You’re invited…what are you wearing?

Today’s Reading: Matthew 22

v 1-14 The Kingdom of heaven is like…

The more I’ve reflected on our wedding, the more memories jog my mind.  The details that were put into everything.  From invitations selection to music played to the food and cake served.  What an amazing day.  This summer Jennifer and I celebrated our 12th anniversary.  I know I don’t say it or recognize enough the masterpiece our Lord created in my wife and our three wonderful children Jackson, Marshall, and Gianna, but I know they truly are.

The parable that Jesus shares in Matthew 22 talks about a wedding that various groups are invited to. Everyone in town was invited to, yet people refused and paid no attention to the invite for one reason or another.  For those who finally came, some didn’t come dressed for such an occasion.   There is always some thought that gets put into your outfit when attending a wedding.  For me, this parable makes me reflect on what I’m wearing.  What d do I put on each day in the presence of the Lord? What are my actions as a preparation for a wedding feast in Heaven? People like to pretend that our choices or actions don’t matter much in our modern-day world, but this parable shows that it isn’t true.

God’s invitation from Him is not a light matter. We are accepting or rejecting this once-in-a-lifetime invite. Our answer matters.  Our actions matter. Our dress matters.

What are you wearing?

Ephesians 4:20- 24  20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Every morning we all wake up and get dressed for the day. Am I clothed in Humility?

1 Peter 5:5 and be clothed in humility…

I’m grateful for His mercies He has shown me for the moments when my character lacks, and actions don’t represent Him. Lamentations 3:22-23 says Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

You are invited.  Do you accept? As we prepare now for His Kingdom, are there any garments that you are missing? Am I truly dressed and ready, or do I think I am?

Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Lord,  I pray that my actions and words represent godliness in all I do.  In my sinful human moments, help me to repent and seek you.  Father, I know the Kingdom you have invited us to is bigger and better than anything the world has to offer.  Help me each day to know this truth and share it with others.  Amen

His Loving Patience

What a great Top 10 Lynden shared with us yesterday on things we take for granted.  His examples were definitely aligned with mine as a reminder about many of the things we have in this life. After Psalm 105’s reminder about the hidden things we take for granted comes a reminder in Psalm 106 of God’s grace and patience despite our forgetful and self-willed lives.

Todays Reading: Psalm 106

I read and listened to a recent Podcast that recommended going back and reading different Bible versions.  Today I landed on the Good news Translation.

1 Praise the Lord!
Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good;
his love is eternal.
2 Who can tell all the great things he has done?
Who can praise him enough?

Who can praise him enough? I know that I can’t.  Even if I started a list right now, I’d still be making a list for days to come. Take a moment to pause and reflect. Write it down in your journal, on the side of your bible, say them out loud.

  • Praise for His transformation in my life.
  • Praise for His love and grace He shows and gives me.
  • Praise for my family.
  • Praise for small groups.
  • Praise for 1777 posts Bible Journal has posted since 1/1/2016.

These were just some I thought about today.  As you continue to read through this chapter, you will be reminded of the importance of our obedience in verse 3.

3 Happy are those who obey his commands,
who always do what is right.

Verses 6-43 humble me and remind me of the blind, rebellious, and forgetful we can be in our sinful nature how stories from the Israelites shortcomings can connect back to our stories today.  To my story.  To yours.

Thankfully, we have a Father who has given and shows grace to those who deserved judgment. Verse 44-47.  God’s faithfulness to us is not dependent on our faithfulness to him.  Just a few weeks ago, we remembered that God sent His son to die for you and me.  He showed us grace when we were still sinners.  Imagine the grace He shows as his children.

44 Yet the Lord heard them when they cried out,
and he took notice of their distress.
45 For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and because of his great love he relented.
46 He made all their oppressors
feel sorry for them.

47 Save us, O Lord our God,
and bring us back from among the nations,
so that we may be thankful
and praise your holy name.

48 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel;
praise him now and forever!
Let everyone say, “Amen!”

Praise the Lord!

Why I Believe: Chet Bandy

Today’s reading is Psalm 6.

