Genesis “Broken and Blessed” Devotional Thoughts for Lesson 1 – Wednesday@Wesley Bible Study

This study has five days of homework which build an understanding of the material which is discussed the following Wednesday. Anyone who would like to purchase the study book with homework is welcome to do so.

We’re going to do the overview on Wednesday evening, but we agreed that I would (as time allows) supply five posts here throughout the week to help us think over what the homework is about and provide for some daily reading of Genesis in advance of the lesson on Wednesday.

This study shows us how God can use imperfect families to bring blessing in a hurting and broken world. God can work within every human family … and God can work through any human family. In this study, we’ll be looking at families within the book of Genesis.

While we will have Bibles on hand, you might wish to bring your favorite bible from home. Familiar tools help us do our work well!

We meet at 7 pm Wednesdays at the Wesley United Methodist Church, 3381 Kinoka Road between Kinmundy and Patoka, Illinois.

You can view the Introduction to the study here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDlENqKDgR4

WEDNESDAY@WESLEY BIBLE STUDY, Thought #1.1 – The Family.

We began our study Wednesday of the Jessica LaGrone study on the book of Genesis, Broken and Blessed, by viewing the introduction – the link is below if you would like to see it. This study takes a unique view of how God works by underlining God’s choice to work through families. Yes, families, whom she calls “God’s Secret Weapon.”

Quote: “The only way people will know how an invisible God loves them is if you love them first. That is your most important work. Family is the most inconspicuous secret weapon ever created, but it’s also the most powerful … people related by blood or people bound by their family ties in Christ and their love for their Abba Father: this is where God’s secret weapon is at work, where his plan is being lived out … the earth shaking world changing place we call family. This is your most important work.”

Every person since Adam and Eve started out as a child in a family. And we can understand Genesis best when we understand that the major characters – heroes and villains – grew up in a family context. In fact, Genesis is one dysfunctional family after another, from Adam and Eve to Noah, from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to Joseph and the brothers who sold him into slavery.

This study has five days of homework which build an understanding of the material which is discussed the following Wednesday. Anyone who would like to purchase the study book with homework is welcome to do so.

We’re going to do the overview on Wednesday evening, but we agreed that I would (as time allows) supply five posts here throughout the week to help us think over what the homework is about and provide for some daily reading of Genesis in advance of the lesson on Wednesday.

Here’s the question for today:
In Matthew 4:5-7 (look it up) Jesus is offered the opportunity to descend from heaven to the Temple in Jerusalem, carried by angels. This is how the Messiah was expected to arrive. He could have then preached and gotten everyone to believe in Him – if that was the goal. Why didn’t it happen that way? (Hint: who offered him the opportunity?)

If the cross was necessary, he could have been crucified that afternoon, and risen three days later. Why didn’t it happen that way?

It would have saved a lot of time, rather than Jesus being born in Bethlehem and then wasting 30 years growing up in Nazareth. Why did God want him to grow up in a family?

And then Jesus spent three wasted years with the 12 disciples – who were clueless when he was put on the cross. Why did he form what in effect was his own, spiritual family, out of the Twelve? (Read Matthew 12:46-50 to discover who Jesus’ relatives are today.)

Why do you think that God places so much importance on families that he would insist that Jesus grow up in one and form one?

Perhaps the family … even a broken one … is a secret weapon for God to heal others … because God had Jesus, who was perfect, grow up in one.

WEDNESDAY@WESLEY BIBLE STUDY, Thought #1.2 – The Family Tree.

Here is a cast of characters for the book of Genesis. You know many of the family stories.

For today, please read Genesis 4 and ponder this question: “Why did Cain feel that he should murder his brother Abel? What were his reasons?”

List your ideas and any questions you might have in the comments. Let’s have a conversation.

And – don’t answer this on Facebook! – did you ever wish to kill your brother or sister? Was it for reasons like Cain, or other reasons? Or no reason at all?

Overview of Genesis – a list of imperfect people:
Genesis 1–6: Creation, Eden, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Seth, Lamech, wickedness
Genesis 6–11: Noah’s Ark, the Flood, Noah’s drunkenness, the Tower of Babel

Genesis 12–17: Abraham, Sarah, Lot, covenant, Hagar and Ishmael, circumcision
Genesis 18–22: Abraham’s visitors, Sodom and Lot, Hagar expelled, binding of Isaac
Genesis 23–25: Sarah buried, Rebekah for Isaac
Genesis 25–28: Esau and Jacob, Esau’s birthright, Isaac’s blessing

Genesis 28–32: Jacob flees, Rachel, Leah, Laban, Jacob’s children and departure
Genesis 32–36: Jacob’s reunion with Esau, the rape of Dinah

Genesis 37–40: Joseph’s dreams, coat, and slavery, Judah with Tamar, Joseph and Potiphar
Genesis 41–44: Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph in government, Joseph’s brothers visit Egypt
Genesis 44–47: Joseph reveals himself, Jacob moves to Egypt
Genesis 47–50: Jacob’s blessings, death of Jacob and of Joseph

WEDNESDAY@WESLEY BIBLE STUDY, Thought #1.3. In preparation for the lesson 1 on Wednesday evening, you can read one chapter of Genesis each morning – Genesis 1, 2, and 3.

As you read Genesis 1, consider the method God uses in creation … God sets boundaries. At first, there is chaos and infinity … but slowly, God sets in order the elements of our world and instructs them how to behave. God creates by putting finite limits and rules into place so that creation operates under rules in an intelligent and orderly manner.

So … divine creativity isn’t the removal of rules and limits, but applying them to confusion and chaos. Within God’s rules and limits, the world can flourish and fulfill what God asks of it.

How would your life benefit from a few more healthy limits and rules? Is there an area in your life where you would benefit from surrendering to God’s creation rules and letting go of chaos and confusion, and from activities that ultimately harm you or waste the life that God has given you?

Human beings sometimes add to God’s rules, going too far in the desire to control others. Is there an area in your life where you would benefit from surrendering to God’s creation rules and letting go of human customs?

WEDNESDAY@WESLEY BIBLE STUDY, Thought #1.4. In preparation for the lesson 1 on Wednesday evening, you can read one chapter of Genesis each morning – Genesis 1, 2, and 3.

As you read Genesis 2 today, consider the reason why creation is described in six days. The method God uses in creation is that God sets boundaries. The boundary of the seventh day that there are six days for work, followed by one for rest.

Taking a Sabbath Day is not a suggestion … it is a commandment. It is a boundary between days of creating, of the work of making, and a single day to listen to God and be with people.

How long has it been since you took a full 24 hour day to just rest … to worship and pray, to spend time with your family, to patiently do nothing so that you can focus on what is important? Taking a Sabbath Day is not a suggestion … it is a commandment.

The Jewish understanding of Sabbath is that nothing should be created – transformed. Therefore food is not prepared, nor are dishes washed. The book, Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Disciplines by Lauren F. Winner, has been a blessing to me to understand how Jews traditionally observe the Sabbath – the author grew up Jewish, became a Christian and is now an Episcopalian priest and seminary professor. (It’s also a great study for groups. I don’t agree with everything she says, but it will make you think.)

How will you choose to obey the command for Sabbath in your life this week? Taking a Sabbath Day is not a suggestion … it is a commandment.

You can view an Introduction to the study based on the Mudhouse Sabbath book here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z1902hurmw

WEDNESDAY@WESLEY BIBLE STUDY, Thought #1.5. In preparation for Lesson 1 on Wednesday evening – TONIGHT! – we’ve been reading one chapter of Genesis each morning – Genesis 1, 2, and 3.

As you read Genesis 3, consider what is at the heart of sin: we have a knowledge of Good and of Evil which is within ourselves, totally separated from the influence and love of God.

Because of this independent knowledge of sin, we have the ability to argue with God. We think it’s possible that we know better than God. We don’t need to rely on God to teach us what is good because we are ignorant … we have an ethical system of right and wrong inside ourselves, constantly reporting to us on the right and wrong of everyone around us … including ourselves.

All too often, when God tells us to love our neighbor, we think it’s better to judge and condemn our neighbor. This what we use the tools of the knowledge of Good and of Evil for – to find fault (literally), believe that we are better than others and blame others for all the problems in this world.

In the first conversation with God after gaining the knowledge of Good and of Evil, Adam blames Eve. Eve blames the serpent. And we are still blaming people rather than taking responsibility.

There is almost nothing you can do that is more beneficial to a relationship than for you to remove all blaming from your behavior and take your share of responsibility.

When you notice someone doing wrong, turn your criticism into prayers for healing and transformation; ask Jesus to work in that person and their life … and in yours as well. It’s beyond your abilities to be the Savior or the Lord of any human being … but not beyond his abilities to be both. Consider the words of G K Chesterton below – and change YOUR ways. (Me, too!)

Who will you pray for today, for their life to change?
(Besides yourself!)

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