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*[The following message and personal testimonies were shared at our 2010 Fall Genesis Bible Cafe.]
God Blessed them and said “Be Fruitful”Genesis 1: 1-28
Key Verse: 1:28a: God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number..."
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for brining us all together tonight. Please help us to open our hearts to accept your Word. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
There are some big questions in life such as: Where did we come from? Why are we here? What will happen when we die? Where can we get the answers to these important questions? Tonight we will learn that the Bible gives us the answers to these questions. I pray earnestly that we may open our hearts and personally hear what God says to us.
Part 1: GOD CREATED EACH OF US (1:1)
One of the big questions in life is this “Where did we come from.” Why is it important to answer this question? It’s because if we don’t know the answer then we don’t know why we are here and what will happen when we die. Some people may say we are here because of our parents and that is true biologically speaking, but I am talking about the fundamental question of where human life came from. Some people believe that everything, including our life, came into existence by accident like the Big Bang.
But Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Bible teaches us that human beings did not just happen to be on this planet. God created us. We did not come into existence by accident. Each of us was put here by God. We were created by the Almighty God.
Why is it important to know that we were created by God rather than by accident? If something is created, the creator has a purpose for it. For example, take a look at this pen. Wouldn’t you agree that someone made this pen for a purpose? That purpose could be to sign a contract or to get an autograph from Oprah Winfrey. Likewise God has a purpose for us as he created both you and me. On the other hand, if we came into being by accident as some believe, our life would have no real meaning. Without the Creator, we are nothing but a mist that appears in the morning and disappears into the air. If this were true, enjoying all kinds of pleasures would be a way to live, because everything would end with our death.
But remember that Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” We came from God. We are here because of God. He put us here for a purpose. Knowing this, we know our life has a meaning in fulfilling God’s purpose. We can live a life according to God’s purpose, knowing that when we are done here, we will go back to God. In fact, that is the ultimate hope for all believers. Jesus promises that he will come back and lead us to the kingdom of God.
So what is the purpose of our life? This is a good question. It is a question that each of us should take time to ponder. The Bible provides the answer, but each of us should study the word of God carefully to find the answer personally. I cannot tell you what the answer is for your life. But I can tell you that God has given me the answer for my life through my Bible studies. Some people get frustrated with their lives when things don’t go well. Even some young people give up on their lives early when faced with severe problems. Some feel that there is no meaning in life. Some even commit suicide. But whether you have a good life, or one that is faced with one challenge after another, God has a purpose for your life. That is what Genesis 1:1 teaches us. God has a purpose for your life.
Part 2: IT WAS GOOD (1:1-25)
Genesis chapter 1 tells us that God created everything with his spoken words. When he said, “Let there be light”, a bright beam of light erased the darkness. First, he created light, sky and seas, and dry ground to be the suitable environment for the lives that he would create. Then he created birds and fish, animals, and finally human beings. Every time he saw what he created, it looked good. The phrase, “it was good,” is repeated each time. It was a good world he created. In fact, it was a paradise (Ge 2). Of course, we don’t live in the paradise today. The world we live today is not the one God created originally. Something bad happened. Man took God’s blessings for granted and went against God’s word. Sin entered the world and we now live in a cursed world. But God also opened the way of salvation by sending his one and only Son to us. This is spelled out in Genesis chapter 3 and throughout the Bible.
I sincerely hope that all of us here may have a desire to study the Bible regularly and faithfully so that we can find out who God really is and how we can live a life that is consistent with his purpose.
Part 3: GOD SAID, “BE FRUITFUL” (1:26-28)
Genesis teaches us that God not only created a beautiful environment for us, but also he made us very special. Verse 27 reads: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. From the very beginning, man and woman had a special place in God’s heart. He created in His own image. No other animals were created in God’s image; only human begins were created in the image of God. But what does it mean to be created in His image. With over 6 billion people in this world does that mean God looks like a combination of Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brad Pitt, Bill Clinton all rolled into one? Of course not. God is Spirit and He doesn’t have a body like us. When we are created in God’s own image it means we have taken on His characteristics. We can think like Him, we have feelings like Him, we can laugh and reason like He does. It’s just that what we do is very small in comparison. God creates the cow and we create the whopper. God creates a beautiful sunset and we create a house with a nice balcony to view that sunset. No other species on earth has been given the freedom and characteristics that God has given man. Some species may mimic or show some small capabilities similar to man but fall short in comparison to what the Lord has given us. How else did God show his love for us from the beginning?
