Every Day Bible

God’s Faithfulness

God has the power and priviledge to set out “might makes right” rules and precepts. Without getting too philisophical about the nature of God, it’s amazing to me that he didn’t. Many an ancient deity would establish covenants which were more of pseudo-divine protection rackets: pay up or get it. The Egyptian gods mocked by the 10 Plagues may be an example.

Some misconstrue YAHWEH God as that kind of god (at least, in the OT). “It’s my way or the highway.” While this is true — there really is no other way but God’s — He’s given us choice and presented himself as the best option by right of love over fear. Or, at least that’s the way I think he meant it. Sure, he calls for fear in the terms of respect. But isn’t healthy respect a part of love?

As the higher power, he sets the terms of the covenant. Instead of demanding tribute, he just demands loyalty. It’s almost like his covenants just say “Show me you want me, and I’ll stay with you.” Yes, there’s discipline, but that’s the marker of a loving and responsible father. He’s so gracious that even when mankind messes them up over and over again, he’s still faithful to his promise.

Think about it from his perspective: he said to all mankind, “I’ll bless you. Give me your hearts and I’ll give you new life, rescue you from death, and bless you beyond your wildest dreams.”

Man’s response: immediate gratitude followed by amazing ingratitude. In the garden Adam and Eve had it made. Food, simple occupation, no shame or guilt. God’s only stipulation: don’t partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In the Bible “knowledge” is an intimate concept (they knew each other in the biblical sense…). It implies more than just posession of fact, but also personal familiarity and realization. God told Adam and Eve, in effect, don’t get aquainted with knowing good and evil. All they previously knew was “good.” Instead, by ignoring God’s directive, they found out the hard way what evil was like–by in a small way, becoming it. They experinced what God said they should never have to experience…but I digress.

Follow the Bible story through the Exodus, the period of judges, to the coronation of the first king. The repeated theme: God loves man. Man snubs God. God brings man back, because God loves man. Man snubs God…

Wouldn’t it just be easier to be faithful? I’m glad God is.

Every Day Bible Files

Week 2: Noah thru Sarah’s Death

This week we talked about covenants and faith. Here’s the handout, powerpoint, PowerPoint in PDF, and resources to prove it! :-)

Every Day Bible

Bible Software for Cross-Research

One of the more interesting facets of Old Testament study to me is to look for a passage’s ties to the New Testament. You can accomplish that goal through a variety of means. You can serach for repeated words and themes, look for direct quotations, or find times when New Testament authors made references back to a story or passage.

Here’s some FREE tools that will help you on your Bible research.

If you find a site that’s particularly good, please comment and let’s get it added to a list of good resources. Thanks!

Every Day Bible

Laughing at Dreamers

Most people have a love-hate relationship with dreamers. We’re “fair weather” dreamer fans! We laugh at people with vision, always with their heads up in the clouds. We laugh and tell them to call us when they wake up and see reality again.

You’ve probably heard these: There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in the home. (President of Digital Equipment Corp. 1977) I think there is a world market for maybe five computers. (Thomas Watson, President of IBM 1943). There are others — like people explaining that air travel would never catch on, cars were a novelty, indoor plumbing was a fad… Most people tend to be Missouri residents at heart: we live in the “show me state.” We don’t believe things until we can already see, touch, taste, use, and buy 12 of them online!

Abraham was told that he was going to have a son. He believed…and he didn’t. He believed…and he didn’t… Sarah even laughed! God wasn’t laughing, though. His biting answer was direct: “Is anything too hard for me?”

It would have been easy to laugh at a big boat and all the world’s animals. A favorite younger brother who had a flair for colorful coats wouldn’t have much of an audience for his claim that all would bow down to him. An engaged virgin’s claim that her pregnancy was the gift of the Holy Ghost wouldn’t escape Jay Leno’s monologue. That the world could be turned upside-down by twelve ordinary men seems unfathomabe…but these are the realities of God’s dreams in man.

Maybe I’ll think twice before I chuckle and say never again…

Every Day Bible

Opposites Attract

Abraham’s proactive lifestyle really amazes me. When Lot was taken captive by the warring kings (Genesis 14), did Abraham call for someone else to help? Did he pray for God to deliver? Did he call 911? Nope…he just took “the 318 trained men” (implicitly all of them?)…and went to rescue him. He didn’t play the hero and relish in the spoils due the victor. He rejected the bounty of war all so that the king of Sodom could never claim responsibility for what God did: blessing Abraham.

