START AT THE VERY BEGINNING

If you have been following “Daily Manna with Your Mug”, you are realizing I like to write short, personal writings that are created from my own “conversations” with God and then passed on to you each morning.  When I rise each new day, I get a large mug of coffee and a bowl of Cheerios and “have breakfast with Jesus.  It begins with prayer, reading, thinking, and then writing.  Since completing the Book of Revelation last week, I am led to go back to the beginning—the Genesis of God’s message to us and for us. 

As a teacher and learner, I am led to let you in on a method of study that might help you understand more and more each day what is written in God’s Word about Him.  You will be blessed by diving into the greatest “text” ever written—God’s Word to us.  This text is the beginning of a the most important relationship with personal conversations you will ever have on earth with Someone who so loved us, He gave His Son to save us.  As we read, we will discover that God wants us to love Him back.  He talks about what is best for us because of this love. God, Creator of all and is all knowing, knows what is best for us.  Always.

Most of us have received an email, text or media message from a friend.  A lot of times when we receive one, we can’t wait to see what the writer has to say.  We open it and see the emotion and thought that the author of the letter has poured into it.  It’s the same thing with the Bible—it’s just that person behind each text is God.  And the texts aren’t only about God, they’re also about who we are.

Check out what Eugene Peterson, Theologian, Pastor, Writer of The Message, has to say:

“Reading is the first thing, just reading the bible.  As we read we enter a new world of words and find ourselves in on a conversation in which God has the first and last words.  We soon realize that we are included in the conversation.  We didn’t expect this.  But this is precisely what generation after generation of Bible readers do find:  The Bible is not on written about us but to us.  In these pages we become insiders to a conversation in which God uses words to form and bless us, to teach and guide us, to forgive and save us.”

We don’t usually look at what we read in this way.  When we read a favorite magazine, webzine, or book, we’re reading things that provide us with information about certain topics or take us away into another world.  This book goes beyond that!  This book reveals a God who can change life in every way.

Eugene explains, “This book is different.  This is a world of revelation:  God revealing to people just like us—men and women created in God’s image—how he works and what is going on in this world in which we find ourselves.  At the same time that God reveals all this, God draws us in by invitation and command to participate in his working life.  We gradually (or suddenly) realize that we are insiders in the most significant action of our time as God establishes his grand rule of love and justice on this earth (as it is in heaven).  ‘Revelation’ means that we are reading something we couldn’t have guessed or figured out on our own.  Revelation is what makes the Bible unique.”

Since we are beginning at the beginning of this book by God to us, let’s think about doing it well this time around—as God intended.  Here is a way to fully realize what God is trying to say to us.  There is an ancient practice called “lectio divina” (or “spiritual reading”) that has been used for centuries to do that very thing.  Here is a quick introduction.  If you want to learn more about it, you can go online to read more.  Basically, there are four components that make up lectio:  reading, thinking, praying, and living.  Sounds easy, but it takes practice to get into the groove. 

Ready to take the challenge?

READ, THINK, PRAY, LIVE—

READ

This one takes the most practice.  We live in a culture that places significant value on time and convenience, and this first practice is anything but speedy.  To truly read the Bible, you’ve got to soak yourself in it.

Have you ever been to the ocean?  Have you ever been in the ocean?  Not just pulling up in a car, taking your shoes off and sticking your big toe in the water.  Have you ever immersed yourself in the ocean?  When you do that, it’s almost as if a whole new world opens up to you.  You see and feel and taste and hear things you never could have just walking along the beach—you experience things hidden from the spectators on the beach.  It’s the same when you come to the Bible.  When you immerse yourself in it, a whole new world opens up.

As usual, the Bible says it best:

“Place these words on your hearts.  Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder—Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night.  Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time.”  (Deuteronomy 11)

“How can a young person live a clean life?  By carefully reading eh map of your Word.  I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.”  (Psalm 119)

Eugene describes it this way:

“First, it is important simply to read, leisurely and thoughtfully.  We need to get a feel for the way these stories and songs, these prayers and conversations, these sermons and visions, invite us into this large, large world in which the invisible God is behind and involved in everything visible, and illuminates what it means to live here—really live, not just get across the street.”

We will discuss THINK, PRAY, LIVE in the days ahead.  This is probably enough for now.  Try reading the first chapter of Genesis leisurely and thoughtfully.  Ask God what He wants us to “hear” as we read.  God answers a prayer like that.  When we read in this way, we begin to “get it’.  We are in conversation with God!  We find ourselves listening and answering in matters that most concern us:  who we are, where we came from, where we are going, what makes us tick, the texture of the world and the communities we live in, and—most of all—the incredible love of God among us, doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves!

GENESIS—THE BEGINNING

Genesis 1, The Message

Heaven and Earth

1-2 First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.

3-5 God spoke: “Light!”
    And light appeared.
God saw that light was good
    and separated light from dark.
God named the light Day,
    he named the dark Night.
It was evening, it was morning—
Day One.

6-8 God spoke: “Sky! In the middle of the waters;
    separate water from water!”
God made sky.
He separated the water under sky
    from the water above sky.
And there it was:
    he named sky the Heavens;
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Two.

9-10 God spoke: “Separate!
    Water-beneath-Heaven, gather into one place;
Land, appear!”
    And there it was.
God named the land Earth.
    He named the pooled water Ocean.
God saw that it was good.

11-13 God spoke: “Earth, green up! Grow all varieties
    of seed-bearing plants,
Every sort of fruit-bearing tree.”
    And there it was.
Earth produced green seed-bearing plants,
    all varieties,
And fruit-bearing trees of all sorts.
    God saw that it was good.
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Three.

14-15 God spoke: “Lights! Come out!
    Shine in Heaven’s sky!
Separate Day from Night.
    Mark seasons and days and years,
Lights in Heaven’s sky to give light to Earth.”
    And there it was.

16-19 God made two big lights, the larger
    to take charge of Day,
The smaller to be in charge of Night;
    and he made the stars.
God placed them in the heavenly sky
    to light up Earth
And oversee Day and Night,
    to separate light and dark.
God saw that it was good.
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Four.

20-23 God spoke: “Swarm, Ocean, with fish and all sea life!
    Birds, fly through the sky over Earth!”
God created the huge whales,
    all the swarm of life in the waters,
And every kind and species of flying birds.
    God saw that it was good.
God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Ocean!
    Birds, reproduce on Earth!”
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Five.

24-25 God spoke: “Earth, generate life! Every sort and kind:
    cattle and reptiles and wild animals—all kinds.”
And there it was:
    wild animals of every kind,
Cattle of all kinds, every sort of reptile and bug.
    God saw that it was good.

26-28 God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
    reflecting our nature

So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
    the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
    and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings;
    he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
    He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
    “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
    for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”

29-30 Then God said, “I’ve given you
    every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth
And every kind of fruit-bearing tree,
    given them to you for food.
To all animals and all birds,
    everything that moves and breathes,
I give whatever grows out of the ground for food.”
    And there it was.

31 God looked over everything he had made;
    it was so good, so very good!
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Six.

Lord,

I’m excited about starting over at the beginning of your Word.  You are already speaking wisdom in volumes to my heart, mind and soul that loves you.  Continue to speak to my heart and to the hearts of all who read this.  Help us all to know you more, as our Friend, who knows us best and wants the best for us.  How can we turn away from someone whose love never ends and will never betray us?  I cannot.

In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.