Genesis 1 – Made in God’s Image

This Week’s Devotion Theme: God Created!

Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 11-12 and Matthew 6

The final piece in God’s creation, on day 6, is humankind.  Man stands out in all of creation, having been made in God’s own image.

Genesis 1:26-28 – Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Adam and Eve were the first humans, as recorded in Genesis and other places such as in Timothy 2:13 – For Adam was formed first, then Eve.  Adam is mentioned quite a few times throughout scripture, including in the genealogy of Jesus in Luke chapter 3.  But there are many Christians who question if Adam and Eve were even real people.  Why?  Primarily because of Darwinian Evolution.  If Darwinian Evolution is true, then there really were no exact pair of first humans per se, because humans would have evolved slowly from an ape-like ancestor.  For Christians who believe Darwinian Evolution to be true, it has led some to question how there could have been an actual Adam and Eve in that scenario.

But Darwinian Evolution is not possible, as I shared in yesterday’s devotion, and so there is no reason to try to explain away all of the references to Adam in scripture.  Doing so creates the need to start discounting the veracity of a lot of scripture.  Another reason to toss the idea that man evolved is that if you allowed one random step in evolution to occur every hour on the hour (much, much faster than evolutionists suggest it happens), it would take around 6.8 billion years for man to evolve from a single cell, which is too much time, even given the incorrect ancient age of the earth.

The supposed evolution of humans is full of a history of hoaxes, exaggerations, and errors.  For example, you may have heard it reported that humans and chimpanzees have anywhere from 95% to 99% genetic similarity, as this image from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History claims.

  This is intended to support the idea that humans and chimps share a common ancestor.  But the truth is that that percentage is arrived upon because researchers only compared the most similar sections of the genomes.  But if you compare the entire genomes, it is more akin to a 70% similarity.  And still, there are over 900 million DNA differences that divide humans and chimps!  This is known to be true, but misleading information that states otherwise still appears in museums and in textbooks today.  No wonder so many Christians believe it. 

“There is no encompassing theory of human evolution,” concedes Berkeley evolutionary biologist F. Clark Howell.  “Alas, there never really has been.”

Is there any evidence that points to an actual Adam or Eve?  Yes!  Using comparisons of mitochondrial DNA, which is only passed on from the mother, creation scientists, and many secular scientists agree that evidence indicates all humans are descended from a single pair of humans that lived in the relatively recent past.  (This study was published in the journal Human Evolution in May 2018.)

Another recent study published in Science Magazine (337, p.64-69) suggests that humans haven’t been around very long.  Regarding human genetic diversity, the study concluded, “The maximum likelihood time for accelerated growth was 5,115 years ago.”  This time frame aligns rather closely with scripture, and specifically the time that Adam would have been created.

It is exciting for me to see that real world observation continually confirms the Bible.  As more and more Christians learn these truths, I hope it leads to an abandonment of attempts to throw out or twist sections of scripture that are not compatible with some scientific claims.  In regards to human evolution, you should feel confident that you did not evolve from an ape-like ancestor.  You were specially designed, created in the image of God, just as Adam was, in the beginning.  Jesus confirmed as much in Matthew 18:4 when he said, “at the beginning, the creator made them (Adam and Eve) male and female.”

-Greg Landry

If anyone has any questions or comments they would like me to address on any of the devotions dealing with creation this week, please reach out to me at gregrlandry@gmail.com

Editor: Do you know someone who could benefit from reading today’s devotion? Pass it on. I believe it could really save a life – an eternal life! Evolution has been used to distort God’s truth and lead youth and adults to question God’s existence, power, and love. It’s time to fight back. And how encouraging to know that Science Really IS on God’s side!

And, keep going on your daily Bible reading. Lots of good stuff in Genesis and Matthew!

Genesis 1 – According to their Kinds

This Week’s Devotion Theme: God Created!

Today’s Bible reading: Genesis 9-10 and Matthew 5

One of the great questions in life is, “How did I get here?”  Job 33:4 says, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” As Christians, we believe we were created by God, with a purpose.  But so many in this world believe that they are a result of random processes, believing they are essentially an accident, and thus there is no greater purpose to their existence. 

According to the Bible, during the creation week, not only did God create the heavenly bodies and the planet we live on, He also populated this planet with life.

Genesis 1:9-13 – And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

Then, in Genesis 1:20-25 – And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Note that the Bible says that God created plants, sea creatures, land creatures and flying creatures, at the beginning, according to their kinds. In other words, the various types of animals such as elephants, big cats and whales were there from the beginning.  Many scientists instead believe in Darwinian Evolution, an alternate explanation of how life came to exist on the Earth.

