Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

...and unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord!

May Christmas be a time of remembering, a time of renewing, and a time of celebration!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Eve - Christmas in the Garden of Eden

Genesis 3:14-15 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this,"Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

I do not read Revelations - there, I've said it. I know that all scripture is important and we should be knowledgeable about it, but this book gives me anxiety. God promises that He will take care of His people - and I'm going to rest on that promise. As far as the rest of the Bible goes, how exciting to look at all that was prophesied and came true. J. Barton Payne’s, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy (New York: Harper & Row, 1973) lists 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament, and 578 prophecies in the New Testament, for a total of 1,817. Some already fulfilled, some yet to come.

God is giving us insight right here in the beginning of time. God begins to punish the serpent. Notice there is no object lesson here, no "why did you do this" - God lays right into the punishment for the serpent. Can you imagine the fear of Adam and Eve when they saw the serpent lose it's legs and crawl away on it's belly. Did they think that they too would lose their legs? Would they live the rest of their lives without limbs? It had to cross their minds.

Then, in all His power, in all His wisdom - He tells them (and us) the story of Christmas. Who knew we could find the story of Christmas in Genesis? The latter part of verse 15 tells us that woman will have an offspring and He will crush the head of Satan and Satan will strike His heel. Jesus - the offspring - came as a little baby and gave hope to a lost world. Satan did strike at His heel and Jesus was crucified. Why is the crucifixion only a strike at His heel? Because He rose again and conquered death and Satan, it wasn't even a setback-it was part of the plan. I believe only half of this verse in Genesis has been fulfilled. Jesus is coming back and we will all get to see Him crush the head of Satan - and if perchance I'm standing next to Eve when it happens - I might say "now that's what He was talking about".

Monday, December 22, 2008

Eve - Better than Santa Claus

Genesis 3:9-13 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

Did you ever notice that when you are out of the will of God, you don't pray? I'm guilty of this. If I know there is something going on in my life that is against God's word, I stop talking to Him (exact opposite of what should be done). This has been going on since the beginning of time.

God came to spend time with Adam in the garden and called out to him - Where are you? Now, we all know that God knew exactly where Adam was and exactly what he had done - why ask? I think it was object lesson time. Adam told God that he was hiding from Him because he was naked. This is where God begins to break apart the lies, as He always does.

Notice when He asks both Adam and Eve what happened - they blame it on someone else. Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent. Would things have been any different if they just would've said they were sorry?

In our daily lives, we don't say we're sorry because it means the blame is on us - guess what? It IS our fault. If we're tempted by someone else, it's still our fault for falling into that temptation. When we are living out of God's will - it's OUR fau
lt, no one else's. Our best option, what should be our ONLY option, is admitting guilt (we will never be perfect) apologize (sincerely mean it) and try to do better (don't keep doing the same thing). Jesus KNOWS when we're good or bad - more so than Santa Claus - that's why He made the sacrifice He did - so that even when we keep messing up, we don't have to spend eternity without Him. Thank God for His sacrifice that I will never be worthy of. . .

Friday, December 19, 2008

Eve - Did you sneak a peek?

Genesis 3:7-8 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

It's Christmas time and many of us have wrapped our presents or at least hidden them somewhere away from prying eyes - but as we all know, that doesn't always work. How many of us, growing up, have sneaked into the Christmas presents and unwrapped to take a peek? And in so doing, the guilt outweighed any joy of the actual gift.

Verse 8 makes it pretty clear of the type of relationship that God had with Adam and Eve. In the evening He came walking in the garden wanting to spend time with them. God had a relationship with Adam and Eve. He didn't just create them and leave them there - He spent time with them and they enjoyed His company. But now, just as when we open the present we know we're not supposed to open - they don't want to face their Father.

It is not unreasonable to think that at some point, God would've shared with them about that tree. That eventually, sooner or later, God would've let them eat some of that fruit. Maybe He was going to tell them about their nakedness later and present them with a nice white robe instead of those itchy fig leaves. Whatever it was that God had planned for them, was ruined because of their own selfish desires.

How many times have we ruined a great surprise for this same reason. Two thousand and eight years ago God sent us a gift - a fulfillment of a promise that would save us from this sin we can't seem to keep away from. Even in spite of ourselves - God is still desiring a relationship with us, to walk with us, and talk with us and I think there still might be a white robe, or maybe even a crown, waiting for us under His tree.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eve - Apple? Pear? Apple? Pear?

