where all you needed was available without waiting. Maybe this is an institution of markers in life. If it was day time all the time, especially in biblical times, when you know to stop working and rest at sun down. And seasons of planting and harvest give you closure, something you are working for that comes to completion before starting again. And maybe this gives comfort to people to know that "seasons" in life are God ordained. Maybe God wants us to go through different seasons to learn and grow. What do you think?

2. Meat! 

We no longer have to be vegetarians! 

3. Covenant 

God establishes a covenant with all of creation to never again destroy with a flood. 

4. Division

We get an odd little story about naked, drunk Noah being dishonored by Ham, but honored by Shem and Japheth. This is the first time we see one of the patriarchs bless and curse. Noah blesses Shem and sets him above his brothers, but curses Ham. And if you don't skip the genealogies, you see, Ham becomes the father of the enemies of Israel. 

Bonus random observation: in Peleg's time the earth was divided, yes foreshadowing Babel, but what if the earth was actually "divided" during Peleg's time?(Pangea anyone?) Who knows?! Tell me what you think! 

Don't skip the genealogies!(Gen 3-6)

Wesley Skinner

Genesis 3-6 is a case study in why I should learn Hebrew! I'm not claiming I understand everything going on in this section of Genesis but what I do understand points me to Jesus. 

Genesis 4 starts with the classic sibling rivalry and we learn that people know they should bring offerings to God. We're not given the specifics of that or when they learned about it. We also see that God has a standard for offerings and that He is the judge of them. 

Then confusion, who are these other people who might kill Cain? What is the mark God put on him? Who are the nephalim? How much time has passed until God lost patience with mankind? And what's the point of it all!?

Don't skip the genealogy! A little gem left for us right here in plain site is the meanings of the names. 

Adam=first man

Seth =compensation(to make, fix)

Enoch=mankind

Kenan= possession(room, nest)

Mahalaleel = praise of God(ram, sacrifice)

Jered= descent(come down)

Enoch= dedicated

Methuselah=man of the dart(make, to extend)

Lamech=powerful

Noah=rest(resting place)

Add a couple of articles and this is a pretty powerful statement:

The first man was to make mankind a possession ready for the praise of God/sacrifice come down dedicated to extend powerful rest. 

Then we get a beautiful picture of God's redemptive plan. God tells Noah to enter into death to save life. Get into a box(don't think a curved ship intended to break through waves, think long rectangular wooden box, remind you of anything? Maybe a coffin?). This box is covered with kaphar(atonement) within and kopher(ransom) without. 

We also see a deeply personal God who walked with Enoch and took him away to heaven. A God who was pleased with Noah. Who made a way for mankind to be saved. 

The beginning: talking animals and plot(Gen 1-3)

Wesley Skinner

The bible begins unlike any other book, there was nothing and by the very words of God there was something. Creation, man made in the image of God, then rebellion. 

Genesis is probably my favorite book of the bible. It moves quickly and gives you only what you need to know, then slows down to zoom in on sections of real importance. Which is great for me to stretch my imagination. I look at creation, see God speak, things appear then questions come to my mind. Like 'what was created first, chicken or egg?'. After creation we get no timeline and God said be fruitful and multiply, but after the fall God increased pain in childbirth, so it makes me wonder, were there children that had already been born in Eden from Adam and Eve. My imagination takes me all kinds of places with wild speculations that have very little to do with anything of real importance. 

One of my favorite things to speculate about is the talking serpent. It didn't come as a shock to Eve that the serpent could talk. And when God confronts Adam in his sin He asks "who told you that you are naked" the options are kinda small for "who" unless God might be referring to the animals as who not what. Who to me connotes personhood and speaking is a characteristic of personhood. Paired with the fact that until the flood people were vegetarians. Makes my speculation run wild that animals could possibly speak until after the flood. Who knows!? These are the mysteries that God felt we didn't need details for in Genesis. 

Mysteries that we have, made plain to us from the beginning, are purpose, conflict, plot, and resolution. 

Purpose. From the onset of Genesis we see our creator God, in need of nothing, yet create intelligent beings in His image with a desire to have relationship. God is personal with Adam. He didn't just set Adam on this rock and start it spinning. God walked with Adam in the garden. We also see that man was not intended to live in isolation, but in community, with God and with his wife. 

Conflict. The fall. We see man's perfect relationship with God broken when He ignores the one rule God gave him. 

