Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Genesis Chapters 28-30 - July 22, 2009

28:9 - Ishmael is trying desperately to please his father, but he has already denied his birthright, lost his blessing and rashly married women his parents didn't approve of...he refused to enter into the will of God as the favored son of his family and it passed him by.

28:12 - I think Jacob gets a glance at the reality of the unseen world that is all around us. He sees angels going back and forth from earth to heaven...sees into the spiritual realm. There is a world and a battle that is raging all around us that we rarely think about...but it is real and souls are being contended for every moment.

28:15 - The covenant of Abraham is confirmed in the life of Jacob. A hugely important moment for Jacob and for the history of God's people. Jacob will become the father of the Israelite nation. Like Abraham before him, he commemorates that moment by making a monument, so he will never forget what God has done for him.

29-30 - These stories just blow my mind! God uses such broken people to bring about His will. We see jealousy, lies, lust, favoritism, hatred, and much much more unfold in this story and we are looking at the foundations of the people of God! God's chosen people! When I stop holding judgement over these people, I start to realize that my life contains a lot of those some kinds of things...and I, unlike them, am a temple of the Holy Spirit of God! I thank the Lord that He is willing to work through my brokenness...and I thank God for the gift of His son, who gives me the chance to appear righteous before God - through none of my own actions, but through his sacrifice!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Genesis Chapters 25-27 - July 21, 2009

25:18 - Just as God promised Hagar, Ishmael's family would also grow into a great nation of people. Mandy of the Bedouin tribes of the middle east are descendants of Ishmael. Verse 18 also confirms the second part of God's prophecy about Ishmael...his people would always be against the Israelites. Even when God is working out His will through our positive and negative choices, there are often far-reaching consequences for our sins.

25:28 - From that line right there, you know there is going to be trouble. Nothing good ever comes when parents so favoritism amongst their children. It's crazy - you'd think with the incredible oral story telling tradition of the Hebrew people, they would start to figure it out as they told these stories!

25:29 - Huge decisions about your future should not be made while exhausted and hungry...just a tip.

26:6 - What in the world! Do they teach this in Abe's family or something?! Again with the sister thing? It amazes me that these men can be so faithful to God...trusting Him to lead them and protect them...and yet, they have these times of weakness, where they can't even trust God to protect them from some semi-powerful king! The faith journey has its ups and downs, and you hope that the legacy you leave behind is one of faith, not faithlessness.

26:8 - How does the king know they are husband and wife just because they were laughing together. Well, the Hebrew suggests that there was a little more than laughing going on...something a little more intimate. They would have gotten in huge trouble in my youth group for PDA!

26:22 - I like the spirit of Isaac...he is the bigger man here. When there is conflict he just moves on until he finds a place that offers enough space and a peaceful solution for everyone. It is hard to seek peace at any cost...even the cost of your pride, and we can see in the verse after that - that no one loses respect for Isaac.

26:34 - Why does marrying the Hittite women drive Isaac and Rebekah crazy? Well, Esau is the firstborn and in their mines, the heir of the bloodline of Abraham...and he has broken the family tradition. Abraham desperately wanted Issac to marry someone from their family tree and I'm sure Isaac wanted the same thing for his firstborn. Esau rejects the tradition and even goes so far as to marry multiple foreign women. He has already rejected his he has broken the family tradition, and we will soon see that God just completely passes Him over as the heir of Abraham's line. If we are not willing to answer the call that God places on our lives...God will find someone else to replace us. Nobody can stop the will of God. You can either choose to be a part of His will, or outside of His will. Choose wisely!

