Saturday, February 17, 2018

Genesis 1:1-2:4a

1 This is how it all began. God started to create the heavens and the earth and everything in between. 2 At that point, the planet Earth was a chaotic shapeless void. Darkness hung over the deep sea. But a wind from God -- his Spirit -- swept over the waters -- covering it like a brooding bird covers its nest. 3 And God said, “Light!” And light appeared. 4 God concluded that the light was good and life-giving. So he separated it out from the darkness. 5 God named the light “Day” and the darkness “Night.”

That is what happened on the first day.

6 God continued setting order to the soupy chaos by saying, “Let there be atmosphere between the waters above and the waters below.” 7 Thus God inserted the atmosphere separating the waters. There was water under the atmosphere and water above the atmosphere.

And it happened according to his spoken command.

God named the atmosphere Sky. 

That is what happened on the second day.

9 Then God said, “Let the waters under this sky pool together in one place so that the dry ground can appear.”

And it happened according to his spoken command.

God named the dry ground Land, and he named the gathered waters Ocean. God concluded that the Land and Ocean configuration was good and life-giving.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce plants -- seed-bearing plants and fruit-bearing plants -- unique varieties all across the land.”

And it happened according to his spoken command.

12 The land produced the many unique varieties of plants that bear seeds and those that bear fruit. God concluded that the plants were good and life-giving.

13 That is what happened on the third day.

14 Then God said, “Let there be lights above that will distinguish the day sky from the night sky. They will be signs pointing to my power -- as opposed to themselves being the source of power. They will provide markers for events, sacred seasons, days, and years. 15 From their places in the sky, they will give light to the earth.”

And it happened according to his spoken command.

16 God made the stars and two great lights: the sun, which is larger, to oversee the day, and the moon, a smaller light, to oversee the night. 17 God put them in the sky to shine on the earth, 18 to oversee the day and oversee the night -- to separate the light from the darkness. God concluded that they were good and life-giving.

19 That is what happened on the fourth day.

20 Then God said, “Let the waters teem with life and birds fill the sky.” 21 God created all the unique varieties of huge sea creatures and the tiny living things that so actively swarm in the waters. He created all the unique varieties of birds, as well. And God concluded that the creatures of the sea and the creatures of the sky were good and life-giving.

At his word, God then blessed them with the ability to reproduce and multiply -- the fish filling the oceans and the birds covering the earth.

23 That is what happened on the fifth day.

24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce all the diverse kinds of animals: the domesticated critters, the reptiles, and the wildlife.”

And it happened according to his spoken command. 

God made all sorts of animals -- wildlife, domesticated, and the creatures that crawl on the ground. God made them all! And God concluded that the animals were good and life-giving.

26 Once again God spoke, “Let’s make humanity -- the people -- in our image. That way they can be like us and thus be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the domesticated animals, all the crawling things on earth -- and even the earth itself.”

27 God created humanity in his own image, in the divine image he created them -- both male and female.

28 At his word, God then blessed them with the ability to reproduce and multiply with such virility that they’d master all the earth. He told them to “take charge of the fish, the birds, and all the other animals crawling around on the ground.”

29 Then God blessed them further saying, “I am giving you all the seed-yielding plants and the fruiting trees for food. 30 To all living animals -- the wildlife, the birds, and to critters crawling on the ground -- I am giving all the green leafy plants for food.”

And once again, 
it happened according to his spoken command.

God surveyed the entire creation -- including the people and animals -- and declared that they were extremely good and life-giving.

That is what happened on the sixth day.

1 So, God completed the creation of the sky, the earth, and all that is living. 2 By the seventh day, with the work done, God rested. 3 And in doing so God blessed the seventh day and made it a holy day.

