I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this blog over the last month. This week however my time has been extremely limited and I have not written nearly as much as I would have liked. Can you relate?
I do not want to make a habit of putting up older posts but i’ve written a fair few articles over the last three years and some of the newer followers may not have seen them all. When I simply cannot write something you for whatever reason, I will try to share an older post here for your enjoyment.
To be perfectly honest, I get frustrated with myself when I cannot carve out the time or headspace to write. If you’re anything like me, then you put enormous pressure on yourself to deliver! It just so happens that I was flicking through some older posts and found this one.
It is about using our time for the benefit of others. Now that is a good use of time!
For those who are not familiar, every so often I put out a shorter post which I described as pearls of wisdom. I tried to offer a nuggets of wisdom and a few thoughts to go alongside it. These have proved popular so I do hope you enjoy this particular one below.
If you can spare a prayer for me at the moment, then I would truly appreciate it. Life is good and I cannot complain. We have a number of things going on all at once so I would value your prayers so that I can keep God at the centre of it all. And ideally, find some time to write!
When I was at school, I was taught various Creation accounts from a number of major religions. In science class however, I was taught only the Big Bang and evolution. As far as I can recall, science lessons made no mention of Creation as a possibility even.
Later in life when I became a Christian, I did not pay too much mind to the Creation vs. Science debate. I understood that what God wanted us to know about Creation was given us in Genesis 1 (and other places). In my mind, I did not address the broad incompatibility between the Bible’s account of Creation and what was commonly accepted science. I do now.
I can accept that perhaps God did instigate the Big Bang, if you subscribe to that theory. When it comes to evolution however, something I never questioned in school, I now have serious reservations.
I have two main objections, one scientific and the other theological.
Firstly, the scientific problem with evolution (for me at least, and those who know more may be able to fully explain it) is the age-old question of how it all began? If you can accept the process of slow change over a long time, then that’s one thing, but what was the initial starting point. Scientists have surmised a number of things but I do not think they have fully answered this question.
The problem is information. It takes a huge amount of information to build and maintain even the smallest or most basic of creatures. Where did that information come from? How did that information increase over time? Many say that mutation leads to new information being brought into the system, but I am (personally) not aware of any favourable mutations adding in useful information. Perhaps I am simply ignorant of the facts?
Adaptation is quite different. Take a bunch of long-haired dogs and short haired dogs and place them in the Artic. After a while, the long-haired dogs will thrive and the short haired dogs will die off. This is “survival of the fittest” in action, as the long-haired dogs are more suited to the colder conditions. That is all fine and quite sensible, but it is quite a stretch to suggest that, even given enough time, the long-haired dogs will grow wings or change their basic nature completely.
My second objection to evolution is theological in nature. For evolution to work, you need time – and lots of it. Evolution is a slow process, if true at all, and says that basic creatures become more complicated over time. Humanity is at the end of a very long line of ancestors who slowly changed into the species we know today.
Why is that an issue theologically? Because it means that we had to have death before we had sin. For evolution to work, ancestors need to die off, and so there is death in the world before humanity even existed. That means that death was not as a result of sin, and that is not what the Bible says.
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
Romans 5:12 (NIV)
There is, of course, much debate about all of these matters. There are Christians who believe in evolution, and there are those who do not. There are those who find their Christianity compatible with the secular scientific view, and those who do not. Creation is a fairly fundamental issue to be honest though, so I do think it is important to get it straight in your own mind.
If we disagree, let us do so amicably and as family should.
What is the bottom line though? I think it is summed up in Genesis 1 and the first words of the Bible.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:1 (WEB)
We may disagree exactly how this was done, but we must not dispute that it was done. God created everything, seen and unseen. He made us, and He made the universe we live in. He built the physical, and He constructed the spiritual. We can debate the method, but not the substance.
If we cannot accept this truth, then we cannot accept any truth the Bible offers.
If God created all things, and He did, then what does that mean for you today? Knowing that God made you and the world around you, how should you conduct your life differently?
Rejoice in the fact that you were no accident, but carefully crafted by the hands of God. That should make you feel pretty special, and you are!
Heavenly Father, we thank you for this new week and for the opportunities it gives us to serve and worship You. Thank you that you go with us into this week, and we take great comfort knowing that that we do not face it alone.
Lord, we may think we know what this week will bring-both good and bad. But what ever surprises this week may have in store for us, may we grasp every opportunity for you, and rise above any storm which may come.
Please protect us from any temptation which we may face. Give us the strength to say no to sin, and yes to you.
We pray for opportunities to share our faith, and to show the people in our lives the love of Christ. Give us the correct words, in the correct way, and at the right time, to bring others one step nearer to Jesus.
