Through the Bible in 2021

Through The Bible In A Year With A Friend

Many folks have felt the call over the years to take up reading the Bible as the New Year rolls in with the goal of completing the project by December 31 of that year. Many well-intentioned folks. Many of those well-intentioned folks don't reach their goal. I am one of them. More than once. But there have been years where I have made it and perhaps this is the one where you will find your way all the way through. One help I can offer is suggested readings for each day along with a thought inspired by that days reading.

Through The Bible In A Year With A Friend

I suggest reading the scripture appointed for the day and follow that with a consideration of your keys for the day from what you have read. Write them down if you are so inclined. Then, read through where those scriptures led my thoughts for the day. It will be, I hope, as though you are reading through the Bible with a friend.

I hope that you will consider keeping a journal as you read, making your notes there as your own record of your journey. I will each day include the prompt "Keys For Today..." as part of my reflection to remind you to share and perhaps record your own ideas as you read. Again, I'd suggest you write your own thoughts and reflections down as you read or immediately following your reading and then read mine.

While the goal is reading through the Bible in a year, don't be too hard on yourself. If you fall behind don't give up and don't feel as though you must catch up. Though the Bible in fifteen months or however long it takes you is great. Blessings for your 2021!

January

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 |

| 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 |

January 1

Genesis 1 & 2 and Matthew 1

The opening verse of the Bible starts with the words, "When God began..." and continues with a God speaking things into existence, It happens as God speaks it and it is drawn together with the summation, "God saw everything he had made and it was supremely good."(Gen. 1:31)

The second chapter of Genesis continues with a second creation story, this one with contextual detail. Rivers are named and several places/nations are mentioned. This is a story that takes place, not in some nameless fanciful other world, but in Cush and Assyria - God's activity can be located on a map.

Matthew 1 continues that contextual theme and expands on it, giving us the lineage of Jesus, name by name by name. Then in a quick report that is anything but breathless we get Matthew's account of the arrival on our planet of Emmanuel - God with us.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

Creator God, thank you for coming to us and for your activity in the real places and times of the Bible and in our own real place and time in this present moment. Amen.

 

 

January 2

Genesis 3 and 4, Matthew 2

"Where are you?" - Genesis 3:9

"What have you done?!" - Genesis 3:13

"What did you do?" - Genesis 4:10

My attention today is caught by the questions. God has questions for Adam, for Eve and for Cain. They are questions that probe directly to places where the people have acted in opposition to God's intention. There is a beautiful depth to the creation stories and to the stories of the early origins of humanity in scripture. These questions are questions that God has surely asked of me more than once over the years. As a new year unfolds I am challenged to have my ears and my heart opened to God's probing questions - questions that ask me to be honest with God and with myself.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

As you do a new thing in this new year O God, make us curious to explore your scripture. As we dive into your word to us help us to ask questions that lead us to a deeper relationship with you. Amen.

 

 

January 3

Genesis 5 and 6, Matthew 3

Genesis 6 is the story of God's unhappiness - it says God's heart was broken (6:4) - with humanity and the singling out of Noah and his family as the sole survivors of God's judgment. Matthew 3 is the story of God's heart being broken once again by the people making up God's creation and of God's judgment, this time announced by John the Baptist. Both stories have an element of hope. In the earlier story it rests on Noah, his family and animals who will be saved in the ark. Humanity will survive this judgement.
In Matthew the hope is found in the message of John the Baptist. It is a blunt message, a stirring call to change hearts and lives and produce fruit that demonstrates this change. The passage concludes with the introduction of the adult Jesus, come down from Galilee to be baptized by John. The revolution has begun!

Keys For Today...

Prayer

Forgive us when our actions break your heart, compassionate God. Thank you for loving us and continually pointing us towards a hopeful future. Amen.

 

 

January 4

Genesis 7 and 8, Psalm 1 and 2

The flood. A story with which to struggle. "God wiped away every living thing that was on the fertile land...."(7:23) What to draw from this? A reminder of the depth to which humanity can fall and the reality of God's righteous anger? A worrisome portrayal of God as willing to wipe us out in one fell swoop? It's easy to read as the story of Noah and some fortunate animals who survive the flood. It's more troublesome to read as the story of a the rest of creation covered over in flood waters. No quick escape or simple explanation, but it's in the really problematic dilemmas like this that Bible gets real with us by not offering an easy out. The struggle, it turns out, really is real. Scripture makes a habit of letting us know that if we believe God probably should not be easily explained, understood, readily fathomable, we may well be right.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

God of every time and place, walk with us as we engage scripture to learn of who you are and who you would have us be. Amen.

