January 17, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 12:10-20

When is it ok to lie? When you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings? If it will help you get ahead? If you’re afraid? What if you just color the truth a bit… or tell most of the truth but hold back a few pertinent facts?

This is a real problem for many of us – years of bad habits have led us to believe that a “little white lie” is OK. Let me be clear – lying is NEVER ok. There isn’t any such thing as a harmless lie, and telling a half-truth is the same as telling a whole lie. This applies to cheating as well.

Why did Abraham – a righteous man do it? What about other Bible characters that we read about that lied? Why would the Bible tell us about it if there wasn’t some times that it is OK? Just because the Bible recorded people doing it doesn’t mean God condones it. The Bible records people doing lots of things that are wrong.

God speaks clearly about lying… “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:9-10. Again, in Ephesians 4:25, “therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”

You can also read about it in Proverbs 19:5, Leviticus 19:11, Proverbs 12:19 and 22, Revelation 21:8, and more.

So… let’s fix this in our lives. Make a commitment to begin today to speak truth and not to lie in any form (exaggerating, cheating, or speaking), and if you do – to apologize and make things right. God will honor it!

Posted by: Tim Parsons

January 15, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 11:10-12:9

Ah, genealogies… my favorite (please enjoy my sarcasm).

“What do these names mean? How do I pronounce them? Why do they matter?” These are the questions I wrestle with whenever I come across a long line of begats, births, lineages, etc. These lists can seem pointless.

But they are definitely not pointless in chapter 11.

The previous Jumpstart post by Chad Wiles set the scene for the genealogy we read today. Ham was the son of Noah who sinned almost immediately after evacuating the ark. His line would be cursed because of his foolishness. He became the father of Canaan.

Shem, on the other hand, was the godly son who covered his father Noah in a moment of shame. He was upright. Noah, in his comparison of the boys, said in Genesis 9:26, “May the Lord, the God of Shem, be blessed, and may Canaan be his servant!”

When we arrive at the genealogy found in chapter 11, the blessing of Shem is becomes effectual. It’s realized in the birth of his great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson Abram.

It’s an understatement to say that this is a solid legacy. Abram would be named Abraham, the father of nations. He would become the foremost example of faith and righteousness in the Old Testament. Matthew 1 traces the birth of the Messiah to Abraham. Even today, Jews and Christians consider Abraham a hero.

All that said, here’s some food for thought:
1) What kind of legacy are you leaving?
2) What kind of godly investment do you have in the lives of your kids (if you have kids)?
3) What will it take for your lineage to look more like Shem’s rather than Ham’s?

Continuing on to chapter 12, Abram answers the call of God to leave where he was so that he might lead his people into the promised land. At this moment of great difficulty, there was no delayed obedience. He immediately followed the voice of the Lord, regardless of the cost.

His obedience here is one of the most important moments in history. Not only was it crucial for the foundation of the nation of Israel, it was paramount to the redemption God would provide in Christ.

As verse 3 tells us, “All the families of the earth would be blessed through you (Abram).” No doubt that the realization of this is found in Revelation 5:8b: “For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

Today, I hope you have a renewed desire to seek Christ and His righteousness like never before. We’ve seen two great characters to emulate: Shem and Abraham.

More than that, though, I hope you delight in the story of the gospel all over again. How incredible is it that even from Genesis 12, God’s relentless pursuit of us is so clearly evident?

Posted by: Todd Thomas

January 14, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 11:1-9

Let’s hammer this out! The “table of nations” (ch. 10) has decided to erect a structure that will reach the heavens. Now, before we think about this, look at verses 3 and 4. Focus on the phrase, “come, let us…” and realize where the arrogance begins. The people wanted to erect this structure primarily for three reasons.

First, they wanted to erect a tower whose “top was in heaven.” This statement reflects the heart of the people and displays defiance against God. Second, this structure was to make a “name” for them. The Hebrew term is shem which indicates “fame/reputation/a perpetual memorial.” This structure now becomes a monument of self-ambition and self-glorification. The third reason was to be autonomously congregated in one location which directly disobeyed God’s command found in Genesis 9:1, where He makes clear His desire for them “to multiply and fill the earth.” Commentaries suggest that the reason they desired to be congregated was because of strength and confidence and in so doing they were not depending on God.

Let’s move on to focus on v. 5-7. “Yahweh went down to see”. This phrase indicates God’s investigation of and acting upon a situation. Think about the gravity of this phrase! This language truly shows how ridiculous human work is when compared to an infinitely HUGE God. Procksch states it like this, “Yahweh must draw near, not because He is near-sighted, but because He dwells at such tremendous height and their work is so tiny.” God’s movement must be understood as complete ridicule of man’s work.

After His investigation, Yahweh sees that man’s ambition has no limit and then the phrase “come let us” is spoken by God. This is the same phrase that the people use in verses 3 and 4. God is ridiculing the builders at their effort to construct a tower “who’s top is in the heavens.” As a result of their arrogance and dependence on self rather than God He punishes them by “confusing them.” This may seem crazy, but “confuse” in Hebrew is n-b-l. The reverse of this term in Hebrew is l-b-n which means “brick” (v.3). This is no coincidence that it “underlines the teaching that a human enterprise that runs counter to the will of God is inherently perverse and doomed to self-destruction.” (I’m not this smart.. I read it in a commentary)

Now, before we point fingers at these people let us take a moment to reflect.

1) Do we seek self-glorification or the glory of God?
2) Are we obedient to God’s word or do what we want?
3) Are we satisfied in Christ alone?

This should be our battle cry:

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Be thou my vision now and always
Now and forever first in my heart
High Kingdom of Heaven, my treasure thou art

Posted by: Zach Monroe

January 13, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 10

In today’s passage we get to see the account of Noah’s sons and the nations that descended from them. This means we just spent the last 10 or so minutes reading “this person fathered these people, and this other person fathered these other people, and so on and so forth.” Not always the most riveting read, right? I have to admit, that was my initial reaction as well, until I began to dig deeper. If we focus on this list in the context of history we can see the implication of sin and the legacy that we leave behind.

To understand this better, let’s recap a bit from the previous couple of chapters we’ve read. First, because of Adam’s sin, man became so sinful that God wiped the earth clean with a flood and decided to restart with Noah. Next, God blessed Noah and told him and his sons to “be fruitful and multiply.” However, it wasn’t but a couple of paragraphs later that Noah planted a vineyard and became drunk. This is the first sin recorded after Noah and his family got off the ark. Finally, Noah’s son, Ham found him naked and decided to sin against his father by mocking him. Because of Ham’s sin, a curse was put on him that didn’t leave his house for generations.

The sin of Ham had major implications on the legacy he left. For example, from Ham came Egypt, who later enslaved the Israelites, and through Egypt came the Philistines, who battled the Israelites and are most famous for their mighty warrior Goliath, who fell at the hands of David. Also, from Ham came Cush, who fathered Nimrod. From Nimrod came the city of Nineveh, which is best known as the city Jonah tried to flee from because of how evil it was. Let us not forget Canaan, whose territory included Sodom and Gomorrah, a city that became so evil God destroyed it by fire.

I know these examples seem extreme, right? Can one “little” sin really cause this much destruction? The reality is.. yes. My goal is not to minimize the cross or expect us to obtain perfection in this life. We should definitely hold tight to the gospel and remember that there is grace and forgiveness through Christ. We must also remember that sin still has consequences in this world.

Let today’s passage push us to fight sin. Ask yourself, how am I fighting sin? How am I leading out in my home? Who am I pouring into? Live today as a reflection of Christ and leave a legacy of the gospel..

Posted by: Chad Wiles