Look at verse 28a, our key verse this evening. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number... Earlier, I said that each of us should find out God’s purpose for our life by studying the word of God carefully. But this verse teaches us a general framework of God’s purpose for us. After creating us in his own image, he blessed us and told us to be fruitful. This is God’s blessing and at the same time his command. God’s blessing and command for us is that he wants us to be fruitful. He intended for us to be more than just creatures of habit like a parrot or hippo. He created each of us to live a fruitful life. What does it mean that God created us to be fruitful? It’s much more than just having a lot of children. It is much more than having a lot of money. It is more than having a lot of fame or popularity. What kind of life would you say is a fruitful life? How about the life of a rock star who has many platinum albums and lives in a huge mansion? How about a Wall Street tycoon who made billions of dollars during the dot-come boom?
A man named Levi in Israel was also successful at making money. He majored in accounting and passed the CPA exam given by the Roman government. He became a tax collector for the Roman Empire that occupied his country. His countrymen hated him for being a sellout with the enemy. Of course he didn’t care. He thought money would make him happy. But he found out that money could not make him happy. He lived a selfish life, instead of a fruitful life. He was also lonely. One day, he was sitting alone in his tax collector’s booth, thinking about his life when Jesus stopped by. The Lord called him with two words, “Follow me.” Levi had been following his selfish desires. But the Lord wanted him to follow the Messiah. It was a calling that changed his life forever. Because of his decision to follow Jesus, this selfish tax collector was changed into St. Matthew who recorded the beautiful Sermon on the Mount.
God told us to be fruitful. God didn’t intend for us to work hard only to satisfy our desires. He didn’t intend for us to live for ourselves only. God’s intention for our life is to serve him and be a blessing to other people. This truth is lost in many people today. Many people consider living a selfish life a normal life. Everyone seems to be only living for themselves, following their own desires. I know this because I lived such a life before Jesus changed me. I used to think of myself as a pretty good person. After all, I was a church-going Christian. But I knew that my life was not fruitful before God. Instead, I lived for myself. I spent many nights drinking at parties and chasing after girls. In other words, I was a typical young man letting my hormones get the best of me. It was fun to get drunk and to get attention of girls. Of course, such pleasures did not last long, and it would eventually leave an empty feeling inside of me the next day. But the bigger problem was that I did not know such a life was not what God intended for me.
One particular instance in which I had a clear realization of how unfruitful I was came when I was partying in Shippensburg. I had a fairly decent buzz going and the night was going pretty well. The normal group of people I would usually hang out with were not able to hang for the night so I ended up drinking with a new group of people. As the night went on I felt more and more convicted in my heart that this wasn’t what I should be doing. I felt this way for a reason. A few days earlier a friend of mine’s dad asked me how fruitful I could be drunk in a bar at 2 in the morning. He was right and now the Holy Spirit was convicting me for what I was doing. I was not being fruitful at that very moment nor in any other moment of drunkenness. Since that night nearly two years ago now I have been sober.
So a good question to ask is how can we be fruitful? Think about a fruit tree. In order a fruit tree to bear fruit it has to be connected to the roots and receive nutrients constantly. For us this means we have to be connected to God our creator and receive spiritual nutrients called the word of God. In fact Jesus says in John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. So we can be connected to God through the word of God and constant prayer. Apart from God we are like branches that are cut off from the tree. We cannot bear fruit that will last (Jn 15:16). We need to study the word of God regularly and seriously rather than casually and superficially.
