Band-Aids & Bacitracin: Meditating on the Psalms

Last year at Bible study fellowship we studied several chapters in Proverbs. Our lecturer referenced something she’d read that referred to Proverbs as the smelling salts and Psalms as the ointment cabinet of the Bible, respectively. Every analogy breaks down at some point, but that one has stuck with me.

My three and a half year old daughter Regina is currently in the toddler “wound phase” – she’s obsessed with cuts and scrapes. Mostly her own, but occasionally other people’s as well. We have a pretty strict policy of no band-aids unless there’s actually a real need (there would be a bandage shortage otherwise 😉 ) but nevertheless I keep a tube of bacitracin and a box of Disney Princess band-aids in my purse at all times. It can’t hurt to be prepared!

I currently have three Psalms memorized. The comfort, conviction, strength, joy, and many other blessings dwelling on these Psalms has brought so far is immeasurable, so I legitimately can’t wait to learn the remaining 147 in the coming years!

In this post I’ll share a few insights and stories from these three chapters. I would love to hear from you about your favorite Psalms as well!

I memorized Psalm 9 in the KJV translation with a wonderful friend by her suggestion. It was really meaningful to text back and forth for a few weeks as we added verses and gleaned insights from the text. I review it frequently (every three days or so) and am always spurred to deeper certainty of God’s just judgment of sin and His great mercy to all who put their trust in Him.

Just a few weeks after finishing it, that same friend and I went to pray and sidewalk counsel at the abortion clinic. It was bitterly cold out and it was a heartbreaking morning, full of rejection from the clinic staff and parents intent on aborting their children. I went home, survived until the kid’s nap time, then collapsed into bed. I felt the deepest despair I’ve experienced to date, but the Spirit prompted me (and gave me the energy) to say Psalm 9 aloud. These verses in particular filled me with so much hope that I got out of bed, confident in His sovereignty and goodness, ready to press onward:

“And He shall judge the world in righteousness, He shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in Thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people His doings. When He maketh inquisition for blood, He remembereth them: He forgetteth not the cry of the humble. Have mercy upon me, O Lord; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death: That I may shew forth all Thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.” – Psalms 9:8-14

The next Psalm I memorized and one that I pray through nearly every morning is Psalm 19. If last week’s post spurred you to memorize something, I’d really commend this one to you. Starting the day with this petition to God does truly revive my soul, rejoice my heart, and enlighten my eyes to His worthiness:

“Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” – Psalms 19:12-14

Every Tuesday I review Psalm 103, which I memorized a few years ago with my awesome sister-in-law. I would really encourage you to dwell on this one often as well. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this passage lifts my eyes to the Creator King’s righteousness and the compassion He shows to His children, remembering that we are dust. The ending of the Psalm is so marvelous too:

“The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all….Praise the Lord, all His works in all the places where He rules. My soul, praise Yahweh!” – Psalms 103:19, 22

David first records that God’s Kingdom rules over all things, then urges that all His works ought to praise Him. We know from Revelation 5 that they indeed will! David ends the Psalm the way he begins it, exhorting his own soul to join in that praise. I love joining in with the myriads- glorifying and enjoying God today, tomorrow, and forever!

I hope this post has been edifying. I’m so very aware that this present life is really grueling and all too often absolutely painful and deeply sad. As Christian pilgrims we live in the already but not yet. That means we still gotta keep ointment and band-aids on hand in our backpacks. So be sure to leave home with plenty of Psalms-truth on hand, dear brothers and sisters.

Be blessed,

Emma

Memorizing the Bible: The How

Fasten your seatbelts, y’all. It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Last week we covered the why of memorizing the Bible. Today we’ll cover the how.

Time:

One thing you might be thinking is that you just don’t have time to memorize and review the Bible. If that’s the case, I would encourage you to pick a day in the near future and track your time that entire day. There are many apps that can help you do this (StackTheTime is just one of many out there) or you could just jot it things down on a note on your phone or on a piece of paper.

Be as aggressive as you can possibly be- track how much time you spend sprawled out in bed snoozing your alarm, how much time you spend getting ready, how you use your lunch break, and even (perhaps especially!) how much time you spend scrolling around on your phone during those times.

See where you have a few spare minutes to devote to memory and review as well as what daily tasks would lend themselves well to multitasking (i.e. emptying the dishwasher, waiting in a carpool line or standstill traffic, folding laundry, etc.) Over the course of today I reviewed John 11, Revelation 12, Job 38-42, and Psalm 103 while driving to the library and whilst doing various household tasks. The kids (and Drew 🙂 ) are used to it by now and interrupt somewhat, but much less than they used to because it’s become familiar for them.

