Archive for the ‘OT Observations’ Category

What God Likes

February 23, 2010

This week we look to Genesis to see what God values. God creates the heavens and the earth, but he doesn’t dwell on the heavenlies; Most of the narrative describes the creation of the earth and calls it good. What then does our Lord value? The Earth. And in the creation, humanity takes prominence and even called, “very good.” Conclusion: humanity is important to God. He then describes various human achievements. Genesis Five shows us Jabal, who was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. He is the first to create community and commerce. His brother Jubal gave us culture as he was the father of music. Tubal-Cain gave us technology and tools. But their entire generation is wiped out in the Deluge. The only accomplishment God was looking for in humanity was righteousness, which he finds in Noah. Thus, God cares about righteous people above all.

Our culture is filled with those who value the earth more than the people who inhabit it. We have people who think the most important things are community, commerce, culture or technology. These have there place, but what we learn from Scripture is that what our Lord truly values is righteousness. The fathers of these important human contributions all perish. Even the good creation, something God Himself took more time to create than humans, perished in the flood.

Today’s question is simply, where do you put your value in this life? Is it creation, community, commerce, culture, technology… or is it righteousness. Saving or developing any of those good things without doing it in righteousness secures its demise. But being a person of righteousness, according to Genesis is what our Lord values above all, and so should we.

Cain’s Curse (Genesis 4:3, 11-12)

February 12, 2010

Cain brought an offering to the Lord. The difference between his offering (“some of the fruits of the soil”) and Abel’s offering (“fat portions of some of the firstborn of his flock”) was not the quantity, but the quality. Each brought some – but Abel brought the best part of the firstborns. But Cain doesn’t bring the firstfruits. Who do you put first? When it’s time to tithe, who gets the first cut? When it comes to your time, your talents, your treasures — all of which came from our God — who gets first dibs?

God accepted “some” of the firstborn fat from Abel. It doesn’t say “all.” But He got the prime stuff and the first cut; not the left overs. We must make sure that we honor God with the gifts He gave us. Yes, we can have some too (think about it – God only asks for 10%, you get to keep 90%!). But your cut comes second. God created and sustained, you tended and harvested. Give Him what is do…

“Why,” might you ask, “should I give first?” Well, because God tends to curse the very thing we love and are gifted for if we do not acknowledge the Giver of the gift. Cain’s punishment is that as a splendid farmer, he doesn’t get the great harvest from working the ground like he used to. “When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you.” Oye. The very thing he excelled at became his curse. His blessing became his bane. God takes away the very gift you do not first acknowledge Him with it…

So here is the warning. What has God given you (everything)? And how have you honored Him with it… first? with the best? You can have 90% and give God the left over 10% and be like Cain, having nothing. Or you can give 10% of the first and God will greatly bless your remaining 90%. Your choice – do not let your gift become your curse. Give God the Glory Due His Name. Amen.

A Pleasing Aroma

February 9, 2010

Leviticus begins with chapters devoted to the sacrificial/offering system. One interesting point is that different sacrifices are for different functions but that certain sacrifices are a pleasing aroma to the Lord while others are not. Offerings given to God to honor Him – ones that are freely given and not required, and ones that are in concert with fellowship, one with another and with God – they are pleasing to the heart and the nose of God. But those that are required because of atonement for sin (whether intentional or accidental) is not mentioned as a pleasing aroma.

I think that’s an interesting point. God doesn’t like the sacrifice – there is a penalty for sin, and that demands action, but it’s not something He delights in. However, when we are coming to God with offerings (not sacrifices for atoning sin) God is well pleased. God is glad we can have contrite hearts and make things right between our church family and with Him, but what truly pleases Him is a freewill, just to say I love you, out of the abundance of our joy, offering…

Valentine’s Day is coming up. It is one of those must-remember-your-spouse days. What if you went and picked out a bunch of cards and stashed them in a drawer and during the year, when your spouse least expects it, out of the love in your heart, give them a pre-Valentine’s Day reminder of how much they mean to you?

