As I study Exodus, I am preaching about Genesis. We just finished looking at the Creation story. As you review each day of Creation, you finally reach the seventh day. Rest. I love how God built this great rhythm of work and rest into His creation. This rhythm continues throughout the Bible, and today’s verse is one of these continuations.
God tells His people that the land needs renewal. As I take my morning walks, I often take note of the small things that I wouldn’t see rushing throughout my day. I look around the neighborhood, at the different gardens and flowers. I consider the different seasons, the way the growth patterns work. There is great rhythm in creation, and with it there is renewal that God designed within His creation.
We also need renewal. We need to have time to rest and time to renew ourselves in the Lord. Part of this means being intentional with your time. We have different seasons of our lives, just like there are different seasons of a calendar year. We have seasons of challenge, seasons of loss. We have seasons of growth and seasons of change. Each season is different, but each requires rest and renewal. More importantly, in each season we need the Spirit of God to lead us through, to mold us and grow us for the next season.
“But let the land be renewed and lie uncultivated during the seventh year. Then let the poor among you harvest whatever grows on its own. Leave the rest for wild animals to eat. The same applies to your vineyards and olive groves.” – Exodus 23:11 [NLT]
A tortoise stands up to allow lizards and birds to get the insects that are in the hard-to-reach areas. One would think that a tortoise would not want to surround himself with lizards and birds, that they are very different from the slow-paced life of the tortoise. While this action of the tortoise benefits the tortoise, who likely gets irritated and annoyed by the insects, it also benefits the lizards and birds, who get a nice meal. What a great way for these creatures to live together in harmony!
In life, we are supposed to live in harmony with each other too. This can seem like a hard task as we sometimes do not understand certain people or enjoy their company. We question why someone comes along our path. We see some people near us as a nuisance. There are people we do not see as helpful. Some people are draining. Let’s be honest. It’s true. You will not like everyone. You will not get along with everyone. You may not want to lift yourself up for a lizard to help you out, because you cannot get past the annoyance of the lizard.
When you face these challenges, understand that the other person is created in the image of God. Just like you, the person is a broken image-bearer. It may be for your good that you have encountered the person. Remember, God uses all things to accomplish His great purpose. God is continuing to grow you into who you were meant to be in life. Today, choose to rise up like the tortoise and elevate those around you. As you look out for the best interest of others, as you invest in others and do whatever you can do to speak life to them, God will use what you pour out for His glory and He will continue to mold you into His image and teach you how to love others as He loves.
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” – Romans 12:16 [ESV]
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27 [ESV]
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 [NASB]
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4 [ESV]
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” – John 15:12 [NIV]
We are Valuable. Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? [NLT]
We are God’s Creation. Only part of Creation made with God’s hands. Remember, He took the dirt and formed Adam. He took Adam’s bone and made Eve. He gave us breath (the breath of God). Other parts of Creation were spoken into existence but humans He handmade. (Genesis 1 & 2)
We are His Masterpiece. He continues to mold us. We are His masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)
Ephesians 5:11 – Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. [ESV]
Proverbs 24:11-12 – Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? [ESV]
We each have responsibility to shine the light in this dark world – to share the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
REMEMBER: Where sin abounds, grace abounds more. (Romans 5:20)
If you have had an abortion and you asked for forgiveness, you have already been forgiven.
So what does the Bible say?
In the Bible, some were known in the womb. Some were sanctified in the womb.
Jeremiah 1:5 – “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” [NLT]
Isaiah 49:1 – “Listen to me, all you in distant lands! Pay attention, you who are far away! The LORD called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.” [NLT]
Galatians 1:15 – “But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased” [NIV]
The word for prenatal and postnatal beings in the Bible – CHILDREN.
We also read about:
- Jacob & Esau struggling in the womb
- John the Baptist leaping for joy while in the womb and recognizing Jesus in Mary’s womb.
HE IS THE GIVER OF LIFE
Psalm 139:13-16 [NIV] – GOD KNITS TOGETHER; IT’S GOD’S WORK – NOT OURS
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
HE MADE US IN HIS IMAGE
- Genesis 1:26-27 – Man is made in God’s image
- Genesis 5:3 – When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. [NIV]
- Seth was created in likeness of Adam.
- Adam was created in likeness of….. GOD
Imago Dei (EE-ma-go Day) – Image of God is stamped on each of us.
HE VALUES LIFE
Genesis 9 – Capital punishment – murder in 1st degree
And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being. “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God. (v. 5-6 NIV)
Exodus 21:22-25 speaks about punishment when pregnant woman is accidentally injured while people are fighting and a life is lost.
- The Didache (Di-dah-kay) – Jewish instruction manual held that abortion was murder
- Early church, Calvin, Luther, Edwards held that abortion was murder.
God values life so much that He sent His one and only Son to die on the Cross so we could live forever with Him.
Here’s a sermon outline from a message I shared on the Slavery of Self-Reliance. You may download the outline below. Please note there was no illustration with this message but instead I spoke of King Asa of Judah from 2 Chronicles 16 giving the gold and silver from the Temple to Ben-Hadad King of Syria.
