October 25 – Weekend Passage

Titus 2:11-14

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

Kicking Down the Door

Genesis 16

­­­Why is it so hard to wait? And why is it so easy to take matters into our own hands…to kick down the door?

Tens years and no sign of movement. The promise is confirmed to Abram, but what about Sarai? It’s easy to see how and why Sarai gets to the place where she feels like she needs to kick down the door, you know, help God out. Names are key. God sees, and He hears. It takes the faith experience of Hagar to remind the chosen couple of what they should have already known. And although they should have known better…so should we.

But how many times have we done the same thing. I shared the story of my work experience last week. My journey out to California has some of those same elements. I knew God had gifted me to teach. I had a desire to pastor a church. So I began to test a few doors. As time went on, I became more and more desperate and pushed harder. And each time I pushed, I became more frustrated and bitter. It wasn’t until I stopped pushing and went through the door He had opened that I found peace and eventually my way here doing what I love to do.

A good friend of mine asked a very perceptive question…how do I know when to wait and when to take action? In other words, when is waiting just laziness or taking action kicking down the door? If we are honest with ourselves, I think we know when we are taking matters into our hands, when we are rushing in. God sees and hears, but He also speaks…He guides. Unless He’s clearly directing, it’s best to wait. But when He’s clear, it’s time to move…to go.

Bottom line: when we kick the door down, when we try to help God out, we are in effect saying we know better than God. We are doing what’s right, the good, in our own eyes. And there are always ramifications. Anger. Frustration. Job loss. Broken relationships. Etc. Abram and Sarai’s decision has far reaching consequences…conflict in the Middle East, Muslim and Jew/Christian even today. And many times the negative effects are the result of the comparison game that inevitably gets played every time we do what’s right in our own eyes…I put myself in the place of God. Instead of trusting that God sees and hears, that He knows, I become the one who sees and hears others, judging and condemning them.

So, where do you see yourself in the story? Abram…failing to trust God and lead well. Sarai…failing to trust God and taking matters into your own hands, helping God out, kicking down the door. Or Hagar…realizing, maybe for the first time, that God does see and hear you, that He knows you and wants to rescue you. Whichever you are today, God sees and hears and knows and cares. If we have learned anything about Abram so far, we know that he will be building another altar shortly. The consequences remain, but restoration is available.

My prayer for us this week is that we realize God sees, hears, knows and cares about us, and may that give us the freedom to love others unashamedly and run after Him.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Listen online at:http://www.centralchristian.org, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

Confused

Genesis 10-11

Why are we so fascinated with making a name for ourselves? As I thought about this passage, I wondered why Moses included this story about the tower. Is it simply to explain where the different languages and people groups come from? Surely there is a bigger purpose. He wants to teach the ancient Israelites something about God. So what is Moses trying to teach them and us from this account?

When we try and make a name for ourselves…it is rooted in pride…and what is pride but giving ourselves the worship that God deserves, it’s worshiping ourselves as god. It’s rooted in pride, is often expressed in rebellion and leads to confusion. It confirms our own sinfulness…the truth that every intent of the heart of man is only evil continually. The first recorded group project does not turn out so well…it is a monumental act of rebellion with far reaching consequences. It echoes the sin in the Garden, and the promise that you can be “like God”. The sin of Babel is both pride and rebellion, the making for ourselves a name so that we might be famous. It’s the throwing off of the yoke of obedience and even dependence to declare ourselves sinfully independent. And it’s a refusal to obey God…defining good for ourselves apart from what God has revealed…”Let’s build a tower and a city so that we are not dispersed over the face of the earth.” The effects of the fall from Genesis 3 continue. The root cause of sin was not dealt with in the judgment of the flood, only its effects on people and creation at that time. In addition to Noah and his family and the animals, sin hitched a ride on the boat and continued its reign over mankind and all of creation through Noah and his descendants.

No doubt God judges sin. But even in His judgment we still see His mercy, His amazing, undeserved love. In the shadow of the flood of Genesis 6–8, God could have chosen a much more severe punishment for their sin. Instead He puts a halt to it. Man’s rebellion does not thwart God’s purposes. God acts in sovereign ways to accomplish what He wills. God’s plan for man after the flood was that they multiply and fill the earth. Now they will fill the earth. 

Babel once again highlights the consequences of man’s attempts, through sinful independence, to be his own god.

The cycle continues. God’s faithfulness…our rebellion. The image-bearers failing to image Him, to reflect our perfect, benevolent, beautiful Creator God to His creation. Yet God continues to pursue…the Seed of the Woman. Genesis 3.15.