God in his mercy opened my eyes as I studied the Bible more sincerely. At first, I was not a serious student of the word of God. I studied the Bible while living a double life. But God gradually changed my attitude and help me to begin to see my life in the light of his word. All of the weekly 1:1 Bible studies I have done for the last several years were not in vain. God’s word grew on me through many group Bible studies, Bible messages I heard and even delivered, and through prayers. Through Genesis 12:2, I personally accepted God’s will upon my life, that is, to be a source of blessing to many other people through my life of faith. In Ephesians 2:10, God taught me that he saved me through the blood of Jesus to do good works that God prepared in advance for me to do. When I opened my heart to his purpose of sharing the word of God with others, God even sent me out to Indonesia as a short term missionary.
One noticeable change in my life has been that I don’t hang out with the same crowd I used to. That doesn’t mean I have lost them as friends; in fact those same people still call to hang out from time to time. But they know my priorities are different when we hang out. It’s no longer get off work, get drunk, meet some girls, sleep with one, have a Bible study and back to drinking. I am now a man of God who actively participates in His work for His purpose.
Since I have accepted Christ’s calling, I have been able to live a God-centered life. By His grace I have been able to lead Bible studies both in group and 1:1 sessions. I have delivered messages and spoken openly to others about how Christ has changed me. I know that my life now bears good fruit because I don’t just live for myself but for the glory of God.
It hasn’t been only my outward appearance that has changed from a selfish lifestyle. There are outward things I do because of my commitment to Jesus, such as beginning each day with daily bread and prayer, leading group study at our Wednesday fellowship, presiding at the Sunday worship service, studying the word of God with my Bible students weekly, and so on, are important in themselves as I grow in faith through them. But these activities are just the outward representation of what God has done in my inner being. I no longer valued the things I used to value—drinking, partying, obsession with sports, sleeping with women, and so on. These things satisfied the selfish nature of my life. But God has given me a new value system. I now value things like serving others in Jesus’ name, studying the word of God, prayer, knowing the heart of God for lost people, learning to have spiritual eyes and ears, and so on. My hope for future has been changed as well. In the past, I had a hope in making money, becoming a famous model, marrying a hot chick, and living a lifestyle that pleases only me. But now, I have a true hope in God. I have a hope to be with Jesus in his kingdom. I have a hope to establish a godly home with a woman of faith to serve the salvation work of God. And my ultimate hope is eternal life in the kingdom of God. I pray earnestly that God may bless my life to be fruitful in his eyes.
In conclusion, we learned that God created each of us in his own image and blessed us to be fruitful. Knowing this, we cannot waste our lives by living a selfish or self-centered life. God wants us to be a blessing to others. May God help each of us to find God’s purpose in our lives!
Lord, thank you for teaching us that we were created in your image for a purpose. Please help us to accept this truth and live a fruitful life according to your set purpose. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
IT WAS VERY GOODKey Verse: Genesis 1:31a: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
Dear God, help me to focus on you. I pray that my words are for Your glory and not my own. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Genesis chapter 1 teaches us that God created everything in the universe. All of my life I have heard this creation story. I knew that it was important, but I never really thought about it. I just accepted it and moved on. It wasn’t until recently that I realized what a big deal creation was and still is. I’m sure it was God’s timing in my life that made this passage hit me in the way it did. As I delve into the passage, it blew my mind. First of all, God spoke everything into existence. "God said, "Let there be light, and there was light… And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water," and it was so. He continued to do this with the land, the stars and the moon, the plants and the animals, and everything else in the world. This in itself is amazing, but what I am constantly in awe of, is the fact that everything works together, everything that God created serves a purpose. I just think about how the solar system works, how water is replenished, or how plants grow. Wow. It showed me the power of God, the power that I had always heard about, but never really explored. It showed me how creative God is. He thought everything up. He thought of all of the intricate processes, how everything would look, and everything’s purpose. He had an eye for beauty. I can see it in the green grass, in the flowers, in the sunsets, and in the stars. I can especially see it in the last part of his creation, humans.
