Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20
The Bible’s opening verses challenge us to get our priorities right.
(a) The priority of God (Genesis 1:1). God comes first. Before anyone else is mentioned, He is there.
(b) The priority of God’s Word (Genesis 1:3). God is the first to speak. Before any human word is spoken, there is the Word of the Lord.
(c) The priority of God’s Spirit (Genesis 1:2). All was ‘empty’, all was ‘darkness’, yet the ‘Spirit of God’ was at work, and transformation was set in motion.
Here, we have God’s priorities, set out in the Bible’s first three verses.
Putting God first and listening to His Word, we are to pray for the moving of God’s Spirit, ‘hovering over’ our lives to transform them.
For those who make God’s priorities their own, there is a promise of great blessing (Psalm 1:1-2).
It is the great blessing of knowing Jesus Christ, our Saviour, as ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23).
God speaks, and it is done (Genesis 1:3, 6-7, 11).
God is pleased with what He has done (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12).
This is the pattern of God’s original creation. It is to be the pattern of our life as a ‘new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
God speaks to us and we say, ‘Your will be done’ (Matthew 6:10).
We say, ‘let it be to me according to Your Word’ (Luke 1:38).
God looks on such obedience, this ‘walking in the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:16,22-23), and He sees that it is ‘good’ (Micah 6:8).
In Genesis 1:4-13, we read of the separation of the light and the darkness, the separation of the waters and the dry land, and the fruitfulness of God's creation.
There are lessons for us here. We are to ‘walk in the light’ (1 John 1:7).
We are to let the Spirit's ‘living water’ flow in us (John 7:39-39).
Walking in the light, letting the living water flow - this is the way of fruitfulness.
The Bible’s opening chapter is a great hymn of praise, emphasizing that all things have been created for the glory of God (Revelation 4:11).
Nothing can be permitted to distract our attention from the Lord. He alone is worthy of worship.
The creation of the ‘lights’ makes no reference to the sun and the moon. These were worshipped by neighbouring peoples. They are not gods. They are simply ‘lights’. Our worship is to be given to God alone.
The waters teemed with living creatures. The land produced living creatures. Here, we have a picture of life. There is life where the living water of the Spirit is flowing freely among God’s people (Ezekiel 47:5-9). This water brings life to the land (Ezekiel 47:12). Moving with the flow of God’s Spirit, we are to pray that ‘the water of life’ will flow freely ‘for the healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22:2).
The creation of humanity is described in a distinctive way - created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).
We are different from the rest of creation. We have been given dominion over ‘all the earth’ and ‘every living creature’ (Genesis 1:26, 28).
We are different from God. He is the Creator. We are His creation.
Created in God’s image, we have been created by Him and for Him. Though we have sinned (Genesis 3, Romans 3:23), now - in Jesus Christ - we have begun to live as a new creation (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9-10).
The Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1) and that ‘all things were created by Him and for Him’ (Colossians 1:16).
This is the Saviour who is at work in us, enabling us to live as a new creation! Creation has been ‘completed’ (Genesis 2:1). Salvation will be completed (Philippians 1:6)!
The Lord is ‘majestic’ (Psalm 8:1, 9).
He does not remain remote. He does not keep His distance. He shows us His greatness, the greatness of His love.
We feel forgotten. He remembers us. We feel unloved. He cares for us (Psalm 8:4). We are tempted. He will ‘still the enemy’ (Psalm 8:2).
We look beyond our creation (Psalm 8:5-8) to our salvation - ‘we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone...that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil’ (Hebrews 2:8-9, 14).
This is ‘Majesty’- ‘Jesus, who died, now glorified, King of all kings’. The Name of the Lord is majestic ‘in all the earth’ (Psalm 8:1, 9).
To God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - we pray, ‘Glorify Your Name in all the earth’ (Mission Praise. 454, 142).
‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all’ (2 Corinthians 13:14).
We have often heard these words spoken. Here, we are reading them in the Word of God. How often do we think about these words? What do they mean?
These are life-changing words. Through ‘the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ’, we become ‘rich’- ‘blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing’ (2 Corinthians 8:9, Ephesians 1:3). ‘In love God has destined us to be His sons through Jesus Christ’(Ephesians 1:5).
How do these blessings become ours? How do we become God’s children?
We hear the Word of truth, the Gospel of our salvation. We believe in Christ. We are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).
Such great blessing - ‘the Spirit is poured upon us from on high (Isaiah 32:15)!
Why is it so important that we ‘make disciples’ (Matthew 28:19)?
There is a devil, and he is doing his utmost to hinder the progress of God’s truth. He spreads lies about Christ - ‘to this day’ he is still sowing seeds of unbelief (Matthew 28:11-15). We must combat the enemy of Christ - with words of truth, with the believing declaration, ‘He has risen’ (Matthew 28:6-7).
Satan failed to halt the progress of the Gospel. Christ’s disciples rose to the challenge, and so must we: ‘Rise up, you champions of God... We’ll reach this generation... Go forth! Jesus loves them. Go forth! Take the Gospel. Go forth! The time is now. The harvest is ripening; Go forth! Feel now the burden of the Lord. Feel how He longs to save them. Feel now for those who never heard... Now is the time’ (Songs of Fellowship,486).
‘All authority... has been given to Me... I am with you always' (Matthew 28:18-20).
Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29:1-11; Romans 8:12-17; John 8:12-17; John 3:1-17
God reveals His holiness: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts’ (Isaiah 6:3). In His holiness, we see our own sinfulness: ‘I am a man of unclean lips’ (Isaiah 6:5). God is perfectly holy: ‘Your eyes are too pure to look on evil’ (Habakkuk 1:13). When we look at ourselves in the light of God’s perfect holiness, we see the truth concerning ourselves: ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). There is no room for excuses. We must confess our sin. We must pray for God’s forgiveness: ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner’ (Luke 18:13). To those who come to Him with a true confession of sin, God speaks His Word of forgiveness: ‘your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven’ (Isaiah 6:7). The Lord has saved us. Let us serve Him. Let us pray, ‘Here am I! Send me’ (Isaiah 6:8). Let us share the Good News of His forgiveness.
‘The Lord is my Strength…The Lord is the Strength of His people’ (Psalm 28:7-8). Our personal strengthening is closely related to the strengthening of God’s people. Don’t be a ‘lone ranger’, going it alone, keeping yourself to yourself. Share your strength with others. Draw strength from them. ‘Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another’ (Hebrews 10:24-25). Where does your strength come from? It comes from ‘the Lord’ who ‘sits enthroned as King for ever’ (Psalm 29:10). We grow strong as we listen for ‘the voice of the Lord’ (Psalm 29:3-9). Don’t let God’s voice be drowned out - ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4).
Each of us must choose. We can ‘live according to the flesh’ or we can ‘live according to the Spirit’. We can ‘set the mind on the flesh’ or we can ‘set the mind on the Spirit’ (Romans 8:5-6). The new life in the Spirit is just the beginning. God is preparing us for the greater ‘glory that will be revealed in us’ (Romans 8:18). We have ‘the first fruits of the Spirit’. The Holy Spirit is ‘the guarantee of our inheritance’. He is the starter which whets our appetite for the main course! With Him in our hearts, we long for more - ‘an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you’, ‘the redemption of our bodies’, ‘the glorious liberty of the children of God’ (Romans 8:21-23; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Peter 1:3-5). Led by the Spirit, strong in the Spirit, we press on to glory (Romans 8:14, 26, 17).
Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world’(John 8:12). This brought an immediate reaction from the ‘Pharisees’: ‘Your testimony is not true’(John 8:13). They were ‘disguised as angels of light’ (2 Corinthians 11:14). They ‘loved darkness rather than light’ (John 3:19). Their ‘darkness’ was exposed by ‘the Light of the world’. We say, ‘I’ll turn over a new leaf’. Christ says, ‘You must be born again’ (John 3:3, 7). Our way of thinking begins with ‘I’. Christ’s way of salvation begins with ‘God’: ‘God so loved the world...’ (John 3:16). Begin with ‘I’ and you have sin, guilt and condemnation (Romans 3:10-11). Begin with God and you have Good News for sinners: ‘God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us’(Romans 5:8). Through faith in Christ, we are ‘born of the Spirit’ (John 3:6-8; John 1:12). The Spirit of God is the Spirit of holiness, love and truth. Those who are ‘born of the Spirit’ are to live a life of holiness, love and truth (1 John 4:2-3, 6-7, 12-13; 1 John 5:2-3). The life begins when we come to Jesus - the light of the world.
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8:1-9; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15
Hoping for ‘good luck’, some people expect good things to happen to them - all the time! God says, ‘Seek wisdom. Be ready for the hard times’. Wisdom comes from God. He speaks to us with words of wisdom (Proverbs 2:6; Proverbs 8:6-8). Wisdom is not only for ‘kings and rulers, princes and nobles’. It is for everyone who loves the Lord (Proverbs 8:15-17). Wisdom calls us to choose good rather than evil, life rather than death (Proverbs 8:13,35-36; Hebrews 5:14; Deuteronomy 30:19). The way of wisdom is the way of happiness (Proverbs 8:32-34). Our path may not be paved with gold. Wisdom is better than ‘silver, gold and jewels’(Proverbs 8:10-11). Christ is our Wisdom. Receiving Him, we receive wisdom. Growing in Him, we grow in wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2:6). As you rejoice in Christ, remember: ‘He who wins souls is wise’(Proverbs 11:30). Don’t keep Wisdom to yourself. Share Christ with others.
The Lord is ‘majestic’(Psalm 8:1,9). He does not remain remote. He does not keep His distance. He show us His greatness, the greatness of His love. We feel forgotten. He remembers us. We feel unloved. He cares for us (Psalm 8:4). We are tempted. He will ‘still the enemy’(Psalm 8:2). We look beyond our creation (Psalm 8:5-8) to our salvation - ‘we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone...that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil’(Hebrews 2:8-9,14). This is ‘Majesty’ - ‘Jesus, who died, now glorified, King of all kings’. The Name of the Lord is majestic ‘in all the earth’(Psalm 8:1,9). To God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - we pray, ‘Glorify Your Name in all the earth’(Mission Praise. 454,142).
God has great things in store for His people! (a) ‘Much more’(Romans 5:9-10): ‘Justified by Christ’s blood’, ‘reconciled to God’, ‘We shall be saved by Christ from the wrath of God’, ‘saved by His life’. (b) ‘Much more’(Romans 5:15,17): ‘The grace of God’ has ‘abounded for many’. In Christ, we have ‘received the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness’. Through Him, we shall ‘reign in life’. (c) ‘More than that’(Romans 5:3): Our pathway to eternal glory will not be easy. There will be ‘suffering’. God has given us a glimpse of our eternal destiny: ‘grace reigning through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’(Romans 5:21). ‘We rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God’(Romans 5:2). Having caught sight of the heavenly and eternal glory, we see our ‘suffering’in a new light, the light of ‘God’s love’(Romans 5:3-5).
Jesus was ‘persecuted’. We will be ‘persecuted’- ‘all who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted’(John 15:20; 2 Timothy 3:12). We have no guarantee that life will be easy. In all our difficulties, ‘the Spirit of truth’ directs our attention to Jesus our Saviour (John 15:26; John 16:13-15). Whatever our problems, we draw encouragement from Jesus’words: ‘In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’(John 16:33). Here, we have realism and faith. The world is trying to squeeze us into its own mould (Romans 12:2). Sometimes, we feel like faith is slipping away. Sometimes, we feel like giving up. What are we to say to all this? ‘Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?’ - This is our faith’(1 John 5:4-5).