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Sermon: Jacob – Wrestling with God (E100 #004)

Genesis 32:1-32

Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.

3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my master Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. 5 I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, menservants and maidservants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’ ”

6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”

7 In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. 8 He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.”

9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. 11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’ ”

13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.”

17 He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘To whom do you belong, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ 18 then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’ ”

19 He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: “You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 20 And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.’ ” For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” 21 So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.

 

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

 

 

Today we turn our attention to Jacob, Abraham’s grandson and the son of Isaac.

Jacob had two meetings with God – one at Bethel where he had a vision of the ladder. In Gen 28:11 we see that when Jacob arrived at Bethel the sun set … this might well have been a simple observation of the time of day but it might also have a poignant significance, as we shall see.

The other meeting that Jacob had with God was at Peniel, where he wrestled with God until daybreak. As he left Peniel, we read in Gen 32:31 that “the sun rose above him.” Again this might simply tell us the time of day or it might tell of an incredible restoration that took place in Jacob’s life.

 

The word “Jacob” means grabber or deceiver and you will remember from the biblical accounts of his life that Jacob was indeed a grabber. He was the second born of twins and at his birth he came out grabbing his brother Esau’s heel. He was, by nature, also a bargainer, he bargained with Esau for the birthright – gaining it for a bowl of stew, he bargained with Laban for his wife Rachel, he even bargained with God at Bethel. He was also a deceiver. He deceived his blind father by covering his arms and neck with goatskin in order to receive the blessing that actually belonged to his older brother.

Jacob, before his encounter with God at Peniel, was not a nice man. He was pretty much like anyone of us before God entered into our lives bringing us new birth into eternal life, and leading us on a new journey through this world.

 

At Bethel, the sun sets on Jacob’s life. He is on the run from his brother Esau who had threatened to kill him because he had stolen the birthright and blessing that legitimately belonged to him.

Even though the sun is metaphorically setting on his life Jacob has this wonderful dream in which God reveals to him the great and glorious purpose that he has for him. “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go … I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

But Jacob is not interested in spiritual blessings – only in God’s protection against his enemies – primarily his brother Esau.

He bargains with God … “Just protect me from danger, give me food and clothes and I’ll be happy – then I’ll acknowledge you and give you a tenth of all that I have.”

In his spiritual darkness Jacob seeks only material help.

He could have the vastness of God’s purpose for his life but he was satisfied with toys.

 

Why is it that we always seem so much more interested in physical things than God’s gifts?

And its not just possessions; its also our status, our pride, our prospects.

What are your priorities? What do you think about most? Where does most of your money go? How do you spend your time?

 

God had to wait 20 years before Jacob was prepared to take his mind away from the things of the world and set it on the things above.

We saw a similar thing with Abraham, where in his hurry to have God’s promise he frustrated God’s purpose. We also, like them, often frustrate God’s glorious purpose for our lives because of the narrowness of our vision – when we like Abraham and Jacob, get taken up with things lesser than God’s highest.

 

In order to fulfil His promises to Jacob, God had to discipline him: severely … and this filled the next 20 years of his life.

In Abraham, God was absent for 13 years so that Abraham’s self-dependence was emptied … God waited for Abraham to become impotent.

For Jacob, God put him alongside another shrewd schemer – Laban.He tricks Jacob into marrying Leah when he thought he marrying Rachel. After having committed to another 7 years of work he eventually gets to marry Rachel only to find that she is barren.

Next he uses all the tricks of the trade – sophisticated selective breeding techniques – to get the best of Laban’s flocks and herds, and as Laban’s sons see how Jacob’s scheming has robbed them of their inheritance they plot to kill him. And as he had to run from his brother, now he has to run from his cousins.

 

But as he heads back to Canaan he finds himself hemmed in – Laban is chasing him from the rear and Esau is coming from the front. He makes a peace covenant with Laban at Mizpah promising that they will not enter again into each others territory. But now he faces 20 years of built-up wrath in his brother and he seeks to appease it with trickery and bribes.

 

Have you ever tried to bargain with God?

In your life’s struggles, have you made promises to God about how you will behave or what you will do if God would only come to your assistance. And when He has, have you?

 

Jacob sends abundant gifts in waves ahead of him and divides his possessions into groups so that Esau might perhaps turn away appeased without taking everything from Jacob, he even sends his wives and children ahead of him. Jacob waits on the other side of the river; Jacob is looking after No 1!

 

But that night he wrestled with God. We learn four things from that night that Jacob spent with God.

First he was alone. We need to spend time alone with God that He might speak into our soul.

Second he was broken by God. For twenty years God had struggled gently with Jacob, but that night God struck his hip so that his thigh was dislocated. The thigh is the strongest part of the body and it was that part that God struck. God will often strike us in the strong-points of our life because these are the dependencies that keep us from total yielding to God.

Peter thought that his strong point was his courage. God caused him to lie to protect himself against a servant girl. He thought that he was a good fisherman and so twice he fishes all night but catches nothing – until Jesus points the way. Sometimes God will take our wealth or our talents until our dependence is properly centered on Him.

Third we see that Jacob was finally desperate for God. “I will not let you go,” he says, “unless you bless me.” In Hosea 12:4 we read that Jacob wept and begged with God for a blessing that night at Peniel. This was the point that God had been working towards throughout Jacob’s life. What a different man he was to 20 years earlier. Now he had nothing – he was alone and broken, now God could bless him.

God didn’t bless him because he was defeated. Instead God says to him – You have prevailed, and so you will have power with God and with men. Because you did not give up, because you held on … I will bless you in terms of your relationship with me. You will call upon me and I will hear you.

