In The Beginning

Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

The first verse of the Bible introduces us to its main character; God. This verse is not a philosophical statement but an axiom upon which all other statements will be based. As we venture through the Bible together we will read of the great exploits of God. We will hear of Him speaking to men, parting sees, knocking down walls, vanquishing enemies, stopping time, raising the dead and providing salvation for mankind. If this first statement is true, if God spoke and the worlds were formed, then we should have no problem believing that there is nothing that He cannot do. If we accept this first sentence of Scripture we will have no problem accepting all the miracles that follow. We will have no problem accepting that there is nothing too hard for God and we will live with an expectation of Him accomplishing great things in the life of all who live surrendered to Him. 

J.S. Baxter in his commentary on Genesis points out that this one statement is also a basal pronouncement that undoes all false religious philosophies.

“In the beginning God…” – denies atheism with its doctrine of NO god

“In the beginning God…” – denies polytheism with its doctrine of MANY gods

“In the beginning God created…” – denies fatalism with its doctrine of CHANCE

“In the beginning God created heaven and earth…” – denies pantheism with its doctrine of making earth god

“In the beginning God created heaven and earth…” – denies materialism which asserts the eternity of matter

This first testimony of Scripture is not only a declaration of divine truth but is also a repudiation of human error. As we read though the Bible together we will will be further introduced to the God of creation. We will see that He is also the God of salvation who desires an intimate and personal relationship with all of us. It is my prayer that you will take Him up on His offer of eternal life and walk closely with Him today. 

Pastor Jim 

  

Jim Gallagher

Genesis 1:1
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

The first verse of the Bible introduces us to its main character: God. This verse is not a philosophical statement, but an axiom upon which all other statements will be based. As we venture through the Bible together, we will read of the great exploits of God. We will hear of Him speaking to men, parting seas, knocking down walls, vanquishing enemies, stopping time, raising the dead, and providing salvation for mankind. If this first statement is true, if God spoke, and the worlds were formed, then we should have no problem believing there is nothing He cannot do. If we accept this first sentence of Scripture, we will have no problem accepting all the miracles that follow. We will have no problem accepting that there is nothing too hard for God, and we will live with an…

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Amen 

Revelation 3:14
“These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God”

What a beautiful and insightful way Jesus describes Himself to the church. He tells us three things about Himself.

First, He is the Amen. In the first chapter, He refers to Himself as Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. It is valuable to consider Jesus to be the end of the matter. When we are wrestling through things and trying to decide what the right path is, we should always acquiesce to the ways of God.

Second, He is the true witness. Many things speak to the nature of God. Nature reveals much of what God is like, while circumstances always seem to cloud our understanding of Him. If we want a clear vision of who God is, we should look carefully at Christ. He declared that to see Him was to see the Father (John 14:8).

Finally, He is the beginning of the creation. Now, that does not mean that He was the first of all things created, but that He is the cause of all creation. John tells us that all things were created by Him and nothing that was made was made apart from Him (John 1:3). The great force behind all His creation was His Word. We are told time and again that, “God said… And there was…” what great power is contained in the Word of God. The more you are in the pages of it, the more you will experience it in your daily life.

Pastor Jim

 

Great Is The Lord 

Psalm 147:5
“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.”

Bible writers use a variety of adjectives to help us better understand God. The Psalmist chooses the word great. Great is a word with vast meaning. It can indicate size; one dictionary defines it as “very large and imposing.” It can also mean important, distinguished, superior and preeminent. It is clear, the Psalmist is declaring God is above all His creation. One way he chooses to express the greatness of God, is to refer to His infinite understanding. There is nothing God does not know. The Psalmist declares,

“He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.” Psalm 147:4

Scientists have been fascinated with the heavens for as long as man has been on the Earth. In the third century B.C., Aristarchus accurately measured the distance of the moon from the Earth by looking at the shadow of the Earth on the moon, during a lunar eclipse. Technological advances have enabled scientists to look with greater detail into the vastness of the universe. The closest star to planet Earth is the sun, which sits 93 million miles away. The sun is just one star in a city of stars we call the Milky Way Galaxy. Our galaxy is so big, even at the speed of light, it would take 100,000 years to transverse. Beyond our own galaxy lies a vast expanse of galaxies. Astronomers estimate there are actually billions of galaxies, each one containing billions of stars. If we multiply the number of galaxies by the number of stars, we get over 10 sextillion stars in the universe; a number too large to fathom. Let’s take a number we are more familiar with, one billion. Counting non-stop, at one number a second, it would take almost 32 years to count to 1 billion. That does not even cover the stars of one galaxy. If we were to raise the number to one trillion (which is a thousand billion), counting at the same rate, it would take approximately 32,000 years. That is a lot of stars, and yet does not scratch the surface of the number of stars in the universe. The Psalmist tells us, God has not only numbered them, but He knows them by name.

