I Timothy 2

Vs. 5, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.”  Question: Who do we pray to?  Our mediator, who is Jesus(vs. 5-7)!  There will always be reasons that we must put our dependence upon the Lord.  Therefore, Paul exhorted Timothy and the Ephesians to put prayer of the utmost importance (vs. 1-4).  People in Ephesus had stopped praying for their leaders and for others. This is an important reminder as we remember our own leaders with the elections coming up.  The section on women should not offend us.  The Christian history was quite progressive when it came to women’s rights.  But, Paul was addressing the inappropriate dress and behavior some of the women in Ephesus were displaying.  The culture at the time was that women were not even considered a person in many regards.  The freedom of Christ liberated their value.  But, their response swung too far on the pendulum of exercising their freedom in Christ.  Whether we are male or female, their certainly is credence to dressing appropriately to church.  The last few verses in our chapter (vs. 11-15), have created some debate in the church.  Does Paul only mean the unique situation to the women in Ephesus?  What was the original meaning from Paul?  Do women have the right to be Pastor’s and teachers in the church?  There are two major views Egalitarian (liberal) and complimentarian (conservative).  These are real questions and issues.  We certainly live in a different time where many would not be hindered by women leaders like in Paul’s time.  No matter what you think about it, don’t let a thing like this cause division in the church.

Regarding application…Godliness.  Vs. 2, “…that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”  Godliness is a repeated theme through Paul’s letter to Timothy.  People were calling themselves disciples of Christ, yet their actions and heart were far from Godly.  People had their own selfish attitudes about how they wanted to make church, rather than defer to Godly leaders and the Holy Spirit.  Question: What is Godliness?  Having reverence for God.  It’s respecting God with fear and awe in realizing that He is the author of our faith.  He is the one we surrender to.  The more we turn in Godliness in prayer, the bible and fellowship, the more we can live a godly life.  When people struggle in the church, one very common denominator is they are not spending time enriching their lives with the Lord and others.  Let us be a people who live Godly lives.

Genesis 6

Vs. 5, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”  Sadly, this should be no surprise for us, for Jesus prophesied our current events with the increase in evil during the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37).  Let us not be disheartened by the increase of evil from our reminder with the killing spree in Aurora, CO., but all the more strive to be a light to this darkened world.    One big question arises from this chapter that can be confusing.  Question: Just who are the sons of God?  Who are the Nephilim?  A few interpretations have rendered the sons of Seth had been intermarrying with the daughters of Cain.   However, the Hebrew translation of Nephilim is “Giants” and means “fallen ones.”  And the Sons of God seems to be a clear reference to angels.  There are differing thoughts on this, but I just wanted to expose you to both sides.  However, it is clear that the bigger issue was the increase of sin.  Many biblical scholars point out that the earth’s population was literally in the billions (especially in light of humans living longer).  This would have added to the increase in evil being more prevalent as well.  But we see another example of a person and his family who chose to live differently.  The Lord gave them 120 years to repent (vs. 3), but they chose to disobey.   The latter half is the instructions of the ark (vs. 9-22).  I think it’s interesting to note that these pairs of animals, etc. must have been babies so that it could house all the species.

Regarding application…Finding Favor.  Vs. 8, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”  Question: How did Noah find favor?  Faith.  The writer of Hebrews would tell us specifically it was Noah’s faith (Hebrews 11:7).  We poke fun of those who try to be the teacher’s pet.  Sure, there are probably many who do it with ulterior motives.  But, here we are presented with an example of a Godly reason for finding favor.  I have an adopted sister who happens to be four days older than me.  Growing up, it was inevitable that there would be times we would compete for the favor of our mom.  I recall being jealous and envious of her musical talents and how my family would gush over her piano skills.  I on the other hand barely got past playing “chopsticks”, though we both started lessons at the same time.  So I realized my avenue of finding favor needed to be in a different arena.  I devoted myself to the sports side of things.  This was my way of getting the favor and attention I had hoped for.  Certainly, God is most pleased when His children faithfully trust in Him.  He knows the intentions of our hearts.  Just be honest with the Lord and let’s have very blessed beginning of our weeks!

Genesis 4

Vs. 8, “Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.”  This is the first recorded murder in the Bible.  It is especially sad because God had given Cain encouragement to do what is right (vs. 6-7), despite his lack of reverence for God in the offering he brought (vs. 3-5).  Let’s stop here for a moment and address a notable question that can arise.  Question: When God cursed Cain (vs. 11) who were these other people that Cain was worried about (vs. 14)?   Some scholars have speculated that God had created other human beings outside of Adam and Eve.  However, most scholars point to the fact that the others were children born of Adam and Eve not mentioned.  At the beginning, marriage within siblings had to transpire.  Later on, in the book of Leviticus, God would prohibit this practice of incest (Lev. 18:2, 4, 6).   We see a listing of six generations of Cain’s offspring (vs. 17-18).  Lamech is recorded that he had two wives, which points towards Cain’s offspring turning away from God’s pattern of one man and woman (Genesis 2:24).  The arrogance and pride of Lamech is also shown (vs. 23-24) in his self-defense and subsequent killing of another life.  His boastful claim that anyone who attempted to kill him would pay seventy-seven times more vengeance than even God’s vengeance on Cain’s life shows his boastfulness.  Lastly, we go back to Adam and Eve and see God working in the blessing of their son Seth (vs. 25-26)