Slavery of Self-Reliance
Everyone needs: Meaning / Purpose / Security / Safety / Significance / Worth / Value
Self-reliant / Self-determination / Self-Dependence / Independent / Self-Sufficient / Self-Contained
The world sees these as good things / the world applauds these things
The problem: These things enslave us. Burden of Self-Reliance à when all relies on you à Slavery
The solution: God wants to free us from ourselves
God is our: meaning / purpose / significance / security / safety / protection
- God provides you meaning and purpose
- Isaiah 43:7 – God has made you for His glory.
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
- Matthew 5:16 – Let your light shine before others to glorify God
- God provides you security
- Proverbs 3:26 – “For the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap” (NLT).
- God provides you safety
- Psalm 18:2 – “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
- Psalm 91:2 – “… He alone is my refuge, my place of safety…” (NLT)
- Proverbs 18:10 – Godly run to God and are safe
- God provides you significance and worth and value
- Genesis 1:27 – God made you in His image
- Psalm 139:13 – God created each of us individually – knit you in your mother’s womb with certain abilities & gifts – allows certain experiences – all so you can be of great worth to His Kingdom – YOU CAN DO GREAT THINGS! (John 14:12 – “… anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works…” NLT).
- Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT).
Only those who stand in need of a savior will look for and recognize one.
Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (ESV)
Jeremiah 17:5-8 – “This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
I will never tell you that you will be rich because you are a follower of Christ. I loathe the prosperity preaching I’ve heard time and time again. You may not be a millionaire when you accept Christ into your life. I know many Christians who live on very little income. I will still say I am rich because I refer to spiritual blessings always above monetary blessings.
I do think it is important that you understand God has always wanted you to prosper. When God created mankind, when He created the Earth and all upon it, He said, “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!” So from the very beginning, He has wanted us to prosper.
When you are having a bad day (week, month, year), there is this part of you that thinks God doesn’t want me to have these good things or God doesn’t want me to succeed. Tell those thoughts to go away. God has something better for you than those things. It might require patience. There might be a lot of waiting. But God has ALWAYS wanted you to prosper. He loves you. You are His child. A Father always wants the best for His child. Once you align your understanding of the best you can imagine with His best, you’ll realize that it is worth waiting for and you will see that He wants you to prosper. He has given it all so that you have the opportunity to prosper.
“God spoke: ‘Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.’
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
‘Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.’”
– Genesis 1:26-28 [MSG]
Life is very precious to God. From the very beginning of Creation, God spoke to the Earth and said, “generate life.” Generate life. We read of the creation of animals and then we read of the creation of man. Man becomes responsible for the animals and even for Earth.
Now with this command to the Earth to “generate life” and with our responsibility for the Earth and all upon it, we need to understand this command because it is for us as well. What does it mean to generate life? To generate means to bring about or cause or lead to something. In this case, the something is life.
If the Earth’s job is to lead to life, to produce life—and if we are responsible for the Earth, then we need to live in a way to help the Earth to generate life. Promote life. Save life. Protect life. Speak life. Value life. Pro-life. This doesn’t mean we should all start mass producing. This doesn’t mean we should all become vegetarians. To dive deeper, consider this: God created these things so He cares for them. He may have created them from nothing, but He didn’t create them for nothing. Generate life.
“God spoke: ‘Earth, generate life! Every sort and kind:
cattle and reptiles and wild animals—all kinds.’
And there it was:
wild animals of every kind,
Cattle of all kinds, every sort of reptile and bug.
God saw that it was good.”
– Genesis 1:24-25 [MSG]
The word Elohim is used in Genesis 1 as the Bible discusses Creation. Elohim is the title for God. Yahweh is used more—three times as often. Yahweh, the LORD, is used over 6000 times in the Old Testament. Why am I telling you these facts?
Yahweh is personal. God wants to be known. He is not some generic deity. He is a specific person. He desires to have a special relationship with you.
Do you have a personal relationship with Him? There are people who believe in Elohim. They agree that God created the heavens and the earth. Yet they don’t have Yahweh in their lives—they did not accept Him as a personal Savior. Is He your Lord and Savior?
“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” – Acts 17:27-28 [NIV]
I am doing a lesson on Genesis 1 – Creation. I am going to start off showing the children the cross paper and discuss how God knew at the very beginning that we would need a Savior. Then I am going to transition into a discussion on Creation and we are going to cut out our crosses. I am going to read from Genesis 1 and review Creation. As we progress through each day, we will fill in a box on the cross by drawing something that represents what God created on that particular day. After the 6th day, we will fold our cross into a cube and tape it together. Then we will finish with Day 7. Finally, we will split into groups and take turns rolling our cube and sharing something amazing about that day of creation. Afterward, we will gather together and review.
For the cross pattern, simply measure 8 inches by 2 inches rectangular on a vertical sheet of paper. Then draw a line every two inches so that the squares are 2″ x 2″. Then at the second square from the top, put a square (2″ x 2″) on both the left and right side.
When you cut out the cross, fold up the sides at the mid square section and then fold the extra square (the bottom square) up. Use tape to hold the sides together.
This lesson allows the children to use their creativity while learning about Creation.