It may be a ten week Bible study course, but it was something that I worked through and studied for the last nine months. Last fall, a couple of friends committed to getting together with me twice a month to pursue praying and singing together, and studying the book of Genesis through Mrs. Guthrie’s study called The Promised One. It was such a blessing for me to read, study, prepare, and share what the Lord was teaching me and showing me and reiterating to me through these chapters and through re-reading the book of Genesis again this year. We took it a little at a time, because even though we had the blessing of having a grandma on-hand every time for babysitting all the kids, we were never uninterrupted, and things like starting on time and staying on task didn’t always happen either. Regardless of hiccups, I felt so blessed to have the accountability of regularly getting together with a purpose, and the Lord truly encouraged and challenged my spirit through studying His Word, being reminded of the history of His people (who are also my people!), and applying spiritual truths and principles to my life over these recent months.
I knew I would love this book, and the whole Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament series actually, even if just because Nancy Guthrie wrote it, and nothing of hers has ever left me coming up dry. I’ve read six of her books so far, and I have two more lined up ready to go. I have never met Mrs. Guthrie (even if I do somehow feel like I have, in my heart), but that is on my bucket list ~ if the Lord ever gives a reasonable opportunity, I want to meet Mrs. Guthrie someday, to tell her how she has ministered to me in my grief, encouraged me toward love and good works, and helped shape some of my ministry and writing opportunities.
In this study on Genesis, I may not have had lots of revelations about things I’d never heard before, but some of the most encouraging reiteration of things I’d read before, heard in previous sermons, or thought of when doing character studies on the patriarchs. Beautiful reminders. And honestly, I think largely because Mrs. Guthrie has also buried children and suffered intense grief, the author thinks along similar wavelengths as I do, and she seems to say things exactly when and how my heart needs to receive them. Good stuff. Especially because through the nine months I was studying through The Promised One, I have been suffering and grieving and revisiting all kinds of old temptations & trials. Covenantal theology is an enormous thing for me, never moreso than right now, and while I don’t know if Mrs. Guthrie and I would line up 100% on our biblical interpretations and theologies, for the most part I really think we do, and I have just found it such an encouraging thing to see covenantal theology throughout so much of this Genesis study. It has really solidified things for me and opened my eyes even further on things I had seen glimpses of before.
Another beautiful aspect is how some of the things I read in this study have been wonderfully parallel to some things I’ve also been reading in A Son for Glory which is a study through the book of Job. Once I completely finish that book (I’m not quite there yet), there will hopefully be a blog about that one as well (it’s super good stuff).
For the last year or so, my husband and I have been utterly astounded by GRACE. Just in awe of God’s grace not only to us, but to His people at large. We have been grappling to get ahold of a bigger and stronger understanding of grace, seeking to soak up His grace so much that we ooze it out on each other, on our children, and on others around us as well. And for the last few months especially, we have really seen God doing such wonderful works in us and in our family, as we have seen and embraced grace from Him, from one another, to one another… to God be all glory! But one of the biggest hallmarks in this Bible study is the overriding theme of grace! So having this book to read and to hammer grace into my head and heart over recent months, right along the same time that my husband and I have been seeking to know and understand and grasp and embrace and overflow grace… well, it’s just one of those “God things” where you know He lines up even the smallest details of our lives. And it makes me so thankful.
So please take a moment to read just a very few wonderful-to-me, although out of context, quotes from The Promised One, and consider it my offering to poke you toward this Bible study series… I am off to begin The Lamb of God next.
“When we have been made new on the inside, it fortifies us to endure the inevitable oldness and deterioration that is a reality of living in these bodies of flesh in a world that still longs to be transformed by this same newness.” (p51)
“To know the favor of God is not to be loved as you are by nature but to be loved for who you are in Christ.” (p101)
“The bigger picture around the ark was that of families on rooftops, struggling and failing to keep their heads above the water, and a sea of floating corpses… It prefigures what will happen to all who refuse to enter into the safety and protection provided in Christ… Because Noah was a righteous man who walked with God, Noah’s heart must have broken as he heard the desperate cries of those who were not safely inside the ark… Rest inside the boat does not come easily unless all those you love deeply are safe inside with you… It can only be saturated in prayer. It can only be sought through diligence on our knees… And ultimately, we pray that it will not be our loved one’s rebellion and resistance that will have the last word in his or her life, but God’s grace and mercy.” (p104-106)
“Noah’s story is the story of a man who walked with God, believed God, waited for God, and depended on God. But sadly, it is also the story of a man who, in the final chapter of his life, dishonored and failed God. Noah is just like us. He not only needed God’s saving grace; he needed God’s sustaining grace.” (p109)
“Like Abraham, we must believe that the righteousness of Christ is sufficient, that it is weighty enough, and that God is good enough to give it to us, who have no real righteousness of our own.” (p162)
“To walk before God is to live in such a way that every step is made in reference to God.” (p185)
“No one who lives by faith continues to live their own way. Grace goes to work in the interior of our lives so that our allegiances are directed by God and our perspectives are shaped by God.” (p186)
“God was faithful in His promises. Abraham received the promises of God not because he and Sarah worked up enough faith on their own to believe God’s promises and hold on to them. It was grace given to them in spite of their doubt and disbelief. God was faithful to Abraham not because of Abraham’s faithfulness but in spite of Abraham’s faithlessness. God kept all of His promises to Abraham, who did not keep his promises to God… The good news of the gospel is that even though we fail in keeping our promises to God, He will keep His promises to us.” (p192)
“Genuine faith is always lived out through obedience. Authentic faith is proven, purified, and strengthened when put to the test.” (p194)
“The point of this story [of Abraham being willing to sacrifice Isaac on an altar[ is not to convince or convict you that you must be willing to sacrifice for God what is most precious to you. It is that God was willing to sacrifice for you what was most precious to Him.” (p197)
“God’s promises to me are not for this life only. In fact they are not primarily for this life, but for an eternity to come.” (p198)
“Joseph not only knew that God was with him but also was confident in God’s plan to use him. That confidence gave him peace as he waited for God to work out His plan, even as that plan brought him pain.” (p241)
“God’s people would suffer. But it would not e wasted, meaningless suffering. It would be fruitful suffering… Joseph didn’t turn his attention to being fruitful only after the season of suffering was over. In the land of his affliction, in the middle of the struggle, in the heart of the darkness, Joseph was confident that God was at work.” (p243-244)
“He has a purpose and design in what is happening to us from the beginning, and even though what is happening to us might not be good, God intends it all for our ultimate good… We may never see in this life exactly how God is using our loss for good. But just because we can’t see or articulate clearly His purpose in our suffering doesn’t mean He doesn’t have one… Your suffering will one day give way to great glory.” (p250-251)
“While God certainly cares for us and interacts with us as individuals, and His purposes for us are personal, we have to balance that perspective with the truth that the heart of the story of the Bible is God’s dealings not with individuals but with a people — a people He has called to Himself from all the peoples of the earth. So while there is a great deal we can learn from Genesis about how we can expect God to deal with us as individuals, we cannot miss the context, which is that God’s purposes are not primarily about individuals but about His chosen people.” (p280)