Regarding application…Consequences of Sin.  Massacre!  Many of you might have already heard what happened at a midnight premiere showing of Batman “The Dark Night Rises”.  A young PhD student in Aurora, CO opened fire in a movie theatre killing 12 lives and injuring up to 59.  This reminds me of Cain’s first murder and the waywardness of sin.  We live in a sin-filled world where atrocities like this happen more often than we would like to admit.  Yet, we should not allow such events to lose heart or purpose.  This life is a battle and the stakes are eternal life in Heaven or eternal life in Hell.  This is all the more reason that we must come together and fight the good fight as Paul would admonish young Timothy in his letters to him.  Let’s pray for this tragedy and that Christians in Colorado would come together to be a light to this hurting community.

Genesis 3

Vs. 1, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?”  Question: Who is this serpent?  Satan.  We know this from the Apostle John’s reference in Revelation 12:9, “that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the world.”  Satan (adversary) has limited power.  He is a fallen angel (Isaiah 14:12-17) and in rebellion to the LORD God.  I believe it is important to note that while Adam and Eve sinned, their prior state was more innocence than righteousness.  God is eternal and it was the tree of life that had given Adam and Eve immortality.  The serpent used a very potent weapon: lying (vs. 4).   Giving into the lies would cause Adam and Eve to sin.  Their sin separated them from God.  Though there were consequences for sin (vs. 14-24), we still see a hope.  Many scholars point to vs. 15 as a Messianic hope that looks to Jesus!

Regarding application…God Provides.  Vs. 21, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”  This is the first recorded sacrifice.  In some ways, it was Adam and Eve who should have died, but God provided the death of another life to help them.  Certainly this has undertones of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.  Yet, we see consequences and sin come into our history, I am struck at how God provided for them.  He could have tossed them out wearing just their fig leaves, but God didn’t.  God provided.  My church has two young stray cats who have been here for the last couple of weeks.  Any of you who know me, know that I think cats are loathsome creatures.  Yet, as the days have gone by, I’ve seen them begin to look haggard and emaciated.  This Tuesday, one of the church members went and bought cat food.  They fed them.  The last couple of days, knowing there was food and seeing these cats still quite hungry…I caved in.  Yes, even though I’m allergic to cats and have no esteem for them, I’ve found myself taking the initiative to feeding them!  Arghhh!  And then I think about how God provided for Adam and Eve.  We are so much more valuable than stray cats to God.  What can be lost in this is how heartbroken it must have been for God to lose the fellowship He had with them in the Garden.  Yet, God provided for them.  If someone like me who very much dislikes cats can have the heart to provide, how much more will God provide for you?

Genesis 2

Vs. 2, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”  Question: Was God tired?  I think it’s safe to say that the LORD God was not weary, but rather rested to give us an example (Exodus 20:8-11) for us.  Whether the official Sabbath day (Saturday) for the Jews or the Lord’s Day (Sunday) for the church, we still have the important reminder of a day of rest (vs. 1-3).  The author (Moses) continues to elaborate on the sixth day of creation as we are now introduced to Adam and Eve (vs. 4-25).  It’s surprising the level of detail we are given with the condition of the earth prior to God forming man from the dust of the ground (vs. 7).  Question: Have you ever wanted to see Eden?  This must have been an amazingly beautiful garden (vs. 8-14)!  Eden in Hebrew (eden) means delight or pleasure.  Question: Where was Eden located?  There are many hypothesis, but one of my Bible Dictionaries (ISBE) believe it must have been near the Persian gulf.  While there were many fruit trees, two trees are mentioned: The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (vs. 9).  Question: Why would God do this?  Adam and Eve were perfect before the fall, but did have the ability to sin.  Think of it as a test.  We then see a huge blessing the LORD God would do in providing both man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:27).  Can you imagine a world with just men, or just women?  We certainly complement each other perfectly!