Verse 27 says, "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." I thought to myself.… whoa. I just caught a glimpse God’s image in the first part of this passage. I saw His power, his ability to be creative and think, and I saw his appreciation for beauty. He put all of these qualities into me. This guy really must love me to set me apart from the rest of creation, even the animals, and create me in His image. There’s something intimate about being created by God, instead of being thrown into existence. At a retreat, I heard a guy explain it like this: God is the Potter and I am the clay. When a Potter makes a creation, he gets elbow deep in it. It is all over his hands and arms. He gets it under His fingernails. The Potter becomes so much a part of that creation. God, like the Potter molded me. He molded me into His image. He gave me power through my abilities and talents, he gave me the ability to love others, and he gave me the ability to think and be creative. He was elbow deep in me, and he has me under His fingernails. That is awesome!
Verse 31 says that after He created man, he stepped back and looked at His creation, and saw that it was VERY GOOD, not just good, as he had seen the rest of creation, but we were set apart as VERY GOOD. This verse teaches me that I am special in God's eyes. I confess that in the past I did not look at my life in this way. I often felt that I was inadequate, not enough. I used to say: I’m not as outgoing as him, I’m not as pretty as her, I’m not as smart as he is, I’m not as talented as she is, and so on. But I learn from God's word that first and foremost every one of God’s creations is good, and I, who was made in his image, is very good. Who can say I am no good when God says I am? Not only do I come down on myself, but I do the same with others. Who am I to judge other people and their worth? How can I call him ugly? How can I call the person that hurt me a "bad" person? How can I hate the murderers, the thieves, and the rapists? As much as I view them as "bad", they are still very good creations. They, just like me, have fallen to sin.
The second thing that I learned was that God always has a reason for what he does. He had a specific purpose in mind for me as he was molding me. He gave me the abilities and talents to best fulfill my specific purpose. I see it like a football team in that, every player has their strengths and weaknesses. They are put in the position that best suits their strengths, such as size, speed, or ability to make plays happen. If you had 11 of the exact same players on the field, it wouldn’t work as well. They all serve a specific individual purpose, but are working toward the same goal or mission. I am part of a team, God’s team, and I, along with the rest of my team, have a mission to work at. God said in verse 28, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it." In this fallen world, my mission is to bring others to Christ, so they can know God’s love and they can experience life as God wanted us to. I can’t be fruitful and I cannot show God’s love if I spend my time looking for temporary happiness or pleasure. Jealousy ruined my relationships. A boy’s affection felt good until I realized how superficial the relationship was. Gossip released my stress, but I ended up hurting the one’s I love the most. The high that partying and alcohol gave me quickly faded and left me feeling sick. What kind of condition was I in to increase the kingdom of God, to show others his love? What kind of condition was I in the show others what a fruitful life looks like? I was in no condition at all to work towards His purpose. I realized that in order to serve God my heart had to be changed along with my desires. I had to be fully committed to Him and His purpose. That meant ridding my life of all the negative things that consumed me. This is an ongoing process and to be truthful, a full out battle, to rid my life of these sins that have been so much a part of me. But I know that through prayer and earnestly seeking after God, He will change my heart and my desires, so that I can experience a life full of deep true joy, that never goes away. My heart will not long for the acceptance of a boy, I will not thrive on talking about others' problems, and jealousy will not consume my thoughts. I will instead thirst after whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- I will think about such things. (Philippians 4:8) With my heart and my mind in the right place, I will be able to fulfill my role as a very good creation working as a part of God's mission.
Dear God, Thank you for creating me in your image and for seeing me as very good. God, help me to use the abilities that You have given me to fulfill your purpose for me in your mission.
One word: Be fruitful.
My Life = Body + SpiritKey Verse: Genesis 2:7: “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils and the man became a living person.”
