This We Proclaim

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In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. ”  (Genesis 1:1-2, NIV 1984).

He [Jesus] was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”  (John 1:2-3, NIV 1984).

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15–17, NIV 1984).

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:14, 10–11, NIV 1984).

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim.” (1 John 1:1, NIV 1984).

My Musings – In the beginning, before any had come into being, God was already there.   He had always been there, because He had no beginning.  In the beginning, before any had come into being, Jesus was already there.  He had always been there, because He was before all things.  He was before all things because He is God (John 1:1).  In the beginning, the Spirit was already there, hovering over the things created.

They created all things. Without them, nothing that was made.  There was no uncaused cosmic big bang from which time, space and matter inexpicably came into existence.  There was no mysterious or coincidental mingling of all the right enzymes, proteins, etc. in the primordial ooze from which the spark of life began.  There was no process of natural selection by which the first spark of life evolved into man.  “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  (Genesis 2:7, NIV 1984).

In them, all have hold together.  They came into being by them and are sustained by them.  Without their sustaining power, what came to be, would cease be.  And without their regenerating power, the curse of the fall would doom all creation.  That is why Jesus became flesh to dwell among us.  Yet the world did not recognize or receive their Creator and put Him to death.

My Advice – Is good news!  “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  (John 1:12–13, NIV 1984).  This we proclaim.  It is yours for the receiving.  Be “born of God.”  He created you.  He can create you anew.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV 1984).  To be “in Christ” is to be “born of God,” to be born again, to become a “new creation.”  Otherwise, “dust you are and to dust you will return,”  (Genesis 3:19, NIV 1984), “just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”  (Hebrews 9:27, NIV 1984).  Do not face that judgment without being “a new creation.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

 

 

Who Then Is Like Me?

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Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?”   (Isaiah 43:10–13, NIV 1984).

I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come— yes, let him foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”  (Isaiah 44:6–8, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Eternal.  First and last, Alpha and Omega.  No god before or after.  Ancient of days, with no beginning or end.  God is from eternity past and future.  Who was (always), is (IAM) and evermore shall be.

Omnipotent.  No one can either stop or reverse His actions.  No can is greater or could be greater.

Immutable.  He does not change, nor could He.  Solid as a rock.  But like no rock we could possibly conceive of.

Pre-eminent. Surpassing all others. None beside Him, no not one.  No one before, after (eternal), more powerful or ever could be (omnipotent).  This will never change (immutable).

My Advice – Worship Him, for “these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him!”  (Job 26:14, NIV 1984).  Yes, all of the above are merely faint whispers of how great thou art!

 

A More Perfect Union

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“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”  (Hebrews 1:1–3, NIV 1984).

My Musings – The preamble to the U.S. Constitution includes the phrase “in order to form a more perfect union.”  If you google the phrase, you’ll find all kinds of reflections on what the founding fathers could have meant by “more perfect.” How does one improve on perfection?  But how else would you express an ideal (existing only in the imagination)?  It is something that is more than perfect, even though there is no such thing.

Sometimes, the words we have at our disposal are inadequate to convey what we are trying to express.  I think this might have been the case with the writer of Hebrews.  How to put into words the nature and character of Jesus Christ?  He is the exact (not deviating in truth or reality from God) representation (a likeness of God).  Two words that do not commonly go together.  Something is either exact (same) or a representation (like).  One or the other, not both.  But Christ, the God-Man, is the exactly the same as God in essence, yet a representation of God in person.

He was different from the prophets who preceded Him, in that they only represented God to man.  Jesus was God who became man.  An exact representative of God.  He is superior to those prophets, and even to angels, both of which are created beings, because He created all things.  Not only did He create all things, He sustains all things.  God’s glory shines through (radiates from) Him.

The Apostle John said it this way.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:1–4, NIV 1984).  And Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”  (John 10:29–30, NIV 1984). Talk about a “more perfect union!”

