Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sermon Ideas for Genesis 1

Here are my sermon ideas for Genesis 1. You could flesh these out and use them in a series for this first chapter or choose the one that most appeals to you as fitting for your congregation. May God bless your preparation!

Open Possibilities

Brief: God’s creative power guides us to our greatest potential. 

Scripture: Genesis 1:1-4
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

We all come into the world with blank slate lives. Like creation, our future is formless and empty. Who we will be and what we will do is shrouded in darkness.

Of course, God sees our future, but we can’t. In fact, God sees every possibility. He knows exactly what each person is capable of. And from the very beginning of our lives, He’s there wanting to guide us to our greatest potential.

The Scripture says that God’s Spirit was hovering over the darkness of creation. Can you picture God’s Spirit hovering over you? He’s right there with us, even if we don’t know it. And when we turn to Him, He will show us who we can be. He will remove the darkness of uncertainty by declaring “Let there be light” in our lives.

Do you feel the Spirit’s presence with you now? What light is He shining in Your heart today?

(You could also talk about how we’re steeped in the darkness of sin from the time of our creation. It is God’s Spirit that hovers over us and reaches out to us with the light of salvation.)

God as Maker and King

Brief: Respect and submit to God. 

Scripture: Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1 clearly portrays God as our Maker. I wonder if you've ever made something. Maybe, like God, you've made a human being. You've participated in the Divine act of creation by having a child. Let me ask you this; do you expect that child to listen to you and obey you?

Of course, you do. Even though your son or daughter has their own will, you know what's best for them. They have no legal rights to make their own decisions until they come of age.

It's the same with God. He is our Creator. He made us. We wouldn't be here without Him. And even though we have our own will, we do not have the right to do as we please. We are responsible to God to obey Him. Like a parent with their child, He knows what's best for us and we have no right to act against His wishes.

Another way to think about it is to view God as our King and we as His vassals. The King is the rightful ruler. We have no right to rebel against Him unless He does something that proves Himself unworthy to rule. But God will never do anything unworthy of our respect and obedience because He is the perfect good and wise King. Our only legitimate response to God our King is loyalty.

Give thanks to God for the life He's given you as your Maker, your Parent, and submit to Him willfully as your rightful, good, and perfect King.

In what ways do you need to show God more respect in your life?

In what ways do you need to show God more gratitude for creating you?

Is there an area of your life that you haven’t submitted fully to Him as your King?

The Spirit of God Hovering Over the Dark Waters

Brief: The Holy Spirit doesn’t leave our lives in chaos. 

Scripture: Genesis 1:2-3
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

We've all gone through dark times in life. I know I have, sometimes on a daily basis. That's just how life is. It's up and it's down. Sometimes things are going your way, sometimes they're not.

That's why I love Genesis 1:2-3. The entire world was in chaos. It had no orderly shape to it. It was just a mess of watery substance covered in complete darkness. It was nothing in those first moments of creation.

But what?

But God's Spirit was hovering over that mess. God's Spirit was hovering, waiting in the midst of that darkness, getting ready to act. And in the next instant, God's Spirit declared, "Let there be light!" and the darkness was gone.

It would come back, just like our dark times return from time to time. But in that moment, it was gone.

We all go through dark times. And, yes, sometimes, our life seems like a mess. But God's Spirit is hovering over you, getting ready to act, getting ready to bring His light to your darkness.

Can you feel it?

God Said and There Was

Brief: God is the one who will bring change to our lives. 

Scripture: Genesis 1:3
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

If you could wish for anything - if you could just say it and have it happen - what would you wish for? Would you wish for some circumstance in your life to change? Would you wish for world peace or an end to hunger?

I'm betting that most of the things you would wish for are good things. I'm also betting that most of the things you would wish for are things that God would also wish for. He wants your life to be good. He wants the world to be in harmony. If it's good, God would wish for it, right? He's a good God.

Except with God, it's not wishing. It's waiting. Because God can change things in an instant, at any time He wants to. He can simply speak and create light. He can say the word and make it be. He can dispel the darkness and turn the universe on its head with a sentence. But the universe had to wait for that to happen. God didn't create light on the earth the first second He could. God is eternal. The earth is not. The earth had to wait for God to form it and shine light on it.

It's the same with us. God can change our whole situation, the whole course of our life, the whole world order... instantly.

And someday, He will. Christ will return and flip the world right side up. Everything will be as it was intended. But that time hasn't come yet.

Maybe the time for God to speak and change your situation is right around the corner. Or maybe the time isn't right yet and you'll have to wait a little longer. Just keep listening for that one sentence, that one word of change from Him and be ready. The change is coming. He promises you that.