As we work, rest, and play this week, may we do it all for you and your glory! Please help us to keep you in your rightful place at the very centre of our lives.
May we be ever rooted and grounded in your love. help us to know the eternal depths of that love from which we can never be separated.
We worship and praise you this day! we give you thanks for every good thing in our lives! We do not forget you’re unending blessing, or your unfailing love!
May that love drive us forward to live fully for you. Help us put to death the sinful nature of our flesh, and to pick up our cross and follow you.
In the mighty and holy name of Jesus Christ, we pray! Amen
I literally could not say it any better than Bruce has in the below post. All fathers, give it a good read and do think about following Bruces blog
We fathers need a huge amount of grace. None of us are perfect, and off an hour mistakes outweigh the things we do right. praise God that our Father in heaven does not hold it against us. In fact, he gave his only son that every mistake we have ever made will be blotted out and forgotten.
My prayer is that we fathers learn to love is our heavenly father loves.
Bruce always ends his posts with the phrase worthy is the lamb! And I join him today. Worthy indeed is the Lamb of God!
A father is someone who is supposed to love you, protect you, provide for you and guide you and most importantly, be an example to their children, of…
Last year, I wrote a series of blog posts on the early part of the book of acts. The below post, which is about a protective father seems appropriate for this fathers day!
To all of the fathers out there, I wish you a very happy Father’s Day! It is both a very difficult and very rewarding job to raise children in this difficult world. Be encouraged and God bless you and your children today.￼￼￼
At long last, we move on to Acts 5. This chapter opens with a rather disturbing set of events, and I want to try to shed some light on what is happening here. This particular passage is a difficult one, and I admit to having struggled with it for many years. I will explain why,…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/06/16/a-protective-father/
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. 2 There on the poplars we hung our harps, 3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?
Psalm 137:1-4 (NIV)
Do you ever feel like you’re singing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?
This psalm was penned during the time of the Exile. The people of Israel were taken away into captivity, and the song records how they must have felt in a strange land.
We Christians feel much like this in the world these days. Christian values have never been less valued, and we so often feel at complete odds with the world around us. Some say this is a sign of the end times, and while it could be, it could also just highlight that the world’s ways are not God’s ways.
We recently sold our house, and having accepted an offer and metaphorically shaking on it, another higher offer came in. We stuck to our word and rejected the higher offer. But clearly the situation was quite normal, and there was little expectation that our “word” meant anything.
The same is true for other forms of business too. For instance, we were in need of a plumber to do some jobs at our house. I phoned three or four different ones, none of whom returned my calls or answered my messages. I appreciate all are busy, but a simple reply to say so would have been good.
Christians must not live like this. Our “song” is very much foreign in the world we live in. That is no bad thing though. When the people of the world hear our tune, let them sit up and listen. Let them wonder why we speak and act differently, and when they ask, let us point them to Jesus.
Earlier on this week, I felt the Lord speak to me about a certain matter in my life. I do not mean I heard a voice, but just that I had been seeking Him for an answer and found it in the Bible. He clearly drew me to it and pointed it out to me. This is neither frequent nor unusual for me. I expect it would happen more often if I took the time to listen more!
Having understood what I needed to do, I set about doing it yesterday. You might think that when you try to obey God in something He has shown you, that you will somehow step into a new level of blessing overnight. You might assume that when we follow God’s lead that everything will simply fall into place neatly… But this is not my first day, and so I knew that this is rarely so.
Yesterday was a tough day for a variety of reasons. Reflecting back, I realise that as I have tried to follow God in this way, I have encountered spiritual resistance. I’m undergoing “resistance training.”
We do have an enemy who wants to disrupt our relationship with God, and if he gets the chance, destroy us altogether. I am not someone who blames the devil for every little problem in life. When I lose my keys for instance, I do not generally leap to the conclusion that the enemy is attacking me. That said, we do have a real spiritual enemy we should take seriously.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 (NIV)
It is important to note that we should not and cannot resist the devil without first submitting to God. I hear of Christians rebuking the devil left, right and centre, but who are clearly refusing to submit to God in some areas of their life. We cannot successfully stand against the wiles of the devil if we are not fully submitted to the Lord.
Reading this verse again this morning though, I see it in a potential new light. I have always thought of submission to God and resistance against the devil as two separate things, and of course they are. However, I wonder if James puts them side-by side like this because when we submit, we must then resist. Perhaps submission and resistance must go hand in hand?
How do we resist the enemy?
There is much we can say on this point, but I want to say two (hopefully) important things.
