Sharing Stories

Sharing Stories

The importance of Sharing Stories

Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation. (Joel 1:3 ESV)

We are three verses into the book of Joel at this point.

The first verse told us who the book’s message is from while the second verse expressed that the entire community should pay attention to what is to follow.

Now in verse three the community is given an instruction to share this story from generation to generation.

Why instruct your audience about sharing stories before stating what the event is that the LORD is speaking into?

Continue reading “Sharing Stories”

Breaking News

Breaking News

How do you respond to breaking new?

From the coronavirus, tornados in Nashville, to election coverage we’re inundated today with a variety of headlines from around the globe through a variety of media sources.

Titles of breaking news are written to get your attention. This isn’t a new practice. In Old Testament times messages were also written with intent to capture an audience’s attention.

Continue reading “Breaking News”

Names and Their Meaning

What does your name mean?

My first name, Barbara, is the feminine version of the Greek word  barbaros  with  the meaning strange or foreign. Lynn, my middle name, stems from Old English or Gaelic  and was typically used as a surname to indicate a person lived near a lake, waterfall, or some other type of water. When combining them I am a strange or foreign body of water! Giggling…

Biblically the meaning of names is significant in communicating its message to the readers.

Continue reading “Names and Their Meaning”

Sabbath Rest

Historically Sabbath rest is understood as a religious day of abstaining from work .  

What do you learn about God’s view of practicing Sabbath from the passage below?

 Exodus 16:22-30 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 he said to them, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.'” 24 So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it.

25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.” 27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

Continue reading “Sabbath Rest”

You Shall Not Eat – the Results!

While listening to one of my music students perform, I was asked by a former music teacher of my own which was easier for me, performing myself or listening to a student of mine perform. Without hesitation I replied that performing myself is much easier. If I made an error, it was on me to recover from it. When listening to my students I had to trust that they were prepared to recover from any error they might make.

Reading about Eve and Adam’s performance in Genesis 3:1-6 we observe that they have violated the only command they were given in eating from the tree of knowledge and evil. Have you ever wondered what God was doing while Eve was in dialogue with the serpent? Or when she gave the fruit to Adam he willingly consumed? We’re not told the answers to these questions in Genesis. What are we told?

Read Genesis 3:8-19

After covering themselves with leaves to hide their nakedness from each other, Eve and Adam hear God approaching them. Then they decide to hide from God.

Did you catch the important information here? God approached them. God came to them after they disobeyed his command. He went looking for them, but they tried to hide. God had created an abundant garden with purpose, beauty and sustenance for Eve and Adam. He gave them one rule to follow in their relationship with Him. After observing them disobey, He pursues them. Why?

What are the questions he asks them?

  1. To Adam:
    1. Where are you?
    1. Who told you that you were naked?
    1. Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?
  2. To Eve:
    1. What is this that you have done?
  3. To the serpent:
    1. No questions were asked!

As the creator of the universe and ultimate law giver it is appropriate for God to issue some consequences for their disobedience (Review Genesis 3:14-19). Don’t miss the fact found in this passage that God is the one who seeks us after we sin in order to restore our relationship with Him.

What else do you learn about God in this passage? I’d love to hear from you!

Blessings,

Barbara Lynn

You Shall Not Eat 4

A moment of decision arrives for Eve in Genesis 3:6. Will Eve eat or not?

ESV  Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Having discussed the one and only command provided to her and Adam by God due to the serpent’s questions that raised uncertainty and doubt about God’s character and provisions for Eve, how does she now assess the prohibited tree?

  1. Eve saw that the tree was good for food
  2. Eve saw it was a delight to the eyes
  3. Eve saw that the tree was to be desired to make one wise

How would you describe what is happening in Eve’s mind and heart as she gazes at the forbidden fruit tree?

Fixating on the forbidden attractive delectable fruit with the idea that it is the path to gaining wisdom, Eve decides to partake and gives some to Adam as well, who willingly partakes.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation as Eve and Adam? Fixated on something you have been told you can’t have?

Personally, I recall many times in my life where I’ve been told I couldn’t do, be or have something and my immediate response was “watch me, I’ll prove you wrong!” Sometimes that type of attitude is appropriate when interacting with our fellow humans.

But when it comes to our creator’s commands it is always the path to shame, guilt and negative consequences rather than a path to being wise if we have the “watch me, I’ll prove you wrong!” attitude.

What things can you do each day to keep your focus on God’s abundant provision for you no matter your current circumstance today?

Send me your thoughts!

