Sunday, September 30, 2012

Genesis 3 Deception and Willful Disobedience

As stewards, we must be absolutely certain of the authority that God has in our lives and must be absolutely committed to His purposes. If we are not absolutely committed we are but God's fair weather friends calling on Him when we want Him to act but not willing to adjust our wants to His plan for our lives.

In chapter 3 of Genesis we see Eve confronted by the serpent. He tests her knowledge of what God had said (all the more reason why we need to know scripture well my friends). He begins with a half truth that sounds a lot like the truth. Satan knows scripture too and as believers he will try to deceive us with the word and cause us to doubt it's truth. When Eve misquotes God's command, Satan counters with a direct challenge to God's authority using reason to cause her to doubt God.

We are also presented with temptations of worldly reason to discount God's word. We are challenged with science uncovering half truth's and hypotheses and presenting them as fact in opposition to scripture. The world would offer cheap grace in exchange for whole hearted obedience. We are blasted with lies from all sides (politics, science, history and even religion) attempting to discount our faith. Hold on dear believer to the truth of the Word. If you study and know it well you will find it all sufficient to meet your needs living here in a fallen world.

Speaking of the fall, let's turn back to chapter 3. The woman was deceived by the serpent. I don't know where Adam was at the time, but he should have been by her side. When we separate ourselves from the fellowship of believers we run greater risk of falling prey to the deceiver. Our fellow believers should help us to have clear thinking and encourage us to live righteously.

Anyway, Adam now hears that Eve has fallen victim and rather than standing by God's command, he knowingly chooses disobedience. Certainly he could use the excuse that he wasn't as bad as Eve. After all she disobeyed first and she wasn't struck dead. He justifies his wrong choice and even accuses God Himself in verse 12 saying "the woman YOU gave me made me do this".

We run into terrible troubles when we cannot own our wrong choices and call them what they are - sin. Adam should have been repentant, but instead he played the blame game. We are responsible to God for our sin and we should repent quickly and seek forgiveness. I wish Adam had.

Starting in verse 14 we see the consequences of sin - curses. God goes down the line from the serpent to Eve and then to Adam. The curses affect us down to today. We still find work toilsome. We still have all the pain and travail this curse brought on mankind. God cannot overlook sin in our lives. If He did He would be condoning sin. Even so He does allow us free will to choose to obey or not. It is that free will that demonstrates our love for our Creator when we obey him.

Now in verse 21 we see something significant. God Himself conducted the first animal sacrifice to provide for man. He made garments of animal skin. Even in his punishment Adam continued to receive provision from God. What a kind and loving God we have. This sacrifice points us to our need for a perfect substitutionary sacrifice only Jesus (perfectly God and perfectly man) could provide.

Even so he was banished from the garden and never allowed to return and positioned angels to guard the tree of life. For those who put their faith in the sacrifice Jesus provides, we have the hope of being in paradise with God. It was clear even from the beginning that man chooses sin over obedience but God has given us provision.

If you have received Jesus as the only provision you have to be right before God, He has also given you His Spirit within you giving you the ability to choose not to sin.

In this chapter we learn that God blesses obedience and curses disobedience. My dear friend choose to obey and live a life pleasing to The Lord.

Today is my day of worship so today I will honor God for his provision for me in my sin and rededicate myself to living obediently for Him.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Genesis 2 Rest, Work and Spouses

What a wonderful God we have that would give us his wisdom and principles to apply to our lives that we could have a life of complete rest in Him.  Even more amazing is that we have a God who would begin by setting the example for us to follow.

In Genesis chapter 2, we see God has completed creation and on the seventh day He rests (verse 2).  The principle of rest is given to us here and we see 1. How productive God is in His days of creating.  He did it all in six days.  2. God Himself rested from the work.  It was a Holy day blessed by God because He rested on that day.  In applying this principle to my own life, I really struggle.  As we look at how the Israelites applied the principle of rest later in scripture we can see they struggled too to find and define this rest. 
Now, the seventh day is not Sunday, but we Christians honor Sunday as the weekly Holy day as it is the day that Jesus was resurrected from the tomb having completed the work of redemption for us.  So you can see that we start with identifying what day is the “day of rest”.  I don’t know about you, but I find that my Sunday’s are just as full of activity as my work days by the time I participate in the activities of the church.  I had a pastor once who said he nearly gave up his calling to preach because he was having a hard time reconciling his commitment to keep the day of rest.  I am not going to make excuses or justify the activities of the observance of the day of rest; my point is that God established it and it is a part of his order for our lives.  If we are not finding rest, then we know that we need to work in this area to order our activities to provide this rest we desperately need.

The chapter outlines all the provisions God made for man including water and food in the garden.  I find it interesting that there is mention of gold in verses 11 and 12.  I am not sure what purpose gold would have served in Eden, but perhaps God had already known that man would have a penchant to pursue shiny things.
In addition to rest, this is the chapter in which God ordains work.  Note, this is before the fall, so work is not punishment for a sinful act, but it is a part of God’s established order.  Work gives us a sense of purpose and belonging to the larger creation.  We fit into our world because we contribute to its productivity.  We need to work, if we feel that we need to avoid work in some way or we are overworking ourselves to accelerate our arrival at retirement, then we do not have a proper balance of work and rest.  Work was not done to supply our needs, it is clear from the chapter that God supplied the provisions, it is our response to our Creator; honoring Him who provides for us.