Firstly, do not let the devil set the agenda. Our focus should not be on the enemy but on God. Don’t run around trying to cast demons out of everything that moves, instead put your energy into your relationship with Christ. Remain in Him and draw on His strength. Be alert to the devil’s schemes, but try not to see them around every corner.
Secondly, resisting the devil means not acting like him. The best way to resist the enemy is to act like Christ. The more loving we are, the kinder, the more we serve and bless one another, the less like the enemy we become. The devil attempts to disrupt us by pushing us to live out of our flesh or sinful nature. Instead, we must walk in step with the Spirit.
This is not easy, and nor is it a one time thing. Each and every day you will need to push back against that resistance – call it “resistance training” if you will. Every time you say no to your sinful desires, you build spiritual muscles and it gives you strength to fight the next battle.
Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
2 Corinthians 2:9-11 (NIV)
Paul, although writing about something slightly different, points out that he does not want the church to be outwitted or to be unaware of the enemies schemes against us.
Have you ever stepped out in faith and faced strong resistance? It is not easy, but did it make you stronger?
Praise the Lord today and submit to His goodness and Lordship.
Reuben returned to the pit, and saw that Joseph wasn’t in the pit; and he tore his clothes. 30 He returned to his brothers, and said, “The child is no more; and I, where will I go?” 31 They took Joseph’s tunic, and killed a male goat, and dipped the tunic in the blood. 32 They took the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father, and said, “We have found this. Examine it, now, and see if it is your son’s tunic or not.”
33 He recognized it, and said, “It is my son’s tunic. An evil animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces.” 34 Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. He said, “For I will go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” His father wept for him. 36 The Midianites sold him into Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, the captain of the guard.
Genesis 37:29-36 (WEB)
If you cast your mind back to an earlier part of the story, you will recall that Reuben was the one who convinced his brothers not to murder Joseph in cold blood. Instead, he talked them into leaving him in the pit and letting nature take its course. This somehow seemed more palatable to them.
Secretly however, Reuben had planned to return and rescue Joseph so that he could return him to his father, and claim the credit. This is pretty low…
Our passage today picks up the account and opens with Reuben’s return. His is more than a little dismayed to find Joseph gone!
Reuben tears his clothes as a sign of grief, or perhaps regret. It does not appear to be a sign of repentance, as he was not exactly acting out of the purest of motives. Rather he recognises that he won’t be able to “save the day” and claim the credit now. He is sorry of course, but for quite the wrong reasons.
I acknowledged my sin to you.
I didn’t hide my iniquity.
I said, I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh,
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
Psalm 32:5 (WEB)
Psalm 32 is one of the Penitential Psalms or Psalms of Repentance. Here in verse 5, the psalmist asked to be forgiven for the iniquity of their sin – other translations say the “sinfulness of my sin.” See my post of the same name – The Sinfulness of my Sin.
Often when we are caught in wrongdoing, we are sorry for the consequences, not the sin itself. A bank robber is sorry he got caught red-handed, but would feel no guilt had they gotten away with it. Reuben, here, is likewise sorry for the consequences of his sin, not the wrongdoing itself.
The Cover Up
There is a possible gap between verse 30 and 31, as the text moves from Reuben’s cries straight to the brothers’ cover up of events. Presumably one of them told him what had happened in his absence.
Joseph is gone, and the brothers must now deal with the obvious. What will they tell their father? Taking Joseph’s coloured coat, they kill a goat and use its blood to stain the tunic. This will be evidence enough of Joseph’s supposed fate.
Taking it to Jacob, they ask him to identify it. In the absence of a body, this is the next best thing and they do not correct him (of course) when he assumes Joseph has been killed by a wild animal.
Look at the grief they inflict on Jacob! His heart is broken and he descends into deep mourning for many days. His other sons and daughters try to comfort him, but to no avail.
Did they feel any guilt, I wonder, as they looked upon their father during this time? He was so broken that he wished to go to Sheol – the place of the dead – so that he might be with his beloved son. Would a spark of remorse have been felt by any of them? The Bible does not record it.
To what lengths people will go to cover up their sinfulness. I see it in myself at times too. I make a mistake at work and there is clear temptation to sweep it under the carpet, or to give a version of events which look less unfavourable. Surely I am not alone in feeling such temptation in those moments?
Christians must not lie however. We must be honest and truthful, even if it means admitting we’ve done wrong and facing the consequences.
The passage, and this chapter, close by telling us that Joseph (meanwhile) is taken to Egypt and sold to a man named Potiphar, who is a servant of Pharaoh and the captain of the guard. This will later turn out to be another divine appointment for Joseph – but we’ll pick that up another day.