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Showing posts from October, 2017

Names are important to God.

Genesis 10:1-32
Names are important to God. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, "calls His sheep by name' (John 10:3). Among the many names, there is an interesting reference to "Nimrod, the first mighty warrior on the earth ... a mighty hunter whom the Lord blessed" (8-9). When we note that the first among the "cities in his kingdom" is "Babylon" (10), alarm bells ring. Yes, we are told that "the Lord blessed" Nimrod, but, when we read of the development of the city of Babylon, we are not reading of God's blessing so much as Babylon's rebellion. With the privilege of God's blessing comes the responsibility of maintaining His blessing. There are mighty warriors according to the flesh, and there are mighty warriors according to the Spirit. There is something we must never forget - "The weapons we use in our fight are not made by humans. Rather, they are powerful weapons from God" (2 Corinthians 10:4).

We must choose ...

Genesis 13:1-18
The life of God's people - those who worship Him (Genesis 13:4) - is always set in the context of wickedness. There are always choices to be made. Like Abraham, we can choose to worship God, or we can be like Lot and choose to go the way of wickedness. The choices we make reveal the people that we are. Those who choose the way upon which the Lord's blessing rests show that their hearts belong to the Lord. Those who choose the way upon which the Lord's judgment rests show that their hearts belong to the world. the worldly man, Lot, thought only of himself. The spiritual man, Abraham, concerned himself with doing the Lord's will. There is a great difference between Lot and Abraham - "Lot chose the whole Jordan plain for himself"; "The Lord said to Abraham ... 'I will give you all the land you see to you'" (Genesis 13:11,15). The worldly man takes for himself. The spiritual man waits to receive from God.

When you see a rainbow, remember God is love.

Genesis 9:1-28
'When you see a rainbow, remember God is love.' The love of God is revealed in the rainbow. It is more fully revealed in the Cross: 'We sing the praise of Him who died ... Upon the cross we see, in shining letters, "God is love." He bears our sins upon the tree. He brings us mercy from above." When we read the Old Testament stories - such as the story of Noah, we must learn to look beyond the story itself, seeing its place within the fuller Story, the Story of God's salvation: 'I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me.' This is the greatest story of all - "the Story ... of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love ... the story of wonderful redemption, God's remedy for sin.' 'This is our story. This is our song, praising our Saviour all the day long.' This is the 'story to tell to the nations, the song to be sung to the nations, the message to give to the nations, the Savio…

Jesus Christ - the Source of our salvation

Genesis 7:1-24
What was going on outside of the ark is contrasted with the haven of salvation inside the ark. We read that, once all were in the ark, "the Lord closed the door behind them" (16). What was it that made the ark a place of salvation? - The Lord. What is it that makes Jesus Christ the Source of our salvation? - God has given Him the Name that is above every name, the Name of our salvation (Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 4:12). "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9): This is the spiritual significance of what we read in Genesis concerning the flood. Christ is the Door. Those who enter through Him will be saved (John 10:9). We must listen to what God says concerning salvation. If we listen to what the world says, we will conclude that all will be saved. If we listen to the Lord, we will come to Christ and find salvation in Him alone.

Jesus is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

Genesis 4:1-16
We read about Cain and Abel. We look beyond them to Christ. He offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin. He is "the Passover Lamb." He "has been sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
We read here about the parting of the ways. Cain went one way - away from God. Abel went the other way - towards God. When we come to the Cross of Jesus Christ, we must make our choice. Our  life can never be the same again.
Will we be like Cain? - "He went out from the Lord's presence and lived in the land of wandering" (Genesis 4:16). What does God say to those who are wandering away from Him? He says, "Awake, sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you" (Ephesians 5:14).
We read about Abel, and we look beyond him to Christ. Let us walk with Christ on the way of faith and obedience, the way of His salvation, the way of …

Jesus has triumphed over Satan - for us!

Genesis 3:1-7
The tragedy of Adam and Eve: their fall into sin. We compare this with the triumph of Jesus - His victory over Satan.
What made the difference?- standing on the Word of God.
Adam and Eve believed the lie of the devil.
Jesus took His stand on the Word of God.
What about us? Do we stand? or Do we fall? Will we listen to Satan? or Will we listen to God?
We cannot be facing in two directions at the same time. We must make our choice.
Will our life be self-centred? or Will it be God-centred?
God is calling us out of the old life (the Adam life). He’s calling us into the new life (the Jesus life). When we choose to walk with Jesus, He walks with us.

Grace found Noah!

Genesis 6:1-22
As we read the story of Noah, we learn of the place of Noah within the divine revelation of the Gospel of grace. "Noah found grace" (8) might be turned around to read, "Grace found Noah." "Amazing grace ... I once was lost but now am found." The significance of Noah, highlighted in 5:29, is expressed in the words, "Not the labour of my hands can fulfil Thy law's demands ... All for sin could not atone, Thou must save, and Thou alone. Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling." To think of the flood exclusively in terms of judgment is to see only one side of what God was doing. As well as judging, He was also saving - "In this ship a few people - eight in all - were saved by water" (1 Peter 3:20). The ark points forward to Christ, "who came back from death to life", Christ who "saves" us (1 Peter 3:21).

Enoch, Noah ... and Christ

Genesis 5:1-32
"Enoch walked with God" (22-23). Following this striking statement about Enoch's remarkable walk with God, we are introduced to Noah (28-32). Like Enoch, "Noah walked with God" (6:9). "Noah" means "Relief" - "Out of the ground which the Lord has cursed this child shall bring us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands" (29). This seems to be a rather mundane statement. The deeper significance of this "relief" becomes clearer as we look more closely, chapters 6-9, at the place of Noah within the purpose of God. By building the ark, Noah brought relief from the storm of God's judgment. What an awesome judgment of God the flood was. In the midst of this judgment, there was relief (salvation). The ark is a picture of Christ. Those who are in Him are saved. Those who are outside of Him are lost. Christ is the "child" of our salvation. He takes salvation into His hands, takin…

The increase of sin ... and the ray of hope!

Genesis 4:1-26
This chapter tells the story of the progression of humanity, the increase of sin and, in it final sentence, the development of worship. There are interesting snippets of cultural information (20-22). There may be progress in the horizontal dimension - agriculture, music, industry, but history reveals, again and again, that all is not well in our relationship with God. Sin was on the increase (1-16). Things were getting out of control. Could they be turned around again? A strongly positive answer to this question is not spelled out in detail in this chapter. There is, however, a hint of God at the end of the chapter. He is still at work, calling sinners to worship Him, and people are beginning to respond. This is the note on which the chapter ends - "At that time people began to worship the Lord" (26). At the end of a chapter which is, at best, informative - the progression of culture, and, at worst, depressing - the increase of sin, this is the r…

For Christ, there was suffering. For us, there is salvation.

Genesis 3:8-24
Here, we focus on three verses.
* Genesis 3:9 - "Where are you?" This is the voice of love: "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).
* Genesis 3:15 - A prophecy concerning our Saviour and His mighty triumph over Satan
For Christ, there was suffering. For us, there is salvation.
* Genesis 3:22 - Salvation is not something we can reach out and take.
It must be given to us by the Lord. We must receive salvation from the Lord. It is always His gift.

Privilege and Responsibility

Genesis 2:4-25
Here, we see the privilege and responsibility of being human. As well as the privilege - created in the image of God (1:26-27), there is also the responsibility - in relation to (a) the creation: "farm the land and ... take care of it " (15); (b) the Creator: "you must never eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (17). Human life is lived within two horizons - (i) the temporal or earthly horizon: we have relationships with one another: "It is not good for the man to be alone" (18); (ii) the eternal or heavenly horizon: we are related to God. Human relationships do not fully satisfy us. There is a longing for God our Creator: "He has put a sense of eternity in people's minds" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He has given us good things to be enjoyed (1 Timothy 4:4). He has also created us to be "inwardly ... renewed" by feeding on the "things" that "last forever" (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)…

The evil subtlety of Satan ... and the defeat of Satan!

From the majestic perfection of God and the privileged responsibility of humanity, we now move to the evil subtlety of Satan. An intruder has sneaked into the privileged place between God the Creator and mankind. His creation. Chapter 2 ends with the absence of shame. Chapter 3 begins with the presence of Satan. The work of Satan, successfully executed, ensures that chapter 3 ends rather differently from chapter 2 - "the Lord God sent the man out of the Garden of Eden" (23). This was "Paradise Lost." Was there a way to "Paradise Regained"? There are two answers to this question: 'No' and 'Yes.' Taking ourselves as the starting-point, the answer is 'No' - God will not permit us to take salvation into our own hands (24). Starting with God, we answer, 'Yes' - this is the answer of verse 15: Christ (the woman's descendant) will be crucified (the bruising of His heel), but the outcome of this will be the defeat…

The majesty of God ...

Genesis 1:1-2:3 There is, here, a real sense of the majesty of God. He is "beyond description." We cannot comprehend Him. We can hardly put into words this sense of God's greatness. We are transported into an eternal dimension, which is so different from our earthly existence. We read, "In the beginning, God ... " (1:1). Many live as if God was absent, as if humanity was the only reality. Here, it is we who are absent from view. Here, we see God only. Humanity only comes into view when God chooses (1:26-27). Everything about this is God-centred rather than man-centred. The light comes when God says, "Let there be light" (1:3). Prior to God's Word of command, in 1:3, we see "the Spirit of God hovering" (1:2). The Spirit is on the alert, ready to move into action, ready for the Word of God to be spoken, ready to empower the Word so that it becomes mightily effective. All that follows - described as "very good" - com…

The devil will not win the war!

Genesis 2:4-25
Do what God tells us to do. This leads to blessing. Do what God tells us not to do. This leads to trouble. It’s been trouble ever since.
Here, on earth, things can be turned around. We can be set in the right direction. We are not yet at our final destination, but we’re travelling towards it.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they “died” spiritually. Immediately, we see conflict. The devil has won a battle. He has won many more battles. He will win many more battles. He will not win the war.
In Genesis 3:15, we catch a glimpse of God’s eternal Kingdom, in which “there will no longer be any curse” (Revelation 22:3).

Before the creation, there is the Creator.

Genesis 1:1-2:3
Before the creation, there is the Creator.
* He is the chief focus of attention in the Bible’s first chapter. Wherever we look in Genesis 1, we see the word, God. This is about Him. Genesis 1 speaks about us. It tells us where we have come from. We have come from God. He is our Creator. Take away God, and our life has no meaning, no purpose, no direction.
* Move on from the Bible’s first chapter. Read the rest of Genesis, the rest of the Old Testament,the rest of the Bible. What do you find? The Bible is a Book about God. It’s not only a Book about God. It’s a Book that has been given to us by God. It’s His Word.
* What about our faith and our life? Our faith comes to us from God. Our life has been given to us by God. We are to put our faith in God. We are to live our life for God.
* “God said, Let there be light, and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). The light of God’s love and holiness. “He created us in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). Created by God - lov…

In the beginning ...

“In the beginning, God”  – The first four words of the Bible take us back to the point where we can go no further, back to the eternity of God.
What do we find when we are taken back – into the heart of the eternal God?
We find love. We discover that “God is love.”
Creation is love because God is love. Before God made us, He loved us.
The love which we find in the opening chapters of Genesis is the love that is proclaimed throughout God’s Word – from Genesis to Revelation.
It’s the great love of God for us. It’s the love that never ends. It’s the love that goes on and on.
* How do we get to know God the Creator? How do we come to know that His heart is full of love for us?
In Genesis 1, three words are repeated over and over again: “And God said”.
These words emphasize the creative power of the Word of God.
God created through His Word. He proclaims His love to us through Jesus Christ, the living Word of God. He declares His love for us in the Scriptures, the written Word …

Brought to Christ, sent out by Christ

Genesis 8:1-22
At the end of the flood, God said to Noah, "Come out of the ship" (15). We are "in Christ". He is the Source of our salvation. God has brought us into Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). He does not bring us into Christ only for our own benefit. He sends us out into the world to bring others to Christ. Noah and the remnant of faith had been preserved so that they might be fruitful (17). This is still God's way. In love, He lays claim to our lives so that we can be fruitful for Him (John 15:16). This fruit comes to us as we abide in Christ (John 15:4-5). We are not sent out alone into the world. We are sent out as those who are in Christ. From a position of strength, we go forth, resting on our Shield and our Defender, to bring strength to others. Strengthened in "the ship", we step out with Christ and for Him.

The Word of God encourages us to look beyond the here and now.

Isaiah 2:1-5
The Word of God encourages us to look beyond the here and now. It gives us a glimpse of "the last days" (Isaiah 2:2). God knows the end as well as the beginning - and He show it to us (Isaiah 2:2). We say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord ... He will teach us about His ways so that we may walk in His paths ... Come and let us walk in the Lord's light" (Isaiah 2:3,5). Our world would be a very different world if more people were looking to the Lord and learning from Him, turning to the Lord and travelling with Him. What about you? Are you looking to the Lord? Are you learning from Him? Are you turning to the Lord? Are you travelling with Him? These are the questions that the Word of God puts to every one of us. Will we give the answer of faith and obedience? I cannot answer this question for you. You cannot answer it for me. Each one of us must answer for ourselves. What will your answer be?

Lord, help us to love You ...

Lord, help us to love You – and help us to love one another. How can we say that we love You if we are not learning to love one another? How can we learn to love one another if we are not opening our hearts to the greatest love of all – Your love for us. Fill us with Your love. Change us by Your love. May our whole life shine with the glory of Your love.

The Holy Spirit - Learning from 1 Samuel

Everyone was so happy - ‘Long live the king! (1 Samuel 10:24). Everything seemed to be so promising - ‘The Spirit of God came mightily upon Saul’ (1 Samuel 11:6). God’s people were victorious (1 Samuel 11:11). God’s people ‘rejoiced greatly’ (1 Samuel 11:15). This is not, however, the whole story. Things were to get worse, much worse - ‘You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from Him who calls you’ (Galatians 5:7-8). Remember the parable of the sower: ‘Satan immediately comes and takes away the Word... When tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, immediately they fall away... The cares of the world and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the Word, and it proves unfruitful’ (Mark 4:15,17,19). Pray - ‘Deliver us from evil’ (Matthew 6:13). ‘Samuel did what the Lord commanded’ (1 Samuel 16:4). Real obedience comes from ‘the heart’. It is more than just ‘keeping up appearances’…

Lord, what is it that keeps us walking with You in the way of faith?

Lord, what is it that keeps us walking with You in the way of faith? It’s Your grace – Your amazing grace. Without Your grace, we could not even begin to trust in You. Without Your grace, we cannot keep on trusting You. It’s Your grace that has brought us to faith in Christ. It’s Your grace that keeps us walking with You in the way of faith.

Lord, we thank You for Your great love.

Lord, we thank You for Your great love. It is not a love that we can take for granted. We dare not say, ‘God loves us. we can do what we like.’ Your love calls for our response. It’s a love that calls to trust in the Saviour. It’s a love which calls us to receive Your forgiveness. It’s a love which calls us to begin a new life with You. Help us, Lord, to live our lives in the light of Your great love – “Loving Him who first loved me.”

Lord, help us not to keep You at a distance.

Lord, help us not to keep You at a distance. Help us to get closer to You. So many of our problems come from this: We’re too far away from You. Even when we’re keeping you at a distance, help us to know that You still love us. Help us to know that You’ll never stop loving us.

God’s Blessing – Given, Accepted And Enjoyed (Genesis 12 - 13)

The “land” was given to Abraham by God. It was to be the land of His “blessing” (Genesis 12:1-3).  God’s gift of grace calls forth our response – “Abraham went, as the Lord had spoken to him” (Genesis 12:4). God had spoken. Abraham had acted upon God’s Word. Was it all plain sailing after that? No! There were trying times ahead of Abraham, times when he had to keep his eyes on the Lord. Receiving God’s gift of salvation does not guarantee that we will always walk with the Lord. We fall into sin – when we take our eyes off the Lord. “Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land” (Genesis 12:10). What are we make of this? What was going on here? Here are two different ways of looking at this situation – “Even when we are where God wants us to be, all will not necessarily go well for us materially – no matter what the prosperity gospel teaches. Abram was in the land God had sent him to, but that land…

Opening Up God’s Word: Genesis 1 - 2

“In the beginning, God”  – The first four words of the Bible take us back to the point where we can go no further, back to the eternity of God.
What do we find when we are taken back – into the heart of the eternal God?
We find love. We discover that “God is love.”
Creation is love because God is love. Before God made us, He loved us.
The love which we find in the opening chapters of Genesis is the love that is proclaimed throughout God’s Word – from Genesis to Revelation.
It’s the great love of God for us. It’s the love that never ends. It’s the love that goes on and on.
* How do we get to know God the Creator? How do we come to know that His heart is full of love for us?
In Genesis 1, three words are repeated over and over again: “And God said”.
These words emphasize the creative power of the Word of God.
God created through His Word. He proclaims His love to us through Jesus Christ, the living Word of God. He declares His love for us in the Scriptures, the written Word …

Real change comes from the Lord.

