Thursday, June 11, 2009

James 3:18

Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
(NIV)

Does this verse fit with the rest? It almost seems like a little addendum to the main point. If we look at it alone, it makes total sense... a peacemaker, who would sow in peace, because he is a peacemaker, will reap a harvest of righteousness. Very similar to Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount. If we look at it in the context, it still makes sense, but in the bigger picture of heavenly wisdom. Peace-making is a sign of true wisdom that is from above.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

James 3:17

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
(NIV)

James is now teaching the "other" wisdom, the one that comes from heaven (or some translations more properly translate "from above" or " a higher place"). Let's look at this type of wisdom... what are it's characteristics?

First of all pure -meaning clean or clear. This wisdom is pure in its motivations and its direction. The wisdom that is from above is not tainted in any way.

The Peace-Loving - meaning related to peace. There is a connection between this wisdom and peace or tranquility, not only to God, but also to others.

Considerate - could be translated as gentle or mild or moderate. There is a sense of fairness in the word. Wisdom from above is gentle and fair. It is not based on What I Want.

Submissive - could be translated as reasonable or compliant. It is not forcing its own way, but is like a pavement for the way of others.

Full of Mercy - Just what it sounds like. It is Full of Mercy. Like a cup that is filled to the brim, with that little film of water holding it together. The slightest jostling will spill the cup. This wisdom is full of mercy, that is what is spilling out of it at all times.

Good Fruit - good as in its constitution or nature. This kind of wisdom produces things that are in their very nature... good. This is what it produces, for others and for itself.

Impartial - could be translated as unwavering. This wisdom is solid. It does not change based on personal biases or the whims of culture. Since its origin is from above, then at its core, it is also from above. The ways of the world aren't going to morph it and our likes and dislikes aren't going to change it.

Sincere - meaning genuine or without hypocrisy. This wisdom is the real deal. People who exhibit this type of wisdom are in the What you see is what you get category. You are getting a good thing, but you also know it is the real thing. There is nothing fake or put on about this wisdom.

(all definitions are from studylight.org)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

James 3:16

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
(NIV)

Here we have the envy and selfish ambition mentioned again. The result seems very clear: this worldly wisdom, based on envy and selfish ambition, leads to disorder and every evil practice.

The truth is that most of us would never think that any type of wisdom is based on envy and selfish ambition. We just wouldn't think that is the case, yet if you take a step back and begin to evaluate the "wisdoms" of this world, you may be surprised to find that is exactly where most of them are rooted.

Just begin with most of the "wise counsels" of the world that orbit around the uplifting of self. They promote self-esteem and self-love, self-forgiveness and doing something just for yourself. You can see it in most modern psychologists and psychiatrists. Even many of the so-called "Christian" counselors have fallen into this trap. It is has even been said by some that you need to learn to love yourself because God loved you, when the Bible has clearly taught that in many cases it is our love of selves that has caused the problem to begin with.

Bitter envy and selfish ambition do not lead to what is good, they lead to disorder and evil of every kind.

Monday, June 08, 2009

James 3:15

Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
(NIV)

Point number one: There is a "wisdom" that is not right. There is a "wisdom" that does not come from God, but from the Devil. This "wisdom" exists, and James seems to be making the point that it is easy to think that it is true wisdom, like the stuff we find in Proverbs, but it's NOT!

Point number two: This "wisdom" that we are putting the quotes around is a wisdom that, from the previous verse, is about selfish ambition and bitter envy. It is boasted about and in the end, the truth is denied by this kind of "wisdom."

What do we do with this? Start by being aware that not all things that can be called wisdom are true wisdom that is from God. I think that James is going to give us more in the next few verses, but start by being aware of this truth. Don't deny the truth, be aware of it.

Friday, June 05, 2009

James 3:14

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.
(NIV)

The "bitter envy" could also be "bitter jealousy", not sure if that helps. Studylight.org adds this to the definition of "selfish ambition": "This word is found before NT times only in Aristotle where it denotes a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means." I thought that was interesting, and helps to understand the idea behind the "selfish ambition."

