Monthly Archives: January 2016

Genesis 4 v 1-7: Don’t get Angry

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Cain was Eve’s firstborn; she declared “by the Lords help I have acquired a son” (v 1) and named him Cain which sounds similar to the Hebrew word for acquire.

Eve was acknowledging that God is the ultimate provider of life.  Paul in Acts 17 v 25 tells the Athenians that it is God who gives life and breath and everything else to everyone.

The name Abel is thought to mean “breath” or temporary – perhaps an indication of his short life.

Both Cain and Abel brought offerings to God but why was Abel’s deemed acceptable whereas Cain’s was not?

If we look more closely, it seems that it was not entirely the offering in itself that was unacceptable, but the attitude and thought which was behind it.

Now Abel was a shepherd while Cain worked the soil.  Cain brought an offering from some of his harvest while Abel chose the best parts of the first lamb born to one of his sheep.  Abel it appears thought carefully about his offering and tried to bring the best that he could but it seems that Cain was a little more casual, the offering did not really mean much to him – it was just part of the harvest.  If it had been the first part of the harvest and he had prepared it carefully, perhaps God would have looked more favourably on it.

As God was obviously looking at the heart behind these offerings he looked in favour on Abel’s offering, but on Cain’s he did not.  It was Abel’s faith that caused him to offer a better sacrifice and win God’s approval as a righteous man (Hebrews 11 v4).  Jesus referred to Abel as being righteous in Matthew 23 v 35, Luke 11 v 51

It was faith that made Abel offer to God a better sacrifice than Cain’s.  Through his faith he won God’s approval as a righteous man, because God himself approved of his gifts.  By means of his faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead (Hebrews 11 v4)

The grain offering would have been acceptable if Cain had presented it carefully and with the right attitude.  There are mentions of acceptable grain offerings; in Leviticus 2 v 1-2 and Numbers 18 v 12;  we see that it must be the best and finest quality, carefully prepared.  The first fruit of the harvest.

Cain then became angry and “sulked”  God then asked him why he was so angry and had such a scowl on his face.    God had a similar conversation with Jonah in Jonah 4 where Jonah was angry.  God asked him what right did he have to be angry.  Jonah secretly wanted God to destroy the Ninevites and was not happy that God had spared them, but God rebuked him saying that he should have compassion for them.  Similarly Cain did not have any right to be angry; God told Cain that if he had done the right thing, he would have looked in favour on him and he would have been happy, as it was it seems that Cains true character was being brought to light and God warned him;

Sin is crouching at your door.  It wants to rule you, but you must overcome it (v7)

Cain was already plotting evil, he could chose to be obedient to God but he was already allowing the thoughts of revenge and anger to take over what he knew to be the right thing.

We must not be like Cain; he belonged to the Evil One and murdered his own brother Abel.  Why did Cain murder him?  Because the things he himself did were wrong, but the things his brother did were right (1 John 3 v 12)

Cain rejected God’s discipline and went on to commit even greater sin;

My child, pay attention when the Lord corrects you, and do not be discouraged when he rebukes you.  Because the Lord corrects everyone he loves and punishes everyone he accepts as his child (Hebrews 12 v 5-6)

If we accept and learn from God’s discipline, we are promised great reward

When we are punished it seems to us at the time something to make us sad, not glad.  Later, however, those who have been disciplined by such punishment reap the peaceful reward of a righteous life (Hebrews 12 v 11)

If Cain had accepted God’s discipline with sorrow and repentance rather than anger, he would have had a very different story and would have enjoyed God’s favour.  Instead he allowed his anger to dictate his actions with terrible results.

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Genesis 3 v 20 -24: The Covering

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Adam named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all human beings. (v 20)

We discussed previously that Adam had been tasked with naming all the animals and birds having been given authority and dominion over them by God.  We saw that Adam in naming his wife Eve had been given authority over her but that he also recognised that she was significant both to him personally and to the future human race.  He had ultimate responsibility for her and he undertook to love and protect her as his helper, not his servant.  She was in no way regarded as inferior to him but a partner.

God then shows his grace and love for Adam and Eve in making more suitable clothes for them from some animal skins.  He covered them to protect them from their shame.   For this to happen something else had to die, God killed one of the animals to make clothing for them.  We see this as an early indication of God’s plan of redemption.  Jesus died so that we can be clothed in his righteousness and our shame of sin covered.