Genesis 3:4-6 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

There have been many sermons pass many ears about the importance of prayer before any decision. Now, I'll admit, at first - this seemed a little silly to me. To pray before I decide what outfit to wear for the day - or pray to decide which fast food restaurant to hit on the way home from wherever the kids needed to be that day - seemed a little redundant to me. Not that it wasn't worth the time to talk to God, but that it wasn't important enough to bother Him with.

We are bombarded with thousands of decisions every day - so the blanket prayer of guidance is always good. But it was this verse that drove home the point of praying over the every day decisions. Eve was being tempted by Satan. We are tempted every day, in every way. The decision she had to make seemed fairly small. Should I eat an apple from this tree? Or a pear from this other tree? Now, we know that she was told to stay away from that one tree, so on a side note, why was she so close to it? The Bible doesn't say she made a three day journey to get to the tree, she was there next to it. Sometimes, when we know something is too tempting, we need to remove ourselves from it - or build a concrete wall around it.

If Eve would've stopped for just a moment and asked God whether or not she should've eaten that "apple" - our lives may be very different. Adam was no help, he just took the apple and ate it too. It's not enough to go to friends and family for advice - it has to be God. What we, and everyone else, may see is a choice between two different types of fruit - but what God sees is the future of His people. And while a decision that you make may not determine the outcome of a nation, it may impact your relationship with someone else - and the opportunity to witness to them. Perhaps you go to Wendy's instead of McDonald's and God had someone there who needed to hear about Him. Maybe your brown shoes would strike up a conversation with a co-worker who compliments those shoes and that gives you an opportunity to talk about Jesus that you might not have otherwise had. Perhaps choosing vegetables for lunch over french fries will give your immune system the boost it needs to fight that flu you were exposed to and allows you to continue your volunteer work.

We have no idea what God has in store for us or what He needs us to do - but if we 'ask' and let Him guide our decisions, we could make a world of difference for Him.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Eve - Standing firm even if you're wearing stilettos..

Genesis 3:1-3 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'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'

The Snake. How many B movies have been made about the morphed snake or the outerspace snake or the mass snake quantity. There are several websites out there right now that are boasting the top ten snake movies of all time. Why did Satan pick this animal? Obviously he got the job done - but what if he would've used a little puppy or bunny rabbit. (leave your comments about your opinion on this) At this point in the story, Satan - as the snake - is baiting Eve.

Eve stands strong at first - simply tells the serpent that God said 'no'. Shouldn't that be enough for us? Shouldn't we be able to look someone in the eyes and say - God doesn't agree with this, so neither do I. God is so clear on many things in the Bible and having the knowledge of what is in that Bible is priceless.

Here's the downside - we are not stronger than Satan. If Satan attacks us - in whatever form - we cannot defeat him. However; there is One who can. If ever asked or been in a situation where you feel as though Satan is trying to push you out of line - Jesus is the one to turn to. That is why every morning should be spent in His word, studying what He wants us to hear for the day and asking for His protection. Cause Satan is out there, he's sneaky, and he's trying to convince us that there is no hope. Will you be able to defeat him today - have you asked Jesus to guide you and to help you battle against him?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Eve - Define "Cellulite"...

Genesis 2:25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

There were nearly 11.7 million surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures performed in the United States in 2007, as reported by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). 11.7 million! The two most common types of surgery were liposuction and botox. So it's not like these statistics include someone who suffered a skin loss or disfigurement. We're not talking skin-graphs here.

The money brought in on these surgeries? Over $8 Billion dollars.

Why do people spend this type of money on unnecessary surgeries? Because they are unhappy with their bodies. Anorexia this year alone has affected Seven million women and One million men. All segments of society are affected: Men and women, young and old, rich and poor, all ethnicities, all socio-economic levels. (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa)

What does this have to do with Genesis 2:25? How much better would our intimate relationship be with our spouse if we were happy with our own bodies? This all changes when sin is entered into the relationship. When we let the sins of jealousy and greed and sloth and pride work its way into our relationship- it's no wonder we have problems reaching the original state of bliss that God intended in our marriage when we carry all this baggage of our own making.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Eve - Monster-in-Law

Genesis 2:24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

How many Christian wives have thrown this verse in their husbands face when their mother-in-law has gotten on their last nerve? When the concept of annoying mothers-in-law come up, my mind often wanders to Ray Barone and his poor wife on "Everybody loves Raymond". So many jokes are made about the mother-in-law that many comedians have set their career paths along that line.