 

 

January 5

Genesis 9-11, Matthew 4

I read this Matthew 4 passage once as part of a morning devotional while staying in a hotel in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. I will never forget that particular morning. It was around 6:00 a.m. and I was out on a balcony probably five or six floors up and the hotel was already on a hill making the view of the Sea of Galilee magnificent. I could look out and picture the scenes from verses 12-25 unfolding before me. The Galilee that morning was beautiful, the sunrise gorgeous. The geography before me matched the mood of promise in this passage as Jesus calls his first disciples and begins his public ministry in earnest. "From that time Jesus began to announce, 'Change your hearts and lives! Here come the kingdom of heaven.'"(4:17)

Keys For Today...

Prayer

We give thanks today for the sunrise and for every evidence we encounter that points to your glory. Amen.

 

 

January 6

Genesis 12 and 13, Matthew 5

It has always felt to me like Genesis 1-11 is the prologue to the Bible. It sets the table. Puts pieces in place. And then in Genesis 12, things truly begin. We transition from pre-history to history. By pre-history I mean the events of Genesis 1-11 have no hook to attach them to historical events - with the introduction of Abram and Sarai that changes. Here is Egypt and the Pharaoh and the beginning of the stories of the patriarchs and matriarchs of Israel which winds its way to - by the end of Genesis - positioning us for the story of the shaping event of the Old Testament - the Exodus.
Matthew 5, the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, is stunning in ways I have to almost remind myself how stunning it is. I have grown accustomed to Jesus teachings and to the things that Jesus has said. One strategy for listening to this text is to imagine you know nothing of Jesus life, death, ministry, resurrection - nothing. Only what has been told to this point in Matthew's gospel. Now read what Jesus says and imagine you are hearing him speak for the first time. It's breathtaking stuff.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

As we embark on our journey through your Word, open our ears and our hearts to engage it as though for the first time. Surprise us with the depth and power of your love. Amen.

 

 

January 7

Genesis 14 and 15, Psalm 3 and 4

First a bit of trivia. If, as some think, Salem - where Melchizedek is King - is Jerusalem, then Genesis 14:18 is the first mention of Jerusalem in the Bible. Beyond that as we read through the beginning of Genesis 14 there is a lengthy list of kings - nine of them - who are involved in a battle in the Siddim Valley. These kings are likely more like mayors in terms of the geographic area over which they reign. Each walled city has its own king and they are king over precisely as much land as they can successfully defend. If you look at a map of Israel you can see that we are talking about a very compact area. Consequently it is easy to understand the importance of the kinds of alliances described in this passage in maintaining security.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

Holy God, you are my shield and my glory. You restore me. Bless your people this day and help us to respond with faithful joy. Amen.

 

 

January 8

Genesis 16 and 17, Matthew 6

"Therefore I say to you, don't worry about your life..."

"Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth...."(6:19)
"You cannot serve God and wealth."(6:26)
"...Don't worry about your life..."(6:25)
"Therefore stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has it enough trouble of its own."(6:34)
Matthew 6 is full of teachings of Jesus that I love and at the same time with which I struggle. I love the idea of letting the days own worry be enough for the day. I totally get that I can't serve two masters. I've lived long enough to recognize that the things that matter are not things. And yet, I worry, I sometimes fail to make Jesus the priority, I value things that aren't of long term worth. I know and believe what Jesus says is true. I pray that I live more rather than less a life that is consistent with what I profess to know and believe.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

Help me this day to find agreement between my beliefs and my actions, my love for you and my choices. Amen.

 

 

January 9

Genesis 18 and 19, Matthew 7

Lot seems to have been a real piece of work. At the end of everything after the messengers finally get him to leave Sodom and are urging him to head for a safe spot up in the mountains he doesn't want to go to the mountains and asks to go to a small city nearby instead. Whenever I get up this much of a feeling of dislike for a biblical character I try to take the step of pausing and asking how I am like this character. Rather than pile on long gone Lot, it may be constructive for me to examine how often I find myself receiving grace upon grace from God and in response asking for something more or different. When I'm not liking Lot, God is showing me stuff about me.

Keys For Today..

Prayer

Thank you for scripture that shapes us and offers us the possibility of transformation and growth. Amen.

