The Good Earth

God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. . . . And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:9–10

While orbiting the moon in 1968, Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders described the crew’s close-up view of the moonscape. He called it “a foreboding horizon . . . a stark and unappetizing-looking place.” Then the crew took turns reading to a watching world from Genesis 1:1–10. After Commander Frank Borman finished verse 10, “And God saw that it was good,” he signed off with, “God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”

The opening chapter of the Bible insists on two facts:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

Creation is God’s work. The phrase “and God said . . .” beats in cadence all the way through the chapter. The entire magnificent world we live in is the product of His creative work. All that follows in the Bible reinforces the message of Genesis 1: Behind all of history, there is God.

Creation is good. Another sentence tolls softly, like a bell, throughout this chapter. “And God saw that it was good.” Much has changed since that first moment of creation. Genesis 1 describes the world as God wanted it, before any spoiling. Whatever beauty we sense in nature today is a faint echo of the pristine state God created.

The Apollo 8 astronauts saw Earth as a brightly colored ball hanging alone in space. It looked at once awesomely beautiful and fragile. It looked like the view from Genesis 1.

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace, whose robe is the light, whose canopy space; His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form, and dark is His path on the wings of the storm. Robert Grant

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

By Philip Yancey 


Comparing Genesis 1 with John 1, we see all three members of the Godhead engaged in the work of creation. The Bible begins with a bold declaration in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In verse 2, the author continues to paint the picture of creation, telling us that the Spirit of God was “hovering over the waters.” John illuminates the involvement of Christ in creation: “Through [Christ] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3).

As you reflect on the beauty of creation, what does it tell you about God’s character?

For further study on creation read The Genesis Account of Creation at

Gratitude in Affliction

Psalm 119:65-72

We typically express gratitude for God’s blessings, but did you ever consider thanking Him for something that doesn’t seem like a blessing—such as a trying circumstance you want Him to remove or change? A grateful heart is most precious to God when, humanly speaking, our situations don’t warrant giving thanks. By making four foundational decisions, we can begin to see the value of our adversities and respond with appreciation.

1. Believe and trust God. Only by viewing life from a biblical perspective can we understand His purposes in our trials and trust His wisdom in allowing them.

2. Accept the situation as coming from the Lord. If we truly believe He’s working for our good (Rom. 8:28-29), we can choose to receive each difficulty as from His loving hand, whether it was directly sent or permissively allowed. Then we can say “Thank You.”

3. Submit to God in the circumstance. Although we may not like the situation, knowing that God is good and does good allows us to confidently place our life under His authority. (See Psalm 119:68.)

4. Draw from Him the strength to endure. No one has the ability within himself to endure hardships with gratefulness. Only by relying on the Lord can believers go through adversity with an appreciative heart.

Now, think about that circumstance you would like changed, and with a new mindset, offer this prayer to God: “Lord, I accept this situation as coming from You. In faith and trust, I place myself under Your loving authority and draw from You the strength I need to endure with gratitude.”

Created to Rule the Day

“And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.” (Genesis 1:16)

It seems that throughout history, mankind has ignored or distorted the purpose for which God created the sun. Many cultures have even worshiped the sun, teaching that the sun was the source of all being, even human life. Temples were built in its honor, human sacrifices were made to appease it, whole civilizations were dedicated to its worship.

The nation Israel, which had lived among sun-worshiping Egyptians for centuries, was warned not to “lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and . . . [see] the sun, and . . . be driven to worship” (Deuteronomy 4:19) under penalty of death, “for the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24).

One of mankind’s primary purposes is to worship God, but the sun was created by God for man’s benefit. He is a God of grace and desires to “freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32).

The purpose of the sun is no mystery. Its Creator says that along with the moon and stars it is “to divide the day from the night . . . and . . . be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years . . . to give light upon the earth” (Genesis 1:14-15).