Time tracking may also be revelatory in regards to how you do spend your free time- perhaps it’s time to cut down on a particular podcast, TV show, or video game. In any case, hopefully this can help you find time within your day to devote to learning and meditating on the Word of God.

Methods & Tools

After discovering what time(s) you can set aside for this purpose, evaluate what methods best help you learn and experiment with available tools. I start by copying the chapter into my phone’s note app and breaking it into sections that make sense for me. Here are two example notes from 2 Timothy 4 and Nehemiah 7:

Then I would record a short section on the Memorize Anything app and listen to it while I cleaned up, etc. (I don’t use that app anymore, but it was very helpful initially). These days I repeat it out loud over and over, checking the note when I need to until I don’t need to look anymore. The following day I review from the previous day and add another section, repeating it as many times as necessary to get it down pat. It isn’t always just a once a day thing, either. Some days I review chapters multiple times out of desperate need for the Word. Extra review is needed for passages that are more difficult than others to retain (For me that’s John 13-17! I had to review it tons initially and that whole section still requires extra efforts on my part). I’ve certainly learned that the memorizing process is mega important, but that it’s just the beginning. It’s not rocket surgery: review, review, review!

An important aside: getting what you’re memorizing word perfect is a good aim. After all, this is the inspired Word of God. But I’m gonna be honest: I frequently miss words and even lose whole sections from the books and passages that I have memorized. That’s why I still have to check against the notes on my phone to ensure it’s right. I truly believe that the point of this discipline is to internalize the truth of the text in order to love God more and pursue obedience to Him. So do take it seriously, but don’t panic about getting words wrong or forgetting parts. He loves you so much and gives much grace to the humble.

It’ll also be helpful to identify your learning style. Does listening to something on repeat cement it into your mind? Try recording a short passage on a recording app (such as the aforementioned Memorize Anything app) or listening to it on the YouVersion Bible app. Maybe for you writing it down multiple times will be the best method – either on a device or in a notebook- according to science, paper and pen will likely serve you best 🙂 If you have other ideas or things you’ve tried, please share them with me!

Accountability:

Find a person or a few people you can ask to hold you accountable as well as incentives that will keep you going. Since I started memorizing I’ve written out the day’s passage from memory and texted it in a group message to my sister Caroline and my Mom. I’ve also done this over shorter periods of time with several other friends and family members when we memorized passages together. When I finish a chapter, I say it aloud to my husband Drew and we talk about it. This practice not only keeps me accountable, but it also knits me together with other believers in a really special way. I love learning from other’s insights on what I just texted or recited!

Rewards & Celebrations:

Finally, consider setting up rewards to incentivize you to meet your goal. As a small daily example, I wait to listen to podcasts until I’ve done my review and memorization. It also helps me to record chapters on Adobe Spark Video and share them with others on social media. I’m also grateful that those recordings are stored on the cloud to leave with my kids (and hopefully grandkids).

And, of course, good food motivates me! After I finished Revelation we went out to the Cheesecake Factory for a steak. When the kids finished memorizing Hebrews 1 I took them to Chik-Fil-A to celebrate! (I’ll be sharing a post on memorizing with kids in the near future).

In summary:

  • Figure out where you have time in your schedule to memorize and review Scripture. Protect & prioritize that time!
  • Discover your learning style and the tools that are best for you- this will likely require trial and error. You got this!
  • Find an accountability partner. I’m always available!
  • Utilize incentives & celebrate victories!

I hope this has been helpful for y’all. Feel free to send questions and/or comments! Be blessed,

Emma

Memorizing the Bible: The Why!

Has a song gotten stuck in your head recently? If it has, I hope it’s been one you really like and listen to often (as opposed to an annoying tune from a kid’s toy or a lame song you heard in a store or something)!

Every now and again phrases from the Bible passages I’ve memorized will get stuck in my head. Here’s one! It happened because when I first memorized it (for me, this involves a lot of loud repetition) Jude would repeat it, so we made a little game out of it. I would say:

“…He was even calling God His own Father…”

And Jude, from his car seat or while building something with Duplos, would finish:

“…making Himself equal with God.” – John 5:18

The truth conveyed here is foundational to the Christian faith- that Jesus is truly God. That’s definitely something I want to think about nonstop!