27: It has always bugged me that Rebekah and Jacob pull this huge trick on Issac. I never understood why God would use lies and trickery to guide Jacob into becoming the father of Israel. But we see in the chapters before, that Esau had already disrespected his place in the family of God's people...he was a rash man bent on serving his own will. Jacob at least was reluctant to lie to his father and only did so at the bidding of his mother...and it is a powerful testimony that God can even use flawed and sinful individuals to bring about His plan.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Genesis Chapters 22-24 - June 20, 2009

22:2-3 - Can you imagine this? After everything Abraham has gone through, he finally gets the child he has been waiting for from the first time God made a covenant with him...and now God is asking him to sacrifice the boy! And how does Abraham respond? He acts immediately. He utterly trusts God and is willing to follow wherever the Lord calls. His faith is incredible!

22:6ff - This whole sacrifice is a picture of the sacrifice of Jesus. Abraham is the father of God's chosen people. God is the father of all. Issac is Abraham's firstborn son. Jesus is the one and only son of God. God calls Abraham to sacrifice Issac to test his faith, and also to give us a glimpse into His insanely awesome love for us, that leads God to let Jesus die. Issac even has to carry the wood that he will be sacrificed on like Jesus carried his cross to Golgotha. But God is merciful and loving and provides a different sacrifice for Abraham. He showed the same love and mercy for us by sacrificing Jesus in our allowing His own son to die. Really intense imagery.

23:6 - Again we see that Abraham's faith is lived out for all to see. Everywhere he goes, people know who he is and know that he is a man of God and he is respected for it. How cool would that be, if everywhere you went people immediately knew and respected you because of your faith. That is a legacy to live out right there!

24:7ff - Abraham is faithfully waiting for God to fulfill His covenant with Abraham and his descendants. He is not giving up and he refuses to allow his people to turn back or look back at the past. He makes his servant swear that he will not allow Isaac to go back where they came from...God brought them into Canaan for a reason and Abraham absolutes trusts God. From the beginning to the end of his life he trusts God. He never questions...he never buys time...he simply waits for God to move and acts immediately when God calls on him. There is a beautiful simplicity to the life and faith of Abraham.

24:20 - Rebekah is selfless and servant-hearted...not a bad place to start when you are looking for future wives gentlemen (Oh yeah, and she was hot too!). Ladies, selfless and servant-hearted works with husband candidates too (You ladies can start looking when you about 25), by that time there might be a few guys who are mature enough to handle committed relationships with God-fearing women.

24:27 - I find it really cool that the servant doesn't try to take any credit for finding Rebekah...he immediately gives God all credit for finding Isaac a suitable wife. This is a great lesson for modern Christians to learn. Here in the states we are so ego-driven and self-centered, that many times we allow those attitudes to creep into our spiritual lives. We would do well to follow the example of the servant and give God credit for anything good in our lives.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Genesis Chapters 19-21 - July 17, 2009

19:14 - Doubting God can be absolutely disastrous. Lot's son-in-laws are not mentioned again, because they dies alongside everyone else in Sodom. They leave behind a legacy of a lack of faith. With their husbands dead, Lot's daughters seduce him and have children by their father! Ewwww.

19:26 - It's easy to say, "All she did was look back, what is up with that?" Bu she was specifically told not to look back - she acted disobediently and rebelliously. I believe there is also something more to her looking back...I don't think she was just watching the fireworks show, I think she was looking back with longing on her old life amidst the corruption of Sodom. When you have been saved by don't look back to the old life with longing.

19:37 - Again the lack of faith legacy of Lot's family. Their husbands are dead because they refused to believe the girls commit incest because they don' trust that God can provide them with new husbands. Their sinful tricking of their dad led to them bearing the Moabite and Ammorite nations, which consequently became a thorn in the side of Israel for years. Great legacy.

20:2 - Again!? Seriously Abe, that is ridiculous. How vile and selfish is it to lead other people into sin in an attempt o save our own butt?

21:11-12 - Abraham is actually uncomfortable with rejecting his son Ishmael...why is God okay with it? Because of the animosity and hatred that would exist between Ish and Isaac as they grew up. God knew that he had to protect the line of Isaac for His eternal plan (And He still took care of Ish).