That is the worldview that results in people believing they are merely accidents and serve no purpose.  But which explanation is actually supported by what we observe in nature?  Can we trust how scripture says it happened?

The key idea in Darwinian Evolution is that all life that has ever existed descended from a relatively simple common ancestor, and became more complex over time, branching into different kinds of life as a result of random mutations.  Although this idea is widely accepted within scientific circles, thankfully, more and more scientists are questioning its validity.  There is a group called Dissent from Darwin, that lists over a thousand professors and scientists that do not believe the claims made by the Darwinian theory are valid. https://dissentfromdarwin.org

The problems with Darwinian Evolution are many.  Perhaps the biggest problem for evolution is that random mutations are not capable of adding new features to an organism ultimately leading up to a different type of organism altogether.  In lab settings, scientists have intentionally introduced mutations into thousands of generations of fruit flies, and have observed that the mutations only lead to inferior fruit flies.  Not better fruit flies or different kinds of flies altogether.  Mutations NEVER, under any circumstances, add information.  They only scramble up whatever information is already there, or instead, there is a loss of information.  Even if mutations were able to add new information, it is mathematically impossible for mutations to account for the vast variety of life on Earth, even if the Earth was much older than the ancient age some scientists believe it is.

Secondly, all that has ever been observed are small changes within an animal or plant kind, not changes that have ever led to a different animal or plant kind.  Yes, sometimes we can observe changes in a type of fish, for example, that some scientists then label as a new species.  But those changes have never been observed to lead that fish to turn into a non-fish.  

Finally, there is no record of evolution in the fossil record due to a complete lack of transitional fossils (fossils that clearly show a transition from one animal kind to another) that even evolutionists can agree on. 

On the other hand, real world observation shows that living organisms are far too complex to have evolved due to random chance.  Not only are the systems that make up your own body, such as the circulatory system, nervous system and so forth unimaginably complex, they are irreducibly complex.  That means, that these systems could not have evolved slowly over time because the entire system had to be in place from day one, or else it would not work.  Not only does the entire system need to be in place, but the various systems are interdependent, and so they had to all be there together from day one as well.  What good is a circulatory system if there is no respiratory system?  What good is a skeletal system if there is no muscular system?  What good is any system if there is not reproductive system?

As complex as any system is, the individual cells that make up the parts of the system are even more complex.  Cells function as tiny cities that work off of a set of blue prints to know what to do at any given time.  The blue prints are the DNA in the nucleus of the cell.  But if cells came about through evolution, did the nucleus of the cell evolve first, or did the DNA contained within the nucleus, which has the instructions of how to build not only the nucleus, but the entire cell, evolve first?  You see, again, everything had to be there together that first time, or it just doesn’t work.

What we actually observe around us fully supports the Biblical account of creation in that God created the different forms of life fully formed from the beginning, according to their kinds.  At the same time, what we observe leaves no possibility for Darwinian Evolution.

-Greg Landry

If anyone has any questions or comments they would like me to address on any of the devotions dealing with creation this week, please reach out to me at gregrlandry@gmail.com

Editor: Thank you for reading with us this week as Greg shares on his study of creation. We have an amazing God!

Genesis 1 – The Heavenly Bodies

This Week’s Devotion Theme: God Created!

Today’s Bible reading: Genesis 7-8 and Matthew 4

Have you ever been in an outdoor area away from city lights and marveled at the starry night sky?  If not, what are you waiting for?  The beauty and sheer number of the stars and other heavenly bodies in the night sky are simply amazing.  About 3,000 stars are visible to the naked eye on a clear, moonless night, but it is estimated that there are about 100 billion stars in just our galaxy alone.  It is estimated that there are about 10 billion trillion stars in the universe.  That is 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.  That’s a lot of stars.  And if you ever want to feel truly insignificant, search for a video that compares the size of our closest star, the sun, to Earth and  to the other stars.  But then, while feeling truly insignificant, remember that the same God who created all of those stars also created you and loves you! 

How do we know God created the heavenly bodies?

Genesis 1:14-19 – And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

Isaiah 45:12 – I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.

Psalm 33:6 – By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

Scripture seems pretty clear about this.  But you may have heard about something called The Big Bang Theory.  No, not the television show.  The Big Bang Theory claims that the universe came into being about 13.8 billion years ago with an explosion, all on its own, for no reason at all.  Though it is tempting to take the angle that the theory is essentially attempting to scientifically describe what God created, that is not the real intent of the theory.  It is an attempt to explain how the universe came into being, without the hand of a Creator God.

“Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.  It is not necessary to invoke God to…set the Universe going.”Stephen Hawking.

It is understandable that some scientists would not invoke a Creator or the miraculous nature of the creation of the universe in their explanation of the origin of the universe.  And yet, there is no choice but to invoke miracles as part of an explanation of how something can come from nothing, as is the case with the Big Bang Theory.

  “[The big bang] represents instantaneous suspension of physical laws, the sudden abrupt flash of lawlessness that allowed something to come out of nothing.  It represents a true miracle…” – Paul Davies – physicist and evolutionistThe Edge of Infinity.

Keep quotes like these in mind when defending your faith.  Whether it is the universe starting from “spontaneous creation” or life starting from non-life, scientists will often rely on miracles to try to explain the world around us.  We as believers certainly accept miracles, but the difference is, we also believe in a Miracle-maker.  

Other than the Big Bang Theory not allowing for a Creator, the theory also does not fit with the creation account in Genesis because the creation account says that the earth was created before the stars, whereas the Big Bang theory claims the opposite.

The Big Bang Theory is truly not compatible with scripture, but moreover, it is now a crumbling theory, scientifically, as well.

There are numerous problems with the theory as it stands today.  Many things that we observe in the universe around us, both near and far, are simply impossible if the universe started with an explosion billions of years ago.

Without going into multiple explanations, a few of the problems include:

  1. We should find magnetic monopoles, but we don’t.
  2. There should be equal amounts matter and anti-matter, but it’s not even close.
  3. Only about 7,000 years worth of supernovas have been discovered.
  4. Distant galaxies appear far too young.
  5. Galaxies as we know them shouldn’t even exist.
  6. There are millions of years of missing collisions.
  7. The echo for the Big Bang is missing.
  8. Dark matter and dark energy are needed for the Big Bang model, but there is no evidence that either exists.
  9. Mercury shouldn’t be dense, but it is.  And it shouldn’t still have a magnetic field, but it does.
  10. The surface of Venus is too young, and it should not be rotating sideways or have a magnetic field.
  11. The Earth shouldn’t have any water, and its magnetic field is too young.
  12. Stars shouldn’t exist.
  13. Our moon’s origin and geologic activity are unexplainable.
  14. Saturn’s magnetic field shouldn’t be there.
  15. Neptune appears too young and shouldn’t even exist.
  16. Uranus should not still have a magnetic field and gives off too much energy.
  17. Jupiter also still gives off too much energy.
  18. Comets should no longer exist.

“Big Bang cosmology is probably as widely believed as has been any theory of the universe in the history of Western civilization.  It rests, however, on many untested, and in some cases untestable assumptions.  Indeed, big bang cosmology has become a bandwagon of thought that reflects faith as much as objective truth.” – G. Burbridge, Why only one big bang? Scientific American, 266 (2):96.

Either the universe started on its own, breaking multiple laws of physics in the process, and somehow resulted in many phenomena that indicate it didn’t begin as they say, billions of years ago, or our amazing God created all the stars and heavenly bodies that we see in the beautiful night sky just as scripture tells us.

-Greg Landry

If anyone has any questions or comments they would like me to address on any of the devotions dealing with creation this week, please reach out to me at gregrlandry@gmail.com

SeekGrowLove Editor: We thank Greg for tackling the job of discussing creation and the Bible during our devotions this week. Too often Godly kids have turned away from the truths of Scripture when faced with “smart” college professors teaching evolution. Greg has studied much and presents the truth of Scripture as well as the errors and inconsistencies of evolution. So, this week we offer a deeper look at creation than could be covered in one day of devotions. Dig in with us – and keep reading from the Bible reading plan as well. Print your copy below and mark off those passages as you go. God bless your journey with Him – from beginning to end!

Genesis 1 – In the Beginning

This Week’s Devotion Theme: God Created!

Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 5-6 and Matthew 3

Last month, I did a devotion on Romans chapters 1-3, where I discussed the fact that we do not have a blind faith, owing in part to the abundance of evidence all around us that there is indeed a creator.  The key verses were Romans 1:18-20 – The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

To kick off the SeekGrowLove Devotion’s new topic-based option, what better place to start the new year than the book of Genesis?  For those that enjoyed the creation devotion from Romans last month, I hope you will be glad to learn that creation will be the daily devotion topic throughout this week.  Let’s start at the very beginning:

Genesis 1:1-5 – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

There is a lot of disagreement, among Christians in particular, whether the six days of creation were actual 24 hour periods, or longer periods.  Why is that?  I believe it’s because if you do a little study, taking the genealogies found in Genesis chapters 5 and 11, which indicate there was approximately 2,000 years between Adam and Abraham (and archaeological evidence indicates Abraham lived about 2,000 B.C.), you would discover that scripture points to the Earth being relatively young.  That is, if you agree that the Creation week which ended with the creation of Adam was a literal week, instead of a much longer period of time.