 

 

January 10

Genesis 20 and 21, Matthew 8

I was reading Matthew 8 this morning and found a notation that I'd made when I had read a part of this chapter a couple of years ago during a visit to Lake Tahoe. It took me back to the place and the moment - it was a crisp morning, crystal clear water, simply beautiful. I recalled taking in that beauty and thinking, as I looked at Lake Tahoe, of Jesus climbing into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee.

I've always been an underliner and notes in the margin person, but it has only been within the past ten years or so I've adopted a practice suggested in a presentation I attended by E. Stanley Ott. Stan's practice is to note in his Bible the passage he read, the date and where he read it. I've come to love leaving these tracks behind in my Bible. Many of them are noted as "home", but others are at vacation locations, Starbucks, waiting in the car rider line when the kids were much younger...so many memories. While this may not be everyone's cup of tea, I offer it as something that I've found meaningful and useful. I'd be curious to know if you have any regular way of noting your reading - do you journal, make notes in your Bible, underline? Do you avoid writing in your Bible? No wrong answers - just curious about your practices.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

Each day is a gift, each one a building block, a part of the person we are becoming. Help us to not only seek after what your scripture says, but to listen closely for what it says to us here and now in this very moment. Amen.

 

 

January 11

Genesis 22 and 23, Psalm 5 and 6

A lot of the time reading the Psalms is like walking through an art museum for me. I can be in and out of a room quickly or it can take me awhile depending on if a painting catches my eye. And I don't really have a predictable or good critical eye when it comes to art. Some of it I like and some of it not so much. With a Psalm - Psalm 5 for instance - I don't look for much in the way of narrative, I look for the phrases, the paintings in the art museum example, that catch my eye/imagination. In Psalm 5 this morning that place was v. 3...

"Lord, in the morning you hear my voice,
in the morning I lay it all out before you.
Then I wait expectantly."

And there was my thought/goal for the day...to wait expectantly.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

I trust that you are at work in the world all around me. I ask that my eyes, my mind, and my soul would be open to your voice. Help me to wait expectantly for you. Amen.

 

 

January 12

Genesis 24 and 25, Matthew 9

Jesus forgives and heals a man. This is interpreted as an insult to God. Jesus eats with Matthew and his friends who are fellow tax collectors. This is interpreted as Jesus fraternizing with the wrong folks. Jesus casts a demon out of a man. This is interpreted as Jesus being in league with the ruler of demons. Jesus makes a habit out of helping and enjoying people and this is viewed as problematic. There is a cautionary tale for those of us who live out our faith in community. Beware rules that cause us to miss the point of the life of the person we claim to be following.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Strengthen me and stoke my desire to faithfully follow you. Amen.

 

 

January 13

Genesis 26 and 27, Matthew 10

The first time Abram tries to pass Sarai off as his sister in Egypt (Genesis 12:10-20) it's a curiosity. When there names are changed - they are Abraham and Sarah now - and he does it again (the entirety of Genesis 20) when they settle as immigrants in Gerar it's not a curiosity, it's weird. When it turns out that Isaac attempts the same strategy, also in Gerar (Genesis 26:6-11), it's just plain creepy. King Abimelech of Gerar sums up my feelings on the whole "she's my sister" gambit in Genesis 20:10 - "What were you thinking about when you did this thing?" he asks the great patriarch. Yes Abraham, please explain. And then explain the conversation that apparently took place when you told Isaac about this great idea.

These stories are odd. Maybe everyone back in the days of the patriarchs and matriarchs went around saying their wives were their sisters in tight moments, but I think it's more likely these stories are just odd. Did it really happen three times? Is it three different renditions of the same tradition? Is it a part of a larger narrative and the whole thing didn't make it into the text. All of these things occur to me, but I don't know.

Why make a point of lifting out these odd stories when there is so much that is important and moves the story along and tells us of great people living lives of great faith? Mostly because the stories are there. Sure, one can read past them - filter out the odd moments and move on to where the main story resumes, but I love that it's all there. A wonderful feature of scripture is that it is not all cleaned up and seamlessly presented. It's strange and repetitive and jumps around and includes bits and pieces that make you scratch your head and wonder.