But what about you? Where do you find yourself building towers, looking for fame, rebelling against God, making a name for yourself? The desire for selfish independence and for god-status is still alive and well. We’re still building towers. But God hasn’t given up on us. Moses reminds us once again that the Seed of the Woman is coming…that He has come in the Person of Jesus, the Son of God, to do what we could not do…provide the way back to God. To conquer sin and death. To restore the image so that we might return to Paradise. That by faith in Jesus, who lived the life that we were supposed to live, totally obedient and dependent on God, who died the death we deserved to die, that through faith in Him we could participate in the most absurd gift exchange in the universe…His righteousness for our sin…so that we can have life…a different kind of life, real life, eternal life with Father God in His kingdom. I don’t understand it, but am amazed by it. I can’t explain it except for God’s incredible, amazing love.

My prayer for us this week is that we recognize our own tower-building tendencies and turn them over to Jesus, the Head-crushing Seed of the Woman.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Listen online at:http://www.centralchristian.org, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

Brave New World

Genesis 9

So…“Where is your hope found?” As I thought about this passage, I was struck with the two different pictures presented in this chapter. The first picture we have is of God re-upping with His creation. Having destroyed the world with the flood, He makes a covenant with those emerging from the ark never to use the waters of the flood to destroy the earth again. Judgment and mercy…mercy and judgment. God rescuing. God’s faithfulness. Just look at the rainbow.

The second picture is of us blowing it…again. I know. I know. It was Noah’s fault…or maybe Ham’s…no, no, no it was Adam’s. Whatever…given the same circumstances…there but for the grace of God go I. Noah is presented as a second chance…a second Adam. The possible Seed of the Woman. Lamech said it. I mean he’s blameless, he’s the only one righteous in his time, he walks with God… Like Adam, he will be the father of mankind, he will cultivate the ground, and … he will be tripped up by fruit, he will sin and he will be naked and ashamed. The cycle continues.

God’s faithfulness…our rebellion. The image-bearers failing to image Him, to reflect our perfect, benevolent, beautiful Creator God to His creation. Yet God continues to pursue…the Seed of the Woman. Genesis 3.15.

But what about you? Where is your hope found? Even the best of men disappoint. Ultimately they cannot save. They will fail. They will fall. But there is One who can save…One who can rescue. The Head-crushing Seed of the Woman. God will do what we cannot. He will send His own Son to rescue us. The Perfect One who will lay down His life in crushing the serpent. The only One who can bring hope in a brave new world where fear and terror and the fight for survival are the new norm. The only One who can right the wrongs and restore God’s original creation purposes and the good world He made.

My prayer for us this week is that we would not trust in mankind or make flesh our strength, but that we would know that our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…that He is our Solid Rock.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Listen online at:http://www.centralchristian.org, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

The Great Deluge

Genesis 7-8

“­­­How serious do I take sin?” As I reflected on this passage, I couldn’t escape the seriousness and the severity with which God deals with sin in this story. He created a good world…perfect harmony, perfect peace, naked and unashamed, heaven on earth, paradise. And then that world is devastated…it is crushed by man’s rebellion. And sin infects all of creation.

We might ask “Why must all creation suffer for our sin?” Because we were supposed to be the caretakers. We were responsible. And our sin tainted everything. And when we were cursed, so was our dominion. So why the flood? Violence filled the earth instead of the image. Loss of the sons of God. And sin has consequences…serious consequences. End of the world kind of consequences. So much so that God chooses to destroy the good world He had created and start over.

But God remembered Noah. What a powerful statement! In the midst of horrific judgment, mercy still prevails and the search for the Seed will continue. God is not done with His creation. Even when it seemed that all hope might have been lost.

Noah saw first hand not only the devastating effects of sin on his society, he also saw the severity of God’s judgment on that sin. And that glimpse of the consequences of sin against the backdrop of God’s mercy prompted worship.

But what about you? How seriously do you take your sin? Are you aware of its consequences? I believe that it’s only when we see the severity of our sin that we begin to understand God’s amazing grace, and only then can we fully worship. A low view of sin = a low view of grace and vice versa. But my sin and your sin is serious. Its deadly and it necessitated the death of God’s Son…Jesus…the Head-crushing Seed of the Woman. Sin required a death…and not just any death. In order for the guilty to be rescued, to be redeemed, the innocent would have to die in their stead. And so the Perfect One, willingly did just that, He laid down His life so that we could be rescued. He fully took care of the sin problem so that we could have a different kind of life, and so that we could fully represent God’s image as He intended.

My prayer for us this week is that we would take our sin seriously…and that we would take God’s grace seriously…and that that would cause us to worship.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Listen online at:http://www.centralchristian.org, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

The Family Tree

Genesis 5

So…“What kind of legacy are you leaving?” As I reflected on this passage, I was reminded of the importance of legacy. What am I passing down to my boys? Will the generations to follow be those who “call on the name of the LORD”? If someone were to read my genealogy years from now, what would stand out. This week’s passage is easily overlooked, but we should consider the important implications of it.

Adam had several sons…two are highlighted. Cain and Seth. Same parents, but very different destinies. What made the difference? Surely not upbringing or environment. Each made a choice. But that choice had ramifications for those who followed.

