There’s no shortage of action in this week’s passage from the book of Genesis. What on earth is happening? Giants seem to be invading and the sons of God seem to be taking all the beautiful women! The whole planet is indeed turning upside down. What God created and proclaimed “very good,” including man, has now become wicked and evil and will be destroyed. So horrid is the picture portrayed in our passage, that the company who provides our children’s bulletins skipped right over it, surely thinking the topic was inappropriate for young children. Well, we won’t be so bashful on Sunday. While the wickedness of human sin was simultaneously crushing the world and bringing grief to God, He offered up grace as a way to escape His impending judgment. As crazy as the passage may initially appear, it is full of grace, hope and application to our own day. The bad news is that mankind has not changed a whole lot from the days before the flood, but the good news is that God hasn’t changed at all. Come join us on Sunday at 10:30
Monthly Archives: March 2014
There are a lot of old people in Genesis 5. Beyond that, what else can you say? Maybe this is one of those chapters, that when you’re reading your Bible, you skip right over without giving much thought. We won’t do that this Sunday, because Genesis 5 is the inspired Word of God and it should have something to show us. It should matter. In it is the big story, the thread of redemption branching out on its way to the promise of the Messiah (check out Luke 3:23-38). But there are a number of other significant things going on here. The world of Genesis 5 is changing rapidly as generations and generations of new people begin to populate the earth, and that is where we may want to stop and ponder what is going on. What does this rhythmic and long genealogy have to say to us? What are the implications for our day?
Come join us Sunday at 10:30 as we worship God together.
The world, in Genesis, is beginning to change. This week’s passage, from chapter 4, introduces a number of new men and women, as the offspring and Adam and Eve begin to fill the earth. It also marks the beginning of formal civilization, when the city of Enoch is built and inhabited. The world continues to change and all sorts of problems are now showing up as the fallen family of man makes its mark on creation.
Embedded in this story is the ongoing narrative of the seeds, which began back at Genesis 3:15. There are spiritual forces at work and each of them is seeking to bring about change on the earth. The seed of the serpent is bent on destroying earth and its inhabitants, while the promised Seed of the woman will be their Savior. The battle becomes a major ground war, beginning in chapter 4, during which the followers of one seed become more distinguishable from the other. There are major differences between these two groups and each of them has the potential to make a difference in the world in which we live. Yes, you and I DO make a difference in the world. God made His people different and sends them into the world to make a difference in it. What are those differences and what do they mean for you? That’s what we’ll be looking at this week.
The story of Cain and Abel is one of the most well known in the Bible and is, to many, one of the most confusing. I mean, didn’t God want people to be vegetarians at this point in the Bible? And isn’t all that fat in red meat bad for us anyway? A common reaction to this passage is that God isn’t being fair. It seems that God didn’t give the boys any requirements with regard to offerings and yet, Abel’s offering was more pleasing to God than Cain’s.
Cain’s reaction wasn’t exactly the best model for conflict resolution, killing his brother and then playing stupid. As sorry as you may feel for Cain, you still may be wondering why God appears so lenient with the world’s first murderer. God only cursed Cain by casting him out and making him a wanderer and scavenger, promising to protect Cain from anyone that tried to take his life. But the point God is making has nothing to do with the food pyramid or reading His mind to know His will. God is not vague about what He requires from each of us, whether Christian or not. He made it very clear to Adam and Eve after their fall into sin, He made it clear to Cain and He makes it perfectly clear to you and me. Cain is without excuse and so are we. How so?
Come join us Sunday at 10:30 as we dig deeper into Genesis to discover how we can please God and live the life He’s called us to. Don’t forget that Sunday school, for all ages (including two classes for adults and youth), is from 9:15 – 10:15 in the Parish House. Bring someone new to church with you. Everyone is welcome!
“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8)
We spent all of 2013 journeying through the Book of Acts as a congregation, and what became readily apparent was that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is front and center. Getting the message of the Gospel out to those near and far (Acts 1:8) was, and remains today, the charge of Christ’s Church. No one was more fervent in proclaiming the Gospel than Paul. He gave his life as a living sacrifice to make Christ known to a world that was, and still is, perishing without Him.
But Paul did not just sacrifice his life to proclaim the Gospel. He also gave it for the sake of others in the body of Christ. In reading Paul’s letters, we realize that giving his life for other Christians was just as sacrificial as proclaiming the Gospel to hostile unbelievers. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 provides a long list of the sufferings of Paul, which includes beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks, hunger and thirst, sleeplessness and lack of clothing and shelter. It’s quite a list of Paul’s hardships as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul concludes the long list with this (v. 28), “and apart from all these things, what comes upon me daily; my deep concern for all the churches.” Paul’s ministry was somewhat itinerant in nature, and yet he could not separate that ministry from those who were unified with him in Christ. He sacrificed for and identified with his brothers and sisters on a daily basis. He lived a shared life. It was life on life.
The importance Paul placed on living a shared life is also apparent in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 (above). Not only was Paul always ready to share the Gospel, he was also ready to share of himself with the dear brothers and sisters at the church in Thessalonica. Paul’s concern was not merely to get the Gospel to new people and move on. He was deeply moved to share his life with other believers. A cursory look at Paul’s epistles reveals that he often wrote to clear up controversies and correct sinful behaviors. Living life on life with these folks was nothing but messy. It required a lot of love and devotion, and it had to be incredibly tiring. Yet, Paul said this is what he desired and loved to do. Why? Because he too was a sinner in need of grace, just as they were. Paul was the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), yet knew that life in the body is the place where God shapes sinners to be like Christ (Colossians 2:2). That happens in our worship, in our fellowships and during our Bible studies, along with any other time brothers and sisters come together.
It is only when we fail to acknowledge our need of Christ, and attempt to stand in our self-righteousness, that we fail to receive and give God’s grace in our shared life. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book Life Together, said “It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!”
The fact is, as Bonhoeffer says, “we are sinners.” We cannot be helped and we cannot help others when we claim to be better than our neighbor. We will remain alone and certainly no closer to God. As Bonhoeffer says, “If my sinfulness appears to me in any way smaller or less detestable in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all.”
Sacrificially giving of ourselves for other Christians in our church will be messy, tiring and inconvenient and, at the same time, dear to both us and them. But only, if we recognize that we are all equally in need of God’s grace and considered part of Christ’s Church solely because of what Jesus has done for us. That is the beginning of grace, and radically alters, for the better, all Christian fellowship. It is the beginning of sharing life together in a meaningful and God exalting way.