I love this because it feels real. It is not a faux account of the lives of unrealistic people where everything makes sense and all ends up well with a strong moral and a completely logical outcome. It's messy. It's unusual. It's anything but predictable. It's human. And because it's human we can find ourselves in it. Our lives are not seamless or perfect and aren't going to get that way. We can be great and we can be lacking in greatness. We act in ways that are selfless, courageous and meaningful and we act in ways for which even we have no explanation. We read the Bible in its totality and we find much that inspires us, sustains us and challenges us. And we find the occasional bit that puzzles or confuses us - or maybe just weirds us out. It's not a flawless fantasy. It's God's real story.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

Gracious God, you communicate with us through the stories of scripture. These stories tell us about the imperfect lives of imperfect people. In those very lives we see you at work. In our own imperfection, we raise our voices in thanks and praise. Amen.

 

 

January 14

Genesis 28 and 29, Psalm 8 and 9

Biblical scholars are largely in agreement that the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) are the work of multiple authors and an editor that assembled the various traditions into the present text. Suffice to say that the previous statement is a gross oversimplification of a number of theories but gets to the core idea of how the Torah came together. One can feel these varying stories pulling the narrative this way and that. As an example we have a core story that moves from Isaac (who really doesn't emerge as a fully developed figure in the way that Abraham, Jacob or Joseph does (in my opinion) to Jacob. Alongside the main stream of the story, Jacob traveling to the east to find a wife, one finds passages such as Genesis 24:35-36, 27:46 and 28:6-9 which are concerned with Esau's Canaanite wives and Rebekah's dislike of them. They add background to the story, but the story never becomes about Esau or his wives or their relationship with Rebekah except in a peripheral way. It's not hard to imagine that in their original tellings as folks passed this on as oral tradition that there were some great stories of Beeri the Hittite, Basemouth and their unhappy relationship with Rebekah. If so, they joined many other stories that did not make the transition from oral tradition to written text.

Finally for today, there may be some that equal it, but it is hard to imagine a more perfectly lovely statement than Genesis 29:28 and its description of Jacob's love for Rachel. "Jacob worked for Rachel for seven years, but it seemed like a few days because he loved her."

Keys For Today...

Prayer

As recipients of ancient stories that tell God's forever story we are grateful for the people who brought together the stories of God's holy word. Bring us back regularly to this treasure. Amen.

 

 

January 15

Genesis 30 and 31, Matthew 11

Jacob is my favorite of the patriarchs and one of my favorites in the Old Testament. He begins life grasping after his slightly older brother's heel and lives a very human life filled with ups and downs. There is always something brewing with Jacob. He steals his brother's birthright and his inheritance. He has the tables turned on him by Laban when he winds up marrying Leah before he marries Rachel. These two chapters continue the theme of Jacob's occasionally questionable dealings (both in his favor and against him) as we are told of Laban's attempt to get the better of the flock and Jacob's response which wins the day. There is Jacob's packing up and taking off without giving Laban notice, which may have been the wise thing to do, but still is hard to defend when his father-in-law catches up to him. Toss in the story of Rachel and the household gods and the deception and intrigue is everywhere.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

We give thanks today for Jesus, who helped the lame to walk, the blind to see, who invites us when life is heavy and exhausting to come to him and find rest. Amen.

 

 

January 16

Genesis 32 and 33, Matthew 12

I'm reading about Jacob and Esau, but I'm hearing themes that show up in Jesus' parable of the prodigal son. Jacob rehearses for himself what he will say when he encounters Esau, anticipating that he will have to placate his brother who will still be angry with him over the stolen birthright and inheritance. In Jesus' story, the prodigal will rehearse what he plans to say to his father, who he imagines will have every reason to be angry with him. Both Jacob and the prodigal will be met with unexpected grace. Esau has set aside Jacob's past actions and embraces his brother, running to greet him. The father also will run to greet the prodigal. Both stories point towards the amazing gift of unexpected and unwarranted grace.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

When I fall short of who you created me to be and when I act in ways that I know to be wrong, help me to be honest with you and to seek forgiveness. In you is the opportunity to receive grace and to begin anew. Amen.

 

 

January 17

Genesis 34-36, Matthew 13

Matthew 13 is, from beginning to end, about communication. Those who have ears to hear should pay attention. They should listen. They should hear. Parables are shared by Jesus. Parables are explained by Jesus. This is one of those places where there is, I believe, danger for the present day reader. We may too easily place ourselves alongside the disciples, assuming that we are among those who "get it" and find ourselves wondering how so many could have missed Jesus' point so often? How so many could have simply missed out on Jesus?

