In the beginning...

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12-22-2015 Genesis 12:7-9

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Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.  And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.  So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.

There is two phrases here that seem to get my attention: “he called on the name of the Lord” and ” Abram journeyed”.  Our life here on this earth is but a journey.  It is to prepare us for the place Jesus has for us. Jesus said: “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).  Most of us try to establish a place here to call home.  Home gives us a place for comfort, rest, and family.  While these are good things, our real home is in heaven with Jesus. So this time on earth is just a journey.  It’s a training ground for the ultimate home.  We all know that our homes here on earth can be destroyed.  Some of us have moved several times to different places, sometimes hundreds or even thousands of miles away.  The old place is either sold, or eventually destroyed.  Here on earth all things can be taken away, but the place that Jesus has made (the home) can never be destroyed. Jesus said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).  So to me it’s simple, just as Abram called on the Lord, I look to Jesus and keep on moving.  For my time here is short and this journey on earth is over quickly.  My treasure is in heaven, and there is where my heart lies.  But if you’re still confused, and don’t know what to say or do…. Please!… Just say Jesus!!!

12-16-2015 Genesis 12:4-9

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So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.  Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan.  Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land.

Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.  And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called the on the name of the Lord.  So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.

As we read about Abram I see him being obedient.  He listens to God’s word and then proceeds to follow that word. How many of us truly follow God’s word?  The parable of the sower that Jesus taught seems relevant here.  Some of us hear God’s word, and we like what is said. We say that sounds right, and we move on, however there is no root in the words. As soon as “shit happens” we tend to stop believing and of course stop following.  We believe somehow there’s a better answer.  There are some of us that hear God’s word and we follow and praise God, seeming like good Christians…you know church going folk!  But when the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things show up it chokes what we have learned.  We fall away and become lead by the world and our problems. But if we are like Abram and we hear God’s word, obey it, and follow it, we prosper and become the light for someone else.  Jesus is the light that is within each and every one of us.  Jesus said: ” I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me” (John 14:6).  Jesus is calling us to follow Him and trust Him, just as Abram did.  Abram trusted God when it didn’t make sense.  When we can do this we are truly free.  Then, nothing of this world can affect us. Paul the apostle wrote: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).  You can also do this if you just call on the name of Jesus!  If you are reading this and you still don’t know what to say or do, I encourage you to …..just say Jesus!

12-14-2015 Genesis 12:1-3

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Now the Lord had said to Abram:

“Get out of your country, From your family, And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you, And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Here the Lord gives Abram a command.  He tells him to leave his family, his house, everything, and to go to another land without knowing where he is going.  Could you do this?  Can you follow what God is telling you and trust Him? As we continue to read God tells Abram he will make him great, and the people that bless Abram God will bless, and the people that curse Abram will be cursed. That’s pretty strong promises.  Now He (God) didn’t say that wouldn’t be any struggles along the way.  The same holds true today.  Jesus promised us a better place and a better life.  He said: “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:2-4).  God also promises that as children of God we are heirs to the kingdom.  Paul writes: “we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17).  When we follow Jesus we receive the blessings just like Abram.  It won’t be perfect but in the end we receive paradise. In the same chapter Paul writes: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).   The problems we endure throughout our lives are nothing compared to our reward.  So how do we get all this great stuff. Even the apostles weren’t sure. Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:5-6). But if you’re still not sure and don’t know what to say…just say Jesus.

12-10-2015 Genesis 11:10-32

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Here in the 11th chapter of Genesis we have more genealogy (see below).  If you’re like me, I look at this and say: “Who cares?  I don’t know these people. They mean nothing to me.”  Right?  Yes and no.  Yes, I don’t know these people, however they are significant and they should mean something to all of us.  We may not know them, but they were important enough to be listed in the bible.  The truth is each one of us is significant and deserves recognition.  Jesus said:  “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).  Jesus knows you and desires a relationship with you. You are valuable in the eyes of God.  Paul the apostle wrote: He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32) We are so incredibly important that God himself came, suffered, and died so we could live.  Today, I encourage you to treat everyone like they are the most important person in the world.  Show them love, compassion, and kindness.  It is the greatest gift we can give or receive. But if you’re still confused and don’t know what to say…just say Jesus.

Shem’s Descendants
10 This is the genealogy of Shem: Shem was one hundred years old, and begot Arphaxad two years after the flood. 11 After he begot Arphaxad, Shem lived five hundred years, and begot sons and daughters.

12 Arphaxad lived thirty-five years, and begot Salah. 13 After he begot Salah, Arphaxad lived four hundred and three years, and begot sons and daughters.

