Friday, January 28, 2011

Our Basketball Season

CA vs. CHAMP Falcons
Boys JV : 25-20 win
Girls Varsity: 29-18 loss
Mercy- 4 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals

Boys Varsity: 67-49 win
Joel-2 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Weekly NFL Ranking

Week 20

1.New England 14-3 217
2.Green Bay 13-6 201
3.Pittsburgh 14-4 158
4.Baltimore 12-6 124
5.NY Jets 13-6 121
6.Tampa Bay 10-6 101
7.Detroit 7-8 90
8.Chicago 12-6 89
9.San Diego 8-7 88
10.Oakland 7-8 87
11.Cincinnati 4-12 77
12.Indianapolis 10-7 76
13.Atlanta 13-4 72
14.Philadelphia 10-7 71
15.NY Giants 10-6 70
16.San Fransisco 7-9 66
17.Dallas 6-10 64
18.Minnesota 6-10 60
19.New Orleans 10-6 80
20.Houston 6-10 41
21.Seattle 8-10 38
22.Washington 6-10 31
23.St. Louis 7-9 25
24.Miami 8-8 24
25.Kansas City 9-8 19
26.Tennessee 7-9 13
27.Buffalo 4-12 14
28.Cleveland 6-10 12
29.Jacksonville 8-9 11
30.Denver 4-12 -14
31.Arizona 6-10 -47
31.Carolina 2-14 -47

Weekly Bible Reading: Jan 24-30

My apologies. I forgot to get this up earlier this week. We'll go back to the Open Theism article next Wednesday.

January 24th

Reading: Genesis 25:1-34

Abraham remarries after Sarah died. He marries a woman named Keturah and they have several children. So, Abraham did have several other sons, but none of them displaced Isaac in God's plan. Isaac was the "child of promise" through whom God would raise a great nation and eventually bring forth one who would bless all nations. Knowing this promise, Abraham gave gifts to his other children and sent them away. But, to Isaac, he gave all that he had.

Abraham lives to be 175 years of age when he dies. This means he lived almost 40 years after Sarah passed away (She was 127 years old when she died). Abraham certainly was given a very full life by the Lord. When he died, it is said in Scripture that both Isaac and Ishmael buried Abraham. Isaac would have been 75 years old and Ishmael 88 when this happened. Ishmael had been sent away with his mother Hagar when he was 15 years old. It seems that he and Isaac did not have that much interaction from that point on. We don't know that for sure. But, like even today, funerals and weddings tend to be the events that bring family together. The two half-brothers set aside their differences in respect for their father.

In this chapter we see that God fulfills his promise concerning Ishmael as He gives Ishmael 12 sons. God had said that Ishmael would be the father of 12 princes and it came to pass. We also see in this chapter that God continues fulfilling the promise made to Abraham that would take place through Isaac. However, similar to the working of God's promise to Abraham, patience and trials are a part of Isaac and Rebekah's life. After 20 years of marriage Rebekah has not been able to become pregnant. After seeking God, the Lord answers and Rebekah conceives. She becomes pregnant with not only one child, but twins.

Through this pregnancy two very different nations would be brought forth and their differences were seen in the character and personalities of these two twins, Jacob and Esau. Jacob, the younger of the twins, will become the one through whom God will continue to work His special plan. Thus, it was said by God to Rebekah before their birth, "the elder shall serve the younger." We will talk more of what we learn about Jacob and Esau from this chapter the next time we pass by here when we read through the Bible a second and third time.

God continues to work out His plan in His sovereign way and time. We do not always feel like God is working, just as I am sure Isaac and Rebekah must have felt as they waited 20 years to have a child. But, God is always there and active in our lives, even when we do not feel like He is. Thank God for His continual presence and care for your life.

January 25th

Reading: Genesis 26:1-35

Abraham has died. The promises God gave to Abraham were to him and his descendants after him. Isaac, the child promised to Abraham and Sarah, has been designated the one to whom and through whom these blessings would proceed. In the last chapter we saw how Isaac and Rebekah had to wait 20 years before the Lord would bless them with children. As we begin this chapter, famine has struck the land of Canaan and Isaac is considering moving south, maybe into Egypt. But that is not God's plan for Isaac and so the Lord appears to Isaac and instructs him as well as assures him.

The Lord tells Isaac to not go to Egypt, but to continue to dwell in the land he is in. Then, the Lord tells Isaac some wonderful and reassuring things. The Lord begins telling Isaac all the wonderful things he is going to do for him and for his descendants. These are the promises that the Lord had given to Abraham and they are now being stated to Isaac. The Lord tells Isaac that He will give Isaac the land and He will make Isaac's descendants as numerous as the stars in heaven. Then, the Lord makes a statement that captures the heart of the whole story of Scripture. He says, "and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." This was told to Abraham when God first came to him and called him from his people in Genesis chapter 12. It was said again to Abraham by the Lord in Genesis chapter 22 right after Abraham demonstrated his willingness to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, if the Lord required this of him. Now the Gospel promise, as it will be called in the New Testament, is stated to Isaac as well - "in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."

The record of this appearing of the Lord to Isaac ends with these words in verse 5, "Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." This is the reason given by God as to why he will continue to visit Isaac and his descendants with the promised blessings to Abraham. In those words we see the nature of God to extend His blessings to the children of those who walk faithfully before Him. Are you the child of parents and/or grandparents who feared God, trusted in Christ, followed the teachings of Scripture, and taught you to do the same? Then thank God for that heritage. Are you a first generation Christian? Are you the only one in your family who believes in God and trusts Christ for your salvation? Then, pray that God would help you to walk obediently, not only so your life will be a model and an encouragement to others, but that God would bless your children because of the life you have lived.

January 26th

Reading: Genesis 27:1-23

What a mess of a situation. Isaac desires to bless the one he believes should receive the firstborn's blessing. That, of course, is Esau. This is a good thing in that it is special and thoughtful for a father to plan to pass on wisdom and direction in his old age to his children. In this case, Isaac desired to pass a special blessing to the child he believed should be the one to carry on the family legacy. The problem, however, is that Isaac's spiritual eyes seem to be as dim as his physical eyes have become. Before the children were born, God had determined that Jacob would be the one to carry on the special blessing. We read about that in chapter 25 verse 23 when the Lord said to Rebekah, "the elder shall serve the younger." Rebekah knew Jacob was the chosen child, but Isaac could not seem to see that or accept it.

Parents often fail to see the true spiritual condition in their children's lives as they focus on the external, rather than the internal. Isaac probably was caught up with Esau's "manliness", since Esau was an outdoorsman and loved to work the field and hunt. Jacob was too much of a homebody to please Isaac. Rebekah, though she had been told that Jacob was the chosen one of God, had likely developed an extra closeness to Jacob because of his interest in things around the home. Though she knew Jacob should receive the blessing from Isaac, she likely wanted him to receive it for all the wrong reasons. She wanted Jacob favored for personal reasons, not for Godly reasons.

The self-deception of Isaac by his own spiritual blindness and the deceptiveness of Rebekah because of her personal wants add to the messy situation. It is further complicated by Jacob's wimpyness and Esau's arrogance. Jacob knew the deception was wrong, but is not man enough to stand up for what is right. Esau, who has already greatly disappointed his parents by taking two Hittite wives, finds no problem in receiving the firstborn's blessing even though he sold his birthright to Jacob for a mess of pottage. Every one of the main characters in this story are not seeing with clear, straight vision.

Rebekah and Isaac were not in tune with God's design and plan. They were letting personal ambitions and self-interest rule their decisions. God allowed the deception to be carried out and Jacob received the blessing he had been ordained to receive, but God certainly did not need the designs of man to carry out His will.

Pray that the Lord would help us raise our eyes above the surrounding circumstances that can so easily seem hopeless and flowing against what we know to be the will of God. Keep your eyes on God's sovereignty and keep His will central in your heart and mind. Rest in the fact that obedience to His known will in Scripture is His calling on your life. The result is His to bring about, not yours to accomplish.

January 27th

Reading: Genesis 27:24-46

Isaac does give the firstborn blessing to Jacob as it is too late when the deception is discovered. And, like all sin, the aftermath goes well beyond the immediate people involved. In this case, it tears apart a family. Brother is turned against brother; the parents, I am sure, are not on the best of terms; and, Rebekah, knowing she has lost her son Esau, now fears she will lose Jacob as well. Either Jacob will be killed by Esau or he will, like Esau, take a wife from among the pagan nations around them. In desperation, she tells Jacob to go away to her family and wait a few days until Esau is over his anger. Additionally, Rebekah talks to Isaac about her fear that Jacob will look for a wife among the local pagans. This is a legitimate fear of Rebekah's, but she is also desperately attempting to get Isaac on her side as far as sending Jacob away.

Rebekah must be somewhat unrealistic about things if she thinks a few days will be sufficient for Esau's anger to subside. I know of people who have been angry with each other for years over far less than what Esau feels has been done to him. Well, we will be reading about how long Jacob is away from home in the next few chapters. If you don't know the story, it may surprise you. Anyway, Esau's anger, Isaac's bewilderment, and Rebekah's desperate plotting are all parts of this chapter that we will address when we re-read this story in the future. This time through I want you to carefully look at the blessing of Jacob. Notice how the blessing fulfills God's promise to Rebekah concerning the twins she was carrying when she was pregnant with Esau and Jacob and notice how the blessings Isaac bestows on Jacob agree with what his father Abraham had received from God.

The blessings expressed by Isaac upon Jacob were the following:

1) Abundant harvest (vs. 28)

2) Authority over peoples and nations, including his brother (vs. 29a). This is what God
said would be the case when He spoke to Rebekah during her pregnancy. At that time,
God said the "elder shall serve the younger."