Plot. The deceiver, Satan, is introduced. Because of the fall there is hatred(enmity) put between Satan and the "seed" of woman. Here we get a great foreshadowing of the struggle that will remain constant between man and evil until ultimately, the seed of woman will crush the head of the serpent, but the serpent will strike the heel. Satan and sin will remain a stumbling block until Jesus comes to crush the power and penalty of sin. 

Resolution. God foreshadows even more of His story in Genesis 3. There is a penalty of separation from God because of sin. Sin shows man his shame and instinctively man tries to cover his shame by his own methods. But it doesn't work. It takes Gods doing to cover the shame of man. God himself offers the first sacrifice for sin. He kills the innocent to cover the guilty. 

That is why I love Genesis. What are some things that stood out to you as you read? What a great start to the bible and the year! 

 

John Piper explains why reading your Bible is not legalism

Wesley Skinner

For many years I have been saying that one thing I don't think I can be too legalist about is reading my Bible. Even when I don't want to. Even when I don't feel like I am growing. Even when I am in difficult sections of scripture to read. 

I spent middle school, high school, and my first to years of college as a distance runner. One thing learned from my time as a runner is that running is as much a mental discipline as it is a physical one. Going on long runs prepares your mind mentally to know that you can do it, and running everyday regardless of how I feel moves me past the option to just rest one day...which turns into two...which turns into...

When I stopped running after my second year of college, I stopped running. Now 10 years later, I carry 40 more pounds than I did then, and my body is just not used to running consistently anymore. I really want to get back in shape and my goal is to run a marathon, but it is much more difficult now. The only solution for me, is to become legalistic about running. Knowing that everyday I will run take the option off the table to not. And over time I will get in shape again. Regardless of days that I don't want to do it or am not seeing the results I hoped or feel bad on the run, by running everyday I will reach my goal. 

Sometimes reading my Bible is similar. Some days I don't want to. Some days I don't feel like I'm growing, but I know that by doing it consistently and making reading my Bible daily not optional, God will change my heart. 

Here is a link to Piper's article. 

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/read-your-bible-more-and-more

365 Challenge Intro

Wesley Skinner

I'm a bible collector. Not professionally and I don't really have any that are significantly monetarily valuable. But something I realized a long time ago, if the bible is in fact the inspired word of God for us to get to know who He is, His character, and His heart for His glory and our good, and I believe it is. I should know what it says.  AW Tozer puts it like this "the Bible is the inevitable outcome of God's continuous speech. It is the infallible declaration of His mind for us put into our familiar human words."

If I claim that there is nothing that influences my life more than God, reading the Bible, knowing it, is of unparalleled importance

The Bibles I collect have special significance to me, because many of them have marked steps of spiritual growth. I still have the Bible I got when I was baptized. When I started college. When God called me into full-time ministry. I have Bibles from my grandparents, both ones they gave me and ones they used. Since 2001, I have bought a Christmas present for myself each year, a new Bible. Initially, the Bibles were different translations or good study Bibles. Over the past several years they have shifted to one year reading bibles. 

I have fully read the Bible, cover to cover, 5 times. I know this because I still have the one year bible I used each time. It's really cool to look back and see the different things that God taught me each time as I highlighted and made notes. As I have spent the better part of the last decade helping college students grow in their faith, I am convinced there is nothing better I can do to help them grow in their faith than to teach them the importance of reading the bible. 

The Bible has 66 books. 1189 chapters. 31,240 verses. If you only read 1 chapter per day it will take more than 3 years to read it all. If you started in the Old Testament, it would take you almost 3 years to get to the first words of Jesus. By the time you get to Matthew how much of Genesis do you remember? The sad thing is I've met atheists who have read as much of the Bible as most church goers.

So here's the challenge: 365 days reading the Bible each day. I will be writing blog posts several times each week and encourage online interaction with each week's reading. 

available at most bookstores and on kindle. 

available at most bookstores and on kindle. 

Chronological Bible. The Bible we read is organized by genre, that is why you read the history or David's flight from Saul multiple times, and the Psalms he wrote during his exile several books later. That's why you read Chronicles and go 'didn't I already read this.' because you did already read it in Kings. A chronological bible takes the books and orders them as the events occurred, so you get cause and effect, David's sin with Bathsheba is followed by his Psalm of repentance. 

One Year. One year is a long time to commit to something, but it breaks down to about 15 minutes per day. 15 minutes per day and one year later you can say you have read the entire Bible. 

Think about it. Will you join me in reading through the Bible in 2014 and see what God will teach you?