VIDEO Genesis and Pentecost are Beginnings

As Genesis is the beginning of creation, the Pentecost is the beginning of the church.

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

A few paragraphs into his classic story A Christmas Carol, author Charles Dickens tells us, “Once upon a time…old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house.” When Dickens published his now-classic story in 1843, that opening phrase, “Once upon a time,” had been well-used in English literature since 1600—even going back to its earliest use in 1380. It’s the perfect way to begin a timeless story.

The author of Genesis (Moses) must have had a similar thought in mind when he penned what became the most famous opening words of any book in the world: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Most Bible scholars see that opening line not as describing creation itself, but as a literary introduction to the Creation story that follows. It seems that the author’s purpose was to remove any doubt or ambiguity about the reason for the existence of our planet and its inhabitants: God created everything. It was a statement of clarity that set the biblical Creation story apart from the multitude of creation stories from other ancient Near Eastern cultures.

God is the beginning of our life. Creation then, and creation now, is infused with the loving purposes of our mighty God.

God has left his fingerprints all over creation. Unknown


Pentecost is the Birthday of the Church

As Genesis is the beginning of creation, the Pentecost is the beginning of the church.

Christianity didn’t start with Jesus’ birth, his death or even his storied ascension to heaven. It started with Pentecost — the day the “Holy Spirit” entered a room holding Jesus’ apostles and entered each of them, an event which — “makes the church the church.”

Although Pentecost is chock full of religious significance, it is a holiday not widely celebrated. Sort of the opposite of Hanukkah, which is widely celebrated but not religiously important


Chuck Missler Genesis Session 01

God Focus

Godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6

When I was shopping for engagement rings, I spent many hours looking for exactly the right diamond. I was plagued by the thought, What if I miss the best one?

According to economic psychologist Barry Schwartz, my chronic indecision indicates that I am what he calls a “maximizer,” in contrast to a “satisficer.” A satisficer makes choices based on whether something is adequate for their needs. Maximizers? We have a need to always make the best choice (guilty!). The potential outcome of our indecision in the face of many choices? Anxiety, depression, and discontent. In fact, sociologists have coined another phrase for this phenomenon: fear of missing out.

We won’t find the words maximizer or satisficer in Scripture, of course. But we do find a similar idea. In 1 Timothy, Paul challenged Timothy to find value in God rather than the things of this world. The world’s promises of fulfillment can never fully deliver. Paul wanted Timothy to instead root his identity in God: “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (6:6). Paul sounds like a satisficer when he adds, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (v. 8).

When I fixate on the myriad ways the world promises fulfillment, I usually end up restless and unsatisfied. But when I focus on God and relinquish my compulsive urge to maximize, my soul moves toward genuine contentment and rest.     

By:  Adam Holz


Reflect & Pray

Would you say you tend to be a content person? Why or why not? How do you think your relationship with God affects your overall contentment in life?

Father, help me to remember that only You can fill my soul.

The Picture of Baptism

Baptism symbolizes that our old sinful nature has been put to death and we’ve been raised to new life in Christ

Acts 8:25-39

Pictures communicate in ways that words cannot, capturing the drama and memory of a significant moment. In a similar way, baptism powerfully illustrates the radical change that occurred in the person’s life at salvation. When we are baptized, we’re identifying ourselves with Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, was buried, and rose again to life.

Plunging beneath the water symbolizes our old self dying and being buried with Christ (Romans 6:4-6). And coming up out of the water portrays our new life in Christ. Just as the heavenly Father physically raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him life, so He raises each believer in a spiritual way. One day we’ll experience this physically as well—when we’re given glorious new bodies forever free from sin and death.

The image of baptism serves as a reminder of what our Savior has done for us and points to the truth that there is life beyond the grave. Every person who has trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation will live forever in the presence of the Lord.

It’s helpful for unbelieving family and friends to “see” this message in our lives. Have you publicly identified yourself with Jesus through the act of baptism?

The Family of a Disciple

“Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” (Luke 18:28-30)

Unfortunately, this and parallel passages have been wrongly used all too often to justify the abandonment of responsibilities to family in the name of following Christ.

But Christ is not here advocating repudiation of family. Instead, He insists that our allegiance be to Him and to His will. Nothing must be allowed to usurp His rightful position of supremacy in our lives. While it is true that for some a life unencumbered by family duties may result in more efficient ministry (1 Corinthians 7:1-9, 25-38), family relationships and responsibilities are of great importance to Him (vv. 10-24; see also many other passages).