 

Finally, we see that God blessed Jacob at Peniel because at last he was honest. When he went to his father to steal his brother’s blessing he said that his name was Esau. Now 20 years later God asks him his name again. “I am Jacob” he says. “I am the grabber, the deceiver, I am the bargainer.”

This was a confession – I don’t want to pretend anymore, I am a hypocrite. My life is full of sham and pretense.” It takes real brokenness to be honest to God about ourselves.

 

What is it about these four things – Aloneness, Brokenness, Desperation, Honesty, in terms of our relationship with God?

There seems to be a progression …

When time and circumstances hem us in, we find ourselves alone.

Loneliness and depression have the potential to leave us without hope because we have no-one else to turn to.

We need to recognise, at that point, that God waits. Like the Prodigal Son, it is the recognition of the failure of our own efforts that brings us to the place of brokenness.

It is the critical point of every one’s life – it is God or self.

And when we turn in desperation from ourselves towards God, becoming honest about ourselves and our need for God, then we enter into a brand new relationship with God – the one which He has always wanted, the one for which Jesus died.

 

 

We see that after these things that the sun now ascends on Jacob’s life. He walks in justice and truth. He walks in the way of God and becomes a patriarch of God’s people.

 

Does he keep talking about his experience at Peniel ? No.

His testimony does not hark back to that one experience of God because his life thereafter is filled with the Presence of God.

In Hebrews 1, where we read the great testimonies of the men and women of faith we are told in quite the simplest terms of how Jacob’s life changed.

There is no breaking open of the seas, no pushing down of walls, no raising of the dead but simply, “Jacob worshipped God, leaning on the top of his staff.”

The staff was the symbol of the miracle that God had wrought in his life – with a dislocated hip, Jacob needed a staff to walk but that walking stick was also the symbol of the breaking of his stubborn self-will. Now he worshipped God as a man whose self dependence was broken, and who now depended only on God.

At Peniel, Jacob’s name was changed from “Jacob the deceiver” to “Israel, the one who struggles with God” but God continues to call Himself – “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Our great God of mercy and grace continues to identify with self-seeking sinners. He is with us each day as we struggle to overcome the self life that rules so dominantly in each one of us.

He is the God of grace who so loves us so much that He gave His only Son so that we might have a full life in this world despite our failures; and, when this life is over, be brought into the holy presence of the Almighty, finally cleansed in the redeeming death of Christ our Lord.

Sermon: The baptism of the Holy Spirit

 

Acts 1:4,5,8

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”


A. Why is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit important

Jesus had given the apostles the Great Commission – to go into all the world.

With such a great task, one should expect that some kind of strengthening or encouragement would be given.

They had to wait in order to receive the Promise. Its not just a switch on – it needs preparation.

When we try to fulfil the Great Commission or do the work of God without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we will fail because we are not equipped to do the job.

Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.

Time spent seeking the Spirit is NOT time wasted. In fact, we waste time and effort by trying to fulfil the Great Commission without the Holy Spirit!

B. What is the purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is an empowerment to be.

We often think only of the manifestation of gifts, but the main reason for the baptism of the Hoy Spirit is to BE something.

We often use the term “witness” as a verb. “I’m going to witness to someone”. However, here “witness” is a noun – you will BE my witnesses. It’s not something you do, but something you ARE.

Also we are baptised with the Holy Spirit to develop the Fruit of the Spirit not just to demonstrate the Gifts of the Spirit.

C. How can we be baptized with the Holy Spirit?

1. We must wait.

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the Promise of the Father and it is dependent on God’s timetable.

Example: I was baptised with the Holy Spirit before I even knew there was such a thing but a friend of mine waited for many years.

However, it’s not just passive waiting; it includes prayer and seeking the Holy Spirit. My friend prayed every day and took every opportunity to come forward for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She never gave up.

The disciples obviously took this command to wait as an active command, because, as we read in Acts 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

And there they were praying when the Holy Spirit came down.

2. We must pray and seek the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.

Those who have already been baptized in the Holy Spirit should pray for us.

There is nothing in Scripture about coaching people on how to be filled. We simply pray for them to receive!

D. What is the sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit?

The initial physical sign in Scripture is speaking in tongues. Acts 2:4, Acts 10:4, Acts 19:6

1. This was proof enough to Peter to accept Gentile believers into the faith, which until then had been an exclusive Jewish sect.

“For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.

2. There may or may not be other physical signs, like wind and fire.

3. The main sign is a change in life: a new dependence on God, evidence of the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace etc) and a witness in word and character which draws people to faith in the saving power of Jesus Christ.

People often put much emphasis on “speaking in tongues” but it is not the end, or even the purpose, of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

E. Speaking In Tongues

This is, and has been, a big issue in the church. Some say it was for times past, others that it was just other human languages and some see it as something more, deeper, in our relationship with God.

I see tongues as an integral part of my faith life; I have never thought that it was not a real and valid experience. By the same token, I know that there are many strong Christians who produce much spiritual fruit in their life but who do not speak in tongues. I have no problem with either and do not see one group as being more important than then other; though I expect that Jesus is likely to be more interested in whether we produced spiritual fruit in our lives than in whether we spoke in tongues. However, if we speak in tongues it should also go without saying that we produce spiritual fruit; this may be the reason for the waiting upon the Holy Spirit.

In considering whether we want to speak in tongues we do probably need to ask ourselves how intimate with Jesus we want to be.

