Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"Houston, we have a problem..."



“Houston, We Have a Problem”
Genesis 3-5

Most of us know what this phrase, “Houston, we have a problem,” means. On April 14, 1970, the Apollo Thirteen mission was in jeopardy. An exploded oxygen tank threatened the lives of the three astronauts on board. Their transmission that day has become famous. Mission control worked around the clock to solve the problems and miraculously got them home on April 17, 1970. This illustrates how we can solve problems when they arise.

In the chapters of the Bible following the stories of Creation, we have the stories of problems. This is sometimes called the stories of the Fall of Man, but I like to call them the problems because of what God intended. He intended us to solve problems, not create them. In failing to solve the first problem, Adam created greater problems. The first story tells how that happened.

Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, in perfect relationship and fellowship with God and with each other with four commandments from God to keep:

  • Be fruitful and multiply.

  • Subdue the earth and take dominion over it.

  • Tend the Garden and keep it.

  • Do not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.


There was a special warning on the last commandment. God said that if they did eat they would really die. But the commandments of God are the blessings of God when we keep them. They were off to a good start.

Adam named all the animals, which was the first step in subduing the earth and establishing God’s authority over the animal kingdom. As Adam would hear the name God desired (God’s Will), he would speak that word and it was so.

It wasn’t long until a problem entered paradise. The serpent came in from the field and started talking to Eve. The occasion was an opportunity for Adam to learn how to solve problems. Instead, he did nothing and was silent as Eve carried on this conversation with the devil as he spoke through the serpent.

The devil asked Eve a question: “Did God really say you (all) cannot eat from any of the trees of the Garden?” When you think about that question, it is actually very ridiculous. The trees were their only source of food. They were all good to look at and good for food, all except one; the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Eve answered the serpent by saying, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the Garden, but God said we may not eat of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden, neither shall we touch it, lest we die.” The serpent said, “You (all) will not really die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good from evil.”

The Bible says that Eve saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise. She took of its fruit and ate and gave it to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. The most serious of all problems was created. Sin entered the world that day and was passed on to all their offspring from Adam.

Where was God when this horrible thing was happening? Many people as have asked this question when the horrible thing in their lives began to unfold. “Why did God allow this to happen?”

God allowed the serpent to come in from the field and allowed Satan to speak through the serpent to Eve, and it was still paradise. They still had their perfect relationship and fellowship with God. And God had a different outcome for this problem. This was an occasion for Adam and Eve to grow in their knowledge of good and evil. A problem had arisen that God had a solution for. There was a different choice to be made than the one that was made.

The very first thing Adam and Eve could have done was to cry out to God for a solution to the problem of the serpent being in the Garden asking questions, just like the astronauts did when their problem presented itself. They immediately called Mission Control for the solution.

In the Garden, Adam and Eve should have immediately recognized that something was not right. The animals were to answer Adam. He was God’s representative and authority on earth and in the family. He was the one who would ask the questions with the animals submissive and accountable to him, not the other way around.

They could have cried out, “Lord, what is happening here? Why is this serpent in the Garden and why is he asking these silly questions? Give us wisdom what to do. Help us, O God. We do not know what this means or what to do, but we trust You and need You for everything, especially now with this strange thing that is happening. We know what Your Word says, and we know that what this serpent is saying is not good because it goes against what You have said. Help us Lord!”

The story would have had a different outcome. Instead of the problem being solved, the problem multiplied and continues to be multiplied today.

Lessons from The Problem

  • Problems can lead to two different outcomes; either being solved by God’s Word which leads to spiritual growth and understanding, or being multiplied because we try to address them on our own and end up with sin and death; which multiplies.


  • Crying out to God when things are not right is the proper response to problems. Going to God in prayer and to His Word for clarity and understanding is the only way temptations (problems) can be answered.

  • Keeping God’s Commandments will give you the blessing of wisdom for problem solving. Trying to solve problems on your own will lead to creating more problems. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing, except to sin and create more problems. In Christ, and His Word in you, you can address everything that presents itself regardless of what it may be, with God’s solution, which brings Him glory.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Creation of the Family; Genesis 2:18-25

 
The third story of creation tells of the creation of the family It has three parts: Adam’s relationship with the animals, the creation of Adam’s wife, Eve, and how the family continues to be created today.

God stated that there was one thing about creation that was not good. He said it was not good that Adam was alone. God said that He would make Adam a helper, someone to help him to work the garden and keep it. Creation was not yet complete.

One of the ways of God is that He shows us what something is not, then He shows us what it is. First God brought all the animals to Adam for him to name. In giving each animal a name, Adam was entering into a relationship with it. Knowing the animal’s name gave Adam a relationship with the animal. After naming all of the animals, Adam was still alone. God had shown him that the animals could not be the help he needed. God had given Adam a desire for a deeper relationship than the animals could be to him.