Then there’s the time these mysterious visitors mention in an aside that Sodom & Gomorrah are going to get it. The visitors left for Sodom to enact God’s plan, but Abraham caught them from behind (they left, he approached them – Gen 18:22-23) and interceded on Lot’s behalf. This is the same Lot whose herdsmen quarrled with him, who kept getting taken captive, and had all the generosity and grace of one who always takes the best things for himself — and Abraham makes an extra effort to haggle with God for his salvation.

Can you think of anyone less like Abraham than the prophet Jonah? God commanded him to go for others’ salvation, he avoided his duty, and complained when God did save!

I’m glad God sent a savior more like Abraham and less like Jonah!

Every Day Bible

Questions from Genesis

To give you an insight into my background: There’s a creationist group that promotes a literal understanding of Genesis called “Answers in Genesis.” They’re the ones that have drawn so much attention for the “Creation Museum.” I generally tend to agree with them and appreciate a more literal reading of Genesis, but I’ve always found their name to be a bit funny. I believe scripture to be inspired and inerrant, from God for man. It would follow then, that Scripture is written to be understood. Of all books other than Revelation, however, I find there to be more questions than answers in Genesis.

Here’s a few “What ifs” and “hypotheticals” I’ve gathered.

  • Was all creation vegetarian? It appears meat was not given until after the flood. I’ve heard of post-fall changes, but never really post-flood changes.
  • Was there reproduction in the garden? Eve’s pain in childbearing was greatly multiplied (indicating it didn’t start at zero…) (Gen 3:16) The command to ‘be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it’ (Gen 1:26-30) was pre-fall. Was there sex in the garden?
  • Had you ever noticed that the animals were considered as possible companions for Adam? They were rejected, of course. Think they could talk? After all, no one seemed surprised by the talking serpent with legs…
  • I never noticed that animals had the breath of life (Gen 1:26-30). Though not made in the image of God, they had that part of his essence.

I probably get distracted by trivia a bit too easily…but it’s interesting to ask the “What ifs.” What if the south had won the civil war? (Sorry to burst someone’s bubble…) What if my cat could talk…? What if I could fly?

The real tragedy of the first few chapters of Genesis is knowing that there was zero room for the question: “What if man never fell…” It’s a mere ten generations from fall to flood, and thanks to long lifespans, it seems that everyone would have been intimately familiar with the story of sin in the garden, yet each generation grew worse. “Every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” (Genesis 6:5).

God hardly seemed to have a rosy outlook about his creation. That realism only makes his grace more impressive to me…and there’s no question about that!

Every Day Bible Files

Week 1: Creation and Fall

Here’s the PowerPoint file from Week 1. We covered Genesis 1-5ish. :-) Here’s a PDF of the PowerPoint file that will allow you to view my notes, should you be a real glutton for punishment.

N.B. You’ll need to have a program installed to view Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. If you don’t have PowerPoint, you have some free alternatives. 1) PowerPoint Viewer is free from Microsoft. It allows you to view (but not edit or print) presentations. 2) Open Office is an Open Source (free) Office suite that competes with Microsoft. 3) I’ve heard that Google’s online applications (Google Apps) now handles presentation files.

Every Day Bible Files

Week 0: Preliminary Readings

Here’s the introductory note guide for our class. This file is a PDF and will require a PDF Viewer like Adobe Acrobat Reader or Foxit Reader (both free) to view and print.

Every Day Bible

Every Day Bible: 2008

I’m inspired.

Well, not really. Hopefully you won’t notice. :-) This year, I’m workingi through F. Lagard Smith’s “The Daily Bible” — a special study Bible that’s made unique by its chronological arrangement. I’ve been through this Bible before, and it is a real blessing, especially if you have trouble sticking with a program…like me!

I’m teaching a class at the Burns Church of Christ on Wednesday nights working through this same material. “Teaching” might be a bit of an overstatement. I’m really just hoping to serve as a tour guide. But, thanks to the inspiration of my brother-in-law, Mick over at Project BOY, I’m going to blog my journey as well as provide the class materials and handouts we use along the way. I hope this will be a blessing to you! :)