But of course that young earth idea flies in the face of what many scientists believe (and many, perhaps most, Christians have adopted as well), namely that the earth is billions of years old.  Thus, there are many theories on how one should understand Genesis chapters 1 and 2, given the widely accepted age of the Earth.  One theory is that the word day in Genesis doesn’t actually mean a 24 hour period.  It has been suggested that day in Genesis represents a much longer time period.  But we should dig a bit deeper into the original language of Genesis to get a better understanding of what was meant by the word day, when used in phrases like “the first day.”

The Hebrew word for day in Genesis is yom.  It can have several meanings (much like our own word for day) – a period of time, a specific period of time, a year, the time of day when it is light out, and a 24 hour period of time.  However, the Hebrew yom is used with a number (such as the first day) 359 times in the Old Testament outside of Genesis 1, and every single time, it is clear that it means a 24 hour period.  Genesis is the only place where the meaning of yom is questioned.

There are other Hebrew words that mean time or an indefinite period, but they were not used.  The only Hebrew word that can represent a 24 hour period is the one that was used in Genesis to describe the creation days.  I don’t believe that was an accident.

Another theory, known as the gap theory, is that the Earth appears old because God created the Earth, as described in Genesis 1:1, then paused a very long time, before continuing with the rest of creation, beginning as described in Genesis 1:2.  But there is a verse outside of Genesis that sheds heavy doubt on that theory. 

Exodus 20:8-11 – Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy.  …For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

If, as this passage says, God created the Earth (as it says in Genesis 1:1) AND everything in it in six days, then clearly there is no possibility of a gap as the gap theory posits.  Furthermore, when the plural form of yom, yamim, is used, as it is over 700 times in the Old Testament, including here in Exodus, it always means a literal 24 hour period.

Isaiah 45:18 – For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.   Again, scripture outside of Genesis indicates that the Earth was designed to be inhabited from the beginning, not to remain empty for any long period, before life was added.

Additionally, the word remember in Hebrew, when used as a command, as it is in Exodus 20:8, always refers back to a real historical event.  This is especially important because there are multiple theories out there that the creation account is simply a myth or a metaphor.

I believe that when you take the entirety of scripture into account, it clearly supports that the creation week was a historical event, and took 6 literal 24 hour days to complete.

But what about the evidence that the Earth appears very old?  After all, without this idea, I doubt that people would actually question the veracity of the creation account.  Well, in my studies of that evidence, I have found it to be inconclusive at best, and often fraudulent or intentionally misleading.  Perhaps the biggest issue is the fact that radiometric dating methods have been proven unreliable, inconsistent, and return vast age ranges from which scientists cherry pick the dates that suit their narrative.  For example, lava that had hardened into igneous rock after the Mt. St Helens eruption in Washington State in 1980 was radiometrically dated to be 300,000 – 400,000 years old.

The following quote illuminates the problem.

The troubles of the radiocarbon dating method are undeniably deep and serious.  Despite 35 years of technological refinement and better understanding, the underlying assumptions have been strongly challenged… It should be no surprise, then, that fully half of the dates are rejected.  The wonder is, surely, that the remaining half come to be accepted. 

Radiocarbon, Ages in Error,” Anthropological Journal of Canada, Vol 19, No 3, p.9 illuminates the problem.

There is much more to say about the evidence of errors within dating methods, but a daily Bible devotion is not the best place to expand further on those ideas.

If anyone has any questions or comments they would like me to address on any of the devotions dealing with creation this week, please reach out to me at gregrlandry@gmail.com

-Greg Landry

SeekGrowLove Editor: We thank Greg for tackling the job of discussing creation and the Bible during our devotions this week. Too often Godly kids have turned away from the truths of Scripture when faced with “smart” college professors teaching evolution. Greg has studied much and presents the truth of Scripture as well as the errors and inconsistencies of evolution. So, this week we offer a deeper look at creation than could be covered in one day of devotions. Dig in with us – and keep reading from the Bible reading plan as well. Print your copy below and mark off those passages as you go. God bless your journey with Him – from beginning to end!

