WEEK 1, Day 1, Monday, 3 January 2022

https://esv.literalword.com/?q=Genesis+1%3B+matthew+1

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 3 January 2022:

Genesis 1:1 — In the beginning, God….

Matthew 1:21-23 – “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Congratulations on making the commitment to read the Bible systematically every day this year.  On day 1 of this reading plan, we begin with the first chapters of Genesis from the Old Testament and Matthew from the New Testament. 

Here is a helpful overview of the book of Genesis:  https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/macarthur_john/bible-introductions/genesis-intro.cfm

Here is a helpful overview of the book of Matthew:  https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/macarthur_john/bible-introductions/matthew-intro.cfm

In our readings today, we are introduced to God, the Trinity of God (the Godhead, one God in essence who is three in personification; Gen 1:26), the Father (Gen 1:1), Son (Matthew 1:21-23), and Holy Spirit (Gen 1:2; Matthew 1:18, 20)

[For a greater understanding of the Trinity, here is a six-session teaching series on the Trinity by the late R.C. Sproul — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MrjFqwg83E&list=PL30acyfm60fUn9Yl_IUO9PLddhIjCtMgv]

As we begin reading the Bible this year, it is important we approach it with the right heart, motive, and focus.  The Bible has important things to teach us about history, about morals and principles, about the human condition, and about life in general; however, the main point of the Bible is God Himself, and its purpose is for us to be able to know Him and love Him more fully – “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

As you read the Bible, Keep God, not people, situations, circumstances, or principles, as your focus with the goal of knowing Him and appreciating Him more fully each day.  Consider His character, qualities, and will, and then consider how you will respond to Him and share Him with others – “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1, NIV)

The key theme from today’s readings is “Amazing Grace” and God’s amazing love.  God created us to love us, and though we rejected Him, He sent His Son because He loves us beyond our imagination — “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Genesis 1:1 — In the beginning, God….

The first thing God wants you to know is that He is the Creator, and what He creates is good, a point repeated seven times (seven — the number of completeness and perfection) in chapter one.  God created the physical world very intentionally, and He purposefully created us in His image to have dominion over the earth and to do His will, in unity with Him and each other.  God could have created the earth and people to be self-sufficient, but he didn’t; he intentionally created a need for interdependence to promote relationships and love.  Out of love, we were created by God who is love so we could love, which is our greatest commandment — “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

                – 1 John 4:19 — We love because he first loved us.

                – 1 John 4:7, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20 — Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love…. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins…. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us…. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him…. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, but He is also the creator of ethics (right and wrong), principles (how things really work), and truth (reality). When God placed mankind on earth, He gave them all that was good, and He gave them the fullness of life without pain, suffering, and death.  However, as we will read this week, sin, destruction, strife, death, and separation from God entered the world when Adam and Eve chose to eat from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” when they chose to decide for themselves what was right and wrong, how things really work, and what is true.  In the first two chapters of the Bible, everything is good because there is no sin and there is unity among people with God.  The rest of Bible records history – His Story – how from the beginning God had a plan to save us from our sins through His Son, Jesus; how He sent His Son to die on the Cross to pay for our sins; how He was resurrected and conquered death “for our justification” (Romans 4:25); and how one day Jesus will come again and restore all things, which is described in the last two chapters of the Bible where, once again, there is no sin on earth and not pain, sorrow, or death.

Matthew 1:21-23 – “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Matthew 1 describes the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords, the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy beginning in Genesis, and the ultimate expression of God’s love for us, despite our sinfulness.   

                – 1 John 4:9 — In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

                – 1 John 4:11 — Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus, which can be difficult for those new to the Bible to appreciate but which would have captured the attention of the original Jewish audience.  As you continue to read through the Old Testament, you will discover that Jesus’ genealogy includes a long list of very imperfect people including liars, adulterers, murderers, and prostitutes, resulting in Jesus, the KING of Kings, being born in the humblest of families and situations.  What does that tell you about the character and ways of God, and how should you respond to what He is revealing to you about Himself through His word?   

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 3 Jan 22:  Pray that God will reveal Himself to you in a greater way each day as you read the Bible, and invite someone else to read the Bible with you this year.

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