Tag Archives: darkness

God Loves You…And Likes You Too!

Do you ever question God’s love for you? Do you ever wonder if God loves you—but he doesn’t like you? If so, then you’ll appreciate today’s reading from the Bible.

Welcome to the first day of our year-long journey through the life-changing word of God. Thank you for participating in our community!

Today’s Reading

Genesis 1:1-2:25

Matthew 1:1-2:12

Psalm 1:1-1:6

Proverbs 1:1-1:6

Insights Into Today’s Reading

  • Genesis 1 and 2 are really separate accounts of creation. Notice that Genesis 1 refers to “God” while Genesis 2 uses the phrase “LORD God.” Any time you see “God” in the Old Testament it usually refers to the Hebrew word Elohim. “Lord God” almost always refers to the Hebrew word Yahweh. Here’s a tidbit of interesting information: the word for God in Arabic is Allah, which is very similar in pronunciation to Elohim.
  • The Bible begins and ends with references to the tree of life: Genesis 2:9 and Revelation 22:2, 14. However, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—from which Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit—does not appear in Revelation.
  • The use of Adam’s rib for the creation of Eve  appears in ancient Sumerian texts. The Sumerian word for rib is ti. Interestingly enough, ti means “life,” just like Eve does in Genesis 3:20.
  • Note how the beginning of Matthew highlights the presence of questionable women in Jesus’ genealogy (Matthew 1:3,5,6).

My Response

You know, deep down, I think many of us assume that God doesn’t really like us. He tolerates us—begrudgingly—but he’d prefer NOT to hang out with us. Why? Because we have sin, vestiges of darkness in our lives.

Today, I began our first day’s reading…and couldn’t move past the first two verses. Genesis 1:1-2 (NIV) tells says:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Notice that the darkness was hovering over the surface of the deep. And what does the passage also tell us was hovering over the dark waters? The Spirit of God.

God wasn’t repulsed by the darkness.

All my life, I’ve assumed (at least subconsciously) that God reacted to the dark places in my life like two positive sides of the same magnet. But not only does he thrive in my dark places…he’s at work. In those places where I think he doesn’t exist, he’s there. In those dark places that I  hide from him, he’s there. He’s unafraid and un-repulsed by my dark areas.

It reminds me of Psalm 139:7-10:

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths,a you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

A few other insights that hit me about Genesis 1:

  • God’s power. Whatever he speaks, happens. He says, “Let there be light”…and there is light.
  • God’s character. Everything God creates is good. The New Bible Commentary points out that ‘Create’ is something that only God does (the verb is used only of God in the OT).
  • The interrelatedness of God’s creation. We share a common creator as creation. Obviously, we’re different because we’re created in God’s image. But we’re related to his creation and given the charge of taking of God’s creation. Genesis 2:15 affirms this.

Conversation Starters

  • What does the creation passage tell you about God?
  • Do you long for anything that was present at creation and lost as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin?

How is God speaking to you today through today’s reading?

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The Happiest, Saddest Day of the Year

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Every year, I dread December 21—and yet, in a morbid kind of way, I can’t wait for it to arrive. It’s both the most depressing and hopeful day of the year.

You know how they say, “It’s gotta worse before it’s gonna get better”? Well  December 21 is the day it gets worse.

At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, if you thrive on sunlight you understand what I mean.

Today at 10:45 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time, winter rears its cold, lifeless head and taunts us here in Denver for three long months (actually, the cold weather can drag on another five months!).

Which means that today is the shortest day of the year. The depressing part about today is that the sun rises at 7:18 a.m. and, because I live on the west side of town, the sun hides behind the mountains before 4:00 p.m.

Yet at the same time, I know that the lack of sunlight won’t get any worse than today. So today brims with hope. Tomorrow will inject three more seconds of vitamin D enriched sunlight. And for the next 6 months, every day will get longer by 3-4 seconds.

Today should be Christmas!

If I could choose a day for Jesus to be born into this dark world, it would be December 21. God spoke through the prophet Isaiah:

The people walking in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of the shadow of death

a light has dawned.

Isaiah 9:1

After 400 years of silence—spiritual darkness!—Jesus was born. And what pointed to his birth? A bright star in the middle of the night. A ray of hope that pierced our darkness and despair.

Today, I’d like to begin introducing you to the format that will guide us throughout 2010 as we read through the Bible together.

In light of our depressing/hopeful day, let’s explore an often overlooked passage of Scripture in the book of Lamentations.

Today’s reading: Lamentations 3:1-26

Insights into today’s reading:

  • The book of Lamentations was most likely penned (quilled?) by the prophet Jeremiah.
  • Every chapter in the book is an acrostic poem (each verse begins with a different letter in alphabetical order). In chapter 3, each letter of the alphabet is represented by three consecutive verses
  • Setting: Jerusalem has just been destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army. The temple was destroyed, the king replaced by a “puppet” ruler, and the city’s most productive people were exiled to Babylon. The only people left in Jerusalem were the poor and uneducated—the people least able to maintain the economy (for more, read Jeremiah 52).
  • In verse 22, the word for love is the Hebrew word hesed, which means steadfast love.

How today’s reading speaks to me:

  • Although Israel’s destruction is the result of their sin, I can’t escape the fact that God is the one doing the destroying. I’d like to believe that “acts of God” no longer occur, but I also can’t escape passages of Scripture—even in the New Testament—reminding us that God disciplines those whom he loves (Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12:6, Revelation 3:19). Of course, there’s a difference between punishment and discipline. Punishment is rooted in revenge. Discipline is rooted in restoration of the person and the relationship.
  • Although I have a hard time believing God is on a 24/7 search and destroy mission, I wonder what my life would look like if I regarded all hardship as God’s way of bringing me to the end of myself and closer to him? Hebrews 12:7 comes to mind here: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.”
  • The only reason I’m not consumed (read: destroyed) is because God, in his steadfast love, won’t allow it.
  • Verse 26 says, “It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” I’m not good at waiting quietly for my salvation. I want to scream and wiggle my way out of any pain.

What speaks to you?

Prayer for the Day: Lord God, in the midst of our pain, open our ears to hear you calling us deeper and closer to you.

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