Saturday, August 16, 2014

High or Low? - Genesis 11

In this chapter, the author lays out for us some of the early events in the area of Babylon. In doing this he leaves us with a record of two opposing lifestyles. Let’s look at them and then look in the mirror. Mentioned first are the people on the Shinar Plain. You want to see an industrious group, just look at them! While everyone else in construction was using stones and cement, they had upgraded to bricks and tar. Not only was their city well built, it looked pretty sharp as well. Nice, smooth walls and subtle, earthy hues. So unlike their neighbors who still built with rocks, yuck! But they wanted more. They wanted to make a real name for themselves. They wanted Shinar on the map. And you read exactly what they did: they put up a brick version of the Empire State Building.

Second, we read about Terah. Who? You got it. If you aren’t careful you just cruise right on by him. But his story is worth noting. Terah had some sons, grandkids, and daughters-in-law. We don't know why, maybe it was that local skyscraper, but he decided to leave his hometown. He decided to literally pull up his tent stakes and get on the road. Did he sneak out quietly at night, so he wouldn’t be missed until morning? Did he hightail it alone, so as not to be burdened? No, look who went with him: his grandson, his son and his daughter-in-law. Terah took these three under his wing. The record doesn’t say he drug them out of town and forced them live somewhere else. It says they went together to Haran and they settled there.

In Genesis 11 we read of two different ways to live. There are two different ways to direct our attention. We can live like the people on the plain where everything we do is to bring the focus back to us. We want the glory, honor, and praise all for ourselves. We want our name on the map and we'll set our sights high to get it there too. Me, my, I, and myself are our favorite words.

Or, we can choose to live like Terah. Like him, we focus our attention on others. We choose to sacrifice so that others will be all right. We allow ourselves to leave the familiar and comfortable to make sure someone else is taken care of. We realize we are not a one-man- or one-woman-show and that life is not a stage. We work together and we settle down together. The choice is ours. But it is worth mentioning the outcome of our two examples. Those who tried to be their own hero fell from the heights. From the family of the one who took the lowly position would later come the Hero.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Small Beginnings - Genesis 10

It’s been several years back now, but I do remember it was a Wednesday night before Bible class. A friend of ours asked if my wife and I wanted any hen-'n-chickens. “Sure,” my wife replied, “just a couple.” A week later, we were the adoptive parents of a grocery bag full of the succulents. We emptied the bag, planted the big fellows and left them to do what they do best – reproduce. It wasn’t long before we had fourteen “babies” on just one plant. The others were seemingly jealous and quickly tried to outdo the leader.

Genesis 9 records God emptying, not a bag of plants, but a boat of people. More specifically, chapter 10 tells of three of those guys (and obviously their wives). God told them right off to do what they do best – reproduce. The rest of the chapter tells of the beginning of the repopulating of the earth. From six people, we are left with a list of over fifty people! And at last count, there are now over seven billion people on the earth!

Let’s allow Genesis chapter 10 to be a reminder for us. This list of names can establish a great truth in our hearts. That truth? God can do big things with small things. Simple isn't it? Jesus told the same truth using a mustard seed. How can you use this truth? Remember it when:

· You feel like your act of kindness will go unnoticed.

· You think about the Great Commission, but don't know how to take it all on.

· You take a stand against something wrong at work.

· You can only give three dollars to that cause.

· Your nasty neighbor asks to borrow your ladder.

· You send a short note of encouragement to that person who needs it.

· You pray for that far-away missionary.

You can be assured that God can do big things with small things. So start doing the small things now, and who knows? Maybe some Wednesday night you will have a bag full of blessings.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Flood of Windex - Genesis 9

When warm weather comes, it is a good time to do some window cleaning. You get out the ladder, the rags, the Windex, or maybe a squeegee. You keep rubbing the glass until you hear that “squeak.” The task being nearly complete, you back up slightly, get the light just right, and make sure you did it well. Then you see it – a big, old smudge.

Quite a few years back, God did some cleaning, too. Anybody that had the dirt of unrighteousness was drowned. He sprayed them down for months until he heard that “squeak.” God did such a thorough job cleaning up that only eight people and a boat of animals made it out high and dry.

It’s here that we back up slightly from the “window” in Genesis 9. The task is nearly completed. God signs a new agreement, shares some new rules, solicits a new sign . . . and then we see it – a big, old smudge. The one who walked with God, the one who was blameless among all the people of the Earth, this same Noah is stone-cold drunk and lying in his pup tent with nothing on but a grin. But there is another smudge in the corner of this “window.” Noah's son, Ham, is just staring while he tells his brothers to come look.

When you and I see smudges and streaks, we spray and wipe until we get them. As for God, did he spray the earth down again? No, he had just promised that would never happen again. Did he wipe these smudges off the face of the earth then? No, look again at verse 28. Noah went on to live for another 350 years!

Where does this leave us today? We've been through a clean-up also. Ours was not only with water, but with blood, Jesus' blood. And since that cleansing, you and I have both been naked in our tents or gazed upon someone who has been. In other words, we have messed up after being cleaned up. Is there any hope? You bet your sweet squeegee there is! God said we don't just live 350 years on this earth, we get to live an eternity with him! The next time you just plain don't do what God expects of you, don't quit. Instead, close the flaps on your tent, get dressed, and praise God that he still does windows!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Waiting on God - Genesis 8

What do you do when the flood comes, and you are left waiting on God? The flood that starts with that unexpected phone call. The ravaging storm that began with the bill in today's mail. The deluge that came when the prognosis was given yesterday in the doctor's office. Let’s see what we can learn from Noah. What can we do while we wait on God? What are we supposed to do until the flood is over?