Whether it's the Pharisees or the people in Jesus' hometown there are regularly some folks who miss what Jesus is saying. Over the years I've heard in Bible studies, Sunday School, informal conversations after worship a number of variations on the question, "How did the people of Jesus' time not recognize who he was and what he was saying?"

Time to step back again. It is useful to ask what caused some to understand and some not to understand Jesus words, actions and life in his own time walking the earth. However, its utility lies not in allowing us to congratulate or judge the people of Jesus' time. The benefit of asking such a question is to ask how two thousand years later I can at times be so blind to what Jesus is saying or doing. It is to caution myself to never make complacency a characteristic of my faith. It is understand that my attempt to follow Jesus is not about arrival but is forever in the sincere effort to follow, to understand, to listen, and to hear.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

I truly want to see Jesus and to know what Jesus would have me do. Help me to keep heart, mind, and soul open to where Christ is leading me today. Amen.

 

 

January 18

Genesis 37 and 38, Psalm 9

"But the Lord rules forever!
He assumes his throne
for the sake of justice.
He will establish justice in the world rightly;
he will judge all people fairly."
-Psalm 9:7-8

These verses pointing to God's justice and fairness seem to be a good companion for both Genesis 37 and 38. As Joseph's story begins we see his brothers finding little that appears to be fair in their younger brother's dreams. This leads to obvious injustice and bad acts on their part. Then the interlude of Genesis 38 wherein Tamar seeks justice from Judah hits hard both on what is fair and what is just in that very personal story and in the society in which that very personal story is a matter of accepted conventions and practices. There is a long trek ahead for Joseph. For the resilient Tamar there is, at least, some vindication and justice.

How often are fairness and justice individual struggles about decisions and actions in our interpersonal relationships? Where are fairness and justice concerns that reach beyond our network of relationships, extending into the society and culture in which we live? How is God guiding us to be aware of the ways in which we can work for fairness and justice?

Keys For Today...

Prayer

Loving God, you desire fairness and justice for your creation. Guide my decisions and choices towards the goals of fairness and justice, understanding that the actions of each person shape our society, our culture and our world. Amen.

 

 

January 19

Genesis 39 and 40, Matthew 14

I'm drawn to competing responses to outside circumstances in today's gospel reading from Matthew. Herod's first thought is of himself. How people will think of him. What John is saying about him. Everything is motivated by his assessment of people's thoughts about him up to and including Herordias' daughter's request for the head of John the Baptist. Even then he, while he doesn't what to grant her request, he feels compelled to keep it to save face.

Jesus offers a different path. Jesus, having heard of John's death, withdraws to an isolated place to consider what has happened. The crowds follow him. We are not told that Jesus sees the crowd and becomes upset with them because they are not what he had planned when he withdrew to a quiet place. Instead, "When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion for them and healed those who were sick."

Jesus actions point us towards considering that the path to fulfillment in life is not in being consumed by our image, or by what we think we most want, but by placing a priority on empathy and considering the needs of others.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

Where I see others hurting and in need help me to do what I can to bring comfort and relief. Help me to find who you call me to be by keeping my eyes looking at the world around me. Amen.

 

 

January 20

Genesis 41 and 42, Matthew 15

As Joseph explains Pharaoh's dream to him he demonstrates some wonderful insight into the way the human mind works. There will be seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. Joseph advises, "No one will remember the abundance in the land because the famine that follows will be so severe."(41:31) Setting aside the rest of the narrative and simply focusing on this thought for a moment, I'm struck by how accurate a description of the way our minds so often work. In the days of abundance and obvious blessing it is easy to enjoy life as though it is simply supposed to be this way. However, in the days of difficulty and hardship it can be hard to even recall that there ever were days that were good and it can seem improbable that they could ever return.

Joseph's plan is to take a long view and use the time of abundance to prepare for the time of scarcity. He is calling for a balanced view of life. It is helpful to be reminded that people of faith are not exempt from the vagaries of life. Embrace and value the highs and understand that there will, without doubt, be lows.

Keys For Today

Prayer

God of all times and places, when I celebrate you are with me. When I am downcast you are with me. When I laugh, cry, cause conflict and work for reconciliation - through it all, you are with me. Thank you for staying with me through it all. Amen.

 

 

January 21

Genesis 43 and 44, Psalm 10

It always seemed a little suspect to me that for years we were left with the explanation that what kept everyone from recognizing that Clark Kent was Superman had something to do with the glasses he was wearing. Clearly some special glasses.