I’m a little embarrassed to say when reflecting and preparing on this topic of “Why I Believe” I struggled a bit. I’m blessed to have been born into a Christian home with great parents who told me about God and Jesus at a young age, took me to Sunday school and church, and sent me to vacation Bible school amongst many other things to help establish my faith early. A friend of mine and someone who I would also consider a mentor, Tom Lipscomb, says that his mom would comment about certain things, “I know it in my knower.” Many believers have had a fork in the road moment where they remember turning to God when they had no where else to go, and they felt God save them, renew their soul, and rescue them from these challenges. This is similar to what David describes throughout Psalm 6 and especially in Psalm 6:1-2, Psalm 6:4, and Psalm 6:9. In fact, the titling in my Bible above Psalm 6 is O Lord, Deliverer My Life. For me though, I’ve never not believed… it’s more like Tom’s mom said, “I know it in my knower.”

Some reading this may say if there was never a time you didn’t believe and the flip was switched so to speak, how do you really know it’s true and God is real? I will say there was a period of time around my college years when I did reflect and think to myself, “Do I really believe the Bible and what I’ve heard all these years? Or is this just something I’ve always taken as true because my parents believe and not let my mind question or think otherwise? Do I really believe myself?” As I let my mind become more open to wondering if it was true and become more cognizant to the information I was taking in, I continued to come back to what I heard and the truth I read in the Word.  Yes, there are the questions that science brings up about creation, evolution, and the miracle of the virgin birth. But, science is changing every day. Things that were believed to be scientifically true for years and years are being disproven, revised, and changed. Heck, we still don’t know fully how all the facets of the human body works today, let alone the truth about things that happened hundreds and thousands and even millions of years before any one of us were even born. I believe most of what science says just describes the way God engineered and did things. Science and God are not in opposition necessarily. For other things where science and God don’t seem to jive, I arrive at two conclusions. First, how do we know the so-called science is true? Again, science is being revised constantly. Secondly, some things we have to just say happened by the miracle of God because He is God and can do what we can’t.. and can’t even explain for that matter (Romans 11:33-34, Isaiah 55:8-9). More than anything, the love of Jesus and His grace on the cross continued to be a magnet that would not let me go away. Again, I just “know it in my knower.”

While there hasn’t been a watershed moment where I can say I first believed, I can say that almost daily I become more and more convicted as to the truth of God’s existence and the Bible. It happens when I see someone decide to break the chains of their past and the shackles of their sin and lead a changed life once they discover the love and grace of Jesus. It’s seeing the beauties of a gorgeous sunrise or sunset and looking up at the stars and moon and thinking, “There’s no way all this could happen by chance.” It’s seeing the birth of my children and reflecting on the fact that life is truly a miracle. Just think about all the things that have to go right for a baby to be born and the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of chemical interactions and nerves firings, all of which happen simultaneously without us thinking about them, just for us to live. It’s seeing how something that seemed terrible at the time like a relationship split or job loss years later proves out to be a great thing by finding an even greater relationship or career path. It’s how what seemed to be a small and insignificant decision at the time later turns out to change the trajectory of your life such as my decision to pursue finance instead of orthodontics not knowing that years later I would lose fine motor skills in my hand.  How do these things happen without a greater power? How do they happen without God? My simple conclusion..they don’t. When you believe and develop awareness and look for it, you can see God’s hand on nearly everything…eventually. For other things where we never see it ourselves, we just simply have to trust Him, and I’m confident we will find out in Heaven that there was in fact a great purpose we just couldn’t see.

What is the greatest miracle though and the reason why I believe? It’s the grace of Him sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross. As Andy Stanley described in a recent series I listened to, when we as created beings question and doubt our Creator in any way, we deserve eternal punishment. But, God did what man cannot even fathom doing if we were God.

“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:7-8

Before some of us believed while we were rejecting Him, and while some us believed yet are still sinning by the day, hour, and even minute now…He suffered and died in an unimaginable and gruesome way for you and for me. Knowing what we would do and are still doing today..He did it anyway. It’s that sacrifice and His unfathomable grace which restores and renews me when I mess up constantly to bring me back together with Him..that’s why I believe.

Please take a few minutes to watch this lyric video. I promise…you won’t regret it.

https://youtu.be/C2U7ffUM5Ec

Grace and Truth

Today’s reading is John 1:9-18

Since God made man there have been questions. Satan started creating them right away in Genesis 3:1 saying, “…Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” This lead to the Fall when sin came into the world. Today, we live in time when there are arguably more questions than ever due to all the craziness in the world coupled with the access to so much information through social media and the internet. Let’s name a few. Was there fraud in the presidential election? What is true and not true about Covid 19? Do masks work? Is the vaccine safe or not and should our family get it? Is global warming a threat and caused by man or just natural and normal climate change? These questions probably ignite feelings and opinions you believe to be truth. They might even invoke anger, and if they don’t, there are probably other ones I didn’t even want to list that would. Isn’t is also ironic that access to more information than ever only seems to bring more questions than answers.

