BSF Genesis: Week 26, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

3.
a.
As prophecy of things to come.  To give Joseph guidance and fortitude

b.
He wasn’t street smart or worldly wise, but, is it unwise to share visions from above?

c.
Keep your audience in mind when delivering something sacred, the sweetness will turn to bitterness when mixed with their emotions and contempt

4.
He was his father’s favorite.  He was a dreamer. They were jealous of him and he came across to them as being arrogant

My Daily Journal:

I liked the discussion on Matthew 7:6, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”  While my answer stemmed from the viewpoint of the giver in the sentence, it is interesting to turn the tables and look at it from the opposite perspective.

Joseph’s brothers, and even father for that matter, were only able to see Joseph’s dream through the goggles of their own sinful heart.  They couldn’t rejoice for him that God might someday make him a king or ruler, they couldn’t see the blessings that might flow to them if he achieved such a stature.  They could only see him as something less than themselves.  What nerve for him to have such a dream.  Who does he think he is?  We need to knock him back down a few notches.

There is an old saying, when you lay down with dogs you get fleas.  In the same way, when you wallow in sin, you get dirty like a pig.  This is where Joseph’s family was.  With itchy fleas and mud-caked flesh, how could they have possibly seen God’s providential blessing for their brother and son?

But how often do I do the same thing.  My own sin clouds my ability to see God’s blessing.  My sin distracts me and irritates me so that I miss rejoicing and come across as upset, irritated or distracted.  Like Joseph’s brothers, the sin in my heart can make it so I can’t look past the mud.

But, that is also the beauty of the analogy of this scripture.  Through the saving grace of Jesus, God offers to wash my sins away and cloth me in new garments.  He offers to remove the scales from my eyes, as he healed the blind time and again.  All I need do is the same thing Joseph’s family should have done, repent my sin and seek the cleansing power of my loving Father.

BSF Genesis: Week 4, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

3.
The devil, satan

4.
a.
But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.

b.
Yes, 9.In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and… 16.You are free to eat from any tree in the garden (i.e., if it was in the garden and they could eat from any tree in the garden except one then they could eat of that tree.)

5.
a.
1. Caused her to question God’s word (did God really say?) 2. Caused to q God’s justice (not die) 3. Cause to q God’s nature

b.
listened then saw/looked then took then ate then shared:  1. listened to question, 2. responded to question and amplified God’s word (added to it) 3. doubted and underplayed consequences of sin 4. listened to denial of God’s nature and didn’t argue

c.
God’s nature/attributes – He is truthful, He is just, He is loving, He is a protector

6.
a.
In both Satan used and twisted the word of God to provoke an action that is against God’s design. Jesus, however, was able to keep His focus only on the word and not on the temptation, Eve saw the temptation. Jesus told Satan, “away”

b.
No – God does not act to lure us off the path, but He does allow us the free will to step off if we choose: tempted vs seized by t

c.
Tempted to conform rather than live as an alien. Do I pray in public even before meals? How many times a day do I use Jesus’ name in a sentence with others? As a Christian I should speak a different language and have different customs.  I’m seeking strength in God’s Word and power from the H/S.

My Daily Journal:

In the senior level of the children’s program in BSF the closing exercise each week focuses on an attribute of God.  It wasn’t until doing the lesson today that I recognized just how vitally crucial that is to our walk with God and our ability to avoid being tempted.  Understanding that there are some things that are absolutely always true about the very nature of God gives us a perfect measure to test anything that may ever tempt us.  Adam and Eve both forgot (chose to not remember) that God is always true, that He is always just and that He is always faithful.  In so doing, they turned their eyes away from God (or, at a minimum who God really is) and it is only at this point that they fall to temptation.  When the hymnist reminds us to “turn our eyes upon Jesus” he isn’t telling us to treat the image of our Lord as some good luck talisman, but instead to view the road we choose to walk only through the lens of the true attributes of God.  Obviously, doing that starts with knowing the attributes of God.

The lesson this week breached the discussion about whether or not Jesus was tempted or tested, semantics for the underlying question of whether or not Jesus could sin.  This can become very confusing, particularly to a new christian.  Here is my perspective for better or worse.  It is not God’s nature to sin, that would be in direct contradiction to His attributes of being Holy and Perfect.  So, Jesus, as fully God, could not have sinned.  And, we see and hear throughout the new testament account that He lived a life perfect and without sin.  He was also fully man, born of a woman, and in this capacity had the ability to sin (Reminder: this is my understanding of scripture based on my very limited knowledge and study).  The majesty of Jesus as a man and as our unblemished lamb comes from the fact that he chose not to sin.  Adam and Eve chose to sin, Jesus chose not to sin.  I think this is important because it comes back to the presence of the tree and the serpent in the garden to begin with.  If God had not endowed man with free will and with the ability to choose to obey Him and live in perfect communion with Him, or not, then there would have been no tree, no serpent, no choice.  Jesus as a man was not in any way less than any other man.  It wasn’t that he was incapable of doing something that all other men are capable of doing.  Just the opposite, He was capable, but chose to stay focused on the Father’s will instead of the path we take to “look around”.  How often could we prevent temptations from creeping into our lives if we kept our eyes more focused on the word of God and the attributes about Him that it conveys?

BSF Genesis: Week 2, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

5.
1st day: intrinsic light – light that will never end. 4th day: the vessels that deliver light to the earth: sun, moon and stars – Psalm 147:4, He knows the number of stars and calls them all by name

6. a. Separate day from night, signs to mark sacred times, give light on earth – Give testament to God’s glory (Ps 148:3)
b.

  • The size and majesty of God compared to man
  • Declare the glory of God
  • To tell the appointed seasons, the requirements of the Lord
  • Saw a star, come to worship the king of the Jews
  • Mark the end times, 1/3rd turn dark

7. a. He gathers the waters. He reveals it in the plants. He marks it from the sky: seasons, lights and patterns that sing His praise.

b.  In the areas that are out of balance. More time praying and trusting in Him and seeking His direction.  I would be far more efficient if I simply accepted His word as fact up-front rather than the circuitous route that I take to get back to it.

My Daily Journal:

I am delayed this week, in part because I spent too much time digging into the challenge question/discussion about Day 4 of creation.  This is such a stumbling block to so many and one I felt I needed to wrestle with to fully understand.

The quandary is that on the 4th day God creates the sun and moon and stars; after He creates the earth and even after He creates plant life.  Commonly accepted scientific theory/evidence is that the stars date back far before the earth and even far before our own sun.  Science says that the universe is vast and the earth is a relatively insignificant spec in the cosmos.  The bible account says the universe is vast, but it exists for the significant souls that God places on the earth.  But, how do we reconcile the timing.  Which came first, the stars or earth?  Which came first, the sun or the earth?  What do we do when the “scientific evidence” doesn’t match the biblical account?

Very noted biblical scholars take varies approaches in answering this question.  Some profess that what Genesis is really saying isn’t that God created the stars on the 4th day, but that there was a cloud or haze that blocked them from the earth (separated the waters below and above) so that their light only became visible on the earth on the 4th day.  Some profess that, because there isn’t clear distinction in the Hebrew words used between past and past perfect tense that it may be saying that God created them on day one but is just referencing them on Day 4.  Some argue that the days are not meant consecutively, but that they just reference distinct phases or periods of time and not necessarily order.

Could these be right?  I don’t know.  But I’m not comfortable with any of these approaches.  To me, they seem a little too loose in bending the words of the bible to match commonly held belief.  They seem a very slippery slope in flexible interpretation, one that naturally lends itself to a re-writing or at least a re-interpretation of any part of scripture that doesn’t match commonly held understandings.

I studied economics in college and my professors drilled into us that in any economic theory it is absolutely critical to always remember what the assumptions are that the theory is based upon.  I think the same applies to any scientific theory since all theories accept some things, whether stated or implied, as given assumptions.

In my understanding of current day scientific theory on the age of stars in comparison to the age of the earth or the sun, three of the key assumptions are:

  1. The “earth” was then (at formation) essentially what we define as the “earth” today (i.e., the third planet from the sun, similar in shape, mass, atmosphere, etc to what it is today)
  2. The stars, sun and moon were, at their formation, essentially the same as what we would define as stars, sun, moon today.
  3. We have sufficient information to reliably predict and test our assumptions.

Where I am going with this is that I believe we (mankind) draw boxes in our mind of how we understand things and then try to make God fit into those boxes.  For example, when Genesis 1 says the earth, is it talking about this ball of mass that we call home?  Yes, I believe it is.  Is it specifying that ball of mass has all of the exact properties that it does today?  Clearly not.  How could it if it was without form?  How could it if the sun and moon did not yet exist?  The same goes for assumption 2 in regard to the sun, moon and stars.

However, I think the most critical, and obviously most arrogant on the part of man, is the assumption that we have sufficient information to treat our theories as fact.  Within the past couple of decades science is just discovering that all of what we know, everything about matter and mass and energy that we understand across the universe, accounts for less than 4% of what is out there.  We are now finding that 96% of the universe is “other” (dark matter/dark energy) that we barely have any understanding of at all.  (see The 4% Universe by Richard Panek).

Call me whatever name you like, but I’m sticking with God’s account of creation as it is written.  I trust in God and I trust in His word.

By the way, if any others may be under the assumption that this is a new argument or that belief in the bible is “out-dated” based on our advanced scientific knowledge, it is important to observe this writing by Theophilus of Antioch in 181 A.D.

“On the fourth day the luminaries came into existence. Since God has foreknowledge, he understood the nonsense of the foolish philosophers who were going to say that the things produced on earth come from the stars, so that they might set God aside. In order therefore that the truth might be demonstrated, plants and seeds came into existence before the stars. For what comes into existence later cannot cause what is prior to it” (To Autolycus 2:15 [A.D. 181]).

BSF Genesis: Week 0 – Lecture

What is Mr. C? (btw: Mr. C is my co-leader this year).  He is a man.  He is a BSF leader.  He is a father.  He is a follower of Christ.  All of these are true, but they don’t paint a very clear or complete portrait of Mr C.  To really get to know him, you would want a lot more information.  You would want to go all the way back to his childhood, to the very beginning.  You would want to know stories about his friendships and about the times and people who hurt him or let him down.  You would want to have some genealogy about his family, like what they did, how they lived, what they felt and believed.  You might want to hear songs that he liked, poetry.  You might want to hear his own words.

You see, that is what the bible is.  You can say it is a book or collection of books, because it is.  You could say it contains laws and direction.  But it is so much more.  The bible is the way that God has chosen to reveal himself to mankind.  It is the actual inspired word of God, told through the writing of humans, because that is how we can commune with God.  As God is eternal, so is His word.  It is stories about God, just as we would tell stories to learn about anyone else.  It is a tale of joy and a tale of sadness.  It is a book of poetry, history, prophecy, parable, law and above all, it is a book of grace.  It is a book with amazing joy, sadness and then redemption fulfilled at great cost.

The bible is God’s word.  God didn’t recite it word for word, but don’t mistake that they are His words.  In spirit He guided and inspired the authors to record, without error, these words so that we can become closer to God.  The written word is on the same level or authority as if God had spoken it (in a loud booming God voice) to you or me directly.  It deserves the same reverence, not in a lock it in a glass case and worship the ink and page, but in a way that requires our time and attention and effort to commune with.  The bible contains the knowledge we need to walk the path we are to take in our lives.  You can call it an instruction manual, a light, but most importantly, it is a gift.

God desires to commune and communicate with His people.  Did you realize that christianity is the only world religion that doesn’t have a “divine” language?  You don’t have to speak hebrew to read about God.  You don’t have to read ancient arabic.  The bible has been translated into over 2,530 different languages – almost every written language in the word so that every person can read, study and get to know the word of God and thus, know God.

How are you showing respect for the word of God in your daily life?  How are you showing just how thankful you are that God chose to let us get to know Him, that he cared that much?  Are you hungy and thirsty for the word?  Me, too!

Not only is this God’s word, but it is also how God reveals His divine purpose and plan.  So, since there is a master plan for how everything and everybody and all time is going to be and work and do, wouldn’t you want to know about it?  You see, God isn’t just a creator and builder, who designed and created everything, put it in motion and then just sat back and let it go.  He is a God of action.  That is one of the reasons we pray.  God is alive and listening.  He is active and moving.  He wants us to see Him, understand Him and, in reflection, understand His plan for our lives.

It is said that God’s main purpose is to glorify Himself.  Sometimes this is mis-understood and people think God needs us to tell Him how great He is.  Like we have something that God needs.  But it doesn’t mean that.  Think of it this way, a lightbulb’s main purpose is to show how bright it shines.  Glory is what God is, just as light is what a lightbulb is – OK, on a much bigger scale, but you get the point.

Do you believe that God has a purpose and a plan?  Do you believe that He has a will?  Do you believe that the God who created everything, knows everything, knows every blade of grass, every molecule, a God who is alive and active and listening and participating and communing…  Do you believe He just might have a thought or two in the fashion of a plan for your life?  Do ya’ think, then, that it might be a good idea to read and study the book where He wrote that down?  Just saying!

We start our study this year in the same book that God chose to start, Genesis, a book of beginnings.  Genesis tells us about the beginning of everything: at a universally large scale, as in, the universe, and on a subatomic scale as in the time that he spoke mass and matter into being (the heavens and the earth).  God could have chosen to reveal all kinds of details about timelines, and specifics about the way that He created, but He chooses to tell us the story in the matter that means the most to us, in a very human and personal way.  He spoke.  He saw.  These are human actions and God wants to reveal Himself to us in the language we all can see and speak.  Genesis tells about how we began with God and how we were given choice and made the wrong one (sound familiar to your own life?)  Genesis tells about things like rebellion, judgment, justice and, right from the very start, it begins the promise of redemption and reconciliation.  God tells us about Himself through the stories and interactions of His friends and the people He calls family, His peeps (as in they will be my people and I will be their God).

At some point in your life you will ask the question: How did I get here?  It may be at a time of incredible high, where you want to reflect on all the blessings.  It may be at a terrible low point.  It may be at a time that you just feel last or lonely or one where you are thankful and joyful.  Here is what I can tell you.  I know where the answer to that question is.  It is right here, in these words.  You see, everything we need to know about how we got here, physically, mentally, metaphysically, chronologically, spiritually, legally, purposefully, economically and redemptively – it is all here.  Where should we start?  How about: In the beginning God…