That was a rambly start to a two part series on why and how to memorize books of the Bible. This part will focus on the why, because without that the how isn’t gonna help anybody.

In my first post I listed the books and passages I’ve memorized. Since then I’ve made progress in Nehemiah (today I’ll start memorizing chapter 7) and have also memorized the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians. That totals up to 80 chapters so far. And as a result of dedicating roughly an hour or so each day to review, I can recite all of those chapters from memory. If I didn’t live with myself 24/7, I’d be proud of that. As it is, I’m not. But more on that later.

My initial motivation for memorizing was to model an active love for God’s Word to my children. I knew that if I didn’t love it and prize it, it’d be pretty disingenuous to encourage them to do so. At that point in my journey I was a believer, but my love for God was very faint. By His grace, He convicted me of my lack of desire for Him.

The threefold God genuinely wants each of us know, enjoy, and love Him. I can testify that He will indeed give more grace to anyone who humbly acknowledges their sin and draws near to Him. It’s incredible!

If memorizing – whether it’s a verse or two, a chapter, or a whole book- is something you’re wanting to commit to or something you’re currently attempting, read this:

“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day….How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” -Psalms 119:97, 103

Now take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with this mindset, to enable you to hunger and thirst for His righteousness, and to show you how much better His revealed Word is than any pleasure this world has to offer. Ask Him to tear down any barriers preventing you from spending time in His Word. If you have a bad memory and it’s really tough for you to retain Scripture, ask Him to make your memory really great when it comes to the Bible. Regardless of how He answers that petition, you can be confident in asking Him to display His perfect power in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Now back to why I’m not proud of knowing 80 chapters of the Bible from memory. I know the evil I conceal in my mind and heart- and all the times that manifests itself in the way I treat others and how I regard God.

I desperately need to repeat the Word to myself because I’m a rotten sinner. On more than one occasion I’ve been reviewing Colossians 3, reciting aloud the command to be compassionate and forgiving as Christ has forgiven me, then turned around and treated my toddler’s spilled juice like it was the greatest catastrophe of all time.

So then I need to – and get to! – go back to Colossians 2 where I’m promised that Jesus has erased the debt I owe because of my sin by nailing it to the cross. Because Colossians 3 also tells me to be humble, I’m spurred to confess my sinfulness to my kids and point them to Jesus’ righteous sacrifice made on behalf of everyone who puts their trust in Him.

This doesn’t come easy. It’s a fight. Every.single.day. But it’s one I know He has already won for me. This means that even when I fail spectacularly, I can repent and press onward. When we see Christ as the best Master, we don’t want to serve sin anymore. We’re free to dedicate ourselves to abiding in His Word.

I’m a podcast junkie, but let me tell you this- I don’t listen to them nearly as much anymore. I’m a social media addict- but not like I once was. The Bible is displacing these things as well as others in the battle for my time and my thoughts, and I can honestly say I hope that it supplants them even more!

I don’t know how your Bible time should look. My prayer is that the Spirit will lead you to the best habits for you to bear much fruit as you abide in Christ. What I am sure of is that guilt isn’t gonna motivate you for long, if even at all. What will get you started and keep you going is the certainty that He loves you deeply and that His Word is true and life-giving!

“[May your] hearts be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” – Colossians 2:2-3

Be blessed,

Emma

Mercy Ablaze: Genesis Part 4

Yesterday I punctured the kid’s inflatable pool. In retrospect, it was a pretty dumb idea to drag it over the chain link fence to from the side yard to the backyard. Fortunately Jude and I were able to patch it with some T-Rex tape (as advertised, it is ferociously strong) to ensure the kids could party on, summer style. I could share dozens of examples of silly decisions I’ve made, and I’m sure you could as well.

That’s the most lighthearted intro I could come up with, seeing as today’s subject is the fall (and subsequent fallout) of mankind as recorded in Genesis 3 & 4. Comical mistakes aside, I’m well aware that there are the many sinful choices we’ve made that none of us want to share about, because those are anything but lighthearted.

As heavy as these chapters are, it’s hard to miss God’s incredible mercy towards our first parents and their children shown in His Words and actions to them.

Chapter three starts with Satan’s deception of Eve recorded. He isn’t even subtle in the way he twists God’s words, initially suggesting that every tree is off limits. Eve attempts to correct that, but he is able to deceive her into in disobeying God’s command, with Adam following suit.

Deceive: To cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid.

