Daily Light – April 5, 2019

More S.O.A.P. from ‘Genesis’ (study, observe, apply, pray)… by David Niednagel

Genesis 9:1-7      In the image of God

9:1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth. 2 All the animals of the earth, all the birds of the sky, all the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the fish in the sea will look on you with fear and terror. I have placed them in your power. 3 I have given them to you for food, just as I have given you grain and vegetables. 4 But you must never eat any meat that still has the lifeblood in it. 5 “And I will require the blood of anyone who takes another person’s life. If a wild animal kills a person, it must die. And anyone who murders a fellow human must die. 6 If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image. 7 Now be fruitful and multiply, and repopulate the earth.”   NLT

After the Flood God gave permission for humans to eat anything, not just the plant, vegetable diet in 1:30. Here, there are no restrictions on “unclean” animals, that will be later forbidden under the Law of Moses. But there is a restriction against eating “meat that still has the lifeblood in it”. They could not bite into living animals or drink the blood of animals. Lev 17 teaches that “life is in the blood”, and I believe this is a picture of the blood of Christ which would be for our atonement.

This point is connected to the next verse which says if an animal or a person takes a human life, the life of the killer must be forfeited,because humans are made in the image of God. God is commanding capital punishment for murder. Today many oppose capital punishment because “it is cruel and unusual” and/or because innocent persons are sometimes convicted. In the Law of Moses safeguards were built into the judicial process to protect the innocent, but here God says the death penalty for those who murder another shows a higher value of human life than letting the murderer go free. The NT also teaches that to curse a person (James 3:9) or discriminate against other ethnic groups is wrong because we are all created in the image of God. (Col 3:8-10) Capital punishment applied biblically upholds the value of human beings.

Lord, Thank You for revealing truth and perspective that goes beyond what our society thinks. Thank You for giving us so many good things to eat! And thank You for showing us how to value life – in animals and in humans. I have never been tempted to kill anyone, but I have sure devalued and disrespected people created in Your image. Help me treat everyone with the dignity appropriate to someone in Your image. And Lord, I do pray for Your people to work for justice in our court systems so that innocent people are treated with justice and dignity. Amen

Daily Light – April 4, 2019

More S.O.A.P. from ‘Genesis’ (study, observe, apply, pray)… by David Niednagel

Genesis 8  Worshiping the Judge

 8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. …. 2 The underground waters stopped flowing, and the torrential rains from the sky were stopped. 3 So the floodwaters gradually receded from the earth. After 150 days, 4 exactly five months from the time the flood began, the boat came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 Two and a half months later, as the waters continued to go down, other mountain peaks became visible. … 13 Noah was now 601 years old. On the first day of the new year, ten and a half months after the flood began, the floodwaters had almost dried up from the earth. Noah lifted back the covering of the boat and saw that the surface of the ground was drying. 14 Two more months went by, and at last the earth was dry! 15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives. 17 Release all the animals—the birds, the livestock, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth.” …

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. 21 And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. 22 As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”   NLT

Note again, the main source of the Flood was from within the earth. No person, then or now would have maid that up. The only source we know of is rain. God did this and he revealed it. This is not “myth”! It was over a year before they could get off the Ark.

The purpose of the Flood was judgment. Ignoring sin would not be fitting for a God who is “just/fair”. If a judge never punished guilty people, the judge would be removed for not being just/righteous, or society would be total anarchy. Without punishment, sinful humans sin all the more. But if God judged everyone immediately without any mercy, no one would survive. So God sent the Flood to be a clear picture of His nature – a God of patience and mercy, but who will finally punish. Again, that is the whole point of 2 Peter 2 and 3.

Noah’s response to the Flood was worship. Noah worshiped a God who was righteous and who kept His Word and who was also merciful providing an escape on the Ark. And God was “pleased with the aroma of the sacrifices” Noah offered.

Lord God, I worship You for your righteousness and your mercy. “It was grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.” Again, I pray for passion and faithfulness to declare to my generation that You are a righteous Judge who keeps Your Word, and that You have provided the one and only “Ark” of deliverance in Jesus who took my judgment for me. Amen

Daily Light – April 3, 2019

More S.O.A.P. from ‘Genesis’ (study, observe, apply, pray)… by David Niednagel

Genesis 7  A Flood and an Ark

7:1 The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

5  And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him. … 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth. 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. … 17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth …  and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits…  Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. 24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.   NIV

There has never been anything like it! Not 1/1000th like it. I used to picture it like rains I was familiar with. Where did all the water come from? Where did it go? Even most Bible colleges and seminaries teach that if this really happened at all, it was a local flood, just covering part of the mid-east. They view this as more “myth” in Genesis 1-11.  But Abraham was alive at the same time as Noah’s sons and could have heard the story from them. This was not ancient myth!