Consider for a moment the wonderful possibility that we can communicate with our Heavenly Father in a way that is totally unlimited by our finite minds. A way that we can receive from Him in fresh, wonderful new ways. If this appeals to you, I encourage you to approach speaking in tongues with an open mind, and an open Bible.

I. So what is speaking in tongues?

First,let’s look at a few things that speaking in tongues is NOT:

1. Tongues are not a status symbol, indicating that one Christian is more spiritual than another. The Corinthian church was a hotbed of tongues speaking, yet the Apostle Paul still chastised them for being carnal (1 Corinthians 3:3.)

2. Tongues are not a shortcut to instant spiritual maturity.

3. Tongues are not a hypnotic, zombie like state in which the person has no control of his faculties.

Speaking in tongues is, to put it simply, Holy Spirit inspired speech in a language unknown to the speaker. It can be spoken in a Christian’s private prayer life, or in a public worship service with interpretation.

People do tend to have a natural hunger for the supernatural. Unfortunately, many turn to the false, satanic supernatural found in psychics, the New Age,and other cultic activity rather than seeking the true supernatural power of God. This is tragic. God is a supernatural God! He can fulfil the deepest longings of our hearts with His love and power. Tongues are one of the avenues that He works through in order to do this.

II. Are tongues still valid today?

Yes, there are more Christians on earth today who speak in tongues than there have been at any other time in history! Although they have always been around in varying degrees throughout church history, there has been a strong revival of tongues in this century.

It is true that the Bible refers to a time when tongues shall cease (1 Corinthians 13:8). However, this same passage also tells us when this will happen: When perfection comes, we see face to face, and we know, even as we are known (verses 10-12.)

We don’t always know how to pray properly. This is why God has made available to us this heavenly prayer language, that takes us beyond our limitations and helps us pray with the Spirit making intercession with us through groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26.)

We need the Holy Spirit to help us this way just as much, if not more,than the first century church did.

III.How does speaking in tongues operate?

In order to answer this question properly, we must recognise that the Bible describes three different manifestations of speaking in tongues:

  1. Evidential tongues-The initial physical evidence when someone is baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1- 4;10:44-46;19:2-7.)
  2. Intercessory tongues-the ability to pray in other tongues, or “In the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 14:14- 16; Ephesians 6:18;Jude 20) in order to pray beyond our limited human understanding, speak mysteries to God ( 1 Corinthians 14:2) and edify (build up) ourselves (1 Corinthians 14:4).
  3. The ministry gift of tongues, described in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14, involves giving a message in tongues in a public worship service, which is to be interpreted (12:10).This is a powerful sign to unbelievers ( 14:22).This gift is only given in certain situations, as the Spirit wills. Therefore, not all Christians are used in this gift (12:30.)

IV. Are tongues really all that important?

In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul gives us a basic primer on the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues and interpretation of tongues. Since tongues and interpretation are the last gifts which Paul mentions, some have taken this to mean that tongues are the least important of the gifts, and that we shouldn’t really be concerned with them. However, I would respectfully reply that this argument is based on a very presumptuous and inconsistent approach to Biblical interpretation.

Chronological order of how something is listed is not necessarily an indication of importance. For example, in 1 Corinthians 13:13 , Paul tells us that faith, hope, and love remain, yet the greatest of these is love, despite of the fact that it is listed last. Likewise, in a list of sinful activities recorded in Galatians 5:19-21, murder is named near the end of the list. Does that mean that murder is a less serious sin than the others? Of course not.

Paul definitely did not view tongues as being unimportant. In fact, he devotes an entire chapter in the Bible to teaching on the subject (1 Corinthians 14). In this chapter, he tells the Corinthian believers that he desires that they all speak in tongues (verse 5), and thanks God that he speaks in tongues more than all of them! (verse 18) Three times in Scripture we are exhorted to covet (Pursue with passion) the gifts of the Holy Spirit-including tongues (1 Corinthians 12:31; 14:1, 39, the same Greek word is used in all of these Scriptures.) Note that this is worded as a commandment, not an option.

V. Why are we afraid, or nervous of this gift?

Tongues are a wonderful tool God has given His people to enjoy His presence more fully and intimately, and to make us more effective in our service for Him.

Being a supernatural phenomenon, speaking in tongues is approached somewhat hesitantly by many Christians. However, this is nothing new. In the Bible, when God’s presence showed up in a tangible manner, it was not unusual for onlookers to respond with fear. We see this in events like the angelic vision the shepherds had when Jesus was born (Luke 2:8-12,) when the disciples saw Jesus walk on water (Mark 6:45-50,) and when John had his vision of the risen Jesus (Revelation 1:4-17.) Notice that each time,the first reaction of the people who witnessed these supernatural occurrences was to be afraid. However, in each of these cases, these people were assured to “Fear not,” or “Be not afraid.”

In Luke 11:9-13, Jesus makes the solemn promise that if you ask God for bread, He isn’t going to give you a stone. According to verse 13,the context of this verse is asking the Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life is something to be cherished, not feared.

F. What happens after the baptism with the Holy Spirit?

Remember that a baptism is an initiation.

Your water baptism is not the fullness of your Christian walk. It merely marks the beginning of your Christian walk.

You still must take advantage of that initiation every day, by continuing in the Christian life.

Likewise, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not the end-all to your experience of the Holy Spirit. Instead, it marks the beginning of your living in the fullness of the Spirit.

 

Alpha Talk – How does God guide us?

All of us have to make decisions about what we do with our lives—our life work, our life partners, children, use of time, where we live, money; as well as the kind of day-to-day decisions we all face. And discerning the will of God in the midst of all the conflicting worldly noise can be quite a tricky business.

