66 in 52 Challenge

Reflections on Genesis

Starting off 2018, it was neat to begin my time connecting with Jesus in the book of beginnings. The first things that struck me were reminders of who God designed humans (and therefore me) to be from the beginning of time, before sin entered the picture and muddied things. These reminders of identity are helpful to cover over some of the unhealthy or untrue labels I had put on myself in the days, months, or year past. To begin with a new sense of identity as well as purpose was encouraging.

More than anything as I read through the whole book of Genesis, what stood out to me was various elements of God’s character. Whether delighting in his “very good” creation or grieving the evil in the world before the flood, I enjoyed focusing in on the characteristics that together help us know just a little of our unknowable God.

Here were just a few more that stood out to me:

  • God is creative. – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1
  • God’s heart breaks over evil. –  “The Lord observed the extent of the human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.” – Genesis 6:5-6
  • God remembers His people. – “But God remembered Noah…” – Genesis 8:1 — “Then God remembered Rachel’s plight…” Genesis 30:22 —
  • God hears and sees us even when no one else does. – “… You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress. … Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” … “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” – Genesis 16:11,13
  • Nothing is impossible for God. – “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” – Genesis 18:14
  • God is merciful. – “When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hands an the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them outside the city, for the Lord was merciful.” – Genesis 19:16 (Also, later on in this story, I saw God’s patience and mercy again. When the angels told them to go to a certain area they were scared and asked to go to a different city instead. Later on, they ended up fleeing that city to go hide in the area the angels originally told them to go. I can just imagine how the angels shake their heads and laugh at me some days too. 🙂 )
  • God is faithful. – “The Lord kept His word and did for her exactly what He had promised.” – Genesis 21:1
  • God provides eternally and here on earth. – “Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means ‘the Lord will provide’). To this day, people still use that name: ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.'” – Genesis 22:14
  • God starts answers prayers before we finish praying them. – “Before he had finished praying, he saw a young woman named Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder…” – Genesis 24:15
  • He’s a God of abundance! – “When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him.” – Genesis 26:12
  • God sees a promise to the end and is present in the waiting. – “What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” – Genesis 28:15
  • God works good in the worst of situations and sits with us in the waiting. – “But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden.” – Genesis 39:21
  • God uses what others intend for evil, for good. – “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” – Genesis 50:20

Whatever pieces of God’s Word you looked at this week, what did God show you in it? How is that impacting your life? How can you use what you learned to impact the world around you?

66 in 52 Challenge

Genesis Intro – Week 1 {66 in 52 Challenge}

This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I plan to focus in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will be posting a summary page with some thought about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey!

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Week 1 - Genesis

The Book in One Sentence:

“The story of God and humanity is about creation, fall, and redemption.” – From NewSpringChurch’s “Everything You Need to Know About Genesis” Post

The Big Picture:

Genesis means “beginning, birth, or origin”. It is a book of beginnings and seems appropriate to start a new year here.  We see not only the start of the world in this book, but also the start of a nation of God’s people, and ultimately the beginning of God’s work to redeem the world. Genesis is a crucial piece of the puzzle when understanding the rest of Scripture. In it we see the beginnings of humanity, marriage and family, brokenness, shame, and more. The Concordia Study bible says it well commenting:

“[Genesis] introduces us to the way in which God initiates and makes covenants with His chosen people, pledging His love and faithfulness to them and calling them to promise theirs to him.”

Some Key Events/Themes in Genesis:

  • Creation of the World (1-2)
  • Sin enters the picture (3)
  • The Flood covers the earth (6)
  • The Tower of Babel/spread of nations (11)
  • The Life of Abraham (11-25)
  • Jacob and Isaac (25-36)
  • The Life of Joseph (37-50)

A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:

Some of us are planning to read through the whole book each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verses, pick any section of Genesis you want! These are just some ideas.

  • Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.”
    Jesus, what do you want to create new in me this year?
  • Genesis 1:27 –So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
    What does it mean to you to be created in God’s image?
    How might you be able to reflect God’s image in the world this week?
  • Genesis 16:13 – “Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, ‘You are the God who sees me.’ She also said, ‘Have I truly seen the One who sees me?'”
    What are your reactions to this name for God: “the God who sees me”?
  • Genesis 50:20 –You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.
    Where have you seen God turn a bad situation for good?
    Where do you need God to bring good out of a bad situation right now?

God’s Grace in Genesis:

All the way back to the very beginning, God’s grace is present in the way God created the world in all it’s abundance, and gave us, humankind, freewill. But God’s grace didn’t stop when we chose rebellion and were deceived toward evil.  No, our gracious God went pursuing Adam and Eve calling out “Where are you?”. He sought them out and offered grace, providing clothes to cover the shame they experienced, sacrificing an animal instead of them. He promised that one day He would come and crush the deceptive serpent, reminding them that it will often look like Satan has won in this life, but it’s not true! I’ve read the end of the story: God wins! One of the biggest pictures of God’s grace in Genesis at first glance looks like punishment… banishing Adam and Eve from the garden. But really He was protecting them. If they would eat from the Tree of Life after eating from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would “live” forever separate from Him. But if He could keep them from that tree until He could enact His salvation plan, He knew there would come a day that they, and we, would be able to freely enjoy again the Tree of Life forever. As you journal in Genesis, watch for God’s grace… it’s EVERYWHERE!

Some Other Resources:

The Challenge:

So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse from Genesis and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. Either way, I’m excited to have you join me as we start this new year in the book of beginnings! If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!