The Adam Clarke Commentary offers this help:
If ye be under the influence of an unkind, fierce, and contemptuous spirit, even while attempting or pretending to defend true religion, do not boast either of your exertions or success in silencing an adversary; ye have no religion, and no true wisdom, and to profess either is to lie against the truth. Let all writers on what is called polemic (fighting, warring) divinity lay this to heart. The pious Mr. Herbert gives excellent advice on this subject:-

"Be calm in arguing, for fierceness makes Error a fault, and truth discourtesy; Why should I feel another man's mistakes More than his sickness or his poverty? In love I should; but anger is not love, Nor wisdom neither; therefore g-e-n-t-l-y m-o-v-e."
~studylight.org


That bit of commentary really cleared things up for me. I will admit it, maybe it is because I am tired or because it is the end of the school year, but I was having some trouble coming up with some thoughts on this verse. Now, I am actually finding it to be beneficial in my circumstances. Praise the Lord for smarter people who have done a good work that we can draw from.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

James 3:13

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
(NIV)
James is coming back to this same idea that he has been hitting on throughout the book. He first started commenting on the relationship between hearing and doing (James 1:19-27), and even makes a comment in chapter one that points out the worthlessness of religion if you don't keep a tight reign on your tongue (James 1:26). He then discusses the relationship of faith and deeds in chapter 2 (James 2:14-26). This kind of relationship between what is said and what is actually done is not just found in the book of James, it is scattered throughout scripture.

But I would like to get you to consider for a moment that this is not such an extreme teaching, instead, it is simply a statement of the obvious. Consider this verse: One could think that he is telling wise and understanding people to show it by their good life, but I think that this verse would be better understood if you believed that wise and understanding people DO show it by their good life. This is more of a statement to those people who might think of themselves as wise and understanding... when they're not!

I guess that the point that I am trying to make is that in every other area of life, what we believe determines what we do. We punch a timecard, not because we like printing little numbers on cards of paper, but because we believe something. We stay on the right side of the road (in America) because we believe that is the safest way to drive and we believe that most people are going to be following that same guideline. I take a drink when I am thirsty, because I believe that is a way to handle thirst. If someone said that they were thirsty and they said that they believed that taking drinks was a way to solve that problem, but they died of dehydration when they had a glass of water in their hands, we would either say that they didn't really believe that would solve the problem, or we would say that that person was an idiot. Does any of this make sense?

I might have to do another post later.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

James 3:10-12

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
(NIV)

I decided to keep all three of these verses together. There is one idea contained in these verses, one simple idea.

The mouth produces praise and cursing. This doesn't make sense to James. He asks whether or not you see a spring of water producing both salt water and fresh water. He then asks if fig trees can make olives. What about a grapevine, can it bear figs? These questions are rhetorical. James gives the answer to the question about the spring, which in a way, gives the answer to the original problem: A salt spring doesn't make fresh water, so what's wrong with your tongue?!?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

James 3:9

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness.
(NIV)

IT IS truly amazing that this tongue can behave in this way. Think of the irony of this situation. This mouth that we have will praise or bless God. It will say good and positive things about the Father, then it will turn right around and curse (or say evil toward or hope evil upon) men... Men who are made in the image or likeness of the same God that they were bringing down blessings upon.

What amazes me the most is my own ability to make that turn around so quickly. I will be on my way to church saying things to my kids like, "c'mon! What is wrong with you?!?" or "You are always that way!" Then I will be at church praising God, and turn right around and on my way home yell at another driver, "You Idiot!"

I hope today that we will be more aware of this evil that is the tongue.

Monday, June 01, 2009

James 3:7-8

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
(NIV)

James takes it a step further in his description of the tongue, but I believe that he is doing this to get the idea that it is a truly dangerous thing. Great damage can be caused by the tongue. Great heartache. Great lies can spew forth from this part of your body. It can even lead others into sin.

James is not done with his warning after this verse. He will in the next few verses paint an even scarier picture of what this tongue can do.

Could I encourage you today to be analyzing your tongue. Monitor it today. Evaluate what it is producing.

