January 8 – Another creation story
Genesis 2:4-17 (The Living Bible)
4 Here is a summary of the events in the creation of the heavens and earth when the Lord God made them. 5 There were no plants or grain sprouting up across the earth at first, for the Lord God hadn’t sent any rain; nor was there anyone to farm the soil. 6 (However, water welled up from the ground at certain places and flowed across the land.)
7 The time came when the Lord God formed a man’s body from the dust of the ground and breathed into it the breath of life. And man became a living person.
8 Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, to the east, and placed in the garden the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God planted all sorts of beautiful trees there in the garden, trees producing the choicest of fruit. At the center of the garden he placed the Tree of Life, and also the Tree of Conscience, giving knowledge of Good and Bad. 10 A river from the land of Eden flowed through the garden to water it; afterwards the river divided into four branches. 11-12 One of these was named the Pishon; it winds across the entire length of the land of Havilah,[b] where nuggets of pure gold are found, also beautiful bdellium and even lapis lazuli. 13 The second branch is called the Gihon, crossing the entire length of the land of Cush. 14 The third branch is the Tigris, which flows to the east of the city of Asher. And the fourth is the Euphrates.
15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden as its gardener, to tend and care for it. 16-17 But the Lord God gave the man this warning: “You may eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the Tree of Conscience—for its fruit will open your eyes to make you aware of right and wrong, good and bad. If you eat its fruit, you will be doomed to die.”
The Gospel of John 3:22-36 (NIV)
22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”
31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
Psalm 5:8-12 (NRSV)
8 Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.
9 For there is no truth in their mouths;
their hearts are destruction;
their throats are open graves;
they flatter with their tongues.
10 Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of their many transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
so that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
you cover them with favor as with a shield.
Comment: Psalms of lament cast harsh criticism, such as “let them fall by their own counsels.” One of the many beauties of the Psalms is their blatant honesty in prayer. The Psalms are not dictums or codes of behavior, they are a witness to worship and honest emotions in prayer. The Bible is not ashamed to be honest, nor is God ashamed of our honesty. Every prayer of lament ends in praise, realizing that God is in control. Praise God we are not!
Prayer: Lord God, hear my prayer; let my cry come unto you. You are a shield round about me, in you is my security. I praise you and give thanks to you at all times. Amen.