The Outcry Against Sodom and Gomorrah…Who Are Those Crying Out for Justice Today?

“Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” – Genesis 18:20-21

Reading this story again last week it made me wonder where the outcry against these cities came from. It doesn’t seem to have come from Abraham because God has to inform him of the outcry. It doesn’t seem to have come from Lot or his family as he saw fit to be in the city gates (probably doing business with the people in the city – Gen 19:1. It is also possible that Lot could have been established as an elder of the city as that is where they tended to do the business of overseeing the people like we see in the book of Ruth.). Who else would it have come from? Could it have come from the victims of the ruthlessness, inhospitality and  perverseness of those in the city? Or did it come to God in a more symbolic was as did the cry of Abel from the ground (Gen 4:10-12). We don’t know the answer to that question. The Bible doesn’t give us that information but I think it is an interesting question and has implications for us today.

It really makes me wonder about the times the righteous stand silent while the wicked are the ones crying out for justice! I am not sure that is what is happening here but it seems like Lot was spending his time doing business as usual rather than crying out for justice. He certainly knew how wicked the city had become. He wouldn’t let the visitors sleep in the city square because he knew what would happen to them when the people of the city found them.

What happens when the righteous stop crying out for justice? How out of place are we when people in the world recognize the need for change more than we do? Are there times we have found ourselves sitting in the city gate, doing business with the devil and profiting from it rather than raising the outcry to God for justice? I can’t help but think of slavery and civil rights being in that category…issues many churches and Christians condoned or kept silent about. What issues do you think we face today that the church or Christians sit silent over because we benefit from or are at least indifferent to the injustices around us? What are some issues today the church or individual Christians should be in constant prayer over asking God to come and make a difference.

We don’t know if Lot ever cried out for the city to change but I wonder if he had, if God would have had less difficulty finding 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, or even 10 righteous people in the city for God to have spared it (Gen 18:16-33).


Do Animals Have a Soul?

“And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.” – Genesis 1:30

The word translated “life” here is not the typical Hebrew word for life. Instead it is the word normally translated “soul” (nefesh or נפש). It is the same word used in Genesis 2:7 translated “being”, “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” – Genesis 2:7

The NIV does us somewhat of a disservice here. You would expect these two passages, which both contain the phrase “breath of life” to have the same words in Hebrew. But they don’t. I don’t know if they avoided this to avoid confusion on saying animals have a soul or what.

To give another example of the word used in Genesis 1:30 to describe animals, it is the same word used in Deuteronomy 6:5 – “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

The basic idea with this word (nefesh) is that we have life within us and the essence of that life is described as a soul. Animals have life and humans have life. Both then have nefesh (the essence of being alive). When we use the word soul we are normally expressing the concept of a “spirit.” We just happen to have those confused in our language today in a way that is not consistent with the Bible.

So what is the difference between mankind and animals? Humans have an eternal spirit while animals do not. We see that in Genesis 2:7 where God breathes (basically same word for spirit) life into Adam. The animals don’t have the same priviledge.  While Genesis 1:30 says animals have the “breath of life” in the NIV I am not finding it in the Hebrew texts at my disposal at the moment. The distinction between mankind and animals is not the soul. The distinction is the spirit. So animals do have a soul (the very fact that they have been given life by God) but they do not have an eternal spirit that only mankind is priveledged to have been gifted with. We have just had our terms confused.

To see interlinear Hebrew texts on these see this link.

Dealing with Loneliness

The only guy who had a right to feel lonely was Adam prior to God making Eve. I guess you might say Elijah after the Mt. Carmel incident but even with that God assured him there were people on his side. Genesis 2:18 says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Adam could legitimately feel lonely because God had not yet provided anyone for him to have companionship with. We don’t have that excuse. If we feel lonely maybe we have a perspective issue. Maybe we haven’t taken a look around to see all of the people God has provided to renew in us a sense of belonging and community. I am not saying that loneliness is an evil feeling or that we shouldn’t feel it. Loneliness is a perfectly natural part of being human because like hunger and like thirst, it communicates that something is missing that needs to be filled. God made us to experience life in community. The issue comes in how we handle it. God has surrounded us with plenty of loving and understanding people and he expects us to experience the community he has already surrounded us with if we would only open ourselves up to it in times of loneliness.

When Did Eve Get Her Name?

