Creation 5

The Aim of this devotional is to consider God’s relationship with his creation.

Scripture

Psalm 104:1-31

I praise you, Lord God,
with all my heart.
You are glorious and majestic,
dressed in royal robes
    and surrounded by light.
You spread out the sky
like a tent,
    and you built your home
over the mighty ocean.
The clouds are your chariot
with the wind as its wings.
The winds are your messengers,
and flames of fire
are your servants.

You built foundations
for the earth,
and it
will never be shaken.
You covered the earth
with the ocean
that rose
above the mountains.
Then your voice thundered!
And the water flowed
    down the mountains
and through the valleys
to the place you prepared.
Now you have set boundaries,
so that the water will never
flood the earth again.

10 You provide streams of water
in the hills and valleys,
11 so that the donkeys
and other wild animals
can satisfy their thirst.
12 Birds build their nests nearby
and sing in the trees.
13 From your home above
you send rain on the hills
and water the earth.
14 You let the earth produce
grass for cattle,
plants for our food,
15     wine to cheer us up,
olive oil for our skin,
and grain for our health.

16 Our Lord, your trees
always have water,
and so do the cedars
you planted in Lebanon.
17 Birds nest in those trees,
and storks make their home
in the fir trees.
18 Wild goats find a home
in the tall mountains,
and small animals can hide
between the rocks.

19 You created the moon
to tell us the seasons.
The sun knows when to set,
20     and you made the darkness,
so the animals in the forest
could come out at night.
21 Lions roar as they hunt
for the food you provide.
22 But when morning comes,
they return to their dens,
23     then we go out to work
until the end of day.

24 Our Lord, by your wisdom
you made so many things;
the whole earth is covered
with your living creatures.
25 But what about the ocean
so big and wide?
It is alive with creatures,
large and small.
26 And there are the ships,
as well as Leviathan,[a]
the monster you created
to splash in the sea.

27 All of these depend on you
to provide them with food,
28 and you feed each one
with your own hand,
until they are full.
29 But when you turn away,
they are terrified;
when you end their life,
they die and rot.
30 You created all of them
by your Spirit,
and you give new life
to the earth.

31 Our Lord, we pray
that your glory
will last forever
and that you will be pleased
with what you have done.
32 You look at the earth,
and it trembles.
You touch the mountains,
and smoke goes up.
33 As long as I live,
I will sing and praise you,
the Lord God.
34 I hope my thoughts
will please you,
because you are the one
who makes me glad.

35 Destroy all wicked sinners
from the earth
once and for all.
With all my heart
I praise you, Lord!
I praise you!

Observations

  1. If you were to select one verse from this Psalm that summarizes the core message of the Psalm, which one will it be? Why do you choose that one?
  2. Verses 6-9 refer to a specific historic event – what does it refer to? And what is the promise contained in verse 9? Expand a bit.
  3. From this Psalm, how does God care for his creation?

Application and Prayer

  1. The promise contained in the Psalm is that ‘God cares for his creation’. How do you feel when reading v27-28?
  2. This text agree strongly with Jesus the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34 saying ‘do not worry about tomorrow – what you will eat or drink… for your heavenly Father knows…’  Write down all the things that you worry about.  Then ‘cast your cares upon the Lord for he cares for you.’ (1 Peter 5:7)
  3. Paul wrote ‘do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.’ Do this now – bring all your worries and desires to God in prayer, thanking him that he cares for you and asking him to take care of the things you worry about.
  4. Read through the Psalm again as praise to the Creator who cares for his wonderful creation.
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Creation 4

The Aim of today’s devotional study is to reflect on the preeminence of Christ over all of creation – both in the initial creation and its redemption.

Scripture

Colossians 1:15-20

15  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.   16  For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. 17  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

18  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether in heaven or on earth, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Observation

Note: this beautiful poetic section is considered to be a well-known hymn in the early church which Paul (adapted?) and included in his letter to the Colossians.

  1. Who is the “He” being spoken of here? (if unclear, read the verses preceding v15).
  2. Note the repetition with purpose:
  • What is the most repeated phrase in this section? Why is it repeated so many times?
  • Read verses 15-17 and verses 18-20 in parallel and note the deliberate phrase-repetition and similarity in form. (“He is the” v15&18, “firstborn” v15&18, “For in him” v16&19, “in heaven and on earth” v16&20, and “through him” v16&20). What does the author want to say with this repetition in phrase and form?
  1. What is the primary thought in v15-17?
  2. What is the primary thought in v18-20?
  3. In less than 10 words summarize this section.
  4. If you read “image of (invisible) God” – what thought does Paul want to trigger? (hint: who is created “in the image of God”?)
  5. Consider the deliberate parallelism between v15 and 18.  If v15 points to mankind’s creation “in the image of God”, what does v18 imply of “the church”? (hint: what does Paul call the church in 2 Cor 5:17).

Note: the reference to Christ being “firstborn of all creation” does not mean he was created first – he made everything else and is God himself – but it refers to his heir and ruler of all. (Psalm 89:27 clarifies the concept of Firstborn: “I will also make him my firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.”)