You want a blessing in your marriage, go beyond the obligatory holidays. You want more in your spiritual life, give more of your time, your talents, your treasure to the One who gave you time, gifted you with talents, and got you employment. Give Him a freewill offering — not only is it a pleasing aroma, but God is known to react with “pressed-down, shaken-together, spilling-over” loving kindness – just like your spouse when they are recognized without commercial marketing…

Give God (and your spouse) something that resembles a pleasing aroma. Warm their hearts on the every-days. You can’t have a great marriage when you only buy flowers after a fight to say, “I love You” or on Birthdays, Anniversaries, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day… It’s the same with God. Only coming to Him when you are sorry, praying only on the high holidays just doesn’t cut it. You want religion or a relationship? You want the institution of marriage or a soul-mate-spouse? Then give them a pleasing aroma in your freewill offerings… bless them and find the blessing of a truly inspirational relationship. Amen.

Isaiah 41:7 Idol Reinforcements

January 28, 2010

“One says of the welding, ‘It is good.’ The other nails down the idol so it will not topple.” (TNIV)

It must be something to see what you believe in fall. If you believe in it enough – you cannot see it fall, so you prop it up, spot weld the bad spots and tack it down again. We cannot go through this life putting bondo and band-aids on our broken and failed idols.

What do you believe in that is beginning to crack? Your retirement plans? Your healthcare? Your faith in the democratic and biblical roots of America? Your friend and confidant? Sooner or later all things on this earth will pass away. The problem here is who we put our trust in “chariots and horses” — meaning some trust the machine and the mechanics. You know some machines: the political machine, the free-market machine, the religion machine, and on it goes. Do put your trust in the architects of these slave machines or do you trust the freedom found in following the Slain Lamb? Sure, on the surface it doesn’t make sense to follow the way of a slain lamb – but His way is a better way.

Even in Isaiah’s little parable – the welder and riveter neither trust the institution they are trying to keep erect, nor the workmanship of the other. The spot welder says, “yup, it’ll hold.” The riveter says, “let me just tack it down.”

The problem is simply this: distrust. We want to believe in this idol – but we don’t trust each other nor truly do we trust our idol will stay put. Come to Jesus – He’s the true thing that will not crumble, will not fall – He doesn’t need any props – and nails wont hold Him.

Stop nailing down false idols and but your trust in Jesus.

Isaiah 40:12-13 Unfathomable Faith

January 28, 2010

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand… who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord?” (Isaiah 40:12-13)

We live in an age where everyone wants answers. Mystery is a dirty word. We watch TV shows, from medical to criminal mysteries that are cured or conquered in 60 minutes or less. But Isaiah reminds us that to be a Christian is to be in the thick of mystery. Who can fathom the creation of God let alone God Himself?

Sometimes, as Christians, I feel we are afraid to witness to others concerning our faith because we are afraid that we don’t have all the answers for unbelievers. In the court of evangelism, we are witnesses, not experts called to the stand. We are called because we were there, we were present at the accident, not because we can reconstruct it. God has called us to have eyes and ears to see and to hear — to be a witness. And sometimes we have our view blocked, but we know that God is acting.

Instead of giving people answers, let us give them Jesus. Allow the mystery of our lives to actually be the revealer of Christ. We cannot fathom the complexities of the world, and yet we live in it. We cannot understand in totality the mysterious workings of the microwave, but I know that when I put my bag of popcorn in and hit the button I shall have a delicious snack. I trust my microwave to work as intended, even if I have no idea how it works. Even more so than can I trust my Jesus.

Being a Christian isn’t having all the answers; it is walking in faith that the Spirit of Christ within me will guide me through the valleys of shadows.

Isaiah 1:3-4

January 25, 2010

Good ‘ole Isaiah gets right to the point. In just a couple verses he explains the power of sin in our lives in four ways. We must keep ourselves from sin lest we find ourselves kept from our God and Savior.

First, sin makes you dumb. “The ox knows its owner… my people do not understand.” It is amazing how quickly sin can make us dense. Sin causes us to depart from common sense. Isaiah reminds us that dabbling in sinful behavior will cause us to become, well, stupid.

Second, sin is such a load. “a people loaded with guilt.” Often we think sin is a shortcut, but in reality, due to our stupidity, sin just becomes a hassle – a heavy hassle. Feeling burdened? Even worry, that is faithlessness (not believing God is in control) is heavy. We carry the burden but the more you worry does nothing to impact the outcome. Why waste the energy?

Third, sin is contagious. “children given to corruption.” Dumb likes company, especially when they can’t carry their own load – so the next step, share the burden, give the gift of guilt. Isaiah says once you get caught under the burden of sin to turns you; it makes you one who corrupts others. Now others are at stake, not merely you.

Fourth, sin leaves you abandoned. So, you made some dumb moves, now you’ve got this load to deal with and after you got some people to help out you darkened them and they, of course, left you abandoned… And you thought the Lord didn’t care – that’s why you went off and sinned in the first place.

But who truly abandoned whom? Isaiah reminds us that our Lord has not left you – you left Him for something better (harken, Adam and Eve). Here’s the deal from Isaiah. Sin is a dumb move that will just weight you down, make even your friends and family your enemies and leave you all alone. But repentance? Well, it’s the smartest move you can make – repenting of your sin will release that burden and the family of God with the Trinity (that never actually left you) will surround you with grace and mercy…

grace, getting what we do not deserve; mercy, not getting what we do deserve.

Jesus says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” – is that a promise or a threat? Maybe before we step out in stupidity we can remember God is coming along with us – wherever we go, whatever we do. Maybe then we can turn the phrase around and say to our Lord, “I will never leave You nor forsake You, My God, My King.”

Noah’s Dad (Gen 5:28-31)

August 23, 2008

“Lamech…became the father of a son. Now he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will give us comfort from our work and from the toil of our hands from the ground which the Lord has cursed.”

Noah had a dad. But I don’t remember in Sunday School ever talking much about Lamech the Good. Who taught his child in the way acceptable to God? Lamech must have known the LORD for he mentions his name and he must have been compassionate for when he named his son, Noah, he had humanity in mind. As I read the short text concerning Noah’s dad I am reminded of the parents today. When we dream of the future of our children do we dream with humanity in mind? Do we dream too specifically? Lamech’s desire to see his child grow up as a “comforter” for the toil of the agrarian society both incites great happiness and sadness in my heart. Great it is to name your son “Comforter” and think of the plight of the common everyday laborer. Sad it is to dream so low, and so specific. When we see the potential in our children let us not stifle their dreams with specificality. But let us dream as with Lamech that our children will be comforters for humanity and allow God to guide their steps to be what we don’t even see the potential within them to become.

Keep in burning

May 12, 2008

“The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.” Leviticus 6:13

 How is the fire burning on the altar of your heart today? It must never go out, not for a vacation, not because of impurity or sin, nor covered by your head knowledge either. It must stay lit. Some days it may not be as bright, but do not ever let the flame of God be smothered. And just as the altar’s fire was visible to the world, so should your heart be ablaze before others. Let them see your heart consumed by love for God, not the contents of your head.

When better starts by being worse

May 12, 2008

Moses said… “Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” Exodus 5:23

 Don’t stop praying. Sometimes the victory you seek is forged in trials and in time. Though you pray and it seems to grow worse and not better maybe it is a sign of God at work. Do not be discouraged, God has heard your cries and is in the process of bringing them to fruition, hold on to Him in the day of trouble and you will see the day of redemption.

Advance of Abram

May 12, 2008

“Terah took his son Abram…and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there.” Genesis 11:31

 There are two types of spiritual people, those who purpose to go deeper, and those who do go deeper. Terah settled to be in between, Abram followed the will of God and went to Canaan. God is calling some of us to go ahead of where others have taken us, will you settle or venture out? Just remember, the journey is arduous, but our Guide promised to be with you and not to forsake you. Journey on.

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