God caused Adam to go to sleep. While he was asleep, God opened up Adam’s side, took one of his ribs out, fashioned a woman out of it, and then healed the place He had opened up with flesh. When Adam woke up he saw his wife, Eve, and exclaimed, “Finally, someone I can know intimately and that can know me as one. She will be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.” The first family had been created. Adam and Eve became husband and wife in God’s presence.

 Then God stated that from that time forward, the family would be made of one man and one woman. Every time a man leaves his family and cleaves to a woman who has left her family, a new family will be created. Husband and wife would know each other in the most intimate way without any shame. Their relationship with each other would be unique and creative with new life being the fruit of their love for each other.

 The family was the crown of all creation, revealing God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit with glorious love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

 
Lessons from the Story of the Creation of the Family


·         Only God can create a family by bringing a man and woman together by His design and purpose.

 

·         The family is made of a husband and a wife, created to be together as one and to help each other in the calling that God has given for His own glory.

 

·         The family, as God created it to be, is the way that God established for us to be obedient to God’s command to be fruitful and multiply, to subdue and have dominion over all of creation.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Creation of Adam; Genesis 2:4-17

The second story of Creation is the creation of Man. There was a whole universe created within Man. Some have even called it the second creation of creation. It is found in the Genesis 2:4-17.

There was a unique situation on the earth at the dawn of creation. It had not yet rained upon the earth. The earth was watered by springs and a mist that came up from the ground. This meant that there were no storms.

Then God formed man from the earth and breathed into Adam His own breath, His Spirit, and Adam began to live and became a living life. The first thing that Adam saw when he opened his eyes was the face of God who had just breathed His Life into him. Adam and God had a personal relationship with each other; a face-to-face relationship. Adam’s life was Life with God.

God had planted a garden on the earth and called it Eden, which means delightful. The most beautiful and delightful place on earth was the place that God prepared for Adam to live. In the garden God planted the most beautiful trees and plants from all of His creation for Adam to look at and enjoy. The fruit trees in the garden were the sweetest and most nutritious of all the plants and fruit trees on earth. It was all for Adam to enjoy. In the middle of the garden there were two special trees; the Tree of Life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

God gave Adam something to do for Him that was related to the command He gave him in the first story. God told Adam to work the garden and to keep it. These two words, “work” and “keep” are important. The first one is also translated as “serve” and “worship” in other places. It is used mostly to describe the work of the Levites in the Tabernacle and the Temple.

In other words, the work that Adam was to do would be an act of worship to God. He would be serving God as he worked in the garden, which would glorify God. It would also be an act of worship. As he worked in the garden, he would be worshipping and adoring God, the Creator of the garden. The Garden of Eden was the worship center of the earth.

God also told Adam to keep the garden. This word means to recognize the great value of something. Adam was told to guard the garden because it was his home. He was to take special care of it because it had such value. It was a place to worship God. It was a place to meet with God and glorify Him.

All of the earth would be blessed by the garden. All of the main rivers of the earth flowed out from a huge spring in the garden (the opposite of today’s earth; small streams and rivers flow into larger ones). Adam’s work would bless the whole earth. The command given to Adam in chapter one to subdue the earth and have dominion over creation would begin in the garden. As Adam was obedient to God in his home, the rest of creation would be blessed. Adam would learn in the garden how to work and keep all of creation. As he would be faithful with little, he would be given more. The Garden would grow until it encompassed the whole earth. The earth would then become the worship center for the whole of creation!

God gave Adam one more command: “Eat from every tree of the garden, but do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  Here was the greatest blessing of all. Remember from the creation story from chapter one; the blessings of God are found in the commandments of God. This command from God carried the great blessing of where to go for the knowledge of good and evil; not from a tree, but from God. Solomon would end up praying for this in 1 Kings 3:9, but Adam was given the first opportunity of it with this command.

With this command, God gave Adam the blessing of how he would govern the garden, the earth, and the whole of creation; under the authority of God’s Word.

Lessons from the story of the creation of Adam:

·         God provides what we need before we need it. He planted the garden for Adam, then put him in it. God gave the command Adam would need in chapter three to counter the lie that would come from Satan. God is always working upstream in our lives to provide for us before we have needs.

·         The calling of God for each person in His Kingdom glorifies God and is to be valued above all else in life. Our work is an act of worship and brings glory to God.

·         God’s Word is the source for obedience to God’s commands. The command to be fruitful, multiple, subdue and have dominion over the earth would be accomplished by trusting God’s command for the knowledge of good and evil.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Creation Story


Genesis 1-2

The creation story has three parts: the creation of the heavens and the earth, the creation of the man, and the creation of the family.