A – Adam named her when he woke from his post-op slumber (Gen 2:22)
B – Right after her title of wo-man was given (2:23)
C – Before she ate the fruit
D – After she and Adam sinned

When the woman took Adam the fruit to eat, she was still just “the woman.” It wasn’t until after they sinned, after they received their curses, and even after they were told they would die that Adam named her Eve (Gen 3:20). That seems strange doesn’t it? Genesis 3:19 ends with “for dust you are and to dust you will return.” The very next words…”Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.” (Gen 3:20). You might have thought he would have named her “Mot” (the Hebrew word for death) considering the bad news they just received.

Fresh from the curse, learning they will die, he turns to her and gives her a name that inspires hope (Eve means something like “living”). In naming her “Eve” Adam recognizes their present condition and possiblities for a lineage rather than focus on the future results of the curse they would personally experience (isn’t that what most guys would focus on if they found out they were going to die?). He focuses on the one hopeful command God gave them at first – “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen 1:28) rather than allowing himself to be filled with bitterness and anger over the outcome of their fatal decision. I am very grateful to Adam for his perspective because here we all are. I am grateful that Adam was obedient in the first command (be fruitful), even if he messed up on the second one (don’t eat that fruit)!

What Made Abel’s Sacrifice Better Than Cain’s?

In Genesis 4 we get the first recorded act of worship. Cain and Abel bring offerings before the Lord. You know the story…it cuts right to the chase and goes from their birth to their offerings in three short verses. In this story we learn that Cain offered portions of his harvest and Abel offered animals from his herd. Without any recorded command of what God wanted we learn that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but did not find favor with Cain over his sacrifice. Later in the Torah, God accepted grain and other sacrifices from the harvest. So that is not totally foreign to God, that God might only desire animal sacrifices.

The difference was the quality of their offerings. Cain brought some of his produce. Abel brought the fat portions from some of the firstborn among his animals. It wasn’t that Cain didn’t want to please God. He was very disappointed that his offering didn’t elicit the desired response from his creator. The problem was he didn’t consider giving God his best.

It is possible for us to fill the shoes of Cain…or flip flops or whatever the first family wore. It is possible to give something to God that is in the category of pleasing items but the quality of which is lacking. For it to be a sacrifice it has to be a sacrifice. How can we fall into this category? We do this when we are minimalist Christians and minimalist worshippers of God. You see this in people who come to service, take the Lord’s Supper and leave. You see this in people who figure opening the Bible on Sunday morning is enough for the week. You see this in people who figure out what they are going to give with the collection on Sunday as the trey is coming toward them. In many other places and many other ways this can be lived out today in our lives.

I wonder if God is just as displeased with us as he was with Cain when we share the attitude of offering ourselves to God asking “Will just this much do?” We shouldn’t be surprised if God is disappointed when we do that. Let us have the attitude and disposition of Abel. He saved the best for God. He gave God the choice portions of those animals and not just any animals…the costliest ones to him, the first born. What can we give to God that falls in the category of the choice parts of the firstborn from among our flocks and herds?

What Can We Learn from False gods of the Bible?

There are some things that are just not up for debate when it comes to deciding what to believe as Christians. One of those things is that there is only one God.There are not household gods, city gods, and gods for different parts of nature and culture. There is only one God (Deut 6:4). There are many things we can disagree on and have different opinions about. But as Christians this is something we must all agree on. The moment you say there are multiple “gods” running around and Jehovah God is just one amongst many you lose the very essence of Christianity because you put God in competition for authority with others and scripture makes it clear that is not the case.

You probably learned in school about ancient mythology and the gods of the Greeks. There were different gods with different areas of responsibility. You have the god of war and the goddess of wisdom. The same was true of other ancient cultures including many cultures that surrounded and were concomitant with the ancient Hebrews. The Egyptians, Canaanites, Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Persians, and many others celebrated and worshiped multiple gods. For instance, you remember when Cyrus became king of Persia and he sent the Jews back to Israel and reversed their exile/captivity. He wasn’t just being a nice guy. His belief was that if he could let all these nations the now conquered Babylonians had dispersed all over the place go back home and worship their gods on their own soil that his kingdom would prosper and that the gods would show him favor.