In Zechariah’s vision in Zechariah 3 v 3-5, Joshua was wearing filthy clothes, the Angel tells his attendants to remove Joshua’s filthy clothes and give him new clean ones saying:

I have taken away your sin and will give you new clothes to wear (v4)

Clothing is used many times throughout the Bible to symbolise favour, honour and status.  In Revelation 7 v 14 robes are washed white with the blood of the Lamb.   God showed here that despite their disobedience He still loved them and covered them with his love and protection.

He showed them forgiveness but there were further consequences of their actions;

Then the Lord God said “Now the man has become like one of us and has knowledge of what is good and what is bad.  He must not be allowed to take the fruit from the tree of life, eat it and live for ever”(v22)

They previously had free access to the tree of life, but now they had to be prevented from eating of it.  The consequence of their actions meant that they had to die as God said in Genesis 1 v 17.  The died spiritually but would also have to die physically too.

For sin pays its wage – death; but God’s free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6 v 23)

They were banished from the garden and instead of tending a beautiful fruitful garden, Adam was going to have to work hard to produce food from uncultivated land that was full of thorns and thistles (see v 18).

Not only that; they were to be prevented from trying to return.  God placed a guard with flaming swords to prevent anyone from coming near to the tree of life (v24)

The only way back was through the redemptive work of Jesus.

To those who win he victory I will give the right to eat the fruit of the tree of life that grows in the Garden of God. (Revelation 2 v 7)

His blood cleanses us;

Happy are those who wash their robes clean and so have the right to eat the fruit from the tree of life and to go through the gates into the city (Revelation 22 v 14)

But: The Bible ends with a further warning;

And if anyone takes anything away from the prophetic words of this book, God will take away from them their share of the fruit of the tree of life and of the Holy City, which are described in this book (Revelation 22 v 19)

How wonderful it is to see that God’s plan was in place right at the start.  There was no “crisis” because Adam and Eve had failed to obey, but God already had a redemption plan in place.  They had to learn to be obedient and to trust him – they could not do that without understanding the consequences and to learn not to listen to Satan’s lies.  It is a battle which we must work though (with his help) and then we will gain the promised reward.

 

All quotes from The Good News Bible

 

Genesis 3 v 14-19: The Curse

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Following on from Adam and Eve’s disobedience in eating of the fruit, God then sets about dealing with the consequences.  The snake (Satan) is dealt with first:

Then the Lord God said the the snake: “You will be punished for this; you alone of all the animals must bear this curse: from now on you will crawl on your belly, and you will  have to eat dust, as long as you live.  I will make you and the woman hate each other; her offspring and yours will always be enemies.  Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her offspring’s heel. (v 14-15)

Notice that a curse is placed on the snake alone, as the instigator and deceiver, he was fully aware of what he was doing.  In the UK legal system, if someone is accused of killing somebody, they can only be charged with murder if it can be proved that they intended to kill, otherwise it is known as manslaughter.  Satan clearly had intentions to kill off God’s creation which is why he is referred to as a murderer and placed under a curse.

Jesus had strong words to say to some of the religious leaders in John 8 v 44.  They were claiming to be Abraham’s children and therefore God’s children, but Jesus said that if they really were, they would love him and not act in the way they did.  He said they were more like the Devil, deceitful, liars.  This is why He says that from the beginning the Devil was a murderer and the father of lies, there is no truth in him.  He intended to deceive and knew exactly what the consequences were.  He intended to try and destroy God’s perfect creation and our relationship with him.  This is why only the snake (the Devil) was cursed by God and the soil on which he had to crawl.

Paul says to Simon the magician in Acts 13 v 10 that he was a son of the Devil, the enemy of everything good, full of tricks and trying to turn the Lord’s truth into lies.  Satan obviously didn’t learn from his experience in the garden and is still up to his tricks now, but his days are numbered.

We have this promise in Christ that God will soon crush Satan under our feet (Romans 16 v 20) and in Hebrews 2 v 14:

Since the children, as he called them are people of flesh and blood, Jesus himself became like them and shared their human nature.  He did this so that through his death he might destroy the Devil, who has the power over death.

