Scripture: Psalm 8, Genesis 9-10, Ephesians 5
I have so far, very much enjoyed the connections that have come from the reading. Today’s was a bit of surprise, one I didn’t see coming.
“He drank some of the wine and became drunk, and he lay uncovered in his tent.” (Genesis 9:21)
“Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18)
There is so much happening in Genesis 9 and revealed in Ephesians as well, that to dwell on this connection seems foolish. But there it is, and on deeper reflection, it is the crux of all of the chapters we’ve read today.
In Genesis 9, the flood is over, a covenant is made between God and humankind. God places the bow in the sky, what we’ve commonly accepted as a reference to the rainbow, as a reminder that God will never again deal with the depravity of humankind through a global flood.
God continually establishes a means of protecting His creation, and the next way He does that is protect life. In the opening 8 verses of Gen. 9, we see a protection of life. There is an accounting of blood for humankind, but also for animal life as well. All creation is to be protected and cared for by humankind.
The level to which we understand this is how we come up with a bevy of diets to protect life. At the heart of this text, is an understanding and perspective about God and creation. He loves it deeply and His desire appears to be to keep there from being bloodshed and disregard for life, be it plant life, human life or animal life. All life, all of creation is of deep importance to God.
In comes then, the fall of Noah, after the promise of God to protect the earth, Noah gets drunk with wine.
Noah painfully reveals once again that while there are protections in place on creation, and commitment from God to deal with sin differently, sin is still present amidst creation. The brokenness of the world is still there, still wreaking havoc on families, friends, neighbors and creation.
The accounting of life from the blood then, comes into play in the book of Ephesians:
Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
Ephesians 2:13 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
We are brought near the shedding of Jesus’ blood. Genesis 9 and the accounting of blood, becomes the means of our redemption. More will come into play, as we explore the books of Leviticus and Exodus. What we know is the blood of the Lamb of Jesus, the life blood in Him through the Grace of God, becomes our life.
So, we are encouraged, to leave the life of the flesh, the darkness and evil of the world. Leave debauchery behind and be filled with the Spirit. We are called to leave drunkenness behind, the abuse of something good, and called to be filled overflowing in the goodness of God.
Something new is happening in Jesus Christ. The flood may have started the creation over with a reset. But sin was still very much there, real and problematic. Today, there is forgiveness of our sins, and new life made possible through the blood of Jesus. A flood of mercy pours out at the cross. Sin is forgiven, and new life is ours.
Be filled with the Spirit!
Scriptures – Genesis 7-8, Ephesians 4
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Did the flood change the condition of the human heart?
“The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of human beings, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.” (Genesis 8:21)
What is God’s response to the human condition?
We know that it is Jesus Christ. God in the flesh. He is the one who will give us a new heart. He is bringing new creation:
“17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-24)
Discipleship, following Jesus, can become a really long list of things you do and don’t do. Sins to avoid and commitments to keep. Social occasions to avoid, and social occasions to attend. We reduce discipleship to a different social calendar with the avoidance of vices and embracing of virtues.
All of it is nothing, if the inclination of our hearts aren’t changed.
You are being made new, created to be like God in what is truly righteous and holy. That’s Paul’s message, to those who remained living in the old ways. He says, “put on the new self.”
When God arrives in Jesus, suddenly what’s on the inside really matters. The Pharisees are condemned, even though they appear to be righteous by their lawful activities. Jesus knows their hearts, and despite their best appearances, they are far from God. And those who traditionally are viewed far from God, Jesus draws nearer to them, sometimes declaring their faith greater than any he found in Israel.
Ephesians is written after the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. So Paul writes with the luxury of knowing something special about the world. It’s possible now, in light of Jesus life, death and reign, to live a new life. New creation has come, and Paul wants to let everyone in on what God has done. For Paul, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:4-6)
Jesus does what the flood can’t do. The flood cleansed the outside. It did nothing for the condition of the human heart. So old ways stayed the same. Yet the cross cleanses us through and through. The Lord descends and ascends. And in His ascension He gifts us, graces us with His Spirt, with Spirit-filled people, to build us up and build us together. To fill us up in every way, to fill the earth with the glory of God.
Today’s a good day to ask God for him to search our hearts, to know our anxious ways, and lead us to the way of everlasting life. (Psalm 138)
Today’s a good day, to remind ourselves of the condition of our hearts, and what Christ has done, at the cross, to make us new.
You are new, through the cross, through and through.
January 1, 2021
Scripture Reading: Psalm 148, Genesis 1-2, Ephesians 1
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Happy New Year! My prayer is that we grow closer to God and closer together in 2021.
Today’s devotion is centered on creation. Opening in Psalm 148, we see creation celebrating its Creator. All praise is given to God, the creator of the Heavens and the Earth.
We then turn to Genesis 1 and 2, where we recount, once again, the familiar passage of God’s creative work over the 6 days, and the 7th day of rest. There is, of course, a treasure trove of information on Genesis 1 and 2. We could speak at length in regards to creation, whether it is created in a literal 7 days, or if it is simply metaphorical. We can go down several trails investigating creation and Creator. But at its most basic level, Genesis 1 and 2 functions as a argument for the mighty power of God. This God, created the heavens and the earth. He is forming and filling the creation. He also creates humankind in His image. These three things, forming, filling and image bearing, become increasingly important as we navigate every day life.
All people are created in the image of God. All of our ethics, what is right and wrong, in how we treat one another, it all comes from understanding that we are all image bearers of God. I’m not going to mistreat someone (or at least I’m going to do my best to avoid it!) because they are created in God’s image.
God isn’t reduced to idols, because his image is reflected in humankind. It is difficult to fully understand, but it is also quite simple. The way I treat others, is how I treat God. The golden rule, of loving others and loving God, fit together perfectly. How I treat one, is how I treat God.
Ephesians 1 brings us back to the theme of creation and forming and filling as well. This time, it is identifying that God is at work in forming and filling something completely new. A people who reflect His wisdom and goodness in the world. He forms the church. He resurrects Christ from the dead. This power that was at work in the creation of everything, was at work in the new life of raising Christ from the dead, and it also at work in forming and the church. “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)
God forms his church, to be the image of Christ in the world, to offer our praise and glory to God (Psalm 148), to fill the earth with Christ image and love.
God forms us together to be the image bearers of Christ.
The natural response to this is to see the importance of loving God, and loving others.
The challenge and encouragement today is to praise our Creator, by loving all that He created. Who is someone to love today? Someone who you have had a difficult time seeing as an image bearer of God? Go, be kind, loving and gracious. Worship God, by loving your neighbor.
God be with you.
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.