4 So that is how God created the sky and the earth -- everything up there and everything down here. It all originates with him.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Galatians 4:4-7

4 But when the timing was right, God the Father sent his Son. He was born through a human woman into a world which was structured around certain demands and expectations. 5 This was no accident. He was born into the system so that he could rescue those living under such systems -- freeing them from obligation to follow the social and religious rules. They were given new status and can now rely on their privilege as adopted members of God’s family. 6 Indeed as privileged members of the family -- sons and daughters -- you don’t function with an external agenda but with the internal prompting of the Spirit of God’s Son, whom he sent to reside in your hearts. So you can call out to God as your dear father. 7 The whole dynamic of the relationship is different. You are no longer a slave with obligations but a child with direct access to the father -- and indeed the privileges that go with being an heir to his estate.

Monday, December 18, 2017

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

12 Brothers and sisters, we’re asking you to honor the leaders who are working in your midst as teachers. 13 Respect and show love to them because of the work they do. And make sure that you live peacefully with each other. 14 Dear ones, we urge you to warn those who are undisciplined, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, and be patient with everyone. 15 See to it that no one indulges in pay-back behavior.Instead, through the good you do elevate everyone who enters your sphere of influence.

16 Be joyful at all times and in all situations. 17 Likewise, with prayer. Keep at it. 18 And give thanks no matter what happens -- good or bad. This is what God wants for those of you who are united with Christ Jesus. 19-22 Don’t suppress the Holy Spirit or blow off Spirit-inspired messages. Instead, carefully examine every idea, action, and message that comes along. Hang on to what is good and carefully avoid everything which is associated with evil.

23 Now, may the God who is all about peace cause you to be completely dedicated to him -- the whole package of your being -- spirit, soul, and body. Might he hold you together so that your integrity will pay off when our Lord Jesus Christ comes. 24 As overwhelming as it all sounds, rest assured that God, who is calling you to this way of life, is totally dependable and will pull it off on your behalf.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news that comes through God’s Son Jesus Christ. 2-3 As it is written in the prophecy of Isaiah:
Pay attention because I’m sending my messenger as the advanceman. In preparation for the arrival he will raise his powerful voice to clear the way through the wilderness. His message will be:
“Get everything ready for the Lord! He’s coming! So straighten things up for him.”
4 Of course, we’re talking about John the Baptizer, who from his wilderness pulpit was calling people to be baptized as a means of demonstrating that they had a complete change of heart and that they wanted God to forgive them of their sins.

5 He was a big deal and everyone in Judea -- including all the people of Jerusalem -- took the 20-mile hike out to the Jordan River. That’s where John was baptizing people as they confessed their sins.

6 Reminiscent of the ancient and hairy prophet Elijah, John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. His diet consisted of grasshoppers and wild honey. 7 In short, this was the message that he preached, “It’s not about me. Someone more powerful than I will be coming after me. Frankly, I’m not even in the same league. I’m unworthy to function as his slave -- stooping over to unstrap his sandals. 8 I’m baptizing you with water, washing away your old life to replace it with a kingdom-of-God-defined life. He, on the other hand, will baptize you with the Holy Spirit -- the powerful, purifying presence of God himself.”

Sunday, December 3, 2017

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

3 Might God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ extend divine generosity to you and flood your life with peace.

4 I’m constantly thanking God for you; for through Christ Jesus, he has been very generous to you. 5-6 He has enriched your church in every way -- resulting in well-said words that express your deep knowledge of spiritual matters -- all of which verify your testimony about Christ. 7 So, it’s pretty clear that you’ve already got all that God has given -- more than enough to keep you going while you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 God will continue to confirm your testimony about Christ so that on at the grand finale -- the day of our Lord Jesus Christ -- you will be found innocent and blameless. 9 God, who invited you to participate in all this, is totally reliable and will make it happen. You can’t possibly have a better partner than his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Matthew 25:31-46

31 “Picture this. The Ultimate Human comes as the radiant King surrounded by his angels. He takes his seat on the glorious throne. 32 All the nations of the world assemble before him to hear his verdict. He starts to separate them from each other in the same way that a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He sends the sheep to the place of honor on his right side. However, he directs the goats to his left.

