Monthly Archives: November 2017

The Rocky Soil

The-SowerYou can hear the audio lesson at this link.

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus illustrates 4 different types of hearts that people have when it comes to the Word of God. While the Good soil is the one that we all want to be like, we have to understand the other soils and make adjustments so that we either stop being those soils or so that we do not become those soils.

The Rocky soil is a unique and sometimes hidden soil. The issue with this one is that the roots of faith are not deep enough to sustain it during hard or difficult times. Sometimes they are not deep enough to sustain it even in the face of POTENTIAL hard times. However, until those hard times come, it may not manifest itself.

Luke 8:13 ESV  And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.

A.K.A.  The “As long as it is easy.” soil

Israel faced this problem. When Moses was sent back to deliver Israel by God, Israel rejoiced. They saw the signs that God had given and praised and worshiped God. They were probably thinking “Pharaoh just has to let us go…these signs will convince him that God is God!” And, of course, Pharaoh, not only didn’t let them go, but made their work even harder.  Rather than turning to God for support, they turned on God and complained. (Exodus 4:29-5:21)

Later, after crossing the Red Sea, Israel did another about face. At first they were rejoicing that God delivered them. Then that joy turned to complaining a few days later because they found water that was bitter and undrinkable. Now they were convinced they had been brought out there to die! (Exodus 14:31-15:4ff)

Many other examples can be seen in the next couple of years with manna, quail and other problems but the last straw was just before they were to go into the land of Canaan. (Read Number 13 and 14.) Here Israel was persuaded by the 10 spies that the land, which was flowing with milk and honey, would be a terrible land because the inhabitants were more powerful. And so, the congregation decided it was better to go back to Egypt and were ready to stone Moses. God, on the other hand, had had enough. Ten times the children of Israel had tested Him and He decided that they would NOT go into the promised land until that generation died off. They were to wander 40 years.

As you might imagine the people did not like that. They probably looked at the 40 years wandering on one hand and the giants in the land on the other hand and decided that fighting would be the easiest route to go. They presented themselves to Moses ready to do battle early the next morning and in spite of Moses’ warning that God was not with them, they still went to battle…and, of course, lost.

Israel shows us that Faith does exist which is allergic to conflict and problems. Unfortunately, God’s words and commands often bring conflicts. Mark’s  account of the sower reads this way:

Mark 4:17 ESV  And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

Put another way: If it easy we believe, if it is difficult we leave.

What can be done?

This soils needs some special attention and help. It is important to realize that sometimes nothing CAN be done. Sometimes people fall away and they just will not listen. In cases like this, waiting and, in most cases, praying are about the best we can do as we wait until the prodigal comes to his senses. Other times, however, we need to pursue the fallen away brother. We need to look for the lost sheep or lost coin and do what we can to recover them.

Warnings can help!

A good warning ahead of the problem can be a good start. It can prepare us so we are not surprised when it happens. We need to let our fellow Christians know that Satan is not some little friendly guy in a red suit. He is like a roaring lion looking for his next meal. We are not fighting flesh and blood in this life but the spiritual forces of evil. To this end, we need to know that persecution and tribulation and trials/testings of our faith WILL come. Not might. Not maybe. WILL!

2 Timothy 3:12 ESV  Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  (7)  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

James 1:2-4 ESV  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  (3)  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  (4)  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Not only do these trials prove our faith they IM-prove our faith. Our faith grows in the midst of these trials and…God’s name is glorified. While discipline and training are never pleasant (Hebrews 12:3-15), they are necessary components of becoming a productive and functional part of society…whether physically speaking or spiritually speaking.

How can we avoid being the Rocky Soil?

We need good deep roots. When you see a tree planted by the waters, you know that its roots are going to run deep. This is the image the first psalm provides and that tree is the person who delights in God’s word.

Psalms 1:1-3 ESV  Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;  (2)  but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.  (3)  He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

We also need to put on the armor of God. This armor will help us in the inevitable battles we face.

