Tag Archives: Genesis

A Flawed Leader part 2

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Like everything else about David, his love for God was big.  It became the central and defining relationship of his life, from the moment Samuel anointed him and “the spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.” (1 Samuel 16:13)  After that, God’s will became part of his decision-making process.  The Bible records many times when David “inquired of the Lord” before taking action.  When things looked bleak, David turned to God and “strengthened himself in the Lord.”  When he succeeded, he humbly gave credit to God, saying, “who am I God, and what is my house that you have brought me this far?” (II Samuel 7:18)  When rebuked by Nathan, God’s prophet, he quickly admits, “I have sinned against the Lord”(12:13).  He begs God to spare the life of his child, but when the child dies, he accepts God’s authority without bitterness.  In fact, he immediately “went into the house of the Lord and worshipped.” (12:20)

As a dying man, David’s last thoughts are about the house he wanted to build for God.  He assembles his officials, seasoned warriors and army commanders, stewards and sons and commends the building of the temple to his son, Solomon.  He tells the people to “observe and seek out all the commandments of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and leave it as an inheritance to your children after you forever.”  He advises Solomon to “know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought: (1 Chronicles 28:9).  The best advice he could impart to those he was leaving was to know, obey and serve God.

David’s history depicts a man who walked and talked with God throughout his life.  To David, God was not a distant authority to be appeased or obeyed out of fear.  God was his rock, his deliverer, the satisfier of his soul.  Read through the Psalms to get an idea of David’s enduring and personal attachment to God.  More than 70 Psalms indicate in their superscriptions that David wrote them.  Many mention specific occasions in his life:  for example, “when he fled from Absalom”  or “when the Philistines seized him in Gaza.”  Others were written as a cry for mercy, or guidance;  they expressed joy and despair.  They recall his days as a shepherd and a king.

David’s leadership and his relationship with God were not perfect, because David was not perfect;  but he had the saving faith “the ancients were commended for” in Hebrews 11.  With confidence in God’s grace he could say, “The Lord is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear?(Psalm 27)  Like Abraham before him, David “believed the Lord and (God) counted it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

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Godly Relationships

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“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone;  I will make him a helper fit for him.”  Genesis 2:18

From the beginning, God intended us to be in relationship with others.  He said it wasn’t “good” to be alone.  He also made man “in the image of God”( Genesis 1:27) and God Himself is a relationship — Father, Son and Spirit.  It’s a relationship founded on love according the apostle, John:

“…the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand.”  John 3:35

and producing love, according to Paul:

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love….’ Galatians 5:22

In fact, Scripture tells us that God is not only loving, He is love.

It seems to me that if God is love, and He made us to mirror His image, and He created us to be in relationship with one another — then His desire is that all our relationships be loving!  I’m not always a logical thinker, but this is where logic leads me.  I guess that means acting in love, even when we don’t feel love.  How do we do that?  Well…..

“Love is patient and kind;  love is not jealous or boastful;  it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way;  it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. ”  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

It’s not easy, but I think if we pay attention and keep these verses from Corinthians in mind, we can become more patient, kind, courteous and humble;  and those few changes in our behavior will allow God’s love to shine into all our relationships.

 

 

The Threefold Cord

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“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they will keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Something is drawing me back to Ecclesiastes, the book that Leslie blogged extensively about last month. The verses above have been used to describe the unions of both marriage and friendship. When we go back to the very beginning, God said,

“It is not good that the man should be alone;  I will make him a helper fit for him.”  Genesis 2:18

According to the author of Ecclesiastes we’re meant to live in relationship, in union with others.  With a friend or a mate, life is easier, safer and more comfortable. We will be happier and accomplish more. But did you notice anything else?  In every relationship there must be a third component — that’s God.  God is the glue that holds every human union together.  Without Him, we’re bound to eventually break apart on the rocks of our own selfishness and sin.  It’s the third strand in the cord that keeps them going.

