Sometimes God is with us without us realising it…

His comfortable life had suddenly been thrown into turmoil. His older brother, mad with rage that he had been deceived and supplanted for a second time had promised to kill him. His brother was not a man to make threats lightly.

He fled from the parents and the home life that he loved and travelled to put as much distance between himself and his brother as possible. As darkness fell, too afraid to go into the nearby town, he lay down in the open with nothing but a rock for a pillow.

The man’s name? Jacob.

That very night he had a dream and a message of comfort and of hope from God. “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28v15

Sometimes it can feel like our lives have been turned upside down. Sometimes it can feel like God has deserted us. Sometimes God is is with us without us realising it.

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it. Genesis 28v16

Want to learn how the story continues? You know where to find us.

Memorising Scripture

I follow Nathan Kitchen’s excellent blog, Bible Snippets. A little while ago he posted about the value of memorising parts of the Bible and shared a YouTube video of Ryan Ferguson reciting a section from Hebrews. I had learnt whole chapters before – Isaiah 35, Isaiah 53 and a couple of Psalms – but couldn’t remember them very well now. Nathan’s post rekindled my interest in attempting to learn some more.

The following Sunday we were reading from 1 Corinthians 15. It is a very powerful chapter about the importance of resurrection from the dead. Without it, what hope do we have? (v12-19) If, however, Christ was raised from the dead, we can be too (v20-24).

It is a reasonably long chapter, 58 verses in all, but I decided I would try to learn it. I cannot recommend it highly enough:

  • I noticed things about the chapter that I had never seen before. This deepens my appreciation both of the chapter and the Bible in general.
  • I have always loved the logical flow of the chapter, but I came to feel the emotion of it as well. Without any resurrection our faith is vain…embrace the resurrection and “thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  • Parts of the chapter spring to mind when reading other parts of the Bible, helping me to see the Bible explaining itself.
  • I can read through the chapter without having a Bible to hand e.g. driving to and from work.

A few practical points. I’m no memory expert, but this has worked for me so far:

  • I found it much easier than I was expecting to. It looked like a mighty lot of text to learn to begin with, but I think it is easy to underestimate our own memories.
  • Split the chapter into manageable chunks. Read each section and try to understand what those verses are telling you and put them into their context in the chapter. This is a valuable exercise in itself, but learning the overall structure of the chapter helped me to remember each individual section.
  • Say it like you mean it. I pace around the living room waving my arms. Putting expression and emotion into what you are saying helps you to remember it.
  • Learn a little at a time. Repeat often.

Now I would remind you, brother and sisters, of the gospel which I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved…

“He did not create it empty, He formed it to be inhabited”

Today saw the start of our new series for Sunday mornings. Between now and the end of May we are going to be looking at God at work through the key events and main characters in the book of Genesis. See Adult Bible Learning for details of the programme.

We’ve started at the beginning. The very beginning. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1v1)

Sun over the Earth

How did God create the earth?

Despite those opening words, the Bible doesn’t actually tell us very much about how God created the earth. Genesis 1 isn’t designed to be a scientific account of the formation of all the breathtaking biodiversity we see around us.

Rather, the creative process is described as being split over six days, two sets of three. Days 4 – 6 correspond with days 1 – 3 and see God populating each separate part of the creation:

  • The light of day 1 is populated by the sun, moon and stars of day 4.
  • The waters either side of the expanse (day 2) are populated by the sea creatures and birds of day 5.
  • The dry land of day 3 is populated with the animals and humans of day 6.

The theme through the chapter culminates with God’s instruction to Adam and Eve, “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 heaven and over every living thing that moves on earth.” Genesis 1v28 (ESV)

This starts to answer the more important question:

Why did God create the earth?

God loves diversity and beauty and the things that He has made demonstrate His power and glory – “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” (Psalm 19v1 ESV)

The heavens and earth declare God’s glory by performing the purpose for which He designed them. The sun and moon never fail to rise and set, Summer and Winter come and go each year (Genesis 8v22).

We can give glory to God by performing the mission He gave to us: to fill this world with people made in the likeness of God (Genesis 1v26), taking responsibility for the things that God has put in our care.

The Bible commences with a planet that is dark and empty. God wants it to be filled with light and beautiful things that reflect His glory.

Thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other….Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other.” Isaiah 45v18, 22 (ESV)

What does it mean to be in the likeness of God? Want to know more about the mission statement?

Want to read through Genesis with us? Great, you know where to find us.