How does the first verse of the Bible set the stage for the rest of the story of our history?
Reflection: God is our Creator. The creation story teaches us much about God and ourselves. First, we learn about God: (a) he is creative; (b) as the Creator he is distinct from his creation; (c) he is eternal and in control of the world. We also learn about ourselves: (a) since God chose to create us, we are valuable in his eyes; (b) we are more important than the animals. Genesis 1:28 tells us about our role in the created order: “Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.’”
The simple statement that God created the heavens and the earth is one of the most challenging concepts confronting the modern mind. The vast galaxy we live in is spinning at the incredible speed of 490,000 miles an hour. But even at this breakneck speed, our galaxy still needs 200 million years to make one rotation. And there are over one billion other galaxies just like ours in the universe.
Bible Reading: Hebrews 11:1-3
Key Bible Verse: By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. (Hebrews 11:3)
According to these verses, how do we understand the creation of the universe?
Describe a time in which you have had to rely on faith to get through a difficult time in your life.
Reflection: Recognizing God as our Creator is our most basic step of faith. God called the universe into existence out of nothing; he declared that it was to be, and it was. Our faith is in the God who created the entire universe by his word. God’s Word has awesome power. When he speaks, do you listen and respond? How can you better prepare yourself to respond to God’s Word?
Heavenly Father - The following passages identify two aspects of God’s role as our heavenly Father.
Bible Reading: Genesis 3:1-24
Key Bible Verse: “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11)
What methods did the serpent use to tempt Eve to eat the forbidden fruit?
How might you avoid similar temptations in your own life?
Reflection: As with our human parents, we can rebel against our heavenly Father. This is how Adam and Eve broke their relationship with God: (a) they became convinced
that their way was better than God’s; (b) they became self-conscious and hid; (c) they tried to excuse and defend themselves. To build a relationship with God we must reverse those steps: (a) we must drop our excuses and self-defenses; (b) we must stop trying to hide from God; (c) we must become convinced that God’s way is better than our way.
Bible Reading: Numbers 14:1-45
Key Bible Verse: In keeping with your magnificent, unfailing love, please pardon the sins of this people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt. (Numbers 14:19)
What does this passage reveal about the relationship God wants to have with his people?
In your own life, do you find yourself complaining against God and rejecting him, or trusting him to carry out his plans for you?
Reflection: God is revealed as a forgiving father. Moses pleaded with God, asking him to forgive his people. His plea reveals several characteristics of God: (a) God is immensely patient; (b) God’s love is one promise we can always count on; (c) God forgives again and again; and (d) God is merciful, listening to and answering our requests. God has not changed since Moses’ day. Like Moses, we can rely on God’s love, patience, forgiveness, and mercy.
Lord - The following passages highlight two aspects of God’s lordship in our lives.
Bible Reading: Exodus 3:1-22
Key Bible Verse: There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. (Exodus 3:2)
What is your response to Moses’ interaction with God in this passage?
In what ways can you show your respect for God in your worship and daily life?
Reflection: God deserves our humble respect. At God’s command, Moses removed his sandals and covered his face. Taking off his shoes was an act of reverence, conveying his own unworthiness before God. God is our friend, but he is also our sovereign Lord. To approach him frivolously shows a lack of respect and sincerity. When you come to God in worship, do you approach him casually, or do you come as though you were an invited guest before a king? If necessary, adjust your attitude so it is suitable for approaching a holy God.
Bible Reading: Psalm
Key Bible Verse: Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD. (Psalm 36:6)
What does this passage tell you about the nature of God?
How does this affect what you believe about your own safety and security?
Reflection: As Lord, God rules and protects his creation. In contrast to evil people and their wicked plots that end in failure, God is faithful, righteous, and just. His love reaches to the heavens; his faithfulness reaches to the skies; his righteousness is as solid as mighty mountains; mountains and his judgments are as full of wisdom as the oceans with water (“the ocean depths”). We need not fear evil people because we know God loves us, judges evil, and will care for us throughout eternity.
Unique - The following passages offer two reflections on God’s uniqueness.
Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 6:1-9
Key Bible Verse: “Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
What does the passage say that our God desires from us?
What suggestions can be gleaned from the passage about how we can keep God’s principles ever before us in our lives?
Reflection: Monotheism—belief in only one God—was a distinctive feature of Hebrew religion. Many ancient religions believed in many gods. But the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of the whole earth, the only true God. This was an important insight for the nation of Israel because they were about to enter a land filled with people who believed in many gods. Both then and today, there are people who prefer to place their trust in many different “gods.” But the day is coming when God will be recognized as the only one. He will be the king over the whole earth.
Bible Reading: 1 Peter 1:13-25
Key Bible Verse: But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. (1 Peter 1:15)
According to the passage, why can we hope for more than what we have inherited from our earthly parents?
What are the most significant principles from this passage in your life right now? Why?
Reflection: God reveals himself as a holy God. The God of Israel and of the Christian church is holy—he sets the standard for morality. Unlike the Roman gods, he is not warlike, adulterous, or spiteful. Unlike the gods of the pagan cults popular in the first century, he is not bloodthirsty or promiscuous. He is a God of mercy and justice who cares personally for each of his followers. Our holy God expects us to imitate him by following his high moral standards. Like him, we should be both merciful and just; like him, we should sacrifice ourselves for others.
This study is adapted from the Handbook of Bible Application (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2000), available everywhere books are sold.