Friday, May 29, 2009

James 3:6

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
(NIV)
To say the least, James is using strong speech. Let's just see how he describes the tongue: It is a fire. It is a world of evil. It corrupts the whole person. It sets the whole course of a person's life on fire. The tongue itself is set on fire by hell. Wow.

If you look at this as an overreaction or you feel that this is a bit extreme, please try to remember who the author is. I am not referring to James, sure he penned these words, but we know that scripture is inspired by God... All scripture.

Therefore, we know that the tongue, which simply stands as a representative for our ability to communicate, has been affected by the fall in a terrible way. We can go through life with the understanding that our speech is bent toward sin and the speech of others is bent that direction as well. It is no wonder that so many of our problems are rooted in the way we relate to others.

I was recently doing a "project" in my Bible classes that were pertaining to the "put off - put on" concepts in scripture, and part of that project was for my students to pick something that they were working on, or more accurately, that God was working on. The day that they came in with their topics I asked the question, before hearing any of their choices, "How many of you picked a topic that has something to do with how you relate to other people?" 100% said yes, and more than 75% picked something relating to their relationship with a brother or sister.

As we worked through the topics I noticed that communication, whether it was how they were communicating or their reaction to how they had been communicated with, kept coming up. The words of James don't sound so extreme when you begin to analyze our society. This was just a couple of Bible classes at a small Christian School, but I challenge you to consider how many of your problems/challenges are associated with the "tongue."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

James 3:5

Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
(NIV)

The word "likewise" tells you to look at the previous verses. When you do, you can see that the tongue, just like a rudder or a bit, is a small thing that can impact or steer something big.

I love the second sentence of this verse. Most of us who have a mouth have had a moment where we have thought something similar to that as a result of something we said, "... what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark!"

As we consider our tongue, there are many proverbs that jump to mind. But there is one that I would like to share this morning. It is Proverbs 17:28,

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent,
and discerning if he holds his tongue.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

James 3:3-4

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
(NIV)

Don't get this verse confused by the previous verse. In the previous verse it says that the person who can control his tongue can keep his whole body in check. This is not to say that the tongue is like a bit to your body. These verses will be explained in the next verse. They are simply building a mental picture of how something small can affect something big.

A bit is small, a horse is big. A rudder is small, comparatively, to the big ship. Small things can sometimes impact big things. We are going to see that the tongue is like that.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

James 3:2

We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
(NIV)


We're all human beings, and it is true that stumbling is a part of the package. Stumbling with your words is an even bigger part of the package. The "foot-in-mouth disease" has become a major part of that human condition.

If there is a man who is able to never be at fault in what he says... Wow. He has got to be near perfect.

Monday, May 25, 2009

James 3:1

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
(NIV)


James has just finished discussing the role of works/deeds in our lives, and he is about to launch into a discussion of the tongue. In the middle there are a couple of verses that I don't think should be skimmed over. It is easy to move past these on your way to the verses on the tongue. It is also easy to pop in and take these verses without mentioning the context. So, trying not to ignore the context and trying not to skim past... let's take a look at these few verses.

In this verse it is stated that not many people should presume to be teachers. The reason that is given is that, if you teach, you will be judged more strictly. This isn't necessarily talking about God's judgment of you... It could be, but I believe it is referring to the obvious. When one teaches these things that James has been talking about, your life will be under scrutiny.

It is always true that you need to practice what you preach, but it may be more true if you are a teacher (or a preacher) that practicing what you preach becomes essential to your teaching.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Genesis 1:31

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
(ESV)


The sixth day draws to a close. God has created everything in the universe, and it was all very good. There wasn't anything that wasn't the way it was supposed to be.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Genesis 1:30

And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.
(ESV)

God completely balances out the system. Every living thing has been provided for. The most amazing portion of this verse is the final words. Think about it... God speaks it and that's the way it is.

What He speaks ... happens.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Genesis 1:29

And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.
(ESV)

Still in the sixth day, God decrees to man what he can have for food. His food is to be every plant with seed and every seed with fruit. Everything from bananas to green beans, tomatoes to bread fruit, God made it all for food.

Our God is the God of provision. When He calls us to do something, He not only supplies what we need to get the job accomplished, He also provides the need. Think about it: God made the garden! Adam's job was to take care of the garden, and it is the garden that was going to supply his needs (the fruit came from the garden).

