Archive for the month “January, 2016”

Pondering the Word: Genesis 27: 30-34

2016BibleReadingChallengeSo here is the context – Isaac is contemplating his own mortality (27:2) and wants to make sure that his house is in order in the event that he should die. So he calls his first born in, Esau, and instructs Esau to prepare his favorite meal so that he can bless him. Only thing is, Rebekah overhears the conversation, instructs Jacob (her favorite child) to impersonate Esau and thus to get his father’s blessing before Isaac can give it to Esau. Jacob does this, successfully stealing both Esau’s birthright and blessing.

When Esau finds out what Jacob has done, verse 34 says, “he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me – me too, my father!”

To really get what is happening here we need to understand what a father’s blessing meant in this culture.

A patriarch’s final blessing was important in biblical times as a practical matter of inheritance rights. In addition, some final blessings included prophetic statements that reveal God’s supernatural power at work through the men of His choosing. In the time of the patriarchs, such blessings acted as a “last will and testament” and were highly prized as a means of revealing God’s will.

But parents, and especially fathers, can learn a lot from this ancient practice when it comes to blessing our children today. It is something that we need to be very intentional about. Like Esau, our kids are desperate to receive our blessing.

In their book The Blessing, John Trent and Gary Smalley point out that the blessing as described in Scripture always included five elements:

  1. Meaningful and appropriate touch
  2. A spoken message
  3. Attaching high value to the one being blessed
  4. Picturing a special future for him or her
  5. An active commitment to fulfill the blessing

You can read more about what they say regarding each of these by clicking HERE. They summarize their thoughts with these words…

The kind of planned, formal blessing we have described can be wonderful and life-changing, but if you really want your child to thrive, you will not only give the blessing but also live it, seeking out ways to include meaning­ful touch, spoken and written words, messages of high value and a special future, and evidence of active commitment in every day you spend together, every moment.

Yes, we need to implore God to bless our kids – but He has put those of us who are parents in our kids lives to be a blessing, one that they can see and hear and touch every day. We are blessed to be a blessing!

 

Quotes Worth Pondering – Tim Challies

QuotesWorthPondering“The key to a productive and contented life is “planned neglect”—knowing what not to do and being content with saying no to truly good, sometimes fantastic, opportunities. This happens only when you realize how truly limited you are, that you must steward your little life, and that of all the best things to do on the planet, God wants you to do only a miniscule number.”

Pondering the Word – Genesis 21:33

2016BibleReadingChallengeThis past Sunday I had the privilege to preach at Ridgecrest. I looked at some of the names of God that were revealed to Abram (Abraham) over the almost 40 years that took place between Genesis 14 and Genesis 22. I had time to talk about 4 of them to some degree:

  • El Elyon – God Most High (Genesis 14)
  • Adonai – Lord (Genesis 15)
  • El Shaddai – God Almighty (Genesis 17)
  • Jehovah Jireh – God Our Provider (Genesis 22)

There was one name that I did not get to develop due to time that I will say a few things about here.

El Olam – The Everlasting God (Genesis 21:33)  What would the revelation of this name have meant to Abraham and what does it mean to us?  There has NEVER been a time when God was not. It is hard for me to wrap my puny mind around this. God has always been! If this is true (and I believe it is) then there are serious repercussions concerning how we view the world. Our postmodern world tends to leave God out of the equation. This has resulted in a world that does not value life the same way that a God-centered worldview does. Here are two specific ways:

1) Evolution has become the accepted teaching in our schools even though it is just a theory that has many holes (aka missing links) in it. Evolution devalues human life because it puts us on the same level as monkeys and obliterates any intrinsic purpose in our existence. Whereas an Intelligent Design worldview proclaims that we are created in the image of God for the purposes of God. Most of the post baby boomer generations have grown up being taught they are the result of a mutation. It is no wonder, then, that so many people in our world feel like mutants and therefore act like mutants. You do not have to go any farther than our schools to see the horrific consequences of a worldview that eliminates God.

2) Abortion is another issue where we have seen the devaluation of life. It is the logical consequence  of a world that does not believe that God is responsible  for life. It has been said that abortion is the “hidden holocaust” of  the last 40+ years. Unborn babies have been treated as sub human; as a problem that needs to be dealt with; as an unfortunate inconvenience. It is impossible to imagine how many great thinkers and great artists and great humanitarians and great teachers have been denied the right to life. Our world would no doubt be very very different if the 3000+ abortions per day (just in the US) had never taken place.