3) Blessing and cursing upon others based on how they treat Jacob (vs. 29b). The words
Isaac used, "cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth
thee," is very similar to what God told Abraham (Genesis 12:3).

Isaac, in blessing his first born, though he thought it was Esau, was marking Jacob the recipient of the blessing and purpose that had been designated by God to be upon Abraham and through Isaac. God had purposed that Jacob would be the one to receive this special blessing. And, despite the faults of man, God worked through their actions and had Isaac actually pass this blessing on to Jacob. God's purposes can never be thwarted by the actions and efforts of man.

January 28th

Reading: Genesis 28:1-22

At the end of the previous chapter, Rebekah had gone to Isaac and told him of her concern that Jacob would take a wife from the Canaanites. Isaac listened to this concern and sent Jacob away with his blessing to find a wife from the family of Rebekah's relatives. This time the blessing that Jacob receives is "above board" and "out in the open." No deception is involved. This blessing includes the passing on of the blessing of Abraham to inherit the land.

Jacob leaves for Haran to find a wife from the family of Laban, Rebekah's brother. Esau, upon seeing Jacob being blessed by Isaac and sent to find a wife outside the Canaanites, determines to improve his status in the eyes of his parents and goes to his uncle Ishmael. Esau takes one of Ishmael's daughters for a wife. We are not told if Isaac and Rebekah are pleased with this action of Esau or not. I have the feeling that a third wife for Esau did not sit well with his parents.

Jacob had now received the blessing of his father in a forthright manner and was on his way to Haran to find a wife. On this trip, the Lord comes to Jacob in a dream. In this dream the Lord confirms with Jacob that the covenant and promises made with Abraham are now his. These promises include the land, a multitude of descendants, and the Gospel ("in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed").

In addition, the Lord assures Jacob that He will be with Jacob during this time away from his family and that He will bring Jacob back to this land. The Lord tells Jacob He will be with him until all that has been promised is fulfilled.

I am sure that Jacob was overwhelmed by this dream. The Scriptures indicate this when they tell us that when Jacob woke up he pretty much was in shock. He called the place where he slept, "a dreadful place," "the house of God," and "the gate of heaven." He then sets up a monument to what has happened to him there by making his stone pillow a pillar and dedicating it with oil. But more importantly, Jacob makes a vow, a vow of commitment of his life to God. Unfortunately, it is a conditional vow ("If God will be with that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God"). It would have been best for Jacob to simply commit himself on the basis of the promises God had given him. But, still, Jacob has begun a personal relationship with the true God of Scripture. He then commits to give to the Lord a tenth of all that he receives.

Have you committed your life to God? Is the Lord your God or is He still the God of your parents? It's time to develop your personal relationship with God. As you continue to read and meditate upon God's Word, ask Him to make Himself more real in your life.

January 29th

Reading: Genesis 29:1-35

In this chapter, Jacob makes his way to the land of Haran where Laban and his family live. What occurs here is reminiscent of what took place when Abraham's servant came to this land looking for a wife for Isaac. In that situation, God providentially brought Abraham's servant to the very well to which Rebekah would come to draw water. In this story, Jacob, too, "happens" to arrive at the very well to which Rachel brings her father's flock to water. We know that this didn't happen just by chance. God had promised Jacob, when He spoke to him in the dream, that He would be with Him. God demonstrated that He was present as He guided Jacob to the very spot and at the very time that Rachel would arrive.

We need to increase our own awareness of God's presence and providence in our lives. Several years ago, I would drive 150 miles once a month to another town in our state to hold a meeting with home schooling parents. These evening meetings would often go well into the night. After the formal meeting it was not unusual for me to spend extra time visiting with the different families and hearing about their successes and struggles. Eventually, I would have to leave as I had a three hour drive to get back home. Leaving between 10 and 11 at night meant that I would not get home until one or two in the morning.

I was often amazed at what would happen most every night as I came near my home. Not far from my home was a four-way stop. At that time in the morning it would be pretty rare to see a car anywhere. Yet, time after time, as I approached the four-way stop, another car would pull up to the stop on the crossing street at the exact same time. I would often wonder. How is it that we have both arrived at this desolate place at the same time? What was it that person had been doing? Did they stay and visit longer than they had planned? Or, did they cut their visit short to get back on the road? What little things happened in their life that night to bring them to this stop sign at the exact time as I came here?

Whatever decisions they made and what ever decisions I made had somehow worked out to where we both ended up meeting at a four-way stop, on a lightly traveled road, in the dead of the night. These happenings would remind me of God's providence in our lives. They would remind me of how He so often quietly guides our lives and brings people across our path and brings us into the lives of others. Pray that you will stay sensitive to God's providential acts in your life. That you will be ready to be used of Him to bless others or to be taught by those He brings into your life.

January 30th

Reading: Genesis 30:1-21

Jacob certainly has his hands full with having two wives, and two wives who are sisters. There would be a natural tendency for two wives to have jealousy at times toward one another. We see this in Leah's and Rachel's relationship when Rachel demands the mandrakes from Leah's son Reuben. Leah responds, "Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? And wouldest thou take away my son's mandrakes also?" In other words, Leah is saying to Rachel, "you took my husband, now you want to take my son's gift to me."

Besides the jealousy that can so easily come up in a situation like this, Jacob has to deal with sibling rivalry. Rachel and Leah are sisters after all, and family members tend to compete against one another. In this case, the rivalry is over having children. This rivalry is so intense, that Rachel is willing to give Jacob her handmaid to have children and count them as her own. Notice that Rachel does just that (counts Bilhah's children as her own) with what she says after each child that her handmaid, Bilhah, births.

After the first son, Dan is born, Rachel claims God has heard her voice "and hath given me a son." However, with the birth of a second son by Bilhah, Rachel's driving competitiveness with her sister burst forth. She, rather unashamedly, declares, "With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed." Rachel was engaged in a sibling rivalry and she was out to win.

People, young and old, can easily get drawn into foolish rivalries and competitions that they think they need to win. Somehow, we get the idea that we need to prove ourselves better than others, even in areas of little consequence. Now it is true that the culture of the Old Testament upheld in great esteem the bearing of children. In fact, the desire of Rachel and Leah to have children, and the recognition that God is the one who blesses us with our children, is far more Biblical than the view of children most modern cultures, including America, have today.

However, the Godly response for Rachel would have been to rejoice in the blessings received by her sister with each new birth, and to seek God's face in the matter of her own inability to have children. But, we like Rachel, often get "caught up in the moment" thinking we need to take matters into our own hands AND we certainly need to show up our sister or brother. Have you found yourself trying to "show up" a family member, friend, or co-worker? Ask God to give you the courage to do your best in whatever the situation might be, and to rejoice in the successes of others.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Our Basketball Season

CA @ River of life lions
Boys JV 15-14 win
Justin--7 points

Girls V 26-21 OT win
Mercy--5 points

Boys V 66-37 win

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Theological Thoughts: Open Theism - Installment 2

It is not difficult to build the Biblical argument that God does know the future in certainty and that He does so because he determines it. Here are some of the fundamental arguments for God’s knowledge of the future as reality and not simply as possibility.

(1) Before we have even completed the first story of man God declares what will be in
the future. In Genesis 3:15 God tells of the destruction of Satan by the coming of
Christ, that Christ will be born of a woman and that Satan will strike a blow against
Christ, yet Jesus will strike the greater blow against Satan.
(2) This, then, opens the door to all the various prophecies that are in Scripture. Though
there are dozens upon dozens of messianic prophesies1, these are only a fraction of
the number of prophecies in Scripture. Many of these prophecies contain such
specific information (e.g. the exact time of a person’s birth; the exact name of a
person; the length of captivities; the names of leaders of nations that do not yet
exist…) that they cannot be simply accurate predictions based on possibilities or the
result of God influencing people’s choices and actions. They can be nothing less than
the declaration of what God has determined ahead of time.
(3) The Scripture declares that God’s knowledge is without bounds, that it is infinite. For
example, Psalm 147: 5, “Great is our Lord, and of great power, his understanding is
infinite.” He sees all that is at once and He knows it. For example, Job tells us that
God “looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole of heaven” (Job
28:24). In other words, all things are before Him at once. And, this is not limited to
just the major events, but the minutest details are known by God (e.g. the falling of a
sparrow and the number of hairs on one’s head). He also knows the actions, thoughts
and intents of all men. In fact, John tells us that God “knoweth all things”
(I John 3:20)
This knowing of all things is not limited to the past and the present, but Scripture definitely includes the declaration that it includes the future, not in just possibility, but in actuality. God knows all that is to happen, because He declares it to be so, either actively or permissively. We have already considered the many, many prophecies in Scripture that are filled with details that only one who knew the future in actuality could accurately and consistently make known ages before they take place. Now, we can look at some Scriptures that directly declare that God’s knowledge of the future is certain because He has decreed, or declared it, to be what it is.

(4) God knows all things future because He determines it. God Himself declares that He
knows the future because He determines it. Here is what God told Isaiah:

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God,
and there is non like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient
times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do
all My pleasure.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

This doctrine of God is affirmed also in the following passage of Scripture in Isaiah:

“I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my
praise to graven images. Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things
do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (Isaiah 42: 8, 9)

Wayne Grudem, in his extensive work Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, continues the discussion of God’s omniscience, particularly of the future, as follows:

“…He [God] knows the tiny details of every one of our lives, for Jesus tells us,
‘Your Father knows what you need before you ask him’ (Matt. 6:8), and, ‘Even the
hairs of your head are all numbered’ (Matt. 10:30).
“In Psalm 139 David reflects on the amazing detail of God’s knowledge of our lives.
He knows our actions and thoughts: ‘O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar’
(Ps. 139:1-2). He knows the words we will say before they are spoken: ‘Even before
a word is on my tongue, lo, O Lord, you know it altogether’ (Ps. 139:4). And he
knows all the days of our lives even before we are born: ‘Your eyes beheld my
unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were
formed for me, when as yet there was none of them’ (Ps. 139:16).” (Grudem, pg. 191)

To Be Continued...

