Friday, November 21, 2014

The Coming Waves

Genesis 6-7 

God sees the wickedness of man and is grieved over it. It hurts His heart! (Genesis 6:6) Because God is HOLY, RIGHTEOUS and JUST, He will not tolerate sin forever.  God is compassionate, and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalms 86:15). "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9) but God has His limits!

In the middle of all the evil, God sees the righteousness of Noah.  God speaks to Noah, and like Enoch in chapter five, Noah "walked with God".  God warns Noah and instructs him on how to prepare for His coming judgement.  God gives Noah specific instructions and establishes a covenant with him.  God provides for Noah's (and his family) physical needs and He gives them plenty of time to prepare.  Then God shuts the door of the ark.  (Genesis 7:16) I was reminded of Isaiah 22:22, "...what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open."

The flood waters came and covered the earth. 

The description of the waves was particularly interesting to me this time because just this morning I dreamed of being in a boat out on the ocean.  I couldn't see anything but the massive waves on which my boat was floating.  The waves rose extremely high and I was carried on them until they crested and I plummeted into a narrow gorge.  I landed safely, having only hit a few tree limbs on the way down. 

The similarities of my dream and the description of the waves of the flood in Genesis 7:17-20 were so strikingly similar, I couldn't help but think that God was telling me something.  I believe He is reminding me of exactly what is recorded in Genesis 6 and 7: God sees the wickedness of man and He has about reached His limit.  His judgement is coming and only those who are in the boat with Him will land safely. The tree limbs represent the tree on which Jesus was crucified. The narrow gorge represents the narrow gate/way that Jesus Christ talked about in Matthew 7:13-14                        

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."

John 14:6  
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. 
No one comes to the Father except through me.

God has limits
God grieves over sin
God judges sin
God shows the righteous favor
God sees all
God speaks
God warns of judgement
God prepares the righteous
God establishes a covenant with the righteous
God is a refuge for the righteous
God provides
God secures His children 




Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An Apology to Eve

I want to take a slight detour from my study of God's ways and share with you what I saw in the life of Eve. While reading through Genesis 4 and 5 this morning, I was struck by a couple more mentions of the "mother of all living" (Genesis 3:20).  For the most part I have held a grudge against her. After all, she fell for the serpent's lies and has given women a bad reputation ever since then for being gullible.  Not to the mention the whole pain in childbirth thing that every childbearing woman has to now endure! Well, I guess I just mentioned it. 

Anyway, this morning I took notice of Eve's response to God - after being expelled from Eden, told of the ramifications of her sinful choices, I read in Genesis 4:1, "Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.  She said, 'With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.'" And then later in the chapter, in verse 25, I read, "Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, 'God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.'"

Instead of blaming God, she praised God!  

I was quite humbled when I realized this.  I have shared in past posts about how I became angry with God during trying times.  There are many examples in the Bible of showing better responses than the one I had, and now I can add Eve to that list. Although, she has been on God's list all along. 

So, Lord Jesus, please pass on this message from me:

Dear Eve, please accept my apology for holding your sin against you.  Thank you for being an example of humility and grace.  I hope that in the years to come when I face more challenges, I will exhibit the same attitude of praise to God that you did. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Genesis 2 & 3


Again I see that God is intentional in what He does.  He began a good work (creation) and He finished it (Genesis 2:2), just as He finishes the good work of redemption and sanctification in each heart that chooses Him (see Philippians 1:6).  He is our example of how to work and how to rest (Genesis 2:2).  God was intimately involved with Adam, which was reflected in how He "formed" man and "breathed life" into him (Genesis 2:7).  God gave clear instructions (Genesis 2:16-17). He also gave man and woman special attention and a unique purpose (Genesis 2:18-22). 

God completes
God rests
God blesses
God makes holy
God breathes life
God plants
God instructs
God directs
God is aware
God provides
God gives purpose


God's initial desire was to walk with man and woman and openly communicate with them (Genesis 3:8).  Even after Adam and Eve sinned and failed to show up to meet with God, God called out to them (Genesis 3:9)!  Already knowing what they had done, God still asked them where they were and what they had done - holding each of them responsible for their own actions (Genesis 3:11-13).  Because God is holy and just, He had to execute judgement for their sinful, rebellious choices (Genesis 3:16-19).  God also cursed the serpent (the devil) for deceiving Eve, and He prophesied the redemptive plan He already had in place (Genesis 3:15)! 