So, we don’t need to just have a relationship with God, we need to make God a part of every relationship in our life.  Peace, joy, patience, kindness, love, self-control–no union survives without them, and we can’t manufacture them on our own.  They’re gifts of the Holy Spirit.  So as Charles Spurgeon once said, “Let the lion out of the cage.”  Don’t keep God penned up except for Sunday mornings–let Him into your marriage, your friendships, your workplace, your family.  Let Him transform all those relationships.

 

Traveling Companions

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This is a poem I wrote years ago to my husband.  It’s my attempt to describe how two very different people become one in their shared journey through life.  It reminds me of this verse from Genesis: “Then the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 

 

Every love is a poem

        in a foreign language

     with two possible translations.

 

Every love is a story

        with two different authors

      narrating the same plot.

 

Every love is a work of art

        molded and perfected

     by two visions of beauty.

 

Every love is a song

       written in two keys

     sung with one voice.

 

Every love is a journey

      through two countries

  traveled together.

Every love begins and ends

With God

Who made us for one another.

Created to be Creative

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The Bible tells us in the Book of Genesis:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;  male and female he created them.”

Since God is the Creator, doesn’t it make sense that humankind, the children He made in His image, would also be creative?  God gave us “dominion” over the world and blessed us with the instructions that we should “be fruitful and multiply.”  This reminds me of the parable of the talents …. the master trusts his servants to be good stewards of what they have been given.  I guess we could take these words superficially and say, well, we’re supposed to populate the earth and work diligently to receive a good return for our labor, but I think God meant for us to go beyond that.

God blessed each one of us with a unique personality and abilities.  Some of us will be artists, writers and craftsmen, but creativity doesn’t stop there.  We can all imagine creative ways to do what we love to do.  There are creative parents, teachers, business owners and cooks.  There are people who get creative about ways to be generous, ways to relate to different cultures, ways to invent useful gadgets.  I think people feel most completely fulfilled when they’re getting creative about the things they find fascinating and enjoyable;  the things God created them to do, to understand or to learn about.

What gets your creative juices going?  What are the talents God gifted you with?  Are you spending your time on them?  If not, why not?  Start now.

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:  if prophecy in proportion to our faith;  if service, in our serving;  the one who teaches, in his teaching;  the one who exhorts, in exhortation;  the one who contributes, in generosity;  the one who leads, with zeal;  the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”  Romans 8:6-8

 

 

 

I Will Give You Rest

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We can’t talk about spending our time without at some point coming around to what it means to rest.  Rest is sadly lacking in our culture.  The ability to “multi-task” is held up as a virtue;  we’re addicted to technology which connects us to work and to our “social network” constantly; we’re swamped with information, much of it worrisome– even if we quiet our bodies, it’s hard to shut off the continual thoughts and anxieties that beset us.

God knew that we needed rest.  At the time of creation, he established a Sabbath.

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested from all the work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”  Genesis 2:2-3

Of course, we know that Jesus spoke out against a need to follow the myriad rules about the Sabbath created by the Pharisees.  All this keeping track of what could be lawfully done on the day of rest was decidedly unrestful!  Jesus knew that what people needed was true rest, the kind they could only find in Him.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Matthew 11:28

True rest is found in taking a break from competition, worldly cares and anxieties.  It comes from trusting God instead of ourselves, our government or even our family — all these things can fail.  It comes from discovering who we really are — God’s creation, made to serve Him and others.  It comes from realizing our true worth as God’s child.  For many of us find the best way to find rest is to set aside time to spend with God, get to know Him and His plan for our lives.  It can happen ever Sunday morning at worship services.  So this week — get some rest, real rest.

 

Remembering What We Are

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“For he (God) knows our frame;  he remembers that we are dust.”  Psalm 103:4

God knows us because he made us.  In Genesis we learn:

“…the Lord God formed man of dirt from the ground, and breathed in to his nostrils the breath of life;  and man became a living being.”  Genesis 1:7

Sometimes we forget who and what we really are.  God created us, and he sustains us.  Our body is fragile and temporary.  We are dust, and in a few short years our time on earth will be over.

On one hand, it can be depressing to realize this;  on the other, it makes our lives precious and meaningful.  Do I really what to delude myself by thinking I am in charge of the world?  Or do I want to make a difference by obeying the one who made me?  Do I want to waste my time acquiring things that don’t matter in the long run?  Or do I want to contribute to God’s plan and hear the words, “well done, good and faithful servant?”

