Scripture Reading Challenge (#6)

Many of us remember, “Father Abraham had many sons.  Many sons had Father Abraham, and I am one of them.  So are you.  So let’s just praise the Lord.”  and all the accompanying motions.  The next section of the Biblical story focuses to Abraham. We first learn that before God changed his name, it was Abram.  We also learn that God gave Abram and his descendants three promises: (1) give them a land, make them a great nation and name, and finally bless the world through them.  Abraham’s story sets up the trajectory for the rest of the story.  Namely, how God would bring redemption to a broken creation.  We see in Abraham the roots to the nation of Israel, but even more, we see the roots of the people of faith.

Read Genesis 12:1-20

Sometimes, Satan is no bigger than 6 inches tall.  Enough to stand on our shoulders and whisper words of doubt and discouragement in our ear.  Abram lived in a place that was the equivalent of a modern-day metropolis.  It also seemed feasible that he had a sizeable inheritance coming to him.  He also had his entire life set up in the land of Ur of the Chaldees.  Still, in an amazing act of faith, Abram packed up his house and family to follow God’s direction.  Perhaps, Satan sat down on Abrams’ shoulder and whispered, “That’s that.” He was leaving a luxurious world for the unknown.

Abram lived in faith, and eventually, God would change his name to Abraham as a reminder that God would keep His promises.  Abraham did not seem to doubt God, but he did have trouble understanding how God would fulfill his plan.  Sometimes he tried to help.  We see an instance of this at the end of our reading today.  Abraham would lie to Pharoah about Sarah in an attempt to preserve their life.  We also see two other times where Abraham would try to help God out with fulfilling the promises of having children (since he and his wife were childless and super old)!  He decided to seek to adopt one of his servants as his son and then had a child with another woman that his wife gave him.  Whew!  Finally, God gave Abraham and Sarah, their son.  God keeps his promises but fulfills them in ways that are beyond our understanding.  We are just called to be faithful and live a life aligned to what we believe.

Scripture Reading Challenge (#5)

Learning another language can be hard. In our text today, however, we learn that humanity shared a common language. After an act of rebellion before God, we lost that gift. God has ways of reminding us that we are not in control, but that He is.

Read Genesis 11:1-9

This passage unveils basic human needs.  These dwellers in the plain of Shinar (later to become Babylon), looked to attain security and identity.  By building a tower, they were going to have a secure place and no longer be considered a scattered people.  If they could make their name great, gain an identity, they would feel like they had people to which they belonged.  However, they did this as an act of rebellion to God.  In doing so, they refused the security and identity that we can only find in the Lord.

Human ingenuity is also highlighted in this passage.  When God saw man’s rebellion, it was noted that nothing would be held back from them.  People are innovative.  I believe that is because we are made in God’s image, howbeit, distorted and broken.  We still retain some of those qualities.  Such as, God is a Holy Trinity, and we only exist in a web of relationships.  It takes the relationships of others for us to be born and to thrive.  Another area is creativity.  We are creative because we were made in the likeness of our Creator.

The last thing that jumps out to us is the unity of language.  One of the greatest barriers throughout time has been languages.  At the Tower of Babel, there was unity through one language, but the people were rebellious.  On the day of Pentecost, according to the second chapter of Acts, the early believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (languages in the Greek).  They left the upper room where they stayed and went into the streets.  People from all corners of Rome’s territory heard them speak in their languages.  God unified the people in the Church through His Spirit.  We can only imagine that in heaven, people every tribe, nation, and tongue will worship God with one voice, as in the days of our creation.

Reading Scripture Challenge (#4)

Do you know anyone that is absent-minded?  Forgetfulness is something that we have to deal with in this world.  God, however, always has us on His mind.  Psalm 139:17-18 reads, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God!  How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: When I shall awake, I am still with thee.” 

Read Genesis 8:1-9:17

Our Passage says that God remembered Noah in the Ark.  Sometimes we can feel like God forgets about us and where He led us.  Israel thought the same thing in Isaiah 49:14, “But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my LORD hath forgotten me.”  God replied, however, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.  Behold, I graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me” (vs. 15-16).  The Hebrew writer reminds us, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  God would not leave Noah in the Ark.  He won’t leave you in your situation either.

God gave Noah, his family, and the rest of creation a token to help them remember God’s promise to not destroy the world through a global flood.  God certainly does not need anything to help Him remember.  However, we need constant reminders.  Also, sometimes we need to be reminded that God remembers.  In the case of Noah, the Lord put a rainbow in the sky to tell them and us that He won’t forget.

Scripture Reading Challenge (#3)

We take a little bit of a leap forward to get the big picture of the Bible.  In between our previous passage and today’s reading, is a lot of sin.  In those chapters, we find brother murdering brother and a growing contempt for God.  Sin multiplies, and we see God move to cleanse the world.  Grace, however, is also seen this passage of Scripture.  The word “covenant” is introduced in this chapter too.

Read Genesis 6:5-7:24

The state of humanity is summed up in Genesis 6:5-6, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”  I believe Romans 1:24 is an excellent commentary on the flood event and the actions of God afterward, “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.”  Romans 1:26 and 1:28, echo this idea of giving over.  In my observation, it is God telling humanity that if they don’t want Him around through their continual sinning, he will grant their request and let them see the consequences of such an action.  The evil of our present world is the outcome of man’s rejection of God.