Naked

Genesis 3-4 and Matthew 2

One of the more lingering adolescent experiences was changing for gym in the middle school locker room. I can still smell the dense body orders and feel the salty mist hanging in the air. I tried to get to the gym early, that way I didn’t have to skimp down to my drawers in front of everyone.  As a kid that was called “dough boy” in the last two years of middle school, I definitely had some heightened body image issues that directly correlated with my self-esteem.   Taking your clothes off in front of people (or having people take them off in front of you) can be pretty embarrassing to say the least.  Thankfully, I powered through those moments, but can say without a doubt that I didn’t like and still am not a fan of dressing out.

“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Gen 2:25

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” – Genesis 3:7

The Garden of Eden was originally a nudist colony of two residents: Adam and Eve.  The thing is, they had no idea that they were even exposed.  I have thought about this a great deal (in a less picturing, more vicarious way), and came to peace with nakedness neither being the sweat-building, panic-inducing deal that it was in my middle school locker room, nor the lust-driven, eye-catching act that entangles many men and women (but especially men).  It isn’t a source of shame or sexuality.   If there is no sin, we are free to walk around naked.  Now this is not a call to rip off all your clothes and walk out into the world in your birthday suit.  Remember, you don’t live in Eden.  Sin still exists.

As we do everything we can to walk closer with God in his garden, We might expose ourselves in a different way.  First, we come before God honestly.  When we pray, let’s not hide or lie.  God already knows the truth.  It may be completely shameful what we have done.  We may field consequences from God, but isn’t open repentance much better than the persisting falsehood?  If we live a lie long enough, we will begin to believe it over what God is directly telling us.  Also, we can live more exposed in front of others. Again, clothes on.  Shame is the depressant that keeps us from forgiveness and moving forward.  Being vulnerable, sharing the most disastrous parts of your testimony, can be tougher than any middle school locker room.  You open yourself up to the loss of opportunities, ridicule, and even persecution.  It doesn’t matter.  God, who works all things together, will turn your shame into His glory, and in the process you will be restored.

I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a groom puts on a turban, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. – Isaiah 61:10

Now, there may be a few pistons firing, making the connection that the Kingdom of God will bring about something similar to a second Eden.  If so, will we be naked?  Thankfully, there does seem to be some subtle statements about being clothed, at least with a crown and a smile, but the reality is it will not matter.  We will be made new and complete in the most ultimate version there is.  No sin.  No shame.  So, naked or not, here I come.

Thank you all for the opportunity to share my faith with you this week.  I pray that 2021 holds many blessings from God, and we all have the provision, strength, and wisdom to pursue whatever path he has laid out for our lives.

-Aaron Winner

SeekGrowLove.com Editor: Welcome to the Second day of our 2021 Bible reading plan! Print your copy below so you can mark and keep track of your progress. Most days we will read 2 Old Testament chapters and 1 chapter from the New Testament or Proverbs or a few Psalms. Every week we have a new devotions writer who will either write about the daily readings – OR – they may write all week on one Biblical theme they would like to pursue further. Tomorrow, we begin the first theme week as Greg Landry takes a closer look at Creation. We look forward to together Seeking God, Growing our Faith and Loving more and more this year!

Back to the Beginning

Genesis 1 & 2 and Matthew 1

Shortly after awakening this morning, your body started releasing cortisol, your fight-or-flight hormone, into your body to prepare for today’s stress.  The concentration of these levels in our body might be higher today than most, as you feel the mounting pressure of the New Year.  You are trying to recover from staying up too late, or trying to implement a new routine, or trying to rid yourself of some addictive behavior.  Unfortunately, what you do today, and any stress that comes about, isn’t an isolated event.  It is the culmination of a lifetime of rehearsed behaviors.  If you are trying to shed a few pounds, you might be looking back to Thanksgiving or further as the culprit.  If you are trying to read your Bible more, which is why you may have very well ended up here today, you may look back to some chaos that was introduced into your life shortly after the beginning of 2020.  If you are trying to quit smoking/drinking, you may be looking back to college or high school years as its introduction.  If you are trying to reduce your screen time, you may look all the way back to your childhood when your parents let you watch TV without any limitations.  No matter the case, lasting change is hard to acquire.  Over time we have fashioned (or maybe more like, warped) our true nature, mold, or patterns, making it so hard to change.  Wow. Deflation complete.  And another round of cortisol is released.  Hang on – Don’t fly!