1.) Just float

We don’t read about Noah whining over the duty he had, nor do we read of him shaking his finger at God. He just floated. When the floods come we, too, need to just float. We have to relax and keep our wits about us. We have to patch the holes in our faith and rock with the waves. If we don't float, well, you know the other option.

2.) Open the windows and send something heavenward

Noah raised the window and sent a raven and a dove soaring. We can also send something to fly higher than ourselves. It’s called prayer. From the midst of our flooded world we can reach higher than the sky. We can call on the I AM by opening the window of our hearts and releasing our thoughts on the wings of prayer.

3.) Mind the animals

Noah had a job to do and we know he did it. (Ever been to a zoo? You can thank Noah for that.) We, like Noah, need to mind the animals. Our floods can distract us from those things that are our responsibility: our spouse, our kids, our job, our faith. It's easy to get caught up in watching the waters rise, while we forget to mind the animals. It can be easy to focus on our problems, while our responsibilities are neglected.

The next time the water is at your waist and rising, think about Noah. While you are waiting on God in the middle of some dark and wet days, remember to just float, open the window and send something heavenward, and don't forget to mind the animals. Let’s learn one more thing from Noah: when the storm has passed and the only water left is what's in your shoes, build an altar. Offer up praise to God for being who he is, our awesome God!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Crying - Genesis 7

How long do you think it took for the cries to stop? You know, the cries of the people outside of the ark. We envision Noah and his family as we read this chapter, but aren't the rest of Earth's inhabitants mentioned, too?

How long do you think it took for the cries to stop? At first it seemed like a spring storm and just what the crops needed. Right away, the fields were full and running over as were the rivers and lakes. It was not long before the water was above the second story windows. Panic was king. Animals were beating people to the high places and people were beating on the animals so they could have the high places. Then the high places started getting wet. The hollering, the whimpering, the barking, the mooing . . . the crying. How long do you think it took for the cries to stop? In a matter of days the only noise that was heard outside was the sound of waves slapping against a wooden boat. As for Noah, he must have found some comfort and confidence knowing he had done all he could. He had done exactly what God asked.

The focus is now on us. Next time it won't be a flood. It's going to be, of all things, a wedding! The bride goes home with the bridegroom. But, for those not pledged to be married or for those who threw their invitations in the trash, well . . .they will be crying. In the coming judgment, instead of water God is going to use fire. This “flood” won't leave time for folks to run to the high places. It has been promised it will happen quicker than you can blink. It leaves me wondering if I will be like Noah. When the cries are heard outside will I have comfort and confidence in knowing I did all I could? Will you? Did I do exactly what God asked? Did you? Won’t you tell someone about Jesus today? We cannot wait for the crying to start.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Average Guy Next Door? - Genesis 6

Arioch turned down the party music and told everyone to quiet down for a minute. The people quit dancing and yelling as Arioch set his drink down and headed to the window. All week long he had heard pounding and pounding and POUNDING, but he had been too preoccupied with the details of tonight's party to investigate the source of the noise. But, now he was going to find out just what that odd neighbor was up to. When he pulled back the curtain, he saw it. “That thing must be almost 500 feet long!” he slurred with his eyes wide opened. And so Noah's neighbor got his first look at God's plan for salvation.

For years Noah got the same insulting comments, the same pointed questions, the same doubtful looks, and the same obscene gestures. He was called the same filthy names and was written off as the same old religious freak. But, he kept on pounding and preaching. As with any part of the Bible, we must ask “What does this have to do with me?” Well, it starts where the chapter ends: “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” Wow! Are you? Are you pounding and preaching? Are you building a boat in the middle of a desert if God has asked you to? With people watching you? Are you doing the absurd because Jehovah has asked you to do it? Are you:

· Showing love to that hateful person at work?

· Sharing your differing beliefs with your religious friend?

· Writing a check to that desperate cause even though the budget is tight?

· Praying before your meal at a public place?

· Speaking up against injustice?

· Going the posted speed when your buddies are in the car?

Many times the neighbors are watching. They are pulling back their curtains and what we are doing seems really strange to them. It's then that we are left with a choice: stop for the stares or pursue the pounding. Which one has God commanded you to do?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Another Family Tree? - Genesis 5

You heard it in the sermon or maybe it was the “Thought of the Day” on your favorite website. Whatever it was, it came as a reminder. You were reminded to start reading the Bible. For some it is their New Year’s resolution. For others it happens as they start their new walk with God.

The reading schedule you saved from a teen class you were in years ago is your guide. A chapter from the Old Testament while you eat your cereal, and one from the New Testament after you get ready for bed. So you open the Good Book and do what any faithful Christian would do: you start at Genesis 1.

The first couple of days are going great: Adam, Eve, Cain, the Tree . . . this is fun! But then it happens. You put your spoon back in your shredded wheat and furrow your eyebrows. You grab the Bible with both hands and read it again. “What is this list in chapter 5 here for?” you mumble. You didn't think lists showed up until Leviticus.

Well, it’s a valid question. Why do we have these lists of “who-had-who-until-they-were-through”? Why can't we go straight from Cain’s show-down to God's wet-down? Let’s answer these questions with a wedding.

Have you ever had part in planning a wedding? How soon did you start thinking about colors, corsages, mints and music? A week in advance? Two weeks? No, you started months, maybe years, before the big event. God penned for us the fact that he, too, plans well in advance for big events. In the case of Genesis chapter 5, he was planning on having the right preacher. How long did God plan for his man? Over 900 years! So the next time you come across one of the lists of “Who’s Who Among God's People,” pause. Pause, because a Patient Planner is preparing to provide for his perfect purpose.