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by Jimmy Sileo
In this year’s NBA Championship, we are quite possibly witnessing the greatest team ever assembled. But are they? Watching the way this team plays is beautiful–their smooth ball movement and their feisty defense is a rough to score on as an A-League Champion Bible Quizzer. In the same way, God is currently building His team. Want in?
In game one, the Warriors convincingly beat last year’s champs by twenty-one points. Game two wasn’t any better as KD, Steph and crew ran away with it and easily won by nineteen. The beat down was so severe that Cleveland’s coach pulled the starters with eight minutes left on the clock to preserve their worn-down bodies for the next game. Even the best player in the world, Lebron “King” James, couldn’t will his team back into the game no matter how hard he tried.
So how can this be? The answer is unity and unselfishness. The Warriors’ unselfish play and ball movement kept the Cavs honest. That means, no one ball hogs. They pass the ball around to all five players until someone can take a wide-open shot. Dominating the ball, or “hero ball,” as some put it, does not happen. No one is bigger than the team. They play like a unit on offense and especially defense. If one defender needs help, another rotates, aiding in his defense, sometimes even giving up his body to take a charge. And that’s hard to do when the 6’8″, 230 pound Lebron-James-freight-train is coming full steam to the hole. These four future hall-of-famers are giving up self [pride, fame, money, stats, minutes] for the sake of the team, and tat is exactly how we are to be if we chose to be disciples on Jesus’ team. Naturally, this goes against our grain and is hard to do , but the coming glory is far better than anything we can receive on earth.
Like the Warriors’ play, God sacrificed it all. He risked His reputation, His word, and His only son for the sake of the team’s ultimate goal. He knew He had to make a way [the cross] for His team to reach the podium [heaven] to lift the Championship Trophy [Crown of Glory].
When Jesus revealed to his disciples that he was the Messiah, he asked Peter, “Who do you say I am?”
Peter said, “You are the son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you for this was not revealed to you by man but by my Father in heaven…and on this rock, I will build my church [team] and the gates of hell [all forces opposed to Christ and his kingdom] will not overcome it,” [Matthew 16:16-18].
Shortly later he said to the team, “Whoever want to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross [total commitment] and follow me…For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done,” [Matthew 16:24 & 27].
When we put our selfish desires aside, totally commit to God’s plan, value unity other believers, and tell others about Him, then we can proudly say we are a part of the greatest team ever.
by Kristen C. Strocchia
“They said to each other, ‘Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They used brick instead of stone and tar for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:3-4
Look at all of the rich tiebacks in these few verses. Under the direction of Nimrod [Genesis 10:10; Josephus Antiquities], the people consorted to build a city and tower. Not just any tower, but one built of bricks not stone.
Why would scripture mention a detail like that? Well, it’s possible that this is the first time in history that human beings made bricks to use in construction. More importantly, is to know why the people under Nimrod’s command wanted to build the tower.
According to secular historian, Josephus, Nimrod excited the people to an affront and contempt of God. He was a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded people not to credit God or give Him glory for any joy they had in life, but to believe that they could be happy in and of themselves from their own courage. Nimrod also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power.
More than that, Nimrod was in God’s face about the flood. He swore to revenge himself on God, if He ever drowned the world again. So Nimrod planned to build a tower too high for the waters to reach as a means of avenging himself on God for the previous destruction.
Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower. It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with mortar, made of bitumen, that it might not be liable to admit water. Did you catch it? Nimrod and the people were building a waterproof tower that they could climb to safety in case God chose to flood them out again for doing it.
But why not stone? Simple. God created stone, and they didn’t want to show any reliance on Him. They wanted to create their own materials and build for themselves to show God that they didn’t need Him. Not only that, but they repeated the attitude of Cain [Genesis 4:17]. While God wanted people to split up and stop influencing each other to do wrong and mistreating one another, Nimrod said, Hey, let’s do it our way. Let’s build a city and stay together.
Remember Satan’s lie to the angel and to Adam and Eve in the garden? You can be like God–in other words, you can be your own God? He hasn’t changed his tune over the course of human history. We see it cropping back up here within a few generations after the flood to such an extreme level that Nimrod is inciting the whole earth against their Creator.
What’s in your heart? What about the influences in your life? Is there anything telling you to do it your way, for yourself and all by yourself? Trust God. Bring this thing under submission to Him and watch the blessing that this releases in your life. Know that those who stand opposed to God will–like Cain and Nimrod–stand judgment before God and confess that He alone is Lord [Romans 14:11]. But, oh, the grief they will bear for the sins they cherished in this life. Do not be like them. Be blessed.
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers [Psalms 1:1].
by Kristen C. Strocchia
“So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds–everything that moves on land–came out of the ark, one kind after another. Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.” Genesis 8:18-20
The ark was emptied in order to replenish the earth. What a sight to see all of the animals of the world–literally–parading out in two by two formation.
And Noah’s first response is to honor God.
The burnt offering of Leviticus 1–first seen here in Genesis 8–is an atonement sacrifice. Now Abel also offered an atonement sacrifice when he offered the fat portions of the firstborn of his flocks [4:4], but Noah’s sacrifice here is the first time that we learn of a burnt offering. And he did so using clean animals.
In human logic, this makes perfect sense. Remember that of clean animals there were seven pairs–fourteen total of each kind! Naturally, you wouldn’t sacrifice any of the animals that only had one pair, that would bring the extinction of their whole kind after God just went to all this length to preserve them. Still, Noah could have done it. He could have said to himself, “But tigers and peacocks look so much cooler and more powerful than goats and bulls. If I were God, wouldn’t I want that as a sacrifice instead?”
Because often, that’s our human logic in dealing with God. “If I were God”–*cough…Satan’s lie…cough*–then I would think… or I would want… So I don’t get why God thinks the way He does or wants what He does, because, you know, I certainly wouldn’t.”
Do you see where this line of thought comes from and leads to? Comes from Satan. Leads to death and destruction. Because any line of reasoning that substitutes self as God is the line of reasoning that felled a third of the angels of heaven and barred Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, cursing the earth with the nature of sin.
But to this point in scripture, just as with Abel, there is no mention of God instituting or requesting a sacrifice of any kind. Abel knew God though–in an intimate, experiential way–as did Noah, and both men acted on this faith, this absolute certainty of what they hoped for but could not see.
Noah knew God. He knew that God hated sin, and that there was sin even in him. He didn’t become conceited by the fact that God noticed his righteousness and saved him out of the whole world. On the contrary, he humbled himself before the Almighty Creator, the Holy of Holies, and he offered a right sacrifice to atone–make amends/repairs/peace with–God for that sin.
Has God ever chosen to use you in a situation? Do you let this make you proud or does it humble you? Do you know God by the same kind of faith that Abel and Noah did? Have you asked God to atone for your sins through the shed blood of Jesus Christ?