Wednesday, February 29, 2012

3/1/12- We Reap What We Sow

9- 3/1- WLC- 28-30
LCQ. 28. What are the punishments of sin in this world?
A. The punishments of sin in this world are either inward, as blindness of mind, a reprobate sense, strong delusions, hardness of heart, horror of conscience, and vile affections; or outward, as the curse of God upon the creatures for our sakes, and all other evils that befall us in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments; together with death itself.
Q. 29. What are the punishments of sin in the world to come?
A. The punishments of sin in the world to come, are everlasting separation from the comfortable presence of God, and most grievous torments in soul and body, without intermission, in hell-fire forever.
Q. 30. Does God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God does not leave all men to perish in the estate of sin and misery, into which they fell by the breach of the first covenant, commonly called the covenant of works; but of his mere love and mercy delivereth his elect out of it, and brings them into an estate of salvation by the second covenant, commonly called the covenant of grace.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Gal. 6:7,8)
Thoughts: Even during Lent, it is hard to think of what we deserve for our sins.  In fact, our pride makes us think we continually deserve better than we actually get.  We think we deserve eternal life simply because we have been given life and that God loves us.  But such an attitude cheapens life and faith as well as the cross of Christ, eliminating holiness and the striving to be better.  However, we reap what we sow.  If we sow to please the flesh we will reap the consequences of it.  The Larger Catechism leaves nothing out.  Part of appreciating Christ is thinking on where we would be without them.  I often tell my wife how I would miss her if she never came in my life, and how much better a person I am because God brought us together.  Christ has come.  Those who are reading this are invited to remember where they would be without Him.  If we leave Christ out of our life, we reap the loneliness and desertion of God's blessing. 
Prayer: My misery is great and I have no hope without you, Lord.  Give me grace to be grateful that you have saved me from so many miseries and punishments. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2/29/12- Misery is not a State in the Midwest

8- 2/29- WSC 19 (WLC 27)
What is the misery of our fallen condition?
A. By our fall, all human beings lost fellowship with God and are under His wrath and curse.  We are subjected to the miseries of this life, to death, and to the pains of hell forever.

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! (John 8)

Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. (Eph. 2:12).

Thoughts: When things are going well in life, it is hard to understand our misery.  It is a gift of God that we do not always vividly remember our misery (perhaps that is why some have more than one child after the first labor).  Yet there is a restless itch in our heart for ultimate meaning and hope.  The book of Ecclesiastes is largely a tale of a wise man seeking meaning in life apart from God.  He tries work, study, buying things, living for pleasure but in the end it is all vanity (except that he says we should fear God and keep His commandments).  Death limits our best talents (like Whitney Houston's) and our best achievements fade with time.  But we also should realize that without God’s hope we are hopeless.  We do not like to focus on hell, yet within us lurks the idea that we are held accountable for what we do.  Sometimes this is perceived as guilt, but the shameless in evil times, feel little guilt.  Yet we all know this life can be better, and should be better.  We know that the poor should be cared for and no one around us should die hungry.  We know we should not be mean or neglectful toward our neighbors, but it is hard- in our busy world- to take time to care.  Our misery can be a catalyst to see that life can be better.  The good news is that God came in Christ to share our misery and also provide a way out of it.  God knows how it feels when people treat us unjustly, and slander us.  The sufferings of God in Christ are an avenue out of the continual pains of life, death, and hell.

Prayer: This Lent, Lord, help me to remember your sufferings and so have hope that my suffering may have meaning and an end. 

(Job- Gustave Dore d. 1883)


1986 Q. 19. What is the misery of man’s fallen condition?
A. By their fall all mankind lost fellowship with God and brought His anger and curse on themselves.  They are therefore subject to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell
forever.