Regarding application…Free to Choose.  Vs. 16, “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden.”  Adam and Eve were not robots who had no choice.   God gave them the freedom to choose to obey or disobey.  I heard a Pastor once say, “A ruler can only rule others if he can rule himself.”  They were allowed to eat of any tree except one.  Adam and Eve were given a choice.  Question: Are you choosing to obey God?  When I was little kid, we had a local drug store (Flicks) in town just a few blocks from my house.  My mom had given me specific instructions that I was not allowed to buy candy if I was out and about on my own.  For years, I obediently followed her rule and I chose to obey.  I honestly can’t recall when or if I disobeyed this rule, but I do remember when I was old enough to make my own choice.  I remember how strange it was to buy candy whenever I wanted.  And there was the twinge of guilt even when I knew there would be no consequences.  My mom didn’t give me this rule to be mean to me.  She knew the side effects of eating too much candy.  She knew how I could start wasting the little amount of money I had on frivolous things and begin to be irresponsible.  She had these rules for me because she loved me.  None of us are God.  We are simply His creation.  While we may never truly fathom the mysteries of His ways, we do know He has given us His word to guide us.  You are free to choose to obey the LORD God with a good heart.  Question: Will you?

I Corinthians 15

Vs. 17, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”  A grave danger was transpiring in the Corinthian church.  This danger was the issue of not believing in the resurrection.  The resurrection gives us the confidence that Jesus did in fact conquer death (vs. 1-11)!  This young church should have known better the false teachings that were affecting their incorrect doctrine.  It was important for Paul to remind them that there were plenty of those who had witnessed this resurrection (vs. 4-8).  There was also the Greek influence that believed the body was just a temporary prison for the eternal soul.  Remember also the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection as well.  The second half of our chapter deals with understanding the type of resurrected body we will have (vs. 35-58).  Paul expounds on some illustrations of a seed that grows into a plant (vs. 36-38).  He also compares Adam (natural body) with Jesus (spiritual body) (vs. 44-49).  In the end, we have hope that our frail physical bodies will have quite the upgrade that comes from the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Regarding application…Choose Friends Wisely.  Vs. 33, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”  It’s interesting because Paul is quoting a well-known Greek poet named Menander.  The Corinthians would have been familiar with this quote.  Their issue was that they were allowing themselves to be aligned with people who had false intentions.  It wasn’t that they didn’t know the truth, they were just allowing the false teachings of others to influence them and question their faith.  We also would be fools (vs. 34) to think that we are not influenced in such a way today.  In both the church and our interactions with the world, we would be wise to choose wisely our friends.  Sadly, there are those in the church with their own agenda’s and wayward beliefs.  And there are those in this world that do not have any intention to have your best interest in mind, though they call themselves your friend.  I’m not advocating not having non-Christian friends or reaching out to those who are misled in the church, but I am reminding you to make your best friends those who are believers and can encourage you in your walk with the Lord!

Romans 5

Vs. 8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  What a powerful and sobering reminder on Good Friday.  Jesus died for us: the ungodly and sinner.  This death on the cross certainly holds a purpose; to bring salvation.  Paul mentions words like peace, joy, and hope in our chapter today (vs. 1-11).  This first half of our chapter today begins something very important that Paul would later expound on in the end of chapter 8, which is the understanding of assurance of our salvation.  I’ll develop upon this later and in chapter 8 when we get there.  It was the blood that justified us to now be in a right relationship with our Father in heaven (vs. 9).  In the second half of our chapter (vs. 12-21), Paul takes some time to explain some deeper theology to understanding sin (vs. 12).  The sin of Adam is compared to the life in Christ in this section.  It took one man’s trespass to bring death and another man’s death to bring life (vs. 18).

Regarding application…What is Hope?  Vs. 2, “through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”  The worldly dictionaries have it all wrong.  Merriam-Webster defines hope: to cherish a desire with anticipation.  As Christians, hoping is not just cherishing a desire.  Hope is far more than that.  The Greek word for hope: ἐλπίς which gives us the true definition: joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).  In other words: Hope for Christians is assurance!  When Paul talks about hope, it is not something that he is really wishing for to transpire.  When my wife and I got married in June in Oregon, she was really hoping (wishing) that it wouldn’t rain on our wedding day.  But when we use hope in the context of our Christian faith, it is not something that we wish would happen.  Hope is certain!  This Good Friday, gives us a hope of arriving to our eternal destination!  Now, let’s take this real definition of Christian hope and share it to the world this Easter weekend!

Ezekiel 48

Vs. 35 “The distance all around will be 18,000 cubits. “And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there”  YHWH (Yahweh) Shammah =  the Lord is there.   There was importance to the allotment of the land to each tribe, but more importantly, we are reminded that God is present.  There must have been much comfort to those who heard this message of hope back in Ezekiel’s time.  Unlike the allocation of land in Joshua’s time, Ezekiel outlines a very fair distribution this time around.

Regarding application…Our Future.  Question: Wouldn’t it be nice to know our future?  In some sense, we already do!  God is intentionally showing us a future hope, that despite our current struggle, we may not get too discouraged.  From the beginning, God has desired to be with His people.  Adam & Eve in Eden was a setback, but God would send Jesus, Immanuel (God with us) to reconcile the broken relationship we had.  Our future is told in the Old Testament as well as the Apostle John reminding us in Revelations.  It’s always nice to end a book on a good note!  So when life gets rough and there seems to be no hope, remember our prophet Ezekiel and the hope that God gave us!