There will come a time, however, when the sun will no longer be needed by God’s people, for in our eternal home “there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light” (Revelation 22:5). “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Revelation 21:23). Best of all, we shall be with Him. JDM

Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory

2 Chronicles 14:1-4, 6-13

2 Chronicles 14:1

This was a change for the better, for Abijah had tolerated idols, though he had not neglected the worship of Jehovah, and during his reign the godless party had multiplied, and polluted the nation with their heathenish and licentious practices. Abijah and his favourite queens had aided and abetted the evil faction, and the people had very greatly degenerated. It is singular that, though both father and mother were bad, Asa did that which was good; it is clear from this that the children need not be wicked because their parents are so.

2 Chronicles 14:2-4

He made a thorough reformation, sweeping away not only the images of the false gods, but the sacred groves in which they were worshipped. O that we might live to see such a thorough purging of our own land! Let us pray for it.

2 Chronicles 14:7

Obedience to God brought blessing with it; yet even with this fact before them they did not long remain faithful.

2 Chronicles 14:10

The good king had his trials; even when obedience insured prosperity it did not screen him from a measure of affliction.

2 Chronicles 14:11

This is a grand specimen of the prayer of faith. The million soldiers of Zerah are not enough to daunt faith, for it sees the Lord’s all-sufficiency, and therefore makes no account of his adversaries. The small force at hand is not permitted to act as a discouragement, for faith knows that the Lord works by his own strength, and does not depend upon the strength of instruments. It is a glorious thing to be able to call the Lord our God, and then to rest in him without care or fear, being certain that our cause is safe because it is bound up with his honour, and is in his own hands. After Asa’s example, let us trust and not be afraid when brought into great trials and difficulties.

2 Chronicles 14:15

They were more than conquerors, as believers always are. They gained greatly by that which threatened to be their destruction. If we will but trust in the like manner, the like experience shall certainly be ours. Greater is he that is for us than all they that be against us.


Withdraw From Every Disorderly Brother

2 Thessalonians 3:6

Many years ago Denise and I worked with a young man who was very skilled in music and who had a stage presence that was simply electrifying. However, in his personal life, things were completely out of order. Not only did he make a constant string of unwise decisions for himself, but those horrendous decisions were detrimentally affecting many people’s lives.

As pastors, we saw what this man did; we heard about the effect his behavior was having on other people; and we counseled people who had been abused by him. But because he was so talented and had such a strong stage presence, people ignored his chronic bad behavior, overlooking it as if it were just a minor flaw in his life and revering him as someone “great.”

After many months of prayer, I had a strong “knowing” from the Holy Spirit that this young man was headed for serious trouble. I met with him to discuss his future, but he ignored my advice and pressed onward with his destructive behavior. I was left with no choice but to call my young leadership team together and tell them, “I know that you love this man. But because he lives such a rebellious life, refuses to listen to anyone in authority, and keeps making such bad choices in his life, I am asking that you withdraw from him and stop investing your time and energy in that friendship.”

What my young team didn’t know was that this young man had gone so far off track, he had begun committing criminal actions. As a pastor, I couldn’t divulge everything I knew, so I asked my leadership team to trust me and submit to me in this matter by withdrawing from any further fellowship with him. As difficult as it may have been for them to obey me, I was ordering them to break off their relationship with this young man who was belligerently headed for a major catastrophe. I was sure that if they stayed close to him, he would try to drag them into the crisis with him.

As time passed, our young leaders became exceedingly grateful that I had ordered them to break off their relationship with the young man. Eventually he violated international trade laws and got into such a dangerous situation with the Russian mafia that he went into hiding to keep himself from being murdered. But although he tried to hide, members of the mafia found him, kidnapped him, and held him until they were confident he had the funds to pay the debt he owed them. When he was finally released, he was black and blue from the multiple beatings he had suffered at their hands.

You would think that after experiencing such brutality, this young man would have learned to change his ways. But instead, he persisted in his rebellion to authority and continued to commit grossly wrong actions in his life.

