God Does Not Force Us, Rather He Gives Us Freedom

Recently, I have found myself contemplating freewill more and more. Being given a choice and not being forced to comply to someone else’s wishes is a reality that has always mattered deeply to me.

I have always been a “why?” person. As in, the kind of person who is like, don’t just tell me what to do. Give me the reasons, then back off, and let me decide the issue for myself. Because once I make a decision myself, it is no longer someone else’s wishes forced upon me but rather a decision and desire that I have taken on and personally accepted.

If there is no choice, then there is never true acceptance. True acceptance is what builds relationship; whereas force creates resentment and slavery.

The true test of relationship and desire is not what is imposed upon a person but rather what is freely chosen by them.

One of the things that I love most about God is that He does not force us to love and obey Him, rather He allows us to choose Him and His ways. I think this is an amazing gift, because in my opinion the second that force/pressure/manipulation is applied to a relationship it taints those interactions and takes away the person’s ability to simply respond out of love. 

A real relationship isn’t forced. Freedom is about being allowed to choose, and true love is about giving and being given the chance to accept or reject what is being offered.

Despite the fact that God is the most powerful being in existence, our Creator, and the One to whom we belong, He does not use His power to force us to love and obey Him.

When a parent trains a child, there is a short period where they have the ability to force their child to comply to their will, and at times that’s for the child’s benefit, but ultimately most children will reach a point where they exceed their parents’ ability to control them. God’s ability to control us, however, is never exceeded by us. God has always had, currently has, and always will have the ability to force us to do as He wishes, but He doesn’t use His power to force us. Rather God sent His Son “to seek and to save that which was lost.” ~Luke 19:10~

We are not “lost” because God misplaced us.

We are lost because we used the freedom of choice that God gave us to make the decision to rejected Him and His way in favor of ourselves and our own way.

&

We are sought and saved because God, by sending His Son to die for us, mercifully and lovingly also gives us the freedom to choose to be freed from the consequences of our own way.

“. . . He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” ~Isaiah 53:5-6~

 “. . . He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” ~Isa 53:12~

“. . . He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” ~Hebrews 7:25~

Challenge: What is something that you love about God?

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Accomplishing Goals For God vs Pursing God Who Then Gives Us His Goals

So, as some of you may have noticed and others of you probably didn’t notice, I had no new post last week. I went on vacation without my computer, and though I had every intention of writing and scheduling a post before I left, I forgot to do so. Since, I’m usually fairly good at creating a reminders for myself so that this sort of situation does not happen, I found myself in a rather unusual predicament.

Sunday night, I was sitting enjoying a quiet evening at a Vrbo when it occurs to me I have no blog post scheduled for Monday. The part of me that likes to be responsible to meet goals immediately started thinking how I could solve this problem. I figured I could probably stressfully manage to type something out on my phone and post it, but then the thoughts occurred to me. Am I scrambling to get this post done right now because God wants this post done right now or because I feel like I need to get this post done for God?

This question got me thinking about goals, because to me holding to a deadline and getting a task accomplished when I say I’m going to do it is very important. (Not that I always succeed in this, but it’s a goal I consider worthwhile, even godly.) But what if stressing over and scrambling to post to my blog in the middle of a vacation was actually me place the checking off of a goal as my primary focus rather than the pursuit of God?

I know, this gets a bit complicated because God’s goals can and should become our goals, but let me rephrase this into where I went with it: pursing a relationship with God should always be more important and is very different from pursing accomplishments for God. The goals we have and pursue should not come before and define our relationship with God. Rather our relationship with God should define and result in us having His goals.

I think too often in Christianity, we set out to love God but instead of allowing God to direct us and define the goals we pursue, we instead make a check list of how we plan to be good Christians. Then we approach God through that check list of goals. We get focused on doing Christianity like giving a tithe, going to church, praying for others, etc. while meanwhile we neglect first and foremost to pursue an actual relationship with God.

“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.” ~Titus 3:4~

Noticed the order? It’s not goals (good works) first and then God. It’s God first and then His goals.

Challenge: When you feel pressured and stressed out trying to accomplish a goal for God, please pause and make sure it’s actually God and His goal that you are going after and not just a goal on your own check list. God’s goals are good and profitable, our own goals have no such guarantee. 

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When Sharing the Gospel Feels Awkward

Have you ever been trying to share the gospel with someone and found the gospel truths to just kind of feel awkward to express? “Jesus is the answer” and “Unless you repent from your sins, you are gong to hell” are both true, but what do you do when these statements don’t seem to resound the way they should?