Your time here is short.  God knows who you are and what you are?  Do you know Him?

 

Remembering to be Humble

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“So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men.”  Genesis 24:59

“Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse died and was buried under the oak below Bethel.  So it was named Allon Bacuth (oak of weeping).”  Genesis 35:8

I was quite excited on the first full day of the Via de Cristo weekend I attended many years ago, to be assigned to sit at the table of Deborah.  After all, everyone has heard of Deborah, right?  Deborah, the judge;  Deborah, the warrior;  Deborah, the woman who was famous as a leader in a patriarchal society.  What a role model!  Who wouldn’t be honored to sit at a table named after her?

But my bubble burst when I read the card on the center of the table closely.  I discovered that I was not sitting at the table of Deborah the Judge–I was sitting at the table of Deborah the nursemaid.  You probably don’t know who she is — I sure didn’t.  She is only mentioned twice in the Bible (see the verses above), and only once by name.  Frankly, I was disappointed.  I resolved that secretly, I would continue to think of my table as the table of the “famous” Deborah.

In the years since that weekend retreat, I’ve come to rethink that position.  I’ve read the two references to “my” Deborah and what comes between them.  Do you realize that Deborah served Rebekah and her family for over eighty years?  She must have been greatly loved and greatly mourned for her death to be noted at all.  She was buried with honor under a venerable oak, symbol of long life.

If I am honest, I must admit that I’m a lot more like Deborah the nursemaid than Deborah the judge–in fact most of us are.  We may not be the star of the story, but we can be humble, faithful servants to the people around us.

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What is Sin?

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What is sin?  In today’s culture, we often trivialize it.  We don’t even like to talk about it.  Rather than admitting to sin, we say we “made a mistake”, “used poor judgement,”  or “messed up.”  We blame it on factors we can’t control–our difficult upbringing, our desperate situation, our friends or our DNA!  Adam and Eve tried that, too.  Eve told God,

“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3″13

and Adam goes even further, seeming to blame God Himself:

“The woman whom you gave to me, she gave me the fruit of the tree and I ate.”  Genesis 3:12

The apostle doesn’t mince words when he describes sin:

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness;  sin is lawlessness.” 1 John:3:4

A lawbreaker is a criminal;  a person who deserves punishment.  Someone who is lawless is a rebel — unwilling to obey authority.  I don’t like to think of myself this way, and you probably don’t either.  However, admitting what I really am (a lawless rebel) is the first step toward true reconciliation with God.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.”  1 John 1:8-10

Calling sin what it is isn’t easy;  but it is necessary.

It Started in the Garden

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“And the Lord commanded the man, saying: ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’….So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”  Genesis 2:16-3:6

Disobedience is almost as old as humankind.  God created Adam and Eve and gave them only one restriction — do not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  One commandment and almost immediately they disobey it!

Why?  The serpent sows doubt in Eve’s mind.  Maybe God didn’t really mean what He said;  maybe she misunderstood Him; maybe God has some ulterior motive that is for His benefit, not hers.  Plus, the fruit really looked good, and she was hungry.

Nothing has really changed. I know at times I apply the same faulty reasoning that Eve did.  It’s hard to discern God’s will;  times have changed, and some of God’s rules seem outdated and unnecessary;  that sin is really attractive, and I don’t see how it would hurt me;  and the big one — can I really trust God?

I think it all boils down to trust.  The Bible tells us:

“…for those who love God all things work together for good, …”Romans 8:29

If we trust in this promise, we’ll try to obey God’s rules.  They are given to us for our benefit.  The things that seem unclear, that seem unreasonable, that deprive us of what looks good or feels pleasurable will only hurt us in the long run.  Of course, like our first parents, we’ll still disobey.  We’ll fall short.  We’ll miss the mark.  God provided for that, too.

“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness (Christ’s) leads to justification and life for all men.”  Romans 5:18

Disobedience started in the garden;  it’s results ended in Christ.  Trust God who works all things for our good.