The “springs of the great deep burst forth” – cracks in the earth’s crust released tens of thousands (?) of explosions of hot, salty “geysers”, blasting/eroding huge amounts of earth/rock probably thousands of feet in the atmosphere, and breaking up the earth from one large continent to the continents as we know them. The water shooting high in the air was the source of most of the rain. The water covered the tops of the mountains at least 20 feet and stayed there for 150 days. That is not a local flood! You cant get water to stay piled up for 5 months without it running down. And if it were just local, Noah would not have needed to build the boat.

Before the flood the mountains were not as high as now. We know they were pushed up by huge tectonic plate movements at the end of the Flood and there are marine fossils to the tops of all the mountains of the world. Where did all the water go? It is all still here – in the oceans. If the surface of the earth were smooth, with no hills, water would cover the whole earth almost two miles deep! The ocean trenches dropped down and the mountains were pushed up, causing unimaginable erosion as the water raced downhill resulting in the geology we see today. The Flood explains geology better than any slow and gradual (uniformitarianism) explanation ever could.

If there was a world wide flood, designed to judge the earth what would we expect to see? Billions of dead things, buried in rock layers all around the earth. What do we see? Billions of dead things buried in rock layers all around the earth. BTW, fossils do not form when an animal dies on land or in water, UNLESS it is rapidly buried by fine sediment sealing it from air or anything else that could cause it to decompose. Every fossil ever found, whether fish or dinosaur, is a proof of rapid burial from some cataclysm. And we have places with 10,000 dinosaurs all buried together in one jumbled mass. Some fossil beds have land animals and marine animals (sharks, etc) and all kinds of birds all buried together at the same time. No evolutionary explanation can begin to explain that.

Lord God, again, I praise You that the more we know from science the more we know Your Word is true! Help me trust You in everything and joyfully love, obey and serve You. Help me proclaim that a future judgment is coming that will be as terrible as the Flood (2Pet 3), but that You have provided an “Ark” of deliverance in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only ONE! Amen!

Daily Light – April 2, 2019

More S.O.A.P. from ‘Genesis’ (study, observe, apply, pray)… by David Niednagel

Gen 6:9-22  Exactly as God commanded

6:9  This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. 10 Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  11 Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. 12 God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt. 13 So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth!   NLT

This is the next “account” (toledoth) – of Noah and his descendants. Unlike everyone else returning evil for evil, Noah had the courage to choose to be faithful to God. Very few people can do that when everyone else is not!

14  “Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. 15 Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. 16 Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper.

17 “Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die. 18 But I will confirm my covenant with you. So enter the boat—you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 19 Bring a pair of every kind of animal—a male and a female—into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood. 20 Pairs of every kind of bird, and every kind of animal, and every kind of small animal that scurries along the ground, will come to you to be kept alive. 21 And be sure to take on board enough food for your family and for all the animals.” 22 So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.

This is not a cute little boat like in most children’s books. It was not  “figurative” it was a real boat with real dimensions and it was huge – the length of 1½ football fields, almost 5 stories high, three decks, covered with tar in and out. The instructions for the animals were specific. God had a plan and he made it clear. And Noah did “everything exactly as God had commanded him”. God’s plan for judgment was specific and His plan for deliverance was specific. It could not fail!

Lord God, You know everyone and You know our hearts. You know when we give in to peer pressure, fear and sinful self-centeredness, You know when we trust You. It is so good to know nothing escapes Your notice – especially when everyone else seems to be getting away with wickedness and You aren’t stepping in to stop them or to protect us. Help me trust You and Your Word, that it is always worth it to choose to give You my loyalty and allegiance. Help me “do everything exactly as You command”. Amen

Daily Light – April 1, 2019

Continuing…S.O.A.P. from ‘Genesis’ (study, observe, apply, pray)… by David Niednagel

Gen 6:1-8  Judgment and Mercy

6:1 Then the people began to multiply on the earth, and daughters were born to them. 2 The sons of God saw the beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives. 3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years.”

4 In those days, and for some time after, giant Nephilites lived on the earth, for whenever the sons of God had intercourse with women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes and famous warriors of ancient times.

5 The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. 6 So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. 7 And the LORD said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” 8 But Noah found favor with the LORD.   NLT

The “toledoth” (account) in 5:1 of Adam’s line continues here to show how the earth became so wicked that God would judge it by means of the Flood. It begins by saying “the sons of God married the daughters of men” and their offspring became “Nephilim” which some translate as “giants”. The word means “fallen ones”. Without going into detail, I believe the sons of God are fallen angels (Job 1:6;2:1; Job 38:4-7; 2Peter 2:4-8; Jude :6-7) who left their proper place, indulged in unnatural desires and are now in chains waiting the final judgment.