The importance of studying contemporary culture:
We see this reflected in scripture in many places. In fact, having a cursory understanding of how the surrounding cultures viewed their “gods” can have a dramatic impact on how we read and understand scripture. Like any document we study, it is important to try to understand their culture so that we can try to hear things like they heard them. When we do that, many texts we have read many times will sound different to us and meanings we never noticed before will jump out at us because we are hearing the text with an understanding of their own background.

How did cultures develop the idea of multiple gods?
It all comes down to power/control and survival. Strip away all your ideas of science and scripture and stand in a time 6000 years ago where man is doing what man has always tried to do – understand and make sense of the world around him. The number one concern is survival. The number one means of survival is food. The factors that make having food abundant include factors out of our control (sun, rain, etc). Logically, if man is dependent on food for survival and the food/crops are dependent on sun and rain for survival then wouldn’t it make sense that the rain and sun might also depend on something greater than themselves?

The ancients believed that if you could name a power you might find a way to control or manipulate that power for your own good. This is what idolatry comes down to. We often think people made idols because they wanted something to worship. But it is more than that. They make idols are representations of beings they believe live above and apart from us in an effort to give that god glory and praise in hopes that the god might show them favor. So idol worship is a selfish act of manipulation and control rather than worshiping something out of love, respect, and adoration. There is no commitment when it comes to worshiping and idol. If it doesn’t answer, find yourself another god who might and make an idol of him to try to manipulate and control. We see hints of that in Mark 9:38 where the disciples complain that they found a man casting out demons in Jesus name and they wanted to stop him. There is an example of this in Acts 19 with the sons of Sceva where the attempt fails. Ancient culture believed there was power and authority in a name.

So what did they do? They named gods for the areas they believed could be manipulated for their own good (sun, rain, sea, fertility, etc). We read about some of these in the Old Testament. Baal was the god of the storm/rain/lightning and fertility. Asherah was goddess of the sea. We find examples of how they used the gods to explain the cycles of nature. The Canaanites explained the seasons by saying that Baal (god of fertility and the storm) would get together with Anat (goddess of war) and they would make sweet lovin which would result in springtime. A short while later Mot, god of death, would come and slay Baal in a great cosmic battle. With the ceasing of rains and fertility came winter time. Anat was none to please so she came and retrieved Baal’s body, putting him back together. Then they could make love again and bring on the spring time the following year.

gods like us:
What is interesting in this example is you notice when man makes up gods they sound a lot like man. They are killing each other having incestuous relationships and on and on the list could go of evil cruelties they doled out against each other in an effort to gain dominance and superiority. These are gods made in the image of mankind.

It is quite unlike what we find in scripture. In scripture, the one true God is holy and other than us. He does not vie for power. He does not have competition for authority. We are made in his image and not the other way around. In fact, the creation story is a direct attack on the gods of the land and a competing narrative for how this world began that shows Jehovah God being greater than the powers of the universe. For instance, the Canaanites believed in Yam, the god of the sea (which is also the Hebrew word for sea). They believed he was a god of chaos, just as the sea is an unpredictable place. When you read in Genesis 1 that God created the heavens and the earth and that by just his words alone his brought control over the seas and put them in their place. This is a direct attack against pagan idolatry and polytheism. God is in charge of the heavens, not El and not Baal. God has power over the sea not Yam or Asherah.

Not only that but Jehovah God is interested in us. He is not distant and unconcerned or uncommitted. He has exerted himself into our situation in order to bring salvation and reconciliation to his creation. He is not self-absorbed or self-interested. He cares for us! That is quite unlike the “gods” of the world.

Reading the Bible with this in mind:
Creation –
There are several places in scripture where this impacts our reading. The creation account was already mentioned.

Exodus – A second place we see this is in the Exodus. There is a little verse tucked into Exodus 12:12 where we learn that the plagues of Egypt were done in judgment of the Egyptian gods. It is an easy verse to pass right over but it sheds light on what was happening with the plagues in Exodus 7. God was putting the “gods” of Egypt in their place. Think about it for a moment. What Egyptian gods can you name? Probably Re, god of the sun. How do the plagues address him? The plague of darkness is a slap in his face and shows his authority and power to be zero. The Egyptians had a god for the Nile, a god for the frogs and even Pharaoh himself was believed to be a god. God put them all in their place and showed his own control over them. Nahum Sarna even points out that Heqt, the frog god, also had connections with fertility/childbirth. So it could be a double slap in the face for killing the Hebrew baby boys (Exploring Exodus, 79).