After everything that Adam and Eve had done against Him, God still loved them enough to provide a covering for their nakedness (Genesis 3:21).  Which reminds me of how I would always hug my children after I had to spank them.

Psalm 25:7  
Do not remember the sins of my youth
    and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
    for you, Lord, are good.

Even though God's love for man had not changed, sin had severe consequences.  God banished Adam and Eve from the very place He intentionally created for them, separating them from the tree of life.  

God communicates
God is just
God redeems
God disciplines
God is love 
God covers


Saturday, November 15, 2014

New Bible Study

I've decided to begin a new Bible study on the ways and names of God.  As I did on my study of prayer, I will simply read through the Bible and mark every reference of His ways and names, and write them down in a notebook. This time, however, instead of starting in Genesis and reading through all of the Old Testament before reading the New Testament, I've decided to read one Old Testament book and then one New Testament book. I hope doing it this way will give it a fresher feel to my study methods. 

This morning I read Genesis 1, and I want to share my summary of the chapter:

God is very intentional when He speaks and does things.  From the literal beginning of time He put in place a way for mankind to know of His existence.  He put the sun, moon, and stars in place for signs even before He created mankind.  When He did create man and woman, He created them in His own image.  In other words, they looked just like their Daddy!  There was to be no doubt in the heart of man that God is real.  

Not only did God provide signs in the sky but He also provided everything that man would need to live.  He told man that every plant and tree of the whole earth was to be food for them (I don't think I've ever noticed the "whole" earth part before.  I always pictured in my mind that they were designated only to the garden of Eden).  So, when God provides - He provides abundantly

God provided physically for mankind and spiritually.  Genesis 1:28 says that God "blessed" them. 

My observations from Genesis 1 on the ways/names of God are:

God creates 
God speaks
God separates*
God blesses
God instructs
God provides
*(dark/light, waters above/below, water/dry ground)


 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Exposed by the Grace of God

 

2 Corinthians 1:12 "Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God's grace.

There are a few words in this verse that I want to highlight, because after looking into this passage, I was extremely encouraged, and I want to pass that along! 

First of all is the word "boast". The Greek word for boast here is kauchesis, and it means "the act of boasting, which can either be in the 'achievements' of self (negatively) or about God's grace (positively); glorying, rejoicing. 

The next word I want to highlight is the word "integrity", which in the KJV it is the word "purity". The Greek word is haplotes, which means "simplicity, purity, graciousness.  Properly, 'singleness, without folds, like a piece of cloth unfolded'; i.e. not compounded or over-complicated (needlessly complex)." 

"Sincerity" in the Greek is eilikrineia, which means "Clearness. Literally, 'judged in the light of the sun'; i.e. pure inner motives." 

And finally the word "grace", which in the Greek is charis, and is defined as "favor, kindness. Refers to God freely extending Himself (His favor, grace), reaching (inclining) to people because He is disposed to bless (be near) them.  Is preeminently used of the Lord's favor - freely extended to give Himself away to people (because He is 'always leaning toward them')."

WOW! Did that get you as excited as it did me? First of all, it was encouraging to see how Paul and Timothy lived their lives in a way that basically means they "laid it all out there" for everyone to see.  Based on the definitions of purity and sincerity, I pictured a white sheet stretched out on a clothesline in the sun - nothing special - but completely exposed.  They had nothing to hide and they were willing to live that way because of God's grace. 

Oh boy - God's grace!  Don't you just love the picture that develops when you read about the word grace as defined above?  God freely extending Himself, reaching out to people because He wants to be near them!  In fact, He is "always leaning toward them"!  That blows my mind!  

I'll be honest with you, I had initially planned on skipping over this passage during my study time, but thankfully the Holy Spirit urged me to slow down and take a deeper look.  I'm so glad that I did!  

Child of God, if the picture of living an exposed life because of the grace you've received from God does not encourage you, it is time to take a closer look at the condition of your heart.  We are to be children of the light, but we can't be that if we are walking in the darkness (see Ephesians 5:8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:5).  

