Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bible Study - Genesis 1:3



When and how did God create the universe?  The Bible tells us that he created the heavens and the earth "in the beginning." We discussed that truth last time. But how did he create? Remember there was nothing to create with. There was no material in existence to make something out of. And "God said, 'Let there be light'" (Genesis 1:3). "Then God said, 'Let there be a firmament'" (Genesis 1:6). God's method of creation was to speak. Psalm 33:6 "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth."

God spoke and the universe and all it contained came into existence. He continued to speak and various parts were separated from other parts. For example water on  the earth was separated from water above the earth and an expanse was created between them. Light and darkness were separated from one another. Water was gathered together into one place to allow the dry land to appear. All of these things occurred because God spoke. God created through the spoken word.

When we look at John 1, we find that the Word was in the beginning with God and the Word was God. But the Word became flesh and lived among us. This Word is the second person of the trinity. He is the Word of God and he is God. And that Word took on a human body and his name is Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the Messiah. All through the description of Jesus' ministry here on earth he says things like, "I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things" (John 8:28). And, "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak" (John 12:49).

Jesus is God's Word to man and it is through him that all things were created.

 Hebrews 1:1,2 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

The answer then to how God created the universe is that God spoke the word and everything came into existence and that Word ultimately took on bodily form and came here to dwell with us - Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bible Study - Genesis 1:1



Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The Bible begins with this amazing assertion. Whenever the beginning was, God was there. What was there moments before God created?  Of course, there weren't moments, because there was no such thing as time, but you know what I mean. Who or what was there? When God created, he created all matter, time and energy and all of the "natural" laws that govern all of these things. But before this, all there was was God -- the triune God.

The Bible teaches us that God exists in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each of these persons is fully God and has all of the characteristics that God has. So before anything was created, these three persons of the Godhead existed together and had existed together for all eternity. Since God is a personal being, he has the characteristics of personhood. He is able to communicate, love, rejoice and so forth. So for all of eternity past, the persons of the Godhead had fellowship and communication with one another.

In John 1 we read: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." The passage goes on to tell us that everything was made through him. So who is/was this Word? Here is what we read in John 1:14: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." From this we can figure out that the Bible is talking about Jesus Christ. So Jesus is God and was with God in the beginning and everything that exists was created through him.

Other passages confirm this picture. Here is what we read in Colossians 1:16
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

Here's another example: Hebrews 1:10 And: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands."

We get a little snapshot of what was going on before the world was created from Jesus' prayer recorded in John 17. "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was" (Verse 5). And in verse 24, "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world."

As far as the Holy Spirit is concerned, we know that he is eternal (Heb 9:14) and that he was present "hovering over the face of the waters" at the beginning of creation (Genesis 1:2).

Let's summarize what we know about things prior to the beginning of creation. We know that God the Father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit were present in a loving, communicating relationship throughout eternity past. Nothing else was existent. There was no time, space or matter. God is totally self-sufficient and has no needs. There was no need for fellowship or companionship. There nothing lacking within the totally self-existing Godhead. And then God created!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Memorization Monday - Psalm 118:13-14

   “You pushed me violently, that I might fall, But the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.” (Psalm 118:13–14, NKJV)

The Fighter Verse of the week. See their website and commentary here: http://fighterverses.com/set-4-core-esv/week-48/

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hymn of the Week - Thanks to God

1 Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a mem’ry,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and stormy fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!


2 Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare!


3 Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heav’nly peace with Thee!
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks through all eternity!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Christianity and the Importance of Reading - Part 7

We have seen how reading is important in the Christian life. God used words to create. He gave us His written word for the purpose of instruction in how to live. He required it of the Old Testament people and the New Testament Christians also saw the importance of reading. God expects us to spend time meditating on His word and in order to do that we need to know how to read and how to focus long enough to think about what we’ve read.