14 Salah lived thirty years, and begot Eber. 15 After he begot Eber, Salah lived four hundred and three years, and begot sons and daughters.

16 Eber lived thirty-four years, and begot Peleg. 17 After he begot Peleg, Eber lived four hundred and thirty years, and begot sons and daughters.

18 Peleg lived thirty years, and begot Reu. 19 After he begot Reu, Peleg lived two hundred and nine years, and begot sons and daughters.

20 Reu lived thirty-two years, and begot Serug. 21 After he begot Serug, Reu lived two hundred and seven years, and begot sons and daughters.

22 Serug lived thirty years, and begot Nahor. 23 After he begot Nahor, Serug lived two hundred years, and begot sons and daughters.

24 Nahor lived twenty-nine years, and begot Terah. 25 After he begot Terah, Nahor lived one hundred and nineteen years, and begot sons and daughters.

26 Now Terah lived seventy years, and begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Terah’s Descendants
27 This is the genealogy of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot. 28 And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29 Then Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah. 30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.

31 And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. 32 So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.

12-8-2015 Genesis 11:5-9

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5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. 9 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

Man built a tower to reach up to the heavens and make a name for himself.  He became proud and forgot how God saved mankind from total destruction after the flood. The bible tells us pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Isn’t it funny how when we are proud and boastful, we always seem to get knocked down.  I believe my biggest problem throughout my life has been pride and arrogance.  We all seem to have a need to be remembered.  We all want to make our mark on this world, however most of us go about it the wrong way.  At least I did.  Now Jesus, who is by far the most talked about and most noteworthy figure in the history of mankind, taught us a differently. He said: “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus was God and He showed that we are to be servants. He set the standard.  He said: ” And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). So if you want to be great, humble yourself and let God raise you up.  Self-promotion never works.  We all know that when you die it all stays here.  You greatness here means nothing to God if you don’t have humility.  Jesus tells us to store up treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  The greatest gift we can give anyone is our love.  Jesus said: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:12-13). Jesus gave his life so that you and I could live.  Jesus humbled himself.  What will you do? But if you’re still confused and don’t know what to say or do…. just say Jesus!

12-7-2015 Genesis 11:1-4

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Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. 3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

In the beginning of this chapter man is trying to reach the heavens and make a name for himself.  It sounds to me like he was trying to get as high as God.  The bible tells us a different way.  James the brother of Jesus told us: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).   Jesus said: “So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16).  We should, however have aspirations.  Where we get confused is when those goals and ambitions outweigh or come before God.  Jesus said: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). When we can come to understand that God created us with a purpose, we can then fulfill that purpose.   He designed each and every one of us.  He also designed us in his image and likeness.  Think of it this way….if you buy a car, and you use it for moving furniture.  It doesn’t work..right?  So when we don’t line up with the purpose that God designed us for, we don’t work.  So you ask…what is God’s purpose for me? His greatest desire is for you to have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.  The details of where He leads each of us will vary, however God desires us to know God’s word, to keep God’s commands, and to be a witness for Jesus Christ.  God plan for all of us unfolds each day.  The job or career is different for each of us, however God uses these things to mold us into the image of Christ.  If we try to do it without God we will ultimately fail.  Jesus said: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).  That’s pretty clear.  Follow Jesus and He will lift you up.  But if you’re still unsure and don’t know what to say….just say Jesus!

12-4-2015 Genesis 10:1-32

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Below is the entire 10th chapter of Genesis.  Genealogy can seem boring and insignificant, however knowing where you come from is as important as knowing where you are going.  We shouldn’t dwell on the past, or the past of our ancestors, but knowing our past, helps us to have a better future.  We have all made mistakes in our lifetime, and hopefully learn from them.  Moreover, we need to learn from the mistakes of others as well as their success.  Now here is the best part, God made us in His image.   The image part is the spirit, and we are descended from God.   Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5-6).  We must be born again.  Our spirit needs to be renewed.  The most well know verse of the bible John 3:16-17… For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  All of us are children of God.  King David wrote: “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).  All we need to do is accept what Jesus has done. This initiates the rebirth.  Jesus said: “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5).  Paul the apostle wrote:  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  We can’t live in the past, however we can be hopeful for the future.  Jesus is that hope.  With Jesus the future is bright for He is the light of the world! But if you’re still confused, and don’t know what to say or do…. cry out, He will hear you…just say Jesus!

 

Now this is the genealogy of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And sons were born to them after the flood.

2 The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. 3 The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath,  and Togarmah. 4 The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.  5 From these the coastland peoples of the Gentiles were separated into their lands, everyone according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.

6 The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. 7 The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabtechah; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.