Lord, please help me to write a sincere testimony that is pleasing to you. Please help me to find One Word to apply to my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Genesis Chapter 2 begins with God’s designation of the Sabbath Day (Ge 2:1-3). After completing his creation of the heavens and the earth, God rested on the seventh day as an example for us to follow. God blessed this day and declared it holy. Later, in the New Testament, Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mk 2:27). God set this one day apart from the rest of the work days for us to acknowledge his as our Creator and worship him. The Creator knows what is best for his creations. He knows we need at least one day out of seven to rest and reconnect with him. Though we live busy lives in an action-oriented world, it is important that we take time to rest and to spend in fellowship with God. These times refresh us for our times of work and service. Our Sabbath Day should be a celebration of God and his goodness in our lives. Recognizing the purpose of the Sabbath Day has made a difference in my life. Each Sunday, I spend time in worship with God at chapel and in fellowship with other believers. This helps me to focus my entire week on my Creator and gives me some much needed spiritual rest. It also reminds me that I am not alone in my Christian beliefs. When I observe the Sabbath Day as God commanded, I have a better, more Christ-centered week.
Verse 5 reads, “No shrub of the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not yet sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground.” The earth was not fully set into motion, until God put man on the scene. The world was a nice place, but it was empty and dormant. Without man, God’s creation was intentionally meaningless. The purpose of creating the earth was for man to inhabit. His creation was complete and his plan was fulfilled only when he created humans. The purpose of creating the environment was for God’s premier creation, his people. The earth and everything in it were made for us to take care of and enjoy. This gives my life a meaning and purpose.
Genesis 2:7 teaches us how God created man. It says, “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils and the man became a living person.” God formed our physical bodies from the dust of the ground. Our bodies consist mostly of water and small amounts of carbon, nitrogen, and calcium. These chemical components can be sold for only a few dollars. It’s definitely not the physical body that makes our existence important. No matter how beautiful a person may be, his or her body wrinkles and dies with age. Outward beauty doesn’t last. Eventually, we all grow old and become a handful of dust. Then what makes human life so valuable? God’s breath of life turned the clay sculpture into a living being. God gave us a life and a spirit. When His life-giving breath is removed from us, we once again become nothing but dust. That is why Genesis 3:19, says, “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” Our physical body is a gift from God, for which we cannot take credit for any part. We have nothing to be proud of before the Almighty God. He created me and gave me the gift of life. I have nothing valuable in me except the spirit of God, which he gave me in his great mercy. My only response should be to thank him for what he has done. Our life and worth come completely from God; he is the only one who can create and take away life at will. We should not base our worth on our achievement and abilities. Our worth comes from the God of the universe. He is the one who thought enough about us to give us life. We should value our own life and realize that each life is a gift from God, so we should value the other people in our lives.
Genesis 2:7 shows us that our existence consists of two parts: the body and the spirit. In other words, we are both physical and spiritual people. This simple truth provides the answers to important questions in life such as “Who is man?” and “How can I be happy?” Many people ignore this truth and live a life apart from God. Then they wonder why they are not happy even though they have beautiful bodies and a lot of money. The answer to their problem is that they take care of only the physical side of their life while ignoring the spiritual side. Without a personal relationship with God, their life is only half-fulfilled.
Man is a living, spiritual being, more than just a physical body. He has the Spirit of God in him. Without this, man is spiritually dead. Man has the nature of an animal and the nature of God. The animal nature drives us to survive and meet our physical needs. The Godly nature drives us to find our purpose and fulfillment in life. People have to nurture both parts of their life. Many people wonder why they have a big emptiness in their lives, even when they have many things of the world. Man will never be fully satisfied even when all of his physical needs are met, because our spiritual side needs to be nurtured and satisfied through our relationship with God. By having a personal relationship with God, our fellowship with our Creator is restored. God desires a relationship with his creations. A relationship with God can be established only by accepting his Son, Jesus Christ, as the payment for our sins. When we do this, our sin is forgiven and our relationship with God is restored. Our spiritual side will be nurtured as God sends the Holy Spirit to guide and convict us in our lives. We can be truly happy only when both our physical and spiritual needs are met.