1647 Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God,are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

Monday, February 27, 2012

2/28/12- Our Corrupt Nature

7- 2/28- WSC- 18, WLC- 26
WSC Q 18- What is sinful about our fallen condition?
A. Our fallen condition is made up of two things: 1. Original sin which is the guilt of our first sin; the lack of original righteousness; and the corruption of our whole being; 2. and all specific acts of breaking God’s law that come from original sin. 

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:7-8)

Thoughts: We inherit corruption, but we also add our own sin to it.  We cannot be too quick to blame our first parents when we ourselves mess up, and fall short of our own ideals.  We are quick to say, “hypocrite” when we all have a plank in our own eyes.  Sin is a universal experience that transcends cultures, languages, geography.  Before World War 1 there was a tremendous optimism that deep down we were innocent and good.  Coming along with that was the idea of “the Noble Savage” that if we could find some prehistoric group of people we would observe their goodness.  Paul Gauguin was an artist of this persuasion.  He went to Tahiti looking for a noble savage uncorrupted by Christianity and money.  But instead of finding a noble savage he found  utter sin and misery: lying, stealing, vengeance.  Gauguin sunk into despair.  Christian faith is not a corrupter of human nature but a restrainer of human nature.  But it also is a way out of our corruption.

Prayer: Lord, I am humbled when I think of my own sin.  Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.  Take not your Holy Spirit from me, but instead have mercy on me.

Below: Gauguin’s “Where Came We? Who are We? Where Go We?”
1986 Q. 18. What is sinful about man’s fallen condition?
A. The sinfulness of that fallen condition is twofold. First, in what is commonly called original sin, there
is the guilt of Adam’s first sin with its lack of original righteousness and the corruption of his whole
nature. Second are all the specific acts of disobedience that come from original sin.

1647 Q. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

2/27/12- The Human Condition

6- 2/27- WSC 17-(2012 version) 
What was the condition of human beings brought by the fall?
A. Human beings fell into a condition of sin and misery.

Ruin and misery mark their ways (Romans 3:16)

16 To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” 17 To Adam he said, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life…until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”  (Gen. 3)
 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 2:1,2)

Thoughts: Something changed when sin entered the world.  The pollution of sin has spread for it has been passed down into every human heart.  We are naturally selfish and proud, and such selfishness and pride separate us from God, from each other, and even from ourselves. The image of God is still there, but it is tarnished over so that it is hard to see.  Yet we experience the misery of life.  Murphy’s Law is basically that things go wrong.  While we cringe at the pessimism of such a law, we also know the reality- the universal experience of sin, of tears, of frustration, of grief, of death. 
      This makes the good news of Christ that much more good!  The end of the story is that God did not leave us in our misery- though we deserve it.  But He came and made a way out for us- at great cost to Himself.

Prayer: Lord, my misery and sin are great.  Have mercy on me for I am your child- made by you, claimed by you in baptism, and I seek to follow you.  Use me, O Lord, to make this world more hopeful, less sinful, and less miserable.  Help me to make a difference for you, O Lord.



(Expulsion of Adam and Eva- Mossacio- Brancini Chapel)

1986 Q. 17. What happened to man in the fall?
A. Man fell into a condition of sin and misery.

1647 Q. 17. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery

Saturday, February 25, 2012

2/26/12- In Adam's Fall We Sinned All

5- 2/26- 1st Sunday in Lent- WSC- 16
Q. 16- Did all human beings fall in our first parents’ sin?
A. Since the covenant was made not only with our first parents but also for those who naturally descended from them; all human beings, fell with them in their first sin.

