“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).
Everything has a beginning. Genesis means ‘beginning’. It is the story of creation as we know it. God is this eternal Being Who was before creation. He always was. He it was that created all matter in the universe.
But it says that the earth was formless and empty. And darkness covered the surface. This statement reminds me of me prior to my conversion. I was there, but my life had no meaning or purpose. My heart was empty and void. And talk about darkness; I was the example of broken darkness. No light could penetrate the dark cloud that seemed to follow me around.
But the Spirit of God was hovering over this formless, empty and dark world and brought life to it, just as the rest of chapters 1&2 describe. And this also reminds me of me. In my darkness I rejected the light that was all around me. But the Spirit of God, sometimes called “the hound of heaven”, was always hovering over me. I can recall several ‘close encounters’ when the Spirit was attempting to pull me over, but my stubbornness refused to relent. But the Spirit of God was even more stubborn than I. He finally arrested me and set me free. Thank God for the light of heaven that always breaks through the darkness.
“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
‘Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you’” (Ephesians 5:13-14).
In Ephesians chapters 4&5 Paul talks a lot about light and its effect on us, relating light to spiritual revelation. When I accepted Christ as my Savior, it was like a light came on in my understanding. At first the light was so bright that I had to cover my eyes, but I slowly woke up to the reality of what I had experienced. It was like I had been sleeping. So Paul quoted some unidentified proverb about waking from our sleep is like one rising from the dead.
And when we rise from the old dead life, Christ will shine on us. The longer He shines light on us, the more experienced we become in following His lead, like the sun leaves its mark of tan on our bodies. Now that we are risen, we should expect more and more light to influence our lives.
He concludes that thought with verse 15: “Be very careful, then, how you live.“
“Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).
Paul was preaching in Pisidian Antioch on a Sabbath Day. He was in a synagog, so his crowd were worshipers of God. He addressed people there as “Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles” (v. 26). The “Brothers” were Jews, the “children of Abraham” could have included descendants of Ishmael, and “God-fearing Gentiles” were anyone else in this commercial trade-oriented city. He lumped them all together in this summary of the power of Christ’s death and resurrection. He didn’t just talk about Christ’s death, but also emphasized the resurrection (v. 37).
These were all followers of the law of Moses. Their hope was in their performance of the hundreds of thou shalts and thou shalt nots of that law. But Paul turned their understanding of God’s will on end. He proclaimed that through Christ “everyone” can be justified from “everything” that Moses’s law could not. This exalted Jesus above the Mosaic law. This concept was revolutionary to these hearers. And any revolutionary teaching makes enemies of some and gives hope to others.
You qualify as an “everyone“, and your deepest, darkest sin, qualifies among the “everything“. Obedience is not as important as belief. But belief will always lead to obedience.
Jesus said to His disciples, “‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’. Some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while’?”
Jesus understood patience because He was of the Father, and was in essence, the Father. Father God has been working with people like us for a long while, indeed thousands of years. And everything with God works through a process. Even Creation was through a process (Genesis 1-2). Israel’s deliverance from bondage was a process (Exodus 2-12). And even our salvation was through a process (Matthew-John). God’s work in your life has been a process. You can recall several points in your life when God was tugging on your heart to bring you to where you are today. That’s process.
And each step along that journey took “a little while“. Our confusion with life, as Christ’s disciples, is how long does the “little while” last before we can see God come through for us. The important thing for Christ followers to embrace here is that Jesus did promise “you will see me“. But I must let God do His purifying work in me for “a little while” before I get to see Him. He’ll hide for a while but He’s seeing me the whole time. That’s process. Embrace it.
Somewhere in England there is a tombstone with this inscription:
Pause my friend, as you walk by
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now so you will be
Prepare my friend, to follow me.
A visitor added a brief note to the inscription:
To follow you is not my intent
Until I know which way you went!
Choose wisely what models you want to follow. Because you’ll probably end up in the same boat on judgment day.
“Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening He went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear Him at the temple” (Luke 21:37).
It seems that Jesus kept a pretty routine schedule when in Jerusalem. Every day, not just the Sabbath, he was in the temple teaching. Each evening he left the temple and went across the brook to the Mount of Olives. The Garden of Gethsemane was located on the temple side of the Mount of Olives. It was here that Jesus had another routine habit: praying. Apparently people left Him alone when He was praying in the Garden. After all, they needed rest.
After spending the night on the hillside, Jesus went back to the temple, where all the people came early in the morning to hear Him.
Early morning symbolizes a new beginning, a fresh start, a new day. How do you start your day off each morning?
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
At the Last Supper the disciples sang a hymn together, then went out to the Mount of Olives. “Then Jesus told them, ‘This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ ‘But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’ Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times’.”
How many times have we heard sermons on Peter’s denial of the Lord? We form our opinion of Peter based on this and several other accounts of his failures. But this account in Matthew’s Gospel makes it clear that all the disciples were going to fall away. No one wants to be counted as one who falls away, but the theme of this passage is that we are all guilty. At least Peter boldly proclaimed that he would be faithful. And it was that bold declaration that sets us up for the story of that denial at Christ’s trial.
The next time we’re singing praises together, let’s remember what faithfulness means: no matter what.