Although this young man was a brother in the Lord, he had never learned to submit to authority and refused to listen to those who could help him. Apparently, the apostle Paul was also aware of people who were unruly and insubordinate in the city of Thessalonica. It is evident that he was disturbed by this problem, for when he wrote his second letter to the Thessalonians, he gave them a stern order: “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (2 Thessalonians 3:6).

Notice that Paul says, “Now we command you….” The word “command” is so strong in the Greek that it leaves no room for misunderstanding. It is the Greek word parangello, which means to order, to charge, or to give a command. All of Paul’s readers would have understood that this was not a suggestion—it was a direct command.

Paul went on to tell them, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly…” The word “withdraw” is the Greek word stello, which means to gather up, to pull together, to move oneself, or to withdraw. In some ancient texts, it meant to shorten the sails or to pull in all the loose, flapping sails that would hinder a ship from moving forward at maximum speed. In other places, the word stello was used to picture a runner pulling up the long, dangling ends of his robe so the loose ends wouldn’t hinder him in a foot race.

When Paul used the word stello, the Thessalonians would have immediately understood that he was ordering them to make an inward resolution. He was ordering them to pull themselves together and get rid of all the loose ends that could hinder their spiritual walk, which would include withdrawing from any rebellious Christians who refused to get things right with the Lord. There is no doubt that Paul was explicitly ordering the Thessalonian believers to remove themselves from all such relationships that could adversely affect their own progress with the Lord.

In the next statement, Paul identified the exact group of rebellious believers he was talking about. He told them (and us), “… Withdraw from every brother that walketh disorderly…”

The words “walketh” is the Greek word peripateo. The word peripateo is very significant in this verse, for it means to walk about or to walk around, giving the impression of one who habitually lives and functions in a certain way. By employing the use of this word, Paul indicated that he wasn’t writing about a believer who makes an occasional mistake in his life; rather, he was categorically referring to those believers who habitually live in a “disorderly” manner.

The word “disorderly” is taken from the Greek word atakeo. The word atakeo was a military term that described a soldier who was out of rank or a soldier who was out of order. It carries the idea of one who is insubordinate or one who is disrespectful of those who have been placed in authority over him.

The word atakeo was also used in Greek society to portray individuals who refused to work and who lived off the goodwill of others. Apparently some of the rebellious people in Thessalonica refused to listen to the church leadership’s command to get a job. Instead, they took advantage of the goodwill of Christians, “sponging off them” whenever they needed some money.

This scenario is very clear as you continue to read Second Thessalonians 3. The word atakeo was also used to depict people who meddled in other people’s affairs. As in the case of the Thessalonians, these loafers had no jobs and therefore had lots of time to interfere in other people’s business. Paul was so against this behavior that he ordered the believers of Thessalonica to withdraw from these habitual loafers.

Paul finished this verse by reminding them that such a chronic loafer was not living “… after the tradition which he received of us.” In the Greek text, the word “tradition” is the word paradidomi, a Greek word that means to personally deliver or to personally transmit something to someone. Paul had personally delivered instruction to the Thessalonians about living responsible lives. No one in Thessalonica could claim ignorance, for Paul had personally taught them. Those who continued to live in this fashion were simply ignoring his instructions. And rather than tolerate their behavior, Paul told them, “Enough is enough!”


When you take all these Greek word meanings into account, Second Thessalonians 3:6 could be interpreted to mean:

“Brothers, we give you this command in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Distance yourselves from every brother who routinely lives his life out of order—breaking ranks, violating authority, living the life of a maverick, and perpetually refusing to submit to anyone’s authority. If you’re already entangled with a brother like this, do whatever you must to get free of that relationship. It’s time to tie up all the loose ends with this brother and to inwardly resolve that you are not going to spend time with him any longer. Although he’s a brother, his actions are not in agreement with the teachings you learned from us.”

