Exodus 7:4 | The Light’s Great Act

There is a misconception in the culture that the God of the Old Testament is a vengeful and angry God but the God of the New Testament is loving and wants everyone to do whatever they want to be happy.  The result of these two narratives is that those who hate God and his church will talk about how unjust the angry God of the Old Testament is so that they can justify curtailing God and the church in the public square. And those who proclaim a judge-less God of the New Testament a God that desires everyone to be happy use this view to justify their own “truth” of selfish desires and hedonism. Any challenge to this judge-less God is immediately thrown out with the lecture we are not to judge others.

Both narratives are wrong about God. The God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same God. If God changed then he would not be God.

First let us look at the judgmental God of the Old Testament. Moses traveled to Egypt to free the Israelite slaves from the oppressive Egyptians. God tells Moses that He will free the Israelite people through signs and wonders and he also tells Moses that the signs and wonders will be a judgment on Egypt.

3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. Exodus 7:3-4  ESV

Here is the God of the Old Testament condemning the Egyptians to a painful judgment that ultimately ends in the first born throughout Egypt being killed by an angel of God. This final plague and judgment was so overwhelming that the Egyptians begged the Israelites to leave.

Was this a vengeful and angry God who had no right and therefore we can condemned his action or was this a righteous judge who is justified to judge Egypt in this manner? Before answering this question remember that the Egyptians are holding the Israelites as oppressed slaves. These are the same Egyptians that set about to murder every boy born to the Israelites.  These same Egyptians that rejected God to serve after false gods. As creator of humanity and sustainer of the universe God created us to worship him and him alone.

Fast forward to the New Testament where Jesus explains God’s purpose in judgment. Jesus the loving and compassionate tells a religious man exactly what God is doing and what God is doing is not a judge-less God wanting the people to just do whatever they want.

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. John 3:17-19 ESV

The cultural narrative is that God loves everyone. And that is true. Jesus says that God sent his Son, Jesus, into the world not to condemn the world but to save the world. The cultural narrative also says that God just wants everyone to be happy being whoever they want to be and doing whatever they want to do. This is not true. Jesus spells it out “this is the judgment” that Jesus is the light of the world but selfish, evil, and hedonistic humanity loves the darkness and does not want the salvation of Jesus because humanity’s works are “evil”. Jesus described humanity as “evil” that includes me and not just people outside of my affinity group. Furthermore Jesus states clearly that anyone who does not believe in the Son, Jesus, and the light he brings stands judged “condemned” by God.

Just as the Egyptians were condemned because they loved the darkness wanting nothing to do with their Creator so too will we who love what is contrary to God. God has brought light and truth into a dark world yet just as the Egyptians rejected the words of God so too is this current culture stand condemned. God has not changed who he is and we have a choice of salvation through Christ or to continue to love what the darkness wants to be important. Just understand that God and the evil done in darkness are not compatible. One cannot choose this world and what is popular in this world and then stand before God without condemnation.

Dear reader Christ stands at the door to your life. Would you love the politics, the lifestyle, the anger, the disappointment, and the lust of this life more than the salvation that Christ offers where “whoever believes in him is not condemned”?

Matthew 10:13 | Be Worthy of the King

Stuck in my head is a song by Housefires called Build My Life. The key adjective in this song is “worthy” an appropriate word used to describe my response to God.

Worthy of every song we could ever sing.
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring.
Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe.
We live for you.
Jesus the name above every other name.
Jesus the only one who could save.
Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe.
We live for you.

He is worthy. He is perfect. He is the creator. I exist because he imagined me. He is good and gracious. He is worthy and acknowledging Him as worthy is an appropriate response to God. Yet the adjective worthy cuts both ways. Is it possible for me to be worthy of Him? In the gospel of Matthew Jesus instructs his disciples on how to carry the good new of God to people and he speaks of being worthy. Jesus tells the disciples that they will be worthy of the needs provided by the people they visit. And the people the disciples visit have an opportunity to be worthy of the miracles and message that the disciples carry to them.