Blessings,

Barbara Lynn

You Shall Not Eat 3

In Genesis 3:1 the serpent appears to be seeking clarification from Eve about what God had commanded regarding eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. After Eve’s failure to quote God accurately the serpent reveals a more sinister motive:

ESV  Genesis 3:4-5 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Look again at what God had commanded:

ESV  Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

When striking up the conversation with Eve initially, the serpent had turned the abundance of fruit trees God provided for consumption into a complete ban of all fruit trees. (See 3:1). Now the serpent contradicts God by negating the consequences of eating from this one banned tree.

God warns “you shall surely die”. Eve interpreted this to the softer statement of “lest you die”. The serpent discounts both God and Eve saying, “you will not surely die”.

The serpent goes even further in discrediting God’s character by implying that the reason this tree’s fruit has been banned for consumption is that it will open Eve’s eyes to become like God.

Consider what is said though about the creation of man:

ESV  Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Notice that mankind was already created in God’s likeness. Further, mankind was created to have authority over animals. But here in Genesis 3, it is the serpent, an animal, who is challenging God’s authority and integrity.

Next time we’ll study how Eve responds to this new challenge by the serpent.

Meanwhile, what else do you see in these verses that I haven’t mentioned? Send me your observations! I love to hear from my readers.

Blessings,

Barbara Lynn

You Shall Not Eat 2

Previously we learned about the origin and character of the serpent introduced into the narrative of Genesis 3:1. In this verse the serpent directs a question to Eve about God’s instructions regarding fruit trees and their consumption. The serpent turns God’s ample provision of fruit trees into a negative statement that all fruit trees were forbidden.

Eve responds with the following:

ESV  Genesis 3:2-3 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”

Is Eve accurate in her statement to the serpent? In part, yes. She is correct that God only banned one tree’s fruit, but she doesn’t specify the tree by name, only location. Plus, she adds to his command that it shouldn’t be touched. Eve also states that disobedience to this command will result in death.

Compare what Eve said with God’s statement:

ESV  Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Also see Genesis 2:9).

God states the name of the specific tree that is banned from consumption. God also said, “you shall surely die”. That’s a much stronger statement than “lest you die.” Further, God never said they couldn’t touch the tree, just not to eat its fruit.

The serpent got it completely wrong. Eve was both vague in response to the serpent regarding which tree and the consequences while also adding to the command given.

How well do you know God’s word? If someone grossly misquoted God’s commands to you would you be able to accurately correct them? Have you ever embellished God’s commands?

These questions are to encourage both my readers and me to ponder, confess to God if needed, and to study God’s word so we can respond accurately when someone questions us about His commands.

Share some comments about your journey in this area on my blog or email me. I’d love to hear from you.

Next time we’ll look at Genesis 3:4-5.

Blessings,

Barbara Lynn

You Shall Not

What emotion(s) or questions are you noticing in response to this post’s title, “You Shall Not”?

Let’s add another word: “You shall not eat”. What surfaces now?

Are you feeling discontented? Angry? Rebellious? Focused on the high calorie food you love? Fearful?

What if we add four more words: “Did God actually say, “You shall not eat”?

How does this change the tone of the question in your mind?

If someone young asked you this how would you react? How about a nutrition expert?

Can you see how the context of a question matters?

In Genesis 3:1, a new character is introduced to the narrative who asks Eve this very question.

ESV  Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

What are we told about the serpent in this verse?

  1. The serpent is a wild beast.
  2. The serpent is more crafty than other beasts of the field.
  3. The serpent was made by the LORD God.
  4. The serpent speaks the same language as Adam, Eve and the LORD God.
  5. The serpent doesn’t refer to God as LORD.
  6. The serpent seriously misquotes God’s command from Genesis 2:16-17.

ESV  Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

The description of the character and origin of the serpent provides hints that something is awry in the garden. Genesis 3:1 sets up the context for what is referred to in both Christian and Jewish faiths as the fall of mankind. Next time we’ll look at how Eve responded to the serpent.

Meanwhile, what emotions or questions do you have after looking at Genesis 3:1?

Blessings,

Barbara Lynn

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Role in Tragedy and Sorrow

One of the hardest things to grasp when reading the Bible are the times where God is shown as allowing bad things to happen or even sending trouble someone’s way. Many in our society today take great offense at these aspects of the Judeo-Christian God.

My daily reading in the Bible has recently taken me through 1 Samuel where it shares the stories of Saul and then later David becoming kings of Israel. Several times in this section there are statements that God has removed His Spirit from Saul and sent a harmful spirit instead to torment Saul.

For instance, 1 Samuel 16:14 reads:

Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him. (1Sa 16:14 ESV)

Some translations use the words “an evil spirit from the LORD” instead.

Many ask how can a God be all good that allows or sends harmful or evil spirits to torment someone? If one takes 1 Samuel 16:14 without considering all that came prior to it and what follows afterward one can easily be perplexed at God’s action here. In other words, one must take into consideration the context of the action, not just the action itself.

Take a moment to look back at 1 Samuel 8:1-5.

The people of Israel ask Samuel, God’s prophet, to appoint for them a king so they can be like the nations around them. Did you catch the transition in their thinking? They no longer wanted God to rule over them. Instead, they preferred being ruled by a human king.

What was their reasoning for asking this? Initially they say it is because Samuel’s sons were taking bribes and perverting justice. If this was the reason why didn’t they simply ask for Samuel’s sons to be removed from their roles and request new appointees? The real reason comes at the end of their request. They wanted to emulate the nations around them by having a monarchy.

Did you catch that? They wanted to emulate who? The God of Israel had made a covenant with them to protect and lead them, demonstrating exactly this as He rescued them from Egypt and settled them in a land that wasn’t theirs. And now they want to emulate the nations around them instead of following the God who had brought them to this point in time!

What is Samuel’s response? (see 1 Samuel 8:6)

Samuel was not grieved simply because his sons had failed in their appointed role. A literal translation of the Hebrew in this verse is “the thing was evil in Samuel’s eyes”. Thus, he immediately took the people’s request for a king to the Lord.

What is the Lord’s response? (see 1 Samuel 8:7-9)

Unexpectedly, the Lord tells Samuel to grant the people’s request to put a king over them! But He also tells Samuel to explain how an earthly king will treat them.

Compare 1 Samuel 8:11-13 with Exodus 13:1-2.

An earthly king will “take your sons” and “your daughters”. God required that the firstborn be consecrated to the Lord. Both “kings” required a giving of people to themselves. The king will take both sons and daughters without any set limit. God only required the firstborn be consecrated to him. Consecration involves a setting apart and declaring someone or something sacred for the service of a deity.

Compare 1 Samuel 8:14-17 with Exodus 34:18-26

The earthly king will take the best of all fields, vineyards, and orchards. He will also take a 10th of all grain and grapes produced. Not just from the fields, vineyards, and orchards he claims for himself, but every crop. The earthly king will also take male and female servants, the best of the young men, donkeys, and flocks. Lastly, the earthly king will ultimately enslave the people.

God states again in Exodus 34:19 that all firstborn, whether human or animal, belong to Him. But verse 20 talks about how one redeems donkeys and firstborn sons with a sacrificial lamb. He appoints specific feasts, a work/rest cycle based on His own example in Genesis 1-2, and the first fruits of all produce that is harvested. He also promises how He will bless the nation and give them land if they abide by these regulations.

Which king is ultimately best for the Israelites? God or a human?

Why can God be more generous toward the Israelites than an earthly king?

Back to why God sent a spirit to torment Saul. Look at 1 Sam 16:14-23. In these verses we learn that David is called in to play harp music to soothe Saul when he is being spiritually troubled.

Look at 1 Samuel 16:11-13

Prior to David’s assignment as a musical therapist to King Saul, the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David after Samuel anointed him as the next king of Israel. I find it fascinating that although the Lord leaves Saul personally in verse 14 he then places David who is now empowered by the Lord’s Spirit in Saul’s presence as Saul’s servant in verse 21.

Neither Saul nor David sought to be the king of Israel. In fact, Saul tried to hide among the baggage in order to avoid becoming Israel’s king. But once he became king and had received victories and blessings with the help of the Lord, Saul began to think more of himself than of God. David was anointed king by Samuel but humbly served as Saul’s music therapist and armor bearer while refusing to usurp Saul as king of Israel until after Saul was killed in battle.

1 Chronicles 10:13-14 provides a summary of the reasons for the Lord’s actions with Saul.

Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance and did not inquire of the LORD. So, the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Bottom line, God is God and we are not. We may not always understand why God has allowed or even sent tragedy in our lives or the lives of others. But as we study His word, we see this is something that’s occurred in Scripture for distinct purposes.  I’m reminded of the illustration of a tapestry. When we look at the backside of the tapestry it is impossible to see what the tapestry is designed to reveal. But when we look at the other side a clear picture of master craftsmanship is visible.

May you be encouraged today to reconsider the Judeo-Christian God’s role in your life or others struggling with tragedy and sorrow. May the Lord reveal to you a glimpse beyond the tragedy and sorrow towards His master craftsmanship of redemption for you.

I’d love to hear back some reader’s thoughts on this topic. Leave a comment on the blog or email me back at [email protected]

More to come!