Devotion of the Day

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Genesis 2.4-9

These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

–Devotion–

Here we have a more detailed look at the creation of Man-kind.  We also have the genesis of the Garden in Eden.  We have the placement of the trees.  No doubt we have the beginning of the questions, “Why did he put those trees there?”  We have our answer, humans are creatures and God is God. 

As creatures we are out of control.  Getting used to that out-of-controlness, living as graceful out-of-control creatures, is now what we are asked to do.  This is what God asked and commanded of Adam and Eve in the garden.  They were out of control, he told them their limits, “Every tree but that one.” he said.  Rather gracious limits.  But, Adam and Eve fell from their graceful out-of-control status when they grasped the fruit–and in so doing thought they had also grasped control.  They believed they could be like God–having control.  Let us not continually fall into the same trap of original sin. 

Pastor Beltz

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Marriage and Family: Devotion of the Day

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Genesis 1.28

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “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 the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

–Devotion–

Being married and having children does not mean you are more faithful to God than others. I say that because I am reading a book from the 1930’s that persists in a functional view of marriage. By “functional view” I mean the thought that 1) being married is just what you do (especially as a Christian) and 2) the only point of being married is to have children. This thought, I think, makes a complete mess of marriage and children let alone the Scriptures.

For Christians marriage is the public confession of their intent to live together in life long monogamous fidelity for the glory and honor of their God and his Church. The point of marriage, then, is the agreement between two faithful single persons to live a faithfully devoted monogamous life together for the glory of God. They make their agreement public; in the middle of the congregation, because the congregation of Christians are the people who hold them accountable to their vows. This brings up the question, should we be held responsible for decisions we made when we did not know what we were doing? Most of us would answer, “No.” Well, that makes marriage impossible. Which of us knew what we were doing when we took vows to live a life long monogamous and faithful life with our spouse? Even more so, it makes having children unthinkable. We never know what to expect with children, none of us knew what we were doing with our first kids let alone our last. But the church is called to hold us accountable for the decisions we made when we did not know what we were doing–marriage and children and many others. But, like I said, being married is not a more or less holy or God-pleasing estate than singleness. Nor is a childless marriage less holy than one with children. That is not how this Genesis passage should be read.

The other hang up with this passage is the word “dominion.” Dominion has become a rather dirty word among us modern people. Mostly, as far as I can tell, because of the abuses that have taken place among humanity with this passage being waved in the air. “We are called to have dominion!” That does not mean the subjugation of indigenous peoples nor slash and burn practices upon this creation, it does not mean the oppression of women or children. This is not a passage that backs up what the King Ferdinand III did to the Africans, nor the Spanish and English to the original Americans. This is not a passage that endorses the destruction of the Amazon for the sake of cheap lemons and limes. In the case of Genesis dominion, I think, simply means the naming and care of creation. Man was created at the top. He was created to name the things of creation and care for them. As far as I can tell that is it. There is perhaps no greater act of dominion than naming things. Thus God gives creation a name by his Word and then hands over that authority to man to name things within creation. This brings us back to the point from the last devotion. Given this reality, how might we be creatures without regret in this day and age?

Pastor Beltz

Devotion of the Day

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Genesis 1.6-27

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

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.”

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

–Devotion–

God is creator, we are not. That means we too are creatures. We are trying to be creatures without any regrets. That means we are trying to live according to the will of the creator with all our being. We know the will of the creator only because of Jesus’ words and actions. Jesus showed he and the creator were on the same page. Jesus calmed storms with a word, and finally that same creating God overthrew death and raised Jesus. At that moment all creation is made aware of the identity of Jesus and just who his Father is. So, listen to the words of Jesus and do them and you will be a creature without regret.

Pastor Beltz

Devotion of the Day

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Genesis 1.3-5

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

–Devotion–

God speaks, it happens.  Whatever IT is.  IT in this case is the light.  God creates by his Word.  This brings out two huge features to the story we Christians tell about things.  1) God is the creator, and 2) that creation comes by speaking. 

Regarding point 1:  God creates, not us.  That is a hard point for us human creatures to swallow.  We have come to think of ourselves as creators in many ways.  When that happens, the world gets turned upside-down.  Think of Babel.  We humans are not creators, we are manipulators.  All we can do is take the things of this creation and manipulate them.  Trees to 2×4’s, gold and silicon to computer chips, but nothing is created by us humans.  That is, as I said, hard for us to swallow.  If we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are creators, then a creating God has no place in our stories and we alone stand as kings and gods and creators of our own stories and beginnings. 

Regarding point 2: our God is a verbal, and nothing has changed to this day.  He speaks to create light.  He is still speaking.  How is it that faith is created?  Hearing, and hearing the Word of God.  Where is that word?  It is the Scriptures, and the preaching of the Church (so long as that preaching is truly Scriptural and does not look past Jesus), it is the Sacraments when God speaks again, and again, and again.  Our prayer is that God will never be silenced upon this earth, but especially in the Church. 

Pastor Beltz

Devotion of the Day

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Genesis 1.2

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

–Devotion–

As I mentioned, we have a story to tell.  This is the story of the Genesis, the beginning, of the Earth and the waters.  But, as I would ask any student of the Christian faith, how do we know this is THE STORY, the TRUE STORY, of the Genesis of the Earth and waters?

There are times in the Old Testament that we can reference that point out that this story of a Creating God from Genesis 1 is the True Story.  At one point this creating God revealed his might by drowning the world and making it over.  At another time He showed by mighty deeds in Egypt that He was God.  Then again He sent down fire and burned up the prophets of baal in front of Elijah.  But it is not until this same creating God, this God of the Flood, this God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, this God of mighty and terrible deeds in Egypt sends his Son named Jesus into the earth.  Up until then God had remained rather aloof, but now he was on the Earth again.  He was not in plague, or pillar of fire or smoke, or sending angels anymore.  He was present in his Son.  And his Son revealed in his authority over the earth and the waters that He was acting and speaking in the stead of this God.  But, the world responded in self defense.  They killed Jesus, but God raised him from the dead.  This is how we know this story is true.  This creating God raised Jesus from the dead.  

Pastor Beltz

Devotion of the Day

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Genesis 1.1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 

–Devotion–

This is it.  This is the beginning.  We Christians have a story to tell.  Not only a story about how Jesus of Nazareth redeemed the world, that is an important part of the story–but it is a part.  We have a big story.  A story of, “the beginning.”  That beginning is rooted in the Word, just like the heavens and the earth, the animals and us human creatures.  This is the beginning of our story, the story.  This is our story to know, our story to tell, our story that explains.  It is important because there are rival stories of the beginning.  There are other stories that explain.  So we must know our story.  The story.  And how we finally know it is the true story–because the God who created gave authority to his Son, Jesus, and raised him from the dead.  But, this story presents us Christians with other challenges.

In recent conversations, both with members and non-members of our congregation, I see again how it is a constant temptation to try and look beyond the boarders of this story to something beyond.  But all that is beyond is void and darkness.  “What was God doing before the beginning?”  That is void and darkness for us, because we came after the beginning and not before.  “What if Jesus did this and not that?”  Void and darkness.  Looking past the story, looking beyond, looking through, or underneath is not what we are to do.  That is the temptation, though, for us sinners.  A temptation we will become familiar with in a few  verses.  We are to hear this story, the story of the beginning, and say, “This is it, this is what we know, this is what we go by.”

Pastor Beltz

Devotion of the Day

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Galatians 6.1-10

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

–Devotion–

Paul continues concluding his letter with an extended discussion on the Life Together that these Galatian Christians are called to have.  Remember, they are many congregations in the region of Galatia, and just like today there can be bad blood between Church congregations just as within congregations.  So Paul gives clear rules to follow.

Paul then moves on to giving instruction with regards to compensating the teacher of the Word.  Share all good things with that one.  Thank you.

As far as the next few lines, I am not sure what Paul is commenting on.  Is it on a particular congregations lack of support for the teacher of the word?  Is it a general warning regarding much of what has been taking place in the Galatian congregations?  I am just not sure. 

This section concludes with Paul’s exortaion for these Galatians Christians to continue doing good TO EVERYONE, especially to those within the “household of faith.”  Notice especially the language Paul uses concerning the images of sowing and reaping.  This is the image that is painted for us of the final judgment.  The question then is for us these days, “What am I sowing, what might I reap?”

Pastor Beltz

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