Genesis 2:7 personally helps me to know the answers to the questions of “Who is man?” and “What is the meaning of life?” People have come up with many different explanations to answer this question. In asking students on campus, I found an array of answers to the question, “who is man?” Out of these responses rises a few overriding delusions, among them: We are an advanced animal form whose only purpose is to survive and reproduce, like the other animals. Since this is our only purpose, we do whatever we feel like doing. We follow our impulses, while usually trying to fit inside accepted social norms. We live only for ourselves. Can you accept this? Is there nothing more than this? I would live a very depressing life under this fallacy. I certainly don’t think that I would find fulfillment within those purposes. I would do only what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. I would be driven only by my primal desires. I wouldn’t do anything that did not benefit me in some way. I would look out only for myself. I would seek to satisfy myself in whatever ways possible, but I would never be satisfied, because without a relationship with my Creator, my life is meaningless. God designed us to have an overlying purpose in our lives.
Lord, thank you for teaching me through your Holy Word. Please help me to remember that my value comes only from my Creator and that I was made to be both a physical and spiritual being, so I need to nurture both parts. I can do this through my personal relationship with God.
One Word: The breath of God gives me life.
“WHERE ARE YOU?”Key Verses: Genesis 3:8-9: 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. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
Lord, I pray that You may help me to search my heart and sincerely testify Your love through this testimony. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Genesis chapter 2 teaches us that God created the beautiful Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve to enjoy and take care of His perfect world. He provided them with all sorts of fruits and vegetables—Californian apples, Korean grapes, Indonesian guava, green broccoli, smelly garlic, red watery tomatoes, etc. There were all kinds of trees in the garden. God told them to enjoy everything in the garden—except for one thing. He told them not to eat from one particular tree. It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He said to them, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 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.” God said this not because He did not love them. In fact, it was because God loved them that He gave the command. He didn’t want Adam and Eve to focus only on the blessings and forget about the Creator. The command about the tree in the middle of the garden was a reminder that the source of their life was God and without God their life would not be complete.
Then one day, Satan who disguised as a serpent threw Eve a question, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’ ” Eve wasn’t sure what God exactly said, so she replied, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' ”. But Satan interrupted, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.” Then, Eve saw the fruit of the tree was pleasing to the eye. She ate it, and then gave it to Adam and he ate it as well. But the moment they ate it, instead of becoming like God, they only felt ashamed because they found out they were naked. Then, when God came walking around the garden, they hid themselves. Then God asked, “Where are you?” Adam said that he was hiding because he was afraid due to his nakedness. God asked, “Who told you that you were naked?” Then Adam blamed it on his wife Eve and on God. “The woman You put me here with me gave me the fruit and I ate it,” he said. When God questioned Eve, she blamed it on the serpent. God cursed the serpent to be the lowest of all animals and promised to send Jesus Christ to crush Satan’s head in the future. Despite His punishment to Adam and Eve, God still showed His love through covering them with clothes from animal skin.
The fall of man started because he did not know God’s word and was not rooted firmly in God’s word. God said, “you must not eat from it.” But when the serpent tested Eve, she said that God said “you must not touch it, or you will die.” She did not even remember what God exactly said, so she made His words up and twisted it. Then Satan fanned the fire even more by telling her a lie. He picked one little thing to twist God’s word. He told her as if God didn’t give anything good to them, while everything God entrusted to them was good. Eve started to doubt God’s word and grew proud because she wanted to become like God. The very reason God has put the tree of knowledge of good and evil was because He wanted them to remember that He is the Creator in the midst of the perfect world. However, Adam and Eve lost hold of this and did not remember God’s word. Instead they became proud and blamed it on each other instead of asking God for forgiveness. That very moment was when mankind fell into sin. Adam and Eve covered themselves because they knew they were naked. God asked them, “Where are you?” But the reason God asked this to Adam was not because He didn’t know the answer. He was asking this question in order to help them realize that their heart is in Satan’s path instead of God’s. He was asking where their hearts were.
