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Daily Devotional

Genesis 2-3

Why are things as they are? What kind of world do we live in? Who are we? The answers to these fundamental questions are answered in Genesis by the God who calls his people to himself in order to bestow his blessing. Stuart Holman hosts this series of short devotionals as part of the Bible Reading strand of GrowingDisciples.

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Daily Devotional

Genesis 1

Why are things as they are? What kind of world do we live in? Who are we? The answers to these fundamental questions are answered in Genesis by the God who calls his people to himself in order to bestow his blessing. Stuart Holman hosts this series of short devotionals as part of the Bible Reading strand of GrowingDisciples.

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Daily Devotional

Introducing our Daily Devotionals

What are Daily Devotionals, how do they fit in with the rest of the Bible Reading strand, and how can we make the most of them? Stuart Holman answers these questions in preparation for the launch of our Daily Devotionals next Monday.

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Daily Devotional

Structure and Genesis

As we read our way through the book of Genesis one of the key questions we ponder is, ‘What kind of literature is this?’ Our answer to this question of literary genre will determine our understanding of the book. Is it a scientific treatise, a dispassionate eye-witness account, a fairytale, a ‘dreaming’ narrative,… the options are endless. Further, we also need to ask, ‘What is the purpose of Genesis?’ When we know why it was written, and for whom, then we also have a firm foundation for making the important step into our place and time, into our lives and basic self-understanding.

The best answers are going to be found in the book itself. Instead of beginning with our own prejudices and ‘hobby horses’, we want to allow the book itself to reveal the answers to these questions.

An important feature of Genesis seems to be its in-built structure. It is a highly patterned document with repeated devices, narrative motifs, bookends and inter-textualities. For example, in the creation account of Genesis 1 we saw the numeric patterns (3+3+1) and the repetition of phrases such as, ‘And God said…,’ ‘and it was so…,’ and, ‘evening and morning, the X day.’

Genesis 2:4 introduces the first structural marker that appears throughout the whole book, ordering all the narratives that follow the initial creation account. Genesis 2:4 begins: “This is the account of…” The underlying word, Toledot, means ‘generations’— which is best understood as “this is what became of” (Woudstra, CTJ 5). It is this ‘generations of’ marker that provides a structuring device for all of Genesis. It is used in Gen 2:4; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:1; 36:9; 37:2, each introducing a new narrative thread and closing off that which came before. In this way Toledot gives us a heading to each new unit. It tells us what is important and which information belongs together.

This careful structuring shows us that the whole of Genesis hangs together as a unit. It has been organised with a particular purpose. While there are very clear signs that multiple sources have been brought together in the one book, there is someone who has acted as editor and organiser. They have collected together the accounts of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph etc and assembled them in a single place for a certain audience.

Traditionally, Moses is identified as this Editor. He is the one who is said to have gathered the oral traditions of his people. Why? Because his people need to know who they are. Their origins are not found among the Egyptians. Their God is not like the pantheon of the Egyptians or the Babylonians or the Mesopotamians. The people whom Moses led out of Egypt and into God’s promised land have their identity formed in the family lineage of Genesis. It is history told with a purpose. The wilderness generation and their descendants are uniquely called by God to be his people, living his way, in his land.

And so as Christian people reading Genesis in the 21st century, we find some very important parts of our identity in the same scriptures. We understand ourselves, our world, and God through this narrative. He reveals his purposes, his character and his ways to us within the story of the family which became the nation of Israel. Despite our many significant differences, we are also bound into the world of Genesis.

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Daily Devotional

Babel’s Blessing

Genesis 11:3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other
.

Building, building with bricks, building cities with towers— these are not sin. But the motive is: so that we may make a name for ourselves. Pride and self aggrandisement reveal a deeper rebellion against God.

A unified and coordinated effort in rebellion against God (… otherwise we will be scattered…) also signals danger. The efficacy and capacity of a united humanity is great but when directed only to human ambitions it becomes a threat to humanity itself. Totalitarian regimes can achieve much: trains run on time, technological advancement makes better bombs. But divergent views are outlawed, dissent is crushed.

God’s response of creating diversity through the ‘confusion’ of languages is certainly a judgment against the Babel Project, but it contains grace within. Humanity is not wiped out (as promised by the rainbow after the flood) and difference is protected. Minorities can flourish. Humanity will indeed be diverse and they will fill the earth, carrying out their creation mandate.

Within temporal judgment God’s gracious purpose is very often to be discerned.

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Daily Devotional

Ruling over sin?

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen 4:6-7)

The experience of temptation outside the Garden of Eden is described first as an internal battle, where Cain must address his own (fallen) nature in order to live God’s way. There is no snake opposing him, seeking his undoing. He must address himself. Sin desires to rule him, but he must rule over it.

Sin is an opportunistic foe. It waits, crouching, coiled for action at a moment’s notice. God unmasks sin for Cain’s benefit. He must know his enemy and how sin plots his demise. But Cain refuses the warning. Instead he invites Abel to ‘come for a walk’. It sounds innocent enough. But his evil intent is soon revealed.

Cain’s own sinful nature pounced upon him, unbridled and indulged. Cain then pounced upon Abel.

In his fallen state Cain is told what to do with sin— he must rule over it. I don’t suppose God would not ask him to do the impossible. And so, in our state (fallen, but with the Spirit) we must also rule over our sin. As Christians, enabled by God’s Spirit, we talk back to our urge to sin, we address pride, greed and lust. We say ‘No’. Instead, we look for the alternate path, the way out, God’s provision of grace.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Cor 10:12-13)

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Daily Devotional

Genesis 1 : on its own terms

Here’s a great introduction to the text of Genesis 1 from he Bible Project team. I love the way it takes the text seriously and on its own terms. It’s a good beginning point for personal reflection.

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Daily Devotional

A Blessed and Holy Christmas to you!

On behalf of the team at St Andrew’s Roseville, I would like to wish everyone a blessed and holy Christmas for 2020. This year my Christmas message– a meditation on Romans 8:18-39 — has come in two parts, over the past two Sundays.

Part 1– Romans 8:18-27 The Gift of Hope is available by clicking this link

Part 2– Romans 8:28-39 The Gift of Certainty is available by clicking on this link

From January 1, 2021 we will begin a new program called GrowingDisciples. It will be a development of this program, but aim to take us further as a Christian community, with rich resources for personal and small group engagement with God’s word, prayer and discipleship. To access this material, we will use the web address growingdisciples.net.au — please bookmark this address in your browser and use it everyday. Our Daily Devotionals will resume there in mid-January.

Stuart

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Daily Devotional

Christmas 4

A Christmas message from Grant van der Merwe, Youth Minister at St Andrew’s Roseville

A Christmas message from Mel Bell, Children’s Minister of St Andrew’s Roseville.

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Daily Devotional

Christmas 3

A Christmas message from Ness Hughes, Assistant Pastor of St Andrew’s Roseville.

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Daily Devotional

Christmas 2

A Christmas message from Mal York, Senior Minister of St Andrew’s Roseville.

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Daily Devotional

Christmas 1

Stuart Holman brings his Christmas greetings, along with some thoughts on Luke 2:1-20. For more of Stuart’s Christmas reflections on the Gift of Hope, follow this link to Sunday’s sermon.