Thursday, November 29, 2012

Genesis 12 – 13:4

Genesis 12:1-3 – God Calls Abram

God had a plan for Abram and his descendants.  God told Abram to leave his county, his people and his family and go to the land where He will show him.  Abram lived in a world of paganism where they worshipped the moon god.  Rom. 1:20 – “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse”.  But the people did not choose to submit to the true living God.  I am sure Abram asked himself, “Why Me?”  Abram did find God’s will as God revealed it to him.  God was asking a lot of Abram, but provided him with much more.  God’s command had no explanations, but many promises.

God made seven promises to Abram:  He would bless him; He would make him into a great nation; He would bless his name;  He would be a blessing; God would bless those who bless Abram;  all the people on the earth would be blessed through Abram;  God promised that whoever curses Abram, God will curse.  We know God fulfilled all His promises despite Abram’s failures.  He blessed him and made his name great.  We are still reading and talking about him today.  We are all blessed because of Abram for through him came the promised Messiah, Jesus.

Asking Abram to leave his country and family is a symbol of separating us from the world.  It challenges us to put God in front of all else.  How do you do that? – by making God the greatest desire of your heart.

What is the deepest desire of your heart?
Is God in it? 
We are moving into the season of want – Christmas.  How will you approach Christmas this year?
What is God asking you to do today?

Wholehearted faith grows from a heart that desires God above all else.

Genesis 12:4-9 – Abram Obeys and Follows God

Abram didn’t know how all this was going to happen, but he trusted God completely.  He said “yes” to a radical change to his life.  He had no idea where they were going.  He was 75 years old and had no sons.  So how would God bless his descendants?  He didn’t have any sons and he and his wife were too old to have any.  He didn’t question God.  He just trusted and obeyed.  So Abram left his country and took his wife Sari, his nephew Lot, his possessions and the some of the people of Haran.  He became a witness to his wife and his nephew by obeying God.  God guided them to Canaan.  There God told him that He would give the land to his offspring. – Gen 12:7.  Abram built an altar to the Lord.  He called on God for guidance, worshipped God and preached about God.

Each step of faith impacts our intimacy with God and witness to others.

How does God’s call affect those who are committed to Christ? 
Matt. 4:18-22 – tells us they left everything and followed Him
Matt. 8:22 – we are to be more concerned with the living
Mark 8:34-36 – we are to deny self and follow Him
Luke 14:26-33 – we are to love Jesus more than anyone else no matter the cost
1 Peter 2:9, 1 John 2:15-17 – we are to declare His promises and we are not to love the world

Does God promise rewards to everyone who follow Him?  Yes.
Eph. 1:3 – we have every spiritual blessing in Christ
Eph. 1:18 – we have the riches of His glorious inheritance
Eph. 2:6-7 – we are raised up with Christ and are sealed with Him in heaven
1 Cor. 2:9-10 – God reveals what he has for us through His Spirit
Psalm 16:5-6, 11 – we have a secure and delightful inheritance; joy in His presence and eternal pleasures.

Saving faith is believing in the gospel and what God says, having a heart response to the person of God, and a commitment to God.  Abram’s obedience to God reveals his heart.

What does your daily response show you about your heart?
Does your response show you are wholeheartedly committed to God?
What kind of intimacy with God will you experience if you move forward?
How have you grown closer to God through obedience?
What do you know about God because you chose to believe what He says?
Are you building altars of devotion and surrender?

Genesis 12:10 – 13:4 –Abram’s Fear vs Faith

The Bible teaches that a life of faith is full of obstacles.  It’s how we handle them that show our true faith.  God tested Abram’s faith.  In Gen. 12:1-3 God was testing Abram to leave his home.  So I think the famine in Gen. 12:10 was also a test.  Faith is always tested.  God strengthen us through blessings and hardships.  God’s purpose in testing our faith is to purify it.  Even though Abram trusted God, he made some serious mistakes.  He was not perfect. 

