Tag Archives: Genesis

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.

 

 

 

 

Thankful that God is in Control

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“Samson went down to Timnah and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines.  Then he came up and told his father and mother, ‘I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah.  Now get her for me as my wife’.  But his father and mother said to him, ‘Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people , that you must go and take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?’  But Samson said to his father, ‘Get her for me for she is right in my eyes.’

His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines.  At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.”  Judges 14:1-4

In Sunday School yesterday, our lesson was about Samson, one of the judges of Israel, chosen by God.  He was a bit of a spoiled brat.  He wanted what he wanted.  It looked like he was making a bad decision.  In fact, he was making a bad decision. (He made plenty of others, as well).  Luckily, God was in control.  He knew what Samson would do.  He knew his weaknesses.  He used them, wrong as they appeared at the time, to ultimately do good.  If you know the story, Samson is eventually humbled, cries out to God and through his physical strength, topples a building to destroy 3000 of the Philistines who were oppressing the Israelites.

The same thing happens in the story of Joseph is Genesis.  Joseph’s brothers are jealous of his favored position with their father.(Joseph is a bit of a brat like Samson, he taunts his brothers).  They sell Joseph into captivity.  For years he is a slave in Egypt, and is even falsely imprisoned.  In the end, through his gift of interpreting dreams (a gift from God, like Samson’s strength) he rises to power in Egypt and saves his family when famine strikes.  He tells his brothers,

“And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant of earth, and to keep alive for you man survivors.  So it was not you who sent me here, but God.”  Genesis 45:7-8

Once again, what seemed like an evil situation was used by God for good.

The moral of this post?  Thank God that He is in control.  He knows our strengths and weaknesses and He will use them both.  We only see “through a glass darkly”;  He has the entire picture.  What seems bad at the moment will work out for our good in God’s time.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.”  Romans 8:28

 

Give Thanks for Marriage

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“But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.  So they are no longer two, but one.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”  Mark 10:6-9

My morning devotional reading yesterday was from the story of Abraham and Sarah.  Abraham and Sarah made many mistakes–lying, cheating, becoming angry, laughing at God’s promises.  Sin was part of their life together.  However, God was part of their lives as well.  They followed God for decades, through difficult times and together they built the family which would become God’s chosen people.  Into that family was born the Savior of the world, Jesus.

Marriage was one of the first gifts God gave to man.  In marriage, we can learn to serve and love another person unconditionally.  In marriage, we can have lifelong friendship and companionship.  In marriage, we have the opportunity to do great things for God.

I know too often, I take my marriage for granted.  Sometimes I even gripe and complain about my husband’s flaws or the habits that irritate or annoy me. Like Abraham and Sarah, sin is part of our lives;  but grace is there, too.  Together we have raised a family, studied the Bible, served the church and experienced most of life’s major milestones.  Nobody knows me better than my husband.  Nobody has forgiven me more often.  Nobody else has supported me as frequently. Today I’m going to give thanks for the blessings of 40+ years with the same person.  If you’re married, I hope you will do the same.

Remember God loves you and so do I!

 

Life after life after life…

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 All of us have had the experience of being reborn.  I was thinking about this on Sunday, after hearing a sermon on the life of Joseph (the one in Genesis with the coat of many colors).  Joseph’s life took some drastic turns.  He went from being the favored son of Jacob to slavery; from slavery to imprisonment; from being a prisoner to being the right hand man of the Pharaoh of Egypt! Surely some of those changes must have felt like a kind of death and rebirth.  He “died” to his family.  He “died” to having special status.  He even “died” to being free.  Who could have predicted the final outcome?

 Most of us do not suffer such extreme changes in our life or status.  But we can still identify with Joseph.  Sometimes our life changes in a positive way, a way we have planned.  We may get married, have a child, or receive a promotion that causes us to move across the country.  Other things just happen:  we develop an illness, lose our job, our spouse or child dies.  Each important change causes our way of life to dissolve, and eventually a new life takes its place.  The result is unpredictable.

 In the midst of Joseph’s deaths he never lost faith in God.  He told his brothers:

 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today”.  Genesis 50:20

 He couldn’t foresee what his new birth would be, but he trusted the Lord.  Jesus also trusted His father when he went to the cross.  What looked like a horrible death, became life for us.

 What death is going on in your life?  Do things look hopeless?  Have your plans gone awry?  God is still in control.  Your life is in His hands.

 “…. For those who love God all things work together for good.”  Romans 8:28