8 Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.” 10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, 12 and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city).

13 Mizraim begot Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, 14 Pathrusim, and Casluhim (from whom came the Philistines and Caphtorim).

15 Canaan begot Sidon his firstborn, and Heth; 16 the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite; 17 the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite; 18 the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite. Afterward the families of the Canaanites were dispersed. 19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; then as you go toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20 These were the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands and in their nations.

21 And children were born also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder. 22 The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram. 23 The sons of Aram were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. 24 Arphaxad begot Salah, and Salah begot Eber. 25 To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan. 26 Joktan begot Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal,  Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were the sons of Joktan. 30 And their dwelling place was from Mesha as you go toward Sephar, the mountain of the east. 31 These were the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands, according to their nations.

32 These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood.

12-3-2015 Genesis 9:24-29

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24 So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. 25 Then he said: “Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants. He shall be to his brethren.” 26 And he said: “Blessed be the Lord, The God of Shem, And may Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, And may he dwell in the tents of Shem; And may Canaan be his servant.” 28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 29 So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died.

Wow!  Does the punishment fit the crime?  I’m not sure.  The curse of Canaan, son of Ham’s  seems extreme.  There must be more to the story.  In verse 22, Ham saw his father’s nakedness.  This is a reference to incest.  “If a man lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them” (Leviticus 20:11).  Maybe a pregnancy resulted from this act.  Either way, I think something really bad happened, and it was sexually related.  What does this mean?  Sin is sin….right? Yes, and I believe that all sins are forgiven if one repents, however I think this type of act (whatever it was) leads one towards evil.  This ultimately leads to destruction.  There is one who fixes all of this and that’s Jesus! Jesus has the power to forgive all our sins.  It’s up to us.  When we turn our life over to Him, and allow him to guide us, we turn away from the evil of this world.  The definition of repent is to turn away.  Jesus is waiting… all we have to do is ask.  But if you’re not sure or don’t know what to say….just say Jesus!

12-2-2015 Genesis 9:18-23

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18 Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated. 20 And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. 21 Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

Here we see that Noah gets drunk and was naked.  Most likely, since he was in his tent, his wife was with him.  Ham comes in  and sees this.  No big deal…right?  Actually when you read the Hebrew text from Leviticus 20:11 it states: “The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness…”  So we could conclude that Ham had sex with his mother.  I’m not sure if this is what happened.  There is several other views about this, however what I see is Noah got drunk, and either did something stupid, or passed out and was oblivious to his surroundings.  I believe the lesson here is to be sober.  Wine is mentioned throughout the bible, however it is very specific about the abuse of alcohol.  We all have either been the drunk or seen someone in this state.  Drug and alcohol abuse is a major problem in our society, and for the most part misunderstood.  Addiction has touched everyone’s life in some way.  I myself struggled with addiction at different times in my life.  It seemed to always manifest most during emotional struggles.  I relied on alcohol to fill the emptiness I felt.  People would ask me why I drank so much, but never cared to ask why I was thirsty.  I found that the thirst I had could only be filled by Jesus.  Jesus said: “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).  We all thirst for something. Whether its drugs, alcohol, sex, power, money, prestige, etc…  All of these are things that never satisfy.  As with Noah, alcohol caused problems in my life. Today instead of using alcohol to fill the hole, I use Jesus.  And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).  Whatever ails you, Jesus is the answer.  But if you’re still confused, unsure, or don’t know what to say….just say Jesus!

12-1-2015 Genesis 9:12-17

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12 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Here again we see God speaking about His covenant.  In other words, His promise, His commitment, His guarantee, His word.  How many of us today are good for our word?  I know we expect others to be good for their word, but how does each of us do individually?  I used to think that I was always a man of my word.  I came to realize that I was influenced by so many outside forces that I could easily be swayed and justify breaking my word.  When I commit myself to God’s word, then and only then is my word good.  James the brother of Jesus wrote: ” If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach” (James 1:5).  When we rely on God’s word, prayer and meditation for direction, we make sound decisions based on love and compassion.  James also tells us: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6).  We need faith to be stable, and to not doubt the word of God.  So how do we have faith with all the other things going on around us?  Paul the apostle told us: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).  We must spend time with God.  We need a relationship with Jesus.  Hebrews 11:6 states: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  If we seek God He is “committed” to hearing and answering us.  This is the true formula for success. All of us desire respect, love, and commitment. We can’t do it by ourselves.  Jesus can give us this by trusting in Him.  Then we become the person that can be trusted, the person that is committed, the person that is good for his/her word.  But if you’re still confused and don’t know what to say or do…just say Jesus!

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