There was a famine in the land and Abram chose to go to Egypt.  He didn’t trust that God would take care of him so he took matters into his own hands.  When he arrived in Egypt fear and panic took over.  He told his wife, Sarai to say she was his sister.  She was beautiful and he was afraid the Egyptians would not treat him fairly because of her and even kill him.  He didn’t lead his wife to pray, but to lie.  When the Pharaoh saw that Sarai was very beautiful, he took her to his palace to be his wife.  Abram was rewarded well for her sake and he became very wealthy. 

Lying is a sin and sin has consequences.  God brought diseases to the Pharaoh and his house because adultery is a sin.  When the Pharaoh found out that Sarai was Abram’s wife, he was very angry and sent Abram and Sarai away. – Gen. 12:18-20.  Abram knew he was wrong.  He could have built an altar, which would have been a better witness to the Egyptians than lying.  God gave mercy to Abram and protected Sarai.  Abram was allowed to leave Eqypt unharmed.  He returned where he had first built an altar and he called on the name of the Lord. 

What do you do when you mess up?  Abram went back to God.  Abram failed, but God did not fail him.
Wholehearted faith chooses to trust God when life gets scary.

How have you taken things into your own hands and not trusted God?
How do you respond when life gets scary?
How has fear made you react?
Do you stop and build an altar?
When trouble comes what do you do?
When you mess up, do you run to Him or run away?
These verses tell us how we can continue in our Christian life.
Col. 1:23 – we continue in faith
Col. 2:6-7 – we continue to live in Jesus
Heb. 6:1 – we become mature in Christ
Heb. 10:35-38 – don’t throw away our confidence and don’t be ashamed
1 Peter 2:2 – crave pure spiritual nourishment

Will you ask God to protect your heart?  It’s the most valuable thing you have. 
Are you running to Egypt?  Ask God to open your heart to trust Him.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Genesis 10-11:1-9

Chapter 10 tells the origin of the nations of the world.  It shows that God never intended for there to be a one world government.  It also shows everyone on earth is descended from Noah and his wife.  God made us one big family.  We are different in languages, cultures, and locations, but we still are the image of God.  Verse 25 tells us the earth was divided.  How did it become divided?  That where chapter 11 come in. 

In chapter 10 we see the birth of a troublemaker, Nimrod.    In chapter 9 we learned about Ham and how he dishonored his father Noah and how God punished his son Canaan for Ham’s sin.  Nimrod was the grandson of Ham.  “He was a mighty hunter before the Lord” - Gen. 10:9, meaning he was “against the Lord”.  His name means “rebel”.  He was a mighty warrior and hunter.  He was a hunter of men.  His kingdoms were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh.  We learn in Revelation 17-19 that Babylon was a government powered by Satan.  Nimrod was associated with the Towel of Babel, maybe even was the leader.  1 Chron. 1:10 says he was a mighty warrior on the earth. 

 After the flood God told Noah and his family to replenish the earth; however their descendants did not do this.  They stayed together in one spot on the earth. – Gen. 11:2.  They decided to build a city and a tower to heaven so they could make a name for themselves and not be scattered over the earth. – Gen 11:4.  This was probably headed up by Nimrod.  This was pride at its fullest!   

Today people continue to disobey God in many ways.  They love themselves.  They don’t love God.  They don’t think of others.   They are selfish and unforgiving.  They have no self-control.  They are lustful, liars, murders, and thieves.  They use others to get what they want.  They want power and fame at all costs.  They simply don’t obey God’s commandments found in Exodus 20.   “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, of lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.  They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” 1 Tim. 3:2-7.

The people were building this city and this tower to bring honor to themselves, not to honor God.  God judges those who rebel against Him.  He put a stop to this.  He confused their language so they wouldn’t understand each other.  The word Babel means confused.  God scattered them all over the earth and they stopped building the tower. – Gen. 11:8

The people in Genesis are like the people in Psalm 2:1-5.  They are all prideful.  People today are the same – prideful and rebel against God.

What “towers” are you building?
Do you think you know better than God?
Are you a prideful person?
What is your attitude towards God?
Do you rebel against God and what He says in His Word?
Are things in your life confusing?  Decide right now to follow God and obey Him.

 It’s OK to have possessions, but we should not use them to give us a sense of worth or even identity.  We can enjoy the blessings God has given us, but we should always give the credit to God.