God lifts up His Word above all other forms of communication. Peter, who was present at the transfiguration of Christ, describes this event in 2 Peter 1:19-21. Even though this was a grand event, he explains that there is a more sure word. More sure than an emotionally charged experience of the glory of God? And what is that more sure word? He goes on to tell us that it is Scripture. Scripture is a more sure word than any experience we may have whether it is a real physical experience as it was in Peter’s case or an emotional or spiritually charged vision of some sort. The Word is more sure than all of that and should be given the priority when we are trying to determine what God would have us know or do.

The Psalmist in Psalm 138:2 tells us that God has magnified His Word above His name. We know that the Name of God is great and sacred. We are not to take His name in vain and yet God Himself has elevated His Word above His name.

If these things are so, then we must be sure that we understand and practice the importance of reading ourselves, in our families and in our churches. Children must be taught the skill of reading and it must be actively encouraged. There must be undistracted time allocated for this practice. As parents we must set the example.

In the next few posts we will go over some of the challenges to the word and reading that we face in our modern world. We will also look at some steps we can take to mitigate those hindrances and challenges.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Christianity and the Importance of Reading - Part 6

Meditation is an essential aspect of the Christian life and is based on reading. Meditation is the chewing over of Scripture in our minds, focusing on it, thinking about what it means in context and to ourselves. It involves looking at it from multiple angles and reflecting on it repeatedly so that it’s truth can impact our souls.

Success and prosperity (in the spiritual sense) is promised for consistent meditation. See Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1:2 as examples of this. In the Psalms passage the person who meditates on Scripture is described as a living, fruitful tree growing next to a stream of water, whereas the rest are described as dry chaff which the wind blows away.

The Psalmist tells us that meditation improves understanding. (Ps 49:3)

David meditated continually on the commands and statutes of God. (Psalm 119:15, 23, 27, 38, 78, 97, 99, 148)

Timothy was urged to meditate on certain truths and give himself completely to them. (I Timothy 4:15)

Paul told the Philippians to meditate on things that are true, lovely, noble, etc. in Philippians 4:8.

Finally, God is writing a book of remembrance of those who meditate on His Name. (Mal 3:16). That’s kind of amazing to think about the fact that God is actually creating a memory book filled with the names of people who meditate on Him. Wow!

Why is reading important? Because meditating is important and it is hard to conceive of meditating on the Word of God if we can’t read it. How are you doing in the area of biblical meditation?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Christianity and the Importance of Reading - Part 5

The Bible teaches us that the word of God is spiritually discerned. I Corinthians 2:13-14 tell us that the natural man (that is the man who is not born again) does not receive the things of the Spirit. They are foolish to him because they are spiritually discerned. The Bible is one of those things that is spiritually discerned.

In 2 Corinthians 3:15 we are told that every time Moses was read to the people, they were not able to understand it because Satan had put a veil over their heart to keep them from understanding the truth. Only when a person comes to Christ is that veil taken away and the Word can be understood.

2 Corinthians 3:15 tells us that it take the illumination of God to bring understanding just as it took the word of God to create light in the first place.

So here is an interesting question. Can someone who cannot read and understand the natural meaning of the text of Scripture still have the illumination of the Spirit to understand the word. Let’s take an extreme. If you had a Bible in front of you in a language that you did not speak or read, would the Holy Spirit still open up the spiritual meaning to you as you sounded out the words? Let’s say I gave you a German Bible and you don’t understand German. As you pronounce the words to the best of your ability will the Holy Spirit give you the understanding you need?

I maintain that the answer to that question is “no”. It’s my opinion that it takes a natural understanding of the text first in order to be illuminated by the Spirit for the spiritual understanding to occur. This is why Christians over the years have worked very hard and spent millions of dollars to make the Scriptures available to people in their native languages.

My point in bringing this up is that we need to do all we can for ourselves and our children to make sure that we learn to read to the best of our ability. There are many practical ways in which reading is being diminished in our video culture and we must make sure that our children and our families are able to read well so that they can understand what God is saying through His Word.