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Do Our Actions Affect God’s Actions?

The sovereignty of God is one of the great mysteries of Christian faith. I’m certainly not going to sort it all out in one edition of Life for Leaders. I couldn’t do so definitively in a thousand! Today, my purpose is fairly modest. I want to help us pay close attention to one surprising verse in Genesis 8 so that we might see how this verse helps us answer the question: Do our actions affect God’s actions?

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How Do You Worship God?

In yesterday’s devotion, I reflected on how the very first thing Noah did after leaving the ark was to build an altar in order to offer sacrifices to God. He made worship a priority.

I believe this and I believe it’s important. But I also believe that how we talk about Noah’s worship of God can limit our understanding and practice of worship. Allow me to explain.

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Do You Pause For Worship?

The story of Noah and the flood raises all sorts of fascinating questions. We might wonder if the flood account is history, theological fiction, or a combination of both? We might be distressed by God’s decision to wipe out all creatures on earth, with the exception of Noah and those who joined him in the ark. And so forth and so on.

As worthy as those questions are of consideration, I’m going to focus our attention on the end of the flood story as told in Genesis 8.

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Can We Know the World and Still Love It?

In the Life for Leaders edition “Don’t Miss the Beauty,” we were encouraged not to miss the beauty of this world that God built in from the beginning. As you read that devotion, you may have felt a bit uncomfortable. A nagging question may have troubled your soul: How can we delight in the beauty of creation when the world is so filled with injustice, suffering, and brokenness?

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The Striking Priority of Beauty

I’ve been reading the Bible for fifty years. I’ve read and studied Genesis 2 at least thirty times: in my personal devotions, while preparing for preaching, and in my grad school Hebrew class. I have poured over every word of this chapter time and again.

Today, I saw something new in this text. I’d never seen it before. Once again, I’ve experienced the fathomless depth of Scripture. I’m eager to share with you what I’ve learned. I will do so beginning in today’s devotion.

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Submission Is Essential for Leadership

As we read Psalm 2 today, our context is quite different. We no longer have human kings ruling over us. Moreover, we have come to understand that Psalm 2 points ahead to the one who was fully the Son of God. Thus, when we read verse 12, we hear a call to kiss, that is, to submit to Jesus, the Son of God.

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Our Dual Identity

Some of my favorite heroes have a dual identity: Clark Kent is Superman; Bruce Wayne is Batman; Peter Parker is Spider-Man. The list goes on and on. You and I also have a dual identity, though, unlike the comic book heroes, our dual identity isn’t secret. It’s plainly revealed in Scripture, beginning in Genesis 2:7.

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Should I Keep the Sabbath?

For centuries, Christians have debated the question of Sabbath keeping, proposing a wide range of answers, often with more heat than light. Thus, it seems almost foolish for me to think that I can responsibly address the question “Should I keep the Sabbath?” in one short devotional. Nevertheless, I want to offer some basic parameters that might help guide our thinking and practice.

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If God Rested, Shouldn’t We?

I was raised to value hard work. My family, my church, and the culture of my youth rewarded me when I was productive. So did my college and graduate school experience, as did the churches in which I served during the first half of my life. I remember one performance review I had as pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church. Before our meeting to talk about my efforts, I had told my reviewers that I was working at a pace that was not sustainable. I asked for their help in reshaping my priorities so that I might do what was most valuable for the church without burning myself out. When it came time for our face-to-face conversation, they told me that, for the most part, I was doing a good job. But they recommended that I teach more Bible classes, invest more in my staff, and be more available to the congregation for counseling. Basically, they wanted me to work more. This, of course, tapped into my inclination to work too much, not to mention my inherent desire to please. More work, less rest. That’s the ticket to success and fulfillment.

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Why Did God Rest?

Recently, my wife and I moved from Texas to California. Our final day in Texas was a crazy one as we scrambled to sell some of our possessions, give away many more, and take a bunch of junk to the dump. Then, after the movers finished emptying our house, we spent hours cleaning, getting everything ready for the new owners so they might move into a tidy, welcoming home. We didn’t leave until 10:45 p.m., having worked steadily from 7:00 a.m. By the time we finally arrived at our motel early the next morning, we were exhausted and more than ready to rest.

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What Is Our Purpose? The Cultural Mandate

What is our purpose as human beings? Why did God make us? Why are we here on earth? These defining questions provoke philosophers and theologians to probe the depths of human significance. But, also, they stir within each of us in a personal way. What is my purpose as a human being? Why did God make me? Why am I here on earth?

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You Were Made to Make a Difference

My friend Paul worked hard for decades, achieving considerable success as a leader in education and business. Finally, Paul retired with the hope of enjoying the benefits of the “good life” he had earned through his considerable efforts. In particular, he looked forward to playing lots of golf. That’s exactly what Paul did. Soon he became a superior golfer, winning dozens of tournaments. But Paul was not happy in the way he had expected. Though he had ample time for golf and relaxation, he was not fulfilled. So Paul decided to go back to work, taking up real estate as a new profession. He wanted to get back to making a difference in the world beyond making birdies and accumulating golf trophies. He loved the idea of helping people find just the right house for their needs.

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