People try to reach God through the giving of their money, their good works, or by church attendance.  There is only one way to God and that is through Jesus. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6.  “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

How are you trying to reach God?
Are you trying to reach Him in your own way and not the way He has given you?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Genesis 8:20 - Genesis 9

Noah worships God

The first thing Noah did after leaving the ark was to build an altar to God.  Noah was thankful to God’s provision and for sparing him and his family.  He sacrificed burnt offerings on the altar.  Being a man of God, Noah had probably done this before.  In Genesis 4 Abel’s offering was a fat portion from some of the firstborn of his flock so this was not something new.  This was so pleasing to God that He made a covenant with Noah, his sons, his descendants, every living creature and the earth to never again destroy the earth by a flood.  He made a rainbow as a sign of this covenant.  Today the symbolism of the rainbow has been corrupted by the world.  It is used to symbolize other things.  It is used as pointing to a treasure with a pot of gold at the end, a peace movement, homosexual rights, etc.

The covenant

What is a covenant?  It is an agreement or contract between two people or two groups that involve promises on each other’s part.  A covenant today has an end date, while a covenant in the Bible is a permanent arrangement.  Covenants in the Bible are still in effect today – snakes still slither on the ground, women still give birth in pain, man hast to work to eat, we all turn to dust when we die, all nations are blessed through Abram because of Christ, and the land of Israel still belongs to the Jewish people.  Jesus made a covenant with the believers at the Last Supper.  “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”Luke 22:20.

In what ways to you give sacrifices to God?  There are different ways to give sacrifices to God:
Ps. 27:6 – shouts of joy, singing to the Lord
Rom. 12:1 – a broken spirit, being sorry for your sins
Eph. 5:2 – living a life of love
Phil. 4:18 – gifts to others
Heb. 13:15-17 – praises to Jesus and sharing with others
1 Peter 2:5 – spiritual sacrifice to God

God gave similar commands to Noah and his family in this chapter as He did to Adam in the first chapter.  He told them both to be fruitful and increase in number and to fill the earth.  He gave Adam every plant to eat.  He gave Noah everything to eat even meat, but said not to eat meat with the lifeblood still in it.  He told them both that man had dominion over the animals and He also told Noah that the animals would fear and dread man – Gen 9:2.  He would demand an accounting from every animal – Gen. 9:5.  God also told Noah that He would demand an accounting for the life of fellow man.  Whoever sheds the blood of man by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God has God made man.” Gen. 9:6.  In other words if anyone murders, the life of the one who murders will be taken.  Today’s term is Capital Punishment.

Murder carries with it a sentence of death.  Capital punishment is not murder.  It is the punishment for the crime of murder.  God requires a life, when a person takes another’s life.  This punishment has been placed into the hands of the State. – Rom. 13:4.  Why does God punish by death?  It is because man is the image of God.  Man belongs to God and we are accountable for taking what belongs to Him.
Why did God forbid man to eat the blood of animals?   The life of a creature is in the blood.  Animal blood was used as a sacrifice for the atonement for man’s sins.  Now that Christ shed His blood, we have a new covenant and His blood is the atonement for our sins.

Because of sin the image of God is blurred and for it to become clear again, you must be born again.  We must be born on the Spirit.  “I tell you the truth no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:1-8.  “You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Eph. 4:22-24

If we focused on God’s image in other Christians, it would affect our relationships with them.  We wouldn’t be so critical and see their shortcomings and faults.  We need to be more like Christ - more loving, forgiving, and compassionate.  When we believe in Him, the veil of ignorance is lifted and we see the truth.  We are changed and can then be like Christ. – 2 Cor. 3:15-18.

The curse

Noah drank some wine and became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.  I am sure he did not intend to get drunk.  He was probably not use to drinking wine.  His son Ham told his brothers, Shem and Japheth.  Ham probably made fun of Noah.  He stirred up distention instead of promoting love as mentioned in Proverbs 6:16-19 and 17:9.  These passages in Proverbs apply to us, too.  We should not stir up distention with gossip.  We should not be quick to point out the faults of others.  Shem and Japheth had more love for their father than Ham and covered him so others would not see.  “Honor your father and your mother” Ex.20:12.  They did just that.  They honored their father.