This first deception paved the way for Satan as the “father of lies” (John 8:44) – many have been and will be deceived by him all the way to their eternal death. So where is God’s mercy here? It’s immeasurable. He gave a life giving commandment to Adam and Eve. They were warned about the wages of sin being death. The same goes for us as their great (x a lot) grandchildren. He has plainly given us His Word, warning each person to flee the Deceiver’s falsehoods and to shelter in His Son for salvation (John 12:44-50).

After eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil Adam and Eve immediately felt shame about their nakedness and hid from God. He shows His kindness by seeking them out and speaking to and with them, rather than abandoning them to their deserved fate. For a really good sermon about this particular section, click here (thanks, Mom!)

As I’ve reviewed this passage, one thing that stands out to me is that once Adam and Eve have answered God’s questions (blame-shifting and all) that God curses Satan without asking him any questions. My son Jude sometimes asks me if Satan can be saved, and I try my best to answer him biblically and emphasize that God’s justice is perfect and beyond our full comprehension. There isn’t much focus on Satan here – his backstory, motives, etc – the emphasis is squarely placed on God’s words.

God’s cursing of Satan includes what theologians call the protevangelium – the first gospel:

“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” – Genesis 3:15

How can we find mercy in enmity? As much as people seem to prefer peaceful resolutions, there will need to be war to restore what was lost in Eden. We see that Satan will have offspring and that they’ll be at war with the woman’s seed . A Promised One will come from the woman. There will be war and bruising, and the end result will be a crushed and defeated serpent!

After rightly pronouncing Satan’s judgment and proclaiming this great promise God declares the earned consequences for sin to Adam and Eve and their descendants. There will be pain in childbirth and strife enters the marriage relationship. The ground is cursed, resulting in grueling toil for mankind. All of this difficulty will proceed the certainty of the grave.

This life isn’t just hard because of random chance or because the world is governed by an apathetic higher power. Quite the opposite. God was and is just to punish sin – and He doesn’t punish us rebels as we deserve! He always has purposes in what He does. He delights to rescue and restore all Who will follow Him. Other Scripture gives us much insight into this reality:

“For the creation was subjected to futility — not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it — in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children.” – Romans 8:20-21

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in faithful love. He will not always accuse us or be angry forever. He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our offenses. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His faithful love toward those who fear Him.” – Psalms 103:8-11

God’s mercy continues to blaze as He clothes Adam and Eve with animal skin. Then, in His divine wisdom He evicts Adam and Eve from the garden to ensure they won’t eat from the tree of life and therefore be doomed to live forever as fallen creatures.

Genesis four records the sad story of the first brothers’ lives – Cain opening the door to his sin and murdering Abel. God spares him from immediate death, banishing him further from His presence due to his evil works. Abel is the first martyr – and though he is recorded as finding favor with God, he isn’t the promised Headcrusher. I love having the whole Word to marvel over, and I often read this passage after reviewing Genesis 4:

“You have come….to Jesus (mediator of a new covenant ), and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel.” -Hebrews 12:22-24

So once again we’ve mainly zoomed in upon God’s mercy and the incredible hope found in Christ’s righteous life, death, and resurrection. I think I’m happy with that!

We can also continue to be warned that Satan is indeed a deceiver and a cunning serpent. We have to be watchful and ready to rebuke his overtures of “Did God really say…?” with the truth of what God really has said.

Stay alert, brothers and sisters. Keep yourselves in the love of the God Who clothes rebel children and crushes their enemies by sacrificing Himself for their sake.

Be blessed,

Emma

P.S. Great song for your edification:

Three Gifts Explored: Genesis Part 3

As I spend time in Genesis 1-4 every Monday, I’m continually amazed and grateful to meditate on how God has and is revealing Himself to those whom He has created in His image. A few months ago it also struck me that it’s also my family history in a way. That realization came when reviewing chapter four where Cain murders Abel, but I realized that chapter two also gives some really good family history. In keeping with last week’s post, I want to focus more on God’s goodness in and of Himself and in the gifts He gives.

We see (at least!) three gifts given in this chapter:

  • The gift of the Sabbath
  • The gift of purposeful work
  • The gift of marriage & the way it points to Christ & the church

First, the Sabbath:

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” – Genesis 2:1-3

We know from Psalm 121:4 that, unlike us, God doesn’t need sleep or grow weary. He blessed and sanctified the seventh day to manifest His perfect Kingship and for our good. Jesus explains this to the Pharisees after they get angry about his disciples picking grain on the Sabbath:

“Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” – Mark 2:27-28

Because the Sabbath day is a blessed and sanctified day, let’s ask God to enable us to receive this gift as we ought. For more passages about the Sabbath, see Exodus 20:9-11, Isaiah 56:2, Luke 8:6-10, and Hebrews 4:8-10.

