More information about the year-long, 2-A-Day reading plan, including the readings schedule, can be found on the 2-A-Day page.
Reflections on Matthew 1
By Jose Troche
As I meditate on the first chapter of Matthew, I am blown away by its content and the cosmic repercussions of its announcement. It starts by compressing millennia of history that covers virtually the entire Old Testament from Genesis 12 and forward, and ends by describing the supernatural conception and birth of the very Son of God.
These are the opening words of Matthew: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” The first page of the New Testament makes it crystal clear who is the main character of the divine plot: Jesus, the Christ, whose lineage is unwound in the following verses (1:1-17).
The way I wrestle, trying to comprehend with my limited mind this most amazing genealogy, is by imagining myself reading to my kids the Big Picture Story Bible. We start almost at its beginning reading about God promising Abraham to make of him a great nation and in him blessing all the families of the earth.
Years went by and Abraham was still without a son. However, God remained faithful to his promise and miraculously brought forward the birth of his son Isaac. Then we read about Isaac’s son, Jacob, who in turn had twelve sons, including Judah. As we rapidly flip the pages, the promise of God is fulfilled generation after generation.
Then we read about David and God promising to raise up out of him a son whose kingdom will be forever (2 Samuel 7:12-13). But, because of the disobedience of his descendants, the kingdom is divided and people are scattered and deported. And yet God remains true to his word. He starts bringing his people back together. But, they are still waiting for the eternal King who will be a blessing to all nations.
After the perplexing silence of the intertestamental period, God speaks again, moving his plan forward, as he remains immutable in his faithfulness. And now the birth of Jesus takes place (1:18). Although, we can trace back his origins, there is something that absolutely separates him from the rest of the human race: his genetic makeup is divine! Everyone is born of the union of a man with a women, but not Jesus. No human male participated in his conception. That which was conceived in Mary was from the Holy Spirit (1:20).
The glorious and majestic God took human form and was born in the likeness of men, getting near his people like never before. He is marvelously indeed “God with us”! (1:23) and he was called Jesus (from the Hebrew name Yeshua, which means “Yahweh saves”1), for he will save his people from their sins (1:21). Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham and David. In this son of Abraham all the nations are blessed as they are offered salvation from their sins. And after conquering sin, Jesus, the son of David, has been crown as King forever. Alleluia!
1ESV Study Bible
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July 7 2014 at 10:38 am 0 Comments
We’re excited to share a reflection we received from Art & Jeannie Shenk on the 2-a-Day readings for July 4. As fellow believers let’s help each other dwell on the Word of God.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I love Paul’s passionate appeal to us to be “living sacrifices”:
I invite you to join me TODAY by devoting yourself to being transformed (present tense). It starts by renewing your mind, engaging by faith to consider and apply the words of spirit and life found in God’s word to everything you do. Why? One reason is by doing this, we will push back against the temptations and enticements of the world to live for self rather than God. And why should we do this? To test and prove that God’s will is in fact the only way to live that is good and acceptable and perfect and in the end will be far better than anything the world has to offer for God’s glory and our best good.
“I think the best answer is to see the connection between verses 1 and 2. My suggestion is that verse 2 is the realistic explanation of the more symbolic verse 1. Verse 1 talks about sacrifices and worship. Verse 2 talks about your mind being renewed and doing the will of God….use your renewed mind to prove what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect.” -John Piper
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be Moses being told by God to bring plague after plague, a total of 10 plagues on Egypt before Pharaoh finally gave in to set the Israelites free? Moses must have felt some compassion toward those being afflicted but must have been sobered by Pharoah’s hard heart, obstinacy and pride in the face of the severity of God’s judgment over and over again. Lesson learned? As Charles Spurgeon puts it, “God would stamp the early history of Israel with the deep impression of his Godhead. His overthrow of the proud Egyptian king should let Israel know in the very beginning how great a God had chosen her to be his own peculiar portion.”