Ephesians 6:10-13 ESV  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  (11)  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  (12)  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  (13)  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Perhaps with the proper training and warnings, the rocky soil will change into the good soil. However, it is important that we do realize that we all have rocks to trip over and we should never consider ourselves above stumbling.

Galatians 6:1 ESV  Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

What other characteristics do you notice in the rocky soil? Again, you can listen to the 30 minute sermon here.

 

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3 things we can learn from Genesis 6

In Genesis chapter 6, we are introduced to Noah and the promised flood to come. As always, there are many things that we can learn from this chapter but we are going to look at three today. Please comment below with the things in that chapter that stand out for you.

God’s people and the World’s people don’t mix.

It has been said that if you put a boat in the water, it works perfectly. But, if you put the water in the boat, you have a problem.

In this passage, the Sons of God are not just finding the daughters of man attractive but they are taking them as wives and producing children. When those that are righteous allow those who are not righteous to have such an influence on their children (as all mothers do), it should be no surprise when in a short period of time that the wickedness grows. It grows so much that scripture says ‘that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually’ (verse 5).

That is a lot of evil thinking among people who live to be 600 to 900 years old.

Why is it that the Sons of God wanted the daughters of man? Verse two says that they were attractive. I don’t think that this is to say that the daughters of God were unattractive but I imagine that the daughters of man were more willing to emphasize their feminine characteristics, perhaps with braiding of hair, gold or attire, the very thing that woman who seek to please God will DE-emphasize according to Peter.

1Pe 3:3 ESV  Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—

There is little doubt that a worldly woman will more often than not turn a godly man from service to God. Even a wise man like Solomon fell to this trap.

1Ki 11:4 ESV  For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.

The good news is that a godly woman can turn hearts to God and build up the strength of those already serving God. Sons of God should look for wives among others who will follow God with their whole heart and be more like the worthy woman of Proverbs 31. While there are exceptions (Rahab and Ruth stand out here) most of the time that worthy woman is going to found among the Daughters of God.

Noah found favor in God’s sight-Noah walked with God.

Just like his great grandfather, Enoch, Noah walked with God. Verse 9 tells us that he was a righteous man and blameless in his generation, that he walked with God. These three things are key to why Noah found favor in God’s sight.  When the world is finally destroyed, who will be the ones who are saved? It will be those who walk with God. Those who are righteous. We, of course, will not stand in our own righteousness but rather the righteousness of Christ.

Php 3:9 ESV  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

Noah did not stand in his own righteousness either, but his faith, just like all who walk with God, will be counted as righteousness through Jesus Christ.

Noah did all that God commanded.

The book of Hebrews tells us that by Faith Noah took God’s warning seriously and built that ark. Faith is used in Hebrews 11, as it generally is, of trusting obedience. Noah believed and trusted God and then obeyed what God told him to do. We don’t know what kind of wood Gopher wood was but assuming it was Cedar wood, then Noah did not build the ark out of Elm or Pine….He built it to the given dimensions and also with the right number of doors (one) and windows (one) and gathered the animals God sent him.

He did all that God commanded him. When we do things by faith we do them the way God tells us to, not the way we want to or His way if it is convenient for us.

There are many points to make from Genesis 6. What other lessons have you found in this chapter that warns of the flood to come?

3 things we can learn from Genesis 5

Gen 5-24So you want to read the Bible all the way through and you begin with chapter one. Easy enough. But then you get to chapter 5 and you are ready to skip over it. Why not? A bunch of names of people that are difficult to pronounce makes ones eyes glaze over but yet, there are some things we can learn.

Man was created in God’s image.

At the top of the chapter: Verse 1 repeats that man was made in the image of God. This is a repeat but when the Bible repeats something, it must be important. This genealogy follows the generations of the people who began to call on the Lord. See chapter 4:26. But it also reminds us that our beginning start point is “God’s image.” It is only later that we begin to corrupt that image with our own desires and stubbornness. Returning to God and living according to that image is the thing we continue to try to do. God made the way through Jesus to get us back to the type of person we should be. Through Christ we can be partakers of His divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)

We are going to die.

