Category Archives: Genesis

Need

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

James mirror reference has reminded me of another important look in the mirror with another Bible friend, Rebekah, from June 12, 2015. That look in the mirror began with a very different emphasis: Genesis 27: 13 “Let his curses be on me, dear son. Just do what I tell you. Go out and get the goats.”

If you’re a parent those words “Just do what I tell you,” may seem very familiar.  This time though, they bring to mind how frustrated, manipulative and controlling they sound when I read Rebekah’s words…and they are.  I don’t know whether to be consoled by the realization that I am not alone having spoken them or appalled that I didn’t know any better when I uttered them.  It seems like a bit of both actually…the flesh and the Spirit locked in their lifelong struggle.

Rebekah is today’s Biblical looking glass for me to see the reality and opportunity found in her example.  These are lyrics to a song I wrote in bygone days.

In the mirror I see
Two eyes looking back at me.
Two eyes trying to see
A picture of what I can be.

That’s the flesh part and the reflection is not always pretty but my song goes on…

Won’t you picture God for me my friend?
Won’t you be my mirror when I pretend?
Won’t you help me to see?

That’s the Spirit part.  I can’t always see myself clearly.  The reality is there are times when only a friend can help me to see.

Some might say Rebekah is just an Old Testament character, long gone, but maybe she’s in the Bible to be that friend for me today.  A friend who has the ageless ability to show me how God works even when I’m at my manipulative worst…a Kingdom friend who says: “Look in that mirror once more and see what I’ve pictured for you.  This is what ‘not Godless but not Godly either’ can look like.  I’ve shown you my humanity so you can recognize it in yourself and choose something better.”

Epilogue:
Thank God for these Bible friends.  I need them.  I don’t always see the reflection of their faith I’d like when I look into the mirror with them but their lives consistently show me one of the most important aspects of my faith: the challenge of recognizing your need.  I’m not willing to settle for just being not Godless but not Godly either.  I need to look “intently into the perfect law that gives freedom [Jesus]” and continue in it. 

This Then…123 Thy Kingdom Come

2. Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray:…
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

1. Kingdom: the spiritual reign or authority of God
2. Will: expressing God’s desire, consent, or willingnes
3. Heaven and Earth: used to indicate the whole universe. Genesis 1:1

It’s tempting to ask “what went wrong” instead of praying “thy kingdom come.”  It’s easy to forget two kingdoms were created by your will Father, heaven AND earth.  Earth is not an act of creation that went awry.  The reality is you are still in charge!  We are your act of creation that went awry. That’s an uncomfortable reality.

We pray your words not because we’re perfect but because as imperfect as we are, we’re expressions of your will right here on earth.  Romans 8:12 reminds us we have an obligation to be evidence of your desire to reunite those two kingdoms.  Many of us now find ourselves with one foot in your heavenly kingdom and the other planted firmly here on earth. Who else would know what it means to live with the separation of those kingdoms?  We persist.  We pray for your reality…“thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  

Practice…Authority and injury

I don’t know what I had in mind at the end of January when I wrote my list of word combinations to explore. I’ve spent hours thinking and reading many resources only to find myself back at the very beginning of time in Genesis when disobeying Authority first resulted in injury. That seems appropriate to remember on this first day of Lent.

Authority: the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.
Genesis 2:16-17 But the Lord God gave the man this warning: “You may eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the Tree of Conscience—for its fruit will open your eyes to make you aware of right and wrong, good and bad. If you eat its fruit, you will be doomed to die.” TLB

injury: hurt, damage, or loss sustained
Genesis 3:16 Then God said to the woman, “You shall bear children in intense pain and suffering; yet even so, you shall welcome your husband’s affections, and he shall be your master.”
17 And to Adam, God said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate the fruit when I told you not to, I have placed a curse upon the soil. All your life you will struggle to extract a living from it. 18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, and you shall eat its grasses. 19 All your life you will sweat to master it, until your dying day. Then you will return to the ground from which you came. For you were made from the ground, and to the ground you will return.” TLB

God’s Response: Genesis 3:21 and the Lord God clothed Adam and his wife with garments made from skins of animals. TLB

The ultimate Authority  faced with the disobedience of his creation and the required consequences, chose to respond by providing garments to temporarily protect their lives because they would be separated from him.  His response was their heritage and ours…UNTIL… Galatians 3:25-27.