9 Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunic or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart…. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. Matthew 10:9-11; 13 ESV

The Greek word ἄξιος (axios) in this text is translated as “deserves” and “worthy”. Axios is an adjective describing the disciple, the host of the town, and the town itself. Axios means that something is of equal worth or it is befitting of the situation. While I know God is worthy of all praise, worship, and adoration Jesus tells the disciples they need to be worthy of the situation and that the people they speak with need to be worthy of the message the disciples carry.

It is an interesting challenge and as Jesus tends to do, he turns the tables over and makes me rethink my approach to the world. Am I worthy of the situation? Worthy to teach God’s word? Worthy to carry his Message? I am worthy to receive it? Would my life be described as “Axios”… befitting of the call from God?

Jesus later on in gospel of Matthew provides a parable about being worthy and meeting the standards of God. In the parable heaven is compared to a king who is going to have wedding feast for his son. The invites have gone out but none of those invited show up to the wedding. Worse yet the invitees murder the messengers of the King. After dealing with the murders the King still plans to host the wedding party.

8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:8-14 ESV

The original guests were not worthy so the servants invited everyone they could find both good and bad. Would these new guests be worthy? There are four responses to this invitation in the parable. Ignore the King and be cutoff by your own choice. Attack the bearer of the invitation which is an attack on the King himself. Accept the invitation without any intention of being respectful which will result in being cast “into the outer darkness”. Or accept the invitation and humbly recognize the King’s authority. A King who is good, just, merciful, and loving. Only one of these responses allows me to be worthy of this King. Only through Jesus living in me could I ever rise to the standard befitting the situation.

13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. Matthew 10:13 ESV

Creation, Laws, and Christ

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God, the maker of heaven and earth is present and draws men and women to himself. He is drawing people to himself because in our rebellion we have distanced ourselves from His perfect holiness. But God made a way and He…

4 desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:4-6 ESV

The knowledge of truth God wishes is for all people to know Him. Understanding God’s desire from the following facts may lead to a restored relationship with God. These truths while boiled down to the following statements here does not mean an easy answer and there is no simple prescription when it comes to God because each person is unique in how they react to these truths. In fact, Jesus claimed few people will navigate this narrow road.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14 ESV

To know God and reconcile with Him the following three key truths must be understood, believed, and embraced. Each of the following facts are progressive and many reading this may find each successive truth more difficult to agree with but Christianity and salvation require all three.

Where there is a Creator there is a creation.

Creation is an irreducible truth it is not an accident or a random occurrence. The humanist champions of science worship the order and the repeatable laws that make up the scientific method. But those same worshiper’s state that random nothing created the perfect order of science. An atheist worldview is such an odd paradox. And truth be told most people assume and accept some type of Creator be him personal or impersonal.

20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:20 ESV

Where there is a Law there is a Law Giver.

Accepting a Creator is an easy first step with religions and people the world over finding peace with this truth. Where the specific truths of Christianity become complicated and many find objection is in man’s relation to the law. The scientific method assumes natural laws are in effect. Force and friction are mathematically measurable. Violating those laws of nature will not allow society to create the combustion engine. In the same way God of the creation has put in place laws of human nature and violating those laws causes death and failure of the engine, our body and soul. The well-known Ten Commandments are a perfect representation of God’s laws and the recognizable effects of their violation. Do not steal, or lie, or kill. Also worship God and God alone are examples and yet people break these laws and know in their heart what they have done is wrong. All men and women have fallen short of God’s standard (be honest) and Paul writes the penalty is death. Sinners (you and me both) deserve death because all have broken the laws of God. Each person has a broken fellowship with the Creator and He sits in judgment on our crimes.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32 ESV

Where there is Christ there is Salvation.

While most people accept “god” in the first truth about creation few agree with the second point that they have broken the laws of God and are therefore guilty sinners deserving of death and punishment. As stated in the intro being Christian is not an easy road. Sadly, people in a dwindling percentage agree and accept the second truth about sin and law breaking. Because of that even fewer will listen for the final truth the best truth of the three which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus resurrected from death and Peter’s first Christian sermon on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem more than 2,000 years ago states the final key perfectly. If you accept God and you acknowledge you are a sinner breaking God’s laws then listen now to the greatest news ever told.