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Weekly NFL Ranking

Week 19

1.New England 14-3 217
2.Green Bay 12-6 187
3.Pittsburgh 13-4 140
4.NY Jets 13-5 129
5.Baltimore 12-5 136
6.Tampa Bay 10-6 101
7.Chicago 12-5 98
8.Detroit 7-8 90
9.San Diego 8-7 88
10.Oakland 7-8 87
11.Cincinnati 4-12 77
12.Indianapolis 10-7 76
13.Atlanta 13-4 72
14.Philadelphia 10-7 71
15.NY Giants 10-6 70
16.San Fransisco 7-9 66
17.Dallas 6-10 64
18.Minnesota 6-10 60
19.New Orleans 10-6 80
20.Houston 6-10 41
21.Seattle 8-10 38
22.Washington 6-10 31
23.St. Louis 7-9 25
24.Miami 8-8 24
25.Kansas City 9-8 19
26.Tennessee 7-9 13
27.Buffalo 4-12 14
28.Cleveland 6-10 12
29.Jacksonville 8-9 11
30.Denver 4-12 -14
31.Arizona 6-10 -47
31.Carolina 2-14 -47

My Weekly NFL Ranking

Week 18

1.New England 14-2 235
2.Green Bay 11-6 152
3.Baltimore 12-5 136
4.Pittsburgh 12-4 123
5.NY Jets 12-5 106
6.Atlanta 13-3 102
7.Tampa Bay 10-6 101
8.Chicago 11-5 91
9.Detroit 7-8 90
10.San Diego 8-7 88
11.Oakland 7-8 87
12.Cincinnati 4-12 77
13.Indianapolis 10-7 76
14.Philadelphia 10-7 71
15.NY Giants 10-6 70
16.San Fransisco 7-9 66
17.Dallas 6-10 64
18.Minnesota 6-10 60
19.New Orleans 10-6 80
20.Houston 6-10 41
21.Seattle 8-9 40
22.Washington 6-10 31
23.St. Louis 7-9 25
24.Miami 8-8 24
25.Kansas City 9-8 19
26.Tennessee 7-9 13
27.Buffalo 4-12 14
28.Cleveland 6-10 12
29.Jacksonville 8-9 11
30.Denver 4-12 -14
31.Arizona 6-10 -47
31.Carolina 2-14 -47

Daily Bible Reading: January 17-23

January 17th

Genesis 19:1-38

The day of reckoning has come to Sodom and Gomorrah. In chapter 18, the Lord said He would visit Sodom to see the depths of the wickedness and He had assured Abraham that He would not destroy Sodom if ten righteous individuals could be found. The terms of judgment are set, and two angels, in the form of men, come to Lot who is sitting in the gate of the city.

Remember Lot? Lot is Abraham's nephew who separated from Abraham awhile back when their herdsmen began to have conflicts. Abraham had let Lot choose where he would want to live. If Lot chose one direction, he would go the other. If you look back to chapter 13, you will see in verses 11-13 that Lot chose what looked the best and moved into the plains just outside of Sodom. Even at that time the men of Sodom were wicked. Now as we read in chapter 19, Lot is no longer outside the city, living in the plains, he is right in the heart of the wicked town of Sodom.

The life of Lot is a perfect example of how sin can so drastically affect a person. Much of sin is hidden behind an external attractiveness. Lot, in choosing the plains outside Sodom, based his decision on the attractiveness of the area. Soon Lot was no longer distant from the center of the wickedness but had moved himself and his family right into the city. Though he was not participating in the wickedness himself, his close association had drastically affected his family, his judgment, and his closeness to the Lord.

Just consider some of these facts about Lot and his family that are brought to our attention. Lot is so lacking in his spiritual life that he tries to rescue angels from physical men. He is so distorted in his judgment that he offers his daughters to these wicked men as a substitute for the angels. His family has become so infected by the wickedness around him that his married daughters and their husbands show no respect when he tries to warn them. And, Lot himself is so distant in his relationship with the Lord that, when given direct instructions for saving himself and his family, he lingers, doubts, and questions. What a sad case Lot had become. Yet, God was merciful and tolerated Lot's foolishness and rescued him.

We all live with wickedness around us. Realizing this, we all need to consider the life of Lot as a warning and the life of Abraham as an example. Lot lived in the midst of the sin letting the sin become too familiar to him and his family. Abraham stayed separated from the sin seeking God's way above all else. Lot let his relationship with the Lord fall by the wayside. Abraham communed with God on a regular basis. Lot questioned and doubted God's plan of safety. Abraham listened and trusted the Lord.

Seek to model the life of Abraham and pray that the Lord will keep you from the foolishness of Lot.

January 18th

Genesis 20:1-18

What an interesting chapter. Abraham, who in just the previous chapter ate and conversed with the Lord, who recently witnessed the Lord's power in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, stumbles at the fear of a man. For the second time Abraham fears the earthly ruler of a region and tries to pass off Sarah as his sister instead of his wife.

Now, it is true that Sarah is Abraham's half-sister, but the intent of Abraham saying that Sarah was his sister was not pure. He clearly wanted that to be believed so that his own life would not be threatened by the local ruler who might desire to take Sarah for himself as a wife. Apparently, this was a custom of that time.

Before we jump on Abraham too quickly, however, we need to realize that he was surrounded by very wicked people. He had just witnessed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah which God brought on them because of their wickedness. He had every reason to believe that other groups of people in the area could be just as wicked. In fact, we get a hint that this is exactly what was going on in Abraham's mind when he explains himself and his actions to King Abimelech. In verse 11 we read that Abraham said, "I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake." If we think back at how the men acted in Sodom when Lot took the visitors into his home, then we might realize that Abraham had good reason to be uneasy about the situation.

Obviously, Abraham should never have become so fearful of the situation that he would resort to such trickery, especially at the risk of his own wife's well-being. It is most certain that this fearful mindset caused him to be blind to the recognition of the one true God that existed in this nation.

Fortunately for Abraham, God chose to graciously look beyond his faults and intercede to protect both Sarah and Abraham. And, that is the how God is toward those that are His covenantal children. We all make mistakes. None of us is living, or can live, a perfect life. Every one of us has, as Abraham has done twice now, twisted the truth to protect ourselves. Each of us needs God's grace just as Abraham received it here. Ask the Lord to be merciful to you in your life and to forgive the many sins you have committed even this very day.

January 19th

Genesis 21:1-34

The "child of promise" finally comes! For years, Abraham and Sarah have patiently waited. They have struggled with their personal doubts. They have tried to take matters in their own hands. They have wondered how any of this could ever be possible. Then, just as the Lord had repeatedly promised, "the Lord visited Sarah.and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken" (Genesis 21:1).

It happened, just as the Lord said it would! Sarah was old. She was well past the age when a woman could naturally continue having children. Outside of a miracle, she knew, Abraham knew, everyone knew, it was impossible for Sarah to become pregnant. Yet, "Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him" (Genesis 21:2). The miracle happened!

When Sarah had laughed to herself at the time the three visitors came and told Abraham that Sarah would have a child, the Lord posed the question, "Is any thing too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14). Now, the Lord had demonstrated the answer to that question. No! Nothing is too hard for the Lord!

Having given birth, Sarah laughed again. This time, however, it was not the doubting, cynical laugh of before. This was the joyful laugh of rejoicing and celebrating. Also, Sarah knew that every time she told her story the other women would laugh in amazement with her (see Genesis 21:6,7). No wonder they named the newborn Isaac. The name Isaac literally means, "laughter."

Isaac was the "child of promise" and his birth was certainly a miracle. However, Isaac is only a stepping stone in God's wonderful plan to provide salvation for all men. At the time of the first sin, which you read about in Genesis chapter 3, God promised a child that would destroy the power of the Devil. In Genesis 3:15 God called that child the seed of the woman. Isaac, who we read about being born in Genesis chapter 21, is not the child spoken of in Genesis 3:15. Isaac is a "child of promise," a miracle baby. But, he is not "The Promised Child." "The Promised Child" will be a miraculous baby with whom no other can compare. For, "The Promised Child" will not be simply a newborn human being. "The Promised Child" will be God Himself, born in human flesh.

As we read through the Bible, we are going to read of many different miraculous things, just as we did here about the birth of Isaac. Several of these miraculous events will be used by God to point us to the one greatest miracle of all time. Isaac, this miracle "child of promise" is one of the first clear pictures of the One, True, Miraculous "Promised Child" yet to come.

Thank God for His wonderful plan, and ask Him to open your eyes to see this plan unfold in His Holy Word, the Bible.

January 20th

Genesis 22:1-1-24

In this chapter Abraham faces probably the greatest test a man could face. Think about all that has preceded this extraordinary event. Abraham and Sarah were without a child for all their married life. Then God promises them a son through which He will make Abraham's descendents a mighty nation. The years go by. Even though God continues to reassure Abraham that he will have a son, the circumstances say otherwise. Abraham and Sarah continue to age and eventually reach the ages of 100 and 90 respectively. Nobody has a baby at this age, it is completely impossible. But, God is not bound by the circumstances of nature. And, just as He promised, God causes Sarah to become pregnant and Isaac is born.

Abraham and Sarah finally receive their long awaited son, the only son they would have. What joy they must have! What a relief they must have felt as their long wait finally came to an end. Now Abraham and Sarah could rest in the promise that God would somehow bring forth a great multitude of people through their one and only son Isaac.

