God’s Good World


Every good story has a good beginning. Consider this line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Can you name this book?*

Do you remember the first movie you ever saw in the theatre? I don’t know if it was my first movie, but I remember being a small kid watching  Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. The opening music…the way the words scrolled across the screen…and then the camera moved into panning an imperial ship. I was hooked.

What’s one of your favorite movies? How does it begin? One of my favorite movies is Red Dawn.** In the movie’s opening, a high school teacher is giving a lecture on the  invasion practices of a medieval army, describing their practices. This foreshadows the films plot and ending. It also shows the beginning of the invasion of WW3 in a small Colorado town.

The Bible has a great beginning too! The opening words are, “In the beginning God…” There’s a lot we can learn from how the Bible begins. What do these 4 words tell us about God and/or the Bible?

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Exegetical Notes: 2 Samuel 22:26-36, 50-51

2 Samuel 22 is comprised of a psalm of thanksgiving and praise directed toward God from King David. It reveals much about the king’s love for God. It also revels much about the character of God. Chapter 22 proves to be highly significant because of it’s classic psalm structure and the fact that this is the longest quoted material we have from King David.

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Small Group Lesson One – A Personal Study Guide to Accompany “Living Generously: First”

Read Genesis 4:3-7

We assume these five small words in English to be rather unimportant. They sound, at first glance, to be a casual way to introduce the story we are about to encounter. Much like fairy-tales begin with “Once upon a time”. However, if we pause for a moment we see Cain’s “flaw in the intention of the giver” (see note on Gen. 4:5). Perhaps these five words give us a bit of a glimpse into the mind and heart of Cain, and maybe ourselves.

Verse 3 (especially when compared to v. 4) seems to suggest, at the very least, that giving was not a priority for Cain, both in WHEN he gave and in WHAT he gave. He gave when he “got a round to it”. He gave something, but the sacrificial aspect in his giving must have been missing.

All of these reflect the poor condition of Cain’s heart.

We often seek to cover up the condition of our hearts with an excuse. That’s what happens in Genesis 3:12 when God inquires to Adam about why he’s recently discovered his nakedness. “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” The woman follows the same thought when she says, “The serpent deceived me…” What did Adam and Eve do? They tried to cover their sin by clothing themselves and hiding from God’s presence. What was David’s initial reaction upon learning that Bathsheba had become pregnant? He sought to cover up his rebellion.

Too often, our first inclination is to respond to sin by 1) covering it up, and 2) making excuses. 

Can we be honest for a moment? What excuses do you use for not giving?

1) I can’t pay my monthly bills as it is, much less give any extra. We often quirk, “There’s too much month at the end of the money?”

2) I need just a little more income, then I’ll be able to give. Maybe you tell yourself that you’ll start giving when your financial situation improves.

3) I plan on giving as soon as I pay off _________.

4) My past financial mistakes keep me from giving.

This list could keep going I’m sure. We don’t have time to dive into each and every excuse. Let’s just summarize be noting, “Any excuse will do when you’re looking for one.” 

Paul said, “in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money…(2 Tim. 3:1-5). Here again, we see Paul linking together money and the heart. If we’re honest, let’s just admit that the absense of giving is a symptom of a deeper problem.

Exegetical Notes: 2 Samuel 21:1-6, 10-14

Chapter 21 provides us with a somewhat odd story regarding an ongoing famine during the reign of David. It gives seemingly several odd theological and ethical dilemmas. However, we do see an emphasis on the justice of God for those who may be oppressed as well as some possible causation for natural disaster.

21 Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the Lord. And the Lord said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the people of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites. Although the people of Israel had sworn to spare them, Saul had sought to strike them down in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah. And David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And how shall I make atonement, that you may bless the heritage of the Lord?”

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