Consider the case of Elisha. God had instructed Elijah to train Elisha to take his place as prophet (1 Kings 19:16). Finding Elisha plowing in his father’s field (i.e., family duties) with 12 yoke of oxen, “Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him” (v. 19).

Elisha knew immediately that he was facing a dramatic change in his life. He did not refuse, argue with, or try to alter the call, but he did recognize a responsibility to his parents. “Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee” (v. 20). Elijah agreed. To solidify his determination to leave, Elisha immediately sacrificed a pair of oxen, using as fuel the plowing instruments he had been using. He was, in effect, making a clean break with his former life, yet honoring and respecting his parents. “Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him” (v. 21). JDM

Only the Spirit

No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. —1 Corinthians 12:3

I think that one of the most hopeless tasks in the world is that of trying to create some love for Christ our Savior among those who refuse and deny that there is a need for a definite spiritual experience of Jesus Christ in the human life.

I cannot understand the activities of many churches—their futile exercise of trying to whip up love and concern for Jesus Christ when there is no teaching of the new birth, no teaching of redemption through His blood, no dependence upon spiritual illumination by the Spirit of God!

No one can love the Lord Jesus Christ unless the Spirit of God is given opportunity to reveal Him in the life. No one can say that Jesus is Lord except the Holy Spirit enables him through spiritual life and experience. WPJ200

Those who have “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” love God because He is just such a God as He is….The enemies of God may love Him for what they imagine Him to be; none but the real friends of God love Him for what He is. DTC066-067

God’s Great Masterpiece

And the Scripture cannot be broken.John 10:35

I subscribe to the supervisal inspiration of the Bible. I believe God led the minds and hearts of the writers of Scripture to go to the right sources for information, to come up with the required data, and in the process protected them from exposure to error, deceit, or imposture. He supervised them in their research, in their reporting, and when He spoke directly to them, He was there also to make sure that they received clearly the message He wanted to convey. Ian Macpherson puts this truth most powerfully in his book The Faith Once Delivered when he says: “As in the mystery of the Incarnation, God linked Himself to humanity, so in the mystery of the inspiration of the Holy Scripture, God made use of human channels, yet He never surrendered His Divine authorship or permitted the Book to become the word of man rather than the word of God.”

Another writer, H. O. Mackey, put it like this: “Who built St. Paul’s Cathedral? So many masons, carpenters, iron-workers, carvers, painters—and then there was Wren. He was not a mason, or a carpenter … and never laid a stone. What did he do? He did it all. He planned it, inspired it with his thought.” Mackey does not intend to dishonor the workmen who toiled hard and long, but simply to make the point that in the final analysis St. Paul’s Cathedral is Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece.

Who wrote the Bible? Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John, Peter, Paul, and many others. But whose book is it really? It is God’s.

Prayer

O God, it is the entrance of Your Word that brings light, and the neglect of Your Word that brings darkness. Help me to expose myself more and more to that light, so that I may walk through life with a sure and steady tread. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Rv 22:12-21; Dt 4:2; 12:32; Pr 30:5-6

What was the conclusion of the writer of Proverbs?

What was John’s warning?

The Condition of the Heart

But the seed in the good ground—these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, bear fruit.Luke 8:15

At any time, the receptiveness of your heart will determine your response to God’s word (Luke 8:5–18). If your heart is like the trampled ground, hardened by the sin of bitterness and unforgiveness, you will be unable to accept a message from God. Though you hear the words of the message, you will remain unchanged. If your heart is like the shallow soil on top of a rock, you will accept God’s word in your mind, but the truth will not penetrate your heart to make a difference in your actions. A heart like thorny soil is a life that is distracted by the cares of the world; the pursuit of earthly pleasures prevents God’s word from taking hold and producing righteousness. The heart that is like good soil receives a word from God, applies it, and brings forth fruit in due time. This is the heart that Jesus desires in us, for the fruit will be a Christlike life.

Any time you hear a word from God, whether through Bible reading, prayer, or worship, the way you respond will depend on how you have cultivated your heart (Hos. 10:12). How do you develop a heart that is like good soil? Repent of any bitterness, anger, or unforgiveness that is hardening your heart. Meditate on God’s word until it enters deep into your heart and not just your mind. When you read or hear a word from God, apply it to your life and let God bring His word into reality in your life (Gal. 6:9). Protect your lifestyle. See that you don’t devote all of your energy to worldly concerns, rather than to pursuing your relationship with God. The condition of your heart will vary, depending on how you cultivate it. If it was receptive to a word from God yesterday, this does not guarantee it is receptive today. Daily prepare your heart for the word God has for you!