From the start, man was curious and wanted to know the truth and believed some things to be true which were not. John 1:9-18 reminds us that advent is a time where we remember God gave us truth through His Son Jesus born in a manger in Bethlehem that first Christmas. He is the One and Only source of true light and the one and only source of truth (John 1:9). He is Truth.

We are also told by John in these verses He came with grace, and we know He ultimately showed us this grace through His sacrifice on the cross. Romans 5:8 reads, “but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” It is not by our doing or works that we are saved. It is purely by His grace which we do not deserve.

As I mentioned earlier, most all of us (including me!) have a lot of beliefs about what is true as it relates to what is going on in the world right now. Let us all remember this advent season that Jesus, the Word, is the only real Truth. We don’t need to look any further and for more information than is found in the Bible. Let us remind others of this as well. But, let’s also remember this advent that every time the Bible talks about grace and truth, grace always comes first. Again, Romans 5:8 tells us He gave us this grace when we didn’t deserve it. When we hear people talking or posting on social media about what they believe to be truth which we may not feel the same, let us model what Jesus taught and gave us by giving them grace first. I don’t see a lot of this grace from Christians these days. By giving this love and grace we can then point them to the Truth that is Jesus. They can then find for themselves what they are looking for this Christmas (but likely don’t know it) which is the grace and truth God gave us through that babe in a manger on the first Christmas over 2,000 years ago. Only in His grace and truth will they find peace.

The Word

Whether you realize it or not, you probably have a lot of questions going through your mind right now. You are not alone. Every single human being on this Earth has questions. One big one is…”Am I going to make it through this?” It could be a medical issue, financial hardship, challenges with your business or career during Covid, or family/relational challenges to name few. During these times many of us in the U.S. are asking when the racial tensions and other political turmoil will end. When we will get past this as a country? Again, most questions come back to am I going to be ok, or will we be ok?

There is great news in that every one of these questions can be answered in the Word of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were mad through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5

The Word is Jesus. He has always existed. The book of Genesis gives us the first indication of the triune God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son (the Word).

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..

Genesis 1:26

Note the words “our likeness.” From the beginning of creation, Jesus was there. God knew man would sin before He made us and due to sin would have all the problems and questions we have today, so He had a plan and answer. His plan and answer was and still is Jesus.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him.

John 1:10

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

Jesus came down from His throne in Heaven willingly and without sin to die for you and me the cross. Because of this and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday, the answer to every question is that all who believe in Him will be ok and get through whatever challenge we are facing. However painful our life on this Earth is, it is brief and we will spend eternity with Him without any of the burdens we face while here.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4

As I was writing this I was thinking, and you may be thinking the same while you are reading this, “Wow..there is a lot of Scripture here and not much other writing/dialogue.” Well..that’s really the point. Every answer we are looking for is found in the Word. The Bible is called the Word because it all points to Him, the Word. It is not just God’s story and love letter to us, but it is our story because we are all part of God’s plan through Jesus.

When you get down to it, I believe every human being is looking for truth whether they know it or not. John 1:14 above says Jesus came in grace and truth. Note that grace comes before truth here and every time it’s mentioned in the Bible. I’m thankful that grace and forgiveness came before truth, and we should follow Jesus example in our lives. When we, and others, dig into the Word we find the truth and answers we are looking for and we fall in love with Him. We find that truth and love in His grace. Then, we can’t get enough of it.

I’ll wrap up with these 2 questions…

  1. How can you be in the Word more to fall deeper in love with Him?
  2. How can you introduce someone else to the Word who is struggling and needs the grace and truth only He can give right now?

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

 

The Great Physician

And He said to the, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did in Capernaum, do in your hometown as well.”

Luke 4:23

It is known through other scriptures and those immediately before and following these in Luke 4:22 and Luke 4:24 that Jesus was rejected in His hometown and performed few miracles there (Mark 6:5). What it is believed He is saying in Luke 4:23 is that one would assume if He can heal and perform miracles, He would do that among His family and those in His hometown like He was doing in Capernaum and other areas. However, Jesus knew they would not say that because they did not believe He was the Messiah.

