Friday, 31 July 2015

The scattering

And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. – Genesis 11.6-9

Sometimes when we don’t do what God wants He, shall we say, helps us along.

The people here did not want to scatter as they were told. They would rather just stay together and make their own name for themselves. So they decided to just set up camp in Babel. Well, it wasn’t Babel yet, but that’s part of the story.

God saw what they didn’t do. God also knew the great evil that man was capable of. So God, singular by the way, said let us, plural, go down and mix things up a bit. (I like the little hint of the Trinity here.) Let us go down and give them a whole bunch of languages to confuse them and encourage them to separate.

But God did just that. A guy asked for a hammer and got handed a saw. Another guy asked for a nail and got punched in the face for insulting him. A fella said, ‘let’s have a cuppa tea’ and another one looked aghast. They could not understand each other. Eventually those who could understand each other gathered together and went off on their own.

And eventually the earth was settled. Mankind multiplied. It grew and filled the earth.

So what is the lesson for me?

These folks were not going to obey God. Instead of going and spreading like God said they were just going to stay. They had a free will, and God was not going to force them to go.

But that doesn’t mean He would not encourage them to go. God changed their circumstances so that they were better off doing what He wanted than what they wanted.

Life was still tough for them when they moved. Settling the world must have been terribly tough. But it was better than butting their heads against the wall of God’s will.

The same thing is true for us. We may face human opposition – but it is much easier on us in the long run than standing toe to toe with God in our stubbornness. .

It is so much better to just obey Him.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

To make a name

And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. – Genesis 11.1-4

Early on, twice in fact, God told man to go out, multiply, and fill the earth. It was important that the world be filled, and it was God’s plan that men spread all over the place. God also knew that man was a sinner and that if man tried to set up some type of universal utopia it would fail because, at the end of the day, man is a sinner.

This folks decided though that what was really important was to show how important they were and to build something that would make a name for themselves, and not for God.

But man still likes to make a name for himself. We like to be the biggest and the strongest and the most powerful. ‘Home of the world’s biggest whatever’ can be seen almost anywhere. There is always a striving to be number one and to be ‘known’ and we like to leave a name for ourselves.

Sadly the church can get caught in this trap ‘America’s Biggest Church’ or ‘The World’s Biggest Sunday School’ are sought after titles.

And it is all about pride. These folks aat Babel were proud of what they could do and wanted to build a huge tower to prove it!

It is really tragic that so many churches around the world today are so much about being number one. ‘Look at us everybody! Look at the size of our church and how fancy and ornate we are. Look at our Christian college that has the best swimming pool of any college in America! Look we have a Starbucks and a beautiful family centre! We are really something!’

It really is not about having those things or not. It is the attitude that comes with it. But I sometimes wonder if God is really being honoured – or is it the church or school or whatever is making a name for itself.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The rainbow

And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. – Genesis 9.12-16

The rainbow is such a beautiful, amazing, and enchanting sight. We are lucky in Ireland that we have so many beautiful rainbows. They are often bright and brilliant and clear and sometimes double or even triple. They are used in advertising and promotions. Supposedly there is a crock of gold at the end of a rainbow. Americans associate rainbows with leprechauns and Lucky Charms cereal plays on the whole Irish, leprechaun, rainbow theme even though we can’t get them here unless we are willing to pay a fortune.

The rainbow has been used by everything from military divisions to gay pride groups. And you can’t blame anyone because they really are amazing.

But for us as believers the rainbow has a special meaning. It is a reminder of God’s special covenant with us that He will never again destroy the world with a flood. But attendant with that is the accompanying promise that God is in control because if he were not in control He could not make that promise.

So no matter how the rainbow is used I can keep seeing it as my promise that God is in control no matter what comes my way.

That includes at the present as I sit here in the CCU at Naas Hospital trying to see what is wrong with my heart. God knows it and He is controlling everything that comes my way.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The sun will come out

And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. – Genesis 8.20-22

The first thing Noah did when he came off the ark was to worship God. The first thing God did was to say that until the earth came to an end things would continue on. Crops would grow and be harvested. Seasons would come and go. Day and night would continue on and on and on.

Noah did the right thing. He set a pattern for us as well. No matter what happens our attitude and our actions should manifest worship toward God. He is, after all, in charge.