 
The story begins with God, Who is eternal. God created everything there is. God created the beginning. Your first memory verse is “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

 God created by speaking everything into being, into existence. First God said it, then He did it. This is one of the ways of God because God is faithful to His own word. God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” And God saw that the light was good. God could see Himself in His creation. God is good.

 Then God separated the light from the darkness and He called the light day and the darkness He called night and there was the first evening and morning of the first day. God created time when He created the first day. And time is a trinity; it has yesterday, it has today, and it has tomorrow; it has past, present, and future.

God spoke again and said, “Let there be a sky and let there be an earth.” And God separated the sky from the earth. He called the sky heaven and the earth He called earth. The waters in the sky were separated from the waters on the earth. This was the second day of creation.

On the third day, God said, “Let the waters be gathered together and let dry land appear.” It happened just like He said and God formed the oceans, rivers, and lakes. He called the waters that He gathered together, Seas, and the dry land He called earth, and it was good. God also said, “And let there be grass and plants and trees, and fruit trees, each one with seeds to multiply with. It was all just like He said and it was beautiful, just like God.

On the fourth day, God said, “Let sun and the moon and the planets give the earth its signs, days, and seasons, and times.” God created months and years that are still in place today.

God created the fish of the seas and the birds of the air on the fifth day. He also blessed them saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters, the sky, and the earth. This was the first blessing of creation and God saw that it was good, just like Him.

On the sixth day, God created animals, both wild and tame animals, and all of the insects that creep along the ground. God also created man on the sixth day, in His own image and likeness, to rule over all of creation. God blessed them, which was the second blessing of creation. There will be more about the creation of man in the next story.

On the seventh day, God created rest by finishing the work of creation. He blessed the seventh day and called it holy. This was the third blessing of creation and the first thing that God made holy, just like Him. It was a whole day set apart just for Him. This one day made all the others holy. This is one of the ways of God; through one, many are blessed.

Lessons from the Story of Creation

·         Everything that God created is like Him, it is good. When you see creation it should remind you of how good God is so you can honor Him as God, the Good Creator of all there is. When you see creation it should teach you to be grateful to God for all that He has made. Thanking God for what He has made and thanking Him for what He has given you to see, and to do, and to enjoy in creation is the purpose of creation. All of creation reveals the glorious goodness and generosity of God. Let’s honor Him and praise Him and thank Him for everything that He has made. You can thank God for your life.

·         God blesses with His commandments. In creation there were three things that God blessed and each one had a commandment from God. The fish and the birds were blessed with the commandment to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the waters, sky, and land. Man was blessed with the second blessing and told to be fruitful and multiply on the earth and to subdue the earth and have dominion over creation. The third blessing came on the seventh day with the command to rest from work. The commandments of God are blessings from God. When we obey God’s commandments we enjoy blessings from God.

·         God’s creation is ordered around a complete circle. After the seventh day, a new week begins. After thirty or thirty-one days, and new month begins. After twelve months, a new year begins. God’s creation reveals that God is perfect and complete, like a circle. Whatever God starts, He completes. This is one of the ways of God.

·         There are three ways of God seen in the creation story: First God says it, then He does it. God chooses one to give to many. And whatever God starts, He completes.
 

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Genesis 1:1

Monday, June 17, 2013

Making Vows to God


We are in a covenant relationship with God, by His amazing grace and through faith in Jesus Christ. Vows are essential in a personal covenant relationship. So why are we so hesitant to make promises to God? He has certainly made a lot of promises to us! And He is faithful to keep His Word to us. His Word instructs us on making vows. We become more like Him when we make a promise and keep our word. Psalm 119, the longest prayer in the Bible, is full of vows.

What was the last promise you made to God? Do you pray your promises? Are they built upon God’s will?

Some may point to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:33-37) on what Jesus said about no longer taking an oath (making a “false vow”). Jesus did not abolish the Law, He is fulfilled it. He teaches in the SM that your vow (promise) does not need an oath to strength it. Your word (based on His) is all the strength you need. The Pharisees had various oaths to strengthen their promises; some oaths gave them options for not keeping their vows. It was oath-bureaucracy of the worst order.  Jesus made promises to God in His prayers (John 17:26) and taught us to in the model prayer (Luke 11:4).

The main reason we balk at making a promise to God is that we fear we will not be able to fulfill it. That fear is based on a hesitation to fully depend upon God for the fulfillment. We just don’t want to trust God that much.

The first step in developing a vow is to make sure it lines up with the will (promise) of God. Beware of making vows upon a different foundation other than the will of God. When you examine the vow in the model prayer and in Jesus’ prayer and the many vows in Psalm 119 you find that each one is according to the will of God. Once your promise is based upon the sure foundation of God’s will, the next step is to pray like your life depends upon it, because it does! Pray your promises to God! Each day, pray your promises to God. This is the stuff that God creates faithfulness in you with; your dependence upon Him for the vows you have made to Him.

