September 30 - New Heaven and Earth

Sunday, September 30, 2012


September 30 - New Heaven and Earth
Revelation 21

In the beginning, God created.  He created everything.

Then he created humanity and gave us power to make choices and to live as if we didn't know Him.  We put us in charge of caring for His creation and we chose to be selfish and do whatever we wanted as long as it made us happy, even if only for a moment.

We chose anger over conciliation, theft over creation, jealousy over love and we chose to worship anything that we could get our hands on.  So, God laid down a few rules for His humans and we chose to ignore those as often as possible.  So, God sent a Savior to try to get us back on track. At the first opportunity, we chose to murder Him.

Fortunately, God is bigger than all of us.  He transformed our small-minded ways into an immense, world-changing event and the Messiah ripped apart the limitations that had been created for getting close to God and exposed His love, grace and mercy to the entire world.

We weren't finished yet.  On a much larger scale, now, the world (made up of all God’s creation) chose to be independent of Him and not only attempt to ignore the Creator, but blatantly reject Him.   Revelation tells us that the Day will come when His patience is at an end and He will take charge once more of His creation, which includes humanity.  He will punish those who have made those awful choices and in His righteous anger, destruction will fill the skies, the waterways and the earth itself.

But, in the end, God will create.  He will create everything.

He will create a new heaven and a new earth.

He will create a new Jerusalem, a new home in which He will walk among His people. They will be His people and He will be their God.  There will be no need for the sun or moon because He will bring light.  Sin, death, mourning, crying and pain will be gone.

In the end, God makes all things new.

September 29 – Jesus

Saturday, September 29, 2012


September 29 – Jesus
Revelation 12:1-13

There is one last story in the Bible of the birth of Christ, found in Revelation 12.  This is not a birth story that makes sense in the eighty year life-span that we see; it comes from the larger view of eternity that God sees.

Great signs in heaven announced the birth of Jesus in the gospels. This is heaven’s view of Jesus’ birth. Yes, the child being born is Jesus, but the woman isn’t Mary.  Three descriptions in this verse give us hints as to the identity of the woman. #1 – clothed with the sun, #2 – the moon under her feet, #3 – a crown of twelve stars on her head.

In Joseph’s dream about his family from Genesis 37:9-10, he had the sun and moon and eleven stars bowing down to him. Jacob is the sun, Rachel is the moon and the twelve tribes of Israel are the stars.

This woman represents more than just a single individual. In Hosea 2:19-20, God tells Israel He will betroth her to Himself. In Isaiah 54:5, He tells Israel that their Creator (Maker) is her husband. In Isaiah 9:6, we read “For unto US a child is born, to US a son is given …”  Mary was the vessel, but Israel is the mother of the Messiah.

Isaiah 66:7-11, in prophesying the Messiah’s verse says an entire nation would mother this child - the nation of Israel, the city of Jerusalem. God’s chosen people.

“Before she goes into labor she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. ‘Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?’ says the Lord. ‘Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?’ says your God. ‘Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.’”

In Rev. 12:4, we find the woman about to give birth and the dragon, Satan, is waiting to devour the child as soon as it is born. Rev. 12:5 tells us that she gave birth to a male child, who would rule all the nations with an iron scepter.  The imagery of the iron scepter is taken from Psalm 2:9.  Jesus is returning to rule and Satan has been attempting to thwart that action since the very beginning.

He tried once before to devour the child. In Jeremiah 51:34, we read that Nebuchadnezzar devoured Israel, throwing them into confusion. It also says “Like a serpent he has swallowed us.” In Ezekiel 29:3, we read about a great monster lying in Egypt’s streams. The King James version translates this as ‘the great dragon.’ Satan tried to stop Israel from forming into a nation. Pharaoh / Egypt wanted to kill the young children so Moses wouldn’t be born. Nebuchadnezzar tried to destroy the Hebrew nation, but he was stopped. King Herod tried to kill young children in Bethlehem to stop Jesus from achieving adulthood. Satan has attempted to interfere in God’s plan throughout time and always failed.

Rev. 12:5 tells us the child was snatched up to God and to His throne. We went straight from Jesus’ birth to the moment of His ascension. God’s idea of time is different than ours. In a few verses, we realize that heaven crammed those 33 years Jesus lived on earth into a breath between words. They were important to each of us, but in the overall picture of eternity, Jesus was born and then ascended into heaven.

September 28 - Pangs of Childbirth

Friday, September 28, 2012


September 28 - Pangs of Childbirth
Matt 24:8, Mark 13:8, Romans 8:22

In Matthew and in Mark, Jesus is talking about signs of the End of the Age.  You’ve heard the words: “wars and rumors of wars … nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom … earthquakes and famines.”  What we miss is the rest of Jesus’ words.  He tells us specifically to not be alarmed and qualifies the entire statement by telling us that these are the beginning of birth pains.

We are to be on our guard.  There will be persecution because we follow Jesus.  But, all of these signs are just the beginning. They are not the end of the story.

While I've never had children, I do know that sometimes the period from the first contraction to the actual birth can take a great deal of time.  For some, it hurries right along, for others it seems to take forever. We can’t assume that we are anywhere but still in the beginning of the birth pains. Jesus told his followers to not be alarmed. Those words ring true with us today. Do not be alarmed.

Paul tells us in Romans 8:22 that all of creation has been groaning in pains like those of childbirth right up until the present time.  Creation has been waiting for the moment when everything will be healthy again and the Creator will once again be acknowledged as its sovereign.

Just like parents anticipate the birth of a new child, we, along with all of creation anticipate that future hope of full redemption and entrance into the holiest of holies, full access to the Lord of Lords and to the Alpha and Omega.  When that day finally comes, we will experience a new heaven and a new earth. There will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain.  Everything that is old will be gone. Everything will be made new (Rev. 21:1-5).

This is still the beginning of the birth pains.  Why are we no further along than that?  Mark tells us in verse ten of chapter thirteen that the gospel must be preached to all nations.  Peter tells us that the Lord is patient because he doesn't want anyone to perish, but wants everyone to come to repentance 2 Peter 3:9).  The day will come, but we are still in the beginning of the birth pains … there is still more to come.

September 27 - Born Again

Thursday, September 27, 2012


September 27 - Born Again
John 3:3-8

You must be born again.

Jesus and a Pharisee named Nicodemus were having a serious discussion one evening.  Nicodemus had come to Jesus by night, away from the crowds, away from his peers.  He knew there was something different about Jesus and he wanted to know more.

“Teacher,” he said, “we know you've come from God.  There is no one who can do the things you do unless God is with you.”

Jesus knew that Nicodemus was asking something much deeper than where he had come from.  He wanted to know, just as we all want to know, how to live that kind of life.  Nicodemus had been a religious man for a long time, but he didn't have the spiritual power Jesus had.  How could he be that kind of person as well.

Jesus didn't want Nicodemus to think that the way to a relationship with God was through miracles, and he said, “You must be born again.”

Poor Nicodemus. “I’m old. How can I be born again?  I’m not going back into my mother’s womb.” That made absolutely no sense to him. He might have been religious, but he knew enough about medicine to know that was impossible. But, the question wasn't as stupid as you might think.  He’d seen Jesus perform some pretty amazing miracles.  Was it really possible that Jesus could give his life back to him?  Could he make him be young again?  Was that the secret?

No, that wasn't the secret.  The secret was finding new life by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus wanted Nicodemus to know that his earthly life wasn't the most important life he could have.  Being born again is a completely new thing.  Your spirit is made new and with that new spirit you are given the opportunity to enter the kingdom of God.

You must be born again.

September 26 – The Word

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


September 26 – The Word
John 1:1-18

The Gospel of Mark doesn’t tell a story of Jesus’ birth. It begins with John the Baptist announcing the coming of the Messiah.

The Gospel of John tells the story of Jesus’ birth in a very different manner.  Rather than the personal story that is related by Joseph or Mary, John tells a much bigger story; one that begins with creation.  The first five verses of this Gospel introduce the main character of the entire Gospel using words that will come to mean something as the reader progresses through it.

John used ‘Logos’ (meaning Word) to describe Jesus. This idea is something Greek philosophers had been discussing for years. Some saw the Logos as wisdom that pervades everything, others saw it as the law of nature.  John develops the idea of the Logos as the manner in which God created everything. The Logos is the action of God in creation. It is also the connection between God and humanity.

John’s use of the initial words of his Gospel would have struck home for the Jews. Rather than knowing the book of Genesis by the title, they knew it by the first three words … “In the beginning …”  So, when they heard John’s first sentence, they knew what he wanted them to understand. In the beginning God spoke.

This man, Jesus (whom John doesn’t identify by that name until John 1:17), was the Word that God spoke at creation. He was (He is) God’s thoughts placed into action.  Psalm 33:6 says, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth.”

Jesus is the Word … the active creative power of God … made flesh. He walks among us

September 25 – Jesus and the Shepherds

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


September 25 – Jesus and the Shepherds
Luke 2:1-20

The story that Luke tells from Mary’s perspective has quite a bit more detail regarding the days before and after the birth of Jesus.  Much of this is because Luke was interesting in the full realm of history, but some of it was because as a mother, Mary’s memory of those days was strong.  Luke 2:19 says that she treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  She didn’t want to forget any of those amazing moments.

She was a very pregnant young woman when Joseph and she traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  We don’t know how long before the birth they arrive in Bethlehem, but we know from Luke 1:56 that she had stayed with Elizabeth for three months. I suspect we can be certain Joseph was smart enough to arrive in Bethlehem long before the baby arrived, so they probably had time to find a room, even though it was not a great room.  Joseph was good with his hands, so I can’t imagine Mary wasn’t very comfortable when the time came for her to give birth.

Just after the child was born, the shepherds heard about it from an angel of the Lord. Those shepherds, who lived among their sheep, might not have been welcome in a fancy inn, but they would have felt comfortable entering the place where Jesus was in the manger.

The metaphors of the shepherd and the lamb would become part of the life of Jesus. He was the good shepherd and later would become like a lamb led to slaughter, but on the evening of his birth, he was a miracle announced by the angel to the shepherds and then by the shepherds to anyone who would listen.

The shepherds experienced a heavenly host praising God, saw the child who would change the world and when they returned to their sheep, they could do nothing other than glorify and praise God for everything they had heard and seen.

The birth of Jesus changed the world over two thousand years ago and when his life touches ours, it changes our world today.  We glorify and praise God for all that we hear, see and experience.

September 24 – Jesus & Joseph

Monday, September 24, 2012


September 24 – Jesus & Joseph
Matthew 1:18-24

Matthew tells the story of Jesus’ birth as seen through Joseph’s eyes. Consequently, there isn’t a lot of detail regarding the birth itself.  One of the things that was very important to both Matthew and Joseph was ensuring the world know that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Rumors abound in small communities and even long after Jesus had died; people were probably still talking about the fact that he wasn’t Joseph’s son.  There would have been those who sought to pull every ugly detail out of the story to ensure that others might refuse to believe the Messiah had truly come.

This was a pretty radical story.  Joseph had been pledged to Mary long before any of this baby talk had begun.  One day, though, he discovered she was pregnant. He knew HE hadn’t done anything with her, but he was a good man and rather than make a big deal out of it, he figured he would just manage it quietly and let her move on with her life.  Who knows, maybe she loved the man whose child she carried.  If so, they could be together, Joseph would walk away and all would be well.

Little did Joseph know, she adored the man whose child she carried.  He meant more than anything to her.  He was God, the Creator of the Universe. When the angel told Joseph the whole story and what role he was to play in the drama; Joseph was more than happy to be then man God asked him to be.  This would be his son. He would take Mary into his home, love her and raise the child they had together.

Matthew tells us that Mary was a virgin when the child was conceived and he also tells us that Joseph allowed her to remain a virgin until after Jesus was born.  All of this was to remind his readers that the birth of Jesus was fulfillment of prophecy.  Isaiah 7:14 said that a virgin would give birth to a son and his name, Immanuel, meant that God was now in the world.

Joseph was a carpenter, one man in the midst of many. He didn’t look for fame, he didn’t receive fortune, but he was obedient when God called him to act and he looked upon the face of God in the arms of the woman he loved.

September 23 – Jesus' Genealogy

Sunday, September 23, 2012


September 23 – Jesus' Genealogy
Matthew 1:1-17

The birth of Jesus was important to the entire world, but before Matthew could tell the story so that the Jewish people would believe how important it was to their future, he had to tell the story of Jesus’ history and show them that God had been working toward this moment since the beginning of their own history.