Why did they not believe He was Christ? Sometimes we are too close to a situation to realize what is going on or too close to a person to realize how great they are. Have you ever heard the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone?” Many of us may have experienced this with a loved one or relationship that we took for granted until they were gone sadly. Although Jesus personally truly had no flaws like our loved ones still did, those in Nazareth knew His mom and dad and that He came from poor parents in their region so how could He possibly be the chosen one? They were too close and knew too much…which really meant they didn’t know anything. Even His own disciples seemed to get fearful and nervous when running out of food or a storm or problem came up when just days or even hours before they saw Jesus provided what they needed and more through miracles.

I think if most of us are truthful with ourselves we can say even though we’ve never personally met Jesus, we have seen Him do miracles in our life. The probable health diagnosis of a serious problem which somehow turned out to be nothing. Struggling to know how bills would get paid or where the next meal would come from, but somehow unexpected money came in or bills were unexpectedly forgiven. Or what about the car wreck that nearly happened when someone ran a red light, but it didn’t because you just happened to look that way..even when your light had been green for a while. And although we know that some of these needs were met in ways so improbable that they absolutely had to be a miracle from God, how quickly we tend to forget what He did before when the next challenge arises sometimes even within days.

James 1:6-8 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” While Jesus performed some miracles in Nazareth, would He have done more if those in Nazareth would have believed? While He’s performed some miracles in our life, would He have done more if we TRULY believed He could or would when we prayed for others?

While I believe this verse in James tells us believing He can and will do what we pray for is important, it’s not always His will to perform miracles even then because He knows what’s best for us and is wiser than we are (Isaiah 55:8-9). Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” I’ve shared before that I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in 2019 which caused me to lose strength and some motor skills in my right hand. After 2 surgeries and correction for the stenosis, my strength has not come back yet. And while I believe He can and will heal it as only He as the Great Physician can, I’m at peace with His will. When I look down at my puny hand or struggle to do something simple and have to ask from help from my wife or someone else to do a task that used to be easy, it reminds me of the other miracles He DID perform in all of this…..finding a doctor in an improbable way who performs a surgery even Mayo didn’t know about, being able to still perform my career and write and type still despite my challenges as where my original dream to be an orthodontist would have yielded much different outcomes and financial challenges, and still being able to even walk and play catch with my children. I appreciate the little things I used to take for granted. Most importantly, it reminds me that my story can help others…not only physically by sharing my doctor and surgery no one else is performing….but spiritually by sharing with others that I can see God’s provision through the situation and that while yes…I want my hand to be at 100%….the physical and other earthly challenges we face are short…no matter how long our life. What really matters is our soul for eternity. And yes the Great Physician can heal our physical bodies and meet our physical needs, but what He can and has already saved and healed us from is what no earthly physician can..the burden of sin, death and the eternal punishment we deserve. Through His wounds, physical suffering, and death on the cross which was worse than anything we will ever face, the Great Physician has given us eternal life when we believe and trust in Him and His grace. Jesus…thank you for making my story and all of our personal stories a part of the greatest story ever told…your story.

 

 

Kobe

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

Psalm 103:8

Today’s reading is Psalm 103:8 with our word to describe God being compassionate. The entire chapter of Psalm 103 expands on this theme.

Over the last week or so since the terrible helicopter accident that claimed the lives of 9 people, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, most of us have taken in a lot of information not only about that day’s events, but about the lives of those on board, including of course Kobe. I must admit it’s been sobering for me not only because of the loss of life and thinking about their families left behind, but also because of what I’ve learned about Kobe since.

In 2003, Kobe was accused of sexual assault with charges later being dropped and the case settled out of court. While Kobe claimed innocence in regards to the assault, he admitted his guilt for his infidelity to his wife Vanessa. In 2012, he was photographed with his shirt off in a bar talking with 2 women while Team USA was traveling in Barcelona. While Kobe said a drink was spilled on him and he was waiting for his replacement shirt, I suspected, most likely similar to many others, he had not learned and changed his ways after his past mistakes. While I had come to really respect Kobe as a basketball player, and most of all his drive, competitiveness, and work ethic in recent years, I had all but written him off as a quality human being away from the basketball court.

Since his passing, much has come out about Kobe as a father and person, His quote, “I’m a girl dad.”, has lead to a social media frenzy of pictures of proud dads and their daughters with the #girldad tag. I’m not a big fan of private helicopters and planes and won’t get on one myself, as it seems like you always hear about them going down usually with no survivors. In addition to being saddened when I heard the news of the crash, I admit I had the passing thought…”Geez..do you really need your own helicopter..isn’t that even a little bit eccentric?” Later, I learned in an interview with Alex Rodriguez, Kobe said he bought the helicopter because he missed one of his daughter’s events after being stuck in traffic. He said in his interview he could also now fly to and from workouts and be home to pick up his daughters from school. His wife said she could easily pick them up and it wasn’t a big deal, but he said when you travel as much as I do…even 15 minutes talking to them on the commute home from school meant so much to him. Wow. I also read a story of him visiting a young boy with a fatal heart condition in the hospital and playing basketball with him for hours causing the boy to smile for what his parents said was the first time in years just a few days before his passing. The story is now told that Kobe did this in secret and specifically asked for no PR in what turns out to be not so rare event of him visiting the ill and insisting on no publicity.

While Kobe was not perfect and still made mistakes, it sure seems like he was in fact a good husband, father, and person and had changed. However, we know being a “good person” does not get you into Heaven. When I heard about his passing my first thought was, “I hope he knew Jesus and was saved.” The day after, I was pleased to learn he went to church that morning before boarding the helicopter. This was a good sign. Then, I heard an interview he did with Steven A. Smith in 2006. When Steven asked him about the 2003 incident and what he learned, he said….

“God is great. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. You can know it all you want, but until you have to pick up that cross that you can’t carry, and He picks it up and carries you and the cross, then you know.”

Praise God! I was overjoyed that Kobe had learned that God is compassionate and asked for forgiveness. My next feeling was guilt for my judgement of Kobe all these years. Although it seems like he had changed, it wasn’t my place to judge and condemn him in the first place.  I had not shown Kobe the same mercy and compassion for his past mistakes that God thankfully shows me in mine. I had wrongly judged Kobe’s mistake(s) as worse than mine. And the reality is, in God’s eyes, any sin separates us from God for eternity without Jesus and the cross. I need the cross as much as he did for my many mistakes. Although they may be different than his, God views them the same and forgives them all the same through the compassion of the cross. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” I sin each day, hour, and likely minute and need his mercy, grace, and compassion just like Kobe and all of us.

Matthew 6:14-15 reads, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Talk about a wake up call.

Kobe has taught many about drive, passion, and work ethic, but what he taught me is that I must extend the same grace, forgiveness, and compassion to my family, friends, and everyone which God also extends to me through carrying my cross daily. All I can do is praise God for his compassion and say, “Thanks, Kobe.”

The Pharisees

Today’s reading is Matthew 12:1-45.

Do you have a hero of the Bible you like to compare yourself to or like to think you’re similar? Could it be Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Joshua, David, or Ruth to name a few? I doubt very many of us like to compare ourselves to the Pharisees, but I for one, have to admit that often times I am more like them than some of the other aforementioned desired people.

First, we see in Matthew 12:1-3, the Pharisees judging the disciples for picking grain and doing work on the Sabbath. We then see them questioning this again when in Matthew 12:9-10 Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. It can be easy to quickly judge someone for how they parent, how they spend their family time, the car they drive, or the home they own. I heard a quote one time that said…Question: “How big of a house is too big of a house?” Answer: “Just a little bit bigger than my house.” Please forgive me for not giving the proper credit, but one of our other Bible Journal writers commonly says they remind themselves by saying, “Stay in your lane.” What a great saying. Even if what someone does is in fact a sin (and it may not be), their sin is no worse than any of my own sins in God’s eyes.

In Matthew 12:22-24, we see the Pharisees not wanting to believe the miracles Jesus performed in front of them were from God, and then they asked in Matthew 12:38 to see a sign. How often do we have the sin of pride by not giving credit to God for what He’s doing and then not seeing the “signs” right in front of us of what He has done already or will do. Recently, I’ve faced a challenge that I’m wondering how it will be resolved, and it has consumed many of my thoughts. The crazy thing is that this same exact challenge has been overcome many, many times before under arguably more difficult obstacles. Yet, God pulled through in the past and has even used some circumstances this time to help give me clues that this to will pass. However, like the Pharisees, I find myself looking for more “signs,” nearly completely ignoring His past provisions and evidence that this to will be resolved.

Why do I consistently do this? Why am I like the Pharisees when I don’t want to be? I’m a sinful human in need of a Savior just like the Pharisees. All I can do is pray for more awareness to make me more like Him and less like the Pharisees, to not lean on my own understanding by trusting Him with all my heart, soul, and mind, and most importantly by confessing my sinful nature and by thanking Him for His saving grace on the cross.

Noah

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday Bible-journal family,

Today’s readings is Genesis 6:1 – 9:17. (Noah)

Last week I asked my oldest son who Noah was? He said he built the ark and brought all the animals with him.  I said that was a great start, and followed up with, Do you know why Noah was chosen for this? Why did God have this flood happen? Response… I forgot.  So…to answer my own question and for his answer lets reflect on the life of Noah in these few chapters, lets dig deeper into his life as we will see who Noah was and why he was chosen by God to build the ark and why the flood happened.

Let’s look back at chapter 5 for a look at the creation of mankind.  Genesis 5:1-2 says that, “when God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them.  And he named them “Mankind” when they were created.”   This was God’s plan for how mankind would be.  In the likeness of God! Verse 3 says, “When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.” Do you see the difference? God created Adam and Eve in His image.  Once sin had entered the world, Adam’s son was made in his likeness, in his own image. This would include all the people that were on the Earth when the flood happened.

When made in our own image we can be very selfish.  Personally, I daily pray about my own selfish battles.  Many days have ended in repentance from a sinful worldly focus.  I continue to ask for prayers to seek His will and not my own in all things!

So why the flood? Why Noah? Let’s get to chapter 6-9.

 

Genesis 6:1-3 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with[a] humans forever, for they are mortal[b]; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

God had seen how His beautiful, perfect world,  and people change. He was hurt, and at the time sorry that He had made man. As I looked at the various population growth formulas its amazing to think of the number of people that were on the earth.  Depending on the formula it ranged from 750 million to 4 billion people. Wow! At this moment is when God decided he was going to wipe everyone out.  Well deserved with our sinful nature.  Yet, God saw hope, he saw favor in someone that proved he was staying faithful and righteous for our Lord. Noah.

Verse 8  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord!  Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.

Thank you Noah for your faithfulness. Through God’s grace,  Noah was chosen, He found favor in the eyes of the Lord.  I’m so thankful for this grace that God showed Noah then and the grace that God shows us in our flood of sins.

Ephesians 2: 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Still Noah’s obedience is amazing. I pray for obedience like this when God is telling us to follow His will. The work put in to build the ark is indescribable. Building, remaining faithful when I’m sure the onlookers thought he was crazy. From a worldly perspective doing everything Jesus asks can seem frightening.  What will people think? I pray for boldness for us all to live like the righteous Noah God saw, in the face of others today.  Be the example of kindness, love, joy, and thankfulness for all that God has given us.

Genesis 7:5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

Noah, his wife, his three sons Shem, Ham, and Japeth, and their wives entered the ark in addition to all the creatures. They listened to the Lord. According to the Flood Chronology of my bible the total time on the ark was 370 days, from Genesis 7:1-8:17.  Of course in that time was the 40 days and 40 nights of straight rain.

1 Peter 3:20 reminds us of Noah… God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. (the above noted) 

So after the 370 days what would you do?

Noah’s first action after exiting the ark was to give thanks.  Build an alter to the Lord thanking Him for the Lord’s deliverance of him and his family. Thank you Noah for the reminder of how grateful we need to be for God’s deliverance every day.  Will you thank God today.  God has created us, saved us, and has promised a place for us to be eternally.  So with our faithfulness, when the floods come, we can find peace that God will be there.

God thank you for your child Noah, who remained faithful.  Help us to remain faithful in our doubts.  To be obedient in following your will for our lives and not our own. We love you and are sorry for our selfish ways.  Help lead us back to you.  Amen

Eternal Perspective

Today’s reading is Job 38.

Yesterday, we read Job 1-2, so we know Job was a man who had it all so to speak…personal wealth/possessions, family, and health. Then, it was all taken from him. Like mine, your Bible may have headings for the chapters of the book of Job that follow. Just a quick skim of these can show you the many emotions and feelings of Job through troubling times which are likely some of the same we have during trials.

In March of 2018, Coach Tony Bennett and his Virginia Cavaliers basketball team became the first #1 seed to ever lose to a #16 seed in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Some would be right in saying this disgrace is not worse than divorce, poor health, or financial troubles, but no doubt this disgrace was bad and in the public spotlight. It seemed like every year it would come up that a #1 had never lost to a #16 with many experts saying it would never happen. Not only did Virginia lose, they lost badly. While Coach Bennett’s teams had done well in recent years, many had already questioned him and his coaching strategy which is different than the norm in college basketball with hard-nosed defense and a slow style of play that many call boring to watch. Many also questioned his coaching style which showed little fire and emotion on the outside in that game, as it does in every game. What would critics say now, and how would Coach Bennett react to the loss? Well, not only did he give credit to the other team for their play in his interview outside of the locker room immediately following the game, but he admitted they simply “got their butts whooped.” Then, he followed up by saying, “I’m trying to tell the guys in there..this is life. It can’t define you. Enjoy the good times and you gotta be able to take the bad times.”

Although he didn’t state it on the outside to the public, I would imagine Tony Bennett had his Job-like moments privately to himself, if not verbally to family or those closest to him. He likely wondered what God’s plan was in all of this and why God let it happen to Him, a faithful Christ follower who likely also plays by the rules when many coaches in college basketball don’t. He may have even wondered if his critics of his slow down coaching strategy and calm demeanor were right. Could he really get the job done? If Tony Bennett thought these things, we do not know what the Holy Spirit may have said to him. However, we do in fact, know what God said to Job here in Job 38. God reminded Job that he in fact was sovereign and in charge. In Job 38:4-6 He states, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements-surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?” God continues to speak to Job with this message and in Job 38:12 says, “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?” If we read on to Job 42, Job ultimately confesses and repents, and God rewards Job for that confession and repentance by giving him twice as much as before (Job 42:10-12).

Ultimately, Job did not think that God knew the physical and emotional pain and public disgrace he was going through. Thankfully, we know that now through Jesus, God experienced every type of pain we have. Knowing of His upcoming scourging and crucifixion, He experienced emotional stress so great that when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane He sweated drops of blood (Luke 22:44). He experienced relational distress and abandonment of those He thought were friends when one of His 12 closest friends, Judas, betrayed Him leading to His death (Luke 22:48), not to mention another one of his 12 closest friends Peter denying He knew Him not once but 3 times (Luke 22:54-62). He even had family relational turmoil and abandonment with His brothers telling Him to leave and not believing Him (John 7:3-5). He experienced public disgrace and embarrassment when the soldiers mocked Him (Luke 22:63-65), and the crowds yelled “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” requesting the release of a murderer in Barabbas instead of Him (Luke 23:18-21). Wait…even Jesus experienced the unfairness of bad things happening to good people and good things happening to bad people!? And of course, He experienced the physical pain of the scourging (John 19:1) and then being nailed to the cross (John 19:18). How blessed are we that during trouble times we can have peace knowing that we can talk to and pray to God who felt what we are feeling?

Just a year later here in 2019, after being down in the first round to a #16 seed again by 14, Coach Tony Bennet’s team won the national championship! Coach Bennett said he played the song Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells for his team before the game. He said, “It just means that you’re never alone in the hills or in the valleys. And we faced those from last year to this year. But the credit goes to those young men, and I can’t wait to celebrate with my wife and my kids and my parents. And I do want thank my Lord and Savior.” He also said, “I think there was a bigger plan going on here. I wasn’t needed but I was used in it, and I hope that it’s message for some people that there can be hope and joy in resiliency and I’m thankful for what happened.” I’m sure he wasn’t thankful last year after the loss, but now the bigger picture and plan can be seen.

When we take an eternal perspective on the hills and in the valleys, it changes everything. As we reflect on Maundy Thursday today, Good Friday tomorrow, and Easter Sunday, let us not forget that our story is part of God’s story. He took the absolute worst event in the history of mankind, the only truly innocent person to ever walk the earth being tortured and killed, and turned it into the greatest event in the history of the mankind…brining us together into oneness with Him through the forgiveness of sins which gives us eternal life.

Coach Tony Bennett quoted to his team last year after their terrible loss Psalm 30:5 which says, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Joy truly does come with His resurrection on Easter morning. It not only means that we can face whatever trials this life brings, but most importantly, it means He conquered death, and now so can we.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iDuZv_5MQk