Jan 10, 2012

The Generations of Shem

I decided to read through the Bible this year and had a neat “ah ha” moment when reading in Chapter 11 on the generations of Shem. Shem lived 502 years after the flood. Previously, the significance of this had not occurred to me. But this time, that stuck in my mind and I decided to do the math. Dating everything from the flood (i.e., year zero, where A.F. = year after the flood), I put together the following timeline regarding the generations of Shem:

0 Flood
2 A.F. Arpachsad born to Shem (who is 100 yrs old)
37 A.F. Shelah born to Arpachsad
67 A.F. Eber born to Shelah
101 A.F. Peleg born to Shelah
131 A.F. Reu born to Peleg
163 A.F. Serug born to Reu
193 A.F. Nahor born to Serug
222 A.F. Terah born to Nahor
292 A.F. Abram (Abraham) born to Terah
340 A.F. Peleg died
341 A.F. Nahor died
350 A.F. Noah died
370 A.F. Reu died
392 A.F. Isaac born
393 A.F. Serug died
440 A.F. Arpachsad died
452 A.F. Jacob and Esau born
467 A.F. Abraham died
470 A.F. Shelah died
502 A.F. Shem died
531 A.F. Eber died

How awesome that God allowed Noah and Shem to live so long. Noah’s life gave him the ability to be a witness to nine generations of Shem of the flood and God’s grace. Shem’s long life gave him the ability to be a witness to at least eleven generations of his family, including the Patriarchs, Abram, Isaac and Jacob! How great is our God. This just blows my mind! God preserved the truth of His dealings with man even from the earliest times. Shem might have taken his great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson, Abram, up to Mt. Ararat to see the ark. How cool is that!

Apr 2, 2011

What Kind of Soil Am I?

In the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-15), there are four types of soils (hearts).  As I meditate on this story, I have to ask myself what type am I? Jesus explains that the seed is the Word of God that is being shared or spread in the world.  At an overview level, there are just two types of hearts pictured in the story:  1) Those who believe and receive eternal life and 2) Those who do not.  The soil by the road did not receive the seed.  It represents unbelievers.  Jesus says they hear the word of God, but Satan takes it away so that they will not believe and be saved. This is the only soil in the story that did not result in life.  The other three soils all produced life, i.e., eternal life.  I've believed on Jesus for eternal life, so I'm one of these three soils - but which one.

Jesus teaches that the first of these three, the rocky soil, represents believers who fall away in time of temptation because they have no firm root. He clearly indicates in verse 12 that Satan endeavors to prevent people from believing and being saved. Jesus goes on to say that Satan was unsuccessful in preventing the rocky-soil people from believing, and hence from being saved. Rather, these are believers who do not get well grounded in God's word and are not growing in faith. The text warns us to cultivate our faith. We need to read the Bible regularly. We need spiritual nourishment on a daily basis. We need to pray. We need fellowship with other believers.  Only in this way will we be prepared for temptation or difficulties that come.  Otherwise, we'll turn away from God and be unfaithful.

Jesus teaches that the second of the three soils that produced new life, the thorny soil, represents believers who are faithful and who persevere, BUT are half-hearted in their service.  The worries and riches and pleasures of this life preoccupy them so that their fruit does not come to maturity.  This person could be someone who attends church regularly, participates on the worship team, helps with nursery, Sunday School or children's church, gives faithfully to the church and even supports missions. HOWEVER, this person thinks more about their job, their favorite sports team, the vacation they're hoping to take this Summer, all the work they need to get done around the house, the new car their neighbor just bought.  They really don't have time to  study and meditate on God's word. A quick prayer in the morning, maybe before eating and at night constituents their prayer life - one that centers mostly on physical needs not spiritual ones. They feel a little like the hamster on the wheel - constantly running, frazzled and out of breath, but never seeming to get anywhere.