The types of work Adam was given were to care for the garden (verse 15) and to name all the animals (verse 19).  God was involving Adam in the work He started.  I find it interesting that given that we are created in God’s image, that Adam was given the responsibility to name the animals.  God gave him a creative nature as well!  God brought the animals and birds to him to see what he would name them.  God was interested to see what Adam would do with his talents. 
Finally, God recognizes our need for companionship and help.  In verse 18, God said “it is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.”  He created this helper out of Adam’ flesh and so it is appropriate that they would be considered one flesh.  There are so many applications out of this passage that I am not sure we could begin to unpack it in one blog post.  Here are just a couple of points.  1.  Even though Adam enjoyed uninterrupted fellowship with God himself, God recognized that he needed someone like himself who would not only help him in his work but would also be a companion to keep him from being alone.  2.  The woman was created out of the flesh of Adam.  While she was different from Adam, she was one flesh with him and complemented him in every way.

God made us for relationship in addition to work and fellowship with Himself.  We see that God established an order of life that provides for our sustenance and enjoyment.  When we apply these principles in our lives we find that there is a sense of order and peace as well.  We live in an economy that has substantial unemployment.  For those who are not employed for pay, seek out work that you can do that will give you a sense of purpose and contribute to the welfare of your community.  I know one pastor who recommended to his unemployed congregation members to go to the place where you would like to be hired and then work there for free; they will see your commitment and you get a chance to show them you can do the work you are seeking.  I know there are people in my neighborhood who need help.  They could use someone to look after the children, mow the lawn, repair a car… Whatever talent God has supplied you, use it for his glory.
So often spouses focus on their differences and marriage becomes a real struggle.  When we view our spouse as an opponent we don’t act as one.  We should change our thinking about our marriage partner if we are in this mode.  God has supplied this person to be one with us; a partner and companion in life and a helper in the work God has called us to.  If you are at odds with your spouse consider ways that you can build a bridge to encourage them to find oneness with you.

Finally, we live in a world that is so jam packed full of activity we hardly have time to meditate or rest.  This is wrong.  From morning to night there is noise, activity, work and recreation fill our days.  You would think we would be the happiest people, but in fact, as a nation we are generally lonely and miserable; seeking out consolation from TV, recreation, trips, alcohol, or any other diversion that will allow us to have a small sense of peace.  If you are in a harried state of activity, I would like to challenge you (and myself) to find a way to make one day a week Holy to the Lord, a day of rest.  Just like God showed us.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Genesis 1 God Created

As we open the front cover of our Bibles we turn to Genesis 1.  I am amazed that right from the very first verse God gives us a stewardship principle:  "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  We know a few things about God from this verse that will help us as we increase our faith and trust in Him in stewardship.

1. God was in the beginning:  God has always existed.  He isn't something created by some higher authority, He is the highest authority we can look to.  There is no time when He has not been present so He has all history in his hands.  Because He is both pre-existent and omnipresent, so we can be assured that our current circumstances do not escape his notice. 

2.  God created:  God himself declares He is the creator.  There isn't any human interference and there isn't chance or spontaneous assembly of the universe.  This is not an anti-science perspective, all God's truth is revealed in science.  One day our scientists will discover the truth of this statement as well.  As we consider our own situations, we know that God is the owner of everything because He created it.  It is His to give.

3.  God created the heavens and the earth:  There is nothing in the universe that God is not in authority over.  We can trust his authority over the circumstances we face. 

There is so much to explore in Genesis 1 that we could apply to our stewardship.  Let me just present a few additional principles in this chapter.

1. In creating, it was done using a word: God spoke.  If God can create the universe so effortlessly, how much more can He handle the issues we face.  Another thought; the spoken word is powerful and we would do well to consider the words we speak.  They can build up or tear down.  They also reveal the condition of our hearts, so if we have words coming out of our mouths revealing bitterness or hostility we might want to step up our feedings on God's word and allow Him to create in us a clearn heart.

2.  It was good:  When God does something, it is good.  Only God could say that. 

3.  God's abundant provision:  water, sun, stars, day, night, land, vegetation, animals, and mankind (male and female).  God filled the earth with everything we needed for a satisfying life on earth.  This is the same God that has provided for you today and will continue to provide for you in the future.

4.  God's command:  God as the authority over mankind gave the first command for stewarding his creation:  be fruitful and multiply.  God issued this command to the animals in verse 22 and then again to man in verse 28. 

5.  We are created in God's image:  God when creating man (as opposed to the remainder of creation) created in His own image.  God didn't raise man up to be an equal, but he gave a spiritual awareness that wasn't offered to the rest of creation.  He did this to establish a special relationship with man.  We are truly blessed to have a loving creator who reached down to us to establish that relationship.  God continues to reach down to mankind offering a free gift of salvation for anyone who will accept that offer.  He then gives the hope of eternity in His company - forever with Him what could be better?

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him!

Stewardship Bible Study

Today, I am undertaking a project to make my way through the Bible chapter by chapter and reporting on stewardship principles we can apply to our lives.  I hope you will join me and even share principles that you see within a chapter that are not highlighted in my post.  Let's open the word together and see what God's word says to us about living a life completely directed by the Lord.

As we undertake this study, lets consider what stewardship means.  In my mind, stewardship is much more than just the administration of the material blessings he gives us.  It means that everything we have available to us - time, talents, resources and money are committed in service to the Lord.

I believe we will learn in this study some of the character qualities of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that are available to us as stewards and more of God's plans for his disciples as they undertake this journey.