I’ve been thinking about this lately and realized that really these truths are most relevant and naturally expressed when placed within the context of living (failures) and upon the foundation of our depravity (needs).

For instance just as an example, what if we expressed these statements within the context of “measuring up”?

We all feel the pressure to measure up to our own or someone else’s standard. We also all understand how easy it is to fail to measure up. From there the conversation can be shifted to talking about God’s standards (which really for the most part, people naturally esteem) and how all of us, though we value good standards, are not capable of being good people all the time.

The legal issue of wrong doing is then not hard to introduce, and talking about why we face a required payment for our wrongs—(sin leading to hell)—and how this makes us in need of saving–(Jesus being the answer)–can all be introduced from there and thus result in talking about the gospel more naturally. 

Really the foundation and context for sharing the gospel is all around us in so many different forms. We don’t have to feel awkward sharing God’s truth. The world is already desperately crying out for and craving this truth, they just don’t know what it’s called nor are they always willing to make the sacrifice needed to gain the gift that God has already given.

Challenge: Don’t let awkwardness stop you; instead find the context and foundation already within humanity and walk them to the gospel.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel . . . “ ~ 2 Timothy 1:7-11 (NKJV emphasis addd)

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Are You Submitting to God or Trying to be in Control Yourself?

As humans we don’t like feeling like our lives are out of our control. Because when we aren’t the ones making decisions for ourselves, then anything could happen. Or could it?

We tend to have the mindset that if we aren’t in control, then either no one is in control or someone else less responsible than us must be in control. What if we stopped and remembered that God’s the one in control and the one to whom we should be submitting?

When we try hard to stay in control of our own lives, it’s actually us who is the less responsible party taking control when we shouldn’t. Kind of a crazy thought, right?

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

We can esteem God’s control but still be refusing to allow God’s control in our lives. “Then the LORD said to Moses: ‘How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me . . . they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it.’” Numbers14:11 & 23
It’s a foolish thing for us to not submit to “God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us”  For He . . .  “even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together . . . that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7

Challenge: Take thought to who you would rather have in control: Yourself, whose heart is deceitful (Jer 17:9) and goes astray (Isa 53:6) or God, who loves you, knows the future, and desires what is right and good for you?

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Are You Remembering to Exchange Your Burden for Jesus’s Yoke?

Last week we talked about the exchange that takes place when we let Christ have our sin. I want to take that a little further this week andtalk about how we need to exchange our burdens of religious behavior for Jesus’s yoke of true relationship with Him.

I was listening to a message recently about Jesus’s yoke and the speaker, Nathan Johnson of Ellerslie Discipleship Training, mentioned that a Rabbi’s teaching was often called his yoke. I’d never heard this before, and it gave me a new perspective on Jesus’s words in Matthew.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28

Jesus is inviting us to take His yoke instead of the weight we’re carrying, and Jesus sums up His teachings this way: 

Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” ~Matthew 22:35-40

If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.  . . . the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” ~ John 14:15-27

We can find peace and rest in His yoke, but in order to receive His yoke we have to give up what we’re carrying. 

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble giving God all the stuff I feel responsible for. Because of this, I tend to get to a point every month or so where suddenly I feel so overwhelmed and burdened by all the weight that I’m carrying, and on those days I usually end up in a heap on the floor crying. At which point, God takes the time to gently reminds me that I was never supposed to be carrying all this stuff anyway. Slowly I hand it all back to Him and by the end of the day I feel rested and lighter again.

In his message on Jesus’s yoke, Nathan Johnson talked about also experiencing days where he feels overwhelmed by the weight of life. He spoke about how He now takes off these days and celebrates. He celebrates that God is the one who carries our burdens. For him these days are days of remembrance and rejoicing in the reality that what we feel is not our burden to bear but rather something we get to give back to God to carry.

I loved this! Such a good reminder of walking out the truths of Scripture and celebrating who Christ is in our lives. So my challenge going forward is to take the days when I feel completely overwhelmed and to celebrate them as a day where I get to give all my burdens back to the Lord.  1 Peter 5:6-7 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

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Why Does Christianity Seem to Work for Some People But Not for Others?

Have you ever heard people say somethings like, “I tried Christianity, and it didn’t work for me.” Or how about, “I asked God to change me, but He didn’t. So I guess either He isn’t real or He’s fine with me the way I am”?