Adam and Eve’s sinful nature has been passed down, from generation to generation. I have this same sinful nature since when I was born. When I was six years old, I learnt how to masterbate. No one taught me how to do it; I learned it by my own. When I reached sixth grade, I started to enter the boyfriend-girlfriend world and it continued with different guys until my senior year of high school. Boys and lustful thoughts and words were just part of my normal life. Although my parents planted God’s word in me since when I was born, I did not remember God’s word and only became proud. In front of many people, I acted as if I knew God’s word, as if I was a great Christian. Just like Eve, I did not listen carefully to God’s word and twisted His word by not pleasing Him through my reckless actions. This was not the end. I even led others to sin, just like Eve led Adam to eat the fruit, and hurt them spiritually and emotionally. I began to hide my sins as Adam and Eve did, and lived a hypocritical life. I tore God’s heart apart and disobeyed my parents by my filthy acts.
I began to study one-to-one Bible Study with my mother. Through the Bible study, God’s word came to me, asking, “Dream, where are you?” I hid my sins deep inside so that no one could see or peek through. But God knew what I was hiding. He didn’t ask because He did not know where I was. He knew exactly where I was. He was asking where my heart was located at, whether I was dwelling in His word or dwelling in Satan’s path. I was pleasing Satan through my pride and selfish life. Basically I was taking Satan’s side. I even blamed God and others when I came to difficult situations in life, just as Adam blamed it on God for giving Eve to him. However, when God asked me this question, I realized my heart was in the wrong place. My heart was placed in Satan’s world filled with lustful thoughts, boys, fun, and hypocritical life. My actions, thoughts, words, and everything I did was filthy. But instead of punishing me, God sent His one and only Son to die on the cross in my place, just as He promised when He cursed the serpent. He said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (15). He let His Son Jesus Christ to be whipped, suffer, and be crucified on the cross for a selfish and foolish girl like me. He forgave my sins and covered them just as He embraced Adam and Eve with animal skin. Despite my foolish actions, He embraced me with His grace and love. I praise God who is gracious and merciful. I thank Him for giving me another chance to live in Him although I don’t deserve it. Now when God asks me today, “Dream, where are you?” I would like to answer Him that I am in Him, that I am in Christ. I would like to tell him I am who I am today because of His unconditional love through His one and only Son Jesus Christ. I do not want to lose hold of His word, so that I may remember my Creator. I want to stand firm on His word and become more like Jesus so that I may not waver when life does not go as I want and when Satan plants doubt in my head. I sincerely pray that God may help me to live humbly for Him and His glory. Lord, I cannot thank You enough for Your love. Despite what I did, You still loved me and covered me with the blood of Your Son Jesus Christ. Help me to be humble and follow You. Give me strength so that I would help others around me to see this awesome love as well through my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
One Word: “Where are you?”
But Noah …
Key Verse: Genesis 6:9: “This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.”
The story of Noah and the flood is one that most people are familiar with. After the fall of Adam and Eve, sin entered the world. In this passage, we see the spread of sin. Genesis 6:1-2 say, “When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were very beautiful and they married any of them they chose.” The author starts the story of sinful humanity in Noah’s time by describing marriage, specifically the standard of marriage: beauty and free choice. That doesn’t sound so bad at first, but when people began to marry based on physical attraction and romantic feelings, they picked partners based on very superficial criteria. If a man chose a beautiful girl and married her today, what happened if he found a more beautiful girl tomorrow? Most importantly, marriage, which was established as a triangular relationship with God at the top and man and woman at the bottom 2 corners, became godless.
The deterioration of man’s spiritual condition worsened rapidly, until we see, according to verse 5, that God saw how great man’s wickedness had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart were only evil all the time. It didn’t matter that the children born of these marriages were gorgeous, for God saw past their outward appearance and into their hearts where every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil all the time. This is a very very extreme description! They never had even one good thought, one unselfish motive or one respectable intention. Our hearts are at the root of our actions, and many good and noble things come from a sincere heart. But Jesus, in the New Testament, described the other end of the spectrum: evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed,… envy, slander, arrogance and folly. The relationship between God and man, and the relationships between men and women were broken. Sin had snowballed -- attraction turned into lewdness, immorality and adultery; free choice turned into deceit, theft and murder; friendships turned into malice, envy and slander. God was grieved and his heart filled with pain as he realized the state of his creation, and he decided to wipe mankind, whom he had created, from the face of the earth.