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17

Today, we revisit the beginning in a couple different fashions.  Not the start of a behavior, but the origin of the heavens, earth,and man.  Everything that has happened up to this point in the universe has its lasting signature of this single event.  The complex ecosystems of the earth, sea, and sky, the hanging of stars, planets, and galaxies in the heavens, and the most beautiful and the reason that all these things exist, our salvation plan that comes through Jesus Christ, come from a single origin: God.  All of them have their catalyst in the events that unfold in Genesis 1 and 2. Generation after generation, Matthew 1 tells of God’s alignment to move us from sin’s patient zero, Adam, in the Garden of Eden, in-and-out of lives of some very messed-up, still-sinning, trying to make their resolutions work people, to the Culminating Curer, Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” 2 Corinthians 5:17,18

There is more. The plan doesn’t stop there – You and I are part of it. Since Jesus Christ offered propitiation for our sins, we can enter into the nature, the mold, the pattern for which we are created, not that one that has been fashioned by all the paper mache forms we have haphazardly placed in our life.  When we do this, we will find ourselves quite a bit more malleable than before because this is the form for which we’re truly made.  We get into shape by the Great Shaper. When we renew our thinking in this way, maybe the pounds are not the priority, but our prayer life (but it’s okay to lose the pounds, too).  Maybe we point our addictive behaviors in the direction of God to His worship and study.  Maybe we linger at church and fellowship or pile in the car after school to serve somewhere, instead of coming home to a favorite show.  And when you do not do these things, thank God, you can always go back to the beginning: salvation.  We do not have to wait on a sacrifice, we no longer are slaves to these things awaiting a Redeemer, when we seek out God, we are offered an instant renewal through repentance and grace.  Every day we have on Earth is the beginning, a New Year or season, and an opportunity to fight for a closer relationship with God than the day before.

-Aaron Winner

Welcome to the FIRST day of our 2021 Bible reading plan! Print your copy below so you can mark and keep track of your progress. Most days we will read 2 Old Testament chapters and 1 chapter from the New Testament or Proverbs or a few Psalms. Some people like to do one reading in the morning and one later in the day, others like to do both at the same time. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or more – but hop back in so you don’t miss His words to you.

Good Riddance, Best Riddance

Revelation 19-22

More than any year in recent history, people are looking forward to the closing of 2020.  There is no magical spell that will make our worries disappear as the zero turns to a one, yet for many there will be a great sigh; a new year brings a new promise.  There are some prognosticators who say the worst is yet to come, yet for some reason, I have a renewed sense of hope. I have longed for an eventual reprieve, rest, and relief from restrictions.  The whole world is longing to move forward, and see 2020 left on the side of the road in the rearview mirror, “Good riddance. Goodbye.” as we blow it a sardonic kiss. Mwwahh.

As we have seen in our time with Revelation this week, any break we have is temporary because the worst is yet to come <balloon pops>.  The pandemic we have seen up to this point will pale in comparison to the plagues preceding the Kingdom of God.  Although there has been some pretty intense weather and natural disasters this year, this isn’t even close to what is being forecasted for future calamities.  While many wars have waned in the wake of coronavirus, war will be truly inescapable, pressing in on all sides before the coming of Christ.  It is so true that grief, sorrow, exhaustion, frustration, and anxiety have been intensely felt in 2020, and I would never make light of that, but when compared to the longing of the earth that is to come, it will easily eclipse all we have felt this year.  The people, and the earth itself, will be longing more than ever for refreshing.

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:  Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns!  Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. – Revelation 19:6,7

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Revelation 21:3,4

The best news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is this ultimate reprieve will come alongside our Lord and Savior. This will be the greatest of all welcomes and simultaneously, the best of all riddances.  While we can retain some small hope that our life will return to the way it was a year ago, was it not still filled with tears, death, mourning, crying, pain, the entirety of the whole old order?  To long for a return to 2019, or even a better version of the past, is similar to the cry of the children of Israel in the desert to return to Egypt because at least their bellies were full there (Ex 16:2,3).  Life as we know it (or even knew it) is marginally mediocre when we compare it to what is in store for us.  If we are to cry out, to groan, to bemoan, let us do so as people who are ready to be rid of our sin and the captivity it has placed upon us and the earth once and for all (Ex 2:23). Our present suffering, no matter how great, is nothing compared to the glory that awaits.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Rom 8:18-22

-Aaron Winner

If you have been reading along all year, congratulations! Today we read the final chapters of God’s Inspired Word – Revelation 19-22.