But what I really like is the promise at the end. Until the earth passes away to be replaced by a new heaven and new earth day is going to follow night and the seasons are going to come around every year. God is going to keep the earth spinning and He is going to keep it in orbit. He is still in control.

The sun will come out tomorrow.

Monday, 27 July 2015

A second chance

And God spake unto Noah, saying, Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee. Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth. And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him: Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark. – Genesis 8.15-19

God would have been totally just and totally justified if He had just wiped everything out and started from scratch. Man had ignored His teaching and turned away from Him. Wickedness was rampant. All over the earth only Noah was upright and God showed His grace to him.

No one else believed God’s message so the world was wiped out. The only leaving air-breathing animals were those on the ark. Only eight people survived. It is almost like God said ‘let’s try this again.’

But, the reality is, God gave us a second chance. He sent man out with the same instructions. Go out and multiply and fill the earth. We know that man is no better than he was the first time, but still, God gives him a second chance.

There is not a whole lot to say here, except thank God that He is still the God of second and third and fourth chances.

How do I know?

He keeps putting up with me.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

But Noah...

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. – Genesis 6.8-10

Yesterday we saw God’s grace making an appearance in a very broken world. Today I want to look at the recipient of that grace. We see three things about Noah here.

Noah was just
Noah was perfect
Noah walked with God

Noah stood out from the rest of the world. He amazes me. The whole world was wholly given over to evil. People did whatever they wanted without regard to God and His way. It was a terrible place to try and stand for God.

But Noah did. We go on to read about how Noah was called on to build an ark and to gather the animals to preserve wildlife. God told Noah that it was going to rain and that the only escape was to build this big boat. It could not have made much sense to Noah, but he did it anyway. Nobody joined him but his family – and still he stood faithful.

We see a lot about the dechristianisation of the world around us. It is going to be lonelier and lonelier. The question is whether we will cave in to the rest of the world or if we are going to live justly, to live in Christian maturity, and if we will keep walking with our God. 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Noah found grace

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. – Genesis 6.5-8

There are two perspectives here in these verses. One is about God and the other about Noah.

From God’s perspective we see grace. I didn’t check, but I think this is the first time we see God’s grace mentioned. This is a vital moment because grace changes everything.

The previous verses talked all about how wicked the world had become. It was not what God had planned for man. Man had exercised his will and rejected God and God was ready to wipe it all out because of man’s sin.

But God’s grace stepped in.

This section somehow reminds me of Ephesians 2. There we read all about how in ‘former times’ the believers in Ephesus had walked in the same way as the world.

But God, who is rich in mercy…for by grace you are saved.

In both cases we have that wonderful ‘but God…’ and that ‘but God’ makes all the difference in the world and eternity.

The grace of God that brings salvation to all men has now appeared on the scene. If Noah had not found grace in the eyes of the Lord it would all have been over.

But Noah did find grace.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Enoch walked with God

And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. – Genesis 5.21-24

Enoch is one of those rare characters who pops up in the Bible, makes a big impression, and then disappears. In this case he literally disappeared.

Enoch’s life starts out like all the rest. He was born, he lived so many years, he had sons and daughters, but then something different happens.

Enoch walked with God, and he was not; for God took Him.

What an interesting scenario. This chap was going on his way – but he was different because he ‘walked with God.’ Later in Hebrews we read that he was taken up by God because he walked by faith and that he pleased God. Jude tells us that Enoch was a prophet who prophesied about the return of Christ.

Enoch was so special that God chose to just take him out of this world without seeing death. He spared him the pain and stress of dying.

I don’t know when Jesus is coming back. He may very well spare me death through taking me out at the rapture.

But what I really desire is the testimony Enoch had. I want it to be said of me that ‘Roger walked with God’ and ‘Roger pleased God.’

Do our lives reflect an Enoch like faith? 

Thursday, 23 July 2015


 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. – Genesis 4.1-8

It didn’t take long for sin to have an impact of society. Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain was a farmer and Abel a shepherd. They both went about their business and the day came when they were to bring an offering to God.

Sibling rivalry rose to the fore. Able picked out the ‘first fruits,’ the very best of his flocks for a sacrifice. Cain simply brought ‘of the fruit of the ground.’ When they brought them to God He acknowledged that Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable because it was the best he could give and Cain’s was not.