“But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor [the Law]. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

Practice…Power and purpose

Genesis 1 Cliff Notes – God spoke and…
1. Light was purposely separated from dark.
2. Sky was purposely separated from water
3. Water was purposely separated from land
4. Vegetation and fruit grew with the purpose of producing seed.
5. Stars and Planets purposely lit the skies
6. Life purposely appeared in water and on earth
7. We purposely became his reflection

That’s power! My cliff notes make it clear God did not waste HIS words. When he spoke it was both purposeful and creative! We are God’s reflection and we are the singular part of his creation that has been given the given the ability to speak. Our words are a gift from him. Words have power…and purpose. Author Gary Chapman wrote this; “There are two ways to speak the truth: as bullets or as seeds. Use the truth as a bullet, and you will kill relationships. Plant the truth as a seed, and it will take root and grow, influencing the person in whose heart it was planted.” [p164 of Love as a Way of Life].

“…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34b.

It’s very easy to shoot your mouth off and believe it just accidentally slipped out isn’t it?  I’m absolutely certain I’m not the only one who’s had to repent of that. Here’s what I’ve come to believe; that’s not an accident at all,   It’s God not wasting OUR words or our heart!   His Word still has the Power of his purpose to change an empty heart into an abundant one filled with the missing pieces needed to be his reflection.  That’s something to talk about!

The Days After Freedom

So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat a meal. (Gen. 37:23–25 NKJV)

“His eyes were wide with fear. His voice was hoarse from screaming. It wasn’t that his brothers didn’t hear him.”

I post on Sundays and then on Wednesdays and by early Tuesday morning, July 4, 2017, I was still looking for some fresh Biblical take on “freedom.” I’d been stumped by my “idea” until I read that quote from You’ll Get Through This by Max Lucado. Joseph’s story became a real story of freedom for me.

When I read that quote I could imagine how Joseph felt lying there in that pit with not a clue that he might one day look at this as his day of freedom. The freedom from that pit began with his brother’s betrayal and led to him being enslaved, trapped and imprisoned. It was those days after freedom that God used to really free Joseph. They taught him that freedom is more than “being freed.” Freedom is focus on being “free” despite circumstances.

The Biblical record of those days after freedom has given us the benefit of hindsight of that truth. Joseph was 17 when his brothers freed him from the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites who sold him to Potiphar who put him in prison. He was in his 30s when he was freed from prison by Pharaoh and set “over all the land of Egypt.”

All those years later Joseph spoke these words of true freedom to those same brothers: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” “Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, Thus says your son Joseph: “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me. You shall dwell in the land of Goshen. Joseph was 110 when he died, a truly free man.

Happy New Year – The First Day

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

This first day of 2017 reminded me of that long-ago first day in Genesis when out of “the empty darkness” God created the dependable cycle of days and nights we still live by.

The first light of this first day is dependable evidence of the bottom line of what God created so long ago; an essential difference between yesterday and today.  That cycle held the promise of brand new days that could separate what was from what could be.

“In the beginning God…said…“Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good…and there was morning—the first day.”…the first day of a year of brand new days, 2017.

Likeness

branchribbons
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Genesis 1:26

“Let us…our image, in our likeness;” are phrases of the reality of Christ’s presence, not just at our Christmas or Advent celebrations but at the beginning of all life. He was there when the stage was set for mankind: water, light, sky, vegetation, stars, living creatures…and finally…Adam. He saw firsthand what a new creation looked like and it was good.

It was a perfect preparation for that future day when he would open his eyes in a very different place, a cradle, and a new beginning. Even though people might not recognize him, he would still see the likeness of their creator in them and in that image they bore the possibility of a new beginning…and it was good.

Those images we see of that divine baby during Advent remind us we are image bearers of our creator but that likeness always starts with a new beginning. While our eyes are focused on him, he sees that likeness in us and that is good!