Many times in life, what God calls you to do is the exact thing that He will use to supply your need. Application: Do what God says to do.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Genesis 1:28

And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
(ESV)
God's word for man is established a few verses back when He decides to make man and give him purpose. In this verse God reveals His word to man. God's revealed word to man at this point is only this. Nothing more is revealed to Him, that we have record of. Man's responsibility is now to obey God's word.

In many ways, things have not changed. God has revealed His word to us, in a much grander scale, but the call is still the same. We are to obey His word.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Genesis 1:27

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

(ESV)

Here the author, Moses, takes a moment to state clearly the creation of humans. So, remember today:

#1 - There is a Creator. He initiated all, and all things are in His hands.
#2 - We are creatures. We are created beings. We are not the end-all of this universe.
#3 - We, as creatures, are created in the image of our creator.

Don't forget these things as you go through your day, as you interact with other creatures, don't forget that God is the creator of us all and we are all in His image.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Genesis 1:26 b

And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
(ESV)
Here we, as the descendants of Adam and Eve, are given dominion over all the earth. We are to rule it, or subjugate it, and that is exactly what that word means.

I think that most people believe that in one way or another, but we must be careful not to forget whom we serve. This is why this "ruling" should be considered as a stewardship. Since we are ruling under another, then we should be ruling on His behalf.

I guess the question that should be asked is this: How would you use the earth, with its resources and its creatures, differently, when you have this knowledge?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Genesis 1:26 a

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...
(ESV)
I pause on the first half of this verse because it is so amazing what has just happened.

First of all there is the "us" found in this verse. If I had more time we could break that down and show the roots of the trinity found in Genesis chapter 1. Even the word "God", in the original, is elohim - the plural of el - meaning "god".

Second, there is communication. God did not create man so that He would have someone to talk to. There was obviously perfect communication going on before we were in the picture. This is not a trivial side thought, this is essential to understanding your purpose. God did not need to make us, He chose to make us to display His own glory. This is why you could truly say that the "chief end of man is to Glorify God and enjoy Him forever." (John Piper changes this catechism slightly to say, "The chief end of man is to Glorify God by enjoying Him forever." I believe that Piper's version is more accurate to the truth.)

Third, we are made in the image of God, in His likeness. There are all sorts of great theologians who have broken this down, and I am sure that they have done a much better job than I could ever do. So, I won't attempt to break this down to determine the ins and outs of the words image and likeness. I do want to say this though, when you read this verse, don't skim past that part. You could almost say it this way, "You are just like God... You're NOT God, but you are just like Him. There are so many things that He can do and qualities that He has, but... if there is anybody that you're like... You're like HIM."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Genesis 1:24-25

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
(ESV)
Here we start day six with the creation of all of the stuff on the land. Everything that you can think of: giraffes, zebras, lions, ants, lizards, turtles, scorpions, hedgehogs, ostriches, kiwis, platypus, squirrels, goats, rams, termites, snakes, walking sticks, earwigs, you name it. He spoke it all into creation. Every design was His.

Plan a visit to a zoo and marvel at the goodness of God's creation. Look out your window in the morning and watch the squirrels and marvel at God's creation. Look at your cat or your dog and marvel at God's creation. Why are they the way they are? Why is your dog loyal? How can your cat have such amazing acrobatic abilities? God has written that into His creation.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Genesis 1:22-23

And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
(ESV)

These verses are very interesting. The word that is translated "Be fruitful" could be translated as bear fruit. The next word is "multiply" and that word is translated well, it means to become great or increase in number. So, the fruitful, if only thought of as fruitful, as in having babies and laying eggs, seems to double up what God is commanding, unless you go with another possible translation of the word.

The other translation? branch out.