Jesus teaches that only the last of the three soils producing new life is good soil.  The good soil represents believers who are wholehearted in their service to the end. These believers produce much fruit.  We might characterize a good soil believer as one who is constantly thanking God for His provision, never starts a day without acknowledging God's grace for their very life. Consistently prays for opportunities to share the message of life and sees everything they do and that happens to them as a way to serve the Lord and participate in His work. They're concerned about the spiritual welfare of others.  They pray consistently for unbelivers to hear the word and believe on Jesus for eternal life.  They pray consistently for believers to grow in the grace and knowledge of God and to walk worthy.  They are spiritually alert and live in anticipation of Jesus' imminent return. They are sure that nothing compares to the glories to be revealed. This believer serves the Lord faithfully to the end and will hear "Well done, good and faithful servant."

If I'm totally honest, my life right now looks a little more like the thorny soil than the good soil.  Thankfully, I don't have to continue in that way.  I can choose to be good soil.  I can love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength and with all my mind and my neighbor as myself. I can set my mind on things above.

If you're totally honest, what soil most characterizes your life today?

Sep 5, 2010

Jesus Our Captain Leads Us to Victory

In talking with most Christians, you would learn that their view of the word "salvation" or "saved" is generally limited to having their sins forgiven and going to Heaven when they die. Therefore a common question one hears is "Are you saved?" or "When did you get saved?". However, if one looks closely at the biblical usage of the word salvation and its cognates, one finds that far and away, the most common use of the idea is "to be delivered from one's enemies". In line with that usage, a practical synonym for the concept of salvation is victory or overcoming.
Why is this important?

For the last while back, I've had times when I can't stand myself. I want to throw in the towel, so to speak. As King David said, "My sin is ever before me". Like the Apostle Paul (Rom. 7), the good that I want to do, I do not do; but the evil I do not want to do, this I do. I've gotten so frustrated and echo Paul's cry "O wretched (wo)man that I am" (Rom. 7:24). But over the last few weeks, the Lord has opened up my eyes to a critical Biblical truth regarding how I can have victory. What joy, what expectation this has given me - passages have taken on whole new meanings.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for deliverance (victory) to everyone who believes!" (Rom. 1:16). In Romans, Paul uses "justified" in referring to the point in time when a person believes in Jesus for eternal life and as a result is given a right standing before God (Rom. 4-5). Justification is a legal term, meaning declared righteous. It's how God sees me - it's not how I am practically speaking. But in Romans 6, Paul tells me that I was buried with Christ Jesus by baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, I too might walk in newness of life. There's a resurrection power available to me to help me in very practical ways in my struggles.

In Romans 8:11, Paul declares, "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies, through His Spirit who dwells in you." In these frail, mortal bodies of ours, we can have an experience of life that manifests the resurrecting power of God. Living victoriously is not the product of my human strength or determination. It is God's miracle - His supernatural work in me. "'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 4:6).

But how do I get that help - how do I experience this work of the Spirit? That's what the Lord is beginning to teach me.

If you're like me, you have heard Romans 10:13 used as an invitation to receive eternal life many times. "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." But thanks be to God, that is not what that verse means. In the context and usage of Romans, the word means deliverance, obtaining the victory. Back up to Romans 10:10. Paul says "For with the heart one believes and is justified" - this is how we receive eternal life. "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness" (Rom. 4:3). Continuing on with Romans 10:10, Paul then goes on to say "and with the mouth one confesses and is saved (i.e., delivered, overcomes and obtains the victory).

So how do I experience resurrection power - how does the Spirit give life to my dead body? I call on the name of the Lord in my moment of need. The writer of Hebrews expresses it this way, "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Jesus is my High Priest - He lives for ever to intercede for me. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was perfected through sufferings (2:10) and "For in that which He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to help those who are tempted" (2:18). You see, it was suffering that completed our Messiah for His role. He is our "Captain" (Heb. 2:10) and He who was victorious in His temptations and sufferings now leads us through our temptations and sufferings to victory! You want to know how to win, how to be successful - you go to the one who has been victorious.
I'm humbled and thankful that the one and only true God, the God of the Bible, is both willing and able to help me. Jesus' desire is to bring many sons and daughters to glory. There's a lot of things wrong in this fallen world because of our sin. Jesus is the only one doing anything about it. What an awesome God we serve. All hail King Jesus!

Apr 25, 2010

The Joy of Repentance

“The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness (Lam. 3:22-23).”

There’s a song I like based on this verse called “Mercies Anew.” The second verse says “When I’ve fallen and strayed, there were mercies anew. For You sought me in love and my heart You pursued. In the face of my sin, Lord You never withdrew. I will sing of Your mercies anew.” How humbling and wonderful to know that our Heavenly Father loves us with an everlasting love. The Apostle John wrote “But as many as received Him [Jesus], to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).” When we receive Jesus by faith we become children of God, and that family relationship is irrevocable. What a comfort, a sense of total security, knowing that nothing I can do will ever separate me from the love of my Father! Even when I’ve really messed up and gone my own way, He was waiting for me to come home. And when I did, He didn’t even wait for me to get all the words of repentance out. He knew my heart and He embraced me and kissed me. He adorned me in new clothes and He held a feast in my honor. There was joy in heaven, because His child who had strayed repented and was once again in fellowship with Him.

“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit! When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"; And You forgave the guilt of my sin." (Psalm 32:1-5)

Apr 7, 2010


Pro-found adj. difficult to fathom or understand - That's the only way I can think to describe our omniscient God, who chose to fix His affection on us before He even created the world, knowing all the while that we were going to rebel against Him.  But it gets even better - knowing that we would be a rebellious people, He conceived a plan, a way to restore our relationship with Him, and He did all this before laying the foundations of the earth, before Adam drew his first breath.  How true when He says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than yours (Is. 55:9-10)."

So Jesus the Christ came and while we were still sinners - enemies of God - He died for us. The Perfect died for the imperfect. The Righteous died for the unrighteous. Absolutely profound!  A song of praise wells up in my soul - "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.  Sin had left a crimson stain.  He washed it white as snow." August Toplady said it rightly "Nothing in my hand I bring. Simply to Thy cross I cling.  Naked come to Thee for dress.  Helpless look to Thee for grace.  Foul I to Thy fountain fly.  Wash me Savior or I die."

Diversity & Inclusion

I received an e-mail last night from one of my company's plant managers in Texas.  He was telling everyone that he had accepted the assignment to “Champion” Diversity & Inclusion for our business here in the U.S.  He went on to say that he had volunteered for the assignment because he is passionate about D&I.  I'm sometimes skeptical about company initiatives, because they often appear to only be the flavor of the month (or year) so to speak. As I thought about this further, however, it occurred to me that the God of the Bible is truly passionate about Diversity and Inclusion.

The apostle John was given a vision of a future scene in heaven in which many people are praising Jesus. Describing what he saw he says, "And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Rev. 5:9).'"  Now that's Diversity! No people group on earth will be left out.

God is not only passionate about Diversity, but He's also passionate about Inclusion.  The Apostle Paul tells us that God our Savior "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4)."  He doesn't want anyone left out.  Salvation, i.e., eternal life, is available to everyone.  You see "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16)." Eternal life is freely available to all.  God desires to include everyone.  To be included, one needs only to believe in Jesus as the guarantor of eternal life..

Apr 6, 2010

God's Gift and the Giver

I was reading John 4 last night about Jesus' encounter at Jacob's well with the Samaritan woman from Sychar. When she wanted to know why He was asking her for a drink, Jesus responded, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." The woman needed to know two things: 1) What is God's gift? and 2) Who gives the gift?

Jesus by His very question implies to her that He is the Giver of the gift. He also refers to the gift as "living water." Jesus continues the conversation telling the woman that "whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." God's gift to us is eternal life and the one who gives it is Jesus. The woman still didn't quite get all that Jesus was trying to tell her and she said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us." Jesus' response was pointed and clear, "I who speak to you am He."

At this, the woman returned to Sychar and told others about her encounter with Jesus the Messiah. Many from the town went out to see Him and believed. What did they believe? Just what Jesus had told the woman - that God's gift is eternal life and He is the Giver of that gift to those who believe.

John 6:47 ""Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has eternal life."