Application and prayer

  1. Consider yourself – your body, your gifts, your passions, your dreams and plans – when reflecting on v16 “all things were created through him and for him”. How does your life and totally reflect that truth?  Talk to God about your future dreams, fears and plans in the light of his intended purpose with your life.
  2. Personally reflect on v 20 “through him to reconcile to himself all things… making peace by the blood of his cross”. Close your eyes and imagine yourself standing before Almighty God on His throne. What feelings do you feel?  What do you think feels when he looks at you (pleasure / displeasure / joy / agitation…)?  Jesus came to remove enmity between us in God, to “make peace” and “reconcile” us to God by carrying our sin and the wrath of God for our transgression on the cross. (see 2 Cor 5:21).  Spend some time in prayer to God – thanking Him for the substitutionary cross of Christ through which we can be reconciled to God (Ephesians 2:13).  Now pray to God for this peace in your heart – pray until you feel at peace with him, and thank him for it.  If you already know this peace, pray for someone whom you know have not been reconciled with God.

Image found at http://jazzmachine.tumblr.com/post/668916347/he-is-the-image-of-the-invisible-god-the

 

Creation 3

The Aim of this study is to reflect on the effect of sin on creation, God’s redemption in Christ Jesus, and consider your beliefs of the creation account.

Scripture

Romans 5:12-21

12  Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned– 13  for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14  Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15  But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.  16  And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.

17  For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.  18  Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19  For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

20  Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21  so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Observations

  1. This Scripture can be confusing to some, so let’s break it up and summarize each sub-section with a short sentence: v12-14, v15-16, v17-19, v20-21.
  2. Considering the Text above, connect the words on the left with the words fitting best on the right:

Adam                                    resulted in justification

Christ                                    reign in death

Moses                                  reign through righteousness

Judgment                            resulted in condemnation

Free gift                               many made righteous

Sin                                          brought redemption

Grace                                    many made sinners

Disobedience                    brought sin

Obedience                          brought the Law

  1. God created everything very good. How did death enter the world?
  2. What is the analogy between Adam and Christ in the section above?

Application

  1. In this section it is clear that Paul took Genesis 1-3 as literal history. What is your view of Genesis 1-3 (Creation and Fall).  Write your view down.
  2. This section states that that through the one act of obedience of Christ, the bondage of sin and death over creation brought about by Adam’s initial act of sin is nullified (for those who believe). How does that conflict with the Evolutionary view of creation with millions of years of “survival of the fittest”.  (hint: focus on the origin of death)
  3. When Christ comes to fulfill His saving work and bring his reign of eternal life when he “make(s) all things new” (Revelation 21:5) – how long will it take? What does that suggest of the first creation?

Prayer

Spend some time and praise God for his creative work, including yourself, with David’s Psalm 139.

Psalms 139:1-24

1  O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3  You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

5  You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 7  Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8  If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9  If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10  even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11  If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12  even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

13  For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

17  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18  If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

19  Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! 20  They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. 21  Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 22  I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.

23  Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Creation 2

The Aim of this session is to revise our understanding of the Biblical view of creation.

When you have time, look at a few of these interviews with scientists about faith and evolution https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0u3-2CGOMQ  But don’t waste too much of your prescious devotional time there.

Scripture

Hebrews 11:1, 3

1  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

3  By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Observation

  1. The Biblical author use the words “by faith we understand” which may seem like an oxymoron. How do you make sense of that phrase?
  2. How was creation formed according to this text? What does it refer to?
  3. The phrase so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” begs for a pause to reflect. What do you think when you read that phrase?
  4. The author assumes that one requires faith to conclude God created everything out of nothing. Why do we need faith?

Application

  1. Why is it reasonable to put our faith in God as the Creator of all? (Hint: what do we know about God – his attributes?) Don’t rush over this one.
  2. If God is the creator of all things, what are the logical consequences that flow from that truth? i.e. how does it impact creation, and you as part of creation?

Prayer

Close by praying with David from Psalm 8 (use your own words where you feel to expand or rephrase)

Psalms 8:1-9

1  To the Chief Musician. On the Instrument of Gath. A Psalm of David. O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

2  Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

3  When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, 4  What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?

5  For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. 6  You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, 7  All sheep and oxen– Even the beasts of the field, 8  The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas.

9  O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

Creation 1

The Aim of this devotional study is to consider our moral accountability towards the Creator, and our consequent responsibility.

Scripture

Psalms 24:1-10

A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. 2  For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters.

3  Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. 5  He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6  This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah

7  Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 8  Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. 9  Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 10  Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah

Observation

Note: Psalm 24 was written by David when he brought back the Ark of the Covenant of Israel to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:12-17).

  1. The Psalm has three logical sections – Identify it and summarize each section very briefly.
  2. Why does the Psalmist declare the LORD (Hebrew YAHWEH) is the owner of all?
  3. After announcing the LORD’s reign and creation, what does the Psalmist right about (v3-6)? What do you read into that?  What does the Psalmist want to say by doing that?
  4. What do you understand by the statement “clean hands and a pure heart”?
  5. Why the reference to “Jacob”? What is the association?
  6. What do you understand by the repeated phrase “lift up your heads, O you gates… and the King of glory shall come in”?

Application and Prayer

  1. What do you think / feel when you read the phrase “The earth is the LORD’s… for He has [created] it”? Are you comfortable with this statement? Why / why not? (Tell your accountability partner / Bible School Buddy of your response!)
  2. Prayerfully consider your “hands” (actions) and “heart” (thoughts and motives) before God, the Sovereign LORD. Pray with David from Psalm 139 23  Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; 24  And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” Then pray as the Holy Spirit leads – confession / repentance / thanks.
  3. Prayerfully consider all the areas of influence God has placed you in: home, relationships, work, neighborhood, church. Pray for the Lord’s reign (“Let Your kingdom come”) as the David prayed “9 Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory.”  Let this be prayer everywhere you find yourself this week – invite the reign of God in!