Let me expose myself for just a moment.  I have not always lived my life in purity and sincerity, and if I said that I had, you probably wouldn't believe me.  But now that is what I strive to do.  The more I get to know my Lord, the more I want to resemble Him.  Thankfully, I now better understand that when I am willing to confess my sins - to God and to others - the enemy no longer has a hold on me.  It's when I try to keep my sin hidden that it becomes a stronghold and ammunition for the enemy to use against me.  But thinking about the grace of God, and how He is always "leaning toward" me, makes me want to live my life fully exposed.  I don't want anything to cause me to want to hide, and that is what He wants for me and you!  

If you are not a child of God, stop right now and ask Him to help you understand that He is reaching out to you, too.  That is exactly what Jesus Christ did when He died on the cross for you.  God makes it clear that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved (Romans 10:13).  Call on Him and run to Him today! 





Sunday, July 6, 2014

Breeze or Bees

The congregation I belong to has been going through Romans 12 for the past six weeks.  One of the main principles that is emphasized in this chapter is that of transforming ourselves by the renewing of our minds.  This is also a principle that is strongly emphasized and encouraged in the Freedom in Christ Ministry (FICM).  FICM has played a very dominant role in my life.  God used this ministry to heal me from depression.  I have shared this many times before here on this blog, so I won't go into details again. 

What I do want to share is how God recently reminded me (again) of the importance of my mind-set.  I was working in the garden on a very pleasant day, and I was taking my time searching through the squash and zucchini plants.  I began to notice the breeze that was gently blowing and I was thoroughly enjoying my time outside.  The breeze was peaceful and I felt such calmness.  However, a few minutes later my attention shifted to the many bees that were buzzing around the blossoms on the plants.  They were only doing their job of pollinating, and at first they didn't bother me.  But the more I paid attention to them - or set my mind on listening to them - the more I began to feel anxious.  What if one or more of them decided to sting me?  I reminded myself that they really did not mean me any harm.  I told myself to go back to listening to the breeze, so that's what I did.  I set my mind on the breeze instead of the bees, and once again I felt peace. 

Such a simple act - changing my mind-set from the bees to the breeze!  How often do I miss out on peace because of what I choose to set my mind on?  More often than I care to admit.  Even though I have been through the Steps to Freedom, I still have my struggles.  Thankfully, the Steps to Freedom gave me the tools that I needed to recognize my struggles sooner than before, so now it doesn't take me quite as long as it used to to address things.  By the grace of God, I can more easily admit when I've slipped back into old thought patterns that lead to sin. 

What is your mind set on?  If you need help addressing this very important aspect of your life, let me encourage you to read Victory Over the Darkness and The Bondage Breaker.  These are the two main books that God used to help me. Oh, and you can read more about my story here.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Rolling with the Dogs or Walking in Righteousness?




Our dog, Sadie, has rolled in poo two times in two days! (She has done this sort of thing before, but never this close together.)  This greatly frustrated me and I walked around ranting and yelling at her because of it!

After bathing her - again - and while washing out the tub, I asked the Lord what He could teach me from this.  This is what came to my mind:

When I choose to sin, I am basically saying that God's bathing me, or cleansing me from unrighteousness, was not good enough.  I'm stating that I would rather roll in and be covered in poo! Other dogs might be attracted to me and welcome me into their pack, but to my Master, well - I stink!  My Master went to the trouble of stooping down to pick me up, carry me to the washing tub of the cross and cover my sin with the blood of Christ!  He then toweled me off, set my feet upon the rock of Jesus Christ, and clothed me in His righteousness!  So why do I then walk away clean and smelling sweet, only to go out and willingly roll in the stench of the world?

Well, I'm so thankful that God doesn't react to me the way I did to Sadie - by yelling at her and telling her how much she frustrates me.  No.  God is patient and kind, slow to anger and showing compassion (see Psalm 103:8).  He is my loving Master, Who time after time lovingly points out the sin I've allowed back in.  He then again stoops down to pick me up and washes over me with His grace!  

Oh Lord, You are too good to me!  Please help me to be more like You.  Even with this furry creature, help me to demonstrate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.  Thank You for not acting inconvenienced whenever I sin against You, but instead display yet again Your steadfast love that never ceases!  Holy Spirit, enable to me walk in the righteousness of Christ, transformed by the renewing of my mind and no longer conformed to the pattern of this world.  May my life reflect the cleansing Christ has done in me and for me when He died on the cross for me and rose again to everlasting life!