21:22 - People know when you are living for God...they can see the difference. Abraham's' legacy of faith is so much more beautiful that Lot's legacy of doubt. Which camp do you find yourself in more often? 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Genesis Chapters 16-18 - June 16, 2009

16:2ff - Impatience and lack of faith lead to vast consequences int history of man. Sarai takes things into her owns hands and gives her servant for Abram to take as a wife (STUPID!). "Shockingly", when the Hagar conceives she looks down on Sarai...Hagar is younger and pregnant and Sarai is older, bitter and jealous. When these two women clash, it leads to the most world changing spilt in the history of man...Ishmael becomes the father of the Arabs and Isaac the father of the Jews. To this day there is hatred between them that started in Genesis 16.

16:6 - I gotta say, Abram kinda ticks me off here...he may be a faithful man of God, but he is definitely not perfect. He takes Hagar as a wife, but then rejects her and refuses to treat her like one. He basically used her for sex and a son and turned her away. That's horrible...Hagar is just as much God's daughter as Sarai and we see that in the next few verses.

16:11 - God hears the cry of the oppressed Hagar and comforts her. She names the place where he meets her Beer-lahai-roi, which means "the living God sees me." How awesome is that name! The living God sees me. You and I have a living God who sees us...who hears our cries...who offers us comfort and strength. That is really good!

17:8 - You may look at God promising Abram that the Jewish people will have possession of the Promised Land forever and wonder how He can say that when they constantly lose it in the Old Testament and they aren't really in control of it today. Was God lying? No. God made an everlasting covenant with His people, but in a covenant, both sides have to keep up their end of the deal. The Jews have often rejected God for others and paid a heavy price for it.

17:13 - What is this circumcision stuff all about? It is a show of commitment and sacrifice. It is symbol of cutting away the other things that have kept people from God...cutting away the useless flesh represents cutting away the useless things we chase after. It is a cleaner and healthier way for a man to live and this represented the set apart nature of followers of God.

17:23 - It says that Abraham had himself and every one of his males relatives and servants circumcised THAT VERY DAY! There are not excuses...there is no stalling...Abraham hears the voice of God calling him to act and he acts. Maybe we should try that.

18:1ff - Okay we have to talk a little about this crazy encounter with the Lord/three guys that show up. The author treats the three men in this passage as God in the form of three humans. It says the Lord appeared to Abraham and goes on to explain that He looked like three men. Maybe representing the Father, Son and Spirit? If you look at the questions the men ask, it reminds you a great deal of the conversations Jesus had with people int he New Testament (Think the "Book of John" Matt). The strangers ask questions they know the answers to, to push the dialogue. "Where is Sarah? Why does she laugh? Etc." This shows the divine nature of the three guys, not to mention the fact that they are moving on to Sodom and Gomorrah to bring judgement.

18:23 - These types of situations always used to mess with my mind - is Abraham's plan better than God's plan? No. Here is what I, Brandon Forsythe, believe. I believe that God understands that death is not the end - if there are righteous in Sodom that die alongside the wicked in a mass destruction...they will receive justice in the end. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is already happening in God's view of time, because He is outside of time and can see everything simultaneously. So the righteous are covered in the blood of the lamb. In death they will recieve life...they will go to paradise. God changes His mode of operating to accommodate Abraham's lack of understanding in my opinion.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Genesis Chapters 13-15 - June 15, 2009

13:4 - Abram goes back to a place he had an incredible experience with God and reconnects with God. It is good for us to have sacred spaces where we have connected with God over and over - not because those places themselves are holy, but because your heart and mind are often more open to listening to God in a place where He's spoken to you before.

13:10 - The easiest road is rarely the road to take. Lot takes the land in the Jordan valley that is fertile and good and sets up shop near Sodom. Hmmm, where have I heard that name before...Sodom? Oh that's right, Lot and his family get swept up in the evil of Sodom and almost die in a hail of fireballs (His wife does get killed for looking back)...then his daughters get him drunk and sleep with him, but that is in a later chapter. Abram gets the harder land to live off of, but actually finds a place to rest in God. The tougher path is usually better.

14:17ff - So I have to talk about this crazy guy Melchizedek don't I? I'm not going to leave you hanging like that? Who is he? Is he really a priest of the God of Abram - the one and only God. Well in the Hebrew, it says that Melchizedek is a priest of "El Elyon" - a priest of the most high God. If we wanted to take the easy way out, we could just assume that Melchizedek worshipped the one true God, but Canaanites also referred to their gods as El. Melchizedek is most likely a pagan Canaanite priest/king that Abram shows respect to because he is powerful. The story of Melchizedek gets crazy when Jewish thinkers over the years began to create legends revolving around him. Some say he was God's priest but lost his priesthood to Abram because of arrogance. Some began to think he was the angel Michael. In other words, by the time the writer of Hebrews came along, Melchizedek was a figure of legend and great power in the mind of many Jews. So when the writer of Hebrews talks about Jesus being a more powerful priest than Melchizedek, he is not saying that Melchizedek was a follower of God...the writer is saying that Jesus is more powerful and a better priest than even the Jews mythical thought about the legendary Melchizedek. Kinda like saying he is more powerful than Superman. Hope that makes some sense.

15:4-6 - God promises the very old Abram that he will have offspring and because Abram believes God, he is called righteous. The righteousness that believers like you and me receive from God also comes through belief.

15:12-21 - I love the imagery of this passage. God makes a covenant with Abram in the style of people in the ancient near east. They would making a binding contract with one another by cutting animals in half and laying them on the ground in the path of blood that both parties would walk through. As they passed through the blood path, they were in essence telling one another that if they broke their covenant their bodies could be torn in half like those animals. Pretty brutal, yet I'm sure it was very effective. In this passage from Genesis, who is it that walks through the blood path? Is it both God and Abram? No - it is simply God. God makes this covenant with Abram and basically says that he is going to hold both ends of the deal up. He is going to remain faithful to His people and He is going to pay the blood price when His people break the covenant (Like we all do!). Jesus body was torn and broken to pay the price for us breaking our covenant with God. That is how loving and faithful our Father in heaven is!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Genesis Chapters 10-12 - July 14, 2009

I'm so excited I have two buddies on my blog - yay for Josh and Matt.

Okay most of chapter 10 is just talking about the descendants of Noah, but this is important stuff because these are the people that began the civilizations that started recording their histories. Look at the names of the sons and descendants of Noah - do any of them sound familiar? Like countries and empires and people groups you've heard of? Hmmmm? Also that dude Nimrod seems to just jump off the page, so I have to say something about him...

10:8ff - This is the only guy in the chapter who is actually described. He is called the first ever mighty man...a hunter...a kingdom builder...he's a pretty impressive guy, so who is he? Contrary to popular (youth group) belief I don't know everything about the bible off the top of my head, so I looked Nimrod up in my bible commentary. I will sum up a little of what they said. Some Jewish historians believed that Nimrod was the guy who started the whole tower of Babel thing and was also the first man to begin idol worship, and while that would sell newspapers...there's not much evidence to support that. There is a possibility that he was this Babylonian king named Hammurabi, because of some funky linguistic stuff the commentator does - the Hebrew transliteration of one of his names might come out as Nimrod. From the evidence given you cannot tell for sure who this guy was...what you can tell is that he was a great hunter and he built up a huge kingdom.

11:3 - Bricks would have been like the i-pod touch of the ancient world...this was incredible, sophisticated technology. And what do they do with it? They use technology to lead them away from God. That doesn't sound like any generation of people I know...oh wait...

11:4 - Because of their arrogance, they actually brought about the end result they were trying to avoid. They wanted to make sure that they would never be separated...they built and incredible building that would draw all people to it, but because of the tower they are scattered all over the face of the earth and they can't communicate with one another. People just can't leave well enough alone...just like Adam and Eve these people could not be satisfied...they wanted recognition...they wanted to be gods and what they got was confusion and chaos.

11:6 - When all men were completely unified, their sinfulness is exponential and the consequences of their combined actions is rebellion, arrogance and destruction. Today we have world wide communication and shared technology and what has it ushered in? Machines of destruction that can kill from afar at the push of a button, countless opportunities to look at free porn, communication that undermines relationship, etc. (Hehehe...I say this all as I do a bible study with people through a computer)

11:12ff - Notice how the ages of everybody steadily goes down after the flood...pretty interesting.

12:1ff - One of the most important passages yet in the bible...this is God's covenant with Abram - a covenant that we are the beneficiaries of. He tells Abram, leave you country, your people and your family and I will give you a nation, fame, blessings and I will bless the entire world through you (i.e. Jesus is coming to save everybody). Abram believe God and walks away from everything he has ever know. God please let me have faith like this...I want t utterly and completely trust you too.

12:7-8 - I love that Abram is constantly reminding himself that God is in control. He is always setting up altars and doing what it takes to remember what God has done for him and what God has promised. That is still a good practice for God followers.

12:13 - Here we see that Abram is definitely not perfect. He encourages his wife to lie and basically gives her over to Pharaoh's household...which is really sick! Abram is not only a leader of his people, but he should be a leader in his family life. Instead of honoring his wife, he uses her to make his life easier. How many husbands do this on a regular basis?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gensis Chapters 7-9 - July 13, 2009

7:5 - How would you like that to be said about your life? "And Brandon did everything the Lord had commanded of Him." That would be awesome. I need to stop making excuses for myself and live out the life God is calling me to live.

7:11 - I like the term the ESV uses, "The windows of heaven were opened...". I think maybe there were different types of cloud layers at this point in earth's history. Maybe the clouds were insanely low and thick so that the entire earth was like a greenhouse...enabling the people to live hundreds and hundreds of years. You will notice that after the flood, the ages of people start to drastically decline. Maybe God caused the greenhouse clouds to collapse causing the flood and He didn't put them back the way they were?

8:17 - God gives Noah and his family the same promise/command that He gave Adam and Eve - "be fruitful and multiply." God has started over from square one.

8:20-21 - This is why Noah was chosen - he is a righteous man. The first thing he does after getting off the ark is worship God. There are very few animals left to sacrifice, but Noah trusts God and offers up what he has. And whoever said that worship and prayer are not powerful...when God smells the aroma of Noah's sacrifice and sees the righteousness of his heart, He promises to never destroy all of creation again, no matter how vile they become.

9:4-ff - Life is sacred to God...blood is required for life and it is also sacred. God is serious about blood, because when the blood of a man is spilled - the very image of God he carries is being destroyed, trampled, dishonored.

9:9-17 - I find it interesting that God's covenant with Noah includes the animals. Seems like God cares a great deal about creation/animals and not just people. This kinda flies in the face of people who have the, "It's all gonna burn anyway mentality." As stewards of the earth, it is a part of our worship and honor of God to take care of creation.

9:21-ff - Ham shames his father by running out to tell his brothers that he saw their father naked. He mocks his father and dishonors him. His brothers put an end to the shame by refusing to look at their father's nakedness and by covering him up. When people have shamed themselves like Noah did, it is evil to pile on more shame through gossip and is good and God-honoring to refuse to let the shame continue on. Hopefully you and I will be people who refuse to let shame continue on around us...hopefully we can be people who put an end to other peoples' dishonor.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Genesis Chapters 4-6 - July 9, 2009

4:7 - God confronts Cain about the anger that is boiling up inside of him (For any at the BBQ and Bible last night - Mr T talked about this). I think it is interesting that God describes sin as an almost living entity. In my version it says, "It's desire is for (against) you, but you must rule over it." God describes sin as this predatory thing that lives within Cain, and in my experience that is completely true. There is always this twisted part of my nature that is trying to take control and I must rule over it...and I fully believe we cannot do that under our own power - we need the Holy Spirit living within us to overcome the voracious appetites of sin.

4:19 - This is the first recorded instance where a man takes two wives, and I think this is important because you see sinful selfishness and arrogance start to rise up in humanity. Lamech is greedy, so he takes two wives and he impresses his wives with a song about how dangerous and deadly he is. This sinful pride is going to spread throughout mankind and lead to the events of the flood in chapter 6. Overindulgence and sinful arrogance are never marks of godly people.

4:26 - Why did people begin to call on the name of the Lord here? I am not sure, but I have a guess. With Adam and Eve, and even their sons Cain and Abel...God has a personal relationships with them and converses with them. That disappears after Cain. I think that as the sinfulness of men begins to grow and spread, the connection that men had with God is destroyed. God cannot be in the presence of sin...His holiness and perfect justice would destroy the sinfulness of men. I think God has pulled His presence back from men and the men and women of earth have begun to cry out for Him. They know who they were made to be plugged into, as I believe every one of us does.

5:29 - Noah's dad names him Noah, because he believes that Noah is going to bring relief to the workers of the world. Well, in a way he does bring relief, because every man and woman on earth is killed outside of Noah and his family in the great flood! more work, right? But seriously, I think that after the flood, God starts over with Noah as almost a second Adam and that God allows people who work for their food to have an easier time than they did in the time of Adam. Growing crops is hard work, but it is possible for man and nature to work together to make food. God shows mercy in the face of Noah's righteousness.

6:5ff - You think we are living in the end times because the earth we are living on is the most sinful it has ever been? Think again. Did you read those verses? Every thought of every person on the face of the earth is pure evil all the time...except for Noah. God has searched the earth and found one man who is not totally vile. God looks at the earth and His heart breaks - He wanted to give His love to people and wanted them to choose to love Him back...He wanted to live in community with His creation and they have utterly rejected Him. He is actually sorry that He made human beings. Sometimes it feels like everyone int he world is living however they want to live and having a great time doing it...I want to be a Noah. I want to be a man that honors God with his life no matter what the rest of the world is doing. While I'm not perfect, I don't want God's heart to break when He sees what I am doing wit the life He gave me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Genesis Chapters 1-3 - July 8, 2009

Well, we blogged through the New Testament last it is time to take on the Old Testament. There are about three times as many chapters in the OT as there are in the NT, so we are going to be reading three chapters a day. That means there will be a lot of information, and I will not be able to cover as much in detail, so I am just going to be commenting on what really jumped out at me. I hope you will leave comments telling about how God spoke to you through the passage too.

1:26 - I am always drawn to the fact that God is referring to Himself in plural ("us", "our"). God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit have always existed and have always been one. The perfect community that has always existed. This brings even more power to the cross on which Jesus died, because he literally allows himself to be killed by his own creation so that he can save them. That's love.

2:3 - God made a day of rest and declared that it was holy. It is holy to rest in be with your family - those things are holy. To pack your life so full of junk that you cannot even find time to breathe and connect with God is not is hellish.

2:25 - I truly believe this is one of the most beautiful verses in the bible. It says that Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. That is incredible! They are so comfortable in their own skin...they are so connected with who they are, that they don't even know they are naked. They know who they are and they know the God who created them and that is all they need. Since sin has come into the world, people have been searching for their identity. We look to other people and stuff and success, so that we can be more important than somebody that we can be worth more. Adam and Eve understood how much they were worth and how much they were loved...I want to understand that.

3:21 - Death comes to paradise, because of Adam and Eve's sin. It says that God clothed them in animal skins, so He had to kill some animals to cover their shame. Sin always ends in death. Animals died to cover their shame, and as a final sacrifice, Jesus died to cover our sins and shame once and for all.