Tomorrow we begin a New Year and a New 2021 Bible reading plan! Every day we will read 2 passages – an Old Testament passage (usually just 2 chapters) and a New Testament or Psalms/Proverbs passage (often just one chapter or a few short Psalms). Our writers may write about one of the day’s passages, or some will choose to write all week on a chosen theme, giving us the opportunity to dive a little deeper into some relevant subject matter and what Scripture teaches on that topic.

Print your copy of our Bible reading plan below – and let’s see what God has to tell us in 2021! Seek Him! Grow Your Faith! Love!

It’s Time to Get the Heck out of Dodge

Revelation 14-18

Dodge City, Kansas made the perfect background for many of the early westerns that hit the silver screen. Any title character was the game-changing lawman who took on the town that was historically and notoriously known for its gunslingers, reckless living, violence, and pretty much the hub for all things unabiding and uncouth.  Dodge became the epitome of frontier lawlessness, and those who resided there were in a collective agreement: every man or woman for himself.  What initially seemed like a good time, a get rich quick plan, or a temporary set of circumstances became a way of life for most those who stayed, and ironically for many, that is exactly what it cost them to stay in Dodge: their life.  Those few that escaped the cruel fates of this city, these ethical outsiders who found themselves living inside its “walls”, could see the turn of the tide, and knew it was time to get the heck out of Dodge.

Dodge City is not alone for its notoriety as an evil city.  Abraham’s nephew, Lot and his family hailed from Sodom and Gommah, cities God destroyed with sulfur and fire because of their wickedness.  God also gave instructions to Joshua to destroy the seven nations that were descended from Canaan (who did equally despicable things including child sacrifice).  Additionally, a once-blessed Babylon is handed over to Darius which would lead to an idiom in its own right, because God spoke through the “handwriting on the wall.” In each of these instances, God provides opportunities for the inhabitants of the places to get the heck out. (Angel’s warning and Lot’s escape (Genesis 19); Jericho’s march and Rahab’s salvation (Joshua 6); Jeremiah; Israelites spared (Daniel 5)

As we see in the prophecy delivered in Revelation, there is a new nation that is forming/formed that is not the Babylon of old, but a new one represented by an adulterous woman (Rev 12) There are definite similarities in the wickedness that is taking place in the future and that of Babylon’s past.  This new Babylon is a place of great excess which results in every opportunity to do evil (including the destruction of God’s prophets), and possibly a physical location to the events that are taking place near New Jerusalem (although some think it may be a western civilization like the United States) soon to be established by Jesus.  So what is the word given for those who reside in this place?  That same warning delivered by Jeremiah 600 years prior:  Flee from Babylon!  Run for your lives! (Jeremiah 51:6)  

We do not need to be able to pinpoint on a map where this new Babylon is in order to make plans to run in the direction of God.  He will deliver those who follow his perfect and pleasing will, making a way for those who choose Him.  While the United States or the Western World may or may not be the Babylon spoken of here in this text, with some quick conjecture, there are striking similarities in the way our culture is rapidly shifting in the last half-century or so.  The quest to be the source of  knowledge is valued more than faith in God Almighty. Our wealth and standard of living continue to increase, but so do our distractions and devices. Lawful and unlawful wickedness occurs even to the point that lives of children are being destroyed.  So, does this mean that we should flee to a new country?  Probably not. And it isn’t our physical location that is the primary issue.  It is the heart. We need to make distinctions about our citizenship – it is kingdom bound first.  We are simply in this world, not living for it.

So where have you made your encampment?  Just outside of Sodom?  It won’t be long before you are inside the city walls (Genesis 13:12).  Is your indulgence a constant? Then it is not a vacation home — it’s where you live. Run away from Sodom!  Flee from Babylon!  Get the heck out of Dodge!  This is a cry to myself and to you.  Keep yourself from getting tangled in the web of fulfilling your every whim, pursuing knowledge that gives you some sort of power or position, and desiring things that have nothing to do with God’s kingdom. Your diplomas, your clothing, your dwelling, and your status are the commodities of moths.  Bridle your body so your hands and feet are available to do the work of God or physically move if you must (FLEE! 2 Timothy 2:22) Only then can we be saved from the fate of Babylon and live in the fullness of the new city worth taking up residence.

-Aaron Winner

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Revelation 14-18

Tomorrow we finish the book and the year with Revelation 19-22.

Stay tuned for the big unveil – SeekGrowLove’s Bible Reading Plan for 2021!

Remind Me: Whose Side Am I On?