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned— 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!  18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:12, 17-19)

Thoughts: In many ways we are all in this together.  We are all in the same boat, and we are all effected by what is done before us.  The sins of our parents are visited upon us.  If our parents decide to waste their lives in alcohol, that effects their children.  We know that the diet of a mother clearly effects the development of the child in utero.   While we may say it is unfair that we have to pay for what our parents did before us, it is often a fact in life.  What the first man of our country (the president) does affects all of us as well.  The first human beings (protoplasts is the technical term) were made innocent, but chose to defile their innocence because something forbidden seemed okay to them.  They listened to their heart’s cry instead of the voice of God.  If their heart was attuned to God and yearned for Him, they would have escaped the consequences of their sin, and life would be vastly different.  Romans 5 speaks of the “federal” idea that while one person can bring us down (our first parent), it is also possible that one person can bring us up (Christ).  We have the opportunity for life again through the one man, Jesus Christ, if we put our hope in Him.  We should care about the sin and misery of others in part because it eventually affects us as well.

Prayer: Though my heart is corrupt, help me to desire what is right, O Lord.  Give me grace and strength to love and serve you with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. 

(Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil- Lucas Cranach 1475-1553)


1986 Q. 16. Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first disobedience?
A. Since the covenant was made not only for Adam but also for his natural descendants, all mankind
sinned in him and fell with him in his first disobedience.

1647 Q. 16. Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam,
not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.


Friday, February 24, 2012

2/25/12- The first sin

4- 2/25- WSC- 15- Q. 15 What sin caused our first parents to fall from how they were created?
A. Eating the forbidden fruit.

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. (Genesis 3:6)

Thoughts: The first sin was the drop of poison in the well that diffused throughout the world and time.  God, as the Creator, has the right to define what is right or wrong.  The Maker and designer not only has the right to give directions for best use, but knows best about what will work for what is made.  It is not a matter of bullying with His power, but He commands us out of love.  We are designed to live a certain way, and we choose to not live in that way.  When we choose to go the way we are not designed, it is no wonder we make our lives miserable.  The basic sin here is not the sin of pride but the sin of unbelief.  They took part in what was forbidden because they thought they knew better than God.  They lacked trust and belief in what God had said.   The joy of the Lord and the abundant life and blessing of God are found in obedience to our Maker who loves us.  There is a part of us that is attracted to what is forbidden, and we should be careful to believe God over our experience or own wisdom. 

Prayer: Help me, O God, to resist what you have forbidden.  Help me to listen to what you tell me about what is right and wrong for me. 

(The Fall- Sistine Chapel- Michelangelo 1508-1512)










1986 Q. 15. By what sin did our first parents fall from their original condition?
A. Our first parents’ sin was eating the forbidden fruit.

1647- Q. 15. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit

Thursday, February 23, 2012

2/24/12- What is sin?

3- 2/24- WSC 14 (WLC 24) What is sin?  A. Sin is not heeding or breaking God’s law in any way.

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:17)

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4)

Thoughts: Sin is not just doing wrong- it is doing wrong against God. Sin is not just keeping our own standards- but keeping God's standards.  Some don't want to believe in sin, but then they have a gnawing feeling that their life has no meaning or direction.  If there are no ultimate standards of right or wrong, then there will not be ultimate meaning- for your behavior, your words, your thoughts do not really matter.  God the Maker has the right to define what is right or wrong.  Christians believe God has revealed right and wrong to us through the Law.
      There are sins of omission (not heeding- not doing what we are supposed to do or called to do), and sins of commission (actively doing what we know we shouldn’t do).  Sin is breaking God’s revealed law.  Often it is couched or rationalized away by saying “we know better.”  It can be done in the belief that God doesn’t see or care (or that there are no consequences to sin).  It can be done in the name of giving into our feelings and desires.  It can be done in thinking that we are better off if we sin than if we obey God.  The danger is if we lose our shame and our ability to even define sin because of our hardness of heart. 

Prayer: Help me, O God, to recognize sin and turn away from it.  Keep me from becoming soft toward sin and callous toward you.

(Below: Sapphira before the apostles- lying to the Holy Spirit in order to get money-
LeClerc, Sebastian the younger- Louvre)


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2/23/12- The Fall of Human Beings

2- 2/23- WSC 13- Did our first parents stay as they were created?
A. Left to the freedom of their own wills, our first parents sinned against God and fell from their original condition.