God would go on to destroy the created world by flood.  Noah, though, would find grace in God’s eyes.  In the story, justice, mercy, and grace are on display.  Justice is receiving what we deserve.  Mercy is not receiving what we deserve.  Grace is receiving something that we don’t deserve.  Romans 3:23 teaches, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”   The difference between Noah and the rest of the world was faith.  The writer of Hebrews stated, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (11:7).  Faith is more than belief.  It is faithfulness or the actual living out of what is believed to be true.  

Covenants generally symbolized in today’s time.  Ancient near-eastern covenants were solemn oaths, typically bonded by a blood sacrifice displaying the seriousness of the covenant.  They were symbolized generally by a token.  The token given by God to Noah was the rainbow.  Every time we see a rainbow we are reminded of God’s promise to not destroy the world through a global flood.  God keeps His promises.  Second Peter 3:9 reads, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  God would bring in new covenants throughout human history.  The final covenant being made between Jesus Christ and man.  That covenant is the promise of salvation by faith made possible by God’s grace in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

CFCB Scripture Reading Challenge (#2)

God’s creation included freewill.  Adam could use this freedom to voluntarily choose to love God and obey his commands, or he could abuse this freedom and decide to disobey God.  The reading today focuses on the fall of man and how sin entered into creation.

Read Genesis 3:1-24

In this third chapter, we are introduced to the antagonist to God, Satan.  However, we find him in disguise, as we later learn in Scripture that Satan is called the old serpent (Rev. 12:9, 20:2).  It seems that Satan had possessed the serpent (apparently by freewill as both the Serpent and Satan receive curses in 3:14 and 15).  We also note the method of Satan is to tempt.  It seems to be his favorite approach to influence sin (Gen. 3:1-6; Matt. 4:1-11;  John 13:2; Acts 5:3; 1 Co4. 7:5; 1 Thess. 3:5).  We must guard our life against the trickery of the devil.

Chapter three also displays the consequences of sin.  Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and will take more from you than you ever wanted to give.  Adam and Eve first lost their innocence.  They knew immediately that they had done wrong.  Trust between each other had also been lost.  Sin resulted in the breakdown of the relationship between people.  Sin also resulted in the loss of a personal relationship with God.

The last thing we notice about the consequences of sin is that the results are short and long-term.  The immediately felt guilty.  In the long-term, they also had to bear the weight of a broken world.  However, in the midst of the curses, there is a glimpse of hope.  God promises in 3:15, that Satan would receive a wounded head.  How will that happen?  Another glimpse of God’s plan of salvation is shown in a comparison of coverings.  Adam and Eve attempted to cover their nakedness (their personal sin) with their own works (3:7).  God, however, knew this was not sufficient, and slew and skinned an animal and made them coats.  Our redemption would require the shedding of blood and a covering not made with our dirty hands.

Thank you, Lord, for a glimpse of the great promise.

CFCB Scripture Reading Challenge (#1)

Over the next 100 days, the congregation of Columbus First Christian Baptist is engaging in a Scripture reading challenge. We are using the Essential 100 reading guide by the Scripture Union. I am going to write a daily devotion that goes along with each of the readings. There are 50 Old Testament passages and 50 New Testament passages. I will share the passage for that day and my personal observations.  This purpose of these devotionals is to help the people at CFCB see the Scripture a little clearer and to invite others to join in on the readings as well.

Read Genesis 1:1-2:25

Creation, communion with God, and companionship with others are the topics covered in the first two chapters of Genesis. We start by reflecting on creation, a hotbed issue in society and the Church. Personally, I am a young earth creationist and also believes that science fully informs that direction of my faith. However, whatever your theologically bent is here, creation is beautiful. I remember in a trip to the western states that we had an opportunity to view the Grand Canyon. It was breathtaking. The world that God created is amazing. From our own bodies to the smallest single-celled creature. Psalm 19:1-6 speaks of the beauty of God’s creation. God’s presence is clearly seen in the intricacies of the created world.

God created humanity in His image.  There are so many avenues that we can travel down and explore exactly what the “imagio dei” (image of God) means to us.  However, it enough in this writing to note that God loves us and we are created with freedom of will to love Him back.  First John 4:19 reminds us of this simple truth, “We love him, because he first loved us.

God not only created in us the capacity to have a relationship with Him, but he also created us to have a relationship with others.  The depths of this first relationship is wrapped around human companionship.  I am very thankful for the companion that God placed in my life.  This reality may not be the case for everyone.  However, God has created us for in a web of relations, from which we are able to draw strength and receive encouragement.  So, we do thank God also for all those around us that support us and sharpen our character and faith as well.

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

 “Is any thing too hard for the LORD?” -Genesis 18:14

“Ye Lord God! behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee.” — Jeremiah 32:17

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

The opening question is rhetorical in nature. The interesting point is that God is asking this question himself. The event that this phrase is nestled is centered around God’s promise to Abraham that him and his wife Sarah would have a child. Sarah, because of her age, laughs out loud. God confronted the outburst with a reference to His omnipotence.

The premier display of God’s power is interwoven with His love. The single act of power works its way throughout history, climaxes at the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and reaches throughout eternity. As Paul wrote, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

I am thankful for the power of God that is displayed in the world and in my life. He took my sins away. He has filled my life with the Holy Spirit and enabled me to resist temptation and endure trials. He has prepared a place of eternal bliss. Oh, what a great and glorious God we serve.