Cain could have easily fixed that. All he had to do was bring back the best of his crops. God even told him that all he had to do was bring an acceptable offering. But he didn’t – he chose to let jealousy reign and he became angry and, when he went to talk to Able, he killed him. Instead of repenting and doing right Cain chose to act on his flesh and the results were disastrous. A whole line of folks who refused to follow God began and its affects carry on to today.

Things haven’t really changed. When faced with our sin today we have two choices. We can repent, get it sorted, and carry on. Or we can stick to our guns and get angry continue to make worse and worse decisions.

Cain and Able are pictures of the only two choices people make today. Are we going to do it God’s way or our way? The answer to that makes all the difference in the world and for eternity.  

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. – Genesis 3.14-15

I like words and sometimes I like big words. I rarely use big theological words, but I like this one for some reason. Protoevangelium is used to describe the first occurrence of the message of the gospel in an embryonic state. It is not fully formed. It is not detailed. It is still a mystery. But it is there. No one could understand – yet, but the truth is there.

God is speaking to Satan here and He warns Satan of his eventual fate.

But before that we see just a hint of the virgin birth. ‘I will put opposition between your seed and ‘her’ seed.’ We can’t build on a doctrine on it, but this fits right in with the future virgin birth. It was ‘her’ seed, not ‘their seed.’

That is interesting, but it is the rest of the verse that gives us comfort. God told Satan that he would indeed be able to wound heel of Eve’s seed, but in the end that Seed would crush his head.

When Jesus was laid in the tomb Satan must have rejoiced in his supposed victory, but I wonder if, in the back of his mind, he was thinking of that ‘bruise your head’ bit?

As songwriter Andrew Peterson put it his song ‘High Noon’

And the demons, they danced in the darkness
When that last ragged breath left his lungs
And they reveled and howled
At the war that they thought they had won

But then, in the dark of the grave
The stone rolled away
In the still of the dawn on the greatest of days

High noon in the valley of the shadow
When the shadows were shot through with light
When Jesus took in that breath
And shattered all death with his life
Be gone, you wages of sin
Go on, don't you come back again
I've been raised and redeemed
You've lost all your sting
To the victor of the battle
High noon in the valley of the shadow

Jesus, the virgin born Seed of Mary has already bruised Satan’s head through His death, burial, and resurrection. Death has been crushed to death because of the bruising of Jesus’ heel on the cross.

Praise God for this first early hint of the truth of the gospel! 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Blame shifting

And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. – Genesis 3.12-13

Being a teacher, a youth worker, a parent, and a grandparent I have had plenty of chances to try and figure out the truth when somebody has done something. Finding the guilty party is not easy because normally no body wants to accept the blame because nobody wants to suffer the consequences.

Be assured this is nothing new. It has been going on since the very first sin. It went something like this:

God: Adam, why did you disobey me and eat the fruit?
Adam: The woman YOU gave me made me eat it. (See the double blame shift there?)
God: Eve, why did you disobey me?
Eve: The devil made me do it!

And that blame shifting goes on and on and on. It never stopped. It carries on today. We are no better than Adam and Eve.

We have plenty of things to blame our sin on:

It’s our society
It’s our culture
It’s television
It’s the internet
It’s the way women dress
It’s the way he looked at me
It’s the way I was raised

It’s always someone or something’s fault.

But that’s not the way it is.

When I sin there is one person to blame. I did it. I am guilty. It’s my fault. I chose to do wrong. The devil didn’t make me do it.

As long as we shift the blame we are never going to deal with the problem.

It's time to step up, admit our sin, confess and repent. Then we can move on. 

Monday, 20 July 2015


And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. – Genesis 3.7

The end of Genesis 3.6 tells us that Adam and Eve succumbed to the wiles of the devil. They took the forbidden fruit from the tree and everything changed. The had one rule, one, and even before sin entered in they could not obey the one rule God gave.  They walked in harmony with God and in relationship with Him in the wonderful Garden of Eden and still they could not obey one rule.

They sinned – and the first thing we see is that they notice their nakedness, try to cover themselves, and then they tried to hide from God.

The basic truth here is that sin causes guilt and guilt brings shame and shame drives us away from God.

I suspect that this is the beginning of what has gone on ever since. Man is guilty and the easiest thing to do is not to sort things out, but just hide and try to ignore God.

And man would have stayed that way if God had not sought him out.

The wonderful truth is that God chooses to seek us out even when we try to hide from Him or ignore Him or run from Him. He still reaches out to us.

Our best efforts to hide our sin are always going to fail. Our best efforts to hide from God will always let us down.

But the great truth is that He reaches out to us to restore us to fellowship with Him. He longs for those walks with Him. Only he can take away the shame and the guilt.

Sunday, 19 July 2015


And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. – Genesis 3.6

Good for food
Pleasant to the eyes
To make one wise

It is interesting to see the specifics Satan used to tempt Eve. It is interesting because these three draws are the same basic temptations that Satan uses throughout the word of God. These are the same basic three things Satan used to tempt Jesus in the desert and they are the same things that John talks about when he talks about the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

Most of the temptations we face today can be put in the same categories. What appeals to us to draw us to sin?

The things that appeal to our fleshly bodies. It may be substances or sex our unhealthy foods or whatever. These are the things that lead us to gratify our flesh in any way.

She also saw what was ‘pleasant to the eyes.’ These are the things that John called the ‘lust of the eyes.’ There is plenty out there that appeals to the things we see and get us distracted from walking with Christ.

And then there are the things that are ‘desired to make us wise’ or as John puts it, the ‘pride of life.’  There is nothing wrong with godly wisdom. There is nothing wrong with book learning but there is wrong with striving to think we know more than God. That is the pride of life.

These are the things that tempted Eve to sin. These are the same things that Jesus faced and did not sin. These are the things that we face today. What are we going to do?

Saturday, 18 July 2015


Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. – Genesis 3.1-5

We don’t have any idea how long it took before the incident we read about happened. But one day Eve was walking through the garden when Satan appeared to her. Here is the first appearance of evil on the earth.

The whole scene raises great theological questions. Where did evil come from is God is really good? Why did God give man a choice? Why didn’t He stop Eve?

I wish I had all the answers – but I think central to it all is that it is ‘good’ that man has a free will. We don’t read about the creation on angels, but it is obvious that angels have a free will as well. I don’t totally get it, but it does make sense that as part of God’s creation His created beings would have the free will to accept or reject Him and His ways. We should have a choice in whether we love or reject Him. What could would acceptance and love be if they were forced?

But I’ll leave any further discussion to the theologians.

But here we see the approach that Satan took when he came to Eve. The first thing he did was to cause Eve to question the word of God and God’s authority.

‘Did God not tell you that you can’t eat from any of the trees in the garden?’

‘God said we can eat from any tree, except the tree at the centre of the garden? We can’t even touch it or will will die.’

‘You won’t die. God knows that if you eat it you will be like Him.’

Satan had Eve misquoting God. God never said ‘don’t eat it.’ Either she or Adam had made that addition.

When she started changing, or even misremembering God’s word, she was beaten. She was already deceived – and that is going to lead to defeat.

Friday, 17 July 2015


And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. – Genesis 2.25

Adam and Eve were created in perfection and holiness. They were the innocents of innocents.The lived un purity and simplicity and simply enjoyed he fruits of the garden and given them to tend.

And they were naked – and there was no shame.

The context here is marriage. Sex is so often seen as a taboo topic in the church. But we make a mistake when we do that. We ignore that fact that sex between a husband and wife is a precious gift from God. They were not ashamed, because there was no reason to be ashamed. Husband and wife are encouraged to enjoy each other’s bodies and there is no shame in that.

The theme carries on the to the book of Hebrews where we read ‘marriage is honourable in all things and the bed is undefiled.’ The book of Proverbs and the book of Song of Solomon celebrate the relationship between husband and wife.

It is important that we teach the proper place of sex as between husband and wife, but there is no shame in sex and nudity between husband and wife. It is God’s gift to husbands and wives.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Leaving and cleaving

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. – Genesis 2.24

There is a lot of talk about today about marriage. As our societies change we find them becoming less and less in conformity to what we Christians expect or might want and marriage is one of those issues.Today’s words are a Bible perspective from God for His people. We can’t really expect those who don’t know Christ or don’t accept the authority of the Bible to conform. That doesn’t make in right, but that is reality.

But for Christians God’s word and His will is pretty clear. A man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall be on flesh.

As God’s people He sets a pattern for us. Governments and societies and institutions can change laws and reinterpret and redefine the word to suit their purposes and changing cultural patterns. And, like it or not, that is the reality of the situation. I personally think that the state should not marry anyone – but just arrange for legal contracts between adults and let them decide about how and where to be married.

But that is not our worry. God’s pattern, set down for His people here in Genesis is.

One man
One woman
One life together

Instead of lambasting the world for acting like a world without God would we not be better off showing the world God’s example for marriage? A Christian marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ relationship to the church. As a Christian husband my task is to love my wife and treat her with the same love and compassion that Christ shows to me.

If the only picture people had of Christ’s love for the church was my love for my wife, would the world be drawn to Him?

Lets focus on living out our marriages in a way that honours and reflects Christ and leave the rest up to him. As, for lack of a better term, traditional marriages become rarer and rarer it is more incumbent on us to show the love of Christ through our marriages.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Not good

And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." – Genesis 2.18

It is interesting that ‘not good’ could follow so close on the heels of ‘very good.’ Obviously God knew what was good and what was not good. When He said ‘it was very good’ at the end of chapter one He was already talking about what is was like after this verse because remember, chapter one is an overview, chapter two fills in the gaps.

So before ‘it was very good’ God said ‘ it is not good that man should be alone.’ On the sixth day God made it a point to say ‘it is not good that man should be alone.’ He created male and female of all the other species so He was not about to only have a male human. But God wanted us to be clear about this – it is not good that a man should be alone.

God cares about relationships. After all the eternal Trinity lives in relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here, God gives Adam a wife to come alongside and work with him. His life was not to be a lonely one.

But I think we can expand the principle. God intended us to be communal, relational, societal beings. Soon God would establish societies and cultures and governments and communities.

God created us for relationships – that is one reason relationships are worth working on and fighting for. No man is an island, not man stands alone.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The breath of life

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. – Genesis 2.7

Chapter two sort of goes back and fills in the gaps of the daily creation account given in chapter one with a focus on Adam and Eve. In the first chapter we got an overview – here we see the details.

God made Adam first and there is a difference between him and all the rest. When we read here about God breathing into man’s nostrils the breath of life it sets man apart. This breath of life means that man, unique in Creation, had a spirit (or a soul, or soul and spirit, I’ll leave that debate up to the theologians). It means that when we die that is not the end because we have an eternal part to us.

This breath of life makes all the difference in the world. It means that there is an ‘us’ in each of us. Philosophers all through time and all over the world have tried to explain this. Psychologists and sociologists have named this ‘usness.’

God’s breath is what gives man a concept of a higher being. Virtually every culture has tried to find some way to connect with the source of the breath that God breathed into Adam.

Thankfully God chose to tell us all about Himself. He gave us His word and even told us how it all began. The same breath that breathed this breath also breathed our His word. We can all know that source of life through His word.

Monday, 13 July 2015

God rested

Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. – Genesis 2.1-3

On the seventh day God rested.

Why would He do that? An all-powerful God doesn’t need to rest. God doesn’t need a nap. We get a hint about why from the end of the verse where God blessed the day and set it apart from all the rest. This day of rest was so important that God made observing it a part of His law when He gave the ten commandments.

I realise thar as believers we are no longer bound by the Law. It today has no dominion over us. But I thinking there is a principle there we would do well to incorporate into our lives as we serve God and live for Him today. God designed us to need a day to come aside and rest.

And, for Western Europe and the United States at least, for a long time our culture took that day of rest.

But now it has all changed. As a country music song puts it:

Sunday was a day of rest
Now its another day for progress
And you can’t slow down
‘Cause more is best
Its all an endless process.

Our culture has changed and now Sunday is no different that any other day. Its not been that long since most people, outside of emergency services, didn’t have to work on Sunday.

I realise that it is a nostalgic pipe-dream, but I think we are missing something here. I am in a situation where I still get to have a Sunday afternoon rest, but too many people can’t.

I guess all we can do is to all we can do try to try to lay aside that day of rest. I think folks need to try and work with their employers to get their Sundays off so they can be in church and use the day for rest.

I wish I was smart enough to come up with a solution, but as our world becomes more and more secular we need to strive to get our moments of sacredness.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Very good

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. – Genesis 1.31

God was done creating. Everything was just right. It was very good.

As beautiful as some of the sights in Ireland are today I cannot even begin to imagine what the pre-sin earth looked like. There was nothing wrong with anything. It was indeed paradise. It was the utopia that people yearn for and right books about today. This was the world in its unbroken state. It was good, indeed it was very good, because the God who created it is good.

So something had to mess it up – because there is not much good left today. The broken state to our current world is more and more obvious every day. That is not what God wanted for us. He made the world so good that it was the perfect environment. He wanted humanity to have the perfect world to live in.

But very good was not good enough for man. He wanted more – and we haven’t changed since then.

Saturday, 11 July 2015


Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. – Genesis 1.28-30

One of the things about that frustrates me about some of my fellow Christians is an utter and abject disregard for any environmental concerns. What makes it worse is that they try to use the passage to make excuses for their actions. A couple a years ago on Earth Day I saw a Christian pastor post on Facebook to say that he was going to go out and burn a stack of tyres to celebrate.

Now he night have been joking, but that does seem to be the attitude of many Christians about many environmental issues. “Hey, God put us in charge so we can do whatever we want! Drill, dig, burn; don’t worry about that liberal tripe like ‘recycle, reuse, reduce.’ Jesus is coming back so don’t worry about it, He’s just gonna burn it up anyway!’

When I read this I see it a whole different way. I am not ignorant, I realise that there is a green agenda as well, but that isn’t my point here.

I see God giving us the awesome responsibility to care for and protect and maintain His wonderful gift of creation. You don’t have to be a tree hugger to care for creation. Subduing the earth hardly means to destroy it. God says that we can eat the plants and animals, but even pragmatically speaking, if we keep destroying it there will be nothing left to eat. We are free to bring creation under our control – but not to wreck it.

God gave us this marvellous, beautiful, wonderful gift of creation. Shouldn’t we do our best to keep it as beautiful as we can until He comes again?

Friday, 10 July 2015

In God's image

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” – Genesis 1.26

I remember when we were teaching in a Christian school part of the curriculum what a basic catechism. I am not too sure how I feel about catechismal teaching, but I’ll leave that aside.

Anyway, the first question asked was ‘who made you?’
The answer was ‘God made me.’

The second question was ‘what else did God make?’
The answer ‘God made me and all things.’

Whether I like that style of teaching or not the facts are still the same – God made me. It is obvious from the very start that mankind was intended to be different from the rest of creation. Humanity was to have a special place above and apart from all the rest.

We are made in the image of God. Clearly, since God is a spirit and does not have a body like man we are not created in His physical image. We are also not perfect and do not have the His divine attributes. We are not all knowing, we can’t be everywhere at the same time, we are not all powerful.

But God created us with the capacity to love and care and be light to the world around us. He gave us a free will. He gave us the ability to think and to reason. Mankind is different from the rest of creation because we are God’s image bearers.

That image was marred by the Fall. Sin marred the image of God, but to those of us who have been redeemed we bear the image of God to the rest of the world. I have to ask myself if my life reflects the image of God.

Thursday, 9 July 2015


And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. – Genesis 1.3-4

Near the end of Revelation we saw that in the new heavens and the new earth there will be no need for the sun because the whole place will be illuminated by the glory of God. He now, back at the beginning, we see the first words that God’s speaks are ‘let there be light.’ And then there was light.

I am not sure how to explain this, but I think this pre-sun light had something to do with the same glory of God. I think that because, after all, God is light. Jesus is the light of the world. His light illuminated the world before the sun and will illuminate the new heave and new earth after the sun.

Genesis 1 and John 1 remind me of each other. They both start with ‘in the beginning’ and they both have light coming into the darkness. Both draw the clear line between the darkness that exists without God and the light that comes because of Him.

God is light, and Him there is no darkness at all. He gave the world physical light at creation, but because of Adam and Eve’s sin the world was plunged into darkness. One day that original light will be restored.

But now God offers the light of the gospel to all who will receive it. But, sadly, men love darkness more than they love light. It is our job to shine as the light in a dark world to draw men to the true Light.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

God created

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. – Genesis 1.1-2

In the beginning God created…

Of all the things I wonder about and puzzle about had really have to exercise faith about one that never have to do that with is Creation.  To me that is the only possible explanation for what we have today. Even if I were to accept theistic evolution and long day creation, which I don’t, I would still say that at the root of all this there must be Someone who designed it and set it all in place. Nothing else makes any sense to me. Even if I go a step further and accept a total view of a big bang and evolution, where did the stuff for the big bang come from? Who made the stuff that ‘banged?’

But God was much more involved than just organising a bang. He was much more involved than just setting the clockworks in motion and stepping. He created the heaven and the earth and then He proceeded to fill it.

He filled with perfect and intricate design. He created it with life and sounds and colour. His design is seen in the finest details of the tiniest particle and is seen in the vastness of the universe. His design is seen in the miraculous development of a baby in the womb.

God created ex nihilo. He didn’t need a petri dish of chemicals or cells, God spoke and it happened. It is just that simple.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

In the beginning God

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. – Genesis 1.1-2

In the beginning God…

When out beginning began God was already there. He did not need a beginning. There was no time when God was not.

The Bible also doesn’t try to prove the existence of God. It simple says He was there when it all began.

So God just was, and He was there at the start. We see this theme all through scripture. He is the God who was and is and is to come. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He was ‘from old.’

The truth that God was already there when the beginning was there is a comfort to assure us that nothing takes Him by surprise and nothing is going to catch Him off guard.

Here was there when the beginning began. He is here now. He will be here for all eternity.

In the beginning God…

Monday, 6 July 2015

Coming again

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. – Revelation 22.20-21

Even so come Lord Jesus.

Those words have echoed in the church since the very beginning. While Jesus was alive He said ‘I go to prepare a place for you…and I will come back for you.’ Right after his ascension into heaven the angels spoke to the disciples, ‘why are you staring up into heaven, Jesus is going to come back just the way He left.’

And then all through history the church has been looking forward. Even our own St Patrick wrote that he was looking for the ‘soon advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’

Our ideas about pre or post or mid tribulation may differ. Our views on the millennium may differ. Some of us may like to try and pin down times and dates and some of us just wait. Some of us love eschatology and some of us barely grasp it.

But no matter what we all, or most of us agree that He is coming. Jesus is coming again. He said He will and He keeps His promises.

And that is our confident hope. So while we keep our eyes on heaven we must stay busy serving Christ until He comes for us or He takes us home through death. May Jesus find us busy when he comes again. 

Even so, come Lord Jesus. 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

On threescore years

The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knoweth those who trust in Him. – Nahum 1.7

Sixty years old today – wow. There is threescore years of my ‘threescore and ten’ done. I know that is just an idea of age, but it is a reminder that old age is not all that far away. When I was a child the average life expectancy for a man was only 65 years. I am glad it is a little bit longer than that now.

But really who knows how much longer we have? I haven’t a clue. I feel good, I walk everyday, my knees ache, but very little is obviously wrong. Chances are I have a good few years left – but who knows what the future holds?

One thing is certain – I am not going to live as long as I have lived.

But that is not all that it is certain. It is also true that no matter how little or how long I have left, no matter how much good news or bad news I get, no matter how we much we struggle, no matter whether the days are full of happiness or the days are full of sadness Nahum 1.7 is still true. No matter what happens:

The Lord is still good
The Lord is still my stronghold in the hard times
The Lord is still going to know me

That preaches so easy, but it lives so hard. But is only lives hard when I don’t really trust what my God says. It only lives hard when I think I know best. It only lives hard when my pride swells up and I tell God through my actions or attitudes that I know better than He does.

So by God’s grace may I draw closer to Him day by day by day. May I use this occasion to renew my efforts to serve Him more and more and while it is still day. Because He is good and His is my stronghold and He knows me may I be ever and always steadfast, immoveable, and always abound in His work because nothing done for Him is in vain.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Whosoever will

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. – Revelation 22.17

No one has ever accused me of being a great theologian. In fact no one has ever accused me of being a theologian at all. I have a grasp of Bible theology – but theologian? Sorry, I don't think that is me.

Maybe that is why I have a ‘problem’ with verses like Revelation 22.17 and ‘whoever will let him take of the water of life freely.’ I understand it is not that simple, but there it is. Maybe if I were a better theologian I would get it. It looks like it says that anyone wants to, whoever desires, whoever wills can come and take of this spiritual water freely.  Of  course I always remember the merchant in the market who cried out ‘ho, everyone that thirsts, come to the waters. If you have no money, come.’

I can’t figure it all out, but I am glad that way back in 1974 whosever meant me. I am glad that John 3.16 and its ‘whoever believes in Him’ suited me.

I am happy today, and the sun shines bright,
The clouds have been rolled away;
For the Saviour said, whosoever will
May come with Him to stay.

“Whosoever” surely meaneth me,
Surely meaneth me, oh, surely meaneth me;
“Whosoever” surely meaneth me,
“Whosoever” meaneth me.

All my hopes have been raised, oh, His Name be praised,
His glory has filled my soul;
I’ve been lifted up, and from sin set free,
His blood has made me whole.

Oh, what wonderful love, oh, what grace divine,
That Jesus should die for me;
I was lost in sin, for the world I pined,
But now I am set free.

Friday, 3 July 2015

The Lamb's Book

And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. – Revelation 21.27

Years ago I was trying to help a young person prepare for their exams here in Ireland. I felt like I was pretty proficient in simple accounting and bookkeeping.

But then saw the old Irish system. It required three books to keep track of accounts (if I remember it correctly). There was a credit book, a debit book, and a balance book. The goal was to, of course, us the balance book to line up the other two books. It was quite confusing and I really never figured it out.

When it comes to eternity it seems like a lot of folks are trying to do something even more difficult. They are trying to balance out their debit (sin) book with their credit (good works) book and hoping it will all balance out in their balance book so that they can find their way into heaven. Try as one might there is no way to achieve that balance, the debit book can never be balanced with the credits and the balance book will always be lacking.

But there is a book when things balance out. In the Lamb’s Book of Life the debits are all paid. Jesus paid the debt in full. In His book Jesus paid it all and only those written in His book are assured of eternity. We don’t serve God because we are trying to fill up the credit book, we do it because our names are already written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Thursday, 2 July 2015


And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. – Revelation 21.23-24

At the very beginning of the beginning, as we are going to see in just a few days, God said ‘let there be light.’ And here toward the end we read about light again.

When God said ‘let there be light’ there was light before the sun was created and in this passage we see another time when there is no need of the sun or moon.

The light that we will have will be the light of the glory of God and the Lamb will be the Light. That is interesting too because we know the gospel of John tells that Jesus was the light that came in to the darkness of the world.

This world is caught in the depths of spiritual darkness. The only way to lead people from the kingdom of darkness to the light of Christ is the gospel.

But it stays so dark. And the hard part is that this darkness will continue to hold sway until the Light is fully revealed and those who have come to Christ will walk in that marvellous light.

We live in a land of great darkness. Sometimes that darkness can be oppressive, but the day is coming when we will walk in the pure light of Christ and all this darkness will finally be put away.

While we are waiting for that light lets be sure that we are shining the light of the conquering gospel to those around us.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The water of life

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. – Revelation 21.6

We have had a couple of really warm days, well warm for us at least. Temperatures today may even reach into the mid 20s (upper 70s Fahrenheit). If you are out much out days like that you are bound to get thirsty. But that is not really thirsty - some folks kno what real thirst it.

I am reading Unbroken at the moment.  It is a World War 2 story and a major part of the book is about men who crashed their plane at sea and spent about 40 days waiting for rescue while they drifted across he Pacific. They did everything the could to capture and drink rain water whenever it fell. The sucked water out of wet fabric and it got to the point where every drop was precious. These men knew what real thirst was.

Physical thirst is a very real concern. But we don’t often think about spiritual thirst. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well she had the same problem. She kept confusing the water from her well and the spiritual water Jesus was promising.  Water will leave you thirsty again – but water from the fountain of life satisfies your spiritual thirst forever.

Too often people go through life looking to all kinds of things to satisfy their spiritual thirst. All of them might give some brief and passing satisfaction.

But only in Christ can we find the kind of satisfaction that never runs dry and always satisfies. So lets drink freely from that fountain. As the world around us grows drier and drier may we find the satisfaction that only the fountain of the water of life can provide.