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.
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.