Well, sitting back and resting in the joy of their son was not what was waiting for them. Rather, God comes to Abraham and makes the impossible request. God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son, his only son. Oh, what a test of Abraham's faith and trust in God. How could Abraham now kill the only son he has? What we see, however, is that Abraham does not doubt God. Rather, he takes Isaac and some of his servants and sets out for the mountain God had directed him to.

When they came near the place that God had designated, Abraham and Isaac leave the servants behind. Carefully read what Abraham tells his servants, "Abide here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you" (Genesis 22:5). Abraham fully expected that he and Isaac would return. How that would happen, I am sure Abraham did not know.

Next, I want you to notice how Abraham answers Isaac when Isaac asks about the lamb they will need for the sacrifice. Abraham answered Isaac saying, "My son, God will provide himself a lamb" (Genesis 22:8). Abraham, in faith, makes an astonishing statement. He completely believed that somehow God would intervene and provide the lamb. As you have already read in this chapter, God does intervene and stops Abraham before he actually slays Isaac. Then, God shows Abraham a ram caught in a thicket that he and Isaac can use for the sacrifice. In this way, God did provide the lamb. And, that lamb was offered, as the Scripture records, "in the stead of his son" (Genesis 22:13). The lamb was a substitute sacrifice for Isaac.

Do you remember how I told you that the miraculous birth of Isaac, the "child of promise," was a picture of the much more miraculous birth to come of "The Promised Child," God in human flesh? When an event in the Old Testament is used as a picture of a work God will do through His Son, Jesus Christ, in the New Testament, the Old Testament event is called a "foreshadow" of the New Testament event. That is what we have here. Isaac was the one God had stated should be slain. Yet, God intervened and provided a substitute sacrifice for Isaac in the form of a lamb. This is a "foreshadow" of what God has planned to do for all mankind. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, the true "Promised Child," we will see that God will provide a substitute for the judgment that is over all men because of their sin. Just as the ram was a burnt offering in the place of Isaac, Jesus Christ took the wrath of God upon Himself in the place of you and me. We will read the wonderful story of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us when we read the New Testament.

Thank God today for providing His Son, Jesus Christ, as the substitute sacrifice for our sins.

January 21st

Genesis 23:1-20

This chapter contains the simple story of Abraham negotiating the purchase of a cave in which he will bury Sarah. Sarah has died at the age of 127. God had given her 37 years with her son Isaac. I am sure they were wonderful years for Sarah as she saw her miracle child grow up to be a man. I wonder if Abraham or Isaac ever told Sarah about what took place on the mountain in the land of Moriah that we read about in the last chapter. I think they probably did as their joy over how God had spared Isaac and provided the ram for a substitute sacrifice was probably too much to keep inside. If they did tell Sarah, then Sarah would have had even more reason to cherish her son Isaac. He was a son whom, according to all natural laws, she should never have had. And now, he is also a son whom God preserved and gave back to her.

I am happy that Sarah was able to enjoy so many years with her son Isaac. As parents, we should thank God for every year we are able to spend seeing our children grow, learn, and mature. As children, we should thank God for our parents and the love and care they give us.

January 22nd

Reading: Genesis 24:1-33

Sarah has died and Abraham is getting old. He is concerned about Isaac's future, especially the wife that he will have. It is interesting that Abraham does not go to Isaac to speak of this issue, but talks about it with his eldest servant. Apparently, the responsibility of obtaining a wife for Isaac would descend from Abraham to his eldest servant. This method of finding a wife for one's son may seem really strange to us in this modern age where we all think we should get to make all our own choices, but there is much we can learn about the benefits of keeping one's parents prominent in the whole picture. We will speak more about this each time you read through this passage in the future. This time through I want to focus on the providence of God.

Providence is a character trait of God that is an aspect of His sovereignty, or overruling power and authority. Noah Webster, in his original dictionary of the English language, defined providence as, "the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures." He adds that providence includes, "foresight; timely care; particularly, active foresight, or foresight accompanied with the procurement of what is necessary for future use." We see all these aspects in what God brought about for Abraham's servant to meet Rebekah.

Notice these passages. First, Abraham believes completely in God's providence. When his servant wonders about his responsibility should the girl refuse to come with him, Abraham answers, "The Lord God of heaven.shall send His angel before thee, and thou shall take a wife unto my son from thence" (Genesis 24:7). Abraham believed explicitly in God's active foresight and timely care; that is, God's providence.

Next, we see that Abraham's servant has adopted his master's faith and prays for God to work the situation out so he can easily identify the girl the Lord has chosen for Isaac. It is interesting that the servant speaks to God in his prayer as the "Lord God of my master Abraham" (Genesis 24:12). It may be that the servant is speaking from the position of a servant as he prays to God, but each of us needs to develop our own personal relationship with God.

Finally, as we look at God's providence, notice how quickly and precisely God answers the prayers of Abraham and his servant. "And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came" (Genesis 24:15). How gracious of God to providentially work the events in Abraham's servant's life that even before he was done praying and making His request, the answer was already being provided.

We need to understand that God does not always work in such an immediate way. Remember how long Abraham and Sarah waited for a son. However, one thing this story does begin to teach us is that God, who knows all things, already knows what we need and how He will answer before we ever ask. Thank God for His providential care in your life. He may not answer your and my prayers in the immediate fashion that He answered the prayer of Abraham's servant, but we can trust that God in His sovereignty and in His providence knows what we need and the best way to provide for our needs.

January 23rd

Reading: Genesis 24:34-67

In today's reading we complete the beautiful love story of the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. Yesterday's devotional brought out the providence of God in this situation and our need to rely upon His providence in our lives. I want to continue that theme here.

Abraham's servant faithfully tells the story of his master. He tells of how the Lord has blessed Abraham. He tells of how the Lord gave Sarah a child in her old age. And, he tells all the details from the time when he received his commission from Abraham to the time he met Rebekah at the well.

All of this was a witness and a testimony to Rebekah and her family. Additionally, God providentially prepared their hearts to hear what Abraham's servant had to share and to understand that the Lord's hand was in all that had transpired. Laban and Bethuel, Rebekah's brother and father, give their consent to let Rebekah go with Abraham's servant and be Isaac's wife. The next morning they get the consent from Rebekah that she will go and that she is willing to leave immediately.

As we reflect on today's reading, consider these two things. First, think of how the Lord has worked in your life and how you might be able to share that with others. Here we have read how the testimony of Abraham's servant had such a great impact upon Rebekah's family. Your testimony can be used of God in the same way with the people you come into contact. Second, ask the Lord to make you sensitive to His working in your life and in the lives of others. As you become more aware of the providence of God in your life and listen for the testimony of God working in the lives of others, these things will bolster your faith, just as they bolstered the faith of Abraham's servant and Rebekah's family.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Our Basketball Season

CA vs. Harvest Christian
Boys jv- 22-20 Loss
Justin 11 points

Boys V- 64-41 Win
Joel- 11 points
Justin- 2 points

CA @ Calvary Crusaders
Boys JV- 18-14 Win
Justin 6 points

Girls V- 24-16 Loss
Mercy 2 points

Boys V- 51-50 Win
Joel 7 points, Sunday...favorites!

This week's question:

What's your favorite food?

Elysse - Chicken Fettucini Alfredo or Home-made Spaghetti with Angel Hair Pasta

Josiah - Home-made Spaghetti or Roast

Liberty - Angel Hair Pasta with Tomato Sauce (w/ Squash, Zucchinni, onions) with Cheese Or Chicken Breast Sandwich on Wheat Roll with provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato,Parmesan cheese

Jacob - Homemade Lasagna

Mercy - Home-made Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Joel - Salmon w/ Italian Dressing

Justin - Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

My Weekly NFL Ranking

Week 17

1.New England 14-2 235
2.Green Bay 10-6 150
3.Pittsburgh 12-4 123
4.Baltimore 11-5 117
5.Atlanta 13-3 102
6.Tampa Bay 10-6 101
6.NY Jets 11-5 101
8.Chicago 11-5 91
9.Detroit 7-8 90
10.San Diego 8-7 88
11.Oakland 7-8 87
12.New Orleans 10-6 80
13.Cincinnati 4-12 77
14.Indianapolis 10-6 76
15.NY Giants 10-6 70
16.Philadelphia 10-6 68
17.San Fransisco 7-9 66
18.Dallas 6-10 64
19.Minnesota 6-10 60
20.Houston 6-10 41
21.Kansas City 9-7 33
22.Washington 6-10 31
23.St. Louis 7-9 25
24.Miami 8-8 24
25.Buffalo 4-12 14
26.Tennessee 7-9 13
27.Cleveland 6-10 12
28.Jacksonville 8-9 11
29.Seattle 7-9 8
30.Denver 4-12 -14
31.Arizona 6-10 -47
31.Carolina 2-14 -47

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Theological Thoughts: Open Theism

I'm hoping to do some more regular posts (ie - weekly) around a theme, and I thought Wednesdays could be our Theological, to start us off I am planning to post consecutive segments of an article that Dad wrote on Open Theism. Open Theism has become more popular of late amongst some Christian leaders, and it is important to know what it is and what are some of the dangers of that belief.

And, don't worry. We're going to have some fun themes as, it's not going to be all heavy stuff. Just heavier stuff on Wednesdays. So, here goes...

Open Theism: A Critique

Part 1: God and the Future

Open Theism is a theological phenomenon or paradigm that made its presence within the past 15 to 20 years. The prominent leaders of the movement include such men as John Sanders, Gregory Boyd and Charles Pinnock. The movement gets its name from the assertion of an openness about God in reference to man and the future. There are differences as to how each of these men and other prominent spokesmen of the movement see or interpret this openness, but there is enough commonality in their views and definitely in their presuppositions to group them together. However, I will attempt to distinguish some of the differences as those between Boyd and Sanders are somewhat significant.

