October 8: Noah and a Promise

Read Genesis 8:1-9:17

The ark was anything but a cruise ship!  Their boat wasn’t designed for entertainment, luxury, and refreshment.  It was designed to preserve the lives of 8 people and a floating zoo.  The initial downpour and devastation, flood and misfortune gave way to month after month of waiting.  But God remembered them, and the day finally came when they disembarked.  Perhaps after kissing the dry ground, they offered sacrifices of worship to God who had delivered them.

Some things were no different than when they entered the ark.  There were still 24-hour days with darkness and daylight.  The seasons resumed.  Noah, his sons, and their wives still had the responsibility to multiply and fill the earth.  It must have been nice to have those familiar elements as part of this new beginning.

Other things in their post-diluvian world were much different.  Hamburgers were now on the menu!  Initially limited to a vegetarian diet, they now had the freedom to eat meat.  But T-bone steaks weren’t the only change.  God also gave them the responsibility to punish people who injured others.  Thus, the roots of the legal system and law enforcement were established.  This was unlike their prior experiences.

Noah LandedBut to these eight who were perhaps fearful of a repeat performance…another flood…God made a promise.  Never again!  Never again would He punish all of mankind with a flood.  Never again would He destroy the earth with a flood.  What a great promise!

Now, don’t interpret that promise as a divine admission of fault.  God had and has every right to punish individuals, nations, and even all of mankind for sin.  In fact, not only does He have the right, but He is also obligated to do so.  But this promise…rather than being an admission of fault…is an extension of grace.  It was a grace promise that was wrapped up and sealed with a bow, a rainbow.  You see, God is a God of justice and grace.  He keeps His promises.

I can still remember standing in an Alpine valley in Austria after a summer rain.  Looking up at the mountains, Celeste and I saw a double rainbow.  A double reminder that our Father is a God of grace who keeps His promises!

Is there a divine promise you need to hang on to?  Do you feel like you are under a deluge of circumstances that have flooded your life?  Hang on to the promise that He never leaves those who are His (Heb. 13:5)!


Posted in Genesis, Journey through the Bible

October 7: The Flood

Read Genesis 6:5-7:24

My closest parallel experience to the flood mentioned in today’s reading only happens on the Internet.  Occasionally, on weather.com, I see a little red “Alert” indicator for the Wooster, Ohio area.  Often, that “Alert” is an indication that the Killbuck River might flood.  Because I don’t live in close proximity to the Killbuck, I am unaffected when it overruns its banks.

That’s the closest literal parallel in my life…but it is a far cry from that which happened in Noah’s days.  Notice some of the specifics about this flood:

  • Sin was the problem. Sin permeated his culture.  It started in the heart, penetrated the thoughts, and worked its way out into words and actions…all of the time.  It sounds like it could have hardly been worse!
  • Punishment was the consequence. That’s true of all sin, actually.  Because God is holy, each and every sin requires His punishment, not just then but also today.
  • The punishment was global. Because sin characterized all of mankind that had filled the earth, God brought a world-wide flood.  The Bible says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).  Every one of us, then, is deserving of His punishment.
  • God provided rescue. Though Noah is described as uniquely righteous in his day, he was not perfect.  No one is.  He did, however, walk with God by faith.  The ark became a vessel of rescue for him, his family, and the animals.  God rescues all those who turn to His Son in faith (Romans 10:9, 10).
  • Others were invited to experience rescue. You may not pick up on that from the book of Genesis.  Peter, however, describes Noah as a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5).  Apparently, he not only built the ark but also warned people like the “Alert” indicator on my computer screen.  But none responded.

Even though I haven’t experienced a close literal parallel to a flood of water, my life resonates with the truths of the above bullet points.  I have wandered from God and deserve judgment.  Meanwhile God offered me the lifeboat (ark) of forgiveness.  Jesus, you see, came on a mission to seek and to save what was lost (Lk. 19:10).

Will you give thanks today for Jesus, the ark of rescue God has provided for you?


Posted in Genesis, Journey through the Bible

October 6: The Fall

Read Genesis 3:1-24

The instructions God initially gave to man as recorded in the first two chapters of Genesis seem simple enough.

  1. Multiply and spread out (1:28a).
  2. Rule over and care for creation (1:28b; 2:15).
  3. Eat any fruit you want…well almost (1:29; 2:16, 17).