This verse was written before Adam and Eve had kids and since they did not have earthly parents - why is this scripture right here? Not only does it foreshadow the questions that will be raised when children marry, but also how a marriage is to work and what the parents are to expect.

Marriage is a new journey - a new start in life. It is NOT an extension of living with mom and dad. The newlyweds must know that they have full responsibility for surviving with each other. House payments, car payments, job finding, house cleaning, lawncare, child-raising, cooking, health issues etc. etc. These are things that the two will need to figure out together how they are going to handle. What does this mean for mom and dad? It means mom and dad are no longer responsible for making sure junior is fed and bathed and clothed. It is a time where they should be able to see all their training actually show up in their child. That doesn't mean that the parents should not be there to help out or offer advice when needed or be a big part of the newly married couples life - it just means that they need to acknowledge that this is a new step in their childs life and God has set it up for them to do it with their spouse. God makes this guideline in the very beginning when marriage is first established - between one man and one woman.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Eve - Pregnant Man?

Genesis 2:22-23 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,'for she was taken out of man."

"When a woman has a baby, bonding with that baby is probably one of the most pleasurable aspects. You can begin by cradling your baby and gently stroking him or her in different patterns. If you hold and touch your infant frequently, your little one will soon come to know the difference between your touches. You should also take the opportunity to be "skin to skin" with your newborn by holding him or her against your own skin when feeding or cradling." This was an excerpt from an article written through Nemours Foundation. It talks about the wonderful bond between a mother and baby and how to nurture that relationship.

It's natural to understand why mothers and their babies are so close, but husbands and wives? Here in the beginning, it happened the same way. Eve came FROM Adam. It tells us right here in scripture how attached he was to her right from the beginning. "Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh". I can imagine how their bonding experience went: Adam longed to touch her hair and be beside her and feel her skin. Eve must have hung on his every word and enjoyed the safety of his protection in his arms. They played in the garden and ate and swam. It was like a never-ending sleep-over. Do we think of our spouses in this manner? Do we look forward to playing with them and sleeping with them and talking to them? I am guilty of letting my relationship with my husband slide. With the pressures of work and family and the daily grind, that bond that God gave to us as husband and wife, isn't nearly as enjoyed as God meant it to be.

Satan is so sneaky - we'll talk about how sneaky he was in the garden, but even in our daily lives of not realizing the importance of our spouse. Not appreciating the partnership that God has made for us. God has so many things that He has created just for us - and marriage, God's way, is one of those special gifts.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Eve - Begins

Genesis 2:18-22The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The strange solenodon is a mammal found primarily in Cuba and Hispanola. Sure, it looks cute and manageable enough - sort of like an over-sized hedgehog. Too bad the solenodon injects rattlesnake-like venom through its teeth, the only mammal to do so. Easily annoyed, the solenodon bites at the drop of a banana leaf. Where in the world did Adam come up with the name solenodon? I often wonder why many of the animals have the name they do. Some are understandable, like the sloth- very slow-moving, lazy animal - that I get. And when the animals were all named - which I'm sure took a very long time to do - not one was capable of being a helper to the man, not even man's best friend - the dog. Sure puts a dent in the whole evolution theory - as if it wasn't weak enough already.

On another note, Laparoscopic surgery is the best way in this day and age to have surgery. While the cost for this is around $12,000 - slightly more than other types of surgery, the healing time to get back to work has been decreased to under 3 weeks. If man has made this incredible medical breakthrough, how much more incredible is our God: well here's our example. God put Adam to sleep - no anesthesia, gas, nothing - and then He opened him up and took his rib. God made woman with this rib - which while incredible in itself, let's not forget the rest of the process. When Adam woke up, there was Eve waiting for him. No recovery time, no scars, no pain, no medical bill. The only thing awaiting Adam when he awoke was his brand new partner. Eve beat out all the other animals and, according to God, was the only one capable of being the kind of partner that Adam needed - notice that God didn't make Adam another man. So the next time a phish with legs and an equals (=) sign flash at you from someone's bumper, remember that God's plan is always the best, and He gave us this scripture as proof.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Samson - Death of an Engineer

Judges 16:25-30 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, "Bring out Samson to entertain us." So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. When they stood him among the pillars, Samson said to the servant who held his hand, "Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them." Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. Then Samson prayed to the LORD, "O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes." Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

The average base salary for a structural engineer in Florida is between $50,000-$100,000 - based on how high of a level you are at. Not a bad option as far as career choices go. I don't think the primary goal of the structural engineer has changed much since it's beginning: Goal = Make building that won't fall down. I find it hard to believe - even in Bible times - that a building would be made that would completely collapse if two of its pillars became unstable.

That being said - let's look at what happens to Samson. We all know that this is where it happens, Samson asks God for strength one last time and pushes the pillars and the whole building comes down and everyone dies. Let's look at some statistics. The Bible states that there were about 3,000 men and women on the roof - ON THE ROOF - it doesn't even say how many were down below, but if the roof could hold that many. . . That building had to be pretty big to hold all those people. In a building this size - even in the center of the structure - is it logical to think that it would all come crashing down because two pillars were pushed?

Now, it is possible that when the pillars were pushed they came lose and knocked other pillars down and it was a domino effect - however, that's just conjecture. Why am I harping on engineering? Because the bottom line here is - God didn't need Samson. Samson was given an opportunity to be used by God because he asked. If God wanted that building to come down on those Philistines, He could've just blinked His eye or sent a strong wind or hopped a million frogs that way, but that's not what happened. Samson asked to be used by God and so he was used.

God doesn't need us to complete whatever purpose He has planned. God does not need our "help". He wants to bless us because we 'want' to help. Like the little girl who asks mommy if she can help cook dinner - Mommy doesn't NEED her help - but what a wonderful enthusiasm for cooking the daughter will walk away with. Will we ask God if we can help so that we can walk away with a renewed enthusiasm for Him?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Samson - Literary Guild Meets Here

Judges 16:23-24 Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, "Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands." When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, "Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain."

Again, God is still a literary force to be reckoned with - His use of irony makes me chuckle. The Philistines are praising their god for giving Samson over to them - when we all know that God has Samson right where he needs to be. Makes me LOL. In all seriousness though, let's not forget that in going about these things the way Samson did, even though God put him where He needed him to be, it left the door wide open for those who do not worship the one true God to be led astray to worship false gods. How easy it was for them to believe that their god had brought victory to them.

Now that I've mentioned the irony - let's talk about this whole 'god' issue. The god they worshiped at this moment in time was called Dagon. Half-man, Half-fish. First of all, the Philistines ate fish. How are you going to eat something that your god is supposed to be half of, surely there had to be a rule about this somewhere. Secondly, Dagon was the god of fertility and crops. So, in essence, food and sex. Isn't it "ironic" how people will worship something that fits in line with their lifestyle. "It's not wrong to indulge in gluttony by filling up so full that no one else has any - Dagon is the god of crops and surely he would want this for me." "Infidelity can't be wrong, Dagon is the god of fertility, I should be able to spread my seed to as many women as possible".

As if that line of thinking isn't enough, Dagon isn't the only god. He is only god over those two things. There are other gods for other things. How would you keep them all straight and who decides which one is more important? I'm going to let you know the truth - there's only one God. These other gods . . . not real. Philistines had it wrong, so does everyone who's not worshiping the one true God. Why would you want to worship five different gods for all the different areas of your life? Isn't it comforting to know that our God is God over everything and all aspects of your life?! He isn't compartmentalized into one section of your life. He doesn't 'fit' into how you want to live - He shows you how to live for Him.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Samson - Torture 101

Judges 16:21-22 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison. But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

While I'm not a huge fan of Shakespeare, MacBeth is widely used in the literary field to study the use of foreshadowing. The entirety of the play is practically already told before it's over because of the use of foreshadowing. When our public school systems stopped using the Bible as a primary form of literature, they lost out on the ultimate Author who created all literary techniques beyond what any other author can even match.

Why did they poke his eyes out? We've seen so many spy movies and war documentaries - gouging eyes out really hasn't been the token torture method. I think God used the Philistines in this way to, once again, meet His purpose. The next use of foreshadowing in just these two verses alone certainly solidifies what will come next. Samson's hair grows back. Can you hear the ominous music start to play?

What possible purpose do you think Samson thought he could play for God at this stage of his life? He's disabled, weak, captured, tortured - what had he done, and how could it possibly be fixed. Many times it may be like this in our own lives. I know it was in mine. So far off the deep end - how could God ever use us again? Just like Samson - if we give it all over to God, He will use us.