Belief in El Olam, The Everlasting God, is a game changer for humanity. It was for Abraham. It should be for us as well.

 

Quotes Worth Pondering – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

QuotesWorthPonderingCheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Pondering the Word – Genesis 12-15

2016BibleReadingChallenge

This week’s reading included Genesis 11-17. There were several matter of fact statements that stood out to me as I read about Abram’s encounters with God.

12:1  The Lord had said to Abram…

12:7  The Lord appeared to Abram…

15:1  After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision…

So evidently when the Lord wanted to communicate with Abram He did not restrict Himself to any one way. And in each of these instances there is no indication that Abram had any doubt about whether it was God or not.

But I am curious about a few things…

In 12:1, did God speak with a booming voice from the heavens or with a gentle whisper in his heart? In 12:7, in what way did the Lord appear? I have tried to picture this encounter in my mind and can’t come up with an image of God that would not have scared the bajeebies out of Abram. And yet, the Scriptures relate it in a matter of fact kind of way. In 15:1, was this a day time vision or a night time vision/dream?

I’m curious because I would love to have some encounters with God like Abram did. I’d love to hear a booming voice or have Him appear to me or have an undeniable vision from the Lord. But alas that is not the way that He speaks to me. He has however given me His written Word. And He has however given me the Incarnate Word – Jesus. Both undeniable communication sources that speak loud and clear.

Some day the Lord may choose to appear to me in a vision. But if not, that is OK. For now I am grateful that God is not silent and that as I read the Scriptures and abide in Christ then I have clear marching orders for my life, comfort for my soul, and an unambiguous view of who the Living God is.

Just as Abram did.

Quotes Worth Pondering – John Piper

QuotesWorthPonderingWhat we need is a big picture of a great God who is utterly committed to joyfully demonstrating his greatness in doing us good. That is, we need to see the majesty of God and know the splendor of God overflowing toward us with exuberant omnipotence. It is not enough to believe that God is big and strong and fearsome–which he is. We must experience this magnificence as the explosion of God’s uncontainable zeal to satisfy his creatures by showing them himself.

2016 Bible Reading Challenge – Genesis 3

2016BibleReadingChallengeThis year I am reading, and have challenged many of you, to read through the Bible using a plan called F260 which you can find HERE. It is a plan that will take us through 260 of the most essential passages of Scripture. This is not to say that all of Scripture is not essential. What it does say is that often when reading through the Bible it is easy to get bogged down and quit when reading through genealogies and passages such as are found in Leviticus. This plan covers on average 2 chapters a day and is a 5 day a week plan – so it is both manageable and allows for catch up time. It is designed by Replicate Ministries – you can even find a phone App HERE that might be helpful to you.

I will be choosing a passage each week from the readings that I will ponder and post here. I would love to hear from you as you also read and ponder the readings – mutually encouraging one another.

This weeks pondering comes from Genesis 3.

Eve does not seem all that surprised that a serpent is talking to her. But that seems a bit weird to me. But the big question I have for her is why was she anywhere near the tree that God had said was off limits. I am picturing the Garden of Eden as rather huge (2:8-14). Why hang out near the one thing that God said to stay away from?

But isn’t this human nature? We are told 20 things that we can do and one thing that we can’t do and and our curiosity is aroused by that one thing. And then because we have put ourselves in a place of temptation it becomes much easier for temptation to turn into sin. Example: I know that I need to stay away from pornography. But if I am browsing the internet and come across a site that I know will have pictures on it that I should not see then I have two choices – 1) continue on a path that will lead me into sin or 2) RUN away. 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

Eve had no business being anywhere near that tree. Just as you and I have no business being anywhere near those things that tempt us toward sin. There are enough temptations around me day to day that I have to fight – there is no sense in making it even easier for the evil one to lure me away from God. The consequences in doing so, as we see with Adam and Eve, are disastrous – and downright deadly.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15)

Quotes Worth Pondering – A.W. Tozer

QuotesWorthPonderingIt is not a cheerful thought that millions of us who live in a land of Bibles, who belong to churches and labor to promote the Christian religion, may yet pass our whole life on this earth without once having thought or tried to think seriously about the being of God. Few of us have let our hearts gaze in wonder at the I AM, the self-existent Self back of which no creature can think. Such thoughts are too painful for us. We prefer to think where it will do more good – about how to build a better mousetrap, for instance, or how to make two blades of grass grow where one grew before. And for this we are now paying a too heavy price in the secularlzation of our religion and the decay of our inner lives.

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