It seems, naming stars would be a job big enough to occupy anyone for all of time, yet the Psalmist declares, in the midst of counting the stars our great God also,

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

How amazing is our God? He is so great He can span the universe, yet so loving He knows the things that break our hearts, and is ready to come to the aid of His saints who cry out to Him. The One who counts the stars, is the one who gazes upon you.

“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.”

Pastor Jim

 

You Should Know Better

Psalm 100:3  
“Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

Have you ever heard the phrase, “you should have known better?”  We use it when we view evidence so compelling that a particular conclusion is obvious. “I didn’t know that would happen!” This statement, a response to throwing a firecracker into the barbecue pit, or bringing a handgun through airport security, is an unreasonable response, “You should know better.” It seems equally as surprising to me, that the Psalmist would need to remind us that man is a creative work of God  and did not spring into being as a result of his own innate ability. As surprising, and even preposterous as it may be, we hear all of the time, how highly intelligent and well-educated people will choose to believe that man is not a byproduct of an intelligent and loving Creator, but the consequence of random chance.

How good it is to be reminded, that God created us, and did so with a devine purpose in mind. He created us to know Him. We live up to the height of that relationship when we walk in step with His Word. Each day, as you read your Bible and seek to put it into practice in your life, you are working towards the purpose for which you were created. On the other hand, each time you choose to ignore His word and do things your own way, you are one step farther from His design for your life. It is possible to step so far away, and be so removed from His presence in your daily life, as to begin to doubt His presence and even existence. Let’s take steps toward Him today, and everyday, until our faith becomes sight, and we reap the great reward of trusting Him.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 100

  1. This psalm is entitled a Psalm of Thanksgiving.  Go through the psalm and identify all of the different ways that we are to express our thankfulness.
  2. Notice especially the truths in verse 3.  We did not invent God, He made us.  How does this view differ from that of the world today?
  3. Although we cannot make God, we do make gods, things that we worship.  These are called idols.  What are some of the gods of the men of this age?
  4. In verse 5, we are told three very important things about God.  What are they?

 

 

Beauty 

Psalm 33:1
“Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.”

There can be great value in getting away from our manmade world and looking at the creative work of God. Seeing the beauty of His creation seems to give us new perspective on His love, power, and glory. I can recall one particular sunset in Africa that was so magnificent and seemed to last for an hour. The sky was filled with an array of colors, like I had never seen before. I recall how the view of the snow capped Austrian Alps, and the water falls of Kauai captivated me, filling me with awe and amazement at the beauty of God’s handiwork. I am sure you have a list of your own experiences that cause you to celebrate the beauty of creation. That being said, the Psalmist begins to talk about what God views as true beauty. He declares;

“For praise from the upright is beautiful.”

From Heaven’s perspective, perhaps the most beautiful thing on earth, is when the child of God looks up and shouts out with heart felt praise. It seems that our worship accompanies the sound of Angels singing, and fills the throne room of heaven like sweet incense.

There are many different types of worship. There are times when God does something in our lives that forces out praise; we cannot contain the joy within, and have to express it to Him. There is also responsive praise. Those times when we examine what God has done for us, perhaps in a time of communion, looking back upon the cross, our hearts are so filled with thankful worship for what Christ has accomplished for us. There is what we might call “faith-filled praise.” Those times when everything seems bleak and hopeless, yet we know the love, mercy, and power of God, so we begin to praise for what we know He is able to do. In those times, our worship will completely change our perspective in life. Perhaps the highest type of worship is when we praise Him, not for the things He has done, but simply for who He is. No matter what my perspective of life, God is still God. He remains the King of kings, the Lord of lords, high and lifted up above all His creative work. He sits enthroned in the floods of life, holding all things together with the Word of His power. Creation is under His authority and reacts to His commands, He even sends angels forth to do His bidding, and provide assistance to the saints.