Whenever a “new” phenomena in theological constructs is offered it is important to seek out the motivating factors behind the movement. The motivating factors behind the “Open Theistic” construct are relatively easy to ascertain as the leaders are fairly open as to what has motivated them. There seem to be at least 3 motivating factors: a desire for a real and personal relationship with God; a desire for a meaningful prayer life; and a desire to uphold the integrity of man as a morally responsible being. A fourth factor should probably also considered, and that is the difficulty of explaining evil in the world.

Keeping the fourth motivating factor somewhat separate at this time, we can use the group of the initial three to understand their thinking. Their thinking seems to be as follows. First, concerning the desire for a real and personal relationship with God, they presuppose that a deterministic God cannot be a God that is personal and enters into real loving relationships. This is because, they hold, love cannot truly exist if it is coerced. That is, if one is made to love another, then it is not love because they were not free to choose to love the other. So, if God has determined that an individual will love Him and He makes them love Him then they really do not love Him because they did not freely choose to love Him.

Second, if God has determined all things, then prayer is meaningless. In the mind of the “Open Theist” only if future events are left open to different possibilities can prayer life become purposeful.

Third, the “Open Theist” presupposes that man can operate as a true moral agent only if he is completely free. That is, only if his future actions have not been determined and they become reality only as the consequence of man’s free choice, can man be considered to be a morally responsible agent.

The common theme running through all this is a rejection of God determining or knowing the future. Only if the future is undetermined, left open, can the desired results be achieved in the “Open Theist” philosophy. This is why Greg Boyd, a leading proponent of “Open Theism”, declares that he prefers to refer to this theological construct as “Open

Future” or “Open Futurism” rather than “Open Theism.” Though much of what “Open Theism” holds hinges on God not knowing, in truth, any future reality, it propagates several other teachings about the nature of God, man and the relationship of God and man that I will continue to refer to it as “Open Theism” rather than some other title.

It needs to be understood that “Open Theism”, though very much a reaction against the Calvinistic view of God’s divine decrees, it is also a reaction against the Arminian understanding of God’s knowledge of the future. In other words, the “Open Theist” not only rejects the view that God foreordains all that occurs and therefore knows the future because He has determined it, the “Open Theist” also finds the Arminian understanding of God’s knowledge of the future, which is obtained by God’s ability to look down through time and see the future (that is, His foreknowledge by way of foreseeing), as unacceptable. The only acceptable position for the “Open Theist” is God’s inability to know the future truly, but only in the realm of possibility. This is a complete rejection of the historic position of the eternity of God which has been held consistently through out Church history. God, it has been consistently held by the Church, does know the future, either by His predestination or by His Foreknowledge (foreseeing).

The “Open Theist” however, says, this is not so. God does not know the future, because the future has not happened, it is still only a possibility. This, of course, is an attack on the omniscience of God. The “Open Theist”, however, will attempt to cover himself by saying that he is not denying God’s omniscience, because God knows all the possibilities that exist, therefore He is omniscient. In other words, they redefine omniscient to fit their scheme and then declare that they are not denying omniscience. The fact of the matter is, however, that they have denied the historic use of the term omniscient as it is understood to articulate the very attribute of God in relation to what He knows. For, the historic Christian position is that God does know both all things possible and all things actual as it relates to the past, the present, AND the future. The “Open Theist” may say all he wants about not denying God’s omniscience because God knows all things possible concerning the future, but by redefining the meaning of “omniscience” they categorically deny the true omniscience of God.

God and His relation to future events is a, if not the, hinge pin in the “Open Theist” theological paradigm. It can be argued against from a historical perspective, as I have been doing, but that is not final determining point. Though the historic proclamations of the Church can typically be trusted to determine the accuracy of a teaching or doctrine, they still qualify as one man’s word against another. The ultimate test is whether that which is proclaimed by the “Open Theist” is in agreement with the Word of God itself. Thus, the question is, does the Word of God teach that God knows the future in certainty or does God only know the future in possibility?

To Be Continued...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Daily Bible Reading: January 10-16

Below are the Bible readings and commentary for our Daily Devotionals for the upcoming week. This week we will be looking closely at the life of Abraham and Sarah and the wonderful things the Lord promised to do through them.

David Barrett, Director

January 10th

Reading: Genesis 10:1-32

In chapter 10 of the Book of Genesis, we come upon another of those chapters, like Genesis 5, which is a listing of fathers and their children. As it was when we encountered this listing in chapter 5, it is easy to read through this listing and feel like there is not much to be gained. Yet, as I mentioned back then, we need to prayerfully consider why God would take the time to have this kind of information listed in His inerrant Word. One of the great challenges made against the Bible is its accuracy and historical reliability. In defense of the Bible we find two very important aspects. One, we find "internal reliability or consistency." By this, I mean that, such things as individuals and people groups mentioned in one part of the Bible (like these in this chapter of Genesis) will be brought up again in other books of the Bible. Often these other books were written by different authors in different locations. Yet, what is written later in Scripture is in agreement with what is said of these people in earlier books of the Bible.

A second very important aspect in the defense of the Bible is "historical accuracy." The Bible, like in this and other similar chapters, names people, places, and events that are helpful for archeological and other historical studies. Time and time again, the information in the Bible has been demonstrated to be true and accurate. Passages such as what you have just read testify to the accuracy of Scripture.

In reflecting on this chapter think about some of the key people and people groups that are mentioned here. Many of them will be mentioned again in Scripture, some of them in the very next chapter. If you are familiar with the Bible, you might take some time to note, either mentally or on paper, some of these individuals and groups, and see if you can identify key reasons they are being mentioned here. Besides Noah's three sons, did you consider Canaan and the various Canaanites? Did you notice the father of the Philistines that Israel will have so much trouble with? What about Nimrod and Babel? We will read of God's dealing with his city and tower in the next chapter.

If you are not familiar with Scripture, then you may not know of the people I mentioned above or several of the others in this chapter. However, after you read through the Bible during this 3-year program, you will develop knowledge of them and the next time through this passage will have even greater meaning to you.

The person I want you to particularly notice this time through is Eber. He is spoken of in verses 24 and 25. Not much is said about him here, as this chapter is simply giving an overview of key descendents of the sons of Noah. The next chapter will narrow the focus down to a few key people and Eber will be one of them. What is so unique about Eber is that it is through his direct descendents that God is going to work His special plan of bringing forth a special people to whom He will give His Word - the very Scriptures you now hold. The Israelites, who you will read about later in Scripture, will be a nation that God will use to receive and preserve His Word. The Israelites were known as the Hebrews or the Hebrew children. The word Hebrew comes from the word Eber, the name of this person mentioned in these verses.

Isn't it fascinating how God has made His Word so consistent and well organized? Thank God for His Word and ask Him to help you gain a greater appreciation for it.

January 11th

Reading: Genesis 11:1-32

Like a well written novel, the author of Genesis keeps moving us toward the Key characters of the story. Only, this is not a novel, it is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. And, through these various genealogies the author of the Book of Genesis, Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has now introduced us to one of the most key persons in history - Abram. Abram was the son of Terah, who was the son of Nahor. Nahor is a descendent of Peleg who was the son of Eber. Eber, descended from Shem who was the son Noah blessed in Genesis Chapter 9. Noah declared Shem a believer in the one true God when Noah said, "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem" in Genesis 9:26.

In the first part of chapter 11 our author showed the futility of man attempting to live his life by his own means without any concern for God. In fact, these men were trying to build a tower that would allow them to act like they had reached heaven by their own efforts. God would have none of this and confounded their efforts. And, now, God is going to show us how He works. How He provides the true answers to man's problems by His own sovereign will.

The stage is being set for God's sovereign will to take place. Abram has married Sarai, "But Sarai was barren, she had no children." And, at the close of this chapter, we see that Terah has brought Abram and Sarai, as well as Lot, out of the land of the Chaldees. He has separated them from the comfort of their home land. Now God can speak and Abram can hear His voice.

We, too, can get comfortable in our everyday surroundings and will just "go along to get along." We need to take the time to separate ourselves from everyday life and meditate upon the Lord and His Word and see if God does not have something special He desires us to do.

January 12th

Reading: Genesis 12:1-20; 13:1-8

According to the last of Chapter 11, Abram's father Terah took Abram and led him from Ur of the Chaldees and began the journey toward the land of Canaan. The Scriptures do not tell us if Terah began this journey because of a righteous reason. It does not tell us if Terah took Abram to get away from the paganism of the Chaldeans or because he believed God had a calling upon Abram's life in the land of Canaan. But it does indicate that Terah had an urging to head for the land of Canaan. Like this situation in Abram's life, God often uses circumstances and people to direct us to where He desires us to be.

Chapter 12 begins with God's calling of Abram. Isn't it interesting that God would call Abram and not his brother Nahor or one of his other relatives. Why would God choose to call Abram and then tell him of the great blessing He is going to give Abram and the wonderful thing He is going to do through Abram? The answer to that question is simply this, we don't know. God, in His mysterious wisdom and according to His Sovereign will, chose to act graciously in Abram's life.

We do know this, however. From the time of the Fall in Eden, God has promised that He will provide an answer to the Devil and the curse of sin. The story of Scripture up to this point that has emphasized the family of Shem, has identified the life of Noah and his child Seth, has brought to our attention Eber and his descendent Terah, and now focuses on the life of Abram, is showing us God working out His beautiful plan for the salvation of mankind.

That wonderful hope of salvation of all men is seen in the promises that the Lord told Abram when He called him. Yes, the Lord promised to do great things for Abram ("I will make of thee a great nation;" "I will bless thee, and make thy name great", Gen. 12:2). Yes, the Lord promised to place a special providential care upon the life of Abram ("I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee," Gen. 12:3a). But, there was one more part to the promises God gave to Abram that was not just for Abram and his descendents, but for all people and all nations. God said, "and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3b). In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul will tell us that in those few words that God said to Abram, the gospel (or, good news of man's salvation from sin and the power of the Devil) were being preached (see, Galatians 3:8).