Take this into the context of the idea of "kind" mentioned in the previous verses. Here is the Strong's definition obtained from the Studylight site.

kind, sometimes a species (usually of animals) ++++ Groups of living organisms belong in the same created "kind" if they have descended from the same ancestral gene pool. This does not preclude new species because this represents a partitioning of the original gene pool. Information is lost or conserved not gained. A new species could arise when a population is isolated and inbreeding occurs. By this definition a new species is not a new "kind" but a further partitioning of an existing "kind".
Can you see how these two ideas fit together? God created the "kinds" and then commands them to branch out. This is how we have the great "Showcase for Creation" found in places like the Galapagos Islands. Click here to read an article from the Institute for Creation Research that discusses this exact thing.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Genesis 1:21

So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
(ESV)


This verse carries so much more weight after you have visited an aquarium. I just came back from the Riverbank Zoo in Columbia, SC. I went there on a field trip with my son. They have a decent sized aquarium at the zoo. I was blown away at the complexity of the life in the ocean. And to think that God invented it all.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Genesis 1:20

And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens."
(ESV)

At the beginning of Day 5, God creates of the fish of the sea and the birds of the air. He is filling up with life what he made on Day 2.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Genesis 1:18-19

to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
(ESV)


Here we have the purpose of the lights laid out with a little more detail. The first purpose is to rule the day and the night. Obviously talking about the sun and the moon primarily. The second purpose is to separate the light from the darkness. This is something that God had already done on a previous day, but now he is handing that over to the physical sun. There had already been day and night for three days without the help of the sun, but God had now given this heavenly object the role of bringing light to the day. This role was already mentioned in verse 14.

Another role mentioned in verse 14 pertains to giving signs and seasons, and days and years. The stars and the sun and the moon fulfill that role perfectly. So perfectly and so precisely that there are whole sciences dedicated to studying the movements of these heavenly bodies. There are millions of dollars poured into the study and discovery of new things out there. These things that ultimately were made just for bringing light to the earth.

Notice that, once again, these things are all good. God is somehow able to view the whole of the universe, that vast expanse, and state, "It is good!" I wonder, did He boom that voice across the universe when he said it?

By the way. This means that the oldest molecules in the universe can be found right here on this planet. This little rock of a planet is the oldest thing out there by three days. How is it possible that the light has made it from those other stars and galaxies? C'mon! He's God! He just spoke a Universe into existence! He just imagined and spoke every DNA sequence for every tree and every plant into existence! A question like, how did the light get here, seems like a moot point!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Genesis 1:17

And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,
(ESV)
I could have placed this verse with one of the others, but I wanted to keep it by itself because of the phrasing of the first part of the verse. Notice that in the previous verse God created these lights, now it is telling us that he is placing them in the heavens. That is what those words mean. The New American Standard translates it as, "And God placed them..." We should tarry on that thought for a moment.

In the next little phrase we get to see the partial purpose of the stars and the other planets, of the moon and the sun. Their purpose is tied to this one little planet. Even though this planet isn't the physical center of our solar system or our galaxy... It is at the center of the universe. God's plan is being worked out here. All of those other objects up in the expanse of the heavens are just light fixtures.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Genesis 1:16

And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.
(ESV)


Here we have this passing statement about the creation of the bodies of the universe. Our sun, our moon, and all of the other planets and stars are lumped together as, "...and the stars."

Friday, May 01, 2009

Genesis 1:14-15

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
(ESV)


I am sure that throughout history, most of the readers had no idea what was really created in this phrase. I believe that it wasn't until the invention of the telescope that people really started to understand. The sad part is that this element of creation, like all elements, is to bring glory to the creator, not to glory in the creation alone. Yet that is exactly what we do!

Give God glory today at what He has made!

I would like to point out that God also created these objects, not just to give light, but to be used to determine seasons and times and year, etc. Still today, even though we have all of this amazing technology, we still use the stars and the sun and the moon to determine our days, nights weeks, months, years, etc.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Genesis 1:12-13

The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
(ESV)

Once again this creation jumps to action at the word of God. I have heard before that the Hebrew word for Word is the same as the Hebrew word for Deed. I don't know for sure if this is true, but there is definitely a truth to how God's word is handled. Throughout scripture, His word is followed by action.