It would then make sense that when God gives them the 10 commandments in Exodus 20 that he would start with establishing himself as supreme.

“And God spoke all these words:

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…”

God is showing himself to have supreme authority even over the “gods” they saw the Egyptians worship for the last 400 years. And remember, the Egyptians were successful people. They would appear to be blessed by the gods with all they were able to accomplish. Yet, God establishes himself among his people as superior and of greater authority than anything they saw in Egypt.

Conquest – A third place we see this influence is in the conquest of the Promised Land. We often have trouble with the book of Joshua because of the killing of innocent women and children. It is a difficult thing to explain away. Deuteronomy does give us some insight as does this discussion on foreign gods and the mindset that comes along with them. God didn’t want his people to fall into idolatry and the mindset that they could manipulate and control the forces of the universe to get what they want. Deuteronomy 12 gives us some insight. God tells them to destroy all their places of worship to false gods when they get in the land. God goes on to forbid them from worshipping him in the same ways as the pagans worshiped their gods (Deut 12:29-31):

“The LORD your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, 30 and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” 31 You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.”

Why would this be tempting? Some have postulated it was because of their leap from shepherding to farming. If you remember when the spies came back they told of the great bounty of the land. A shepherd might have a tough time tending grapes! So what do you do? Ask the locals how they did it. What do they tell you? Do this and that and make sure to worship Baal to get his blessing on your field. Just that easily the people fall into worshiping false gods.

Psalms – We see direct attacks on Canaanite gods in the psalms. In some cases we see God given the titles that the Canaanites had given to Baal like “rider on the clouds” (Psalm 104). See Craigie, Ugarit and the Old Testament, 77)

Isaiah – There was a comment on the blog over a year ago where someone said the NIV was from the anti-Christ because it called Jesus and the devil the same thing – “morning star.” This was in reference to Isa 14:12 where the Latin Vulgate translated the word Helel as “Lucifer.” We think Satan when we hear that term but literally it just means “light bearer.”  The KJV translated it “Lucifer” and the NIV “morning star.” This commenter pointed out that in Rev 22:16 Jesus is called the morning star and so they believed the NIV put Jesus on level with the devil when that is not what is happening at all. Instead, Isaiah is calling out the King of Babylon for comparing himself to God (Isa 14:14).

Here is where Greek mythology helps us understand what Isaiah was getting at – “The Hebrew word helel means “shining one”; this and other features of the poetry led a number of scholars to suggest that the mythological background of the petry was to be found in the Greek myth of Phaethon. Phaethon, in the Greek story, was the “shining” son of Helios, who attempted to drive his father’s golden chariot but was unable to control the massive power of its horses. The parallel is contructive, for like Phaethon, the Babylonian king attempted to assert powers that were too great for him; his inadequacy would result in his doom,” (Craigie, 86).

The result, like Phaethon, would be a fall from great heights (Isa 14:12-17),

“How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!

13 You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. [c]

14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”

15 But you are brought down to the grave,
to the depths of the pit.

16 Those who see you stare at you,
they ponder your fate:
“Is this the man who shook the earth
and made kingdoms tremble,

17 the man who made the world a desert,
who overthrew its cities
and would not let his captives go home?”

When you read it in context, this is obviously talking about the king of Babylon and not any ploy on the part of the NIV translators to parallel Jesus with the devil! The parallels are clear with ancient mythology and that allows us to make the same connections Isaiah was making when he wrote this. Here and in many other examples we could cite, we see just how important it is to know the stories they knew in order to make the same comparisons they were making and not make false conclusions about scripture and even Bible translations. It is important that we are informed about these things.

When we look at the “gods” of the surrounding cultures and see how they compared the one, true God to His “competetors” you can’t help but see that there was no comparison. It helps us see just how dissimilar the real God is from anything made up by mankind. That builds my faith and helps me appreciate how just and involved God is in the affairs of the world he created. It gives me a renewed appreciation for God’s interest in His creation and his active role in bringing redemption and reconciliation to a broken and  hurting world.

UFC – Jacob vs. Esau

How clever and pretty well done all things considered…

John Alan Turner on Authenticity

It doesn’t get much more authentic than Adam and Eve naked in the garden. What can we learn from that? See his post to find out. Also keep them in your prayers as his family deals with a loss.

