2017 Bible Reading Plan
Commit to spending some time each week in 2017 paying attention to the message of the prophets! Download the Bible reading schedule here. This week's reading is Isaiah 29-33.
From the desk of Steve Patton
"But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." - Genesis 6:8
When God observed the pervasive wickedness of man "it grieved Him to his heart" and caused Him to regret he had even made humans. Satan and sin had overtaken the earth and all felt the curse of death that had been pronounced in The Garden. It was time to bring a great judgement upon all the world. All were going to die - except one.
Noah is described as "a righteous man, blameless in all his generation." But more than that, "Noah walked with God." Only one other man in all of scripture is so described (Enoch - 5:22). Because He so favored Noah, God used him and his family to save life upon the earth. Four chapters of Genesis are spent describing how God used this righteous man in his redemptive scheme.
But one thing really interests me in God's sparing Noah. The scriptures say, "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." Many versions translate the verse "found favor" but the word is the Hebrew word for grace. It literally meant "to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior." As good as Noah was, there was one thing he still needed - God's grace. In this context it is primarily referring to God choosing to spare Noah's physical life. But like everyone else who has ever lived on the face of the earth, Noah still needed God's grace to be in fellowship with his Creator.
Let this be a lesson to all of us. We are all fallen souls. No one has any hope at all without God's grace. However wicked the world may become around us each one of us will still need God's grace just like everyone else. Let that keep us humble before our God and be thankful He is willing to show each of us Grace.
From the desk of Taylor Pickup
During the time of the prophet Isaiah, the Israelites were at the mercy of the mighty Assyrians. In actuality, it was God using Assyria to bring judgment on Israel and the various nations of the world. Egypt had been Israel’s oppressor generations before, but now even the Egyptians were struggling to withstand the might of Assyria. There was constant political, economic, and social chaos during that era. And the root cause of this worldwide strife? Arrogance. The nations of the world had all long forgotten about God, pridefully seeking their own glory. Even Israel, God’s chosen people, were no better. Thus, God was using Assyria to humble the nations, intending afterward to punish arrogant Assyria themselves.
But Isaiah spoke a wonderful prophecy about God’s plans for the future: “And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the Lord, and He will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them. In that day, there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day, Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, 'Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands,and Israel my inheritance.'” (Isaiah 19:22-25)
God knew that one day the nations would have a bond that united them. Even though people would live in various countries, they would be tied to each other because they would equally be the chosen, treasured possession of God. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. He has united mankind, allowing Christians of every country to be one body of believers, one redeemed people.This feat that Jesus accomplished is what brings us together today.
This Week's News: The Bad, The Fake & The Good by Joshua Creel
The news has been on my mind a lot this week. There's the bad news of all the wickedness going on in our world. News like I heard this week of the increasing problem of child-trafficking occurring in major cities across our country. News that makes you agree with Solomon that "in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain." (Ecclesiastes 1.18)
Then there's the "fake news" I've been hearing so much about. I'm not exactly sure what qualifies as fake news, but it concerns me nonetheless. Based on Facebook and Twitter many of us are consumed with news, but most of these "news stories" don't agree with each other. I fear many of us are struggling with our desire to stay informed and the danger of becoming obsessed. And that is of concern to God because it may indicate that we have forgotten our status as pilgrims here (Phil. 3.20).
But today my mind is on good news. This good news provides hope for all who are wanting to escape the horrors of this world. This news is true because it comes directly from God and thus must not be altered in any way. And this news provides the context for our worship today because it proclaims that our salvation has been found in Christ! (Romans 1.16-17)