There should be a similar reaction from God's children. As we personally read through God's word, it should take root, grow, branch out, and produce fruit. And since it is ultimately God's word that gets planted in our hearts, then the fruit that we bring forth should be that spiritual fruit.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Genesis 1:11

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so.
(ESV)

Day Three continues with the creation of Vegetation. Specifically plants and trees that bear seeds and fruits with seeds. So on Day Three God has created DNA.

He has also created forests and jungles, glens and fields. I can't imagine the beauty of the world on this day. There is still no sun, but there must have been a glorious perfect light shining down, possibly from God Himself. And there was every plant imaginable. Nothing had gone extinct.

And those commands that were written in on this day, those commands written into those seeds, have continued to this day. When you walk outside today, glory at His creation.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Genesis 1:10

God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
(ESV)


On the Third Day, God has separated out the land and the sea. After He does this, He names these things. I wonder if the Hebrew names for these are the same names that God originally used... Did His naming of these things build in something inherent about the Land and the Sea that has endured?

God then pronounces all that He has created so far as "good" and that word means just what you would think it means. This world so far is good, it is pleasing, both to God and to the people who will be inhabiting it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Genesis 1:9

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.
(ESV)

Here we have the beginning of Day Three. I wonder, did He start in the morning? Did it all happen at once, or did He take His time? Did He separate the water so that the dry ground appeared like a sculpture?

Notice though that from the very beginning, this creation obeys His voice! He speaks, and things happen!

We are in Day Three and there is still nothing else in the universe except for this one little planet.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Genesis 1:6-8

And God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
(ESV)


I have always understood this to be the creation of the atmosphere. What the earth was like before this, I am not sure, it doesn't say. These verses have also led to the canopy theory which helps explain the long lifespans and the flood. I don't particularly hold to or discredit the canopy theory, it is not important to me.

What I would like to point out is that God is not just speaking things into existence, He is also shaping and forming things. I believe that in the midst of these creative acts, God is writing the physical laws of the universe. He is bringing additional order to the initial creation. Remember that it was created "without form" so that He is bringing form to this formless creation.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Genesis 1:5

God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
(ESV)

If there was ever any debate over the literal-ness of the twenty-four hour days in Genesis, this verse should halt the debate. It is abundantly obvious that the day that is described here is the result of the light and the dark, just like a day today. If these days were long time periods, then each time period would be encompassed by half light and half dark, which doesn't make any sense.

The real question to be asked about Genesis is not the length of the days, or any other debate for that matter, but whether or not you believe it to be God's word. That is the real question to ask. Trying to mold Genesis into some strange evolutionary model is not right, but it is also not necessary! The Biblical model works without any extra explaining. In fact, it works even better than any evolutionary model.

One little side note that I would like to point out: Notice that this first day of creation has a day and a night, but there is no sun yet. This, by the way would not fit into any evolutionary models, but works great in the Biblical one. It does leave me with some questions though.

What did the morning look like?
Did this light bring warmth?
Where was the light coming from?
Was it just coming from God?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Genesis 1:4

And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
(ESV)


Whoa! What does this mean?

(I know that a good commentator wouldn't ever write in their commentary "Whoa! What does this mean?" but seriously, what does this mean?!?)

How does God separate the light from the darkness? Does it just mean that He sorted it out on the earth so that there would be a night and day? If you read on, that seems like that is what it is talking about, and I can almost envision that. But what does un-separated light and dark look like?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Genesis 1:3

And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
(ESV)


So light entered the universe. This light was not from any star or our sun. There were no chemical reactions creating this light. It wasn't from electricity or burning gas. It was light.

Did it emanate from God? Some believe so. I don't know.

Once again, be amazed by God. That he can speak and things happen. His voice causes the creation of light.

Be thankful for any light that He has brought into your life today.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Genesis 1:2

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
(ESV)

There are so many different directions that one could go with a verse like this. I believe that most people would tarry on the phrase "without form and void" to try to understand what was going on there. There are some who look to this phrase to support that the earth (and the universe?) were around before this particular creation. I won't go into detail, but I bet you could do some Google searches to find a wealth of information.

To debate those words would be interesting... But lets take them at face value. God just created time and space, now He is entering into both to hover over the waters.