God Separated

Brief: We need to look at issues through God’s eyes to discern right from wrong. 

Scripture: Genesis 1:4-5
God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”

There’s no confusion with God. He knows what’s what. He knows what’s light and what’s dark. There’s no twilight, no gray in His vision. God is holy. And He calls things as He sees them.

Can we learn to do the same? Can we train ourselves to call the light good and make a clear division between the light and the dark, the right and the wrong? Can we look at things the way God sees them?

We don’t want to become judgmental or rigid to the point of having no compassion. But we do want to firmly settle what we believe and how we view certain actions and attitudes. We want the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts so that we can distinguish how a Christian should act or think about a certain issue. When it’s time to make a decision or vote on an issue, we should be able to understand where God comes down on the questions facing us.

Christians are not uninformed people. We have the wisdom of God and the Spirit of the Creator telling us His will for our lives and our world. We have a perfect Father showing us the difference between light and darkness, and He only called one of them good.

What decisions are you facing today where you need to see the difference between light and dark?

In what areas of your life do you need to make a clear separation between what God is telling you is right and what He’s telling you is wrong?

May God’s Spirit be with your spirit as you look through His eyes.

A Vault between the Waters

Brief: A call to live up to the faith we profess in baptism. 

Scripture: Genesis 1:6-7
And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

God separated “water from water” when He created the sky. He also separates water from water as He builds His church.

There are some who enter the waters of baptism with a heart of devotion toward God, thankful for His salvation. There are others who don’t understand what the waters of baptism mean, but they come to understand the grace that’s been given to them.

Others are baptized either willingly or by their parents’ act of obedience, but they never live up to their calling, or they stray from the faith they profess.

God separates “water from water.” He doesn’t view all the baptized as the same. He doesn’t view all those who claim to be Christians the same. He loves them all the same, but He knows that they don’t love Him the same.  

If you have been baptized, that means that you’ve taken the name of Christ and become a Christian. That decision might have been by your own choice; it might have been a gift from your parents. Either way, don’t take Christ’s name in vain. Do your best, with God’s help, to live an authentic Christian lifestyle.

That doesn’t mean you’ll get everything perfect. It means that when God sees you, He’ll see you being sincere in your faith. He’ll separate you from those who have rejected their baptism or taken the faith for granted.

Think back to the time of your baptism. What prompted to be baptized at that time in your life? If you were baptized as a child, why did your parents choose to give you that gift?

What is God asking you to do today to live up to your calling as a member of the baptized?

Gathered to One Place

Brief: Encouraging Christian unity. 

Scripture: Genesis 1:9
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.

As my home church says, “We gather so that we can scatter.” Like the waters gathering to one place at the time of creation, Christians are called to gather together.

We can gather in many different ways. We can attend a worship service, participate in a Bible class, go to a home study, meet with a friend for accountability and prayer, or take part in online discussion group. However we gather, we are there to encourage one another in our mutual faith.

But notice that God gathered the waters to one place. Now, it wouldn’t be practical or necessary for all Christians to meet in one place physically. But can we meet in one place in our attitudes toward one another?

Can we celebrate the different perspectives that we have as individuals and church groups instead of demeaning one another? Can we put up with theological differences of opinion instead of separating into our many “bodies of water”? Can we work around our views about worship styles and lifestyle convictions to preserve the unity of our “one place”?

The Church should be like many waters coming together and blending into one ocean.
But the waters don’t stay in the ocean, do they? In this picture of creation, we see that there was water and dry land. But, somehow, the land needed to be watered. There needed to be streams and rivers feeding the ground.

In the same way, we can divide into different ministry paths to accomplish all the goals of the Church as long as we are doing it out of an attitude of unity.

In what ways is the Holy Spirit asking you to be more gracious toward other Christians?

How can you promote Christian unity in your life?

With Seeds in It

Brief: Every Christian can do their part to spread the Gospel.

 Scripture: Genesis 1:11
Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it…”

In the beginning, there were no plants without the seeds in them necessary to make new plants. By God’s design, there are no Christians who don’t have the seeds in them to make new Christians.

I’m not talking about physical reproductive seeds. I’m talking about the ability to share our faith.

Not everyone is comfortable being an evangelist. Not everyone has a call to preach or to aggressively witness to others about the faith. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t plant the seed of faith in someone else.

They could casually mention that they’re going to a Bible study or talk about something that happened at a church event this past week. They could share the news about a charity that they support or a volunteer program they belong to. Only God knows where such a conversation could lead. Perhaps God has already been working on the heart of the person you’re talking to, and you’re casual comment will prompt them to ask you more.

You could read your Bible or a Christian book in front of others, and give them something to think about. You could give to a ministry that evangelizes and disciples new Christians. When you do so, you’re planting the seed of Christianity just as much as the person doing the teaching.

And speaking of teaching, you can do all of your personal planting inside the church. Children and new Christians need mentors, and the seeds that you plant in them can them mature into blooming Christians that then begin to plant their seeds in the hearts of others.

An important note, though, is that we can’t plant all of our seeds in our own church. We have to plant in new soil, where there is still room for people to come to Christ to produce the crop that God is wanting from our efforts.

How has God gifted you to spread the seed of your faith?

What is God asking you to do to share your faith with others?

The Greater and Lesser Lights

Brief: Shine the light you’ve been given. 

Scripture: Genesis 1:14-16
And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.

Which one are you? Are you the sun, the greater light? The moon, the lesser light? Or maybe you’re one of the “also” stars.

I have an idea of where I fit in that cosmic paradigm, and you probably know where you fit as well. Here’s the question; are you okay with that?

Can you humble yourself enough to accept your station in life? Can you perform your function no matter your status?

All of the lights that God made serve one purpose: to give light. Some of us give a little, some of us more, but we all help give light to the world.

And notice that God doesn’t call the greater light better than the lesser. There’s no person that’s better than another in God’s eyes. There’s no Christian who’s more important or more valued than another. The lights, and we, simply have different roles. And the stars are content to be stars. The moon doesn’t want to be the sun. And the sun doesn’t complain about its responsibility as the greater light. They all fulfill their purpose for us without wanting to be something they’re not.

One of the greatest challenges we face is wanting to be something we’re not. Maybe we want to be the greater light so that people will like or respect us, or so that we can feel a sense of importance. Maybe we don’t want the responsibility of sharing our light at all or we resent that not enough lesser lights are doing their part to support us as a greater light.  

Peace comes when we accept our station, and simply concentrate on shining the light that we have.

Be honest with yourself and name the light that God has designed you to be.

Pray for contentment in your station.

How is God calling you to shine your light at this point in your life?

Let US Make Man

Brief: God created us to have a relationship with us. 

Scripture: Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

Have you ever wondered why God made us? I mean, what are we doing here? What's the point? What did God have in mind when He decided to create humanity?

Well, to answer that, let's think about why we make things. Think back to the last thing you made. I'm not talking about something you made for work or something that you had to make for a project in school. I'm talking about the last thing you made out of your own free will just because you had the idea to make it. Maybe it was a piece of art, or a piece of furniture for the home, or a good meal, or a child.

Whatever it was, why did you decide to make it?

You made it because you wanted it, right? You just wanted it. You wanted to enjoy it.

It's the same with God. God didn't have any need to make us. He wasn't assigned the task. He just wanted to do it. He just wanted you.

You see, God is a relational being. He exists as Three Persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - all in a relationship with each other. They are separate persons, but They are united in Their essence and in Their unified relationship to one another. God the Three-in-One is a relationship.

God exists for relationship. And so He wanted more relationship. He made us because He wanted to be in relationship with us, with me and with you.

That's why you're here. That's why God made you. He made you to love you and to have a relationship with you. Wow! Isn't that something? God made you just because He wanted to love you and be in a relationship with you.

How can you say no to that? It's like the prettiest, nicest, smartest girl or the handsomest, most successful, most sensitive guy just wanting to love you and be in a relationship with you. You wouldn't turn them down, would you?

But we're talking about something infinitely greater than that. We're talking about the God of the Universe making you, creating you, putting you together from the moment of your conception all just so He can love you and have a relationship with you.

God is a Relationship and He's created you and invited you into that relationship. Don't keep Him waiting. Say yes and join your heart to His more fully today.

In Our Image

Brief: A call to exhibit God’s qualities in our lives.

 Scripture: Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

God said, "Let Us make humans in Our own image and in Our own likeness". What do you think it means for humans to be in God's image and God's likeness?

One way that we're in His image is in a very physical way - the way we're put together. When God the Father said, "Let Us make humans in Our image," He was talking to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. God, the Three-in-One, was saying, "Let's make humans to be like Us."

And so because God is a Three-in-One, we are a three-in-one in our very being. We have a mind and we have a spirit, both held in our body, just as God has God the Son (referred to in some places as the logos or the thought, and other places as the Wisdom of God) and God the Holy Spirit, both unified in and coming from God the Father.

So, our very being reflects, or is an image of, God's being. Pretty cool, right?

But besides being in God's image, we've also been made in God's likeness. So what does that mean? What does it mean for us to be like God?

Well, a good way to answer that is to ask this question; what is God like? How would you describe Him?

You might say He's the following.

  • Powerful
  • Loving
  • Creative
  • Kind
  • Just
  • Merciful
  • Relational
  • Caring
  • Eternal
  • All-knowing
  • All-present
  • Wise
  • Righteous
  • Selfless
  • Giving

That's what God is like. And we were made to be like Him. Now, obviously we can't be all of those things to the extent that God is, but can we strive to be those things as much as possible?
If we can't be all-present - if we can't be everywhere at once - can we be more present with those we care about? Can we spend more time with our loved ones giving them our focused attention?
If we can't be as wise or as all-knowing as God, can we practice sharpening our mind and making good decisions?
I would encourage you to do two things this week:
1. Remind yourself that your body, your mind, and your spirit have been made in God's image. Because of that, your body, mind, and spirit should be unified and working together. If your spirit is working toward good ends, but you're not taking as good care of your body as you should be, your being isn't unified. Understand that each part of you needs to be unified and working together.

2. Make a list of God's qualities - what He's like - and intentionally strive to be more like that. Keep a journal of how you embodied each quality during the day and see how you're growing in God's likeness. Next week, do the same thing with another one of God's qualities and keep becoming more and more like Him.

Practice living a unified life in your entire being, and practicing living God's qualities. It's how you were made to be.

What God Sees

Brief: An encouragement to view ourselves the way God thinks of us.

Scripture: Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

Genesis 1 tells us that God made humanity in His image. But it wasn't just in His image. It was in Their image. God made us to be an image, or something that looks like, Themselves. We were made to be a type of mirror for God to look into and see Themselves reflected back.

So what does God see when They look at Themselves?

God sees perfection. Wholeness. Love. Power. Grace, kindness, peace. Perfection. When God the Father looks at God the Son, that’s what He sees. When the Spirit looks at the Father, He’s admires Him for all of those qualities.

And if God made us to be a reflection of Themselves, what they see in us is all of those qualities shining back at Them. This isn't to say that God doesn't see our imperfections and sin, but it is to say that despite our imperfections, God still sees Their good, complete qualities in us. They see both at the same time. This is how much God loves and values us. They value us as They value Themselves. And this is what makes Them sacrifice and give Themselves for us. This is what makes us worthy of redemption.

If you don’t feel worthy today, remember how God sees you. He sees you as Himself.

God Blessed Them

Brief: How to honor your children as blessings from God.

 Scripture: Genesis 1:28
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number…”

Part of God’s blessing is the ability to have children. Now, some parents understand that blessing; others don’t. After all, children are difficult at times, and expensive, and they take all your free time. And they provide another topic for you to disagree with your spouse. And, and, and…

God says they’re a blessing. So how can Christian parents treat their children and appreciate their children as they blessings that they are? How can we show our children that we value them as God’s blessings to us?

As you reflect on God’s blessing to you, think about these questions.

  1. What qualities has God taught you through your struggles and efforts in raising a child?
  2. How has God enriched your life through the presence of your child or children?
  3. In what ways has having children helped you to relate to God better?

Every Green Plant for Food

Brief: A challenge to rule the natural world with justice. 

Scripture: Genesis 1:28-30
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Part of God’s blessings to us is entrusting us to rule over creation. Humankind is the pinnacle of everything there is in this world. We’re the leaders of all God made here.

And God only gave us one rule for exercising our authority. God gave humans and animals plants for food, not other animals. The plan at creation was vegetarianism, not violence against other living beings. And from the Scriptures, we know that this is how it will be when Christ returns to set everything to the way it should be.

The question for us now is, “How do we live as peaceful rulers of creation?” We know that God gave us permission to eat the animals after the Flood, but does that mean that we need to? Can we decide to live in the way we were meant to and will again someday?

If we do decide to eat meat, can we at least ensure that our animals are treated fairly in life and killed humanely in death? We might have to pay a little more for free-range chickens and eggs or to cover the expenses of certain butchering methods, but isn’t that part of ruling with creation in the way God intended?

Can we ensure that we don’t ruin the earth with pollution or needlessly destroy habitats for the sake of making more money? God has given us the wisdom to rule fairly and to come up with ideas that don’t abuse the world or the creatures that He’s made.

God has called us to rule justly and with compassion, as He does.

What can you do to help humanity rule creation in a godly manner?

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