As the holy, loving Creator, of course, He had and still has every right to express both that which pleases Him and that which is good for His creation.  And so He did…in three simple areas.

But Adam and Eve blew it.  Believing a lie and ignoring God’s instruction, they ate from the one tree, around which God had placed yellow caution tape.

Adam and Eve ExpulsionNow, some may say, “So what?  That’s not a big deal!”  Guess again!  Ignored instructions led to incredible ramifications.  Suddenly, Adam and Eve felt shame.  They covered themselves and hid.  Next thing you know, there was blame.  Fingers were being pointed in all directions.  Then, ultimately, there was unwanted pain in their lives.  The serpent crawled, work became hard, and childbirth was not an evening stroll through the garden.  Arguably worst of all, access to the Tree of Life was cut off and they experienced separation from God.  Life has been different for all of mankind ever since.

Even though you and I reel under the impact of that simple choice made in a garden millennia ago, we are also accountable for the choices we make today.  God gave us simple instructions.  We could boil them down to two…love God…love your neighbor (Matt. 22:34-40).  We could expand them to ten…including exclusive devotion to God, the honoring of parents, our actions and thoughts about sex, and our actions and words towards those who frustrate us (Ex. 20; Matt. 5).  Theoretically, obedience to them should be a piece of cake.  In reality, we discover our response to be like the choice of the wrong kind of fruit.

And the ramifications?  Yep, the shame, blame, pain, and separation are ours.  We find ourselves cut off from God with no way back.

But God, in the disappointment of the garden, gives a glimpse of hope.  Without using His name, He spoke of Jesus (3:15).  As an offspring of Eve, He not only crushed Satan’s head, but He also offers to restore our relationship to God if we come to Him by faith!

Thank you, God, for the hope you offer to me in the face of shame, blame, pain, and separation!


Posted in Galatians, Journey through the Bible

October 5: Creation

Read Genesis 1:1-2:25

“In the beginning…”

Yes, this is the beginning of a new devotional series.  For some of you, it might represent a different beginning.  Perhaps it is what you hope to be the beginning of a daily commitment to Scriptures.  For some, this represents the first day of Fight Club.

But the beginning you read about today was different.  This beginning was the start of the clock of time.  This beginning was the “genesis” to all that is.  You see, that “beginning” was different.

That “beginning” was set into motion by a “First Cause”—God…Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Creatively and magnificently, He called things into existence.  Some of those things require telescopes; others require microscopes.  Some of them you can pet; others you have to cage.  From the four seasons to today’s sunrise, He was the author of all of it.

You are one of His creative products.  You are His “crème de la crème”  (1:31).  Among all of His creation, you are special.

  • You alone share the very image of God (1:26, 27)! While animals can be trained, you adamhave rational, volitional, and emotional dimensions that you are able to creatively express.
  • You alone are given responsibility to “fill the earth and subdue it” (1:28)! While the maps on a zoo cage indicate a limited natural habitat for a given species, humans are found on all seven continents.
  • You have the capacity for meaningful relationships (2:18-25)! Alone, Adam would have lasted but one generation.  You alone on this earth would not be a good thing.  God has given the blessing of other humans to whom you can relate and another gender with which some experience the deep intimacy of marriage.
  • You have been warned of wrong and its consequences (2:16, 17)! God has given you an intuitive awareness of right and wrong through your conscience.  And He has also given you a written record of those things to avoid.

In that beginning, God created you with special aspirations for you and unique privileges and responsibilities extended to you!  What are you doing with those?  Are you living out all that He had in mind for those made in His image?  There is no need to answer because all of us know we fall short.  And we will see tomorrow that even our “falling short” had its own beginning.


Posted in Genesis, Journey through the Bible

October 4: What’s the Bible all about?

Read Luke 24:13-53

You may think this to be an interesting choice in a daily reading series that is titled “Journey Through the Bible.”  After all, shouldn’t such a journey start at the beginning with creation rather than some dialogue nestled deep in the context of a later storyline?  Shouldn’t we start at the beginning?

Those certainly are reasonable assumptions, and tomorrow our reading will take us there.  But what we read today gives us the bird’s eye view.  It helps us to see the golden thread running through both Old and New Testaments.  According to postmodern literary theory, we were just given a glimpse of the “metanarrative” or overarching story we should be looking for on our journey ahead.  If you missed it, don’t be shocked…and yet, you will admit that it is not hard to find.