One thing that should stand out loud and clear is that over and over again, the phrase “and he died” is repeated. (And repetition is important.) Even for those who lived a very long time. 200, 300, 800 years made no difference, they all died.  Even today we do so much to take care of ourselves. We exercise, eat good food, take medicine, drink protein shakes, eat probiotics, and whole host of activities that many believe will lengthen and improve our days on the earth. Actually, all of those things probably WOULD have beneficial results. However, the thing we must remember is this….We are all going to die!!!!  Even if medical science can slow aging and extend life to 150 years with lots of energy and vitality….it is still going to end. It will be said of you, someday (unless the Lord returns first) “and he died.”

Knowing that we are going to die, the best thing we can do is be reconciled to God. Nothing else that we accomplish in this world will have as big an impact on us as this.

2Co 5:20 ESV  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

One man didn’t die.

Enoch was the only one in that list who did not die. The scripture says:

Gen 5:23-24 ESV  Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years.  (24)  Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

Exactly what happened in this “taking” we don’t know. Many think of it as similar to Elijah. But what is important seems to be the phrase “Enoch walked with God….”

Why Enoch and not others? Hebrews tells us this:

Heb 11:5 ESV  By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.

Enoch had great faith as he walked with God. He pleased God.  If we will walk with God we can please Him too. While we certainly are not perfect, we can still follow the steps of Jesus and do our best to serve him.

Are you like those in this genealogy? Are you one of those who call on the name of the Lord? We know we will all die unless the Lord returns first so we should do our best to Walk with God and know that when this life is over, God will take us home.

What do you see in this chapter that we can all learn from? Leave a comment.

3 things we can learn from Genesis 4

If you have been following this blog for the last week, you may have noticed a pattern. 🙂 Let’s take a look and see if we can learn 3 things from the 4th chapter of Genesis.

God rewards faith in offerings.

The account of Genesis doesn’t tell us exactly what the problem was with Cain’s offering.  While a sin offering would require blood as written in the law Moses gave, we do not know if this was an offering of sin or thanksgiving or some other purpose.  It is therefore speculative to say that Cain’s offering was rejected because it wasn’t an animal sacrifice.

There is one clue in the wording in the chapter that might give us some insight. Abel brought from the firstborn and the fat portions. Cain, it is said, ‘brought an offering’.  In all of the offerings I am aware of, God always wanted the first and the best. We show our trust in God when we offer what we earn first and then also the best of what we earn.

Of course, later on, the writer of the book of Hebrews sheds more light.

Heb 11:4 ESV  By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

Abel offered his sacrifice by faith, Cain apparently did not. Now we sometimes think of faith as just a belief. However, Faith most of the time involves the belief and the action that is based on that belief. If Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17) then we can believe that God TOLD them what to offer, how to offering and if it mattered, what time to offer the sacrifice. Abel listened and obeyed, Cain did not.

The second greatest commandment is first violated.

While we didn’t touch on the Greatest commandment, that of loving God with your whole heart, soul, and mind in chapter 3, it was clearly broken by the sin of Adam and Eve. In this chapter, the 2nd greatest commandment which is to Love our neighbor as our self, is broken. Cain clearly brakes it with the murder of Abel.

Later on, one of Cain’s descendants, Lamech, will boast about killing a young man simply because he wounded Lamech. What low value human life was beginning to have. From made in God’s image to being destroyed by fellow man.

Calling on the Lord is a new beginning.

At the end of the chapter, Eve has another son named Seth. It is through Seth that the genealogy of Jesus comes. It was in those days that people began to call on the name of the Lord. Perhaps it was the recognition that they could not control themselves, perhaps that sin was a constant threat: even that sin had mastered them. But one thing is for sure, when a person calls on the name of the Lord, he will be helped. There is hope in the last of the 4th chapter.

What do you see in Genesis chapter 4?

3 things we can learn from Genesis 3

As we turn our attention to Genesis 3, we find the account of the first sin, the consequences of that sin, and a hope to redeem us from our sin. It is hard for us to imagine a time without sin and even though the Scriptures teach that we are not inherently evil and sinful from birth, it is impossible to argue that sin has not conquered us. All of us have sinned, so the lessons from Genesis helps us in our battle, especially the first lesson.