Now, while Luke takes Jesus’ lineage all the way back through Adam to God, Matthew’s emphasis was on the covenantal relationship between God, the Messiah and the Jewish people.  In order for Jesus to be seen as their Savior, their Messiah … the Christ, Jesus’ line had to be traced to the original covenant made between God and Abraham.

Since we know that the time Jesus was on earth was very patriarchal, it is interesting to note the women found in this lineage.  The first is Rahab, the grandmother of Boaz.  Now, Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho who in Joshua 2 protected the spies from Israel sent by Joshua.  She and her family were protected when Israel razed the city and became part of the tribe. Not only a Gentile, but a prostitute.  Jesus’ lineage wasn’t pure, but it was comprised of those who loved God.

The next woman is Ruth.  She wasn’t an Israelite, but ended up marrying Boaz and would become the great-grandmother of David. Bathsheba isn’t mentioned by name, but all Jews are reminded of David’s sin, when Matthew writes that David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife.

Jesus Christ has come to bring grace to the world, to atone for the sins of everyone, including those in his lineage.

Mary is the last person to be mentioned before Jesus.  From her would come the Messiah, the Savior of the Jews, the Savior of the entire world.  God’s grace had always been available to those who loved Him, but now, God’s grace would be born in human form.  The world was about to change in ways that no one person could imagine.

September 22 – John the Baptist

Saturday, September 22, 2012


September 22 – John the Baptist
Luke 1:57-80

The Old Testament is filled with stories of the births of children who would grow to change the world.  The New Testament’s stories are different.  After we learn of the births of John and Jesus, we don’t see other stories of children being born.  Once the Son of God arrives on the scene, no one else’s birth is quite as important in the story of salvation.

However, there is one more story before we get to Jesus … the story of a child who is born to an older couple, who is raised to serve the Lord and who will prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah.

Zechariah was told by the angel Gabriel that he was going to have a son.  Now, he and Elizabeth weren’t young and that part of their life had long since become a priority.  Zechariah simply couldn’t believe it, and consequently the angel took away the power of his speech until the child would be born.  Elizabeth became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months.  In the sixth month, Mary discovered she was also pregnant and went to spend time with Elizabeth.  She stayed for three months and then went home.

When it came time, Elizabeth had a son.  Eight days later, the circumcision was to happen.  The rabbi was going to name the child Zechariah after his father, but Elizabeth told them to name the child John.  That was strange since there was no one in the family with that name.  They tried to sign to Zechariah, because they simply couldn’t believe Elizabeth about this.  When Zechariah wrote out the name John, he began to speak again. His speech was praises to God.

Luke tells us that everyone heard about this event and wondered what the child would become.  It was obvious the Lord’s hand was on him.

John was the link between the Old Testament and the New.  He prophesied in the style of the Old Testament prophets, calling for repentance and condemning the actions of the Jews.  At the same time, though, he proclaimed that the Messiah was coming and he was only there to prepare the way.  When Jesus came, John baptized him in the Jordan river and everyone saw the Holy Spirit and heard the voice of God from heaven.  The old had passed and new life had come to the world.

September 21 - Hosea's Children

Friday, September 21, 2012


September 21 - Hosea's Children
Hosea 1:1-11

Hosea didn’t have an easy life.  God told him to take a wife (Gomer) who wouldn’t be faithful to him and who would have children by other men while married to Hosea.  This would be a symbol of the unfaithfulness of the Israelites in their relationship with God.

God told Hosea to name Gomer’s first son Jezreel, because he was going to punish the house of Jehu for a massacre at Jezreel.  He planned to end that kingdom of Israel.

Gomer’s second child, a daughter was to be named Lo-Ruhamah, which means not loved.  God said he was was no longer going to show love to Israel. He wouldn’t forgive them.

Gomer had one more child named Lo-Ammi.  This child’s name meant ‘not my people’ and Hosea 1:9 goes on to say, “you are not my people, and I am not your God.”

Now before you think this is the end of the story, it’s not.  In Hosea 2:21-24, Israel’s redemption and future hope is found in the words God speaks to the children of Hosea.  The land of Jezreel will be renewed, replanted by God himself.  He will show love to Lo-Ruhamah and he will tell His people they are His and then they will respond by saying ‘You are my God.’

It seems that Hosea marries once again in chapter three, this time to a woman who was loved by another as well.  The Lord told Hosea that he was to love her, just as the Lord loves Israel.  But, while she was married to Hosea, she was to be chaste, prophesying Israel’s loss of a relationship with God.

In both cases, Hosea’s personal life became the stage for what the Lord wanted Israel to know. They would be punished for their unfaithfulness to Him, but in the end he would draw them back to Him because He loved them.

September 20 – Jeremiah

Thursday, September 20, 2012


September 20 – Jeremiah
Jeremiah 1:1-9

This passage has gained notoriety in the last several decades as part of the abortion / life debate, but there is more depth to it than a simple understanding of God’s acknowledgement of human life prior to birth.

Jeremiah was a reluctant prophet and with good reason. He was going to carry some pretty harsh words to the people of Israel.  God was handing them over to the Babylonians as punishment. Their sin had finally separated them from God and He could no longer overlook what they were doing. There was a time when Israel loved the Lord, but in 2:13, we find that there were two sins committed against the Lord.  First, they had forsaken Him, the source of living water.  Secondly, they dug their own wells, deciding they could get water on their own; but those wells were already broken and couldn’t hold water.  The Lord told Israel they couldn’t do it on their own and they went ahead and tried to do so anyway.

The Lord knew this message was going to be difficult for Jeremiah to deliver, so He spent time with Jeremiah before sending him out into the world, offering assurance that it really was He who asked this of the man.  He wanted Jeremiah to know He had been preparing Him as a prophet long before Jeremiah was born.  The Lord’s plan was immense and Jeremiah had always been part of that plan.

Jeremiah worried that he wasn’t a good speaker, but the Lord told him that from that point forward, fear wasn’t to enter his mind. If the Lord had prepared the world for him and had prepared Jeremiah for the task, he was ready for the task at hand.  Because of this, the Lord would always be there to rescue him (Jeremiah 1:8).

The message of these verses is much greater than simply acknowledging that God knows us before we are born.  Not only did he tell Jeremiah that he knew him, but he also told him there was a plan in place and Jeremiah was a part of it.  Then, not only did God assure Jeremiah of the plan and his role, but he told Jeremiah to move forward without fear.  Finally, in Jeremiah 1:9, God touched Jeremiah’s mouth and told him that He was putting His words in that mouth.  Not only did God tell Jeremiah to move forward without fear, but he gave him the tools with which to act.

