Playdoh. I wish I could say that I was creative with it, but the truth is that I am pushing it to say that I can even make a decent snake from it. But as I sit at the table with a bunch of little kids, I like to imagine all the possibilities that exist within this little lump of colored clayish material. For some reason, I get this image when I read this text of the earth being empty and formless and God hovering over the waters. Think of all the possibilities! God could have made the earth flat but instead made it round (Sorry Kyrie Irving…it is round!). He could have made everything in shades of gray with no color. He could have made everything exactly the same so that the earth looked similar to a 1950’s suburban subdivision with cookie cutter houses. Could you imagine if everything looked like (insert an ugly state name here…I chose to remain silent for fear of hatred remarks from others)? The point is that it was empty and formless but God was right there to make creation into something glorious. Isn’t that also what He does to us? Not that we are formless (though I do wish I had a little less apple form in my waist…that is besides the point…), but that we are often left feeling empty, without really knowing who we are or what we are there for…but there is God hovering right above us ready to fill us with His beauty, His glory, and His life. And He makes such wonderful and beautiful things with us.
So today, think that of all the things God could have made…He made you. Of all the things He could have filled you with…He chose to fill you with His Spirit. You are not empty and formless….you are the image of the Living God!
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Have you ever felt guilty because of pleasure? I am in the process of reading a wonderful book called “Becoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life?” by Michael Wittmer. Don’t let the title scare you. It isn’t about becoming some carnal Christian, but rather about enjoying the things that God has blessed us with. Somehow we have associated God’s creation and the pleasures of life as being somehow opposed to God. We feel that if we are actually enjoying life that must mean that somehow we are doing something wrong. Why would we think that our God would want us to live in a constant state of miserableness? God created these things for us to enjoy. This recently came up when my wife and I made a purchase. Our car broke down and we needed a new one. Now, we are cautious with our money (ask my daughters the dollar yogurt story…I have to hear it every time we pass the dairy aisle!), so my wife and I had budgeted for this, and so we went and got a car. We could have got a old used clunker (which kind of got us in the predicament…another story), but my wife has always dreamed of owning a Toyota (Her dad used to sell them). Not just a Toyota, but a new Toyota. So we looked at what we could afford and justify with our spending, and so we bought a little Corolla. And it is a nice car. It’s not overly extravagant, it’s a smaller car, but it has the bells and whistles. Now, when my wife drives (I have only been allowed to drive it once!), do you think she should be thinking, “God, I feel so guilty for having this car when there are so many needs in this world.” or do you think she should roll down the windows, go cruising on the windy Kentucky back roads and say, “God, thank You for allowing me to have the ability to purchase this car.”
Of course, God is the ultimate source of our pleasure, and all things need to be enjoyed in moderation and with responsibility (like buying a new car that cost more than what you make in 5 years while your children are starving and in need of diapers…oh yes, I have seen it. Can you say “TRUCK and BOAT combo!”). Give thanks, enjoy, and give back (like let your husband drive the car!).
Today, enjoy life. Enjoy God. Enjoy the life He has given you and those He has given you to spend it with.
1 Timothy 4:4-5
4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
Let’s talk laundry, shall we? Everyone has a system for doing it. My wife and I have different ways of doing laundry. She is focused on smaller, separated loads. Me? I focus on getting as many clothes into the washer as humanly possible, no matter the color, material, or who it belongs to. Of course you can understand why we would have some disagreements about laundry. Right now, you are probably picking a side. (TEAM BARRY!)
Now let’s pretend that we were all giving a command to do one thing: Laundry. The command was do the laundry. Nothing specific. Just do it. Now what would happen if as I was doing the laundry, my wife came up to me, told me I was doing it wrong and that I didn’t really believe in doing laundry? What if she said that unless I was doing laundry exactly as she said to do than I wasn’t being obedient to the command to “Do Laundry”. What if, she deemed whether or not I was doing laundry not by whether I was doing laundry but rather by how she thought I ought to be doing laundry?
Paul is talking to the young preacher Timothy, and he is telling him to be careful of those who are adding additional rules to the faith. They were telling people what they could and couldn’t eat, who they could or couldn’t marry, and if they didn’t tote the line then they weren’t truly following Christ.
Here is your homework for today. What does it mean for you to follow Jesus Christ and how are you adding to or subtracting from what He has said it means? What burdens are you placing on others because of how you think they should follow? Oh, and here is your second homework assignment….do the laundry.
1 Timothy 4:1-5
4 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
I love the story about the little three-year-old boy sitting on the toilet. His mother thinks he has been in there too long, so she goes in to see what’s up.
The little boy is sitting on the toilet reading a book. But about every 10 seconds or so he puts the book down, grips onto the toilet seat with his left hand and hits himself on top of the head with his right hand.
His mother says, “Billy, are you all right? You’ve been in there for a while.”
Billy says, “I’m fine, Mommy. I just haven’t gone doody yet.”
Mother says, “Okay, you can stay in there a few more minutes, but Billy, why are you hitting yourself on the head?”
Billy says, “Works for ketchup!”
Sometimes what makes sense to one person doesn’t make sense to anyone else. So often what Jesus says makes no sense from a worldly standpoint. To win we must surrender? To live we must die to self? We must love our enemies, forgive those who hurt us? Humble yourself and be exalted? All these make little sense to the world, but to the Christian it makes perfect sense! Why? Because we know Jesus and we trust in His wisdom above everyone else.
23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
It has been said that behind every great man is a great woman. This also is true when it comes to wisdom. Guys tend to ask their significant other for wisdom, especially with kids. I recently read a story about a woman whose husband was taking care of their new daughter, but always wanted her advice on how to deal with her. When she was in the shower, the husband poked his head in to ask, “What should I feed Lily for lunch?”
“That’s up to you,” the wife replied. “There’s all kinds of food. Why don’t you pretend I’m not at home?”
A few minutes later, the wife’s cell phone rang. She answered it to hear her husband asking, “Yeah, hi, Honey. Uh…what should I feed Lily for lunch?”
I tell you that because there are times when you wish you had someone you can turn to at all times. We do have that someone. His name is Jesus and as the old song goes… “Jesus is on the main line.. tell Him what you want.” He is always there waiting to hear from you. So why not go to Him for some advice today.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
I heard the story of the woman driving through the mountains west of Denver when she ran into a snowstorm. She was completely lost and then peered ahead and saw a four-wheel drive pickup with a blade on the front of it. Since she was lost she decided to follow the truck and kept as close to the machine as she could while it removed snow from the road. At times the blowing snow almost cut off her view, but she kept following the truck. The truck would go up the hill get to the top and make a “U-turn” and go back down the hill. She faithfully kept following the truck. After about the third time that the truck went up and down the hill, the truck stopped, and its driver got out and walked over to her car. “Lady, where are you going?” he asked. “I’m on my way to Denver.” she replied. The truck driver replied, “Well, you’ll never get there following me! I’m just plowing my drive-way!”
Who you choose to follow in life is important. Before you decide to follow, make sure you know where they are going first.
17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.
It’s hard to stay mad at someone when you are praying for them. I once heard a preacher say that when his two kids would have a fight, he would make them stand facing each other, hold hands, and then pray for each other. He said that it worked like a charm.
God wants us to be a people of prayer. He also wants us to be a people of unity and love. And isn’t it amazing how they often go together.
So who are you mad at? Why not pray for them today?
1 Timothy 2:8
Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.