Lesson #1-Sin comes from our desires even if we are deceived.

When the serpent tempted Eve, it was a pure deception. He lied to her. She believed the lie and so the sin was completed. However, as we read the conversation and her thought process, we see that Eve was beguiled as much by her own desires to be like God as she was by the serpent’s lie. All of the trees were good for food, they all were desirable to look at (Gen 2:9) but only this one held to promise of something she wanted: wisdom.

Alas, we understand now that wisdom is really found in following God’s commandments and not bypassing them.  As an example: It may be considered wise for two unmarried people to move in together and to test out the relationship for compatibility. However, after looking at end results of such wisdom, we can understand God’s plan is truly wisdom.

Sin brings consequences

The Sin of Adam and Eve brought with it many consequences. They were removed from the Garden, kept back from the tree of life, forced to work hard for the food they would eat, have painful and increased childbirth. Even the marital relationship seems to have changed with the man being placed over the woman. Even in good relationships today, the husband is still charged with the oversight of his wife and sometimes that causes problems. (Husbands read Ephesians 5 and follow Christ’s example-Women, because submission is a voluntary action, be sure that you marry someone who will love you like Christ loved the church. In this way, you will not be tempted to violate his leadership.)

Redemption is promised through the woman

Interestingly enough, when we see the promise of redemption, it is a promise that does not involve man but only the woman.  To the serpent God said:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Gen 3:15 ESV

The enmity was between the offspring of the two. The offspring of Satan and the offspring of Eve. While we might casually read ‘her offspring’ as the children of Adam and Eve, it needs to be remembered, that Jesus was born only of the seed of woman and not of man.  God is foretelling His plan to bring Jesus into the world via a virgin birth. That offspring would be bruised on the heel….just an inconvenience, as He was killed on the cross. But that offspring would bruise Satan on the head, a decisive blow of defeat when He was raised from the dead.

Remember, when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, they died. There was a spiritual separation that took place between them and God. God makes a promise of restoration at a future time.

What other lessons do YOU see in Genesis 3?

What does Genesis 2 teach-part 2

gen 2-24The last two verses of Genesis 2 speak to the relationship that a husband and wife have.

The verses are generally considered to be commentary on the preceding verses where Adam names his wife. As inspired by God to write the account of our beginning, Moses clearly says that each newlywed couple is to be independent and separate from the families that raised them.  This will not eliminate the need to honor father and mother or to help father and mother in their later years but it does necessitate the need to be independent and not dependent on them for the needs of your new family.

As the newlywed couple leaves and ‘cleaves’ or hold fast to each other, they form their own family (with or without children) and as such need to put their mate first in their dealings and plans. Becoming one flesh speaks of more than just the sexual union but includes the vision and direction the family is going to go. Being naked and and unashamed shows an openness and intimacy that does not recoil at flaws and things we hide from others but not our spouse.

This passage also talks about the permanence of marriage and Jesus used to it to show God’s plan for marriage from the beginning.

It is good advice to not get married until you and your intended are willing and able to stand independent from your families, fully commit to each other permanently, and can be honest about deeper things than favorite colors and foods.

What does Genesis 2 share?

Gen Gen 2-152: Here we see God putting man in a garden with a job to do. God did not create man to sit around and do nothing. There were no basements (like in our parents homes) in the Garden of Eden.  Adam had to work.

Work is good for us, many passages in the Bible testify do this. However, just this small passage in Genesis two should help us to understand that from the beginning, God intended man to work. There is purpose and honor and dignity in working. As long as it is moral, it should be pursued.

Genesis 1 instructs us

Gen 1-1Genesis Chapter One: Here, we learn the origin of everything we see (and even those things which we cannot see). We also learn the esteemed position that Mankind has been given-that of being created in the Creator’s image.
That God created it all tells us of His power and authority. (As we tell our kids sometimes: My house, my rules.) That God made us in HIS image tells us that we can aspire to be more than base animals living by instinct and desire alone, we can exercise the self control necessary to NOT sin and to live by His rules.

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