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Acts 2:36-39 ESV

Amen. What am I in Agreement with Exactly?

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Amen is a universal word that has been transliterated into other languages like Greek and English. This means that the word being used today to close a prayer or incorporate into worship is the same spoken word that the church fathers of a few thousand years ago used.

Transliteration is not the same as translation. Translation is to take a word like “agua” in Spanish and convert it to the equivalent in English “water”. Water and agua are not the same word when spoken.

Transliteration is the method of keeping the original spoken word, but converting the written version into the alphabet of the target language in a way that the spoken sounds the same or similar. Amen is the English transliteration of the original Hebrew word אָמֵן. The Hebrew is transliterated as ‘amen. The same is true with the Greek to English. ἀμήν is the Greek and the transliteration into English is amēn.

If the Greek word for Amen had been translated we would not have the word Amen we would have the meaning of the word within the context of the passage. That brings us to the question. What does Amen mean anyway?

Here is an example so that the word might be clearly defined. In this example Ezra is working to restore the Israelite community in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. Part of that work included reminding the people of God about the Laws given to Moses. To that end he organizes a time to read from the scriptures to the people.

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Nehemiah 8:5-7 ESV

Amen translated from this text means “so be it” or “let it be so”. The people listening to the words Ezra is reading from the book of the law are agreeing with the contents not just to Ezra. They are agreeing with God himself as they bow and worship the Lord in that assembly. Within the context of worship and in relationship to the Creator Amen carries the weight of a promise that what is not possible for man is possible for God. Paul defines it this way.

For all the promises of God find their Yes in [Christ]. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 ESV

God has promised many things to many people. Paul is telling us here that all those promises are fulfilled in Christ. Abraham was promised descendants as numerous as the stars (Genesis 26:4). That promise is realized in Jesus.

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Galatians 3:7-9 ESV

When we say Amen Paul is telling us that we are saying “Yes” let it be so to God. The “Yes” is fulfilled in Jesus because he is the final answer, solution, and reason for any hope we have. Through Jesus God has restored the relationship.

Now that we know what Amen means within the context of the Biblical narrative do we continue on in our selfish ambition ignoring God as if he does not exist? Or do we like the Paul agree to the “Yes” in Jesus and trust him as the solution to everything with our Amen?

Revised and Updated: Originally posted on Human Effort April 10th 2013

 

Judges 10:13 | God Stopped Saving

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Something that I fear personally happened to the Israelites. They rejected God for such a long period of time that God refused to hear them when they finally called out to him.

13 Yet you have forsaken me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more. 14 Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.” Judges 10:13-14 ESV

“I will save you no more” is such a devastating response. Topped with a burning challenge from God to them… “cry to the gods whom you have chosen”.

There are two key words that must be addressed that highlight the gulf between these people and God. The rebellious people are so selfish and shortsighted that they are oblivious to the eternal picture that God operates from. God created life to be enjoyed and to delight in Him as the Creator, but people want to enjoy what is right in front of themselves to the extent that they become slaves to that desire and then fail to enjoy what would have been wonderful.

4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 ESV

God turned away from their cries for help and he tells them that he will not “save” them this time. Moses is not here to stand in the gap to advocate on their behalf.

Therefore he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them. Psalms 106:23 ESV

The first key word from God is that he would no longer “save” them. Salvation is not secured and because of their rejection of God for so long God is giving them what they wanted by their choice and life without need of him. A common but incorrect idea is that God in the Old Testament is unforgiving and the God of the New Testament is loving. It is not true because God is unchanging. He is the same then as he is now. He was loving and merciful to these people but he is not to be taken for granted and he will not force himself on anyone.