God did not curse Adam and Eve as this would have meant there was no way of redemption available to them, but there still had to be consequences for their actions and discipline.  They broke the terms of the initial covenant that God had made with them.

To the woman He said:

I will increase your trouble in pregnancy and your pain in giving birth.  In spite of this, you will still have desire for your husband, yet you will be subject to him (v16)

This part of the judgement was specifically hers.  God did not remove the initial blessing that he pronounced over them in Genesis 1 v 28 but it was going to be much harder for her.  It would come with pain and suffering instead of the joy and blessing she should have known.

To the man God said:

You listened to your wife and ate the fruit which I told you not to eat.  Because of what you have done, the ground will be under a curse.  You will have to work hard all your life to make it produce enough food for you (v17)

The soil was going to produce weeds and thorns making the work hard until the man died and returned to the soil from which he had been made.  He was still going to be able to eat, but instead of enjoying all the fruit and food that God had provided for them, he was going to have to work harder for it.  It would eventually not be enough to sustain life for ever.

 

All quotes from The Good News Bible

Genesis 3 v 7-13 : Blame Shifting

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As soon as they had eaten it, they were given understanding and realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves (v7)

In chapter 2 v 25 we saw that the man and women were both naked but they felt no shame or embarrassment.  This nakedness refers mainly to their innocence, they had no reason to be ashamed because morally they had not sinned at this point.  It was only at the point of their sin of disobedience did they experience shame and guilt.  They then tried to cover themselves up not only physically, but morally.  They tried to cover up what they had done.

This then caused them to try and hide from God.  Where they had once walked through the garden freely with God, they now tried to hide but God looked for them and called them to him, just as he still does now.  He still calls us to him, even when we do wrong.  We can’t hide it and need to confess it.  He still loves us and wants to walk with us.  When he asks “Where are you?” it’s not that he does not know; but is giving the man and the woman (and us) opportunity to respond an come to him.

Later in the Bible we see God’s presence represented by thunder and lightning, cloud and smoke.  We would no longer be able to see God face to face because of our sin.

When God confronts Adam over what he had done, Adam then tries to shift the blame.  He tries to blame God and the woman;

The woman you put here with me gave me the fruit, and I ate it (v12)

Rather than acknowledge that he had failed; not only in his own obedience to God but in his responsibility for “the woman” (as we discussed in verse 6) he ultimately tried to blame God.

When God asks the woman “what have you done?” or in some translations; “why did you do this?” she again tries to shift the blame onto someone else – Satan.

The snake tricked me into eating it (v13)

Although the snake (Satan) was responsible for trying to deceive her, she was still responsible for her actions and failure to obey God’s command.  She knew it, she had told the snake, but then chose to listen to him instead of God.

Although she does not say it in the Bible, I wonder if she may have also thought or said to Adam “It’s your fault, you didn’t stop me!” rather than acknowledge her own failures.

In Romans 7 v 7 -13 Paul writes how his knowledge of the law brings opportunity to break it (sin);

If the law had not said “Do not desire what belongs to someone else” I would have not know such a desire (Romans 7 v 7)

Sin finds it’s opportunity to rise up and eventually kill us – kill our relationship with God.  I’m sure we all know that as soon as someone says “you can’t have that or do this” we immediately want it.  It would probably never have occurred to us to want it beforehand but our rebellious hearts immediately make something which is “banned” attractive.

This then brings us into conflict, we know what we should do, but find ourselves desiring to do what we should not (Romans 7 v 14-24

but God has given us the way out;

Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death?  Thanks be to God, who does this through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 2 v 24-25)

So we need to be on our guard, and not allow ourselves to be deceived as Eve was.

 

All quotes from the Good News Bible

Genesis 3 v 6: Temptation

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The woman saw how beautiful the tree was and how good its fruit would be to eat, and she thought how wonderful it would be to become wise.  So she took some of the fruit and ate it.  Then she gave some to her husband, and he also ate it (v6)

We saw in verse 5 that Satan lies to Eve, distorting the truth and making doing the wrong thing appear attractive and beneficial.  He told her that she would gain from her actions when in fact she had more to lose.  All she gained was the feeling of guilt.

He tries unsuccessfully to do the same with Jesus in Luke chapter 4 but Jesus is wiser and knows the truth, using it to rebuke Satan.