When Noah found out what they had done, he cursed Canaan.  Canaan was the son of Ham.  He said Canaan would be the lowest of slaves to Shem.  He blessed Japheth saying God would extent his territory and would live in the tents of Shem meaning he would share in the all blessings of Shem.

Canaan did nothing wrong.  So why didn’t Noah curse Ham instead of his son Canaan?  If you did something wrong, wouldn’t a worse punishment be for your son to pay than you?  

There are several scriptures warning against drunkenness.   Here are just a few.  “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” – Prov. 20:1.  “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”Prov. 23:20-21. “As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.  For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do-living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” 1 Peter 4:2-4.  Drinking is not a sin in itself, but drunkenness is clearly a sin.

Lessons from Gen.8:20 – Gen. 9

It pleases God when we give sacrifices to Him.
Man is of higher order than animals.
Animals are resources as man’s food.
Man is forbidden to eat an animal with the life blood still in it.
Man’s life belongs to God.
We are accountable to God for taking what belongs to Him.
God made us in His image and He values life.
Murder carries a sentence of death.
The rainbow is God’s covenant with Noah, his sons, their descendants, and every living creature on earth that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood.
Honor your father.
God blesses those who show love and concern for others.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Genesis 6 - 8:19

The Flood

Gen. 6:1-12 – “When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful and they married any of them they chose.”  Who were the “sons of God”?  These were direct creations by God.  They were fallen angels – Satan’s angels.  We know this because Job 1:6 says the angels presented themselves to the Lord and Satan was with them.  Jude 6 says angels did not keep their own domain and they are kept in darkness until judgment.   2 Peter 2:5 says God does not spare the angels, but cast them to hell.  These angels took human wives, “daughters of men” and had children with them.  Of course this was not allowed by God.  Some say the sons of God were the descendants of Seth.  Some say the Nephilim mentioned in verse 4 were their children.  Others say the Nephilim were giants and violent tyrants.  Others say they were a worthless class of men with violent character.  Either way there was much wickedness on the earth.    

God was upset with men and the world.  Marriage and sensuality was taken lightly, inclination and thoughts of man’s heart was evil all the time and there was much violence.  This grieved Him so that He decided he would wipe man off the face of the earth. – Gen. 6:5-6.  This judgment ultimately was a good thing for the human race, because it cleared the earth of all evil.  In these passages we learn that God is filled with pain in His heart for mankind.  He is deeply grieved.  He was so sorry that He had made them that He was willing to destroy everything on the earth - even the animals, too.  God has a firm commitment to accomplish His righteous purposes and does what was necessary. 

What evil do you see in our world today?  It sounds like Noah’s day was just like ours.   There is so much violence on TV and in movies with sex, marriage being degraded, the collapse of the family, shootings, murders, drug abuse, acceptance of homosexuality, widespread pornography, and the rebelling against God.  We see so much of this type of lifestyle that it seems normal. 

Why is there sin in the world?  People are consumed by their desires.  They see all this evil behavior and think it’s ok since others are doing it.  When things go wrong, people want to blame God for it.  They see Satan’s evil and want to blame it on God.  Satan loves this thinking.  He knows if they blame God, they will reject God.  If there was no sin in the world, then there would be no free choice.

Lamech had a son and named him Noah, which means “rest” or “to comfort”.  Maybe Lamech thought Noah would bring comfort to the world, but he was wrong.  Noah brought comfort to God.  Noah walked with God like his grandfather, Enoch.  Enoch was alive during Noah’s first 69 years of his life.  He probably had a great influence on Noah.  Noah found favor with God in Gen. 6:8.  This is the 1st mention of grace in the Bible.  Noah was a preacher of the Gospel.  Gen 6:9“Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time and he walked with God.”  Noah was not perfect, because we know in Rom. 3:23“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  We know Noah was righteous, because he did everything God commanded him to do.

Who influences you?
Are you setting a good example for others, for your children?