Following the gift of the Sabbath, God grants the blessing of the meaningful work that’ll fill up the other six days of the week:

“The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed….” -Genesis 2:8

“…Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” – Genesis 2:15

God chose the location and planted the garden first, then He gave Adam stewardship over it. The perfect world untainted by sin wasn’t one where God’s image bearers lounged around plucking grapes from vines and looking regal. God created people with complex minds and incredible bodies. From the beginning humans were made to glorify Him with every action, to reflect His goodness and experience unfettered joy while they did so.

Adam is then given a specific task to perform:

“Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.” – Genesis 2:19

Every day after I memorize, I text my Mom and my sister Caroline that part. I remember when I sent them verse 19, my Mom remarked that it was an extremely cerebral job and shows us that God had made Adam with a pretty stellar intellect.

It’s truly amazing how God planted the garden and then brought Adam to it. The Creator formed the living creatures first, then tasked Adam with naming them. The reality I find here is simple, but it’s changed the way I see my day-to-day work in a big way: God created each object and living being that I work with. We will be getting into the way the curse affects work next week. Still, even with the way that affects work on earth today, knowing that God planned and prepped Adam’s work space for Him brings me hope and much joy. His character is unchanging. If you’re in Christ He has prepared your work in advance, too!

“For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10

Finally, we come to the gift of marriage. As a result of that gift, more people would be born to fill up the earth with reflectors of God’s image (Genesis 1:28).

“The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”- Genesis 2:20-25

This account is one that, because I grew up hearing and reading it, I hadn’t taken the the time to consider in more depth until recently. God saw that Adam needed a suitable helper, and in His divine wisdom He created the woman from Adam’s own flesh. Once again, God ensures that Adam is present, but He is the One creating and gifting good things for His glory and His people’s good. Adam isn’t recorded as asking God for Eve. God is just that generous and that good.

As an aside, Christians must be well-versed in God’s ordination of marriage and His desired will for the way it should be regarded in thought and in practice. May we be ready to share about the goodness of God’s design for marriage with those who may not be aware of it. Satan circulates many lies about marriage, but God’s truth remains and He is forgiving and able to restore anyone who turns to Him. He can set captives free and heal the broken-hearted.

It’s been very edifying to consider the origin of the gift of marriage each week, both in regards to my own marriage and even more so the way it foreshadows profound mystery of Christ as the perfect bridegroom and the church as His ransomed bride (Ephesians 5:32). Jesus is the perfect second Adam, and His marriage to the church will last forever. May we rejoice in this great hope!

I’ll be switching posting days from Monday to Wednesday, so I’ll be back next week with reflections on Genesis 3.

Be blessed,

Emma

What’s Good? Genesis Part 2

“….Then God said…”

“…And there was evening and there was morning, one day.”

“…And God saw that it was good…”

These repeated phrases in Genesis one have become very familiar and comforting to me over the past year. When I was first memorizing it, the pattern made it easier to get into my mind than some other passages have been. Each phrase reveals so much about God. He speaks, and creates incredible things out of nothingness. He is an orderly God, ordaining time as it still exists now – days, weeks, seasons, years. He is good, and everything He makes is good.

I’ve mentioned before that each Monday I recite Genesis 1-4 aloud from memory. It’s beneficial to dwell on the beginning of time and the early years of humanity as a new week begins. To be honest, it’s often kind of tough, too. I’m jaded by the incongruity I feel in myself as I repeat “And God saw that it was good” on each day of creation.

Like, I just saw a headline about some dreadful crime that was committed nearby. The world was good then- and only briefly. What about right now? It ain’t looking too good, man.

And then, in a less heavy but still real way, the orderliness of the world prior to sin nags at me. The floor and the dishes and the laundry is dirty again. There’s smelly trash to throw out. It’s great that it was all in order then, but it certainly isn’t right this second.

And that is why I rejoice that God has given us the entire Word that reveals Jesus as the Redeemer and returning King Who will restore everything (Revelation 21-22).

Still, I have a tendency to skip ahead when it comes to a lot of things. When I was growing up we always fast-forwarded through musicals if we didn’t like a song. Sometimes I’ll skip sections in books, too. The long John Galt lecture in Atlas Shrugged? The lengthy chapters on French architecture in The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Bye Felicia!