What God did was designed to set Israel free, yes, but more importantly to magnify his name for generations:
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.’” (Exodus 10: 1-2)
Mathew Henry says of this passage:
“The ten plagues of Egypt must be inflicted, that they may be recorded for the generations to come as undeniable proofs, (1) of God’s overruling power in the kingdom of nature, his dominion over all the creatures, and his authority to use them either as servants to his justice or sufferers by it, according to the counsel of his will. (2) Of God’s victorious power over the kingdom of Satan, to restrain the malice and chastise the insolence of his and his church’s enemies. These plagues are standing monuments of the greatness of God, the happiness of the church, and the sinfulness of sin, and standing monitors to the children of men in all ages not to provoke the Lord to jealousy nor to strive with their Maker.”
Prayer: Father, thanks for the reminder that you are the undeniable ruler of the universe as demonstrated so severely to the hard-hearted Pharaoh of Egypt. Thanks that out of the kind intention of your will, you have chosen us to be servants to your justice rather than suffers of your wrath. Work in us TODAY to be soft-hearted not hard-hearted toward you and be led by the Spirit to demonstrate to others that we believe in you and submit to your ways as our Lord and Savior. Also, help us to have compassion on those whose hearts are yet to be soft toward you so in your timing, they may know that you are the Lord.
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June 24 2014 at 3:26 pm 0 Comments
We received these updates from those who are on the current missions trip in Ethiopia. Let’s keep praying that God would bless their work and that lives would be changed for God’s glory.
We thank God for your prayers, dear saints, and are feeling the spiritual support in tangible ways. We are in good health and good spirits. We see The Lord fulfilling His promise to strengthen us for service (1 Peter 4:11). And we are enjoying laughter and fellowship with Ethiopian brothers as well as other workers from the U.S.
On Tuesday and Wednesday I met with 14 leaders from throughout Central Ethiopia who gathered to strategize about children’s ministry. As the Protestant church rapidly expands in this country, church leaders are recognizing the urgent need to equip the next generation. I had the honor of working with these leaders (who represent 500 churches) as we strategized together.
I heard some remarkable stories. One relatively large church hosted a festival for families in their town. Before the festival, they had 150 children in their church. Now 400 are gathering for children’s ministry each week! Another leader described how a five-year-old girl in his church took the initiative to pray for a sick neighbor next door, who got healed and then put her trust in Christ. Another pastor told about a group of 28 mothers in his church who have banded together to pray earnestly for the children in their community.
As so often happens on trips like this, I feel like I am receiving a lot more blessing than I am giving. What these national believers lack in financial resources, they certainly make up for in faith and zeal. After some of the trials our church has faced, worshiping and praying with these brothers and sisters renews my confidence that Jesus Christ is building His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!
I hope that these 14 children’s ministry workers were encouraged and equipped in some small way by our time together. They are sending me back to Covenant Life with new ideas for recruiting an army of praying mothers ... and I’ll be happy to sign up some five-year-old evangelists, too!
We have the privilege of teaching English to high school children in Grades 8, 10 and 12 this week. We were expecting 80 students, but were pleasantly surprised to only have 40. We have divided them into three groups: an advanced group, an intermediate group and beginners. We teach half of them for three hours in the morning and the other half for three hours in the afternoon. So far, we have read and discussed books with our advanced students, reviewed vocabulary with our beginners and played learning games. One highlight today was when we taught them American kickball. We really got to see their personalities come out!
We are finding the students to be eager and engaged learners. The Lord has really met us as many unexpected challenges have come up. Working with limited resources and having to adjust lessons to meet student needs has been stretching, but it’s neat to see how God has given us ideas every time. Please pray that we will continue to share the love of Christ with these students. On Friday, we have planned a lesson to share our testimonies with the students, some of whom are Muslim. Please pray for the Lord to work in the students hearts through this lesson.
Grateful for your prayers!