Gen. 6:11-22 – God told Noah He was going to destroy the earth and everything in it because of the evil in the world and for Noah to build an ark.  God gave Noah all the instructions that were needed on how to make the ark.  It took him 100 years to build it.  Then the 1st covenant of the Bible was made.  God made a covenant with Noah that he and his family would be spared.  He was to enter the ark along with 2 of every kind of creature, male and female and he was to keep them alive.  He was to take every kind of food and store it away for food for his family and the animals.  Where did Noah get these creatures?  They came to him.  When God asks us to do something, He always provides.

I am sure God’s revelation to Noah and his family might have seemed unbelievable, since it had never flooded before, the size of the ark, every kind of animal on earth was to be saved, the feeding of those animals, Noah’s in-laws would perish, his daughter-in-law’s family would perish, and just the magnitude of the event itself.  Noah’s family was probably convinced because of Noah’s faith and his living example, the evil in the world and the evil of those living around them, the animals coming to them and it raining for 40 days.

What convinces you the flood was real? – The alleged discovery of the Ark in Iran; the fact that there are stories of a great flood in the ancient traditions of the Egyptian, Indian, Chinese, American Indian, and Babylonian cultures; geological evidence of a flood; rainbows.

Noah was obedient, are you?  He made no excuses.
What if God told you today to build an ark and that there would be a worldwide flood, would you?
What excuses do you make when God asked you to do something?
How can you be godly when others around you are not?

On the 2nd month and the 17th day the rains began and Noah and his family entered the ark.  It then rained for 40 days and 40 nights – Gen. 7:11.  Noah was in the ark for 1 year and 10 days.  We know this because Gen. 8:14 says the 2nd month and 27th day the earth was completely dry and Noah came out of the ark.  That’s 1 year and 10 days.  Noah sent out a dove.  But the dove could not find a place to land so it returned.  Later Noah sent out a dove again and it returned with an olive leaf.  He knew then the waters had receded.  Then to be safe, he sent a dove again and it did not return. – Gen. 8:11-12.

 Why do you think he sent a dove?  Perhaps God told him to.  Noah knew doves ate only plants and if the land and vegetation had surfaced, the dove would fine it.  Then God told Noah in Gen. 8:15-19“Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.   Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you – the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground – so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.”  Don’t you think after a year on the ark Noah wanted to get off immediately?  But he waited until God told him it was ok. – Gen. 8:15.  He was more obedient to God than his own feelings.  God provided for him again by making him wait until the destruction of the land had healed so there would be food for Noah and the animals.

 What lessons do you learn from these chapters?

   Marriage between the righteous and the unrighteous is not wise. – Gen 6:1-2
   God is patient, but his grace will eventually end. – Gen. 6:3
   Evil originates in the heart and can take over your life. – Gen. 6:5
   God holds the power of life and death. – Gen 6:7
   It is possible to not live as the world lives. – Gen. 6:8
   Man should follow the example of Noah. – Gen. 6:9
   God will judge evil. – Gen. 6:13
   God made a covenant with Noah. – Gen. 6:18
   Noah was obedient to God. – Gen. 6:22
   The flood was a global catastrophe. – Gen. 7
   God kept His promise in Gen. 6:17. – Gen. 7:10-12
   God’s judgment is inescapable. – Gen. 7:21-23
   God remembers the righteous. – Gen. 8:1
   God is powerful.  His power controlled the flood waters. – Gen. 8:1-2
   God is the God of a new start. – Gen. 8:17
   He is pleased by our sacrifices. – Gen. 8:21-22
   God promised to never again destroy the earth by water. – Gen. 8:21-22
One day God will judge the earth as He did the earth in Noah’s day.  He has plans and purposes and He will bring about His perfect plan.  All those who are against God will be judged, when Jesus returns.  God is perfect and loving.  He cannot tolerate sin.  He loved us even though were sinners.  He loved us enough that He sent His son, Jesus to die in our place and for our sins.

When will Jesus return?  We don’t know, but He will come when we least expect it.  He is waiting as long as He can.  He wants no one to perish, but time is running out.  God’s judgment will inevitably fall and will separate those who trust in Jesus from those who have rejected Him.  God has provided a way of escape for you just as He did for Noah.  That way is through Jesus.   Are you ready to be judged?  Are you ready for Jesus to return?