Genesis 2:18 | Significant Other

helper

My wife went out of town on a trip with our daughter to New York. It was an out of character trip for our family dynamic but it was a trip that would benefit our daughter to see the world up close from a big city perspective. I could not make the trip so I was left at home without my wife’s company. We have been married for a long time and I realized what a complete and total disaster I am when she is not around. I did not eat well. I did not go to bed at a decent hour. I missed her presence and conversation. And I was reminded that I am much better off in this life because of her.

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 ESV

I love my wife and our life together is more than what I would have been apart from her. However our life together is messy and hard work. When one of us makes a mistake, it impacts both of us. And both of us are sinners who make mistakes every single day. Adam and Eve experienced that flaw in a real way as well.

Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:11-13 ESV

God made Eve to be a “helper” and Adam needed a helper. He liked the helper God had provided but Adam and Eve were together helping each other to rebel and disobey God. Partners in crime. Being created in God’s image was not enough to take on God’s perfection. Ultimately because of their sin they were unable to help themselves. The word used when God said he would make a helper for Adam is “ezer” עֵזֶר and only twice in the bible is it used to refer to Eve and both times were before their fall. Everywhere else this word ezer is used to refer to the only helper who can truly help and that is God himself.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Psalms 121:1-2 ESV

After Adam and Eve sinned they were together in the fallen world. She is still his helper but they are equal before God as sinners who have broken the relationship of mankind and his creator. In the fallen world she is in the same boat and so the meaning of helper changes going forward. Because of the curse a new world that is no longer “good” comes forward and God is the only helper. God is the only help. Adam and Eve must look to him for salvation and help.

God never fails and God does not abandon his creation. When Adam and Eve became helpless God provided a new helper. That is where Jesus comes in and here he is making a promise that we may all take hold of.

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17 ESV

Whatever limitations Adam and Eve had are eliminated with this new helper that Jesus sends. This helper is not a limited image of God. This helper is God’s very own spirit. This helper is equal to God and part of the trinity that makes up God. The Holy Spirit is the helper we need to live life holy before God. This helper will be with us forever for those who receive him. True help comes only from the Lord. Turn to him and yield to his ways. Accept Christ for salvation and a relationship with the creator.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28 ESV

Daily Devotion: Relational

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God is a relational Creator. He made you to be in relationship with Him. He wants to talk with you. He wants to be involved in your life. He loves you because He made you. Because He is a relational God He also made you to be in relationships with other people specifically with people who are also in relationship with Him.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42 ESV

Who are your closest friends? Are they in a relationship with God? Do you ever talk about Jesus and His impact in your life with these friends? If not then you are missing out on one aspect of Jesus that is essential for encouragement and maturity in the relationship with your Creator.

Do your friends push you toward God or pull you away? If they pull you away then I encourage you as a friendly voice that wants only for all the children of God and followers of Christ to take make a few adjustments to build that relationship with your Creator.

9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 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! Ecclesiastes 4:4-9 ESV

  1. Pray and ask God to provide to you a friend or circle of friends that would be there to encourage you in Christ. Pray this every day for a month write it down and be intentional. Earnestly seek God out.
  2. If you are not in Church then add Church to the prayer list and start visiting. Ask God where he would have you to connect.
  3. Look around and ask this question of all the people you know. “If I spend time with this person would they push me toward God or pull me away?” If the answer is push toward then consider ways to spend time with this person and get in their orbit. You might also need to do the opposite with someone who is pulling you away. Spend less time and remove yourself from that orbit.

Not Science vs. Religion…

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As a nerdy kid that loved books and science fiction it is interesting for me to see how the childish things of my youth are now mainstream and celebrated in the normal adult culture. I am not sure if this validates my personal inclinations for learning and entertainment or if it is a sign of the end for western culture. Time will tell. What does aggravate me is the formulaic cast of characters that are a routine cutout based on Spock from the original Star Trek. House, Big Bang Theory, or Scorpion for example host “smart” people who are so “intellectual” that they need dumb emotional people around them to help them understand normal society. The forerunner Spock who is an alien from a race of beings that held no emotion but functioned only with logic and reason represents something our science loving culture increasingly believes is a positive direction as represented by the super smart heroes who save the day on film. The outright and sometimes subtle side effect of these reason and logic wonders is that they portray God as imaginary and thus accordingly only the stupid people believe in something not directed by math and science. The end conclusion of this worldview is that “Religion” is for stupid people and “Science” is for smart people. This narrative has become interwoven into the Hollywood and media cultures to an obnoxious level. The conclusion is that logic and reason are superior and incompatible with emotion, faith, and empathy. That conclusion as with most things seen on TV does not hold up to real people and real situations. The reality is that faith, emotion, empathy, logic, and reason are all needed and all work together as part of who people are.

