2016 Bible in a Year Challenge – week 2

magi_1This week, we enjoy the classic church holiday of Epiphany (January 6).  Traditionally observed as the end of the 12 days of Christmas, Epiphany is a celebration of God’s appearance with us in the person of Christ.  Many traditions associate the Magi’s visitation of the Holy Family (Matthew 2:1-12) with this holiday.  However the Big Idea of the holiday is “God with us.”  Let’s keep this big idea in mind as we spend time in God’s word this week.

Preparatory Notes for This Week’s Readings:

Covenant:  One of the overarching themes of the Bible is the idea that God calls people to be in a special relationship with him. This relationship is that of a covenant – a relationship grounded in promises and mutual belonging. As you read through the Genesis passages, you will see this concept of covenant. Pay special attention to the promises of God. He promises blessing and an enduring legacy. Of particular interest is God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12, in which He says “all nations on earth” will be blessed through Abraham. Galatians 3 shows us that the covenant with Abraham finds its completion in Jesus Christ. So as you read about the various covenants in the Old Testament, keep Galatians 3:26-29 in mind:

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Grace:   The Old Testament passages show that the great heroes of the faith were all deeply flawed people. These passages depict awful behavior: deception, drunkenness, fearful faithlessness, and sexual immorality. Even so, God remains faithful to His people, despite their faithlessness. God’s grace always comes first. God doesn’t love us for our goodness; rather, out of His great love, God works to make us good.

That is what’s at work in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus tells us that our righteousness must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees. He means that our righteousness shouldn’t begin with a self-satisfied smugness in our own heritage or accomplishments. Rather our righteousness begins with a recognition of our deep need for God’s grace and a yearning for Him to work in our lives.

Readings For This Week:

Sunday January 3

Old Testament: Genesis 7-9

New Testament: Matthew 3

Monday January 4

Old Testament: Genesis 10-12

New Testament: Matthew 4

Tuesday January 5

Old Testament: Genesis 13-15

New Testament: Matthew 5:1-26

Wednesday January 6

Old Testament: Genesis 16-17

New Testament: Matthew 5:27-48

Thursday January 7

Old Testament: Genesis 18-19

New Testament: Matthew 6:1-18

Friday January 8

Old Testament: Genesis 20-22

New Testament: Matthew 6:19-34

Saturday January 9

Old Testament: Genesis 23-24

New Testament: Matthew 7

 

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