But the wonderful news of the Christian faith is that we are not on our own in this life. God promises to help us make the right choices.

John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Paul says that God’s purpose for our lives is good and pleasing and perfect. And in order to find out what it is, we need to consult him and we need to listen.

 

So how does God guide us? How does this relationship work? We’ve got five main ways we’re going to look at today—they’re the five CS’s. And in some cases it might be one of these; in major decisions it might be all five.

1. COMMANDING SCRIPTURE

In the Bible the general will of God for all of us is revealed. And there we see what all of us are called to. Our primary calling is not to do something, but to be someone. Our primary calling is to live in a relationship with God, to know Jesus. Our primary calling is to become like Jesus—to become free, to become loving, to become peaceful.

And then we’re called to make a difference to the world, to change the world around us.

In the Bible God has spoken on a whole range of issues. So there’s some things where we really don’t need specific guidance, because it’s absolutely clear from this book what his will is. He’s spoken about marriage and family life and work and money and children and all kinds of things.

We know, for example, that marriage is for life.

We know that we must pay your taxes.

We know about telling the truth. When I first started working I shared a secretary with the Company Secretary. One time there was a call for him and he asked her to tell the person that he was out. So she handed the phone to him and said, `You tell him you’re out!’ The other bloke was furious but she said to him, `Look, if I can lie for you, I can lie to you. And I never will.’

That stuck in my mind and that woman was to play a significant role in my decision to follow Jesus – she was worthy of her word.

 

So God’s general will is revealed in this book. But it won’t tell us which job we should do, or who we should marry. But sometimes as we read the Bible it will bring to light a particular verse which will give us direction.

 

Some people have been guided by kind of opening the Bible at random and pointing to a particular verse. But it wouldn’t be good to make a habit of it, because it could expose us sooner or later to unhappy consequences.

 

I heard of one man who tried this. He said, `Lord, what shall I do?’ And he opened his Bible at random, and he happened to land on Matthew 27:5, which says: Then Judas went and hanged himself. So he thought, `Oh dear, I’d better try this again,’ and he went to Luke 10:37: Go and do thou likewise. He thought, `Oh dear!’ So he went to John 13:27, which says: What you’re about to do, do quickly.

 

So that’s not really a great idea in the long term. But if we have a regular, methodical reading of the Bible each day, it’s always amazing to me how appropriate each day’s reading is. God feeds us, and he also speaks to us and guides us.

So that’s the first thing: Commanding Scripture—in other words, the Bible.

 

2. COMPELLING SPIRIT

Acts 20:22

Paul speaking says this: “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I’m going to Jerusalem…”

For the apostle Paul to be led by the Spirit was almost a definition of a Christian.

The writer of the book of Acts is of course Luke who also wrote Luke’s Gospel. And in his Gospel you see that Jesus is, throughout His life, led by the Holy Spirit. And it’s almost as if he writes the book of Acts to show that the same Holy Spirit who led Jesus through His life now leads the church, and thus every person who’s invited him to come and be part of their lives.

And as Jesus said in John, chapter 10, which we looked at earlier, my sheep recognise my voice. We recognise the voice of the Holy Spirit; at least we begin to—it takes time. It’s like any relationship. If we know somebody well, we recognise their voice, for example on the telephone.

 

I rang a minister in Wagin this week, and I got through I said, `Hi Alan, this is David, David de Kock.’ And he said, `Oh, I would recognise that voice anywhere.’ When we know someone well, we begin to recognise their voice. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. As we develop this relationship, we begin to recognise the voice of the Holy Spirit.

And the Holy Spirit leads us in a number of different ways. First of all, God speaks to us when we pray.

God also sometimes speaks through giving us a strong desire to do something. In Philippians 2:13 Paul says that God works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. In other words, if God calls you to do something, he will also give you the desire to do that if you yield yourself to him.

 

Sometimes he guides us in more unusual ways—through a prophecy, or visions, or pictures, or angels, some people hear an audible voice, or even dreams. Now, obviously, in this whole area of being led by the Spirit we can make mistakes because it’s not as simple as that. Guidance is a very difficult thing and sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we get it wrong.

John says: Test the spirits to see whether they’re from God. Is it in line with the Bible? Does it promote love? If it’s not a loving idea, then it won’t come from God.

According to 1 Corinthians 14 we might test it by saying: is it strengthening, encouraging, comforting?  Another test is: do we sense God’s peace about the decision?  Paul writes: Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart.

So the Bible is one way—Commanding Scripture; also the Holy Spirit—Compelling Spirit.

 

3. COMMON SENSE

God has given us minds, to think and to reason. And God’s promises of guidance are not given to save us the problem of thinking. In fact, thinking and God guiding us often go together.

2 Timothy 2:7 says, effectively, this: Think over what I’m saying, and the Lord will give you understanding.

John Wesley said that the most common way God guided him was by presenting to his mind reasons for acting in a particular way.

And I would say that’s the main way God guides us in the ordinary sort of day-to-day aspects of life.

But also in the big decisions, our common sense is very important. For example, the Bible tells us that marriage is the norm. But what this book won’t tell you is whom you should marry.

I heard of one Cockney from the East End of London, who was not a churchgoer. And he had a real dilemma because he was in love with two very beautiful women. And he couldn’t decide. One was called Sharon, and she was blonde and very beautiful, and the other was called Maria, and she was a brunette and also very beautiful. He wasn’t a churchgoer, but not knowing whether it was Sharon or Maria, Sharon or Maria, he thought, `Well, I’ll go into a church and pray.’