We are all emotional people who rely on faith every day of our lives. Logic and reason only people do not exist in real life because that is not how we are made. Yes I said “made” as in to deny the creation is to deny reality itself. The idea that one can detach from emotion and function on pure reason and logic is simply absurd (some people reading this are getting emotional right now). Think of the smartest person you know or better yet think of the person you know who thinks they are the smartest person. Most likely you will find a very emotional and possibly sarcastic person. Ricky Gervais fits this as an example quite nicely. He is an atheist and comedian that Verizon just hired to be a spokesperson (Verizon has serious issues with marketing in my view). Ricky thinks of himself as a very smart and logical person. He will talk down to those that do not share his views and that is how his ad for Verizon works. He tells the viewer how great Verizon is and diminishes the competitor because they are only faster than Verizon in places like Kansas. The implication being only New York matters to the entire country. This kind of person roots their arguments in the appeal to a majority through emotion and shaming. He does not use logic or reason as the TV cutout Mr. Spock would have done it. Here is another example of this appeal to support his “logic and reason” worldview through emotional browbeating. Equating the belief in God to the same intellectual level as a Nazi is an interesting message but it is a far cry from the fake logical prototype in the movies.

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On the flip side of this supposed logic and reason group is the supposed stupid religious group that Ricky and those in his camp are targeting. As a nerdy teen that loved science fiction I too disliked religion and still to this day dislike many “religious” things. Religious things in my view is any activity that one does because an authority said to do it and because it is the way things have always been done. It is following a formula and a process to be received by God, enlightened, or to become one with whatever. Jesus rejected self-righteous religious things and that is what got Him sentenced to death. The religious of his day held political power, were well educated, and knew how to work the levers of power. These were not stupid people and Jesus was a threat to the power that they held through the hand of Rome.

For me I know that God exists because of logic. (Don’t go all emotional on me logic and reason crowd) For example if there is a creation then there must be a Creator. Or if there are laws, which the logic and reason crowd hold up as their god of science, then there must be a Law Giver. To deny the Creator or Law Giver then one must deny reality itself to remain consistent in the view that there is no Creation. I look at the things of the Church and seek to understand the why they might be necessary and why should I follow this or that rule. Some man made rules I have rejected outright because they have no foundation in Christ. The conclusion and the process for being religious is not blindness or stupidity it is a reasoned and conscious choice I make as I study and understand who God, the Creator, is and what my obligation to Him might be since He made, saved, and sustains me.

Jesus, who is God in the flesh, puts religion and relationship into these terms. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15 ESV) I do the things I do and I live the way I live because of a relationship with God. I do not obey and keep the commandments that make me religious to save myself from the wrath of an imaginary God. I follow the commands and laws of my Creator that I love because He first loved me. My obedience and service to Christ, His Church, my Family, and my community come from an emotional reaction to a logical and reasoned choice built on a relationship.

My religion then is relationship driven not ideology driven. Relationships are more powerful than any Science or Religious fight because we were created to be in relationship with each other and with our Creator. My hope is that all would seek a relationship with Christ who created all the logic, laws, and reason, that the current culture worships.

…they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the [creation] rather than the Creator. Romans 1:25 ESV

John 20:9 | Rise and be Alive!

Easter

It is a day that would become the first Easter, the resurrection of Jesus from death, a day that started like any other and as normal as any morning in a world of sin, grief, and death. Those who loved Jesus have come to tend the still fresh grave. Mary Magdalene one of His followers unexpectedly finds the grave disturbed and the body missing. She runs to tell this terrible news to Peter and John but they too are confused and dismayed.

9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. John 20:9 ESV

It is clear to the modern reader of this gospel what has happened because Easter is an event that is celebrated and has been celebrated for a few thousand years. That Jesus destroyed death for all people of every tribe and nation. The disciples and the followers of Christ did not yet fully understand this event that was occurring right before their eyes. They were confused and overwhelmed. John writes that he did not understand at that moment what was happening. To most familiar with what John is communicating this is hard to believe because Jesus told the disciples plainly exactly what was going to happen.

17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” Matthew 20:17-19 ESV

Because of His relationship with the Father and because He was executing the Father’s will perfectly Jesus was in complete control of the future events and Jesus knew the purpose and the outcome.

My post today is to celebrate the wonder of this event and to acknowledge it before others that I am a follower of Jesus because of what God accomplished through Him. But maybe the reader of this post is familiar with the Easter event but not the message and significance of what occurred. Why must Jesus be raised from the dead? What is the purpose and point of this Easter event that makes it an annual celebration and the most important day of observance in the Christian life?

Peter who was confused on that first Easter morning not understanding what Jesus had told him plainly and not understanding the scriptures preaches his first sermon on this very topic. Peter now clearly understands and answers the question about the purpose of Christ and His resurrection on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit arrives to establish the Church.

31 [King David] foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ 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.” Acts 2:31-36 ESV

Peter tells us that Jesus is raised from death to life by God the Creator to exalt Jesus as the King of Kings. King David acknowledges this future Jesus as his Lord a greater king than himself. God exalts to Jesus to His rightful place a throne next to God the Father. All power and authority both in life and in death is given to this King and Lord.