Revelation 9-13

The Hebrews watched as the plagues of Israel consumed the whole of Egypt.  They watch God lead them in a cloud by day and a fire by night.  They watched the Red Sea part and swallow the advancing armies hoping to kill or reenslave them.  Yet, fresh off the heels of all of these things, they lost their nerve when Moses, their leader and messenger from God, had been gone for a few moments longer than expected.  In the place of God Almighty, they erected a golden calf to worship saying these were the true gods that brought them out of Egypt.  An enraged Moses came down from the mountain to see utter chaos.  Aaron fumbles through his excuses and the people of Israel are punished.  Moses declares that each person must pick a side – You are either for the Lord or against him. (Ex 32:26)

So much destruction occurs in these few chapters of our reading today as angel ominous trumpeting announces another terrifying event on earth.  Cities are destroyed from earthquakes, fire, sulphur, and smoke destroy a large percentage of the population, and a plague occurs that tortures to the point of death, but never comes. It isn’t a pretty site – unleashed by ultimate permission giver.  It will be an understatement that many will have their faith tested during these times, and begin seeking any answer to the misery they see unfolding before them.  When there is no great parting of the Red Sea proclaiming the Lord is in this moment, so many will begin to look to new creatures, whether literal, people, or nations, to follow for immediate comfort or distraction.  In fact, war will be raged against anyone who tries to serve the Lord during this time or who shares the testimony of Jesus (Rev 12:17). The only way to survive it seems, is to worship a beast and take its mark so you may buy or sell.

“The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk.” – Revelation 9:20

“The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom.” – Revelation 13:15-18a

There is much to study in these scriptures about what the unfolding of these events may look like in our coming world, but the implications of these passages are as simple as the charge from Moses. When I struggle, whose side am I on?  If there isn’t immediate relief from the pain, whose side am I on?  If it keeps me from my dreams, whose side am I on?  When it costs me my reputation or position, whose side am I on?  If it costs me my friends, my family, my children, or my life, whose side am I on?  Even if you don’t live long enough to set your eyes on the terrifyingly terrific events laid out by the trumpets, you must make a decision before you cross the path of the lesser trials in your own life.  A claim must be laid for the Lord in your heart, and you must begin setting yourself apart. Otherwise, your faith will be crushed at the first crosswind of complication.  Indecision will place you in the queue of those ready to receive their mark on the path of least resistance.  You may receive a momentary benefit from your idol, but it ultimately places you opposite of God.  Much like the fate of the Israelites who stood against Moses, destruction comes for those who stand against the Lord Almighty.  Draw a line. Pick a side. Ready yourself for the fight of your life.

“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” – Matt 5:29,30

-Aaron Winner

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Revelation 9-13.

Tomorrow we continue with chapters 14-18.

Do Not Weep

Revelation 4-8

There is much to take in with today’s reading as John describes the throne room of heaven and the events that unfold, marking the Kingdom of God being set into motion.  There are angels, horsemen, and elders, each executing and exacting the will of God.  If you are a bit overwhelmed by today’s reading, you are not alone. John, who spent more time with Jesus than most, is still awestruck by the worship of God happening before him, and he is doing his best to describe heavenly things for which there is no earthly vocabulary (something important to keep in mind as we examine the remainder of this book and prophecy).  With a resounding question, John’s attention is drawn to the hand of God:

“And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.” Rev 5:2-4

John weeps, for the content of the scroll could very well never be known.  Salvation’s plan locked inside this scroll with no one on heaven or earth who is worthy of removing the seven seals that keep it shut.  This is seemingly the end of the road.  Without a Savior, life on earth has no redemption.  This is most definitely worth a weep, knowing that for some, their story stops here.  They have put everything in what they alone can achieve, yet they are like every other creature in heaven and on earth.  Without the hope delivered in the next verses, all that would remain is remorse and regret (Luke 13:27,28).

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Rev 5:5

Salvation is a gift of God, paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8,9).  In the moments when we are overcome with great grief, sense the defeating drift of sin, are lost or lonely, feel pressed or persecuted, let Jesus Christ step forward. Do not reach deeper into empty stores, pour out of a broken vessel, or pick up the shattered pieces; let him do what we cannot.  We need only lift our heads – to pray, to seek, to take heart – as we listen to the words of the elder that Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, has triumphed.  He will step forward and unfurl a new banner, renewing and restoring the purpose of our life. He alone is worthy to open the scroll, yet we are indeed the beneficiaries of the prize of his propitiation.

And they sang a new song, saying:  “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Rev 5:9

-Aaron Winner

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Revelation 4-8.

Tomorrow we continue with chapters 9-13.