Cain’s rebellion and murder would mark his family line. Not all are painted to be the worst of the worst, but the literary markers that Moses gives us show that they are no less seed of the serpent, focused on the earthy, living in rebellion against God. Lamech is just the worst of…murder, polygamy, pride, twisted good. So what identifies the seed of the serpent today? Same kind of things. Focus on the earthy. Rejection of the heavenly. Rebellion against God.

And Seth’s (Enosh’s) choice to “call on the name of the LORD” would mark his family line as well. Not all are painted to be the best of the best. In fact we are given very little detail even of the heroes…Enoch and Noah. But again, the literary markers that Moses gives us show that they are no less seed of the woman, focused on the heavenly, seeking to live in relationship with God. Enoch is the best of…walking with God. So what identifies the seed of the woman today? Same kind of things. Walking with God, which is only possible through faith in Jesus, the Head-crushing Seed of the Woman.

But what about you? What kind of legacy will you leave? Much depends on where you are right now. Are you walking with God? Are you pursuing a life with Him in His kingdom? Have you trusted in Jesus? Do you have a heavenly perspective? If so, teach your kids. Introduce them to the story. Remind them often. Pray for them and with them. Show them what it means to join God’s grand rescue mission of pulling folks out of the flames of hell.

But maybe you are not walking with God. Maybe you’re not pursuing a life with Him in His kingdom. Maybe you haven’t trusted in Jesus. Maybe you are totally focused on the earthy. If so, beware. The path that you are heading down leads to destruction. Building earthly kingdoms is a hollow pursuit. The tragic death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a somber reminder. Fame, fortune, success…heroin, overdose, death. He was a captive in need of rescue. So are some of you. But hope is possible because God delights in plot twists…to rewrite our stories. Only He can change your legacy because the Head-Crushing Seed of the Woman has already come in the Person of Jesus and has defeated the Adversary. And by believing in Him, you can be reconciled to Creator God and have a new destiny, a new legacy.

Until next time…stay salty.

Murder 1

Genesis 4.

So…“Why is the world so fascinated with/prone to violence?” As I reflected on this passage this past week, I was reminded over and over that ours is a culture of violence. Not only the seemingly senseless acts like that of mall shootings, school shootings, drive-by shootings, violence in the schoolyard, the workplace and behind the closed doors of many homes, but also the violence we celebrate in movies, at sporting events, in music, on TV… Like we said last week, God created a perfect world. All that He made was good, including the man and his wife. It was paradise…heaven on earth. What happened? Again, it’s difficult to describe the catastrophic results of a single act of rebellion. Welcome to life as we know it. Every act of violence, every natural disaster, every awful thing that has happened since is a direct result.

Cain’s act of violence…murdering his brother Abel…was just the first in a series of acts of violence that have colored the history of mankind blood red. Death would be a natural result of the curse, but murder is a microwave version that exposes the darkness of sin. It’s a direct result of the enmity, the hostility that the seed of the serpent (wicked) have toward the seed of the woman (righteous).

What is violence? It’s an affront to the image. Every act of violence is a physical attempt to eradicate the image of God. It flows from the serpent who is the enemy of God and of what’s good. And the ironic thing is, that the enmity is not just between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, but also between seeds of the serpent (and if we are honest, between seeds of the woman as well). When we celebrate violence, you can bet the serpent’s pleased.

But the good news…the bookends of this entire episode both include reference to the LORD and the hope of Genesis 3.15, that LORD would send the Head-Crushing Seed of the Woman to defeat the serpent, to rescue us and all of creation, to provide the way back to Creator God. And He did just that in the Person of Jesus who absorbed every act of violence from the murder of Abel to the last violent act that will be perpetrated on planet earth when He was nailed to the cross. The innocent died for the guilty, so that we might be reconciled to our Creator by His grace through faith in Jesus.

But what about you? Violence is one aspect of suffering that is the result of sin. Along with pride, it reflects the character of the serpent, who we are told, was a murderer from the beginning. He likes nothing better than to see the image destroyed. Those of us who have trusted in Jesus…the seed of the woman…are at war with the seed of the serpent. Yet, as Paul reminds us, our struggle is not against flesh and blood…our warfare is against an unseen enemy and not against the captives he’s taken hostage. We are on a rescue mission – braving the horrors of hell to pull folks out. We are our brother’s keeper. Hope is possible because the Head-Crushing Seed of the Woman has already come and has defeated the Adversary. And now we wait with all of creation for the time when He will come back to set all things right…for the new heavens and the new earth.

My prayer for us this week is that we would war against a culture of violence in our own lives…that we would see others as image-bearers, that we are our brother’s keeper, and that we would join God in His grand rescue mission of pulling folks out of the flames of hell.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Listen online at:http://www.centralchristian.org, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster