Saturday, January 01, 2011

Read Your Bible S-l-o-w-l-y In 2011

Writing in his blog, Kaleidoscope, at the beginning of the Advent season my friend Bob Withers called attention to the genealogy in Matthew Chapter 1. He pointed out how unusual it was that four women are mentioned, who, from a Jewish perspective had major negatives associated with them. Ruth was a Gentile, and the other three, Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba (listed as “the wife of Uriah”) had serious moral defects.

With that tidbit tucked away in the back of my mind, today I renewed my annual habit of reading through the entire Bible in a year. With a little extra time on my hands because of taking a day off, I was able to read Matthew’s first chapter slowly, and reflect on that genealogy. Not only do the above mentioned women appear, but it dawned on me these were the only women mentioned in Matthew’s list. Think about it: each of the men listed had a wife who was in the line of the Messiah. Matthew, however, records only these four women. Four women who had what we would today call “issues”. Matthew, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is highlighting these four to those who would read carefully.

Reading this passage slowly allowed me to notice and rejoice in the awesome fact that God chooses and uses people who are from a human standpoint the least exemplary. And what a great hope this is for all those like me who wouldn’t make anyone else’s list of notable persons.

Prayer for 2011

To start off the New Year I thought I’d begin with a helpful prayer from Ray Ortlund:

Lord Jesus, in this new year of grace, 2011, give us eyes to see where our churches need repair, hearts to desire the experience of your glory, and above all else, the sheer grace of your felt presence coming down on your imperfect but yearning churches!

His prayer results from solid reflection on the need of our churches to experience the active presence of Christ:

“Our aim as pastors is not only that our churches will be well assembled, thoughtfully and carefully and biblically obedient.  That is important.  But our desires don’t end there.  We desire the dwelling of the risen Christ among us.  We desire his felt presence.  We desire him.

If we are not experiencing his glory coming down upon us, we need to ask if we have been disobedient in any aspect of what we have built or failed to build.  Even if we have built well, we need to ask if we have settled for mere constructional obedience.  The Lord has more for us than that.  He has himself to give.”

The whole post is well worth reading.