So he went into a local Catholic church and he knelt down by the altar and he said to the Lord—’oom shall I ‘ave?’ And he looked up, and he looked at the stained-glass window and he saw in gold letters: Ave Maria!

 

That’s not the best way to go about it! But common sense tells us we should ask these questions: are we spiritually compatible? Paul warns us of the danger of marrying somebody who’s not a Christian, for example, because inevitably we’re going in different directions spiritually, and that can cause tension. So that if we’re a Christian we should look to marry someone whose faith we respect.

Secondly, are we personally compatible?  Are we good friends?  Then are we physically compatible? Does the chemistry work? God is not going to ask you to marry someone to whom you are not physically attracted. That may come as a relief to some of you!

And then our jobs and careers. Again, it’s common sense. Sometimes people say, `Look, I’ve become a Christian. Should I leave my job?’ The answer is given by 1 Corinthians 7. Each of you should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to you and to which God has called you.  Each of you should remain in the situation which you were in when you were called.

In other words, don’t just automatically leave your job, unless of course what you’re doing is immoral or illegal—assuming it’s not, we should stay where we are until God calls us into something different. God doesn’t call us out of things, he calls us into things.

And if we’re asking the question `Well, what is God calling us into?’ the questions to ask are: `Well, what’s my temperament, what’s my personality, what’s my education, what are my skills, what am I good at, what do I like doing, what are my gifts?’ God hasn’t given us gifts in order that they should be wasted but, as John Stott writes, `to be discerned, cultivated and exercised, so that rather than being frustrated we should be fulfilled.’

And it’s never too late. I read recently of a woman in her nineties who now runs ten-kilometre races. She didn’t discover that she enjoyed running until she was 78. So it’s never too late!

 

4. COUNSEL OF SAINTS

The word `saints’ is used in the New Testament to mean `all Christians’—in other words, the church. The Holy Spirit, for example in Revelation 2, we read of the Holy Spirit speaking to the churches. God has been speaking to His people for hundreds of years.

So, for example, there’s no point in sort of thinking, `Well, I wonder what the doctrine of the Trinity is. Shall I try and work it out for myself?’ without looking at the fact that the early Christians spent 400 years working out the doctrine of the Trinity. And the creeds have come to the church out of that work.

The same with anything, any kind of decision we’re making, we make it in a community. And that’s one of the wonderful things, to be part of a community of other Christians, where we can help one another, we can seek advice from fellow Christians. Proverbs 12:15 says The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

And Proverbs 15:22 says: Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed

Proverbs 20, verse 18: Make plans by seeking advice.

 

5. CIRCUMSTANTIAL SIGNS

Proverbs 16:9 says `In his heart a person plans their course, but the Lord determines their steps.

Psalm 37:5. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in him, and he will act—

If we’re faced with a difficult decision, as all of us are from time to time, or sometimes very often, we can go to the Lord and say, `Lord, I don’t know which direction to go. I don’t know whether this is right or whether that’s right. I don’t know whether this relationship is right or whether it’s not. I don’t know whether this job is right or whether it’s not. I don’t know whether this decision is right or whether it’s not.’

Commit your way to the Lord —that’s the first thing. Secondly, trust in him, and then his promise is this: he will act. And God can shut doors or he can open doors.

But we have to be willing to say, `I trust you with this.’

We need to watch the circumstances of our lives, how is God directing us through the present situation.

 

Each of these way of discerning the guidance of God can stand alone, but they work best when they work together. In ancient times, when a ship was coming into a harbour, they would set up three fires – the captain had to ensure that all three fires were lined up and then he knew that it was the right way in. So also with these five ways … line up at least three of them and you will have a good idea of what the Lord wants you to do.

 

Finally, in conclusion: don’t be in a hurry to make a decision about anything. The writer of Hebrews says that after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. He spent most of his life waiting for God to fulfil a promise he’d given him when he was a young man and wasn’t fulfilled until he was an old man.

And we all make mistakes, all of us do.

There are many things in my life that I wish that I’d done, and as I get older I’m wondering if its now too late, but then I remember the words of Oscar Wilde: `Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.’

 

Sermon: Abraham’s Faith (E100 #002)

Genesis 12:1-9

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation

and I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,

and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth

will be blessed through you.”

So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

 

Abram the man from Ur of the Chaldeans. The man whom God singles out to signify a new chapter in His dealings with mankind.

On what basis does God choose Abram?

Its really hard to find any particular reasons. He was the son of Terah, a desert wanderer. He had a barren wife and hence, no children. He was a stranger in a strange land. Abram had nothing going for him, but God called him out to be the father of the Jewish nation, a small tribe which God chose to be the bearers of His message: who were made responsible and accountable for both God’s law and God’s grace in this world. Through them came Moses, David and the prophets. Into their community was born the Christ with the message of salvation for the whole world.

But when God called Abram, he had nothing going for him. And when God calls you, it will not be dependent on your success nor abilities. God can use and will use anyone – He may well be calling you today! We are only to respond in faith, trusting God.

 

The account of the life of Abram is more than just an historical narrative. It is an outstanding example of faith in God. Jesus speaks of his faith. Stephen reviews the life of Abram extensively in defence of his own faith before the Sanhedrin.

Acts 7:2-8

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Abram, “was looking forward to a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God”.

