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Have you been blessed by January’s reading?
I sure have – I’ve enjoyed January’s reading a great deal. Perhaps it’s because we’re reading a bit slower than last year. Both my husband and I sensed Jesus’ great compassion as we read the final chapters of John. The man who had just been betrayed by all his followers and crucified by his enemies built a fire on the beach and had breakfast ready when his friends who had worked all night came in. He asked them to put some of their fish on the fire – making them feel like they had contributed to the meal. He commissioned Peter, I believe as a way of assuring him that his betrayal had not disqualified him for ministry. Graham Cooke is fond of saying “Jesus is the kindest person I know.” This scene bears witness to that statement.

The Gospel According to Matthew
In February we’ll read another of the Gospels – the book of Matthew. It is told from a hugely different perspective, but it’s the same story. Matthew was writing to Jewish Christians and emphasizes that Jesus fulfills the Jewish Scriptures. The book is written in the style of an ancient biography. Interestingly, ancient biographies were often organized topically instead of chronologically, and that’s the approach Matthew took. You’ll find the sayings of Jesus organized according to topic, not in the order Jesus said them.

It’s also interesting that the book of Matthew, or one of the documents Matthew used as a source when writing the Gospel, may have been used as a training manual for new Christians. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener) says this about the book of Matthew:

[Matthew] portrays Jesus as the epitome of Israel’s hopes for his Jewish audience, but also emphasizes missions to the Gentiles: outreach to the Gentiles is rooted both in the Old Testament and in Jesus’ teaching.

Sounds like good study material to help us become well-grounded believers. Jesus is not only the epitome of Israel’s hopes, He is the epitome of our hope as well.

Finally, you’ll find my husband’s life verse in Matthew:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33

“All these things” covers a lot of territory! What a challenge to believe this and live it when things are tough!

From Genesis to Exodus
We’ll also finish the book of Genesis and begin to read through Exodus. Egypt, Moses, Aaron, Pharaoh, plagues, miraculous deliverances, manna, water from rocks, Jethro’s visit, The Ten Commandments – all this and more await us! What an adventure the book of Exodus is. Consider reading it with that perspective. Imagine yourself as one of the Israelites as you read through the book. How would you have responded in each situation?

There are certain passages that I just fall in love with every time I read them. Genesis 1:1 is one of them:

In the beginning God created…

I don’t know why, but those words are magical to me.(Magical in a good sense – in the sense that they inspire awe every time I hear or read them.) Another two verses are those that begin the Ten Commandments:

“I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in Egypt.
“Do not worship any other gods besides me.”

Exodus 29:2-3

Be prepared to be challenged! He has rescued us from slavery to sin and demands that we worship no other gods beside Him.

Enjoy your February reading! Experience the adventure!

The recommended reading schedule is below.

To download a PDF of February’s recommended reading plan, click here.

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