Remember, how we emphasized after the Flood that God was faithful and that He keeps His covenants? Well, from the time of the Flood to the life of Abram has been hundreds of years and several generations. God has been silently working in the lives of the descendents of Seth. And, now, He makes Himself overtly known to Abram and, in essence, says 'I have a covenant promise to fulfill in the earth, and I am going to do it through the life and family line of Abram.' Praise God for His plan to save mankind and for His covenantal faithfulness.

January 13th

Reading: Genesis 14:1-24

In the age of Abram, as in our day, nations and groups of people went to war against each other. In the situation in this chapter, Chedorlaomer King of Elam had apparently been able to get the Kings of Sodom and Gomorrah to serve him. Usually, this means that they had to pay him a tribute (or a tax). This went on for 12 years and, then, in the thirteenth year the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah rebelled. That is, they refused to pay the tribute.

This, of course, did not sit well with King Chedorlaomer, so he gathered some of his fellow kings and went throughout the land fighting and conquering all these different people. It seems that he was wanting to show how powerful he was. Eventually he comes up against the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and does the same with them. He defeats them and captures people and goods. Included among the people is Lot, the nephew of Abram.

Now, my picture of Abram is one who is a quiet, easy-going shepherd. But, he must have been quite the soldier as well. He takes 318 servants, arms them, defeats king Chedorlaomer, and rescues Lot. That is quite a feat after Chedorlaomer had just defeated all those other groups.

Abram is then blessed by Melchizedek, king of Salem. Melchizedek is a very interesting person in Biblical history, but we will have to look closer at him the next time we come through this passage. For now, just realize that he is called "the priest of the most high God" and that he refers to Abram as being "of the most high God" as well. Abram's victory was because God made it possible.

We may not face literal armies in our every day life, but we do have challenges and hardships. We, like Abram, have friends and relatives that fall on hard times. By trusting in God and relying upon His strength and wisdom, we, too, can be used of God to "rescue" someone we love.

January 14th

Reading: Genesis 15:1-21; 16:1-16

In this chapter God once again tells Abram that he will have descendents. Abram can't understand how this will be because he is still without a child, but God assures him that he will have his own child. Abram had wondered if God was going to use his house steward Eliezer to build his family dynasty, but God said it would not be through Eliezer.

To assure Abram that His covenant was still with Abram and that He would see that the promises of the covenant were accomplished, God had Abram gather some animals and divide them. Then in the night God came down as a "smoking furnace" and a "burning lamp" and passed between the pieces of the animals. This had some special significance to Abram which we will discuss the next time through this text, but for now, realize that God was assuring Abram that the covenant He had made with him stood.

Can you imagine how hard it was for Abram and Sarai to wait for God to fulfill His promise and give them a son? Have you ever had to wait a long time for something special you knew, or hoped, you were going to receive? Children often get anxious waiting for their birthday or for Christmas to come because of a special gift they are sure they will be getting. But, Christmas and one's birthday comes every year. Abram and Sarai had been brought to the land of Canaan and were told by God that He would give this land to Abram's descendents. Well, to have descendents, Abram and Sarai are going to have to have a child and both of them are getting older and older. In fact, they had now waited for 10 years in Canaan without having a child.

What would it be like for you to be promised that you would receive a very special gift some day and, then, ten years later, still not have the gift? Most of us would begin to doubt if the promise was really true. Well, Sarai was beginning to doubt that God was really going to fulfill His promise, at least through her. She was getting old and as she said, "the Lord hath restrained me from bearing" (Genesis 16:2). In her impatience, Sarai encourages Abram to have a child through her handmaid, or servant, Hagar. At least this would still be a child of Abram, she probably thought.

Hagar does have a child. She has a son and he is named Ishmael. He and his descendents will become important people in history, but Ishmael is not the "child of promise" that God said would come to Abram. Ishmael was the result of man's efforts, trying to accomplish God's purposes, but in their own ways. However, when men and women try to accomplish God's goals in their own way and time, things usually do not turn out well. In this case, there is immediate conflict between Sarai and Hagar and there will be continual conflict between the children of Ishmael and the descendents of Abram that will come through the "child of promise" who is yet to be born.

As we wait upon the Lord to fulfill His promises in our lives, may we be granted the patience to wait for His timing and the faith to trust in His ways.

January 15th

Reading: Genesis 17:1-27

Abram is now 99 years old. He was 86 years old when Ishmael was born. So, if he and Sarai had thought 10 years was a long time to wait when their faith wavered and Abram had a child through Hagar, they have now waited13 more years. Maybe Abram and Sarai thought Ishmael was the answer to the promise God had made with them, but they are about to find out that such an idea is totally wrong. We do not know if God spoke to Abram during this 13 year interval since Ishmael was born, but when Abram turned 99 God spoke to him again and let him know of the miraculous thing that God was going to do.

In preparing Abram for the announcement of this miracle, God changed both Abram's and Sarai's names. Abram's name was changed to Abraham and Sarai was changed to Sarah. Names and their meanings are important in Scripture and these name changes are significant here. According to Strong's concordance, Abram means "highest father." I am sure it was pretty difficult for Abram to know that every time he heard his name he was being called "highest father", yet, at 99 years of age, he and his wife Sarai had no child of their own. Now, almost 100 years old, God changes his name to Abraham. Not only does he hear God telling him that he will have a multitude of descendents, but even his name will declare the same promise. Abraham means "Father of a multitude." Sarai's name was changed to Sarah. Her name was changed from a word that spoke of being the head to a name that means "noble woman." God says in the Scriptures that the reason for this change in her name is because she is going to be the "mother of nations."

So, here are Abraham and Sarah. They have been living in the land God had promised to their descendents for nearly 25 years. Abraham is almost 100 years old and his name has been changed to say he is the father of a great number of people. Even Sarai who is nearly 90 years old has had her name changed to say she is not only a mother, but a mother of nations. These are tremendous promises, but things in the natural do not match up. Abraham and Sarah, looking at their lives and circumstances, see only two old childless people. In fact, the contrast between what is seen in the natural and what is being promised by God is so vast, that many people would consider this as some kind of a joke. And, laughing about it is exactly what Abraham did.

In his heart, Abraham could not even imagine that he and Sarah could have a child at this age. With his voice he suggests to God that maybe it would be better to use Ishamel to fulfill His plan. How could Sarah, at age 90 have a child? God is not fazed by the circumstances. He simply says, "Sarah, thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac."

Isn't it a wonderful thing that God's plans are not dependent upon circumstances? Nothing can keep God from fulfilling His purposes. As the God of all things, circumstances are subject to Him, not the other way around.

January 16th

Genesis 18:1-33

What an exciting time in which Abraham lived and what a fascinating occurrence when the Lord comes walking up to Abraham. Did you pay close attention to what the Bible says in the first few verses of this chapter? We are told that Abraham looked up and saw "three men" before him. He recognizes one of them as the Lord and runs to greet them and offer them hospitality.

We don't know how it was that Abraham recognized one of these men as the Lord. We do know that the Lord had come to Abraham before, though we are not sure exactly how. At least once we know the Lord appeared in a vision (Genesis 15:1). Here, we know He came when Abraham was wide awake in the middle of the day, so it was not a dream or a vision. He came to Abraham in the form of a man and they ate and drank and talked. This will not be the only place in Scripture where God will come to man in a physical form. Manifestations of God like this in the Old Testament are given a special name in Theology. People who study Scripture, that is Theologians, call these events "Theophanies."

That big word "theophany" is simply two Greek words put together that mean "to show God." A "theophany" is when God shows himself to man, or appears in some form to man. Here, He came to Abraham in the form of a man. Yet, there were three men. Who were the other two men? Well, in tomorrows reading you will see that two angels will meet with Lot in Sodom. So, the other two men with the Lord were probably those two angels.

Doesn't it seem amazing that God can make Himself appear as a man? Well, it is even more amazing to me that God could cause a woman of the age of Sarah to become pregnant. And that is exactly what the Lord promised Abraham once again. Sarah, hearing this laughed. Don't be too hard on her, you or I would probably laughed as well.

As we close our discussion today, consider this question the Lord asked of Abraham in verse 14: "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" The answer, as you might have suspected is, "No, of course not." The Lord answered His own question to Abraham this way, "At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." Amazing, Sarah, who should be a grandmother or great-grandmother, will have a child. Praise God!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Our Basketball Season

CA @ CB Mustangs
16 - 21 Girls V--Loss
10 - 16 Boys JV--L0ss
49 - 43 Boys V--Win

Mercy- 7 points 12 rebounds 3steals

Joel- 14 points 18 rebounds 2 Ast.

Justin (JV game) 2 points 3 steals
(Varsity game) 3 points

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Our Basketball Season

49 47 OT Boys V
13 22 Girls V
10 12 Boys JV
8 5 Girls JV

Mercy 7pts
Joel 6pts 8rebs
Justin 7pts JV

Monday, January 3, 2011

Daily Bible Reading: Jan 3 - 9

January 3rd

Reading: Genesis 3:1-24

Genesis chapter 3 puts forth the plot and the theme of the whole of Scripture, and the whole of history. The plot begins to develop through the interchange between the Serpent, which is Satan, and the woman. Notice how Satan challenges the words of God and puts doubt in Eve's mind. This is a favorite tactic of the Devil and those in this world who do his bidding. That is why it is so important for you to know God's Word intimately and, in faith, believe it to be true. Otherwise, like Eve, you can easily be deceived into foolishly trying something you know is wrong to do.