Gospel of Mark – God’s Vineyard (Mark 4:1-34)

In Mark 3 we found Jesus being accused of all sorts of things and the source of his authority had been challenged. In Mark 4 we find one of the only blocks of Jesus teachings in the entire Gospel, which is probably a response to those attacks. All of the teachings have some connection with planting and growing a crop. Jesus takes on the posture of a teacher by sitting in the boat. He begins to teach the crowd who is standing on the shore. Mark literally tells us that the crowd is standing on the ground by the lake, a word he will repeat 8 more times in the chapter (NIV dynamic equivalent translation = “shore” loses that connection).

The Land, the Ground, and the Heart (4:1-20)

How could teaching about the ground, crops, and land have anything to say in response to his critics? The first thing you have to remember is that when God made a covenant with Abraham he promised him a land (Gen 15:17-20). When the people were leaving Egypt they were reminded of that promise (hence the “promised land”). The people of Israel had a special connection with the land. They believed it was there right, their destiny, their inheritance from God.

The vineyard was a popular symbol in the Old Testament for God’s people,

“It is not God’s only because God loves it, but because he painstakingly prepared the land and planted it. He also carefully protected it. In this way the parable describes God’s election of Israel as a nation (Deut 7:7-11) and his providential care of it. As with any vineyard, the vinedresser does all this work with the expectation of a fruitful and bountiful harvest” (Dictionary of Bib Imagery, 915).

In the Old Testament God spoke through the prophet Isaiah comparing the people in the land to grapes in a vineyard (Isa 5:1-7). In that passage God says he cared for the vineyard, cleared it, picked a fertile hillside, planted it with choice vines, put a wall and a watchtower in it for protection (reminds me of Deut6:10-15). But when he looked for a good crop of good grapes he found only “bad fruit.” What follows was a passage of judgment – God would destroy its protective walls, make it a wasteland, and guess what would grow up in its place? Briars and thorns. The passage concludes like this,

“The vineyard of the LORD Almighty
is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah
are the garden of his delight.
And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.”

The Israelites had rejected God and his prophets in the past. They produced bloodshed in place of justice and distress instead of righteousness. Here they go again. In walks the Sower who sows God’s seed (God’s word/Gospel) onto the hearts of men. Some fell on the path, some fell in rocky places, and other seed fell among the thorns. None of those produced good fruit because they were not rooted in good soil. But the seed that fell on the good soil produced fruit so big that no human could claim responsibility for the produce. The seed exposes who we really are. The typical question we ask ourselves in studying this parable is, “What kind of soil are you?” But I think the better question is this, “What are you producing?” If you are good soil you will produce good fruit but if your soil is in poor condition you will not produce good fruit.

A Lamp on a Stand (4:21-25)

Just as the seed exposes our hearts so does Jesus (who is, by the way, the Word of God – John 1). Jesus continues his farming language by saying when you light a lamp you don’t cover it with a bushel (NIV – “bowl” – misses the connection with the surrounding stories). Instead you put it on a stand and it exposes us for who we really are. That means 4:24-25, the verses many people use to talk about judging others, cannot be about judging others. It just doesn’t fit the context of the kingdom Jesus is talking about here. “With the measure you use (more farming language), it will be measured to you…” Jesus is saying if you embrace the kingdom you will receive more than you could have ever understood. But if you reject it (“those who do not have”) you will lose everything.

The Parable of the Growing Seed (4:26-29)

You cannot make a stock go up by watching the stock ticker. It just doesn’t work that way. The same is true with the kingdom. The kingdom grows apart from the skill of the farmer. The farmer does not make seeds germenate. They do that on their own. The word Jesus uses for “all by itself” – αυτηματη (sounds like automatic). It happens on its own. The naysayers want to point fingers at Jesus and say the kingdom hasn’t come. Jesus is saying that is like standing in a field full of wheat and shouting, “This land is worthless for farming!” That would be insane. Look around you. Don’t you see all the signs! The sick are healed. Demons and evil spirits are being cast out. Teaching is being done with authority. All the signs are here. Don’t deny the obvious. And don’t take credit for what you aren’t able to do yourself. God is the one bringing in the kingdom whether you like it or not.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed (4:30-34)

When I was a kid I always thought the mustard plant was a HUGE tree that towered above everything else. I was wrong. Apparently when you plant mustard seeds you better get ready for what happens next because there is no stopping it. It is like kudzu. When you cut kudzu you better cut and run because if you don’t it will catch you. When you plant this plant in your garden you cannot contain it. You cannot be assured of where it will spread to. You cannot put boundaries on it. All sorts of little critters may end up living in there (BWIII, 172). So it is with the kingdom. When the kingdom takes root you better get ready because it is going to grow all over the place. There is no stopping it. There is no putting boundaries on it. It was made to grow and grow it will.

I think many of our problems in our Christian walk stem from the fact that we have forgotten how powerful the kingdom of God actually is. We have forgotten that it will grow like wildfire. It will grow in places we didn’t realize it could be. It will turn our expectations upside down and renew in us a sense of hope because we realize that who and what we belong to cannot and will not be stopped. So hang on tight and get ready and don’t be afraid to invite people into it because it was made to grow.

Practical Christian Living – From Consumerism to Contentment

We are experiencing technical difficulties with our email due to a website server switcharoo and so I am posting the content of our next LIFE group lesson here. Feel free to give feedback.

Icebreaker: What would have been your favorite thing about living in the Garden of Eden?

Last week we talked about sin in the garden and how the serpent tried to challenge God’s command not to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan was substituting God’s way with an alternative that, although sounded good and pleasing, in the end resulted in emptiness and death. God had all their needs taken care of but Satan convinced them that what God had provided was not enough—they needed more.

That is the message of the world—Consumerism. Why does consumerism breed dissatisfaction?

·You feel like you never have enough. There is always something bigger and better you can buy.

Consumerism can become an entire worldview—something that effects the way we see everything. Because of that we have to address this early in our study because many of the other things we study are problems because people have developed a consumer mindset that has taken the place of God in their lives. In other words, when this has fully taken root, we begin believing that the world can meet our needs instead of God. But like Adam and Eve the end result will be emptiness and even death.

How does the world bombard us with the message that what we have is never enough?

· Advertisements, trends, movies, television, internet, etc.

How was the Garden of Eden before sin entered the picture?

· It was a perfect existence between God and mankind.

· They should have been satisfied—all their basic needs were met.

The Bible makes very clear that God is the one who supplies our needs. Because of that we should be content.

Phil 4:19 

How many of your needs did Paul say God will meet?

· All

What is the difference between a want and a need?

· A want is something that is non-essential for the continuance of living life as a whole person. A need is something that only God can provide that is essential for life and spiritual development.

· Paul didn’t say God will meet all your wants. Paul said God will give you what you really need.

What does the world tell us we really need?

· Definitely not God—they say God will mess you up or that God is out to get you or that he doesn’t exist.

· The world says we need stuff. Once you get enough stuff you will be satisfied.

· The world says we need love and acceptance—the difference is how you go about finding it.

Matthew 6:28-34

The world says if you don’t have what you want you better worry until you get it. What does God say about worry? Why?

· Don’t worry—God will provide what you really need.

Jesus shifts the priority from chasing some really important things (food and clothing) to something of even greater importance. What does Jesus say is the most important thing to seek out?

· A relationship with God

What does Jesus say will follow if we make God our priority?

· The things we really need will be provided in addition to the greatest thing—a relationship with God.

Back to the way the world looks at this. The world says if you want clothes you chase clothes. If you want food you chase food. If you want stuff you better chase it yourself because no one else is going to do it for you. And don’t chase just anything. Only the best is worth your attention. Following that line of thinking to the end makes stuff our “lord” instead of God. Stuff begins to rule our lives and we end up on an endless pursuit of things that will make us seem important or “somebody.”

Gen 1:26-27

Where does scripture say our value is found?

· Our value rests in our relationship with God. We are made in his image and that makes us valuable.

What does it take for the world to say you are valuable?

· If you have the right income, job, clothes, cars, appearance, etc.

· In other words, you don’t have any inherent value apart from your things.

Consumerism robs us of who we are and it steals away from us a healthy view of others. Instead of seeing others for who God made them to be we start seeing others for how they can benefit us, how they can help our cash flow, buy our product, compliment us, etc.

Moving from Consumerism to Contentment:

Philippians 4:11-13 shows us that contentment does not come from filling ourselves with stuff. Contentment is not based on circumstances or a series of good purchases. Contentment comes from resting in the fact that we have value that comes from God and that through God our needs will be met.

What are some things in your life you feel get in the way of seeing God and others in a healthy way?

What are the necessary steps it will take for you to find contentment in God alone?