What is it?  Look again at verse 27.

“…beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

road-to-emmausJesus began with Genesis, the first book written by Moses, and He highlighted passages all the way through the Major and Minor Prophets.  All the way through, He pointed to Himself.  Jesus, you see, was not a new New Testament revelation.  Although the Old Testament reflected historic events, there were clear reflections of Him.  Sprinkled in the Old Testament predictions were clear prophecies of His coming.  The Bible is a reflection on Jesus.  He is central to all that is written.  (Click here to gain quick insight of Christ in every book of the Bible.)

Keep that in mind as we embark on this journey.  Although the individual studies will not always draw that out, Jesus Christ is the focal point from Genesis to Revelation.

Is He the focal point for you?  If people were to read the book of your life, would they conclude that yours is a life lived for Jesus?  Would they have to say that the golden thread holding you together is the resurrected Christ?  That, my friend, is the desired destination we embark on today.  We will be taking a trip where we will see Jesus and become more like Him.


Posted in Journey through the Bible

October 3: The Jailer

Read Acts 16:1-40

Your obedience in a single moment when you feel like no one is watching…that can be the moment that forever changes someone’s life. What’s mundane for you may be a learning opportunity for someone else. No matter who you are or what stage of life you’re in, there is often someone watching you. How will you react? When presented with certain obstacles, how will you respond? In our culture today, there are a lot of people watching Christians and wondering how we will react.

Acts 16 talks about an adventure for the apostle Paul and his ministry partner Silas. They traveled, upon direct revelation by the Holy Spirit, to Macedonia to share the gospel. Soon after their ministry began in the city, they were beaten and thrown in jail for their beliefs. There they were, obeying God’s command for them and they were in the middle of a jail cell. What would they do? How would they react? Verse 25 tells us how, in the middle of the night, Paul and Silas began praising God and singing hymns.  Meanwhile, the people in the jail cell were listening to them. These other prisoners most likely saw or heard of Paul and Silas’ brutal beating and their time in jail. Knowing this, it must have affected them greatly to hear praise in the midst of such trial!

God responded in a miraculous way by sending an earthquake to rattle the shackles off their hands and feet and to break the doors open. The jailer assigned to guard them, seeing the doors open, was about to take his own life.  Perhaps in his mind, if he didn’t kill himself, his superiors would most definitely do it for him. Paul called out that all the prisoners were still in their cells and hadn’t escaped. Moved by the experience, the jailer plainly asked Paul what he must do to be saved. Paul explained the gospel to him and he was saved ALONG WITH HIS ENTIRE HOUSEHOLD.

How would you have reacted if you were in Paul and Silas’ shoes? Would you praise God in the midst of trials? Paul and Silas did exactly that and the prisoners in the jail witnessed their faith. The jailer ALONG WITH HIS ENTIRE HOUSEHOLD were both saved and baptized. God can do miraculous things through one simple act of obedience. The transformation that happened in the life of the jailer can happen in the lives of your “5” as well!


Posted in Acts, Transformation Testimonies

October 2: Paul

Read Acts 8:1-9:31

Here is the way that the apostle Paul described his own transformation:

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.  The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.  Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.  (1 Tim. 1:12-17)

His was a transformation designed to be exemplary.  It is an example of what God can do in you and of what He can do in others you know.

He takes people with a tainted past and places them in His glorious service.  In his past, Paul had voted in favor of the execution of Stephen (8:1).  Fear of him caused people to disperse (8:1).  He was destroying the church and incarcerating believers (8:3).  As he looked back, he considered himself the worst of sinner.  Nevertheless, there was more than enough of God’s mercy and grace to cover his past.

Not only did the grace of God extend forgiveness.  It also placed him into what was arguably one of the most influential positions of ministry man has ever known.  He proclaimed the name of Christ to Gentiles, kings, and the people of Israel.  As a result, people around the Mediterranean rim responded.

How does one respond to such transforming grace?  With gratitude.  That is how Paul began and ended the passage cited above.  He thanks God and ascribes to Him eternal honor and glory.

Do you recognize the transforming power of God that is at work in you?  Are you responsive to it?  Will you pause and give thanks for it?


Posted in Acts, Transformation Testimonies