Having sinned, Adam and Eve lost all that God had planned for them, including access to the Tree of Life, which would have allowed them to live forever. But, they were not the only ones who suffered this dreadful consequence. All mankind, every person who has ever been born, and ever will be born, has also lost access to the Tree of Life - at least as God originally planned it in the Garden. Additionally, because Adam represented all mankind, his act destroyed much of the "image of God" that man was originally created with. Now, unlike Adam who was created holy and good, all men are born with what is called a "sin nature." That is, we are all born with the desire to do wrong and we will die in our sins unless we are rescued by Jesus Christ. Only through Christ, the Seed of the Woman spoken of in Genesis 3:15, can we now gain eternal life. Because of Adam's sin, God cut off the physical avenue to the Tree of Life and does not allow man to obtain eternal life by his own efforts. Ponder the latter part of verse 22 where God, reflecting on man's act of disobedience says, "now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live for ever." Eternal life can only be achieved by God's terms. No longer would it be available to man by his own free choice and efforts, but must be found in the free act of the one God-man, Jesus Christ.

January 4th

Reading: Genesis 4:1-26

What a tragic story, Cain and Abel. It could have turned out so different, but Cain let his anger consume him. Within this whole ordeal we need to grasp the counsel that the Lord gave to Cain and apply it to our own lives. "if thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" During the early teen years, some young people as yourself struggle with feelings of being accepted - accepted by friends, adults, and sometimes even their parents. It's a wonderful time of your life as you begin to change physically, emotionally, and intellectually from childhood to adulthood, but it can have its accompanying challenges. Not the least of these challenges is a frustrated feeling of not being understood or accepted by others.

Unfortunately, when young people have these feelings they end up making decisions, doing things, or saying things that are wrong and disrespectful. Then, when they are reprimanded or scolded for their attitude, they respond "You just don't understand me" or "Why do you always yell at me?" Whereas parents often do have difficulty identifying with their young teen's feelings, they are not wrong to correct you when you are disrespectful. In essence, they are telling you in their own way what God was telling Cain, "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" In other words, I encourage you to realize that our relationships with our parents is definitely a two way street. You make up at least half the equation. If you do what is right, then you will experience the acceptance that you, in your frustration, feel is lacking. Whether you receive the acknowledgement right away from your parents or not, claim the promise that God gives in this passage. "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" The answer is a resounding YES in the heart of God.

January 5th

Reading: Genesis 5:1-32

Why would God write a "book" (this chapter starts with the line "This is the book of the generations of Adam") that simply tells us who was whose father? Well, first let me say that this chapter does not only say who "begat" whom (that is, who was born to whom). It does tell us about how long each person lived (and they tended to live quite a long time back then); it tells us about the character of some (see vss. 22 & 24 which tell us about Enoch); and, it tells us what at least one parent hoped for his child (see vs. 29 concerning the naming of Noah). We will address some of these things in future years when you read this section of the Bible again. I just mention them here because sometimes the more obvious, and seemingly mundane, tend to hide some of the other things that are written.

But, the question still remains: why would God write a "book" that is essentially a genealogy. Remember, this is God's Holy Word for us. It was written by men, but it was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so that even we can benefit from it today. I do not know all the reasons God would spend time listing fathers and sons, but let me offer a few likely suggestions. First, it helps establish the authenticity of the creation account and the anti-diluvian age ("anti-diluvian" is a big word for "before the flood"). People actually lived and had children and grew old (very old) and died. There are 10 generations identified here from Adam to Noah. These were real people, the Bible is not a make-believe story. Second, this tells of the special line of descendents from Adam through Seth. These are the one's who are referred to in Genesis 4:26 that called "upon the name of the Lord." Third, this brings us to Noah, a man God is going to use in a special way to "start anew" with the human race after the Flood (also called the "deluge"). We will read about this in the next chapter and it is significant that Noah walked in the faith of his fathers and was found righteous in God's eyes.

It may be that you are the child of many generations of Christians. Rejoice in God for that gift of parents and grandparents and maybe even great-grandparents that served the Lord and passed their rich spiritual heritage on to you. On the other hand, it may be that you do not have such a rich Christian heritage to claim. Maybe your parents are "first generation" Christians, or maybe you are the only Christian in your home. If that is the case, remember that God started with Seth and He can start with you. Pray that you will be used of Him to raise up many generations of faithful men and women.

January 6th

Reading: Genesis 6:1-22

It was certainly a wicked time in which Noah lived. The Scripture says that "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in all the earth" and that the thoughts of man's heart was "only evil continually." Because of this God determined he would destroy man and even all flesh. It was a very dark time in the earth. Yet, in the midst of all this an amazing statement is made. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (vs. 8).

Now you need to remember that Noah was a man born in sin like all men. However, God sovereignly granted His grace to Noah among all men. Noah, apparently, was responsive to God's grace for it is said that he "was a just man and perfect in his generations." In addition to these characteristics attributed to Noah, there is one other statement said of Noah, that he "walked with God." This was the same compliment that was attributed to Enoch in the previous chapter.

Solely on the basis of His grace, God chose Noah and his family to be the one's through whom He would preserve mankind. Noah was a man who was committed to God. Throughout this whole process of building an ark in the midst of a wicked generation, it is said that Noah did "all that God commanded him" (vs. 22).

When we look around us today, we too could say that we live during wicked times. Man's heart is no different today than it was at Noah's time. The question is, however, have you found grace in God's eyes. It may seem hard for you to live a Godly life in the circumstances in which you live. I don't know them, but God does and He is more than willing to grant you the grace you need to follow His ways. Like Noah and Enoch of old, I encourage you to set your heart on the things of God and learn to "walk with God" each and every day. A daily walk with God starts with beginning each day with God in prayer and reading of His Word. Reflect upon His Word and seek Him in prayer throughout that day as you face decisions and make choices. Ask God regularly to give you a heart for Him.

January 7th

Reading: Genesis 7:1-24

In this passage of Scripture we read of the awful destruction of the whole earth. God in His sovereignty determined that the wickedness of man had reached the extent that He needed to destroy His whole creation, including man. However one man, Noah, "found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen. 6:8). In verse 9 of chapter 6 Noah's character was revealed to us as he is described as "a just [righteous] man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." This wonderful standing before God is reiterated in verse one of the chapter assigned for today. Notice how God says, ".for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation."

It is because of this standing before God that God Himself calls Noah and all his family into the ark (vs. 1). This call into the ark was Noah's call into the safety of the Lord and providentially provided protection from His wrath and judgment which was to fall upon all the earth.

It is a precious thing when God extends His loving grace to us, but we should never rest in His grace with an attitude of complacency. For, the same act of loving grace extended to us that redeems us from God's own wrath, is also the impetus that inspires us to walk in an obedient life. Notice Noah's response in verse 5 to all God said.

"And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him."

We saw this great character attribute of Noah in chapter 6. Take a look at verse 22 of chapter 6. See how it states the same thing? "Thus did Noah according to all that God commanded." Our prayer should be that we too, by the grace of God, would be enabled more and more to walk in faithful obedience to all that we are instructed by His Word - the Bible.

January 8th

Reading: Genesis 8:1-22

Have you ever wondered how long Noah spent in the Ark? If you are not careful you will think that since it rained 40 days and 40 nights, Noah spent only a little over a month in the Ark. You know what? Maybe the rockiest part of Noah's trial was over, but his time of waiting on the Lord and barely begun. Notice what it says in verse 11 of chapter 7. The rains began, "in the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month." It may have rained for 40 days and 40 nights, but it took a long time for all that water to evaporate from the earth and soak into the ground. Even then, the ground needed to dry up before Noah and all the animals could walk on it.

Look at verses 13 and 14 in the chapter you just read and try to comprehend the length of time Noah was holed up in the Ark. Verse 13 says, ".in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth." For almost 11 months Noah had been nowhere but in the Ark. It was his refuge, but it was also a place where I am sure he felt he had no control of what was going on. All he could do was to wait, and trust on the Lord.

And now all the earth was dry and, guess what, Noah was not allowed to leave the Ark. I am sure Noah was anxious to be out in the fresh air and feel that freedom to move and do different things. Yet, patiently he waited for God's timing. Finally, over one month after Noah looked upon the ground and saw it was dry, the Scriptures declare, ".in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried." One year and ten days of confinement to preserve Noah and his family and to prepare them and the earth for the rest of history.

Have you ever had an enduring trial where you simply had to wait on God for the issue to resolve or the answer to come? More than once in our family we have faced the situation where one of our children, as an infant, had fallen so ill as to face the distinct possibility of death. I remember being in the hospital with one of our children, not knowing if she would live or die. We could only hope, trust and believe that God would have mercy upon her little life. Because my wife and I stayed in the hospital day and night with our daughter, it became like the Ark to us in the sense that we knew nothing for those days but hospital walls, hospital cots, hospital food and hospital halls. And we knew that, in the physical, her safety was to be found with in those walls.

Though we were only in there for days, instead of Noah's months, it was still a tremendous feeling to walk out onto the hard dry ground and see and hear all the wonderful sights and sounds of God's beautiful earth. In fact, it was almost overwhelming. I can't even imagine what feelings swept over Noah and his family as they looked out upon the earth and actually walked out of the Ark onto dry ground.

When in the depths of a trial, reflect on what Noah did. He trusted God, he listened for God's voice, and he obeyed what he knew God wanted him to do. And, in the midst of his being preserved by God, it seemed I am sure like the ultimate resolution would never come. Yet, Noah patiently waited on the Lord and did not budge from his place of current safety until God clearly spoke and released him to venture forth.

".they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).