Verse 8 starts with a very important word: BUT. In the midst of the depravity, corruption and evil in the world, there was a “but” – an exception. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Verse 9 describes him a little more, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” There are many similes we can use to describe Noah: he was a fish swimming upstream, he stuck out like a sore thumb, like a fly in a jug of milk… I’m sure everyone has felt like this at one time or another. It’s not always a good feeling. We naturally want to fit in and feel accepted by those around us. In this case, however, it was a wonderful thing. Living in an evil time, surrounded by ungodly influence, pressured by corruption, Noah remained pure and faithful to God. He was righteous, which means he was right with God. In a world of broken and dysfunctional relationships, he had a right relationship with God, and with his wife and 3 sons (and their wives). He was blameless, and he walked with God. Noah was like the man in the Footprints poem who walked with God, making side by side sets of tracks in the sand. The name Noah means “comfort,” and he comforted God in his extreme grief at the wickedness of man. God established a covenant with Noah. It was a covenant of grace – he shared his plan to put an end to all the violence by destroying all people and creatures, but preserve mankind through Noah’s family.
Noah was a righteous man, not because he was perfect and never sinned, but because he believed God. He knew God was the Almighty Creator – he knew that God could both give life and take it away. By faith in God’s word alone, he accepted God’s covenant and demonstrated his commitment through his absolute obedience. He built a huge ark in the middle of a desert with hardly a cloud in the sky, never doubting God’s word, never yielding to peer pressure by those who mocked him. And so when the great flood came, raining 40 days and 40 nights and wiping out every living thing on the face of the earth, Noah, his family, and the animals that were with him in the ark were saved.
In one of my favorite books, Anne of Green Gables, Anne says to Marilla, “I’d rather look ridiculous when everyone else does than be plain and sensible all by myself.” Peer pressure is one of the biggest reasons kids get into trouble, along with curiosity and boredom. Peer pressure is very difficult to resist because we naturally want to be accepted and feel like we belong. College is a wilderness of choices: choosing classes, majors, who to hang out with, what to eat, when to go to bed… and unfortunately, not all choices on a college campus are good ones, and the good choices are not always easy ones. Noah lived a long time ago, in a time before the internet, cell phones, Facebook, digital cameras, and Lady Gaga. Plus, he was old. And yet his story is relevant to young people today because he chose to be different – he chose to walk with God instead of in the wicked ways of those around him. Noah maintained a right relationship with God, and in turn, with his family. And thus, Noah was a “comfort” to God and his family.
In high school and college, I struggled to keep my walk with God, despite a Christian identity and a strong system of support through my family and church friends. In high school I made a decision to pursue purity as a single, so I didn’t play the dating game. While others around me flirted, dated and broke up, I tried not to get sucked into it, to instead be clear about my stance and build others up as a sister in Christ. I wasn’t as successful as Noah, and I was occasionally troubled when people asked me how I would ever meet someone and get married if I never dated. Looking back now, I see how God blessed my life and especially my marriage when I trusted his standard of marriage over the world’s; when I struggled to walk with him and not with the current trend. These days, I feel like many of the big, big decisions of life a person must make, have been made. I’ve finished school, have a career, am married, have a wonderful family, bought my first house… and yet, I must still struggle against the tide of this world. Materialism is the bottomless pit and I am easily tempted by the desire to build a more beautiful and pleasurable life for myself. The world advises me to build up wealth and security and enjoy my life, but I am reminded again and again that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. I believe God has blessed my family spiritually and materially so that we can be a source of blessing to others and build up the work of God. I want to remember God’s grace and maintain my end of the covenant by being faithful to him and his work. May God grant me, and each one of us here, the faith of Noah, to stand up to the tide of bad influences of immorality and materialism in our present-day society. May God help each one of us to have a right relationship first with God, and then with others, that we may walk with him on the straight and narrow path.
One Word: But Noah was a righteous man and he walked with God.
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