No matter what you are facing this day, praise from the upright is beautiful. Take some time to get your eyes off of you and unto Him, and fill your room with songs of praise.

Pastor Jim

 

True Fools

Psalm 14:1 
“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

A modern dictionary defines a fool as, “someone who lacks judgment,” or “a deranged person lacking in common powers of understanding.” As a form of illustration, this sentence was used: “You would be a fool to believe what he tells you.” Often, the Christian is portrayed as a fool, and sometimes, belief in God is treated as folly. More commonly, believing God is looked at as foolishness.

When the Christian is facing a trial and chooses to cling to the unshakeable promises of God, instead of the shifting sand of modern science, he is treated like a fool. Or, when determining how to handle a relationship, the child of God clings to the teaching of Scripture, rather than the immorality of the day, he finds that he is looked at as a simpleton or a prude. It has become common place for the one who trusts in the living God to be thought of as the fool.

The Psalmist is giving us a totally different look at folly. He declares it is not the one who believes in, or follows after God, who is the fool, but the one who doesn’t. Essentially, the Psalmist is declaring it is folly not to believe in God. Why is a person being foolish not to believe God? It is foolish not to believe God because He has clearly revealed Himself to man.

Paul wrote, “Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them” (Romans 1:19). In other words, our own conscience speaks to us of God. We know within ourselves, there is more to life than what we see. The scientific mind can find abundant empirical data to support Paul’s claims. All over the world, and throughout time, man has been driven to look up, realizing there is something bigger than himself; he raises his hands in worship. Not all of this worship is appropriate, or even directed at the true God, but it is evidence of man’s need for worship, because he has been created to cry out to God. Not only has God revealed Himself in man, He has also revealed Himself to man.

The Psalmist sang out; “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

All around us, we see nature speaks to us of God. While science can explain many things about creation, it goes against the basic framework of science to think of design without a designer, or creation without a creator. When looking at the majesty of the sunset, or the miracle of child-birth, the heart of man calls out to worship. Because of what he sees around him, he knows that there must be a God. I heard a man recently declare, “I don’t know if I believe in God, but on that day when I saw the beauty of the ocean waves, I knew there must be something.” God has not left us to guess at who He is and what He is like. While creation calls our hearts to worship, the Word of God tells us who and how. To remove all confusion, God has given His eternal Word. If you are having trouble believing God, don’t be the fool who ignores God, be the one who looks into the pages of God’s Word, to find out what God is really like.

Allow me to share one final thought. It is also foolish not to believe God because of the benefits of believing. The Bible declares that eternal life is given to the one who believes that God sent His Son to redeem man. That, and that alone, is the way to prepare for death. The Bible also declares, the one who believes in the Son of God will see his life transformed as he follows God. Again, empirical data supports these claims. History is filled with people who have put their faith in Christ and found Him to be true to His promises. We don’t have to go far to find these examples; we all know people whose lives were transformed once they began to follow Christ. Instead of taking someone else’s word for it, why not look up, call out to God, then look into the pages of His Word and let Him prove Himself to you.

Pastor Jim

Psalm 14

  1. There are a lot of places we can go to find definitions. This verse contains God’s definition of a fool. How is the fool defined?
  2. Why is it folly to not believe in God?
  3. Why is it folly to say “there is no God”?
  4. Verses 2-3 are heaven’s estimation of humanity. After reading those verses explain why all people need a savior.

 

 

Glory Of Creation

Psalms 8:1
O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!”

Webster defines glory as “Great beauty and splendor, even magnificence.” David is declaring things about the magnificence of God. It seems this Psalm was penned as a result of looking at the beauty of creation, in light of the Creator. He realizes that as glorious as creation is, it pales by comparison to the Creator.

How sad, that we often neglect to consider the creation’s glory. We seem to be surrounded by the works of men. We live in a manmade house, drive a manmade car, on manmade streets, to a manmade office, eating manmade food, from manmade packages; and wonder why we have lost sight of God. What if we took time to consider the works of God’s hands? We are, after all, surrounded by it. It was designed to reveal His glory.

When was the last time you went outside, looked up at the vastness of the heavens, and considered the power of God? That can be a very humbling experience. A few years ago, I walked across the tarmac in Accra, Ghana, to board an A380 Airbus; the world’s largest commercial aircraft. It was an amazing sight. With each step toward the airplane, I felt smaller and smaller. I was dwarfed by this massive machine. It amazed me that something so large would ever be able to get off the ground. Soon the engines fired up and we began to race down the runway. Moments later, we were in the air. I looked out the window and watched as the city of Accra seemed to get smaller and smaller. My attention was soon taken to the vastness of space. This giant airplane, that only moments before, had seemed so great, was now just a tiny dot in the air. I pondered the vastness of space. There I was, a speck of dust, traveling on a speck of dust, in the limitless heavens. Rather than feeling insignificant or unimportant, I began to think of David’s words recorded here. “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?”

Although creation is great and glorious, God’s glory outshines it all. Perhaps the most glorious thing about Him, is that He loves us, and wants to meet with us. Rather than feeling insignificant, the greatness of God’s glory should fill us with wonder that He loves each of us so deeply. Take some time, not only to consider the glory of creation, but to consider the glory of God.

Pastor Jim

Psalm 8

  1. The heavens are glorious, what sits even higher in glory than that?
  2. David seems to be sitting outside at night contemplating creation when he pens this psalm. Sadly evolutionary theory has caused many to look at nature wrongly. We should look at the vast beauty and detail of nature and be filled with greater praise for our Creator. Take some time to go outside and look at the world your heavenly Father created for you. Praise Him!
  3. David writes that although man is lower than the angels in glory and strength. The Lord has visited us. That visitation includes the work of Christ upon the cross. Have you received Christ as your Lord and Savior? Ask Him into your life right now and watch the amazing work He does in you.

 

 

Incredible

Acts 26:8
Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?”

It has been said,  if we can believe the first four words of the Bible, we should have no problem with the rest of its claims. “In the beginning God…” The Bible is filled with stories of the mighty workings of God. We read of Him speaking the worlds into existence, delivering a nation from the threat of death, parting the seas, providing food in a desert, knocking down the walls of Jericho, raising a shepherd boy to the palace, healing the sick, and delivering those who were possessed by devils. Page after page, we read of God being God and providing victory over the affairs of life. It seems that for many of us, we have no problem believing in the mighty workings of God. We trust the validity of our Bibles, we celebrate His mighty work in the life of others, and even sing together of His miraculous power. However, when it comes to our own lives, we sometimes act like Agrippa. We question the ability of God; we wonder if His power is really strong enough to help us in our time of need.

I love Paul’s question; “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?”

What is it about God that you do not understand which makes it difficult for you to believe He raises the dead? I mean, if He is, in fact, God, we should expect He would be able to do what is impossible. It would be foolish to think otherwise. The problem is, we often reduce God to someone we can understand. Since we have taken away so much of His majesty, we also doubt His ability. Sometimes, in our efforts to relate to God, we have a tendency to reduce Him to someone we can understand. We cannot fathom His holiness, so we ignore it and focus only on His love and mercy. Since we cannot understand His majesty, we limit Him to His humanity. The result is we lose sight of the power of God.

In “The Chronicles of Narnia,” CS Lewis refers to Aslan stating, “He is not a tame lion.” I have always loved that reference. I think He is referring to the fact that God is bigger than we will ever be able to comprehend. We cannot reduce Him to someone who we understand, or else we have reduced Him to someone He is not.

If you are having trouble believing that God is able to work in your life, or give victory to your situation, it is time to cast off the limited God that you have created. It is time to introduce you to the God of Scripture. A God so great that the Heavens cannot contain Him.

Pastor Jim

 

God Rested

Genesis 2:2
“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2015/01/img_1284.jpgThe Biblical account of the origin of life is fascinating and filled with wonder. We read, all that exists was brought forth with nothing more than the voice of God. He spoke and mountains formed, the seas were birthed, and life began. Of all the wonders of creation, none is more fascinating than to read, after six short days God rested. If the only energy expended in creation was His voice, we know He did not rest out of exhaustion. Instead, His resting was a testimony to the fact that all creative work was accomplished.

Scientists tell us, all matter in the universe has been here since the beginning. They have determined, new matter is not forming, but what has always existed, simply changes form. When God finished His work of creation, all was created.

The Bible tells us of another time when God rested. We are told, while hanging on the cross Jesus declared, “It is finished”, and breathed His last. He then sat down at the right hand of God, having completed the work of salvation. Just as creation was completed by God and left for man to enjoy, so salvation was completed and left simply to be receive by faith. Let us, too, rest in all that God has done for us; in His creation, in His salvation, in the life that He gives us.

Pastor Jim