If people are tempted by such trials, they must not say “This temptation comes from God” For God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. (James 1 v 13)

God does not tempt us, nor did He tempt Eve and Adam, it was Satan’s lies appealing to their weakness.  He did not actually give the fruit to Eve, she had some time to think about if and chose her actions based on those lies.  She trusted Satan instead of God.

He created a desire in her which lead her to sin.

Everything that belongs to the world – what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are proud of – none of this comes from the Father; it all comes from the world. (1 John 2 v 16)

See also James 1 v 14-15

One point I notice in verse 6, which often appears to be overlooked is that in some translations it says that her husband is with her.  Now it is not clear whether he was in on the original conversation with Satan or whether it was later when Eve actually chooses to eat of the fruit, but he apparently does nothing to correct or stop her.  He has already failed in his role to protect her and guide her.

In Numbers 30 v 6-15, it speaks of a woman making a vow, perhaps carelessly and her husband says nothing about it, he is then ultimately responsible for her carrying out or failing to carry out those vows.  By saying nothing, he confirms that he is in agreement with her.   Adam apparently says nothing, so is equally guilty and must take responsibility for his actions and hers.

In Jeremiah 44 v 15 onwards, the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods were to be punished along with their wives.  Again we see that the men, by failing to act or say anything about their wives actions were giving approval and therefore implicated with them.

Paul warns in 2 Corinthians 11 v 3 against being deceived by Satan’s cunning ways as Eve was and led away from their devotion to Christ by false teaching.

In 1 Timothy 2 v 14, Paul says that Eve was deceived first.  However, clearly Adam had responsibility not only to protect himself from being deceived but to make sure that his wife was not.  He apparently was there and so in allowing Eve to partake, he was responsible and although we see later he tried to blame her; it was his choice.  He had opportunity to stop her, and certainly to not take part with her.

 

All quotes from The Good News Bible

 

 

 

Diet Tip; Read the Small Print!!!

There are many, many different “diets” to choose from and follow if you are trying to shed a few pounds in weight, but at the end of the day the basic formula is that you need to consume less calories than you burn off and be careful of your portion sizes.

While following a recipe earlier in the week, I wanted to adapt it slightly so that I could make it a little “healthier” in that I wanted to use less pasta to reduce the calorie content slightly.

Now I have an app which will scan the bar-code of a product and then you enter the quantity and it works out all the nutritional content for you, but this day I was writing down the ingredients and working it out as I went along and I made a discovery……

Nutritional labels can be misleading if you don’t read them carefully….

I was looking at a packet of Cannelloni pasta and trying to work out how many calories were in each tube, how many were supposed to be in a portion etc.  and I was struggling – it wasn’t making sense… then I realised what was going on.

When I look at nutritional labels I always go by the “per 100g” table and would normally think that this was correct.  On my pack of Cannelloni it says that there are 155kcal per 100g, so you would think that a standard 75g portion would be 116kcals.. WRONG!!!!!

Next to the 100g table, is another which says “per 180g cooked pasta (approx 75g dry pasta) which says that it is 280kcal.  So I checked the maths and yes this did work back correctly to 155kcal per 100g but nowhere did it state that this was the calorie content of COOKED pasta.

So I began to check a few other labels and discovered that there is quite a variation in how they are presented.

  • A packet of Fusilli pasta said “per 100g (as consumed)” 124kcal but a 75g portion was 224kcal – therefore 100g COOKED pasta was the stated 124kcal
  • a pack of Cous Cous again says “per 100g (as consumed) 107kcal with a note saying that 35g uncooked cous cous weighs approximately 80g when cooked, and on the front of the packet it says “an 80g serving (boiled) provides 86kcal”.  Now I wouldn’t be surprised if most people looked at the information on the front and saw that a serving size was 80g, weighed out 80g for their meal missing the bit in small print which says that 35g yields a cooked weight of 80g, and Whoops! have now consumed something like 250kcal when they thought they were only having 86 – THREE TIMES AS MUCH! (I actually had to resort to searching on the internet to confirm the calorie content of dry cous cous as being over 300kcal per 100g)
  • Quinoa; per 100g (cooked as directed) 111kcal – per 1/10 pack 34kcal.  Right, the packet has 300g so 1/10 equals 30g quinoa is 34kcal, Again, a hunt on the internet discovers that 100g dry weight Quinoa is approximately 300 calories so actually, so not only is this misleading – this label is incorrect as a 30g portion which makes about 70-80g cooked would be about 80 – 90 calories.  (I will be sending them an e-mail)
  • Rice: again “as consumed per 100g = 114kcals” but a 75g dry weight portion yields 185g cooked making it 210kcals – the dry weight therefore is approximately 280kcal per 100g.