Instead of being moved to debate the words of this passage... be awed by it. Be amazed that God, THE God, has entered into time and space and He has a purpose. It doesn't say what He was doing while He was hovering over the waters, but He was.

Be thankful today for this God and His creative works.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
(ESV)


There is much debate about a statement that is so simple. Not only do you have the evolutionists debating whether or not there is a creator, you even have in the Christian circles the debate about when this beginning happened and how much God actually created.

When you read John 3:16, do you believe that "God so loved that world" and that He "gave his only begotten son"? Do you call into question the phrase "that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life"? Do you doubt the validity of those words?

I do not. I believe that God's word from beginning to end is the inspired word of God. I believe that it is infallible.

If you do not believe that, I would like to recommend a little book called God Wrote a Book by James MacDonald. It is easy to read and easy to understand. He takes a step by step approach to looking at the Bible to see whether or not it is what people say it is. It also includes a load of extra-biblical evidences that I found to be quite encouraging.

As I look at Genesis 1, I am going to take the approach that it is truly God's word, and that it can be taken literally. I do not believe that this Genesis account is figurative of what went on. I believe that God wanted us to know what happened, so He made sure it ended up in this book for all to read.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Peter 2:12

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
(NIV)


There is not much I could add to this verse. Peter is so straight forward here. Many have said that actions speak louder than words, but Peter is saying, 'Let your actions speak so loudly, that even if they accuse you of wrong, in their deepest heart of hearts, they will know that isn't true. They will know that it is an accusation. Then one day they will glorify God because of your loud/godly actions.'

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Peter 2:11

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
(NIV)

In the book of Genesis, just before Cain goes to kill his brother Abel, and in so doing, commit the very first murder, God comes to Cain. He notices that Cain is angry, then says, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

That comment has always stuck with me. That sin is described as something that is crouching. That sin is something that wants to overtake me. That it desires.

Peter here gives a straight forward response to this. He simply states, "...abstain."

We are not long for this world, and if you are a child of God, you don't even belong here! You can master sin, because of the power of Christ. So, abstain from those sinful desires. They are warring against your soul.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Peter 2:10

Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
(NIV)

Sometimes remembering where you were will help you to appreciate where you are. In the case of a Christian, where you were is extremely different that where you are. Possibly the most extreme difference possible. You WERE without mercy. Now you have received the mercies of God. There is not much that could be more extreme than that.

Once again, these thoughts should result in praise. Praise Him through your work today. Praise Him in how you speak to your spouse and your children. Praise Him in how you drive and in how you walk and talk.

Friday, April 03, 2009

I Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
(NIV)
To be a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people belonging to God... These were things that once belonged only to the Jews. They were these things. Now we may participate.

As an American, I get to some extent the idea of being a "people". Having that sense of belonging. And America has been a part of something big. Freedom, liberty, duty, etc. We have been a people, but this citizenship is corrupted. America is fallible. There is another "nation" that I am a part of. Paul describes it as "a citizenship in heaven" in the book of Philippians.

The outpouring of this citizenship should result in praise. He have no right be be a part of this. We were in darkness, but He has brought us into the light, and it was not because of any merit of our own.

Declare praise to Him for what He has done.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I Peter 2:7-8

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone," and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
(NIV)
There is so much I would love to say about this passage. Jesus Christ has become such a foundation for me. I have learned to identify with so many of the Psalms that say, "He is my Rock... He is my Fortress..." but He has also been such a stumbling block to me when I was young. I have seen both aspects of this stone in my life.

The other day I heard a preacher mention this aspect of the capstone, how much effort it would have taken to keep all of the stones in place, until the capstone was set in place. Then everything holds together. The capstone makes everything right.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I Peter 2:6

For in Scripture it says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame."
(NIV)
In case you were wondering, this is a quote from Isaiah 28:16.

When I read passages like this, I can find great assurance in them, but if I was honest, there is that little nagging thought in the back of my mind that is trying to reconcile the words of this passage to what I experience in the real world. I know, because I have taught the Bible for many years now that I should not ultimately base my understanding of things on my experiences, and I truly do believe that the Bible is the very Word of God, but that logical, analytical side of my mind craves the reconciliation of the truth of the word with what I have seen.