22 “Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob; but you have been weary of me, O Israel! 23 You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings, or honored me with your sacrifices. I have not burdened you with offerings, or wearied you with frankincense…But you have burdened me with your sins; you have wearied me with your iniquities. Isaiah 43:22-24 ESV

Why should God save them? Is he obligated to them to be there like the rich father who is always bailing a spoiled ungrateful son out of jail? God created us the only obligation is ours to be amazed by a God who is loving, just, and powerful. God does not need me. I need God and only He can save.

The second key word from God is that he tells them to ask the gods they have “chosen” to serve for help. Obviously the gods of man-made material will not save however for the contemporary reader don’t think this does not apply to you. What do we serve? What do we put our trust in? Money, scientific advancements, power, sex, drugs, work, or what? Will they save you? Will they provide joy, contentment, and love? For a short period of time maybe, but what then when you get old or tragedy strikes? At some point in this temporary life our obligation to the creator will be called on. Will any of your man made gods that you have chosen to serve save you?

33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8:33 ESV

God resolved the problem in that Moses could only intercede for that generation of his time God provided a perfect king and priest. Jesus came that he would stand with the father and advocate on our behalf. God will listen to those who he has “chosen” and those who have “chosen” Christ because Christ is interceding for us. Do not be consumed by the temporary pleasure, power, and money that is right in front of you. God calls us to see the big picture. The eternal picture. God did eventually save the Israelites because they repented in a real way.

16 So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord, and he became impatient over the misery of Israel. Judges 10:16 ESV

They put away those things that kept them from serving God and they chose to serve him and because of that God once again heard their cries and provided someone to save them. Ask God for the desire to choose him, to serve him over the idols of today. Repent from self-serving evil that consumes today. Christ will intercede and God will save you today and for eternity.

24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24 ESV

Genesis 6 | Can Satan Thwart God’s Plans?

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God knows everything. There is nothing new for Him to learn. That idea is not really comprehensible for me because I spend every day learning something new and the more I learn the more I realize how little I actually know. As Creator of everything God is complete and his plans are complete. Everything God plans will be accomplished. If God failed in His plans then he would not know everything and he would not be rightly called God. With that in mind we find in scripture Satan’s futile but devastating attempts to prevent the prophecy that God made against him at the beginning of Creation. God’s plans will not be undone by man or by angels.

The Lord God said to the serpent… I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:14-15 ESV

The first devastating attempt to undo this prophetic curse came through the murder of Abel by Cain. Satan knows no bounds when it comes to his depravity and men are just as happy to join in. God however fixed the genetic linage of Eve by giving her a third son, Seth, whose name means “compensation”

25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” Genesis 4:25 ESV

Shortly after that death and evil Satan once again attempts to compromise the offspring of Eve in order to prevent the prophetic curse against himself from coming true. And this time Satan is determined to corrupt all of mankind so that we would never be useful to God in any way.

2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. Genesis 6:2-4 ESV

These three verses contain some difficult to understand words that are not entirely clear about a world of antiquity that does not exist any longer. We can however understand that the result of these three verses leads to a catastrophic judgment from God against Satan, Man, and the Earth.

First among the difficulty is the words “sons of God” and the use of the word Nephilim or Giants. Who are these men as opposed to the “daughters of man” that they took as wives? If one does not believe in a spiritual world and wanted a wholly naturalistic explanation then the only recourse would be to create a dividing line between the descendants of Seth (the sons of God) and the descendants of Cain (the daughters of men) but this explanation does not account for the wickedness or the description of giants or Nephilim. Further the few times the description “sons of God” is used in the Hebrew Bible it is describing an angelic host of some kind. For example the phrase is used to describe the attendance of everyone before the throne of God when Satan seeks an audience in Job 1:6. The Bible tells us plainly throughout that there is a spiritual war and these verses intend to communicate that Satan used fallen angels in physical form or through demonic possession to seed his corruption into the population of men. This idea is further completed with verse 4 when the Nephilim or Giants are referenced. This word is not intended to mean the size of a people group (although they may very well have been large physically) but it translates more accurately as fallen giants of the sky. If one takes a contextual angelic translation of “sons of God” then the resulting word Nephilim only bolsters the view that these mighty Nephilim were fallen angels intermixing with men in these days of antiquity. Satan is attempting to corrupt the very genetics of mankind to prevent God’s promised one from coming to judge him. If these were simply men of different family lines intermarrying it would not be sufficient to describe the resulting wickedness as described in the second difficult passage.