I’ve noticed a similar thing with some Pearl Barley I have, some lasagna appears to have the same issue.  All of these are coming up at around 3 times the number of calories than shown.  Now most of these packs came from the same supermarket so other producers may have their labels differently – but the one that came from a different (leading) supermarket was completely wrong.

So if you are trying to monitor your calorie intake – be very careful with reading the labels, check the recommended portion size in the small print and use the lower weight which yields the correct cooked weight portion and number of calories..

This discovery has actually made me a bit cross as I do not consider myself stupid, yet I was falling for this – I spent 30 years working as an Accountant/Analyst so this sort of stuff is easy for me to work out, but what happens to those who are shall we say a little more challenged when it comes to numbers??  and are struggling to work out why they are carefully counting the calories and sticking to it diligently and not getting the results they should… I feel a campaign coming on….

Who’s with me?

Genesis 3 v 1 – 5: The Lies

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Now the snake was the most cunning animal that the Lord God had made.  The snake asked the woman “Did God really tell you not to eat fruit from any tree in the garden?”  “We may eat the fruit from any tree in the garden” the woman answered, “Except the tree in the middle of it.  God told us not to eat the fruit of that tree or even touch it, if we do, we will die”

The snake replied, “That’s not true; you will not die.  God said that, because he knows that when you eat it you will be like God and know what is good and what is bad” (v 1-5)

The snake (or serpent) was Satan disguising himself as one of God’s good creatures.  Remember that everything God made was declared as good, in fact, very good (Genesis 1 v 31), so the snakes in themselves were not evil but Satan chose this disguise to “slither” into Eve’s mind and sow seeds of doubt.

One of his favorite tricks is to try to cause us to doubt God’s word to us.  He knew that it was only the one tree that God instructed them not to eat from; The Tree of the knowledge of Good and evil (Genesis 2 v 16 to 17).  This immediately meant that Eve had to correct him and defend what God had said, but in doing so he had already caused her to be confused over what God said and she added the bit about not touching the tree.  Satan’s sole aim is to alienate us from God and he does this firstly by causing doubt and confusion and then he becomes the accuser – feeding lies.  This was his first lie – distorting the word of God.  We see that he tries the same tricks on Jesus in Matthew 4, but of course Jesus knows the Word (He is The Word – John 1 v 1) and corrects and rebukes him with the true word.  We need to study the word for ourselves so that it is ingrained in our minds and hearts and we can then discern when Satan is trying to deceive us.  He can be very subtle, even using what is said from the pulpit.  If you have been following these blogs for a while you will remember that we discussed in the letters to the Hebrews and of John and Jude that we need to be alert to the false teachers.  Be like the Bereans in Acts 17 and study the word yourselves to make sure that what you hear is true.

His second lie was to deny God’s word completely.  In verse 4 he says that God did not say that they would die; He did, in Chapter 2 v17, but Eve by this time was already being deceived and although she had just said that God had told them they would die if they ate of the fruit, she did not correct Satan, allowing him to perpetuate more lies.

Satan then tries to accuse God of being the one who lied to them by telling them that what he said was not true.  He tries a similar trick in Job 1 v 9 where he accuses God of having false motives in protecting and favoring Job.  In this lie, he then begins to make disobedience to God sound attractive and beneficial.  “Look what you will gain if you do this”

Again, he lies by making his statement a distortion of the truth.  “You will become like God”  Genesis 1 v 26 to 27 said that they were already made in His likeness.  They already had the knowledge of good and evil but by eating of the tree, they would gain the knowledge of separation from God (death).  In trying to take control of their own lives, they “died” to the right to eternal life.  Satan promised them a false wisdom, they had been given everything they needed to rule the earth but chose to listen to Satan’s lies instead of God’s truth.

All quotes from The Good News Bible