:5 says “The LORD observed everything people thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil”. There were no “innocent” people judged. There would have been children who suffered because of the sins of their parents, in the same way children of alcoholics do. But God was justified in destroying sinners. Then :8 says “But Noah found favor/grace with Yahweh.” Noah was not sinless, though he probably did sin less. He did not “deserve” to be spared, but God showed him mercy/grace.

Lord, Judgment is terrible, but I praise You that You are holy and maintain righteousness. Our world often rejects You because they do not understand how a good God can allow a world of suffering and injustice. But they don’t want justice for themselves. They want mercy. Your judgment at the Flood is a picture of the judgment at the end of the age when You will again destroy the earth, but next time by fire. (2Pet 3:1-12) I praise You also for showing favor/grace to Noah and provided the ark as the means of escape.  We too are sinners, but You took our judgment on Yourself and in mercy/grace You have become our “Ark of deliverance”. I praise You that You are the perfect combination of justice and grace – two irreconcilable concepts if You had not been our substitute in judgment. What an amazing God you are!!! Hallelujah!!! 

Daily Light – March 29, 2019

Friends:  I just had to pass this on to you.  This is more from my friend and pastor David Niednagel from his study in Genesis.  David has been my pastor for 45 years.  His faithfulness and life-long dedication to the study of God’s word has been a light and a guide to me through these 45 years.   David uses the S.O.A.P method in his morning devotional time.  Study, Observe, Apply, Pray.  If you are looking for a help-method for your daily study time that will help you maximize your fellowship and growth in your relationship with God….try the S.O.A.P method.   😊    

3-28-19  Gen 4:25-5:32  The name of the LORD, Yahweh

Gen. 4:25  And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.

5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. 3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. 4 The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. 5 Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. …

8 Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died. …

11 Thus all the days of Enosh were 905 years, and he died. …

:14 all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died. …

:17 all the days of Mahalalel were 895 years, and he died. …

:20 all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died. …

:23 all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. …

:27 all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died.

28 When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son 29 and called his name Noah. … 31 Thus all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died.32 After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.   ESV

In the days of Enosh (About 400 years after Creation) people began to call on the name of the LORD – not just the generic word “god”, a higher power, but by His personal name – Yahweh. His name comes from the verb “to be” – the God who really IS, the Real One. Our English translations normally use the word LORD, instead of Yahweh, and that is unfortunate, because we normally skip right over the fact that He has revealed Himself as our covenant keeping Creator.

Ch 5 lists the descendants from Adam to Noah, all of whom lived from about 770 to 970 years. Because that is so much longer than we live today, most people wonder how that could be, and even the NIV Study Bible doubts those ages are accurate. But just like in Ch 1, Moses goes out of his way to tell how old each one was when his first child was born and how many years he lived after that, and then carefully gives the correct answer to adding the numbers. He intended the readers to believe those ages! There was nothing figurative or symbolic about them. So to try to figure out how they lived so long then, but also account for the ages declining after the Flood, some have supposed it was environmental conditions that made the difference. I have taught that, and it may be true, but I no longer think that was the main factor.

With what we now know about genetics, it makes more sense to see that a “genetic bottleneck” came from all future humans coming from the three sons of Noah. Dr John Sanford, is his book “Genetic Entropy” presents the details that make the most sense to me.

LORD, Yahweh, Thank You that You have revealed Yourself, not just as a “higher power” but as our Creator who has given us a Bible we can trust, and who has made a covenant with human beings. You know us individually, and provided the LORD Jesus as a Savior and King. And You give us Life, not just physically, but the capacity to be in relationship with You, our Creator and Savior. Thank You for the good years You have given Judy and me! Help us live our remaining days for You and for Your glory and enjoying You! I don’t want to waste any of the days You have ordained for me. May I fulfill Your purpose for my life. Amen.

Daily Light – March 28, 2019

Just Have More Faith

How Bad Theology Hurts the Suffering

Article by Vaneetha Rendall Risner, Regular Contributor, desiringGod.org

Why does God answer yes to some prayers and no to others? Why does God miraculously heal some people and not others? Why does disaster strike one city and not another?

I’ve been pondering these questions since Hurricane Florence devastated much of eastern North Carolina last year. I live in the center of the state, and contrary to the foreboding predictions, we were relatively unaffected. In response, a friend said, “I know why we were spared catastrophe and the storm circled our area and went south. I was praying that God would keep us safe and he answered my prayers!”