Genesis 20:1-18
We do not see Abraham in a good light here. There is, in this incident, a reminder of the deceitfulness of the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Our only hope of real change is in the Lord who says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stubborn hearts and give you obedient hearts" (Ezekiel 36:26). In the human heart, there is conflict - the flesh and the Spirit wrestling with each other (Galatians 5:17). If the Spirit is to display the victory of Christ in our lives, we must "put on the whole armour of God", receiving "power from the Lord and from His mighty strength" (Ephesians 6:10-11). This strength comes in this way: "take salvation as your helmet and the Word of God as the sword that the Spirit supplies" (Ephesians 6:17).

God continues to carry forward His great purpose of salvation.

Genesis 16:1-16
We move from salvation and the assurance of salvation to Satan and the activity of Satan. Sarai came with temptation - "Why don't you sleep with my slave? Maybe I can build a family through her." Abram gave in to temptation -"Abram agreed with Sarai (Genesis 16:2). The evil influence of Sarai continued: "Sarai mistreated Hagar so much that she ran away" (Genesis 16:6). When we read of Satan and his activity, we must not imagine, for a moment, that Satan wins the victory over the Lord and His purpose of salvation. This becomes clear as the story develops. The Lord's purpose will not be thwarted by the activity of Satan. The "Almighty Lord" will be victorious. This chapter ends with the birth of Ishmael. It is not a high- point in the purpose of God. It is a sign that Satan is trying to overthrow God and His gracious purpose. This leads to a 13-year gap in God's speaking to Abraham (Genesis 16:16-17:1), but that…

Jesus Christ, the King of love and Prince of peace ...

Genesis 14:1-24
Following the conflict in Genesis 14:1-16, there is a great sense of the peace of God in Genesis 14:17-24. Here, we have a glimpse of Jesus Christ, the King of love and Prince of peace, the Great High Priest, who comes to us with bread and wine (Genesis 14:18). He comes to us with blessing. He comes in the Name of God Most High. In  His Name, the Name of our Creator, we have the victory (Genesis 14:19-20). He gives us so much. We are to give ourselves to Him (Genesis 14:20). There is another king who lays claim to our lives - "the king of Sodom." This king does not speak in the Name of the Lord. He comes from Satan, and he is to be resisted (Genesis 14:21-24). Our strength comes from the Lord, and not from anything which Satan can offer to us. In our hearts, we must learn to say with real delight in the Saviour: 'I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold ... than riches untold.'

More than a human story ...

Genesis 12:1-20
The blessing promised to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) takes us right on to the book of Revelation, to "the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven" (Revelation 21:10). The story of Abraham is more than a human story. It is part of God's eternal purpose which will find its ultimate fulfilment in the coming of God's eternal Kingdom. From the outset, we see this as a Divine Story. It has human elements (Genesis 12:10-20), but, in its deepest meaning, it is God's Story. Recognizing this divine dimension, we use the God-given name - Abraham (Genesis 17:5). The name 'Abram' (exalted father) draws attention to the man. The name 'Abraham' (father of many) points to God's purpose. With Abraham, we worship the Lord (Genesis 12:7-8). We say, 'He is exalted' - Christ must increase, and we must decrease (John 3:30). We read of Abraham, and we look beyond him to Christ.  Looking to Christ, we say, 'Christ…

The Name that really matters ...

Genesis 11:1-32
Between the list of names in chapter 10 and 11:10-32, there is the story of what happens when we make ourselves the focus of attention rather than God - "Let's make a name for ourselves" (4). What a contrast there is between the tower of Babel, with the human builders trying to make a name for themselves, and the great declaration of Proverbs 18:10 - "The Name of the Lord is a strong tower." In the one case, there is scattering - "From that place the Lord scattered them all over the face of the earth" (9). In the other, there is safety - "A righteous man runs to it and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10). Following on from Proverbs 18:10, we read, "A rich person's wealth is his strong city and is like a high wall in his imagination" (Proverbs 18:11). "God chose what the world considers weak to put what is strong to shame" (1 Corinthians 1:27).