Saturday, August 27, 2016

An Example of Poor Leadership

After Adam and Eve sinned, they tried to cover their shame with fig leaves. The serpent promised that their eyes would be opened but they did not like what they saw. History very seldom takes sharp left turns, but in this case it took a sharp U-turn. Instead of having dominion, they were dominated by shame and guilt, hiding and afraid.
         They heard the voice of the LORD walking in the garden in the cool of the day. The Hebrew word for “cool” is roo-ahk and is also translated breath or gentle breeze. The gentle voice of God was calling to them, walking through the garden. But Adam and Eve were afraid because they followed the lie of not having wisdom, afraid that God was withholding something from them. Their fears led them to hide from the presence of the Lord.
         God called out, “Adam, where are you?” Genesis 3:9. This question would continue to ring throughout the generations to come as God continued to reach out to sinful, lost, and hiding man. A similar question was asked in Luke 2:41 – 50 when Joseph and Mary finally found Jesus at the age of twelve in the Temple discussing God’s word with the teachers of Israel. They asked him, “Where have you been?” Jesus answered with a question, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” What a contrast between Adam hiding from the presence of God and Jesus remaining in the presence of the Father completely unaware of his absence from his parents.
         When Adam was confronted with his sin, he immediately blamed God, “…the woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Genesis 3:12. Blaming others for what you are responsible for is an example of a total lack of personal leadership. It reveals fear, insecurity, shame, and an unwillingness to own it, learn from it, and correct it. Eve followed Adam’s poor leadership example by doing the same thing. She blamed the serpent.
         The conversation that God had with the serpent at this point it the first declaration of the gospel in the Bible; “I will put enmity between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.” The word “seed” is the Hebrew word zehrah. Of the 229 times it is used in the Old Testament, 221 times it is translated “seed.” The word “seed” is the best translation of this word. Man has seed, but woman does not have seed, until the virgin Mary conceived and gave birth to our Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN.
         Adam and Eve overheard the good news that God would one day crush the head of the serpent, by a Child to be born to the woman. They believed and began having children. The fifth chapter of Genesis records the faith and hope in the line of Seth to this word from God. Compare the achievements of Cain and his offspring in Genesis chapter four to the activities of Seth and his offspring in chapter five. Here is a hint: according to Genesis 5:4 – 32 all they did was …lived, had a son, named him…had other sons and daughters, then died…” They were waiting and looking for the promised Seed of the woman who would conquer and prevail over Satan.
         From this lesson, take note of your urge to blame others for the things you are responsible for and know that this must be corrected. According to God’s word, confess your sins by apologizing to God, thanking him for the forgiveness purchased by the blood of Jesus, and asking the Holy Spirit to teach you to overcome that temptation and learn to follow God’s word in his way, his truth, and his life.

         Memorize and chew on this word today, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” Psalm 86:11

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The First Sin; A Failure of Leadership

The second chapter of Genesis closes with the beautiful scene of Adam and Eve in the garden in perfect fellowship with each other and with God. The third chapter of Genesis reveals the anatomy of sin; a failure of leadership.
         The serpent is the first false prophet in the Bible with words similar to God’s but without faith. He addresses Eve with Adam standing beside her, silent. Adam had named the serpent and it was to follow him, not the other way around. Adam should have been asking the serpent questions, not the serpent asking Eve questions. And the nature of the questions attacked the very word of God.
The blatant lie in Genesis 3:4, “You will not surely die…” was an attack on the authority of God’s word. Satan put forth a new word for Adam and Eve to follow rather than God’s word. And it was a lie that led to death. They followed and introduced this deadly leadership to the rest of mankind. We have suffered ever since. Satan has not changed his attack strategy, but certainly has intensified it in these last days.
Once the lie was swallowed, hook, line, and sinker, several new and powerful leaders appeared. Eve’s appetite was suddenly focused on the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She began following her appetite for food, and Adam followed her. She suddenly was pleasured by the beauty of the tree and she began following the pleasing appearance of it, and Adam silently followed right behind her. All of a sudden, a new source for wisdom came into focus with a stronger desire for it than for the fear of the Lord. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” Proverbs 1:7, but Eve had already stopped chewing on God’s word and had swallowed the lie, as Adam followed along.
When the truth of God’s word is exchanged for a lie, creation is seen without a Creator and leads man by his appetites, his eyes, his fears, and his desire to lead but without any accountability. As Adam followed along silently, he too was being led astray from the leadership he had learned from God. Rather than follow God’s word, he followed his wife in total agreement with her in their new-found friend, the serpent and his appealing offer. According to Romans 5:12, “…sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…” It was Adam that introduced sin into the world by failing to lead according to God’s word.
The same false leaders with their powerful influences are in the world today. People are still following their appetites, pleasures, entertainments, the crowds, fears, and the desire for power without accountability, rather than the word of God. These false leaders are still attacking the truth of God’s word to lead people away from God and to death. The deception of the lie keeps men in the dark loving their evil deeds, which enslave them, rather than hearing God’s word and walking by faith.