34 “Then the king declares to those on his right, ‘Congratulations, my Father favors you. Receive the kingdom that was put on reserve for you even before the first day of creation. 35 For when I was hungry, you gave me food. When I was thirsty, you gave me a drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me. 36 When I was naked, you clothed me. When I was sick, you cared for me. And then when I was in prison, you visited me there.’

37 “Then those righteous sheep reply to the king, ‘Lord, we can’t remember feeding you or giving you a drink. 38 When did we welcome you -- or clothe you? 39 And when did we care for you during sickness or visit you in prison?’ 40 “Then the king replies to them, ‘You may not realize it, but this is the truth, when you did those things for even one of my needy brothers and sisters, you were doing it for me.’

41 “Then the king declares to the goats on his left, ‘Get out of here. I’ll have nothing to do with you doomed lechers. Go to... the unending fire that has been reserved for the devil and his demons.

42 “For when I was hungry, you turned away and walked by me. When I was thirsty, you didn’t even give me a drink of water. 43 When I was a stranger, you left me out in the cold without a friend. When I was naked, you rolled your eyes and criticized me. When I was sick, you gave me meaningless medical advice and went on with your life. And when I was in prison, you never visited me.’

44 “Then those thoughtless goats will reply to the king, ‘Lord, we can’t remember you being hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, or in prison. How could we have helped you if we didn’t see you?’

“Then the king will reply to them, ‘You may not realize it, but this is the truth, when you didn’t act on behalf of the needy, you didn’t act on my behalf.’ 46 “At that, the goats are led away to unending slaughter. But the righteous sheep are led to unending pasture.”

Matthew 25:14-30

14-15 “The emerging regime headquartered in heaven can be likened to this scenario. A man about to leave on a journey met with his employees and entrusted his assets to their care -- according to what he considered to be each’s ability. To one he gave five trillion dollars. Then to another, he handed over two trillion dollars. And to yet another employee he committed one trillion dollars. He then left on his journey.

16 “No sooner had he gone than the first employee, the one entrusted with five trillion dollars, put the money to work and doubled it. 17 The second employee acted with equal prowess and transformed the two trillion dollars entrusted to him into four. 18 However, the employee who had received one trillion dollars from the boss dug a hole in the ground and carefully buried the money.

19 “After being gone a long time the boss returned and called a meeting to get a report on his assets. 20 The employee who had received five trillion dollars spoke up first to show his gain on investment. He said, ‘Boss, you gave me five trillion dollars. Look, I’ve turned that into ten.’

21 “His boss replied, ‘Wow! You’re awesome -- a solid and trustworthy employee! You’ve faithful overseen a little, but now I’m going to put you in charge of a lot. Let’s party!’

22 “It was then the second employees turn to report. ‘Sir, you put me in charge of two trillion dollars. Look, I’ve turned that into four.’

23 “His boss was elated with him, too. ‘Well done! You, too, are a solid and trustworthy employee! You’ve faithful overseen a little, but now I’m going to put you in charge of a lot. Let’s party!’

24-25 “Next, the employee who had received one trillion dollars reported, ‘Sir, I know how demanding you are and I was afraid to risk the money, so I conservatively hid it in a hole in the ground. But here it is -- one trillion dollars -- every last cent -- nothing lost.’

26 “His boss was stunned and replied, ‘Seriously? You’re a lazy idiot! You’ve already mentioned how demanding I am, yet, you did nothing whatsoever to grow the money. 27 You should have just put it into a bank where it would have been safe -- while yielding a whopping 0.01% interest.

28 “The boss then ordered that the one trillion dollars be taken from him and given to the employee who had ten trillion dollars. 29 Those faithful people with a lot end up receiving more -- way more than they need. For faithfulness yields great rewards. But it’s a downward spiral for those who are unfaithful with the little they have. They end up losing even that little bit. 30 So escort this worthless former-employee out of the building and out into the unemployment line -- where there is weeping and grinding of teeth.