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April 17 2014 at 9:04 am 0 Comments
I hope this second excerpt above will give you another small taste of Kathleen Nielson’s teaching.
I also have a testimony to share with you from Elise Finch who has benefited from Kathleen’s ministry. Here is what she has to say:
I have read the Bible as part of my daily devotional practice since I was a child. However, over the last 5-7 years I began to look at different methods of study, seeking to better grasp God’s Word in my own life.
During this search, I heard about Kathleen Nielson and read her book Bible Study: Following the Ways of the Word. In the book she talks about seeing the Bible as literature written to be understood by all of us, including those of us who would never be fluent in Greek or Hebrew or complete a seminary course. I read a quote at the beginning of chapter 3, “If we affirm meaning in the text, meaning intended by God who breathed it out, then it follows that God means for us to receive this meaning. He gave us words that he means for us to understand.” God means for ME to understand his word! That’s encouraging, but it’s also sobering because if he means for me to understand it, that also implies he means for me to give it some sober-minded attention.
Reading Kathleen’s book and now having the opportunity to learn more through several of her studies has been profoundly helpful. I’ve learned how to look at the various genres within the Bible and read them with an eye towards how God meant to use their form to illuminate his truth. I’ve spent less time pondering my own opinions or jumping to personal application prior to finding out what each author’s intent was for their original audience. This approach makes sense. Although I will never “arrive”, Kathleen’s methods have provided a useful map which is helping me to better navigate the road of reading God’s word.
I am so excited for this time to learn from Kathleen again and am looking forward to being freshly spurred on as we study the Psalms.
I hope you can join us on May 9-10! You can visit the conference website for more information and to register. To view a video of a complete message by Kathleen, please visit the Christian Conventions website.
Women’s Ministry Director
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December 17 2013 at 8:53 am 4 Comments
This past Sunday, Erin Hill, a member who serves on our Music and Worship Team, shared a song that fit perfectly with Joshua’s message on The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant from Matthew 18:21-35. We asked Erin if she could tell us how the song came about and also provide the lyrics:
“One day last week I came across some pictures of old friends that took me straight back to a difficult season of pain, disloyalty and dissolved friendships. If you had asked me prior to seeing the photographs I would have told you that I had forgiven these particular people of what they had done against me and my family; I thought I did! But the truth was, I hadn’t yet done that completely. The Lord desired to bring me to a place of further healing and true forgiveness. He opened my eyes to see that I was still holding debts against these people and it was affecting my current relationships, but most importantly, it was a hindrance in my relationship with the Lord.
After seeing the pictures I was able to take some time to sit down at the piano and receive this simple song from the Lord (mind you, I was pretty angry when I first started singing!). As the lyrics and the music started coming I was seeing how this was a sweet gift from Him for my aching soul. I don’t know how it all transpired but an unexpected healing took place while I was being honest with the Lord in that moment.
While I was still writing, I had the thought that this song might not only be for my benefit but possibly a song the Lord might use for his church. I contacted Josh to see what the text for Sunday was going to be…I couldn’t help but to laugh out loud when he shared that he was teaching on the passage of the unforgiving servant!
I truly feel that the burden of bitterness, anger and unforgiveness has been lifted from me and I sense a freedom that I haven’t felt in almost five years! Praise God!”
When I see Jesus face to face
I won’t think about the pain I feel right now
One day when I put my hand to his
I won’t think about the hands that hurt me here
But right now it seems much easier
To hate my enemies
Than to forgive and rest within your peace
So I need you, Jesus
My anger’s held me captive for too long
I need you, just you
Replace this bitterness with your love
I had a debt I could not pay
And you showed me your mercy
Thank you, Erin, for serving the Lord and our church with your voice and your songs. Let us know if you are able to get the song recorded!
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June 30 2012 at 8:40 pm 0 Comments
We were blessed to get to speak with several new members and create a brief video of their remarks for New Members Sunday, June 24. We hope you’ll be encouraged by hearing how Christ is at work in each of their lives.
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