Hebrews 11:8-19

Abram was an Aramean and descendant of Shem who lived around 2000BC. He belonged to a rootless, unsettled and semi-nomadic tribe who wandered among the more settled people in search of food and water for their flocks. This tribe were known as the “Habiru” hence they are called Hebrews. In Genesis 14:13, Abram is called “Abram the Hebrew.

With his father Terah, and all his family, Abram was called by God, to leave Ur and to move about 500 kms westwards and to settle in Haran. Later God calls him to move further into Canaan and he establishes bases and places of worship at Shechem, Bethel (the place of God) and Mamre.

After a life of frequent encounters with and challenges from God, both Abraham (as he is later called) and his wife Sarah are buried in the cave of Machpelah (present day Hebron). Although God had promised him land “from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates”, the only land he ever owned was the cave at Machpelah where he, his wife and his offspring were buried.

And yet, he is acclaimed as the true man of faith. He saw the promises of God as not being limited to time or space but having an eternal significance. And while this promise never materialised in his own lifetime he never had doubt that it was God’s word and that it would ultimately come to pass. And, as the writer to the Hebrews suggests … the promise is of a city and a place that is even beyond this life. It is the new heaven and the new earth. The new Jerusalem.

What does “faith” mean to you?

So often “faith” is a stumbling block for us. We “believe” so far, but then we have doubts because we don’t see any proof or justification about what we have believed.

The writer to the Hebrews however, in Hebrews 11:1, defines faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”.

Faith must take us beyond the realm of this present reality. If I only believe what I know to be real then it is not faith at all but a calculation of probabilities.

Faith must take me into the unknown, where I am convinced of the words, character and integrity of the Promise-maker and am totally prepared to let Him lead me through the dark places where I cannot even see where to place my feet, let alone the light at the end of the tunnel.

Faith is trusting the unseen God, who is everywhere to be seen; hearing Him in the deafening silence, and following Him along unknown paths to the destination which has been clearly presented to us.

This faith cannot be worked up, or bought. We cannot train ourselves to believe. It is a matter of choice alone. I must make a decision to believe and to follow. I must yield to the Creator’s purpose. And if you haven’t yet made that decision, or need a renewed confidence in the God of infinite grace, then make the choice today to trust Him with all your heart and mind and body.

When God entered into a relationship with Abram He was taking another step to bring mankind back into relationship with Himself. And how often have we not already seen this in the reading of the Scriptures so far – the Flood, the Tower of Babel. And we will see God’s continuing work until the promised end of time.

The significant new step that God took with Abram was that He entered into a covenant with him. A covenant is a metaphysical kind of contract in which each party commits everything they have to the other without reservation and without condition. It also has no time limit. Kings entered into limited covenants with each other, tribal leaders did also. David and Jonathan entered into a covenant. Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman.

God’s covenant with Abram had no conditions. In fact, when the covenant was entered into, God put Abram to sleep  so that he couldn’t dilute the covenant through the contribution of his human weakness.

The process of the Covenant in Genesis 15:9-21

One of the steps of covenant making is the incorporation of the covenanting partners names into each other. It is at this point that Abram’s name becomes Abr-ah-am as he incorporates the “ah” from Y-ah-weh. And God from this point on is called “the God of Abraham”.

God’s blessing in the covenant is sevenfold :

He says in Genesis 12:2,3

1. I will make you a great nation

2. I will bless you

3. I will make your name great

4. You will be a blessing

5. I will bless those who bless you

6. Whoever curses you I will curse

  1. All peoples on earth will be blessed by you.

 

It is, in slightly different words, a repeat of God’s original blessing on Adam, where God says, in Genesis 1:28-30

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

The covenant is significant because we still live under that covenant today – indeed God has not changed His mind from the very beginning of time. He has taken different steps and different approaches to an often negligent, often rebellious people but ultimately His desire is to make us His people and to bless us.

We are called to be a people of faith as Abraham was a man of faith. A man who heard God’s call and responded. He was not special nor was he necessarily a particularly good choice, but God called and Abraham responded. And he believed throughout his life, even though there was very little physical evidence to support his faith.

Do you think that God has made covenant with you in any way?

Indeed, the very fact that you have life, is a sign of His covenant with you. But there is more, He has made covenant with you in Jesus Christ. And still further He might have made covenant with you in a particular way.

I believe that God made covenant with me in our marriage. He has blessed us together and He has given us children. And I believe that I have a responsibility to this family to draw them into this faith which I have; by my life, my love, my integrity and my provision.

I also believe that God made covenant with me in my ordination. He has called me into a life of faith and leadership in which I am daily challenged to be in His Presence and to know His guidance. He has appointed me a shepherd of His flock and I will be accountable to Him at the last. I am a servant under orders, which is the original meaning of ordination.

Indeed God has made covenant with you, and He has a promise of salvation and a blessing of hope for you – grasp it by faith and put your whole trust in God.

Faith is a growing experience. We also are called to grow in our faith – to look and see God at work, to learn to trust and to know Jesus as our Saviour. And just as the Abrahamic covenant has continued through the generations so we are called to ensure that our own faith and hope will continue in our children and our children’s children.

 

Sermon: In the Beginning (E100 #001) (Kevin Tengvall)

Adapted by Kevin Tengvall from the Sermon delivered October 24, 2009 by Pastor Don Gettys


A gorilla in a zoo supposedly stood holding a Bible in one hand and a copy of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in the other hand.  He looked confused.  Someone asked: “What are you doing?”  The gorilla supposedly said, “Well, I’m trying to decide if I’m my brothers keeper or my keepers brother.”