So yesterday morning as I reviewed I tried to really meditate on what Genesis one records instead of just whizzing past it to get on to the next three chapters. And now I’m wondering what took me so long to just slow down and marvel. Wowzers.

In the beginning the earth is “formless and void”. There’s darkness over the surface of the deep. God the Spirit is there, moving over the surface of the waters. Then, God speaks!

Light!

How quick I am to take the daylight for granted. A new dawn each morning. The sky above, declaring His glory daily (Psalm 19). The seas and the land and that they’re separated from each other. The plants exploding out of the ground in my backyard and the flour in my cupboard from wheat fields across the nation and produce from all around the world sitting in my fridge. All because God created plants and trees on the third day. Just a twenty minute drive to the aquarium and I can see a tiny fraction of the swarms of creatures who inhabit the ocean. He made those…every single one of them. I’m hearing a chorus of birds outside my window right now. My neighbors have dogs and cats whose original ancestors were brought forth by God speaking them into existence on the sixth day!

And then…God declares His purpose to create people in His image. That is fundamental to who we are as people. Philosophers and many others have pondered, written, and lectured, just trying to carve out the purpose of man’s existence. And here lies the answer. May we not leave it unopened!

Paul explains it clearly in the Areopagus address, ending with the call to repent and believe in Christ:

“The God who made the world and everything in it — He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands. Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things. From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Being God’s offspring then, we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination. Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has set a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.” – Acts 17:24-31

Romans 1:20 tells us this:

“For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.” – Romans 1:20

What He has made points us to Himself! The vast oceans full of life, the breathtaking snow-capped mountains, the galaxies we can’t even begin to explore. We all know it, whether we admit it or not…and He wants us to know. He isn’t hiding!

So as I’ve been considering how I want to dwell more deeply on what’s recorded in the first chapter of Genesis, it’s not as if I’m choosing to shut myself off from the current fallen state of the world. That wouldn’t be faithful to the full counsel of God. But what I am seeing is that God is high and holy and that His power and perfection can still be clearly seen in creation around me. I can praise Him for the way He created everything as good and the ways that goodness can be seen and touched and smelled and heard and tasted today.

Rather than focusing the bulk of my attention on the headlines and resenting the ongoing carousel of dirty dishes, I can praise God for His holiness and think more deeply on that. And I would encourage you to do likewise, so that we can grow together in our certainty of His great love for His children and the sure hope we have in Him.

Be blessed,

Emma

Majestic & Merciful: Genesis Part 1

It’s a Monday, people. As far as Mondays go, mine has actually been pretty stellar. Big shoutout to my awesome MIL who watched my kids so I could get things done at home!

While I worked on some of those things, I recited Genesis 1-4 because it’s on the schedule for Monday and to help prepare for this post. Oftentimes when I begin either book, I’ll mix up John and Genesis. Sunday school kids, why do ya think that is? The prize for answering is a Starburst! 😉 Yep, you got it! Both books begin with the same three words:

“In the beginning…”

Immediately we are made to admit we need God to tell us what happened in the beginning because – news flash – we weren’t there! We see God explain that very powerfully to Job in Job 38. And, shocking as it continues to be, we also need Divine revelation to inform us about a great many things we weren’t physically there to witness, such as the fall of mankind into sin and God’s promise of a coming Son Who would crush Satan’s head.

The genesis (puns always intended, my friends) of me wanting to memorize Genesis was a frustration with the common occurrence of Christians doubting literal six day creation, with some attempting to fit modern evolutionary theory into the text in various ways. I don’t really want to get into that too deeply right this moment for reasons that’ll become obvious in a minute, but I will link to this great blog post by Tim Challies for your edification.

As I wrestled with concern over this issue, the Spirit reminded me of what I’d been learning along my Scripture memory and review journey: the best way to deal anything hard in my life was to go to Christ with it. As He is the Word made flesh, He led me to press more into the truth revealed there. So I sought to commit time and effort to memorize and meditate on the creation account as an alternative to dwelling on what I do indeed perceive to be an erroneous interpretation of the Scriptures.

This endeavor has certainly lifted my focus from temporal concerns and pursuits to how majestic and merciful the threefold God truly is. In the next three weeks we’ll marvel at His greatness, grieve over the sinfulness of humankind, and rejoice in the hope found in God’s patience and graciousness. If this blog feels like a broken record where that’s what we do every week, then…mission accomplished! It’s what we need every minute of every day. May He create clean hearts in us that love, worship, and enjoy Him forever.

Be blessed,

Emma