This message is one of life; life lived from beginning to end in a relationship with God. It’s not just about when life begins, but how life is lived when walking with God.

September 19 - Zion / Jerusalem

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


September 19 - Zion / Jerusalem
Isaiah 66:7-11

It is always fun for me to approach a passage in scripture from a different perspective since it gives me an opportunity to think about what God says with completely fresh eyes.  Since I was looking for references to births this month, I came upon these verses and they seemed brand new!  I don’t know that I’d ever read them before.

While Israel was in exile in Babylon, Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple brought to the ground.  Everything that had been sacred had been made profane by Nebuchadnezzar and his army.  Were it not for words of hope from the prophets, the people of Israel would have expected to live in exile for eternity.  They knew their sin and knew they deserved nothing less.  The prophets had been just as clear with them about that as they were about visions of hope they received from the Lord.

Isaiah promises that they will return to Jerusalem, that the city will be rebuilt and a temple will once again stand to worship the name of the Lord.  He tells them that when it happens, it will happen quickly. Before Zion (The hill on which Jerusalem stands), goes into labor, she gives birth. The nation of Israel didn’t need to be reconstructed from scratch.  Every person who went into exile would return as part of that nation.  The question is posed in verse 8, “Can a country be born in a day”?  Yes, when it is a country comprised of God’s children.  The Jews were tied to Judea.  When they returned, the country, the nation of Israel would be reborn.

In verse 9, the Lord tells the exiles that He has done all of the preparatory work.  He has set things in place, and once the plan begins to move forward, He will be there to ensure it is finished.  Can you imagine the excitement that was felt by the people of Israel who heard these words? Jerusalem would be the center of the worship and national identity one more time. The pride of being called God’s children would be theirs once again.

The time for mourning would be at an end and the time for rejoicing was at hand.  The people of Israel were preparing to return home.  There would be a lot of work ahead of them as they restored the city of the Lord, but His promise to them was that Jerusalem would welcome them and they would find comfort and delight in her abundance.

September 18 – Prophecy

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


September 18 – Prophecy
Isaiah 7:14; 9:6

What do you suppose those who heard Isaiah’s words thought?

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us)” (Isaiah 7:14).

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

In hindsight, we have come to associate these words with the birth of Jesus Christ, but when Isaiah first spoke them; they had no Messiah to look to, there seemed to be no hope.  Isaiah’s words offered hope for the future; a future when all of Israel would be reunited under one king.  A child would be born to Judah and would bring peace. When that peace came it would last forever and ever.

Every Christmas these words ring out across the world as we remember that the birth of Christ was prophesied long before it happened. Matthew 1:23 reiterates the words of Isaiah 7:4 when he tells the story of Joseph and his concerns regarding Mary’s conception before they had even begun living together in the same home. The angel assured him that the child was the Lord’s and Joseph should take responsibility for the mother and the child.

We know that the child has come. He grew into a man and offered his life on the cross. While the world might not know peace, we can know it within ourselves and one day, He will return and peace will come for all eternity.

Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

September 17 – Job

Monday, September 17, 2012


September 17 – Job
Job 3:1-19

When things get so bad that you curse the day of your birth, it is going to be difficult to return from that.  By the third chapter of Job, he was done.

He refused to curse God, but he definitely wished that he didn’t have to go through all that he was facing.  The best part of this chapter is the intricacy of his declaration.

Job wanted the day he was born to be gone; the words, “A boy is born” to never have been spoken; for God to not care about that day.

If that day were covered in darkness, the night he was born be barren, there be no shout of joy from those who were part of his birth; he’d have been much happier.

As he moved passed cursing the actual day, Job decided that maybe it would have been easier to shut the door of his mother’s womb … or maybe he could have just died at birth.  Then, his complaints become pleas.  Why were there knees to receive him or breasts to nurse him.  If all that had been unavailable, he would just be dead, lying in peace.

Why, he asks, is light given to those in misery and life to those who are bitter?

There are many who face periods in their life when they question why they are even here.  I have. When I’m feeling exceptionally sorry for myself, I acknowledge that it would be easier if I hadn’t been born.  It’s so easy to get sucked into believing that the very worst of the world has focused on me.

There was no comforting or encouraging Job.  He didn’t want to hear any of it.  He thought God had abandoned him and his life was no longer worthwhile.  The day of his birth was obviously the beginning of all his calamities and if it could have been purged from history, the world would be a better place and he wouldn’t be suffering.

But, God had a plan.  God has a plan for each of us and that plan required that we each come into the world and face it.  But, we never have to face it alone.  That plan also offers us the opportunity to walk in a relationship with God.  That’s an opportunity no one should ignore.

September 16 – Jabez

Sunday, September 16, 2012


September 16 – Jabez
1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Much has been made of Jabez and his prayer, with good reason.

His mother named him Jabez because she gave birth to him in pain.  I suspect there are a lot of mothers who have felt the severe pain of childbirth and wanted to name their child something horrid, but after looking at the face which comprised a reflection of everything they love, relented and gave it the name they’d originally considered.

But Jabez grew up knowing every day that he had caused pain to his mother. If she wasn’t reminding him of that, every time someone called his name, he remembered.

Rather than destroying him, the Bible tells us he became more honorable than his brothers.  This reminder in his life forced him to work harder to become a good man.  He didn’t want pain to be part of his life.

His prayer, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I may not cause pain,” (1 Chronicles 4:10) was answered by God.

We never hear about Jabez again in scripture.  All we know about him is contained in these two verses.  His mother named him ‘Pain,’ he was honorable, he prayed a great, big prayer and God granted that request.

I believe that’s enough.  We can’t escape from the things that happened at our birth, in our childhood or in our background. We have to live above those things.  Jabez was honorable, so much so that rather than just another name in a list of the clans of Judah, the author stepped out and told us about his honor. As we live above the things that have hurt us in the past, our lives will be seen by others to be honorable.

Then, we have to pray great, big prayers.  We have to fully trust that God will bring us the desires of our hearts and we have to walk with Him every day so that we know our desires line up with his great, big desires for our lives; no matter what size we believe them to be.

