Thursday, January 10, 2013

Job 28:23-28

God alone understands the way to wisdom;
    he knows where it can be found,
24 for he looks throughout the whole earth
    and sees everything under the heavens.
25 He decided how hard the winds should blow
    and how much rain should fall.
26 He made the laws for the rain
    and laid out a path for the lightning.
27 Then he saw wisdom and evaluated it.
    He set it in place and examined it thoroughly.
28 And this is what he says to all humanity:
The fear of the Lord is true wisdom;
    to forsake evil is real understanding.

These are great verses to make into a prayer today, start with a declaration... "God I believe that you alone understand the way to wisdom, that you know where it can be found..."  Then, insert your moment of asking... "God I ask that you would lead me to that wisdom, that you would show me how to find the wisdom that only you can reveal, that my life might bring you glory..."

So many texts in Scripture become amazing moments of prayer.  As you are reading through the Bible with us this year, we are using the Chronological plan.  There are many websites offering plans, most of which will even email you the reading for the day.  I just got an app for for both my iPad and iPhone, free!

Make 2013 a year of Scripture and a year of prayer!

Pastor Fred

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Genesis 4-7

In today's reading from BibleGateway (Chronological Plan), there are two verses that found my interest.  First, there is God telling Cain (Genesis 4:6) that he must subdue sin and be its master.  That in refusing to do what is right, Cain is vulnerable to sin that is "crouching at the door, eager to control you."  Second, is the commentary on the person of Noah (Genesis 6:9).  We are told that Noah was blameless, in fact, the only blameless person living on earth at the time.

I find both of these verses curious because of what we read in Romans 7:14-25.  This is The Apostle Paul's well known discourse on the human condition, that we are all slaves to sin.  How can Paul say we are helplessly enslaved to sin and yet in Genesis, even before Jesus death on the cross, God says that we can master sin and then gives us an example of a person who did...declared blameless, Noah?

Briefly, I believe, there are two concepts of sin in Scripture.  There is the sin of our humanity and then there is the sin we commit (either through action or inaction).  The sin of our humanity is best seen in God's conversation with Moses in Exodus 33:22 where God promises to hide him with His hand has His glory passes by Moses.  We are told in Genesis 6:9 that Noah walked in close fellowship with God.  Previously in Genesis 5:24 this same phrase is used in reference to Enoch.  However, we understand the Bible in light of itself so we know that "their walking" was in relationship and not in physical presence as in Genesis 3:8.  In our human condition, we cannot withstand the holiness of God's literal presence (consider listening to our recent sermon series on grace for more...).  That is, prior to Jesus death on the cross, which restored mankind's ability to be in God's physical presence, walking with God could have only meant a relational intimacy with limited physical proximity.

However, Jesus' death on the cross did not cure us of our human condition, but rather covers us so that God's holiness does not destroy us...the ultimate heat shield...we call it grace.  Again, the series referenced above will be a great listen if these concepts are new to you.

But there remains the question of the sin we commit.  Of which God appears to tell Cain he can conquer and then the story gives us a successful candidate in Noah, who has been declared blameless in the realm of committed sin.  There is another curious verse much later in history found in 1 Corinthians 10:13 where Paul tells us that with every temptation, there is a path to successful resistance.  One more reference and then some closing thoughts.  Revelation 3:20 speaks about a door within us as does Genesis 4.  I believe this door represents our will, the God given power of humanity to choose.

Even if I get every choice right from the very first moment of my life until the last, I am still doomed without the grace of God.  Even Noah who was blameless up to the moment of his life identified in Genesis 6 (his post Ark drunken stupor may be his first lapse!), inherited humanity from Adam, a humanity that is hopelessly separated from God and doomed mankind until Jesus atoning death.

My question is have we allowed the preciousness of grace that deals with our humanity (a restoration of God's very real presence both with us and within us!) as a false sense of permission to stop contending for blamelessness in our actions/inactions?  I'm just 45, a far cry from Noah's 500-600 years of blameless living, and I already have a terrible record!  But I hear God saying to me what He said to Cain, what He spoke of Noah, what He inspired Paul to write to Corinth...I can master the sins of choosing.  My door will open and close according to my will.  My right standing with God is through Christ alone, regardless of my actions, grace.  My right living against sin is through Fred alone, revealed by my actions, will.

Let's make 2013 more blameless than 2012!

Pastor Fred

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Genesis 3:20

Let's decide to begin this new year with the same grace Adam showed Eve.  I've not previously noticed the timing of Adam giving Eve her name.  The consequences of their sin have just been declared; paradise has been lost.  The nature of their relationship with God, with one another, with the natural world...has been irrevocably changed.  Adam when confronted by God immediately blames his wife but the next opportunity in the narrative where Adam speaks, his heart toward her has changed.

Did anyone experience betrayal this past year?  My life has not been without suffering from the lack of integrity of others.  When a friend chooses to be self-serving at your expense, we feel violated, used, devalued.  All sorts of names come to mind!  I have experienced this in my professional life, even this past year.  Unfortunately, I've not struggled with finding all the "best" names for that person!  But if we hope to see people change, we must stop naming them based who they are and begin declaring who we believe they will be.  This is the gift Adam gave to Eve.  As you are reading Genesis 3, what sort of "names" came to mind as you anticipated Adam's choice for a name?  If you connected that moment to your own recent experience of betrayal, like I did, well, you might not want to speak them out loud around children!

Adam calls her Eve because she WILL be the mother of all who live.  To date, with Adam, she has most recently been the mother of sin...but Adam now prophesies over her life, declares her future, rejects her past!  Who in your life needs you to stop defining them based on who they were?  Who in your life needs you to give them a new name?  Their change just might be waiting for your grace, your faith in who they too long to be.

It's gonna be a good year!

Pastor Fred