9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Romans 14:9 ESV

I am part of the creation and I submit to the Creator who reigns over life and death. He has conquered death and extended to all who accept Him life eternal and free. That is why Easter is so important. That is why Easter has been celebrated annually for thousands of years by every nation and tribe.

24 It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Romans 4:24-25 ESV

Jesus was convicted and sentenced to die for my sins. He paid the criminal’s wage of death on my behalf. Then three days later Mary discovered what Jesus had told them to be true that He was raised to life, the victor, to justify me before God that I a sinner who should be dead is given life and relationship with God the Father and Creator. Easter is upon us once again pointing the way to justification and mercy before God. If you have not already done so admit your selfishness and rebellion against God and submit to the Salvation of Jesus Christ.

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit 1 Peter 3:18 ESV

John 5: Relationship not Religion

L0030441 The works of William Hogarth: The Pool of Bethesda.

Jesus continues his ministry performing miracles and his visits are the equivalent of health care for those that are broken and sick. But his purpose is not simply to heal people. The healings are used to give authority to his words. John 5 highlights this at the pool of Bethesda. This location was known to be a healing oasis for those that stepped into the water under certain circumstances. The man at the center of the narrative was not able to carry himself to the pool so for years he watched as others stepped into the pool seeking its restorative power.

5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. John 5:5-9 ESV

Healing this man should have been a cause for celebration but Jesus broke the rules by asking the man to pick up his bed on the Sabbath.

Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” John 5:10-11 ESV

Seems crazy to say that taking up your bed on the Sabbath day would be wrong. What did the law of Moses command?

2 Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. Exodus 35:2 ESV

Would picking up a bed be considered “work”? Who wants to take that chance if a death penalty is on the line? How does one define work? Notice how we are not talking about the sign and wonder of healing a man but of the nuance of the laws. Jesus knew he would cause issues by asking the man to pick up his bed. Jesus could have healed the man and told him to leave the bed but that is not his plan. It is here that that Jesus and the Jews begin a dialog on authority and by what authority that Jesus could break the religious rules of the day.

37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. John 5:37-38 ESV

Jesus healed the man to prove the he had the authority from God to do the things that he is doing. Jesus was proving that he had the authority to tear down the rules the Jews has created to make sure they were not breaking the laws.

44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? John 5:44 ESV

The Jews cared only about their rules and their laws even more than people. They provided power and accolades to themselves based on how well the carried out the laws and rules that they made as they went along. Jesus is God made man. Jesus is God’s solution to the problem of religion. The religious Jews took out of context the laws for Israel that God created to keep Israel inside of his perfect parameters for life. Religion is oppressive and controlling. It then is ultimately fails to save because no one can perfectly keep the rules of a religion. Jesus however is God coming to men in a relationship. God interacting with his creation is so powerful and meaningful. God is not unknown and we can know where we stand with him outside of the oppressive religious life that so many chase after.

Jesus came to fulfill the law by living it perfectly so that through him we would have life and not death and failure in the law. Have you established a relationship with Jesus who is God?

24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. John 5:24 ESV

Genesis 5:24 | Enoch Abducted by God

Enoch

Genesis the first book of the Bible has a long list of the patriarchs of the pre flood world. In this list it casually passes over the seventh from Adam, Enoch, with a unique statement.

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

Enoch is unique here because Genesis lists the age when all the other patriarchs died, but Enoch was one day taken, gone, simply no longer around. This word here “took” is a common word that can mean to carry away or fetch and has a very personal meaning like we would say to be taken in marriage. It is interesting that such a simple statement about a profound event is found in God’s word?

Enoch “walked” with God. Now we do not know if this means he physically walked with God to travel or if he simply lived a life that traveled where God would have him go. What is interesting is that the Bible tells us that Noah also walked with God.

These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:9 ESV

God created us for relationship and He seeks out women and men who are willing to travel with him. God took note of Enoch in his generation and God saved humanity through Noah in Noah’s generation. In the Hall of Faith found in Hebrews 11 the Bible tells us more about Enoch.

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:5-6 ESV

Enoch walked with God trusting him and built a relationship that has no recorded deeds like Noah or worldly success like King Solomon. The Bible tells us that Enoch drew near to God and was rewarded with something only a few people in all of history have avoided, death. Enoch pleased God by walking with him. Paul tells the Ephesian Church that they walk in death following the “prince of the power of the air” namely Satan or they walk in the new life of the spirit provided by Jesus.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— Ephesians 2:1-5 ESV

Dear reader you too can walk with God, lover of your soul, provider of all your needs. He wants you to draw near to walk with him. Turn away from whatever direction you planned to go and travel with God. Put down the labor and toil of your ambitions to see what God’s ambition might be for you. Jesus has provided restoration making the relationship possible. Now is the time to take advantage of this gift.