Another reason people are slow to commit, hesitant to put themselves under a promise, is that it closes all other option doors. When a man and a woman stand before a pastor at their wedding ceremony they are closing all other option doors on dating other people for the rest of their lives!

But we like options. This is the reason people do not want to get married (make a commitment before God to one person). Someday they may want out. They want the option of changing their mind. Who is the main focus in that picture? Self is. This is the basis of idolatry; I stay in control of what I worship. I make the rules, I build it, I set it up, I drive it, I enjoy being in control, I keep the key.

This was at the heart of the first temptation and sin…you can be your own authority and determine for yourself what is right and wrong. But a promise becomes a law in my life that I place myself under it. When it is based upon God’s will, I am under His authority and will.

God’s laws express His love for us. My obedience to His laws expresses my love for Him. In this love relationship with God, I experience Life with God and my life is enriched, provided for by God, protected by Him, and blessed with peace that passes all understanding.

Pray about making some promises to God. Like Job (31:1-2), make a covenant with your eyes. Like Malachi (3:10-12), promise to give all of the tithe to God. Like James (1:19-22), promise to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Become a faithful witness like Jesus said we were to be (Acts 1:8). Add some vows to your prayer list and watch what God can do in you, with you, through you, as you, before the watching world around you.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What Exactly Is Faith?


The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is definitive. It undergirds the whole message of the book of Hebrews, which is the whole message of the Bible in one book. Amazing.

The first verse does not define faith, but rather describes what it is. That in itself reveals that faith is greater than a definition. You can’t define faith any more than you can define a person. You can only describe it; or rather, you can only describe a person with it.

The first phrase is “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…” The Greek word translated “substance” is hupostasis, and literally means “substructure.” It is a concrete word describing what buildings are built upon.

Faith is a substance in our lives upon which all of life is built. You don’t see the foundation, but you know it is there. Buildings don’t work at staying up; they just rest upon their foundations.

Faith is what Jesus was talking about in His parable about the man who built his house upon the rock as compared to the man who built upon the sand. Both had houses, but only one had a substructure. That was the one that stood up to the storms. Have you ever heard the saying, “I just don’t know how a person gets through something like this without the Lord.” The answer is they don’t.

This story also tells us where the substructure comes from, “Those who hear these words of Mine and does them is like the man…”  We do not build the foundation, God’s Word creates it. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.”  That means that God’s Word creates the foundation upon which the fruit of obedience stands. The world sees the fruit but God sees the source, His foundation from His Word. God traces everything to its source. The obedience is also His. When it is from God, it is for God.

Hope is something we have that moves us forward because we can see what’s coming; it is looking forward to something. Have you ever noticed the way some people walk looking down while others walk with their head up, looking straight ahead? It is the difference between people of faith and people who can only “see” their own feet. By God’s Word, people of faith have vision; a future and a hope as Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us. They can “see” what’s coming, or rather, where they are heading because they know Who they are following!

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews will go on to describe some of the people of faith in the Old Testament who were not looking down at their own feet, but rather were looking forward to something that God had promised and their actions revealed that solid foundation and hope!

The question is does yours?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What Does God Say in an Explosion?


In our prayer meetings this morning, April 16, the morning after the Boston Marathon Terrorists attacks and explosions, we prayed and heard from God:

·        God, comfort those who lost loved ones, in the explosions. Heal those who were injured and may never fully recover the use of arms and legs. Their lives will never be the same again. Thank You, for the first responders. Have mercy on our nation and our nation’s leaders.

·        Psalm 46:10, know that God is God and He will be exalted over the nations, He will be exalted over all the earth.

·        Isaiah 2:11-12; If we do not humble ourselves, God will humble us. In the Bible God used evil instruments to call people to repentance, to call His people to Himself.

·        God is calling our nation to fall on our knees before Him in humility and repentance.

·        Spiritually, we must always be on “High Alert,” for the chief terrorist, Satan. We are kept and guarded by the presence of the Holy Spirit, if we stay turned and tuned to Him. God did not promise to keep us out of the fire, but to be with us in the fire!

·        In the picture of the first explosion, one man was knocked to his knees, while another woman simply looked at her watch to check the time of her run. Our nation must fall to our knees from these explosions and not keep running away from God and checking our pace as if this has nothing to do with our spiritual condition. We must not return to business as usual.

·        We may be entering the day in our nation where we depend more and more on the Lord, even for just going to the store and getting back home safely. We need to sing On Christ the Solid Rock more and more. He alone is our hope and stay…all other ground is sinking sand.

·        One brief picture from the terror of yesterday was a woman on her knees, with hands together, looking up with horror, in earnest prayer, crying out to God for help. Lets pray that our nation follow her example and not turn to anyone else, especially our own selves, for help. We need to get right and stay right with God.

·        God, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Holy Spirit, convict us of our need of You.