September 15 - Shunammite's Son

Saturday, September 15, 2012


September 15 - Shunammite's Son
2 Kings 4:8-37

The prophet Elisha traveled a lot and one day he was in a village named Shunem.  Now, because prophets traveled so much, they would probably carry news from all over.  One of the women in Shunem, who had a bit of money, invited him to come for a meal.  He visited the woman and her husband often and finally the woman decided that it would be a good idea to provide regular lodging for him.  She knew that he was a man of God and this was the right thing to do.  I can only imagine that Elisha looked forward to a regular place to stay that was all his own.  He didn’t have to look for a room in town, his room was always available.

One day, it occurred to him that he ought to ask this woman what it was he could do for her since she had done so much for him.  He had his servant ask if she needed any help with the king, but she replied that everything was fine, she lived in safety and was well off.

Elisha and his servant, Gehazi, continued to talk about what it was they could do for her.  “Well,” said Gehazi, “she has no son and her husband is old.” (2 Kings 4:14)

There would come a day when her husband died and then the woman would be a widow, with no male in her life to protect her interests.  Everything would be lost to her, all her wealth, her property … everything.  Unless she had a son.

Elisha promised her a son.  She didn’t believe him, but it happened.  What a glorious story.  It’s not over, though.  The boy grew up and one day he went out to the fields to see his father, but as soon as he got there, he grabbed his head and cried out in pain.  Servants took the boy to his mother, he sat in her lap and then died.  She took him to Elisha’s room, placed him on the bed and set out for Mount Carmel where Elisha was staying.  He saw her coming and sent servants to her.  She assured them everything was fine, but when she got to Elisha, she fell to the ground and grabbed his feet.

“I didn’t ask you for a son, but I got one.  I told you to not raise my hopes.”  Elisha sent Gehazi ahead with his staff and cloak, telling him to lay the staff on the boy’s face.  Nothing happened.  When Elisha got there, he went in to the room, shut the door on everyone else and began praying.  Elisha stretched himself out on top of the boy twice and warmth returned to the body, the child sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.

There is so much about this story that can be said, but one of the things I love is that not only did God bring hope to the Shunnamite woman by giving her a son, but his interaction with her didn’t end that day.  When it seemed that all would fall apart at the boy’s death, God was right there.  Hope was restored.  Sometimes we give up on each other too quickly. We do whatever it takes in a frenzy of helpfulness, but move on and figure that was enough.  With God, it is never enough.  He gives us life and then he is there over and over and over again when we face crises and feel as if all hope is gone.

September 14 – Solomon

Friday, September 14, 2012


September 14 – Solomon
2 Samuel 12:24

You know the story of David and Bathsheba … well, at least the first part of the story. He became enamored of a beautiful woman he saw bathing one evening while walking along the roof of his palace. He sent for her, even knowing she was the wife of one of his soldiers. His heart was so screwed up that he finally arranged for Uriah to be placed at the front of a battle, knowing he would be killed.  After Bathsheba’s time of mourning for her husband was over, David sent for her again, married her and they then had a son.

Nathan the prophet, heard from the Lord and confronted David with his sin, telling him that the son he had with Bathsheba would die.  David pleaded, fasted and wept before the Lord, begging for his son’s life, but to no avail.  When the child finally died, after being sick for seven days, David got up, changed his clothes and went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. When he got home, the servants finally got up the courage to ask him why he had fasted and wept while the child was alive, but now that the child was gone, life went back to normal.

Well, David knew what we all know.  The Lord could have answered his prayers at any time while the child was alive, but after he had died, there was nothing more that could be done other than move on.  Nothing David did at that point would bring him back to life. (2 Samuel 12:22-2)

Then, David comforted his wife and they conceived another son.  David and Bathsheba name the child Solomon.  Scriptures say that the Lord loved him and because He loved the child, Nathan heard from the Lord that he was to be named Jedidiah, which means ‘loved by the Lord.’ (2 Samuel 12:25)

This is the only place in scripture that name ever used. The Word Biblical Commentary says that many OT Kings had two names, one a private name and the other a name used while they were on the throne. It seems strange that the name Jedidiah is never used again in scripture, with the importance that is attached to the meaning of the name.

Solomon grew up to be the most successful of all Israel’s kings, building the first and most glorious temple to the Name of the Lord.

September 13 – Samuel

Thursday, September 13, 2012


September 13 – Samuel
1 Samuel 1:1-20

Samuel has to be one of my favorite characters from the Old Testament. Even before his conception, he had been prayed for and dedicated to God.

Samuel’s father, Elkanah, had two wives: Hannah and Peninnah. Now, Elkanah loved Hannah, but since she couldn’t have children, Peninnah just taunted her … to the point where Hannah cried all the time and couldn’t eat.  Elkanah was heartbroken and asked her “Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”  But, the taunting never ceased.

One day, Hannah decided she was just mad. She went to the temple and cried and prayed.  That day she made a promise to God that if he would just give her a son, she in turn would give him to the Lord for all the days of his life (1 Samuel 1:11).  The priest, Eli, thought this crazy woman muttering ceaselessly at the temple was drunk.  She assured him she was just praying out of anguish and grief.

He said to her, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him” (1 Samuel 1:17).  With those words, Hannah got up, ate something and began to feel better.  The family returned to their home and she conceived a son.  His name was Samuel, which means ‘heard of God.’

Hannah lived up to her promise.  When Samuel was finished nursing, she took him back to the temple and presented him to Eli, saying, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:27-28a).

Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2 does not portray a woman who grieved over losing her son to the Lord, but a woman who rejoiced because the Lord answered her prayers.  All she had ever wanted was a son, and she had that.  1 Samuel 2:19-21 finishes this story with more good news.  Every year when Elkanah and his family went to the temple, Hannah took a linen robe that she had made to Samuel.  She got to see her son grow up to be a man of the Lord.  Elkanah and Hannah had three more sons and two daughters and Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord (1 Samuel 2:21).

The story of Samuel’s birth is as much a story of Hannah’s faith as anything else.  Because of her commitment to the Lord, he became a great man of God. The Lord honored that commitment by filling her life with a family and extraordinary love.

September 12 – Obed

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


September 12 – Obed
Ruth 4:13-17

The story of Ruth is a beautiful tale of loyalty and commitment, redemption and love. The main characters, Ruth and Naomi are well known to most all of us and Ruth’s words to Naomi have been used in many wedding services as promises of a lifelong pledge: “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following thee, for where you go, I will go; and where you stay, I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die and will be buried. May the Lord deal severely with me, if anything but death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

Ruth meets Boaz when she follows Naomi back to her home and he ends up falling in love with her.  They have a son.