My Advice – Go for a “more perfect” future.  That’s why God sent His Son.

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Today’s musing was inspired by Deacon Josh Johnson’s sermon on January 5, 2020. Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons. If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you.

A Father’s Point Of View

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The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.”  (Genesis 6:5–6, NIV 1984).

The Musings of Others – Although “regret” is the customary translation of the Hebrew verb translated as “grieved” in the NIV, its basic meaning is to “be pained.” This is the sense here. As it hurts a loving parent to see the disobedience of his children, so it pained God to see how wicked men had become. (Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 15). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers).

My Musings – We often look at sin and its consequences on how it affects us.  Rarely, if ever, do we look at it from God’s perspective, other than it must make Him angry.  But this text suggests a much deeper affect, and reminds me of an experience I had in my teen years (old enough to drive, but still in High School).

A friend of mine was restoring an old (vintage) pick-up truck.  One front  fender was in much too bad of shape to restore, so it needed to be replaced.  Due to the age of the pick-up, not something you could order through a parts store.  My friend had located one at a junkyard miles away and asked if I could help him pick it up.  But we did not enter or leave through the front gate.  At a remote spot we went over the fence, retrieved the fender, hopped back over the fence and headed back.

I suppose I probably rationalized it in a number of different ways from my perspective (you can’t steal junk can you?), but deep down believed none of them. I was already feeling pretty guilty about it, but when I got back home I was confronted by my dad. He had found out what my friend and I were up to, and in no uncertain terms reinforced my guilt.  There was no yelling.  My dad had a presence about him that you knew when he meant business. He didn’t need to yell. I remember asking him if he was mad, which is what I expected.  His response was much worse.  “No Steve, I’m not mad, I’m disappointed in you.”  I would have preferred mad.  If you’ve read any of my blogs about my dad and our relationship, you can probably understand why his disappointment in me was the worst type of punishment I could have received.

When the Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become…[t]he LORD was grieved…and his heart was filled with pain.”  I hurt my dad that day, and I’ve never forgotten how it made me feel, and how I knew I never wanted to disappoint him again like that.  It meant that much to me.

My Advice – Wouldn’t it be nice if we always felt that way about sin and How God is grieved every time we give in to sin?  Now that’s a relationship!

Who Is His Equal?

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To whom will you compare Me? Who is My equal?” says the Holy One. Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. (Isaiah 40:25, 28, NIV 1978).

My Musings – Everlasting, without beginning or end.  Creator of all there is.   Unfathomable wisdom.  No one is His equal or could even come close.  Who could we possibly compare Him to?

My Advice –  He invites us into a relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ.  What possible reason could we have for not accepting His invitation?

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

Godly Desires

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My Musings – Living a Godly life should be the goal of every Christian. It is certainly something that God desires for us. Being Godly means aligning our desires with His. He has shown us what this requires, in the Old Testament no less. They are to love mercy, act justly and walk humbly. Not simply mercy, justice and humility. Those are mere nouns. God calls us to love mercy, to act justly and to walk humbly. Our mercy, justice and humility involve action. These actions saw their ultimate fulfillment with Jesus death, burial and resurrection. He humbly walked that path to the cross. His act of dying on the cross paid the penalty for our sins and satisfied what justice required. His resurrection demonstrated God’s loving mercy towards us in accepting the sacrifice Jesus made.

But loving mercy, acting justly and walking humbly are foreign to our sin nature. In our natural sinful state, we tend to be just the opposite. We love power, we act evilly, and we walk proudly (Micah 2:1, 3). These are all the hallmarks of worldliness. These two forces continue to do battle within us. But thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice, God tread our sins under foot and is able to show us compassion if we accept His Son’s sacrifice. He in fact delights in showing us mercy (Micah 7:18, 19). As a result, we can aspire to God’s desires, we can act in obedience to Him and this can develop into a consistent lifestyle. We can be transformed from the worldly creature that is our nature, into a new creation with a Godly character.

To live Godly lives, it is helpful to better understand the nature and character of the God we serve. Of course, our finite minds can never fully grasp the awesome nature and character of an infinite God. After all, if the whole universe cannot contain Him, this short blog cannot either. But we can understand Him to the extent He has revealed Himself to us. Even then we are only able to see the “outer fringes” of His true glory. Indeed, what we see and hear is but a “faint whisper” of reality.

Some of the things that God has revealed to us about Himself fall into three broad categories, if we can indeed categorize anything about Him. At any rate these three categories are:

His Being
(Infinite, Unchangeable, Eternal)

His Nature
(Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient)

His Moral Character
(Love, Holy, Good, Truth, Just)

His Being and nature are absolute attributes that only the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have. We cannot aspire to these at all. Satan aspired to them and he fell. We can aspire to His moral character attributes, however. Of course, only the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have these attributes absolutely. But we can aspire to them in relative terms.

To aspire to what God desires, to aspire to Godliness, we need to grow in love, Holiness, goodness, truth and justice. As these characteristics grow and develop in our lives, we become better at loving mercy, acting justly and walking humbly. We become less likely to love power, act evilly and walk proudly. For in the process God is teaching us to say no to our worldly passions and to live Godly lives.

Love – “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8, NIV 1978). This is not emotion. It is His character. The text does not say God loves. It says that God is Love.

Holiness – “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” (Revelation 4:8, NIV 1978). Absolute in moral purity and rightness. Separate from evil, so much so that He cannot even bear to look upon sin. God has no “dark side.”

Goodness – “There is only One [God] who is good.” (Matthew 19:17, NIV 1978). Goes beyond the inner quality (His holiness) to the outward expression (His goodness), particularly in terms of His benevolence, loving-kindness and exercise of mercy.

Truth – “Whoever invokes a blessing in the land will do so by the God of truth; he who takes an oath in the land will swear by the God of truth.” (Isaiah 65:16, NIV 1978). Means more than no falsehood, but also includes certain, faithful, and reliable in fulfilling His promises.

Justice – “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just.” (Daniel 4:37, NIV 1978). Used interchangeably with righteousness. He is absolutely right and just in all that He says or does.

My Advice – Worldliness (following worldly desires) is the natural enemy of Godliness (following Godly desires), and something we continually must be on guard against and resist. But we must also be aware of another subtler enemy – compromise.  Compromise is the attempt to have it both ways, to gain Godliness while enjoying the pleasures of this world. It is a lie of the enemy.

Worldliness – “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15, NIV 1978).  This is like chasing the wind (Ecclesiastes 2:11).  It results in discontent and suffering great loss (1 Corinthians 3:13, 15).

Compromise – “No servant can serve two masters. He will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Luke 16:13, NIV 1978).  This can result in complacency, a sense that we have all we need (Revelation 3:15, 17). This is a great con, for we fail to realize that in reality we are “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked, lukewarm-neither hot nor cold.” (Revelation 3:17, 16).

Godliness – “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, Godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11, NIV 1978).  This leads to contentment (Philippians 4:11) and great gain (1 Timothy 4:8).

You can pursue the world, you can pursue a lie (believing you can have it both ways) or you can pursue God.  Only “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6, NIV 1978).  Desire what God desires.

The Heavens Declare

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My Musings – God continues to bring order out of the universe that He created.

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Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky –The creation of the “lights in the expanse of the sky” on the fourth day parallels the creation of light in general on the first day. These lights produce another separation—day from night. On the first day, God had said, “let there be light,” and there was light. But this was a chaos of light, scattered and confused. Now it was collected into countless luminaries and made more glorious and serviceable. God is the God of order, and not of confusion. The creation of light on day one, was now being set in order in the various heavenly bodies. The atmosphere being purified by the vegetation, would make the sun, moon, and stars visible in the sky. They are described as being “in the expanse of the sky.” This is how they appear to the eye, though we know they are really at vast distances from it. These lights may be said to be “made” on the fourth day—not created, indeed, for it is a different word (meaning light bearers) that is used here, suggesting what had previously been created were now being ordered and set in place for their intended purpose.

To separate the day from the night – The “creation” of the lights in the heavens on the fourth day parallels the creation of light in general on the first day. These lights produce another separation—day from night. These terms are meaningless without the existence of the sun and the rotation of the earth.

Let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years – The lights were “signs” that mark off time periods (days, seasons, years). They were not astrological signs, correlating heavenly movements with events on earth. The worship of heavenly bodies is condemned.

The greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night – This refers to the sun and the moon, but the writer deliberately avoids the words “sun” (shemesh in Hebrew) and “moon” (yareach in Hebrew), as these correspond to the names of West Semitic deities: Shamash and Yarik. The Book of Genesis affirms that they are created objects, not deities. They merely divide (separate), govern, and give light in God’s creation.

The greater light – Many scientists believe that the sun and the rest of the solar system was “born” about 4.6 billion years ago, being formed from a giant, rotating cloud of gas and dust known as a solar nebula. As the nebula collapsed because of its gravity, it spun faster and flattened into a disk. Most of the material was pulled toward the center to form the sun.

The lesser light – The Moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite and was formed around some 30–50 million years after the formation of the solar system. The reigning theory is that a Mars-sized object impacted with a very young, still-forming Earth about. The planetary object that impacted Earth has been dubbed “Theia” by scientists because in Greek mythology, Theia was the mother of the moon goddess Selene. When Theia hit Earth, a portion of our planet came off and eventually hardened into the moon. This theory does a better job than others of explaining the similarities in chemical compositions of the Earth and the moon, however it doesn’t explain why the moon and the Earth are chemically identical.

He also made the stars – The Milky Way galaxy, is home to the earth’s solar system. Scientists say it was formed a little more than 13 billion years ago, just a few billion years after the Big Bang. The galaxy is estimated to be about 100,000 light years in diameter and 1,000 light years thick. It is part of a system of 50 galaxies known as the Local Group, which is part of the Virgo Supercluster. Containing as many as 50 billion planets and 400 billion stars, the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy. It has a center “bulge,” surrounded by a flat disk comprising several loose arms that contain stars and their orbiting bodies, as well as gases and dust.

God “also made the stars” almost sounds like an afterthought. But scientists estimate that there are about 2 trillion galaxies in the universe and that each galaxy has about 100 million stars.  And yet still, “these are but the outer fringe of His works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him!” (Job 25:14).

My Advice – The psalmist proclaims that “the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalms 19:1-4).  The whisper may be faint, but no one can claim that they do not hear it.  Do not just hear it, listen to it.  The heavens declare HIs glory and so should we.  One day, we all will.  Why not start now?

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  1. All Scripture references, unless otherwise indicated are from the New International Version, 1984.
  2. https://www.bighistoryproject.com/chapters/2#the-birth-of-the-sun
  3. http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/the_birth_of_the_moon.html
  4. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 1:14). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
  5. Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 5). Peabody: Hendrickson.
  6. Smith, J. E. (1993). The Pentateuch (2nd ed., p. 53). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.
  7. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 17). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  8. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 17). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  9. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 1:14). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
  10. Ross, A. P. (1985). Genesis. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 29). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  11. Lowery, K. (2007). The Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah. In T. Cabal, C. O. Brand, E. R. Clendenen, P. Copan, & J. P. Moreland (Eds.), The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 3). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  12. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 1:16). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
  13. Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Ge 1:15–16). Biblical Studies Press.
  14. https://www.space.com/58-the-sun-formation-facts-and-characteristics.html
  15. https://space-facts.com/the-moon/
  16. https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/space/stories/4-theories-about-how-moon-formed
  17. https://someinterestingfacts.net/facts-about-milky-way-galaxy/