What’s happening here? Why isn’t Christianity bringing about the results it’s supposed to for everyone? Shouldn’t God be doing something to protect His reputation? After all, if Christianity works the way God claims, why are people so unsuccessful in overcoming sin?

#1 God’s not in the business of making every piece of our lives work for us, nor is He worried about protecting His reputation.

  “. . . He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.  . . . Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:15-17

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” ~John 15:18

#2 God hasn’t changed and neither has Christianity. 

Why Christianity isn’t working has nothing to do with what God is offering. There is no label on Christianity that says, “Caution! May not work for all users.” In fact, what Jesus says about following Him expresses quite the opposite. God makes no distinction between kinds of people. Christianity works for all!

“. . . the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed . . . through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus . . . ” ~ Romans 3:21-24

So, if the problem is not in the Christianity and all people can be justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, where is the issue?

The problem is in our approach to Christianity.

People want Christianity for many reasons but don’t always understand how Christianity is actually received. You see, Christianity is not something we can add to our lives. It’s an exchange. A life for a life.

I know. It sounds extreme, but that’s because it is. 

We’ve become used to a nice simple salvation message about being saved from sin. But true salvation and Christianity involves death to sin. We all love to avoid the consequences of sin. But we like to skip over the part about how being saved from sin and its consequences involves us asking for and allowing Christ to put to death the sin in our lives, and I mean “allow” and “ask” quite literally. For until the point that we actually seek from Him death for our sins (a.k.a. repentance) we haven’t really received true Christianity.

Thus Christianity is not an addition to our sinful lives. Christianity is an exchange: His perfect life for your sin-full life. If we have not made this exchange and are not continually making this exchange in all areas of our lives, then it is possible we have not and are not putting off sin (the old man) and taking on the life of Christ “Christianity” (the new man). 2Co 7:10 “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation”

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart . . . if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him . . .  put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” ~ Ephesians 4:17-24

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” ~Romans 6:4-6

Challenge: If you want a Christianity that works, then you must surrender your sin. Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.

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Can Your Theology Truly Support Re-Defining a Day? (Part 2)

Last week we focused on the definition of “day” both in Scripture and as a Scientific definition. This week I want to take a look at the context of the verse that Christians use to argue that it could be accurate to say that a day might actually be a thousand years.

The passage that is used is from 2 Peter 3:8. Yes, you read that right. We’re not talking about a passage in Genesis where God explains how creation worked or what a day meant (though He does that quite clearly in Exodus 20:8-11), we’re talking about a passage in the New Testament. Now, as much as (even though) I would like to jump straight into the passage, I want first for you to note as (while) you read the passage, that it is as (like) a lot of what Peter writes, holding a form of a simile.

Simile (in Merriam-Webster Dictionary): a figure of speech comparing two unlike things that is often introduced by like or as (as in cheeks like roses)

Here is the verse that is used to argue the definition of a “day.”

 “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8

Now, if what Peter was saying in this passage was that a day could literally also be a thousand years, then the word “as” (hōs) should not be in the sentence. If a day could actually be a thousand years this sentence should read “with the Lord one day is a thousand years, and a thousand years is one day.” or “one day could also be a thousand years” But that’s not what he says. Not to mention, if this were the case Biblically speaking, where does/would the application of this 1 day equals 1,000 years definition end? Why in the world would it just be applicable only during the Creation account? And why would it never be used in reverse 1,000 years = 1 day?

And most importantly if this timing were the case during creation, why wouldn’t God just have said so? There’s absolutely no reason why God would hide from us the amount of time He spent creating. Think about it, why in the world would God intentionally use a covert meaning for day? It makes absolutely no sense. And if you want to argue the case that He did it because He didn’t want to confuse us and knew we would not understand it at the time, would you please go read through Daniel and Revelation, because I’m pretty sure God has no issue with giving us information that we don’t understand.

I think it’s also important to note the rest of the context surrounding this verse in 2 Peter that people are using to argue that God might have cloaked a million years of earths formation somewhere in Genesis. Particularly when this is what is said in Genesis 1:31 “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”

The context of 2 Peter 3:1-10 is as follows.

“Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle . . . that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days . . . saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:8-10 [see Deu 19:14 for the term “of old”]

First of all let’s note that this whole passage is referring to “the promise of His coming” and the question of when it will happen and why it hasn’t happened yet. Peter is saying, people are going to come along and question whether or not God is returning and if He will keep His promises. What they forget is that God brought everything into existence, God destroyed the world with the flood, and God sustains the world which is for the day He will return and bring judgment. But see, when God promises something to us, we think of it as happening within our lifetime, but God’s timeframe is beyond ours. So therefore what Peter is getting as it that a thousand years could go by and that does not mean God has forsaken His promise to us, it simply means it is still yet to come.

Peter speaks of creation and confirms what we already know about it. He says to “be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets” Peter also says when he’s talk about the time passing “do not forget.” Clearly he’s not revealing a hidden or unknown fact about the timeframe of the Creation account, because we can’t forget something we don’t know. He’s NOT saying, “Oh by the way, surprise, you should know that a day was differently back then.” No. What Peter is saying is “do not forget this one thing,” the LORD experience time differently than we do, therefore His promise is still relevant. Peter’s not saying that time is actually literally different (it’s a simile).

Psalm 90:2-4 “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. You turn man to destruction, and say, ‘Return, O children of men.’ For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.”

Our lifetime feels so incredible long to us, but to God a thousand years of humankind being in rebellion against Him is like (not “is”, but rather “is like,” in other words is experienced by Him like) standing watch in the night awaiting the dawn “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Now, if you are still not convinced about this issue, let’s take this whole thing a step further. 

If you were going to base your theology of the origin of the universe on the use of 2 Peter 3:8 to re-define a day, let’s consider what else you would need to possibly re-define or change in your theology if you used this standard on the rest of Peter’s writings.

For instance, what would you then do with the last of these three verses all taken from 2 Peter 3:8-10? “One day is as (hōs) a thousand years, and a thousand years as (hōs) one day.” (v.8) “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as (hōs) some count slackness” (v9) “But the day of the Lord will come as (hōs) a thief in the night” (v.9) Is the day of the Lord literally going to be a thief? The day of the Lord is a thief? Yeah, I don’t think that’s what he meant. 

How about these other passages as well?

1Pe 2:1-3 “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as (hōs) newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” Is Peter only talking to newborn babes?

1Pe 1:18-19  “ . . . you were not redeemed with corruptible things . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as (hōs) of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Is Jesus Christ literally a lamb? He was and is the fulfillment of what a lamb meant symbolically, but no, Jesus was not actually a lamb.

1Pe 2:4-5 “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as (hōs) living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Are we literally living stones? No, of course that’s not what he’s trying to say.

1Pe 2:25 “For you were like (hōs) sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Are we literally sheep? Of course not.

1Pe 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like (hōs) a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Is the devil actually a lion? No, it’s an illustration of a point, a clear simile.

2Pe 1:19 “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as (hōs) a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;” Where they literally lights and not people? No, of course not; they were people bringing visibility to something like a light would.

2Pe 2:12 “But these, like (hōs) natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption . . .” Where they actually brute beasts? No.

Or how about this one from Mark 10:15 “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as (hōs) a little child will by no means enter it.” Hm, sorry adults, guess if you use this standard for your theology, you are too late to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Challenge: Base your theology correctly on His Word and the truth will set you free to know a God who does not lie and who is Creator of a six day work week and a day of rest.

Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember the Sabbath day (yowm), to keep it holy. Six days (yowm) you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day (yowm) is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days (yowm) the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day (yowm). Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day (yowm) and hallowed it.”

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Can Your Theology Truly Support Re-Defining a Day? (Part 1)

I keep encountering an argument made by Christians that perhaps the “day” in the Genesis Creation story is not actually a day, but rather possibly more than a day or that a day’s length was longer.

First, before we get into why these arguments don’t work, both in a practical sense and in a Scriptural sense, I want to ask this question: Why is the definition of a day being debated by Christians?

Seriously, take a moment to think about this? Why is the definition of a day in the Creation account in Genesis (not anywhere else mind you, just in the Creation account in Genesis) being questioned? Would you question the definition of the word “water” in the Bible. Of course not, you know what water is and what it means (two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom). Likewise, would you debate the meaning of the word “blood”? No, why would you? You know what blood is. (Blood is what keeps us alive) (Blood is a constantly circulating fluid providing the body with nutrition, oxygen, and waste removal.)(“For the life of the flesh is in the blood” Lev 17:11)(Gen 9:4, Lev 17:14, etc.) So why would we question the meaning of a day?

We know what a day is. What is motivating people to question the definition of “day”?

The only, and I emphasis ONLY, reason there is an attempt to re-define the meaning of “day” in Genesis, is to try to make room for an origin of Evolution. If we leave the Evolution origin out of the picture, we have no need to try to alter what we read in Genesis. The Creation account in Genesis works just fine within a young earth Creation science exactly the way God says it happened, which actually fits so much better with science. (I’ll circle back to this later.)