Second is the pronouncement that the days of man shall be 120 years. This verse is sometimes misunderstood to mean that men would be limited to 120 for an age, but the words are really prophecy that God set a time table for when his patience would finally lead to judgment of the wickedness and evil intent of Satan. What Satan is trying to accomplish is to prevent his own judgment. 120 years is the countdown clock for when the judgment of the earth by water would be accomplished and God needed this judgment because of the evil that Satan and men together had done in rebellion against their Creator.

5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5 ESV

Mankind would deservedly take the bulk of the coming punishment but Satan was not off the hook. God also had plans to put an end to this evil that man also embraced.

6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day Jude 1:6 ESV

Jude the half-brother of Jesus lists angels and people of the past who are judged by Jesus. He tells us that the Angels who “left their proper dwelling” are put in chains until the final judgment. It could be inferred that the consequence of the “sons of God” who left their dwelling in the spiritual realm where restrained and prevented from doing so again in the future thus blocking Satan from attempting this type of attack again.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Genesis 6:11-13 ESV

Satan’s plan to corrupt the earth with his evil must be stopped and put to an end. This judgment on men who had filled the earth with violence is justified because of their lust for evil and necessary to remove what Satan introduced to the descendants of man. The promise God made to Satan that freedom from sin would come from Eve’s descendants would not be undone and God being in control and full of mercy gave everyone an opportunity to repent of their sin.

5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 2 Peter 3:5-6; 9-10 ESV

Satan is still at his plan to stop Jesus from destroying him. Know this he can’t stop what God has set in motion. Jesus is going to return for a final judgment and that day will come unknowingly just like it did to the wicked of antiquity. The question for you dear reader is where will you stand? In agreement or indifference with Satan or with the righteous called of Christ by whom men and women from all over the world may be saved. Peter tells us that God is patient toward us not wanting any to perish but that time of repentance that we have right now will not last forever. Will you repent today and fall into the grace and mercy of Jesus our savior? Tomorrow may be too late.

Daily Devotion: Worship

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Worship is a wonderful act of expression toward God. Two parts of worship that are central making it powerful are adoration, which is acknowledging how great God is, and thanksgiving to Jesus because of what he has done. “Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” Hebrews 12:28 (NIV) Why not start right now with a worshipful conversation, a prayer, to the Savior with these components of worship: adoration and thanksgiving. Example: “Father in Heaven, Creator of all things, you and you alone are worthy of my devotion. Thank you for making me and giving me life. I thank you for the family and church that you made me to be part of, and I thank you for seeking me out to have a relationship with you. I am unworthy of your attention and I am blessed because of you.”

Lesson #3: Submission to God in all Things

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God is in control, God is all powerful, God is creator of all things, God is all knowing, and God does not make mistakes. We are so independent and so self-involved that it is hard to see where we stand with God. We as Americans love our freedom and independence to the extent that it sometimes clouds our view of who we are in relation to God.

  1. Are you parenting skills and marriage relationship in control?
  2. Is your family life closed off to the outside world so that there is no space for God to work?

To help answer these questions on submission we will deep dive into Satan and if he submits to God. How could Satan be who he is if God did not allow it? We must all understand that we are here to serve and submit to God. Even Satan. While God does not tell Satan to be evil, God does permit and give Satan room to operate. Independent of Satan’s personal preference he serves God and submits to the rules God has put in place for him.  

5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Luke 4:5-7 ESV

 Satan when he tempted Jesus shows Jesus all the glory that the world has to offer. The power of army’s and kingdoms all for Jesus to direct. What is interesting to note is that Satan tells Jesus that authority in these kingdoms has been delivered to him. When Satan says the kingdoms of the world have been delivered up to him he uses a word that one might describe as when a judge has delivered a prisoner over to an evil prison warden. Jesus used the same word to describe how he would be “delivered” to the Gentiles for them to put him to death. 