I had no words.

I know that God answers prayer. And we need to pray. God tells us to ask, and it will be given to us (Matthew 7:7). But my friend’s words made me wonder if she thought that no one in eastern Carolina was praying. I know people whose livelihoods were destroyed in the storm. Everything they owned was gone. They escaped with their lives but nothing material left. Some of them begged God to spare their city.

One Died, Another Lived

What are we as believers to infer from these natural disasters? Can we simply draw straight lines between our requests and God’s answers? Years ago, I heard a pastor tell of his cancer that went into remission. When he told his congregation the good news, several commented, “We knew God would heal you. He had to. So many people were praying for you.”

While the pastor was thankful for others’ prayers, he also knew God did not owe him healing. Faithful believers throughout the ages have earnestly prayed and yet not been healed. The apostle Paul was not healed in order that God might show that his power could be made perfect in Paul’s weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

And then there was my own son, Paul, who died as an infant. We had prayed, fasted, and asked friends to pray for his healing. Several years after his death, we met a man who said when he learned of our loss, “Don’t take this wrong, but we prayed for all of our children before they were born. And they were all born healthy.” We had no words.

Why Did God Save Peter?

In considering the question of when and why God chooses to rescue, I was reminded of Acts 12 which begins, “About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. . . . So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church” (Acts 12:1–35). Peter was then rescued the very night that Herod was about to bring him out, to presumably kill him as he had killed James.

Why did God let James die and Peter live?

Peter, James, and John were three of Jesus’s closest disciples. These three were often selected to be alone with Jesus. Yet their earthly lives after Christ’s resurrection were markedly different. John was the last of the disciples to die, Peter was rescued from prison in Acts 12, but church history records that he was later martyred by being crucified upside down.

James was the first of the disciples to be martyred. The Bible records that Herod killed James with no elaborating details. We simply know that Peter was spared while James was not. What are we to make of this? Did God love Peter more than James? Was James’s life less important? Did James have less faith? Were people not praying for James?

Our Father Knows Best

Looking at the fuller counsel of the Bible, it is clear that God has plans that we do not understand. His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8–9). Because we believe that death is just a passage into eternal life (2 Timothy 1:10), one that all of us will go through, it ultimately doesn’t matter when we pass through it. God numbers our days before they begin, and he alone determines when we will die (Psalm 139:16).

Though we often cannot understand God’s purposes in this life, we can be sure that James’s life as a disciple and his death as a martyr was intentional. Everything God does has purpose (Isaiah 46:10). Because of that, we can be sure that at the time of James’s death, he had accomplished what God had called him to (Philippians 1:6), while Peter’s work on earth was unfinished (Philippians 1:24–25).

Living or dying, being spared or being tortured, being delivered in this life or the next is not an indicator of God’s love for us or the measure of our faith. Nothing can separate us from God’s love, and our future is determined by what he knows is best for us (Romans 8:2835–39).

Paul understood this principle well when he said in Philippians 1:21–23, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” Departing this world and being with Christ is far better, because eternal life is far better than life on earth. No matter what this life holds, we will eventually be deliriously happy in heaven, where God has all of eternity to lavish us with his kindness (Ephesians 2:7).

Suffering Is Not Punishment

Even though I know these truths, I have often been discouraged that others have been rescued while I was still suffering. Prosperity gospel proponents have told me that if I had prayed in faith, my body would have been healed, my son would have been spared, and my marriage would have been restored. It was all up to me. If I just had the faith, I would have had a better outcome.

Their words have left me bruised and disillusioned, wondering what I was doing wrong.

But that theology is not the gospel. God’s response to our prayers is not dependent upon our worthiness but rather rests upon on his great mercy (Daniel 9:18). Because of Christ, who took our punishment, God is always for us (Romans 8:31). He wants to give us all things. Christ himself is ever interceding for us (Romans 8:31–34).

If you are in Christ, God is completely for you. Your suffering is not a punishment. Your struggles are not because you didn’t pray the right way, or because you didn’t pray enough, or because you have weak faith or insufficient intercessors. It is because God is using your suffering in ways that you may not understand now, but one day you will. One day you will see how God used your affliction to prepare you for an incomparable weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17). This is the gospel. And it holds for all who love Christ.

Vaneetha Rendall Risner is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to Desiring God. She blogs at danceintherain.com, although she doesn’t like rain and has no sense of rhythm. Vaneetha is married to Joel and has two daughters, Katie and Kristi. She and Joel live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Vaneetha is the author of the book The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering.