Adam and Eve might be one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. The creation of the first two people, life in a paradise, and then the terrible consequences of the fall makes for an extremely memorable moment that we look back on as a relatable experience we all go through as we choose sin over obedience and relationship with God. Adam and Eve are kicked out of the garden, receive several curses that will make life extremely challenging, and are torn away from their relationship with God. But the devastation doesn’t end there. They have 2 children: Cain and his younger brother Abel. I want to focus on Abel because of the incredible example he sets but also because of the way it clearly presents the destructive power of sin. Abel is a great example. He works hard caring for his flocks and shows us what it looks like to care for this world that God has blessed us with. When we work hard for what we have we develop great pride in our hard work and labor. We see the fruit of OUR labor, we see how WE did a good job, and we begin to feel prideful and entitled. I DESERVE what I have. We see this attitude and it’s results in Cain as he is driven to jealousy, hatred, and murder. What is really impressive to me is Abel’s perspective on his hard work. He brings the fat portions from the firstborn of his flock before God. He offers God the BEST of what he has. He makes the clear statement that his success is not because of anything he did but because of what God has done. He gives back to God what God has given to him. And so God looks with favor on Abel’s sacrifice.
Samuel was an incredible man. Prophet, priest, and judge. He led the Israelites from the age of being led by judges to a king and prophesied over the Israelites what would happen if they didn’t allow God to be their leader. Samuel even anointed the first two kings God appointed over Israel. There are many incredible stories of Samuel but one of my favorites involves his birth and infancy.
Samuel’s mother, Hannah, is an amazing woman that we can gather a lot of wisdom and insight from. She is one of two wives of Elkanah who struggles with being barren and unable to have children while her “rival”, Elkanah’s other wife, provokes her to tears. Hannah in her misery travels to the Lord’s Temple and has an intimate time of prayer where she promises to dedicate her firstborn son if the Lord will bless her. This prayer is answered and Hannah makes good on her promise. Read more about Hannah in 1 Samuel 1-2:11 where we can learn many things. I want to focus on how Hannah sets the example of fulfilling our commitments to God. Her example convicts me of the incredible vow we make in baptism. A vow that devotes our life in service of God. A vow that proclaims Christ’s victory over death. A vow that leads us to a new and transformed life. When I look at the inspiring life of Samuel I immediately look at the incredible obedience of 1 woman who placed herself at God’s feet and gave Him full ownership over her life. God did AMAZING THINGS through this devotion.
Genesis is full of challenging stories as we hear about God’s interactions and relationship with humans. We hear about the Garden of Eden and the way God walked with Adam and Eve. We are given examples of how God speaks to people like Joseph and Jacob through dreams and audibly to Abraham. These stories intrigue me because my relationship with God is how I define everything I do. I chose Youth Ministry out of my passion to share my relationship with God with teens. I love being able to teach or preach as it gives me opportunity to reflect on and then communicate why my relationship with God is so important. I love considering what this relationship looks like and how God reveals Himself in the Bible. We don’t hear a whole lot about a man named Enoch. But in just a few short verses: Genesis 5:21-24 and Hebrews 11:5, we hear about a man who “Walked with God” and then “was no more”. I don’t know why God chose to take Enoch to heaven without dying but I love the idea that a man had such an intimate relationship with God that God couldn’t stand to be separated any longer and instead removed him from this life. What makes Enoch even more of a minor character with a major impact is to see the obvious impact he made on his great grandson, Noah, who “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” and was saved. Consider these ideas this week and how you can pursue an intimate relationship with God.
David is one of my heroes of the faith. A mighty warrior, a charismatic leader, a creative poet and musician, with bold faith and an intimate relationship with God. Basically, everything I aspire to be. But we’re not looking at such spiritual giants that seem far out of reach. Instead, I wanted to explore some of the men and women in the Bible that I believe are just as powerful of examples of godliness in simpler or unnoticed ways. David’s best friend, Jonathan, has some of the same qualities and leadership as David. In 1 Samuel 13 and 14 we see a few of Jonathan’s exploits as he courageously relied on the strength of God to lead him to victory in impossible situations. Jonathan had a strong reputation with the people as well who stand up on his behalf when his father, king Saul, determines to kill him after disobeying a foolish oath. But what I think is most admirable is that Jonathan was the son of the first king of Israel and was, perhaps, the most likely and logical choice for being the second king of Israel after his father. Saul even declares this to Jonathan in anger in 1 Samuel 20:31. But Jonathan’s love for David and respect for God leads him to saving David’s life and swearing allegiance to him as the anointed king of Israel. Jonathan could’ve given into jealousy over David’s quick rise the way his father Saul did. But instead, he laid his ego and perceived rights aside and honored God by honoring David above himself. Consider how we can follow after Jonathan’s example.
The story of Ruth is an incredible way to start off our look at broken and minor characters of the Bible. We’re intentionally looking at some of the lesser known or secondary people in the Bible that God used to bless His people and further His Kingdom on earth. Ruth herself is already a pretty minor character. There really isn’t anything special about her and I would say her loyalty and courage is an incredible example for us. But today I want to look closer at the man, Boaz, who Ruth found redemption in. I want to encourage you to read the book of Ruth this week from the perspective of Boaz. A wealthy and hard working man with a good name and reputation. A man who uses his position and wealth to bless a young vulnerable woman. A man who probably could’ve taken advantage of her or totally disregarded her but instead treated her with kindness, generosity, and humility. He didn’t use his power to intimidate or manipulate but instead responded to God’s leading and took the incredible risk of marrying her knowing the baggage that came along with her. This was a generous and servant minded man who became part of the lineage of Jesus. Take time to consider his example of integrity this week.