32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. Luke 18:32 ESV 

The Gentiles were given charge over Jesus and were allowed by God to crucify Jesus. God permitted this crime on His son. In the same way the worldly kingdoms have been given over to Satan. Satan is not free to destroy at will. God has placed boundaries on his authority.  

9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. Job 1:9-12 ESV 

At the beginning of the book of Job Satan comes before the throne of God and challenges God in regard to Job. He claims that Job serves God only because God has blessed him. What is most interesting in this exchange is that Satan tells God to stretch out his hand to crush Job and that Job will curse God because of it. In response God gives Satan permission to do just as Satan suggested, but God places rules on what Satan can do. God does not bring evil to Job, but he does permit Satan to commit evil acts.

 So now let us turn this back to ourselves, our marriage, and our place with God. Are we dependent or independent? Do we see how powerful and in control God is of everything that is happening in this world and in our lives? Paul in Romans describes humankind as slaves. Slaves of Sin or Slaves of God. Have you ever thought of yourself this way as a slave? Slaves still have free will to choose how they will react to the situation however they are not free to opt out of slavery. I have freedom to jump from a cliff but I do not have the freedom to choose to fly to safety because I am bound by the rules of gravity. 

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:20-23 ESV 

Slavery was more common in the past so if Paul were writing to our context today he might choose to say we are either servants to our sins and earthly desires or we are servants of God and his eternal desires for us. Are we here to seek our own ambition or do we see ourselves as servants to God? If you seek your own ambition and cast no concern for God and his role in your life then you are a slave and serve sin. 

  1. What are your ambitions and goals? Are these in line with what God wants for you?
  2. What are you ambitions for your children? Will those ambitions bring glory to you alone or also God?
  3. Does your spouse have a part of your ambitions and goals? Is your spouse on board with that vision?

 

Genesis 5:1 | Our Family Tree

family tree

Some people love genealogies and they will tell stories they have found about great great grand relatives that lived in a certain place or migrated from some other country. They tell stories about family that fought in wars or worked in some trade. Genesis chapter five is the patriarchal family tree from Adam, the first man, to Noah the most direct relative of everyone living today. This genealogy tells more stories than one might think at first glance and it also tells a major story that is relevant to everyone living today.

However before jumping into the big story of this genealogy we need to explore a few fun facts and details. The first thing to tackle and the thing that jumps out right away about this genealogy is the age of each person. Most of these men are stated to have lived into the 900 year range. It seems impossible that anyone could have lived that long and much effort has been spent by theologians and amateur detectives to determine what the ages really mean or what they actually were. The intent of the original author, likely Noah, of this chapter in Genesis is that these were the actual ages of these men and they should be taken as actual ages. Any attempt to adjust the ages to fit what is “normal” for people in this contemporary age will ultimately not be satisfying or accurate. I would encourage everyone to take the original author at his word that these were indeed how old they lived because the author was witness to the fact and the fact that this is what God wanted recorded.

This graphic tells some interesting stories about these pre flood patriarchs…

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These are the men and women who knew where the Garden of Eden was located (Genesis 3:24). These are men and women who could come before God and meet with Him for conversation in what might have been a uniquely direct way (Genesis 4:4 and 5:22). These are men and women who were almost perfect in every way able to live hundreds of years longer than we who continue on in this post flood fallen world. These men and women lived in a pre-flood world that looks very little like the world we see today.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. Genesis 7:11 ESV

The Genesis history tells us that when Noah was 600 years old the catastrophic judgment of the earth by water occurred. That information combined with the genealogy in chapter five tells us that from Adam’s creation to the year of the flood was 1,656 years. In the same year, and within months, of Methuselah’s death, who died in the year 1,656, the judgment of God by water was ushered into place. Methuselah’s name depending on the root translation could mean “When He Is Dead It Shall Be Sent”. This is too much of a coincidence to not be interesting and just as interesting is the idea that his father, Enoch, a known prophet may have had a hand in giving him this unusual name almost a thousand years before the judgment of the earth by water.