January 9th

Reading: Genesis 9:1-29

What a packed passage of Scripture we have read today. God blessing Noah and his children; God declaring His covenant with Noah, his descendents, and even every living creature; the promise of God to never again destroy the earth with a flood and the creating of the rainbow as a reminder; the starting of a new humanity in the earth through Noah and his sons; the drunkenness of Noah and the shameful behavior of Ham; the humble respect shown by Shem and Japheth; and, the resulting blessings and cursing proclaimed by Noah. There is so much more here than we can contemplate together in the little time we have. Many of the topics raised in the latter part of chapter 9 will have to wait until we come back to this passage the next time we read through it together. What I want to focus on here in this initial reading is the covenantal faithfulness of God.

Our God is a covenant making and a covenant keeping God. And it is in this unchanging nature of Him that we can find our rest, our hope and our salvation.

A covenantal purpose God had for man in creation, from the beginning, was for man to fill the earth and exercise dominion over this creation. We read about this in Genesis Chapter 1 when we first read about the creation of man. We have read how man sinned; how he fell into great wickedness; and, how God was so grieved that He determined to destroy man from the face of the earth. Yet, in all this, God preserved a way to continue His covenantal purpose for making man. Through Noah and his family, which God miraculously and sovereignly rescued from His own wrathful act of judging all mankind, God kept alive His covenantal purpose for man.

When we read these first several verses of chapter 9, it is as if we are transported back to the sixth day of creation and God is speaking with Adam. Yet, things are different now. There is no earthly Eden; man is not in a state of innocence; creation is now subject to the curse of the Fall; and, the whole physical make-up of creation has been drastically altered by all the convulsive activities of the flood. This was still a beautiful world that Noah and his family had entered into when they exited the Ark. It was still a world which declared the handiwork of a mighty Creator, but it was not the pristine world of Eden, nor the near idealistic world of the pre-flood age. No, this was a new, beautiful, but uniquely harsh world unlike anything they had experienced before.

In this new, unsure world, God in His covenantal faithfulness came to Noah and assured him of his standing before God. God assured Noah of the covenantal calling that he had placed on mankind from the beginning was still there for Noah. And, God made a new covenant with Noah and all creation that out of His love and faithfulness He would never again destroy the earth and all living creatures by the act of a flood. This covenant, like so many of God's covenants has a sign by which we are reminded of God's covenantal faithfulness. That sign, of course, is the beautiful rainbow that God so often brings forth after a passing shower.

Did it rain today where you are? Has it rained recently and have you seen God's covenantal sign of faithfulness in the sky? Children get so excited when they see a beautiful rainbow; even we adults are thrilled by the sight. The next time you see a rainbow, don't be simply caught up in the beauty of the sight, remember that our God is a covenantal God, and He faithfully keeps all His covenants.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year and Daily Bible Reading from the BWLC

Happy New Year!

What you are receiving is a daily devotional that I trust will be a blessing and of benefit to you and your family. Several years ago, I was pondering the benefits of making the Bible a regular part of our daily reading and the desire to see my own children read the Bible from cover to cover. I realize there are several ''Read the Bible in One Year'' programs and some of you may have benefited from them. However, my own experience is that these programs become a challenge to keep up on the reading and leave little time for meditation and prayer on what has been read. These programs are especially challenging for young people. So, I investigated as to what would be required to read the Bible through in 3 years. My discovery was that by averaging about 28 verses a day, a person could read through the Bible in 3 years. Reading only 28 verses (on average) each day will typically leave time to consider and ponder what the Word of God has said, and to prayerfully respond to God and apply it to one's own life.

With this discovery and out of the desire of my heart to reach out to young people, I began working on a daily devotional ''Reading the Bible for All of Life''. I have completed about 1/3 of the devotionals (1 years worth) and the readings and comments for days one and two (January 1st and 2nd) are included with this e-mail. Beginning on Monday, January 3rd we will send out a weekly e-mail with each day's readings and a short commentary to help in your consideration of the key ideas. These were written particularly with young people in mind, but we have received an abundance of positive responses from adults of all ages who have also enjoyed and been blessed by them. What you will be receiving each week is the comments on the readings for the days of the week. However, I have produced, and am continuing to write and edit, a devotional journal for each book of the Bible. Genesis and Exodus are done and other books are in various stages of writing and editing. You can find out about the availability of these for yourself or your children at our website:

Of course, not all of you will desire to receive these regular e-mails for various reasons, so we have made it very convenient for you to unsubscribe. With each weekly e-mail there will always be an unsubscribe link which you can use to be removed from this e-list.

If, at any time, you wish to contact me to ask questions, comment on the daily devotional, or for any other reason, I can be reached at

It is our prayer that the Bible would become The BOOK for every area of your life, that each of us would learn to think God's thoughts after Him.

''Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth'' (John 17:17)

For His Kingdom,

David Barrett, Director

Biblical Worldview Learning Center


January 1st

Reading: Genesis 1:1-31

The portion of Scripture you have just read is extremely important, for it is the first thing God tells us about Himself and all He created. One of the things in which God takes much time and care to explain is the progressive day-by-day steps of His acts of creating. Properly understanding what is presented here is critical to properly understanding God, man, creation, and the relationship each has with the other. Much of this proper understanding hinges on the acceptance of what God overtly makes evident - that His act of creation was done in the span of 6 - 24 hour days.

Just think about what else you have just read and what has been presented to you. (1) You have been introduced to the awesome Creator God. And, in just a few words, you learned of three of His attributes. You learned of His
infinity, for He existed before "the beginning"; you learned of His sovereignty, as He has ruled and planned all things from "the beginning"; and you learned of His omnipotence (all-powerful), for all things were created out of nothing by the power of His word. (2) You just read the only complete and truthful account of how the world and all that exists came to be - God created it. (3) You have read about the creation of man. You have learned that man was created directly by God, in a special way, and for a special purpose. Man was made in God's image and for the purpose of exercising dominion (i.e. ruling all God had created as a steward, or vice-ruler, under God). And, (4) You have discovered that all God created was seen by God as "very good." All God created was sinless and brought glory and honor to Him. If you are familiar with the story of the Bible, then you know that this original condition is not the way things remained. The entrance of sin and the plan of salvation is yet to come. But, that part of the story would not have the significance it does, unless we first understand that "In the beginning.God saw every thing that He had made, and behold, it was very good."

January 2nd

Reading: Genesis 2:1-25

God as the Great Creator continues to be emphasized in this second chapter of Genesis. In fact, the four points introduced to you in chapter 1 are all addressed again here. The awesome Creator God and His attributes continue to be seen; the account of God's creation of the world and man is re-told; the special purpose for man's creation is also written about; and we see that God found great pleasure in His work as He rested in satisfaction of all that He created.

The first three verses of chapter 2 are really the completion of the creation week as told in chapter 1. The remainder of chapter 2 retells the same creation story of Genesis 1, only it gives us the unique fact of the existence of Eden and greater detail concerning the creation of man, Adam, and woman, Eve. So, Genesis chapter 1 is an overview of the Creation Week, giving us special information about each day, and Genesis chapter 2 is mainly a review of creation with a focus on Days 5 and 6 when God made the animals and man.

I want you to notice what God said in verse 17 of this chapter. I especially want you to see the words, "Thou shalt not." This is the first time in the Bible that God uses those three all important words. When God uses those three words ("Thou shalt not") He is exercising His rightful position as Sovereign Governor or ruler over all His Creation. This was a command of God that Adam and Eve were to obey, just as we are to obey God's commands to us. This command of God to Adam and Eve was for their good. All God's commands in His Word is for man's good, to bring man greater blessings and happiness. Sometimes we can incorrectly think of the "thou shalt nots" of the Bible as restrictive, negative and unfair. We might begin thinking that God is just being mean. However, I want you to notice two very important things about this particular "Thou shalt not" that is true of all the "Thou shalt nots" that God commands. First, read verse 16. Do you see the great liberty and freedom Adam and Eve had in the Garden? They could eat of all the other trees. The restriction God made concerning the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was minor compared to all God made available and encouraged Adam and Eve to partake of. Second, re-read the last of verse 17. Do you see what God was protecting them from? God's commands, His "Thou shalt nots" have a very loving purpose - to protect us from harm and death. We all need to realize that our actions have consequences. They can bring happiness and life, or they can bring sadness and even death, to ourselves and to others. We need to pray to God that He would cause us to desire to obey Him and do that which is good and avoid that which is evil.

In this chapter we learn more about God's purpose for man. God placed Adam in the Garden to exercise this dominion. Yet, we know God had greater things in mind. For, in Genesis 1:28, He spoke of man and woman being fruitful and multiplying and filling the earth. Much of Genesis 2, particularly verses 4-7 and verses 15-25, tell us what transpired between the declaration God made in Genesis 1:26 ("Let Us make man in Our image) and Genesis 1:27,28 where God creates the female and reiterated the
Dominion Mandate with the additional instructions "to be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish (fill) the earth."
God, in His wisdom, determined that the calling upon man to exercise dominion in the earth was not a calling that is best done alone (see 2;18). So, God determined to make a help (assistant) meet (equal) for man. That is, woman was created to come alongside man and assist man in his dominion calling sharing equally in the vision and passion of that calling.

There is great wisdom in these words from Scripture for young people today. Marriage is a very special institution that God has ordained to carry out his Kingdom purposes in the earth. This is not to say that every person is to be married. However, it is a general Biblical truth, that "it is not good that the man should be alone." Thus, we must conclude that it is a most natural and common state for men and women to marry. Yet, as I stated above, marriage is to be entered into with God's Kingdom purposes in mind. Young men and young women need to reflect upon the words shared here about the calling on Adam and the purposes for the making of Eve.

Marriage is the most intense covenantal relationship we experience outside of our personal covenant with God Himself. Thus, your preparation for this relationship should be deliberate and purposeful. It needs to include both internal spiritual and character development as well as external skill and experience. All this should be done with the Godly vision of family dominion purposes. Only then, can the declaration of verse 24 be truly fulfilled, "therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."