I would like to read a verse in the Bible.  It’s found in the book of Genesis.  Genesis, chapter 1, and verse 1.  The very first verse of the Bible.  I think most of you probably have this memorized.  It says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. “  How many of you believe that?  I can see why people believe in evolution.  I understand that. The first person that God created was Adam.  The second person was Eve.  It got better.  But it has not gotten better since then.  I believe in creation.  I do not believe in evolution.

Charles Darwin formulated his theory of evolution 150 years ago this year. Let’s talk about it.  Many respected scientists say we evolved.  Many respected Bible verses say we were created.  That’s a dichotomy.  You can’t have it both ways.  I do not want to criticize honest scientists who believe in evolution, I simply want to share with you why I believe that God is our Creator.  I want to share why I do NOT believe in evolution.

I’ve noticed that 100% of any sensible written information originates from a person with intelligence.  This is true if the writing is on the wall of an ancient cave or if it is found on a headstone in the cemetery or in your E-Mail this morning.  Even the graffiti on the Trains comes from human intelligence, although I am not sure how intelligent that person really was.  Think about your DNA.  The information encoded on the DNA which is inside every cell of every living creature is simply written information.  Dr. Walter Bradley said “Each and every cell in the human body contains more information than is contained in all thirty volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica.”  Each cell contains that much information.  Who wrote that information?  “It’s certainly reasonable to make the inference that this isn’t the random product of unguided nature, but is the unmistakable sign of an Intelligent Designer.”

If humans have evolved it would be reasonable to believe then that if we gave toddlers a large pile of blocks with letters on them that eventually some toddlers would start writing or put them in some semblance of order that would make sense without any help from an older person. I imagine that the majority of kids would play with them at random, I am yet to hear of any child evolving enough to know what the letters or numbers on a block mean until they are taught

Isaiah 40:26 makes an interesting statement.  It says, “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens.  Who created all these?  He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls each by its name.”  Even science has not done that.  “Because of His great power and His mighty strength not one of them is missing.”  He keeps track of every one.  He created the heavens.  He created the stars.  And He created everything that is.

For me, the theory of evolution contradicts the scientific law called the second law of Thermodynamics.  It says that in any system, energy moves from order to disorder.  In simple language, things tend to break down.  Sounds like Murphy’s Law?!?!  The earth that God created is waxing old.  It is breaking down.  Life spans used to be near 1000 years.  My hair does not get thicker, it just falls out.  I wish my hair were evolving.

Have you noticed that the Earth is in an exact position so that the average temperature is balanced between the freezing point of water (0c) and the normal body temperature of humans (37c). If the average temperature ever varied very far above or below these two extremes for very long, we could not survive. If the Earth didn’t rotate every 24 hours but rotated every 36 hours the temperature at noon would be well over 37.8 and the temperature at midnight would drop below freezing even in summer. How could you raise a garden?   We would probably have daily cyclones, and storms due to the wild temperature changes. (Thinkquest.org)

Psalms 19 verse 1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”  God made the beautiful heavens. God makes beautiful babies.

Have you ever heard of the “Ductus Arteriosus”?  Before a baby is born this bypass valve routes blood directly to the developing fetus’s extremities and not to it’s lungs.  At the exact moment of birth suddenly the blood must pass through the lungs to receive oxygen because now the baby is supposed to breath air.  In a flash, a flap descends like a curtain, deflecting the blood flow, and a muscle constricts the ductus arteriosus.  After performing that one act, the muscle gradually dissolves and gets absorbed by the rest of the body.  Without this split second adjustment, the baby could never survive outside the womb.  – Dr. Paul Brand.   Imagine a muscle designed to be used only once.  Did that evolve?  To me that shows God’s design.  Psalm 139, verse 14 says, “We are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Do cars evolve?  Many, many centuries ago, all this iron, glass, rubber, plastic, fabric, leather, and wires came up out of the ground.  Holes evolved at just the right places, and the upholstery began to weave itself together.  After a while threads appeared on bolts and nuts and amazingly each bolt found nuts with matching threads. And gradually everything sort of screwed together tightly in place. A little later some correctly shaped glass glued itself in the right places. And you see these tires?  They became round over the years.  And they found themselves the right size metal wheels. And they sort of popped on. They also filled themselves with air somehow. And the thing rolled under this tree.  Gas leaked into the tank.  And one day, many centuries ago, a group of folk were walking along found this vehicle sitting under the tree.  And one of them looked at it and said:  I think we should call it ‘car.’  Today, These little cars have an amazing way of multiplying themselves year after year, even changing ever so slightly to meet the demands of the public.  The process is called “automutations”. [Chuck Swindol]  Could that happen?  Cars don’t evolve.  Legos don’t evolve.  People don’t evolve.  All of that has to have a creator.

Who gave our tongue the flexibility to form words and a brain to understand them, but denied it to all animals?  Microsoft programmers developed complex codes to create Windows XP software.  Our genetic code is much more sophisticated.  It equips the human body with an elaborate miraculous duplication system whereby it can automatically replicate itself.  Can a computer do that?  If you soaked a blank CD in a swamp, would Windows XP eventually evolve?  If I immersed my copy of Windows XP software in that swamp for a million years, would it eventually become Windows Vista?   I doubt it.  Things don’t improve.  They go the opposite direction.

I believe in creation.  The church believes and teaches that we were created by the hand of God in seven literal 24 hour days forming a week identical in time to what we now experience.  If you believe in evolution, I will still respect you, but just know that this church believes in creation, not even Theistic evolution.  It is critical that in these last days we stand firm in what the word of God teaches.  We’ve got to stand firm on the word of God.

Some people believe that, “Well, a day is a thousand years.”  Think about that.  How long is a day?  It’s 12 hours.  How long is a night?  It’s 12 hours.  We call that one day, but actually it’s two 12 hour periods of darkness and light.  Let’s suppose that the first day was a thousand years.  You would have how much light?  5 hundred years of light followed by 5 hundred years of darkness.  Would anything have survived?

The first angels message includes a call to the world to worship God as our Creator.  Look at Revelation 14:6.  It says, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.’”  God wants, in the last days, a people who will worship Him as Creator.  That’s why you come to church.  To worship God.

Speaking of Jesus, Colossians 1:16 says:  “For by Him all things were created.”  He created everything.  Verse 17.  “He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.”  What is created is held together by Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of the Heavenly Father.

In these last days we have a clear choice.  Either believe the Bible and therefore believe in creation…. OR….reject the Bible and reject God and accept evolution.  The two are not compatible.  Evolution starts with chaos, basically.  You start with primitive little squiggly things which eventually evolve into humans.  It goes from ‘goo’ to ‘you’.  There is no perfect state from which to fall from, and so Adam and Eve did not have a fall.  That makes the plan of salvation worthless.  You can’t fall below the basement, or ground zero.  If there was no fall by Adam and Eve then there can be no salvation from the fall. This eliminates the need for Jesus’ death to save us from our sin.  Creation and evolution are not compatible.  Both demand faith, and I think it demands less faith to believe in creation.  I choose to believe in creation.

Further to that I do believe that animals and humans can adapt to their environment, this is often confused as evolution but it is not, adaption is a learnt behaviour often from necessity. No animal or human can decide to grow a limb or breathe in water or fish decide to leave the water and walk on land, yet there are evolutionists that would have us believe that is what happened billions of years ago.

The Bible is very clear:  Psalm 33:9  “For He spoke, and it came to be.” Life happened quickly,  He spoke and it was. Many evolutionists believe in a slow mutation.  Billions of years ago the humble amoeba became an invertebrate which became an amphibian and then a reptile, a quadruped, an ape and eventually a human being.  To me this means that as we look around at the world right now we should see everything in the process of changing into something just a bit higher than itself.  We should find millions of living half-developed fish trying to transform themselves into amphibians.  Millions of living reptiles that are halfway to becoming birds.  I don’t find it.   Where are the millions of ancestors of highly formed life forms?  The truth is found in the Bible.   Genesis 1:25 says each was made after his KIND.   Each remains in its own species. Everything pretty well stays within a well defined boundary where God put it.  There is adaptation, but no complete crossover from species to species. Snakes do not become birds.  Horses and donkeys can mate but their offspring mules can’t, if evolution was real wouldn’t it be logical that they would be able to breed?

It is interesting to note that the humble donkey (Equus asinus) and the Horse (Equus caballus) and even the domestic horse (Equus ferus caballus) have a scientific name but the Mule as a hybrid does not. Which makes me think that even scientists doubt their own logic.

It bothers me to read in the Chattanooga Free Press (11-25-1996) a statement from Catholic Cardinal John O’Connor made in St. Patrick’s Cathedral where he said: that Adam and Eve may have been “some other form” than human and “It is possible that the first living creature was a lower animal”.  He is saying that humans possibly evolved from lower animals.   I would say that if he is right and if God created Adam in His image and Adam was an animal, then we are no more than animals and so is God!  Even the Pope indicates that it is acceptable now for Catholics to believe and teach evolution.

How does that synchronize with Ephesians 3:9 which says God created all things by Jesus Christ.  And how about John 1:3  “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”  How do you get that together?  Can we take scissors to the Bible?  Can we pick and choose?

Where did life come from?  If you believe in evolution you might as well believe that one day millions of years ago a fully loaded garbage truck fell off of another planet and eventually impacted this earth ending up deep into the bottom of the murky water of a swamp deep in the heart of Africa.  From there all life eventually came.  Unbelievable!

Charles Darwin himself said, and I quote him, “To suppose that the eye could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”  Even he did not believe that that could ever take place.  Friends, the next time you see a baby, look carefully at those beautiful eyes and just see if you think those eyes evolved.

Seriously, I believe that we all came from the hand of God!  Do you believe that?  Genesis 1:1 “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

I’d like to conclude by reading one verse, the fourth commandment in Exodus 20:8.  “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God.  In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates.”  Why?  Verse 11 tells you why.  “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”  It would be my opinion that there never would have been an athiest or an evolutionist had the Sabbath always been kept, because every time you keep the Sabbath, you are commemorating creation.  Seven days.  Where do we get the seven day week from?  You don’t get that from the rotation of the moon or the sun or anything else.  That comes direct from creation.

I like creation because it answers the questions of life.  Where did I come from?  Why am I here?  And where am I going?  It answers those questions.  I am not some haphazard arrangement of molecules that were colliding together in a swamp.  I am a being that God loves and that He created from His hand that I might more fully reflect His image in my life.  That’s why we exist.  I believe we were made by a loving hand of God.  We are hand-made and I praise God for His love.  I want to sing about the mighty power of God in my life because He made me.  I hope you believe in creation and if you do I hope you will love the Creator because He made you to love Him.

Dear Father.  You have loaned us life.  Our lives are borrowed and we pray that we will return them to You with interest.  That we will honor You and uplift Your cause.  Be good neighbors.  Be good citizens of Your kingdom.  Dismiss us with the joy of Jesus Christ in our life, our home, and in all that we do and say and think.  We pray in Jesus, our Creator’s name.  Amen.