Paul’s command is very clear: Even though such brothers or sisters are related to us in Christ, we are not to have close fellowship with those who show disrespect for authority and who routinely live their lives out of order. When a believer lives in defiance of God’s Word and God-established authority, we must inwardly resolve to back away so we don’t put our stamp of approval on them by affiliating ourselves with them. Yes, we must continue to love them; nevertheless, there comes a time when we must disassociate from unrepentant, erring believers. As we do, we will help them realize they are wrong and protect our own testimony from being negatively affected.

In light of Paul’s message in Second Thessalonians 3:6, what is God saying to you about your current friendships? Do you closely associate with any individuals who have no regard for the Word of God or respect for God-established authority? If so, do you have a good reason why you maintain an intimate relationship with them? Are these the kind of close friends you need? Could it be that you need to back away from the people in your life who are living in rebellion? Is it time to invest yourself in someone else who loves God’s Word, who is submitted to authority, and who has a heart to prosper under the blessing of the local church?


Lord, I ask You to help me truthfully examine my relationships to determine which of them are helping me and which are hindering me. If any of my relationships are with people who are disorderly or rebellious and unwilling to change, please give me the courage to follow the instructions of Your Word. Holy Spirit, I am depending on You to lead and guide me and to help me do exactly what Jesus wants me to do.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that I carefully guard my life by closely affiliating with people who love God’s Word, respect God-established authority, and act as positive influences in my life. I do not allow myself to be dragged into relationships with people who refuse to seriously walk with God. Those who could negatively influence me are not the people I choose to be my closest friends. Nothing in the world is more important than my walk with God. Since those who are close to me have a tremendous influence on my life, I choose friends who, like me, make their walk with God their greatest priority.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. Have you ever maintained close relationships with people who you knew were not good for your spiritual life? Were you negatively affected by this close affiliation as a result?
  2. Can you think of someone in your life who is associating too closely with people who have the potential of negatively influencing his or her life? Have you expressed your heartfelt concerns to this person?
  3. Have you spent time in prayer, asking God to resolve this situation? If not, why don’t you take a few minutes right now to ask the Lord to work in this situation as He protects your friend or relative from the potential harm you foresee?


Are You A Stepping Stone Or Stumbling Block?

I remember a conversation I had with a business man who had resisted coming to Christ for many years. His reason? The innumerable professionals with whom he had done business who were also leaders in their churches. The inconsistency between their faith, so-called, and their practices in business triggered serious questions in his mind as to the authenticity of anything Christian.


One of the greatest challenges we face in our walk with Christ is how to make our profession of faith and practice in business one and the same. The operative word is “blameless“.


Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman.” (Psalm 15:1-3)


Blameless” means conducting our business in such a manner that no one can point the finger at us and utter the word “hypocrite!”


Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brothers way.” (Romans 15:13)


To help you determine just how blameless you are in your business practices, consider the following questions:

  • Is it wrong to create a “need” in order to market a product? (Job 31:5)
  • When there is a clash between Biblical principles and expediency, which one usually wins? Why?
  • Is the nature of your product in harmony with Biblical values?
  • How do you view your employees? As expendable, once their usefulness wanes? Or as people whom you desire to assist in reaching their highest potential? (Job 31:13)
  • Are the brand properties you attribute to your product honestly represented? (Deuteronomy 16:19; Proverbs 16:11)
  • Is the message you are communicating in your advertising and promotion consistent with Scriptural principles?
  • Do you view the competition as a necessary evil? (2 Corinthians 5:16)
  • As the enemy whom you must crush? (Job 31:29, 40; Zechariah 7:9; Luke 6:31)
  • Or as people for whom Christ died; people to whom you are His Ambassador? (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
  • Is it possible to love and serve people with whom you are in competition? Do such truths as “Love your neighbor as yourself ” and “Let all that you do be done in love” find application in your business environment? (Matthew 22:39; 1 Corinthians 16:14)
  • When you are in doubt about a marketing strategy or a business decision, do you stop and ask, “What would Jesus do?” Or do you just plow ahead, business as usual? (John 13:16; Ephesians 5:2)

QUESTION: How do your lost associates view you? A stepping stone? A stumbling block?



%d bloggers like this: