Jan. 20, 2019
Explore the Bible
Protect and serve
Genesis 1:27; 9:1-7; Matt. 5:21-22 (HCSB)
On Jan. 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court legalized abortion. Since that date more than 61 million surgical abortions have been performed in the United States. The Pharmacists for Life Organization estimates that 250 million chemically induced abortions have been performed. If this wasn’t bad enough, today abortion is being masqueraded in popular culture as a women’s health issue.
President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation on Jan. 13, 1984, designating Jan. 22 as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. On that date I was part of a neonatal transport team transporting a very sick premature baby to our hospital. We used every means available to save that tiny life. Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is the day we celebrate God’s gift of life and commemorate the many lives lost to abortion. The church commits itself to protecting life at every stage.
We are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). This image, or likeness, includes things like personality, aesthetic appreciation, authority, morality and spiritual qualities that both God and mankind share that we don’t share with the animal kingdom. Since we share in the likeness of God, we can have a relationship with Him. We are able to interact with God and worship Him.
After the flood, God established a covenant with Noah, which included God placing value on life. In Genesis 9:4-6, God introduced capital punishment as an element of societal government. This punishment was to serve as a deterrent because man was created in God’s image. Warren Wiersbe said, “To murder someone is to extinguish a revelation of God and to display contempt for God who has made mankind with the highest value in all of creation.” Jesus broadened this command to include wrongful anger, which could literally lead to murder (Matt. 5:21-22).
As believers we are to demonstrate respect for all individuals regardless of what stage of life they are in. We are to show respect for all people because all people, all mankind, bear the image of God.
Bible Studies for Life
When life is expendable
Exodus 1:16-17, 22–2:9 (HCSB)
A study of world history will reveal that human life has been an expendable commodity in the clash of social and political ideologies, the struggle for power and international conflicts. When we don’t have the proper view of life, we don’t apply the proper value to life. Life is a gift from God we are to protect and preserve.
The Israelites were originally refugees in Egypt and looked upon favorably because of Joseph. However, there was a new Pharaoh who “had not known Joseph” (Ex. 1:8). Under Pharaoh, the Israelites were discriminated against, and their standing changed from immigrants to slaves. Pharaoh saw their growing number as a threat. He imposed a state-sponsored genocide that demanded the killing of all male Hebrew babies. Herod would impose a similar genocide to rid his kingdom of Jesus (Matt. 2:16). If Pharaoh’s plan had succeeded, he would have entirely wiped out the Hebrew people.
The midwives didn’t listen to their ruler because of their fear of God (Ex. 1:17, 21). This is the first recorded instance of civil disobedience, which is refusing to obey an evil manmade law for the higher law of God. Pharaoh was furious and commanded all male Hebrew children be thrown in the Nile. Moses’ mother placed him in a basket and sent him down the Nile. Pharaoh’s daughter took pity on the Hebrew child she found in a basket floating in the Nile. Warren Wiersbe said, “God used a baby’s tears to control the heart of a powerful princess, and He used Miriam’s words to arrange for the baby’s mother to raise the boy and get paid for it.” God was raising up a deliverer right under Pharaoh’s nose.
It is easy to value people who contribute to our lives; it is much harder to value people who do not or those whom we do not often recognize. Society often devalues and casts aside the unborn, the elderly and the handicapped.
God wants us to value, protect and preserve all lives.
Jan. 27, 2019
Explore the Bible
Genesis 35:1-15 (HCSB)
Assurance is something we cultivate that grows deeper and stronger over time. John Newton said, “We are never more safe, never have more reason to accept the Lord’s help, than when we are most sensible that we can do nothing without Him.” For Newton, assurance had its foundation in the very faithfulness of the Lord but also required man’s faithfulness as well.
Genesis 34 is full of lust, murder, deceit and wretchedness, and the biblical chapter does not mention God at all. In Genesis 35, Jacob was being obedient, growing spiritually and having assurance. Jacob had promised God if he returned safely, “The LORD will be my God” (Gen. 28:21). God told Jacob to settle in Bethel and build an altar.
In preparation to go to Bethel, Jacob called for his family to purify themselves. They were to get rid of their idols that represented foreign gods. He told them to change their clothes. This represented repentance and purification. They also gave up their earrings, which Jacob buried under an oak tree at Shechem.
Jacob led his family to Bethel under the protection of the Lord. He built an altar, calling the place “God of Bethel” (Gen. 35:7). This is a picture of Jacob’s obedience to God. God blessed Jacob and reminded him of some things. He reaffirmed his name change. God also reaffirmed the covenant that He had made with Abraham and Isaac. God reminded Jacob of His promises. Jacob had assurance because God had been faithful.
Jacob treasured God’s promises. He set up a marker, poured a drink offering on it, anointed it with oil and named the place Bethel (Gen. 35:14-15). Bethel was a concrete reminder that God had touched Jacob’s life.
As believers we need to remove anything that compromises our devotion to the Lord; we need to be obedient to the Lord’s directives, remembering that He is always faithful to keep His promises. This should cause us to respond in worship and service. All these things help us cultivate assurance in our lives.
Bible Studies for Life
When circumstances overwhelm
Psalm 42:1-3, 6-8; 43:3-5 (HCSB)
St. Augustine said we all have a “God-shaped vacuum,” which only God can fill. William Cowper found this to be true in his life. He had great bouts of depression and was admitted to an insane asylum. He tried to commit suicide on several different occasions. A doctor gave him a Bible; he read it, and it changed his life. Cowper was converted and went into the ministry. He wrote the hymns, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” and “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.” He still struggled to the point of wanting to take his own life. Yet, depression also drove him to desire God more deeply. He eventually overcame his depression through trusting in God.
Life circumstances can get us all down. We get the blues, but this usually doesn’t last long. However, life and circumstances often get us down to the point of clinical depression. Clinical depression requires medical attention and does not reflect a lack of trust in God.
The Psalmist experienced painful trials that drove him to God. The cause of his depression was spiritual drought. He thirsted and longed for God. He desired to feel God’s presence. He asked, “Where can I come and appear before God?” (Psa. 42:2). His enemies taunted him by asking, “Where is your God?” (Psa. 42:3). Being away from home deepened his depression (Psa. 42:6). Psalm 42:7 is figurative of his soul being overwhelmed by his predicament. He knew God’s love was unconditional, and he knew God was present even when he didn’t feel His presence (Psa. 42:8).
The Psalmist knew God would guide him back to Jerusalem (Psa. 43:3). He would worship and praise God with the lyre (Psa. 43:4). He asked himself why he was so depressed and in turmoil (Psa. 43:5). He advised himself, “Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God” (Psa. 43:5). This is exactly what William Cowper did. It is exactly what we should do when we are overwhelmed by life circumstances.