6 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. 7 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.  8 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. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”  (Genesis 3:6-8)

Thoughts: Sin and temptation appear pleasing, but the consequences of it bite us in the end.  Once they had joy and real fellowship with God, but their sin broke their fellowship and ours as well.  They went from provision and joy to having to work by the sweat of their brow and fearing the presence of God.  This sin was the drop of poison in the bucket that made all the water bad.  God still asks us, “Where are you?”  He longs for fellowship with us, but now our natural inclination is to avoid Him or hide from Him.

Prayer: Give us grace, Lord, to resist the temptation we face.  Give us a deeper desire for you than a desire for sin.

(Adam and Eve Bible book painting- anonymous)

1986 MOD TRANSL Q. 13. Did our first parents remain as they were created?
A. Left to the freedom of their own wills, our first parents sinned against God and fell from their
original condition.

WSC 1647 Q. 13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2/22/12- LENTEN DEVOTIONAL Ash Wednesday= WSC 12


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL 2012- Westminster Shorter Catechism

Below is a content index.


LENT in the CATECHISMS
 (WSC= Westminster Shorter Catechism; WLC= Westminster Larger Catechism; HDBG- Heidelberg Catechism)
Each devotion has a catechism Q & A, scripture, thoughts, and a prayer, and artwork
The WSC is a new version by Dr. Sloan

DAY, DATE, CATECHISM QUESTION
1-            2/22-     WSC- 12
2-            2/23-     WSC 13
3-            2/24-      WSC 14 (WLC 24)
4-            2/25-      WSC- 15
5-            2/26-      1st Sunday in Lent- WSC- 16
6-            2/27-      WSC 17-
7-            2/28-      WSC- 18, WLC- 26
8-            2/29-      WSC 19 (WLC 27)
9-            3/1-         WLC- 28-30
10-          3/2-         WSC- 20(WLC- 30)
11-          3/3-         WLC- 31
12-          3/4-         2nd Sunday in Lent- WLC 32
13-          3/5-         WLC 33
14-          3/6-         WLC- 34
15-          3/7-         WLC- 35
16-          3/8-         WSC- 21 (WLC 36)
17-          3/9-         WSC- 22 (WLC 37)
18-          3/10-      WLC- 38
19-          3/11-      3rd Sunday in Lent- (WLC- 39)
20-          3/12-      WLC- 40
21-          3/13-      WLC- 41
22-          3/14-      HEIDELBERG 1 & 2
23-          3/15-      HDBG- 3,4,5
24-          3/16-      HDBG- 6,7,8
25-          3/17-      HDBG- 9,10, 11
26-          3/18-      4th Sunday in Lent- HDBG- 12-15
27-          3/19-      HDBG- 16- 19
28-          3/20-      HDBG- 20-22
29-          3/21-      HDBG- 37-40
30-          3/22-      HDBG- 41-44
31-          3/23-      WSC- 82 (WLC- 149)
32-          3/24-      WSC- 83 (WLC- 150)
33-          3/25-      5th Sunday in Lent- WLC 151.1
34-          3/26-      WLC- 151.2
35-          3/27-      WLC- 151.3
36-          3/28-      WLC- 151.4
37-         3/29-       WSC- 23
38-          3/30-      WSC- 24
39-          3/31-      WSC- 25
40-          4/1-         Palm Sunday- WSC- 26
41-          4/2-         WLC- 46
42-          4/3-         WLC- 47
43-          4/4-         WLC- 48
44-          4/5-         Maundy Thursday= WSC- 27
45-          4/6-         WLC- 49
46-          4/7-         WLC- 50
47-          4/8-         Easter- WSC 28-
******************************************************************************************
1- 2/22- WSC- 12- In God’s special providence, what did He do for the human beings He created?
A. After God created us, He made a covenant with us to give us life, if we perfectly obeyed Him;  God told the first humans not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death.

Like Adam, they have broken the covenant— they were unfaithful to me there. (Hosea 6:7)

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Gen. 2:16, 17)

Thoughts:  How do we explain the universal experience of the messed up world?  Perhaps this is a good first question during the season of Lent.  Things are not as they should be, and we are not as we should be either- everyone of us.  Scripture indicates that God created us and gave us free will to do good or evil.  He made a covenant with the first human beings to be their God and they would be His.  But they freely chose to do what was wrong instead of what was right.  Their free choice of sin corrupted all of our choices.  This was the time in which they could have earned their way to continued fellowship with God by obeying Him.  Instead they earned to be kicked out of the garden.  They lost their innocence and we have not been able to get it back since then. 
    I remember the Woodstock movement.  The song “Woodstock” has a recurring chorus: “We are stardust, we are golden, we are caught in the devil’s bargain, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” (written by Joni Mitchell, sung by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young).   Their idea was getting back to innocence by stripping off all the restraints of the day (“turn on, tune in, and drop out” and in effect behaving like animals) .  The way back to the garden is blocked.  But there is one who holds the key- who is able to redeem our innocence- Jesus Christ.  Lent reminds us that without Him, we are left in our sin and misery.

Prayer: We long for innocence, O God.  But we also recognize we cannot get back to the garden on our own.  We look to you today and every day for help.

WSC 1986  MOD TRANS. Q. 12. What did God’s providence specifically do for man whom He created?
A. After the creation God made a covenant with man to give him life, if he perfectly obeyed; God told
him not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil or he would die.

WSC- 1647 Q. 12. What special act of providence did God exercise towards man in the estate wherein he was created?
A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death]

[Below: Viktor Vasnetsov- in Cathedral in Kiev 1885-1896]



Monday, February 20, 2012

2/21/12- Replacing worry with peace

Q. 11. What is God’s providence?
A. God’s providence is His completely holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing every
creature and every action.


25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
   28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)



(Sermon on the Mount- Carl H. Bloch 1890)


Thoughts: Every creature and every action- is quite a lot!  God knows and incorporates every variable into His plan.  yet the variables are free.  This is a mystery, but we should be assured that God will see us through.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He is the King who governs us, and rules us so well for He knows all about us. But if God really does govern, and He really does love us- then we have it made!Let us not consume ourselves with worry or be sucked into the pit of despair.  Philippians tells us to not be anxious about anything but in everything in prayer and supplication, let our requests be made known to God. (Phil 4:6,7)






Prayer: Let me replace my worries with my prayers,,   

Sunday, February 19, 2012

2/20/12- Defining Providence

WSC Q. 11. (2012 version) What is God’s providence?
A. God’s providence is His completely holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing every
creature and every action.

Upholding all things by the word of his power (Heb. 1:3)

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. (Matthew 10:29)


(Scepter)


Thoughts: God keeps us and rules over us.  He is our protector, our King, our Lord.  Life is not one big meaningless accident.  Nor is it a matter of luck.  To be able to govern shows His wisdom and power.  But God also governs in righteousness and holiness. 

Prayer: May I grow in my ability to trust in our governing and ruling.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

2/19/12- Human beings

WSC Q. 10. (2012 version) How did God create human beings?
A. God created human beings, male and female, in His own image and in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, to rule over the other creatures.


26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
 27 So God created mankind in his own image,
   in the image of God he created them;
   male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26,27)


 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10)


(monkey looking at his image in a mirror)


Thoughts:  There have been all sorts of theories about the image of God.  Some say this means God looks like us.  Some Freudians say we create God in our image.  But these are all backwards.  To have an inkling of what God is like- we need not look to ourselves, but to what God has said about Himself.  Our image of God is so tarnished that we can hardly see it.  Some have said that we can speak with complexity, think abstractly are signs that we are made by God.  But perhaps beyond these surface things- is the idea that we have a soul- a spiritual side made to love God, and go beyond ourselves and our animal instincts.  


Prayer: May we treat others with kindness and ourselves with kindness because we are made by you and we have your image imprinted on us.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

2/18/12- Creation was Made Good

Q. 9. What is creation?
A. Creation is God’s making everything out of nothing by His powerful word in six days – and all very good.  


Behold it was very good. (Genesis 1:12, 18, 25). 


For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, (1 Tim. 4:4)


Thoughts: Creation is not made evil.  We do not need to hate the material in order to lvoe the spiritual.  However, creation has been corrupted so that the beauty and purity of creation is tarnished and polluted.  Creation is not perfect- so all doesn't go smoothly in life.  Yet there are glimpses that life today is not the way it was designed to be or ought to be.  In a similar way, we can sense that God is more distant from us than He should be.  Our sins separate us from God. There once was a unity that is not divided by our sin.  There is a gulf between us and God, us and neighbors, and us and ourselves.  Yet we innately know that love for God, for neighbor, and others is the best way. 


Prayer: You are good, O Lord.  Your goodness radiates into your creation.  Forgive us and restore us to your love.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

2/18/12- Six Days of Creation

Q. 9. What is creation?
A. Creation is God’s making everything out of nothing by His powerful word in six days – and all very good. 


6 “The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. (1 Samuel 2:6)



1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. 2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.  3 You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.” 4 A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. 5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning: 6 In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered. (Psalm 90:1-6)

 (Nasa shot of night and day- Apollo 11)


Thoughts: God did not create the world all at once, but in periods.  That is what the words "in six days" refers to.  He could have, perhaps made everything at once, but it did not fit into His plan.  Augustine, perhaps the greatest theologian outside of the scriptures, brought out the idea that the days in Genesis were not 24 hour periods because the sun was not created then. 
    Gordon Clark ("What Do Presbyterians Believe?") gives a good summary of the argument: "In English the word 'day' most frequently means about twelve hours.  We also say that there were no telephones in George Washington's 'day.' Further, Genesis 2:4 seems to refer to all six days as one day." J. Oliver Buswell and others have made a good case that the seventh day (at least in light of Hebrews 4) appears to be still going on in time.  Psalm 90:4 says "a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by. " 2 Peter 3:8 says, "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."
    Here are some of Augustine's words (City of God Book XI.6,7): "What kind of days these were is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible to conceive...the first three days ofall were passed without sun since it is reported to have been made on the third day."  

    For many years, scientists believed in "the steady state" theory of the world. That is that the world always was and never was created- making the world eternal and implying that God was created.  Yet today a convergence around the "Big Bang Theory" that the elements were created in an instant from a point smaller than the head of a pin, exploding at a rapid pace, may point to a creation that seems to jive with the beautiful poetic language of scripture- He spoke and it came to be.


Prayer: Help me to trust in your timing in life, in your sovereignty over creation.
    

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2/16/12-

Q. 9. What is creation?
A. Creation is God’s making everything out of nothing by His powerful word in six days – and all very
good.


And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:3) 


 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5,14)


For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)


(Swiss Sword 15th/16th century)


Thoughts: The Word of God, unlike creation is not totally separate from God- but an emanation from God.  It proceeds from the true, unchanging God and has the same true and unchanging (or reliable) qualities.  It is a "powerful word" as the catechism says.  It is not a weak mumble or ineffectual whimper.  When God the Creator says it will be, it is.  Jesus Christ is the embodiment of this powerful Word.  He came not in weakness, but spoke and acted with power- calming the storm with a word, casting out demons with a word, curing the sick with a word.  The scriptures are a translation, a tarnished but nonetheless important word for us.  Some say that because scripture has been translated, or has a textual scratch or two therefore it is untrustworthy.  But that is a bit like saying because a sword's silver hilt is black with tarnish and has a scratch it is therefore not sharp and effectual.  


Prayer: Keep me trusting in your word, O Lord.  Help me to continually look to you.