The two biggest arguments made within the context of the Creation account in Genesis is that a “day” could have instead been “many days” or that a “day” was actually far longer than 24 hours. So in other words the argument that a “day” could have been very long (which would basically mean that the mount of time between a particular area on earth having light and then subsequently dark was much longer)(a.k.a. that the earth was spinning slower).

Here’s why the motive for the debate is so important: People aren’t arguing about the “day” to add a few extra hours or even months onto the Creation account; people are trying to redefining the “day” in Genesis in order to add thousands of years (millions of years even) onto the Creation account.

What happens if you change “day” in the Genesis Creation account to “thousands of years”?

Number one, you make God a liar. 

Genesis 1:5 “God called the light Day (Yowm), and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day (yowm).”

And

Number two, you destroy all plant life.

Gen 1:11-13 “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth’; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day.”

Gen 1:14-19 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years’. . . Then 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. . . So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

God created plants on the 3rd day and the sun and sunlight on the 4th day. 

Do you know what happens when plants don’t have any sunlight for a few days (let alone years? (And I’m not talking cloud cover here; I’m talking no sunlight whatsoever.) Think about what happens to your lawn when you leave something lying on top of the grass for a few days. It yellows and starts to die, right? Hmm, now let’s try that for a few thousand years. What do you think would have happened to the grass and those trees, hm?

However, if the day is what God says it was, Genesis 1:5 “God called the light Day (Yowm), and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day (yowm).” then all plant-life being created on the 3rd day and the sun and its light being created on the 4th day would work just fine.

What happens if you change the length of a “day” in the Genesis Creation account?

Well, to answer this question we really just have to ask: Is it even possible scientifically for a day to have been longer than it is now back at the beginning of earth’s origin? Let’s read and find out. 

The below quote is from the article “What is the Rotation of the Earth?” published by UNIVERSE TODAY Space and astronomy news, written on March 25, 2016 by Matt Williams.

“By definition, the Earth’s rotation is the amount of time that it takes to rotate once on its axis.  . . . As we all know, it takes exactly 24 hours for the Sun to return to the same spot in the sky, which would seem obvious. 24 hours is what we think of as being a complete day, and the time it takes to transition from day to night and back again.  . . . However, the planet is slowing slightly with the passage of time, due to the tidal effects the Moon has on Earth’s rotation. Atomic clocks show that a modern day is longer by about 1.7 milliseconds than a century ago . . . In short, the world has been spinning since its inception. And, contrary to what some might say, it actually is slowing down, albeit at an incredibly slow rate.” (UNIVERSE TODAY, 2016)

So, according to scientists (see above Universe Today article), the definition of a day is based on the rotation of the earth on it’s axis, the length of time of which (not in debate by scientists) is and has been very consistent; the earth has been spinning since it’s inception; AND the length of a day could not have been slower during creation, because the rotation of the earth is apparently actually slowing down “at an incredibly slow rate,” not speeding up.

God defined “Day,” and if you want to start messing with the definitions of something God created in order to incorporate into your beliefs something (The Theory of Evolution) that people in this world who hate God tell you is more accurate than Scripture, then I suggest you may want to reconsider your priorities in life. God has never been wrong about science, but scientists have been wrong about science for literally hundreds of thousands of years.

Challenge: Christianity and Evolution are mutually exclusive beliefs, so which one are you going to believe? Because they are not and cannot both be true. “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

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How Far Should Doing Good Go?

We’ve been talking a lot in the last couple of weeks about what our response to an evil person should be. But there are still a lot of unanswered questions. For instance, when does a situation shifts from “turn the other cheek?” (Matthew 5) to “breaking the fangs of the wicked”? (Job 29)

Jesus says, “ . . . I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.” Matthew 5:38-41

We’ve already talked about how the first part of these verses is likely referring to a situation where Jesus is addressing whether or not we should use our legal right to harm back for something already done to us. However, when we keep reading we get into other situation like when someone is taking things from us unjustly, and when someone is forcing us to do something.

I think the challenge Jesus is trying to make here is this: If we choose to freely give to the person what they are unjustly demanding of us, the evil they are attempting is changed to something no longer evil. If it’s a gift given to them, it becomes no longer something they are trying to take unjustly. They cannot steal what already belongs to them, therefore it is no longer theft and no longer evil or wrong. They also cannot do evil by forcing us to help them when we have already offered to help them further. Jesus is showing us a way to overcome evil with good in situations where their evil intent can actually be changed by our response. 

However, this way of dealing with evil is not the means we are to use with something that remains evil regardless of its ownership or the tactics being used to bring it about. For instance with things like beatings, murder, rape, etc, gifting your participation or allowing the person to continue what they are doing against you or someone else does not remove the evil from the person’s action. Thus, doing good in these sort of situations may in fact be in taking action to prevent the evil from happening.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.”

Did you notice in 1Thessalonians 5:14-15 what word links the last portion of the instructions?  The word is not “and.” The two sentences are linked with the word “but.” The second half is not a rephrasing of the first half or a continuation of it. They are two pieces of an issue being addressed together, I believe because it’s easy for us while we are taking action against evil to dish out revenge or evil instead of always pursing what is good for both ourselves and everyone.

Mar 3:4 “Then [Jesus] said to [the Pharisees], ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.” (Jesus took action against evil and did what was good.)

1Pe 3:8 “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For ‘He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.’” (Psalm 34:14)

Peace comes when conflict no longer exists. When two sides are no longer at war, then here is peace. We are not to give into evil or render evil for evil, so how are we to seek peace and do good?

Job 1:8  …the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

Job 29:1-17 “Job further continued . . .   ‘Oh, that I were as in months past . . . I delivered the poor who cried out, the fatherless and the one who had no helper. The blessing of a perishing man came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind, and I was feet to the lame. I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the case that I did not know. I broke the fangs of the wicked, and plucked the victim from his teeth.’”

Notice Job is not destroying the wicked person, but he is taking clear action against the wickedness. He is breaking the fangs of the wicked and removing the victim from their reach, so that the wicked person cannot do the evil they intended to do.

Challenge: “Always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.”

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You Have Heard it Said, “Do Not Resist an Evil Person”

Last week we talked about Matthew 5:39 in the context of how we are to respond to evil. This week I want to dig further into this passage as it relates to the Old Testament teachings Jesus is addressing and how that influences the meaning of this passage.

Matthew 5:38-39 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”

This phrase, “you have heard that it was said” means that this is a quote. So in order to fully understand what Jesus is commenting on here, we need to go back to what was being said in the quote.

There are three passages Jesus could be referencing here.

Exodus 21:22-25 “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” 

Leviticus 24:17-22 “Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death. Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, animal for animal. If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him—fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him. And whoever kills an animal shall restore it; but whoever kills a man shall be put to death. You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I am the LORD your God.’ ”

Deu 19:16-21 “If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, then both men in the controversy shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you. Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

These verses are talking about a response that can be required by the injured part against someone who had already done the evil. In other words, these passages are not talking about a response made during the acts. These are actions being taken against someone once all is already said and done and they are standing in public in front of witnesses. This is a judgement made that is issuing a punishment for a crime, not a response made to a crime in progress. 

Here’s what Exodus says about a response to a crime in progress. Exodus 22:2 “If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed.”

What Jesus is addressing in Matthew 5:39 is the right we have to punish. What Jesus turns on its head in His message on a mountain surrounded by His people is where our heart is at and what we should desire to choose to do to those who have wronged us.

We have the right to take from them exactly what has been taken from us, but is this really what we should desire? Is this really what we would want done unto us?

The issue Jesus is addressing is not “What is justice?” Rather the issue Jesus is addressing is, “What is in your heart?” Which matches perfectly with the way Jesus deals with the adulterous woman in John 8:4-11. By law she should have been stoned. Yet Jesus was seeing the law as it applied to the woman before Him and also as it applied to the scribes and Pharisees who had brought the woman to Him.

He is giving us permission and instruction to choose a better way for ourselves and others. He is calling us to have hearts of mercy, where we can in His grace choose to not require injury for injury.

This is not about putting up with evil or allowing evil, this is about looking an evil person in the face after they have been caught and saying, “I have legal grounds to ruin you. By law, in front of everyone here, I could destroy you for what you have done, but I choose not to. I choose to take the offense against me and let the cost of that evil be only once instead of twice.”

Each and every one of us have offenses we have done against God and His Son, Jesus Christ. God has every legal ground to destroy us, but instead He took that cost and said, “I choose to bear the cost and to extend to you not justice but mercy.”

Challenge: When an evil person has come against you, what does your heart want for that person? The act of evil itself is something you should always want to end. But the person is another matter. Will you offer mercy to that person?

Matthew 9:13 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Quoted by Jesus from Hosea 6:6)

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