Today, take an inventory of the powerful influences in your life in the light of God’s word. Choose to spend time with God in his word. Memorize and meditate upon as much of Psalm 23 as you can. Notice all that God provides for the one who follows him in his word. The Lord provides because he is the provider of everything that is good and right and holy. Follow him in his word today.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Learning to Lead at Home

The first two chapters of Genesis describe creation. Much has been written, discussed, disagreed upon, denied, and ignored about these two chapters. The first question you must ask yourself about these opening chapters of the Bible is whether you believe them or not. In Hebrews 11:3 it clearly states, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” The only way to understand what is going on in the opening chapters of the Bible is to believe what it says. As you believe, understanding follows.
         The creation account of Genesis chapter one reveals what God created and how; by first speaking it, then by doing it. The creation account of Genesis chapter two gives more details of the creation of mankind from the account in chapter one. It is not a different account from another source, but rather a more specific account than the general account of chapter one.
         One of those specifics is how God created Adam and how he created Eve. God created Adam from the dust of the earth and by breathing into his nostrils the breath of life. God gave Adam his Spirit, his life. God created Eve by putting Adam in a deep sleep, removing one of his ribs, closing the place up with flesh, and fashioning Eve from that rib. Amazing.
God created both, “…in the image his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27. And God blessed them. “And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ ” Genesis 1:28. God spoke that word to both of them, but at different times since they were created at different times; Adam first, then Eve. God had also blessed the birds of heavens and the fish of the sea in Genesis 1:22 with a similar blessing, but it was not spoken to them, but over them. There is a difference. And he certainly did not give the birds and fish the command to subdue and have dominion over the living things.
When God put Adam in the garden to serve and keep it, he also gave him the charge of naming the animals to begin leading them and to discover that they could not help him subdue and have dominion. It was after this that God fashion Eve from his rib and Adam exclaimed, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Genesis 2:23. As Adam named Eve he entered into a different kind of relationship with her than with the animals. He entered into a marriage covenant with her to learn together to lead by following God’s word.
Eve would learn from Adam to follow God’s word of tending and keeping the garden, of calling the animals by name, of getting wisdom from God’s word and not from a tree, and of subduing and having dominion over the garden and ultimately over all of creation. They were naked and unashamed, meaning they shared everything in common as one without hiding anything from each other or from God. They were truly one with each other and with God.
Leadership is learned at home in a loving, growing, forgiving, and encouraging environment, where the husband leads the family to hear God’s word and follow him. In the family God created, he created each person in his image with the ability to lead by hearing God, trusting God, and serving God. And they would learn this together and unashamed.
You may not live in a family like God created the family to be, but you are still made in his image with the calling to lead in the family you are in. You can hear God’s word, trust him, and serve him regardless of the condition of your family. As you do, the opportunity is given to your family to learn to hear God’s voice and follow him.

Memorize and meditate on Psalm 119:15 today, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” Then do it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Following the One Who Calls Your Name

God placed Adam in the garden to teach him how to subdue, to have dominion, and bring creation under God’s word. Adam would start out small in a controlled environment and grow from there. The next step in Adam’s training was to name the animals. The would follow Adam as he called them by name in the same way that sheep follow shepherds today in the Holy Land. Israel is one of the few places on earth where shepherds still practice leading their sheep by calling, rather than driving them with a stick. Adam was taught to lead in the same way he was being led; by word.
         We do the same today with pets. The first thing you do is to give your pet a name. One reason is so that your pet will come when you call it by name. Dogs, horses, and sheep seem to still have a faint knowledge of this, but cats seemed to be one of the first to have forgotten who was to be in the lead; just saying.
         When a husband and wife have a child, they give the child a name. In doing this they have a special relationship with their baby. As the child begins to grow she learns her name from her parents and begins to learn manners, language, and the culture of the family in a loving relationship. She will learn to respect authority and follow instructions. In so doing, she will learn personal leadership, following her parent’s instructions even when they are not around. All of this starts with a name. So it was from the beginning.
         Jesus described this special relationship with these words, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him for they know his voice…My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:3 – 4, 27. God has kept the shepherd/sheep relationship in the Holy Land as a continual parable of the way he created us to follow Christ and so learn to give leadership to ourselves, our families, our churches, communities and world.
         One of the reasons you are encouraged in this book to develop a daily time of reading and praying a psalm, a small piece of Proverbs, some from the gospels, the New Testament letters, a section of the law, the history, and the prophets is so that you will learn to follow the Lord according to his word. As God’s word becomes more and more a part of the beginning of your day, the more you will be aware of his voice throughout the day. You will hear him more and more clearly leading you by his word. This is how God created you to lead from the beginning; by following his word.

         Today, memorize and meditate on Psalm 119:73, “Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.”

Monday, August 22, 2016

Trust and Eat

Genesis 1 – 2 is definitive in understanding our origin and purpose. God created you in his image, to follow his word, and to give leadership and meaning to your surroundings.
The third word that God gave to Adam is the most well known from the creation account; “And the LORD God commanded the man saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’ ” Genesis 2:16 – 17. Much has been written and discussed about these verses and this command. One thing is for sure; the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not to be eaten. God had a different purpose for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It had another purpose.
Leaders make decisions. Leaders need discernment, wisdom, and knowledge. Here was a tree that seemed to fit the bill, and yet God had another purpose for it. It was not for obtaining wisdom and discernment. Adam was about to need wisdom for naming the animals, but it would not come from a tree.
God’s word is clear, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…” Proverbs 1:7. “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding…” Proverbs 2:1 – 6
Adam would receive wisdom, understanding, and knowledge by eating God’s word, not the fruit of a tree called knowledge. Trusting what God said as true and following what God said with grateful respect and awe would lead to wisdom, understanding, and knowledge from God in his word. Wise choices according to God’s word would follow, giving creation direction and meaning. The same is true today.
This, as we know, was the point of attack by Satan in Genesis 3, trusting God according to his word. The strategy of the world, the flesh, and the devil has not changed. Once God’s character is questioned, his word begins to lose credibility. When confidence in the truth of what God has said weakens, the world, the flesh, and the devil take over with new directions and leads. The problem with the new directions is that they all lead to death and the grave. And the greater problem was that everyone following Adam and Eve were enslaved having followed this deadly lead. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12.
The choice is still given today; life or death? Who or what will you follow? How can you know who or what to follow? God’s word invites you to “…taste and see that the LORD is good.” Psalm 34:8. As you trust and eat his word, receiving it into your inner most being, you will begin to see, to know, and to understand, but only if you trust God. You will not eat what you do not trust. Parents have to teach this to small children. They put anything and everything in their mouths. You can trust what God has said as true and good. God is trustworthy.

Memorize, pray, and meditate on Psalm 119:103 today, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” And know that as you do, God will give you wisdom. He has promised. He is faithful. He will do it.