One of the central stories in the book of Ruth is that of the kinsman-redeemer.  Boaz was part of the clan which Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, was from.  Upon Naomi’s return, she wanted to sell the land he had owned.  There was another man who was going to purchase it, but if he did so, he then had to take responsibility for Naomi as well as Ruth.  That actually wouldn't be good for his estate, so Boaz accepted that responsibility and at the same time, took Ruth as his wife.

When their son was born, the women proclaimed to Naomi that now she had a kinsman-redeemer, a man who would grow up and take care of her in her old age.  With the birth of Obed, not only did Ruth and Boaz have a son, but so did Naomi and she cared for the boy as if he were her own.

Obed’s son was named Jesse. Isaiah 11:1 says that "a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." Jesse had many sons, but his youngest, David, became the great king of Israel.

Ruth was just a young woman whose husband had died.  She was lost and refused to be alone. She had committed to being part of Naomi’s family and death wasn’t going to get in her way.  Love was more than just words, it was action.

That love brought her a new love when she and Boaz found each other. Centuries later, Matthew would note once more, the Gentile woman who followed her heart and stood by a commitment to a friend in the lineage of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the ultimate kinsman-redeemer who took responsibility for the sins of the world and through his crucifixion purchased our redemption.

September 11 – Samson

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


September 11 – Samson
Judges 13:1-25

The next birth we read about is quite a few years down the road.

Israel had come into the Promised Land, but weren’t quite the people God wanted them to be.  By the time we get to the story of Samson, they’ve been through several leaders (judges) and many years.  The opening words of chapter thirteen don’t really tell a pretty story: “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.” (Judges 13:1)

This story tells us just how far from God the Israelites had gotten.

The wife of a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan was unable to have children.  One day, the angel of the Lord showed up to promise her that she was going to have a son.  However, she needed to ensure that during the pregnancy she drank no wine or ate anything unclean.  When her son was born, she was to ensure that his hair was never cut and he would be a Nazirite, a man set apart to God from birth.  It would be her son who would begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines (Judges 13:2-5).

She didn’t quite know what to do with that information, so she found her husband and told him the story.  Manoah was smart enough to pray about it and asked that the Lord send the same person back to help them learn how to raise this boy.  The angel showed up another day while Manoah’s wife was in the field.  Of course Manoah wasn’t around, so she took off in order to find him and bring him back to the stranger.  He offered to make dinner for the stranger, who told Manoah to prepare a burnt offering to the Lord.  Manoah and his wife still didn’t understand that they were talking to an angel of the Lord God.

When Manoah sacrificed the goat, the Bible says, “The Lord did an amazing thing.” At that point, the angel ascended in the flame toward heaven (Judges 13:19-20).  That scared Manoah and his wife as the realized who it was they’d been speaking with.  Manoah was certain they were about to die, but his wife was a bit more pragmatic. She recognized that he could have killed them at any point, but had accepted their offering and promised them a son.

She gave birth to a son, named him Samson, and as he grew the Lord blessed him.

September 10 – Moses

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10 – Moses
Exodus 2:1-10

This is one of those stories that leaps out at me from my childhood.  I remember the child in the basket in a river from Flannelgraphs on the walls of my Sunday school rooms. It fascinated me to see how God protected such a small child and took him from the banks of the river to the halls of the King of Egypt.

Moses’ parents were both Levites. Though it didn’t mean much at the time, Exodus points the fact out to us.  It will mean something important later in Moses’ life.  It was the Levites who became the priestly tribe for the nation of Israel. Moses’ brother, Aaron would be the first priest and the purity of his lineage ensured that the tribe of Levi became the holy men who stood before God offering sacrifices to cover the sins of the people.

Exodus 2:1 tells us that Moses’ mother hid him for three months because he was a fine child. I’m not really sure what that means.  Is it that he was a good-looking, healthy child or was he quiet and didn’t draw attention to the fact that he’d even been born.  At three months, she could hide him no longer and released him into the river after placing him in a basket.

Pharaoh’s daughter claimed him and asked his own mother to nurse him until he grew older.  At that point, he went to live in the palace as the son of the daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt. All of this may seem very strange to us, but God’s hand was at work that day. The birth of Moses was the first step in bringing about the nation of Israel.

September 9 - Israel in Egypt

Sunday, September 9, 2012


September 9 - Israel in Egypt
Exodus 1:15-20

Joseph and all of his brothers ended up in Egypt during and after the famine. They tribes settled there and made a home for themselves.  After generations passed, the Israelites did exactly what God had promised them would happened, they multiplied … a lot!  Exodus 1:7 says, “…the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them.”

Those Pharaohs that knew of Joseph didn’t worry about this, they knew of his honor and how he had cared for a king who wasn’t his own.  Huge numbers of people who weren’t just like everyone else made them very nervous.  They were worried that if some war would break out, the Israelites would fight against them and then leave the country.  They weren’t worried about having that many people in Egypt, they just wanted to be sure that they were in control of those foreigners.

So, they enslaved them and forced them in to labor, building cities and many other great monuments.  It didn’t help. Exodus 1:12 says that the more the Israelites were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread throughout the land.  The plan had backfired.

Finally, the Pharaoh decided he would just start where he could … with the births themselves.  He told the midwives to kill the male babies.  However, they didn’t listen to him and ended up telling him that Hebrew women were strong and would give birth before they even showed up to help.  Exodus 1:20 says the Israelites continued to increase in number.

Pharaoh finally gave the order that leads to the next story, every male baby was to be tossed into the river.

The people of Israel were far from their homeland and had forgotten all about God.  But, he hadn’t forgotten about them.  The first promise he made to Abraham was that his descendants would be numerous.  While they were far from home, their numbers were growing.  In the midst of persecution, children were being born, life was continuing.  It was nearly time for the tribes to become a unified nation.

September 8 – Benjamin

Saturday, September 8, 2012


September 8 – Benjamin
Genesis 35:17

Rachel gave birth to Benjamin while traveling between Bethel and Bethlehem.  When he was born, she died and Jacob buried the wife he loved. Even today, there is a tomb marking this place (though there are several disputed locations depending on the exact reading of the Hebrew text).

Benjamin was the youngest, by far, of all the sons of Israel and his tribe was one of the smallest.  Because he was the youngest and the last son of Rachel, Jacob loved him and the brothers all took great care in ensuring his safety.

Do you know that both men named Saul in the Bible came from the tribe of Benjamin?  1 Samuel 9:1 says, “There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites – a head taller than any of the others.”

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul (Saul) says, “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put more confidence in the flesh, I have more; circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeazl, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.” (Philippians 3:5)

The tribe of Benjamin was small – Psalm 68:27 says, “there is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them, there the great throng of Judah’s princes, and there the princes of Zebulun and of Naphtali.”  They allied with Judah during the reign of David (2 Samuel 19:16-17) and this alliance would become the foundation for the Jewish nation which continued to exist even after the exile.

The last son of Jacob, the smallest tribe of Israel. From this came a great leader of the Israelites and a great defender of the faith.

September 7 - Israel's Tribes

Friday, September 7, 2012


September 7 - Israel's Tribes
Genesis 29:31-30:24

It seems as if the Lord was pretty interested in keeping the momentum going when it came to Abraham’s descendants becoming as numerous as the sand on the seashore or the stars in the sky.  When women weren’t able to have children … he helped things along.

You know the story of Jacob and Leah and Rachel.  Jacob fell head over heels in love with Rachel, so he promised to work for her father for seven years in order to be able to marry her.  Well, Rachel had an older sister who wasn’t married yet and had no prospects.  If Rachel got seven years older, so did Leah and in all that time, there was no hope for Leah.  So, Laban (the father), did what any good dad would do and tricked Jacob.  When the veiled bride came out and the wedding ceremony was completed, voila! Jacob was married to Leah.  He was rather unhappy to discover what had happened, but Laban made him promise to last out the bridal week and then he could also have Rachel as his wife, as long as he promised to work another seven years.  Jacob was obedient and spent the week with Leah only in order to be able to spend his life with Rachel.

Well, Leah was sad again. First no one wanted to marry her, then her father had to trick Rachel’s soulmate into marrying her first, then her new husband loved Rachel even more and … well … her life was just miserable.  So … the Lord listened and opened her womb.  She had four sons, all the time hoping that Jacob would fall in love with her because of those sons.  Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah were her sons. Then, she stopped having children.

Now Rachel was jealous.  She had her husband’s love, but children were the important thing.  She couldn’t have them.  So, she handed over her maidservant, Bilhah to Jacob, who proceeded to give her two sons – Dan and Naphtali.  Rachel was a little happier, but Leah … furious.  It was her turn. She gave Zilpah to Jacob and from her, two more sons were born – Gad and Asher.

Further along in time, Rachel had some type of need for mandrakes, which Reuben had harvested, so she traded away time with Jacob to Leah for the mandrakes.  He slept with her, and had three more children – Issachar, Zebulun, and a daughter Dinah.

Finally, Genesis tells us that God remembered Rachel.  She gave birth to Joseph.  We are at eleven sons (and a daughter).  Jacob has been busy.  But, twelve is the magic number and we’re not there yet.

Jacob’s years working for Laban had come to an end. It was time for him to leave and return to his homeland and renew his relationship with his brother Esau.  God gave him a new name … Israel and promised that a nation would come from him.  Just after this, Rachel was pregnant one last time and died giving birth to Benjamin.

These twelve sons reflect the birth of a great nation and through them the world would be changed.

September 6 – Isaac

Thursday, September 6, 2012


September 6 – Isaac
Genesis 17:15-18; 21:1-7

You know, after reading through the genealogies in Genesis, having a son at the age of 99 years shouldn’t have been such a big deal.  Abraham could face being circumcised at that age in order to confirm the covenant. He trusted God with all of that, yet laughed out loud when God told him that Sarah and he would have a child.

(Just as an aside – if you read Genesis 17:17, you find the first time that ROFL would have been used. Abraham fell facedown and laughed.)

Back to the story.  It’s so easy for us to believe God will handle the big things.  For Abraham, he was willing to believe that God was giving him a home in Canaan, would make him a father of many nations, would increase his numbers, and would establish kingdoms with his descendants (Genesis 17:3-8); yet giving him a son through Sarah? How could that possibly happen?

We put such incredible limitations on God. We want him to heal cancer, but choose not to bother him with potty training a child.  If it’s humanly possible, we want to do it ourselves and think we are bound by our own limitations.

Abraham’s reaction is exactly like that.  Sarah was old and had never been able to bear a child.  It wasn’t like they hadn’t tried.  But, since Abraham and Sarah couldn’t do it, why would they expect God to actually make it happen.

Turning over to Genesis 21, we read that Isaac was born and his name means laughter.  Abraham gave him the name and Sarah recognized that she’d been given a gift; not only a child, but laughter and joy as well.

The little things means as much to us in our relationship with God as do the great big out of control things. You wouldn’t ask your sister to loan you a huge amount of money and then not trust her to help you plan a Christmas party.  She would choose to be there for every part of your life.

God made a covenant with Abraham and then reminded him that not only was he there for the big things, but the little things that meant so much to Abraham in his every day life.

September 5 – Ishmael

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


September 5 – Ishmael
Genesis 16:1-16

We know the story of Sarai and Hagar.  Hagar had done nothing more than accept a position as a maidservant to Sarai.  Then, when Sarai got worried about providing a child to her husband, she begged Abram to impregnate her maidservant. It didn’t take long for jealousy to set in and when Hagar became pregnant, Sarai was awful. She blamed Abram so she whined and complained and tormented him. She blamed Hagar so she mistreated her to the point that Hagar could only think to run away from the entire encampment.

Fortunately, the Lord intervened.  An angel of the Lord met Hagar before she got too far away and assured her that if she remained with Abram and Sarai and was obedient to Sarai, her son would be blessed and, though neither he nor his descendants would ever have an easy life, those descendants would be many.

When Hagar cried out in fear and pain, the Lord was there.  He didn’t promise her it would be easy, in fact, he told her to walk back in and deal with the problems that had upset her so much. But, he did promise that he would always be there and that the future would be greater than the present.

For Hagar, the Lord was the one who saw her (Gen. 16:13) and she was grateful to have been given the opportunity to see him.

Sometimes our circumstances make it seem as if life is nearly impossible, but there is a God who sees us and who is close to us.

September 4 - Adam to Noah to Abraham

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


September 4 - Adam to Noah
Genesis 5:1-32

Have you ever watched a movie or television episode where they have to move forward in time really quickly?  They show the sky, clouds flying across, sun coming up then going down; all of this happening in mere seconds. Or, they show a clock with its hands speeding around the dial.

The Bible took an entirely different approach. In one chapter, nearly 1000 years pass.  There were a lot of births that took place in those intervening years.  When we start reading Chapter 5, God created Adam – but the time we get to verse 32, Noah’s sons Shem, Ham and Japheth have entered the picture and the scene has been set for the great flood.

The wonderful thing is that there are some pretty amazing stories that get buried in all of those names and dates.  The purpose of this passage is to show the line from Adam to Noah.  We met Cain’s descendants in Genesis 4:17-24, then all of a sudden we discover in Genesis 4:25 that Adam and Eve had a third son to replace Abel named Seth.  It was this line that gets us to Noah and his sons.

It would be interesting to create a computerized (because there’d never be enough paper for the exercise) flowchart of the possibilities for population expansion in these first thousand years.  The Bible lists one person, their age when they had the son who was part of the line, the fact that they had other sons and daughter, then the age of their death.  So. Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born.  He lived 800 more years and had other sons and daughters.  Seth lived 105 years, then had Enosh, lived another 807 years and had other sons and daughters.  At the age of 90, Enosh had Kenan and lived 815 years longer … on and on until we get to Noah.  That man was 500 years old when his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth were born.

Two other interesting men in this account.  Enoch only lived 365 years, but the Bible tells us that he walked with God and then was no more because God took him away (Gen. 5:21-24).  There is no more explanation than that. Doesn’t it make you wonder what was different about his life?  His son, Methuselah, lived to be 969 years old and was the oldest man to be noted in scripture.

Because Genesis has to get from Adam to Abraham in order to tell the stories of the Patriarchs, we find one more lineage in Genesis 11:10-26, from Shem to Abraham. This only takes us through 290 years and the life spans are much shorter.

We say Happy Birthday to many men in these passages and with the coming of Abraham, we begin the story of God’s covenant with his people on earth.

September 3 - Cain and Abel

Monday, September 3, 2012


September 3 - Cain and Abel
Genesis 4

There is a lot to be frightened about when it comes time to give birth to a first baby.  Fortunately, for humanity, excitement seems to win over fear most of the time and women continue to have children.  But, can you imagine the very first time this happened?  God had already told Eve that part of her punishment for listening to that snake was that child bearing was going to hurt.  I just can’t even imagine the fear with which she faced the birth of her first child.

There was no one around to tell her that it would be ok when it was over. There was no one around who had ever experienced this.  She wouldn’t have heard other women talking about it and laughing at their own fears.  No. She was going to be the first.

The first child born on earth.  You’d think that would be a pretty big deal.  Eve was excited.  She said, “With the help of the Lord, I have brought forth a man.”  (Gen. 4:1)

The second child born on earth.  Not such a big deal.  Like it was getting to be old hat or something.  The Bible says, “Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.”  (Gen. 4:2)

It’s interesting to me how quickly sin entered the world.  Adam and Eve got kicked out of Paradise, had a couple of sons and before they had lived too long; jealousy, anger, and sullen behavior had entered the picture.  God tried to stop it.  He jumped right in there with Cain and told him that sin was trying to take him over, but he needed to master it.

That didn’t last long either. Cain turned around, asked his brother to join him in the field and buried him.

Second child born on earth … murdered by a jealous older brother.

The Bible is filled with stories of people’s relationship with each other and with the Lord.  Sin does its very best to win. We constantly have to be on guard.

Imagine how different the world would have looked if Cain had known how to love his brother. Imagine how different your world would look if love was your primary focus.

This first birth was momentous, but it was only the beginning.  By the time we reach the end of Genesis 4, many people have been born and the world’s population is increasing. We read about musicians, and nomads, tool makers and farmers.  That first birth led to a world filled with people who would call on the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26b).

September 2 – Adam & Eve

Sunday, September 2, 2012


September 2 – Adam & Eve
Genesis 1:27-30; 2:7, 19-25

The first thing that comes to mind when we think about Adam and Even is their sin.  It’s really quite easy to focus on that since it changed the course of the world.  We aren’t in Paradise right now because they chose to sin and that just makes us mad.

But, I think that one thing we miss in all of that is the great love God had for them.  He created humanity in his own image and then he blessed them (Gen. 1:28-30).  Then, he loved Adam so much that he gave to him a woman who would be his companion.  The animals that had already been created were wonderful and Adam named them, but they weren’t someone that could be with Adam, so Eve was created.

In Paradise, God spent time with Adam and Eve. They were friends. Do you really imagine that it was the day after Eve’s creation when the serpent showed up to tempt her? I suspect there was more time involved.  God enjoyed walking through the garden and talking to the two of them.  He walked there one day and they were hiding from him because of their shame.  That was new behavior and what disappointment he had in his creation when he discovered what had occurred.

In order to protect the rest of creation, he had to punish them for their sin, but that certainly didn’t stop him from loving them.  It was God who made clothes for them before sending them away to live on their own.  He didn’t kill them and start over, he loved them for who they were and gave them freedom to establish their own lives.

We can be angry at Eve for eating that piece of fruit and at Adam for not having the strength to say no, or we can be grateful to God for giving us freedom to live our lives and to choose to enter back into a relationship with him.  It is that choice and the knowledge that his love for humanity extends to the beginning of time that makes me glad to know Him.

September 1 – Universe

Saturday, September 1, 2012


September 1 – Creation
Genesis 1:1-26

We have a birthday for the creation of our country. There are fireworks, vacation days, celebrations everywhere across the US.  As Americans, we love that day.

Don’t you think it would be a great idea to set a day aside to celebrate the creation of the universe?  Ok … it was an idea.  And as I chuckle and snort a little about it, what a grand way to set off a debate again about creation versus evolution.  I’m not going to do that, so … skip it.

In the beginning, God created …

He created!  He created everything.

Wait.  It just occurred to me, we do have a day which celebrates creation.

Consider this … we don’t celebrate the day on which we were conceived, do we?  We celebrate the day when we are complete … when we are completely woven together and brought forth to live.  That’s the celebration day.

God completed creation.  He brought it forth and he called it good.  Everything that He had created was good.  Then, when it was finished, when it was completely woven together and life had been brought forth, he celebrated.  He rested. He blessed that day. He made it holy.

We celebrate that day of rest.

Tomorrow morning, when you wake up, take a moment to Praise God for His creation.