Where that part of my brain has a problem is in the words, "...never be put to shame." And that part of my brain begins to think very finitely. So, as it dwells in the here and now, I hear stories of people who are trusting in God who (to that part of my brain) are being put to shame. They are being humiliated and attacked, they are being abused by others and ostracized by their families and their peers. It seems as if they are being put to shame.

But, lets think a little bigger. Here is a passage from Hebrews that might help a little bit:
Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Some read passages like these and get even more distressed, but if you look back in Hebrews just a few verses there is an even better explanation, when it comes to Abraham. It says,
By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:9-10
There is a different city, whose architect is God. The cornerstone of that city is Jesus Christ. If you put your hope in Him, you will never be ashamed!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Peter 2:5

you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.
(NIV)
This is the continuation of the thought from the previous verse. When we fall on the side of God and His response to Christ, then we begin to become more like Christ. Notice first that we are become like Him as "living stones." There is something more solid about us when we are in Christ. He is our rock and our salvation, and when we are in Him, then we are becoming like Him.

Our work is not finished yet, notice that Peter says that we are "being built." This is not completed, we are a work in progress.

Like it also states so many times in the book of Hebrews, we are now priests of God. We bring our lives to Him as living sacrifices, and since we are in Christ, and all that we do is through Christ, we are pleasing to God because of Him.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Peter 2:4

As you come to him, the living Stone -- rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him --
(NIV)
There are two thoughts here.

Obviously, Peter is starting a comment about coming to Christ. Literally, going to him, but as he mentions this, and calls him "the Living Stone" it spurs Peter into another thought. It is a thought about the response to Jesus Christ. Men rejected Him. God chose Him and He is precious to God.

Peter is saying (I believe) that when you come to Christ you are doing something radically different than the majority of men. For the most part, the population rejects Christ, but when you come to Him you are falling on the side of God's response to Christ. Christ is chosen by you, and He is precious to you.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I Peter 2:3

now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
(NIV)


I thought about adding this verse in with the last one, but I wanted to keep it for today.

Today is Friday. It is the end of the week, a week of work, a week of challenges, a week of trials and the thought of upcoming trials. So, have I tasted that the Lord is good? I should give a resounding, "yes!"

Some people's weeks have been filled with bigger trials and bigger challenges, filled with heartaches, fears, and loss. Yet, we could all say that we have tasted that the Lord is good. I would love to go into a discussion on the goodness of God, but instead, I believe that we should ask a different question:

If you have not tasted that the Lord is good... Why? Why have you not tasted it? It is not that He is not good or that he does not offer His goodness for the tasting. So, ask yourself, "why?" Allow that "why?" to penetrate deep. Open up your Bible and let it pierce in and discern the answer to that question as it probes the thoughts and intents of your heart.

Pick your Bible up today, read it from the heart, and taste that the Lord is good.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Peter 2:2

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
(NIV)

Babies crave milk. They want it moment by moment, and they will take it almost every time you offer it. Milk is on their mind, and it is almost the only thing that is on their mind. They want it when they are bored, they want it when they are sad, they want it when they are lonely, they want it when they are uncomfortable or sick, they want it.

Growing up in your salvation will require more than the simple 15 minute daily devotional. Please don't misunderstand me... I am not being judgmental of our hectic schedules. Though, maybe I should, that is not what I am doing here. To crave spiritual milk like Peter is talking about here is a mindset. This is the person who has God on their mind. This is a person who is thinking about God's word, even when there is no Bible near. This is the person who thinks to themselves, "I need to hear from God today!"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I Peter 2:1


Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
(NIV)
(I included links to studylight.org for the greek definitions of each of these terms.)

Peter tells us to "rid ourselves" of these things.  That "rid ourselves" literally means to "make separate".  This malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander need to be items that are completely separate from us!  "Take them off!  Put them over there!" he is telling us.

It is written expressly as a command, but throughout this book there is sprinkled the empowering grace of God.  There is a partnership with Him in this sanctifying work.  It is us doing it, but it isn't us... It is HIM.

I would like to encourage you to re-read chapter 1 and then look up each of these words that I have linked in the verse.