While all of those are interesting stories about our history the real story is about God’s promise to return, judge, and fix what man had broken. That story is told through Enoch who never died and left a legacy that reaches out to us even thousands of years after his time on earth. Enoch was still a young man by pre flood standards when he was abducted by God and Enoch had a reputation even before this shocking intervention by God.

First Enoch was known as a faithful man who spent time with God.

Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. Genesis 5:24 ESV

Second Enoch was known as a prophet speaking about repentance and judgment to those who chased after ungodly selfishness.

14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 1:14 ESV

Those who lived at that time would have heard Enoch’s words from God. They would have heard from Enoch that the “Lord” of all men would be coming with thousands of holy people. They would have known that the “ungodly” way they were living was not God’s plan. While Enoch and those who heard his message would not have had the revelation of Jesus they knew the prophesy given to Eve about her offspring (Genesis 3:15). The promise of eternal life and a presence with God after death had not been articulated, but they knew people could be taken away to be with God as evidenced by Enoch’s life. They knew that God’s anointed one would be coming and he would be bringing judgment with him. Even in the very beginning in the days of Adam God’s future plan for Jesus, salvation, and his return were already being shown to mankind. This genealogy like any family tree contains stories that are relevant to life today. The question is will you be standing today in this moment of grace waiting just like the patriarchs for Jesus and his return or will you be like all those that were destroyed in Noah’s day?

12 “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. 15 Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie. Revelations 22:12-15 NLT

Genesis 4:7 | God’s Mercy to a Murderer

sin

God after the fall continued his fellowship with Adam, Eve, and their Children. I imagine that the relationship was similar to that of the days in the garden where God would be present in some form building a relationship with Adam and Eve. This side of the fall and curse however resulted in need for an offering for sin and an acknowledgment of how one’s sins break the relationship with God. Eve’s first two sons Cain and Abel are recorded providing offerings to God as I would assume Adam and Eve had been doing as well. Their offering may have been modeled after what God did for Adam and Eve after the original sin where God himself killed an animal to provide skin covering for their shame.

21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Genesis 3:21 ESV

The outcome of these offerings from Cain and Abel should remind all of just how quickly sin escalates in the heart of men and how it impacts their family and God’s relationship with the creation.

6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” 8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. Genesis 4:6-10 ESV

Cain and Abel both provided offerings to God however Abel’s offering was accepted by God and Cain’s offering was not. The acceptance of Abel’s offering resulted in fellowship with God the Creator. In fact the next time this kind of offering is mentioned within the Bible is when God was setting up the regular rules of engagement to Moses and Aaron.

41 The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord. 42 It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. Exodus 29:41-42 ESV

The offering that Abel provided allowed him to meet and speak with God and God accepted the offering. Cain’s offering was rejected but still in God’s mercy and grace he continued the relationship with Cain speaking directly to him to encourage him to do the right thing if he wanted acceptance. Most likely God rejected Cain’s offering because of a heart and motive issue and he warns Cain that sin is “crouching at the door”.

14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15 ESV

What Cain should have done is repent of the anger in his heart and turn toward God to do what he knew would be the right thing to do. God clearly indicates that He would have accepted Cain. Even after Cain had killed his own brother God in a display of undeserved mercy gives Cain an opportunity to repent for what had happened, but Cain rejects the grace of that moment by claiming to not know about what happened to Abel. God knew what happened so the questioning from God to Cain is an opportunity for Cain to turn away from the sinful path and to restore the relationship.

God provides that same opportunity for people today. While we are all sinners that deserve death because of our rebellion, God has provided his own substitutionary payment. He provided an offering we could not provide ourselves so that we can be like Abel standing before the Creator accepted and in fellowship. God’s advice to Cain is still true to people today and even more so because God has revealed his saving grace from sin in Christ.

7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him… 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:7-8; 14 ESV