Saturday, December 31, 2011

Evidence of God's Care

God is a God of judgement and One to be feared when there is disobedience and rebellion against Him.  But He is also compassionate and loving, even providing atonement so the broken relationship with Him might be restored.  He takes great care in shepherding His people.

One of the visible evidences of the latter is rainbow. 

By definition: A rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon that causes a spectrum of light to appear in the sky when the Sun shines on to droplets of moisture in the Earth's atmosphere. It takes the form of a multicolored arc. Rainbows caused by sunlight always appear in the section of sky directly opposite the sun.

From reading Genesis 9, it is clear that the rainbow did not always exist.  The best scientific explanation is found in the writings of Dr. Henry Morris.  But the Creator of the universe states here, "I have set my bow in the cloud."  The rainbow belongs to Him and He put it there for a specific reason.  Yes, it is a captivating sight for us to see.  However, God says He put it there as a reminder of His covenant between Himself and every living creature.

I am grateful that God keeps His promises.  The sky is clear today and so it is not likely that I will see a rainbow.  There are plenty of evidences of His loving care surrounding me right now.  I do not want to miss any of them. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Great is His Faithfulness

Genesis 8. 

Upon leaving the Ark, the first recorded action by Noah and his family was to build an altar and worship God.  Surely, that was a time for thanksgiving for keeping them safe and delivering them through the catastrophe.  It is normal for me to cry out to God when the trouble comes.  It is a good reminder to take time to thank God for bringing us through the tough times.

I can never read verse 22 without thinking of that great old hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness".  I memorized all three verses of it years ago.  The hymn writer took this portion of Genesis 9 for the second verse when he wrote:

"Summer and winter, and spring-time and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love."

Every sun rise, every season, God says is a sign that He is faithful.  And, He will be faithful to you today.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Is God's Judgement Slow?

The dimensions of the Ark were 450' long, 75' wide, and 45' high with 3 decks.  Indeed, it looked more like a barge than a boat.  It was designed for floatation and maximum storage.  I am grateful to men like Dr. Henry Morris who did more extensive research, writing and speaking on the subject than anyone.  His classic work is "The Genesis Flood", co-authored with Dr. John Whitcomb.  The Institute for Creation Research in California is the world's finest resource on the subject.

Genesis 7 is very detailed in its description of the world-wide flood.  The mountains were 15  cubits (nearly 23 feet) under water.  Verse 21: "And all flesh died that  moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind."  Such a clear statement prohibits any theory of a local flood.

It is a sobering reminder of the sure and certain accountability that everyone has to God.  There is a limit to His mercy and grace.  Just as the world in Noah's day refused to listen, there are scoffers today who refuse to believe in God's coming judgement.  2 Peter 3 is just a clear as Genesis 7.  Only next time this world will be destroyed by fire.  Why is God waiting?  Why does He not judge the sin of this world right now? 

2 Peter 3:9-"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."

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Finding Favor with God

Genesis 6.

In a world that was totally corrupt and "only evil" one man stood out from all the rest of the world's population.  "But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD."

What were those transferable characteristics that set Noah apart?  The text does not leave us in doubt.
1. He was "a righteous a man."  He live according to what was right in God's sight, not the world around him.
2. He was "blameless in his generation."  This is how he behaved toward others.  No one had anything bad to say about him.
3. He "walked with God."  Like his great-grandfather, Enoch, he maintained a continual awareness of God's presence.  This guided everything he did.

God is about to inflict a world-wide judgement on this sinful world.  But notice that God always protects His own.  His wrath is not for those who put their trust in Him, but, rather, is reserved for those who reject His loving offer of grace.
1. God prepares for His own.  He gave Noah the plans for an Ark.  In John 14, Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you."
2. God promises to take care of His own.  In verse 18, He made a covenant with Noah.  Jesus said, "I will come again and receive you to Myself."
3. God provides His own all that is needed to carry out His will.  He made sure that Noah had skill, wood, food, and even brought all the creatures to him at just the right time.  Jesus said in John 14:26, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things..."

The last verse of this chapter: "Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him."

As I face a New Year in an increasingly corrupt and evil world, I want to be like Noah while I am here.   Incapable as I am to do that on my own, I am grateful that the Holy Spirit is ever present can help each of us to live in a way that pleases the God of heaven.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What do you want on your tombstone?

That question was the commercial advertisement for Tombstone frozen pizza.  Allow me to rephrase the question: How do you want to be remembered when you are gone?

Two of my grandchildren were in the car with me yesterday as we passed a cemetery.  It was the day before Christmas Eve, yet there on the grounds was a family solemnly viewing a headstone.  My grandson, Austin, asked, "Why are you whispering?"  I said, "I was just praying for that family.  It is Christmas time and here they are in a cemetery remembering someone special who is not with them this year."

In Genesis 5, twice we read the words, "Enoch walked with God."  We do not know about his "career", his accomplishments, his physical attributes, his personality, his social skills, his financial net worth, his possessions, nor what he left in his estate.  Evidently, nothing else was not worth mentioning.

Jude 14-15 records that he was somewhat of a prophet and preached the coming judgement on those who reject God.  In Hebrews 11, where Enoch's name appears again in the Bible, the epitaph is simply that he "walked with God." 

There is a vast eternal difference is just "making a living" and living for God.

Someone once said, "At death only God is great."

I want my family and friends to know exactly where I will be spending eternity.  But, I also want them to know and see that I walked with God and with them here and now.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Accepted by God

Read Genesis 4.

Referring to modern trends in faith, in one article, Christianity Today once called it "do it yourself religion".  Pollster George Gallup referred to it as "religion ala carte."  In other words, they were noticing a movement toward people believing what they want, taking a little here and there, that please them.

May I kindly say, this is nothing new.  It is as old as Genesis 4 and Cain himself. 

Our present relationship with the God of heaven and our eternal destiny is solely dependent upon God's Word and what He wants of us in response.  Notice the words in verses 5 and 6.   God had "regard" for the right response, but had "no regard" (rejected) Cain's attempt to respond to God in whatever way he wanted.

God's statement in verse 7 is key: "If you do well, will you not be accepted?"  God is actually giving Cain a second chance to make things right.  But his anger at God and the jealous hatred at his brother's acceptance leads to the first murder.  Why did he murder Abel?  "Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous." (1John 3:12b)

As I read today how Christians are being persecuted  around the world because of their faith in Jesus and how nativities are being opposed in America, I am reminded that there is nothing new under the sun.  I am grateful that God grace is available to those of us who need that second chance to come to Him.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Presence of God

Today, in Genesis 3, "They heard the sound of God walking."  He let his presence be known.

I have often wondered what it sounded like.  Footsteps?  Rush of wind?  Adam and Eve spoke to God and He spoke to them.  Such an intimate, open, personal relationship was broken by their sin. 

Humans are incapable of restoring that eternal relationship.  All the positive thinking and man-made philosophies may serve as temporary band aids for the guilty conscience.  But, only God can forgive sin.  He must provide the only remedy.  He restores our relationship with Himself.

That is Jesus came.  Matthew 1:21 " shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."  He was born to die.  Born to pay the price for our sin.  He came to provide our forgiveness and restore that personal relationship with the living God.  It was Jesus who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but by Me."

God is just as present today as He ever was in the garden.  Do you hear His voice?  Do you sense His presence?  Are you listening?

My trouble comes when I ignore His presence.  When I wake up in the morning, God is speaking to me.  Sometimes, it is through a song that comes to memory.  I hear Him every time I open the Bible.  Often while doing the simplest task, He reminds me of His grace and mercy to me or one of my commitments to Him.

This week He showed me how to creatively share the Christmas message with my neighbors and those who do not know Him.  And, He directed my wife, Diane, and me to show kindness to one of our neighbors who is dying.  When I close my day, I find God is right there with me.

May your Christmas be filled with the moment by moment sense of the presence of Christ.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And God Created Man

Read Genesis chapter 2.

Notice the words "finished", "finished", "blessed", "holy", "rested", "done."

God created a man, not a baby, not a hybrid of other creatures, not a humanoid.  He put the man in a garden "to work it and keep it".  According to verse 19, the man was intelligent, discerning, able to speak with an extensive vocabulary, and understood the world around him. 

The first negative in the Bible appears in verse 18 when God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone."  God's plan to satisfy Adam's aloneness was to make a woman from the man.  The stated purpose was to be a completer, a companion and partner in procreation. 

This entire account blows the mind in trying comprehend its reality.  Rackham Holt in his book, quotes George Washington Carver, the scientist who developed hundreds of uses for the peanut: "When I was young, I said to God, 'God, tell me the mystery of the universe.'  But God answered, 'That knowledge is reserved for me alone.'  So, I said, 'God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.'  Then God said, 'Well, George, that's more nearly your size.'"  Selah.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Which Came First

Was it the chicken or the egg?  Amazingly, debates and views continue like ping pong balls about origins.  Emotions run a spectrum from confusion, anger, pride and even sarcasm at the mention of the subject.  Yet, many, if not most, have never taken the time to read the only evidential account on the subject.

Carefully read Genesis 1.

1. God's method of creation was to call something into existence out of nothing.  He spoke and "it was so."  This method is not only stated in Genesis but is consistently upheld throughout the Bible.
2. When God called something into existence it was already mature.  He did not create seed and then wait for it to grow, nor eggs and hope they would hatch on their own.  He created vegetation, creatures, and humans with seed within their kind to reproduce.
3. When God created, each day was followed by the same declaration, "And God saw that it was good."  Notice, it does not say, "It will be good some day." 
4. When God created humans, it was a unique work over all previous creation. Man did not come from sea life, birds of the air, nor beasts of the earth.  But the record says that Adam was a special creation in God's image.  Notice the plurality in "us" and "our".  There are distinct characteristics about human life that separates this work of God from all others.

Now, living as one created in the image of God is a life long journey of faith and obedience.