One of the interesting pieces of the Joseph cycle of stories is the moment when Joseph recognizes his brothers and they do not recognize him. And they keep on not recognizing him. Maybe it's just appearances. They look enough the same and there are the right number of them at the right ages, while Joseph probably has had a marked change in appearance along with some cultural adaptations. At the same time, I wonder if he was looking for his brothers, hoping one day they would come through the line looking for food. And I wonder if the brothers hoped that Joseph was long gone, a bad memory - one they actively hoped they would never have to revisit.

Perhaps we do see what we want to see and, if at all possible, don't see that to which we would prefer to be blind.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

Open my eyes to the beauty I long for and to the hard things that I would rather overlook, but which would lead to growth. Amen.

 

 

January 22

Genesis 45 and 46, Matthew 16

It is good to keep a map handy when reading through the Bible. It is helpful to see where a story takes place and sometimes helpful to see where a story takes place in relationship to the story before or after it. This is one of those instances. Much of the material in the chapters leading up to Matthew 16 takes place around the Sea of Galilee. Then we come to this: "Now when jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Human one is?'" (16:13)

What you want to notice here is the location of Caesarea Philippi. It's a good bit north of the Sea of Galilee. It's as far north as we ever hear of Jesus going. You don't just wander around and suddenly notice that you've wandered to Caesarea Philippi. You go there on purpose. You create that amount of distance between the one place and another on purpose. It would seem it was important to Jesus to take his followers on a bit of a retreat - to move away from the regular goings on of the ministry that was their work around the Sea of Galilee. It would make sense in that context, time away from the normal everyday activities, that Jesus chooses this moment to ask this all important question ' "Who do people say the Human One is?" It is here in this time away that Peter identifies Jesus as the Messiah. It is here that Jesus "began to show his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things". The story changes and makes a beg step forward in this moment. For this and a variety of other reasons, this particular location is important.

A bias I have after traveling to the Holy Land is that place can matter greatly in a story. One does not have to travel to the Holy Land to read and understand scripture. However to dig into the depths of much of the narrative it is, at the minimum, useful to have a map and to bring a sense of curiosity about the stage upon which the story is played out to your reading of the text.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

In Christ you came to us and walked among us. Living in a particular place at a particular moment in history you showed us that all places and all of history are places where we can meet you. Help us to look for you where we live today. Amen.

 

 

January 23

Genesis 47 and 48, Matthew 19

In the middle of Matthew 17 Jesus and the disciples have a back and forth about faith. The disciples want to now why they couldn't cast out a demon. Jesus responds, "Because you have little faith...I assure you that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain 'Go from here to there', and it will go. There will be nothing you can't do." Too many times I've heard this interpreted, discussed and presented as a formulation for personal wish fulfillment. Just a little faith and you can do and have anything you want. I don't see or hear it that way. I don't think faith like a mustard seed necessarily equates to a new Ford F150. I think faith like a mustard seed offers more than a capacity to acquire or do things, it offers a way of life where the things we want to do or be are less our priorities and more God's priorities. I may think it would be super to have a complete run of Justice League of America including their first two appearances in Brave and the Bold 28 and 29, and it may not be a bad thing to actually one day have that complete run, but I'm doubting it's God's priority for my life in any way and most likely not a desire born out of my aim of following Jesus. Faith like a mustard seed can indeed help us to do things far beyond what we believe we may be able to do, but I believe this passage is calling me to think about this in terms of what I can do or be by way of participating in God's plan and purposes.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

Lead me to long for your will and to live towards your purpose. Amen.

 

 

January 24

Genesis 49 and 50, Matthew 18

Congratulations to you! You've completed the book of Genesis! Hope you are feeling good about your start to this project of reading through the Bible in a year. And if you are falling behind, remember to allow for grace. Keep track of what you've missed and stay with with the current day or stay with where you are and read from there. Don't get caught in the trap of giving yourself the ultimatum of catching up or dropping out - it's a false choice and you don't have to make it.

A little trivia note for some context when we are considering the journey that will consume more than forty years and most of Exodus through Deuteronomy. It's the same journey, basically, that Joseph and his brothers take in Genesis 50 to bury Jacob. The one where they go, bury their father and come back in a relatively short time. The Exodus doesn't take forty years because it's a long trip.

Keys For Today...

Prayer

You speak to us in many ways. This day we especially thank you for speaking to us through scripture. Keep our ears and our hearts listening for your voice. Amen.