FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Words For Reflection:
You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. – St. Augustine
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: Genesis 2:4-25
Alleluia! Sing to Jesus! - Adoration
He Leadeth Me - Confession
Jesus, the Lord, My Savior Is - Grace
We Will Feast in the House of Zion - Response
For the Beauty of the Earth - Communion
Doxology - Old 100th
The Bible Project:
As a way to help you grasp the over-arching story of the Bible, I am going to include each week a link to one of The Bible Project videos that summarizes in a few minutes one book of the Bible.
This week check out the summary of 2 Corinthians.
If you are looking for help to read the Bible in a more regular way, you may findthis approach and this app helpful.
Sunday evening I mentioned a little book that is most helpful for engaging issues and questions we encounter as we read through Genesis 1. If you have persistent questions about the Christian understanding of creation and whether or not it's compatible with modern science this is a great place to start.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
There's A Wideness In God's Mercy
There's a wideness in God's mercy,
like the wideness of the sea.
There's a kindness in God's justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more felt than up in heaven.
There is no place where earth's failings
have such kindly judgment given.
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Father, we confess that we do not live up to the family name. We are more ready to resent than to forgive, more ready to manipulate than to serve, more ready to fear than to love, more ready to keep our distance than to welcome, more ready to compete than to help. At the root of this behavior is mistrust and self-love. We do not love one another as we should, because we do not believe that you love us as you do. Forgive us our cold unbelief. Show us what it cost you to give up your Son that we might become your sons and daughters. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our only righteousness. Amen.
Words of Grace
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
1 John 3:2-3
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text - Genesis 1:1-2:3
1. The God of Creation (v. 1a, )
2. The Gifts of Creation (v. 26-28; Phil. 1:6)
This week we began a new series in the book of Genesis. Genesis is the first book of the Bible and the first of the five books that introduce us to the opening characters and realities of the Biblical story.
When we come to Genesis 1, we are introduced to God. "In the beginning, God."(v. 1a) He is the main character of this opening chapter. He is described as the master craftsman working with what he has created culminating in the acclamation, "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good." (v. 1:31)
So what is this opening chapter really all about? It leads us to delight in God and his work by showing us how we got here, who we are, and why we are here.
If God is the main character of the creation story then what do we learn about him? He is before all things (v. 1a). He created the heavens and the earth, that is, everything, out of nothing (v. 1a). He stands outside of creation. He is utterly self-existent, dependent on nothing and no one. But he is intimately involved and even pours out his blessings (v. 22, 28; 2:3). And as we look at his creative work we discover it is deliberate, ordered, and purposeful. It is the work of one who is in absolute control over all things.
The conclusion of the passage comes in 2:1-3 with God resting from all he has made. In other words, God is deeply satisfied and delights in his work. What then is the point we need to hear from this opening passage? Among all that it teaches about how we got here it teaches us a very important and simple truth about God. God finishes what he starts. (1:1; 2:1-3)
Remember this passage would have first been heard by God's people who had just been delivered from 400 years of slavery in Egypt and were on their way to the promised land. Will they get there? Will God come through on his promises? Will God help them, sustain them, go before them? The story of creation is meant to answer that question! It is intended to remind God's people who He is and who they are and where they are headed. The story of creation teaches us that God can be trusted and he will see us through whatever we are going through in order that we might enter into his rest with him.
Not only do we learn about the God of creation from this passage but we also discover the Gifts of creation. They are beyond number and we are going to highlight just two. Throughout church history people have debated the significance of the days of creation and especially their length. While I don't believe the text makes a claim about the age of the universe or the age of the earth or the nature of the length of the days of creation, I do think the sequence of the days is extremely significant. Why? Because the climax of the whole passage comes in day 6 in vs. 26-27, God's creation of humans in His image. What do we learn? We learn first who we really are. Human beings are unique in all of creation. Only human beings are created in God's image and therefore are of infinite worth and dignity. Also humans are created male and female. They are equal but different and both essential to God's world and its flourishing, which leads to the second gift. Why are we here? To reign on God's behalf over his very good creation (v. 26, 28). We are servant-kings. Not just some but all people are given this calling by virtue of being created in God's image, male and female.
Now why should this matter to any of us? Because identity and purpose are two things we can't live without. But the question is how will you answer the question, "Who am I?" and "Why am I here?" Will answer them with your career, your finances, your children, your ambition, your sexuality, your intellect? Genesis 1 says only God can answer these questions. So, will you let God answer these questions for you? Will you receive his gifts?
How can you receive and enjoy these gifts? Live in light of God's completed work! Remember the first people to hear this passage were uncertain about who they were, why they were there, and would God come through. In that sense they were not any different than us. However, in another sense we are very different than God's people in the wilderness journeying to the promised land. We live on the other side of the death and resurrection of Jesus! On the cross Jesus cried, "It is finished!" God's completed work of redemption. The same God we read of in the creation story is the same God we see crucified on a Roman cross for his enemies. He completes what he starts no matter what the cost.
What this means is no matter what you are facing in your life today there is a word of good news for you. A word to unravel despair, discouragement, fear, apathy, indifference, doubt, unbelief. The one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. No matter what's going on in your life this is true because of what Jesus finished! Do you believe that?
Sermon Reflection Questions
- We themes or repeated words or phrase stand out to you from this passage?
- What questions does this passage raise for you?
- What do you learn about God?
- Why do you think we have such a hard time receive God's gifts of identity and purpose?
- How can this opening passage give you hope no matter what you are going through? (see also Phil. 1:6)
Confession of Faith: The New City Catechism, 2017
Q. 7. What does the law of God require?
A. Personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience; that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love our neighbor as ourselves. What God forbids should never be done and what God commands should always be done.
Matthew 22: 37-40
And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”