Daily Bible Reflections

Daily Bible Reflections

Monday 10/5/2021

By Stephen George [Sunday – Does gender matter?]

Hear God’s word to you

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, 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 1:26-27
Reflect with me on God’s word

The idea of being created in the image of God is basic to humanity and yet mysterious. Having just witnessed in Genesis 1:1-25 the infinitely creative & powerful works of the God who stands completely outside of his creation, it seems beyond comprehension that God could mould out of the mere stuff of the earth something that could genuinely bear his image. But our God, in his infinite power, is constantly achieving in the finite, what we can only barely comprehend. We are indeed made in the image of God.

But what does this mysterious phrase mean? We know it is basic to our modern appreciation of the value of all human life, even though our world has lost its rational foundation for recognising this value by refusing to recognise the one who bestows it. But apart from affirming the incredible value of human life, what does it actually mean to be in the image of God?

These verses show us that it means at least two things. First, it means we are created with purpose to rule over this world. Second it means we are to rule in relationship. God is the sovereign ruler over all, and we are created to be his representatives ruling on earth in relationship with him. But we do not rule as islands, but as we live in relationship with other people together ruling the world.

In verse 27 we read that we are in the image of God as male and female. These verses allude to far more than ruling over the earth through mere reproduction. Our human binary distinction as male and female is something good and basic to us, given to us as a created gift from God. It is in this binary distinction that we reflect his image. Scripture goes on to reveal to us that God is Father, Son and Spirit – One God in 3 distinct persons, in perfect relationship who creates and sustains all things. God is the ultimate being who rules in relationship, and we are made in his image to rule creation as we relate to God and to each other.

In recent years our world wishes to make a distinction between sex and gender. This is in part because our world elevates individual choice of identity and expression above all else, as if it is some kind of innate right and self evident truth. God reveals a better story and truth for human identity – One where we are defined not by our self expression, but by our relationship with him first, and then with each other.

Personally reflect on God’s word to you
  1. Most of us struggle to accept who God has made us to be in some way or another. Whether it is features of our physical bodies, or quirks of our personalities, many of us sit uncomfortably with who God has us, and sometimes we even hate these aspects of ourselves. For some of us, the struggle to accept how God has made us extends even into our sex and we struggle to accept our God given gender. What aspects of your body or emotions or personality has God given you that you are inclined to despise? Take a moment to repent and ask God to help you accept who he has made you to be.
  2. Put yourself in the shoes of those who feel they are in the wrong body and should be another gender. Why is God’s calling for us a better story than seeking fulfilment through radical self-expression (even though his calling can be incredibly difficult)?
Speak to God your Father, Jesus your Saviour, & the Holy Spirit your Comforter

Tuesday 11/5/2021

By Cathy George [Sunday – Does gender matter?]

Hear God’s word to you

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” 19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Genesis 2:18-22
Reflect with me on God’s word

Unless you are living in a cultural bubble, you might be feeling the jarring strangeness and even offence of God’s word in these verses – especially if you are, like me, a woman. It feels completely at odds to the feminist values that rule in our culture, and to our sinful nature that always wants to be number one. We might be battling on many fronts to see how this divine design of ordered relationships could possibly be a good thing.

But God calls us to put all of that aside and to hear his word; to see how good things were before human sin messed them up. Claire Smith’s book “God’s Good Design: What the Bible really says about Men and Women” explains how the first step in doing this is to realise that the word ‘helper’ is not a put-down.

If you’re like me, you automatically jump to thinking the word ‘helper’ implies a term of value or worth. Like how a child might be “mummy’s little helper” or how the nameless, undervalued, junior office assistant “helps” the super important CEO boss-man.

In fact, in the Old Testament this word ‘helper’ is most often used of God! God’s people can declare that the Lord is “our help and our shield” (Psalm 33:20) and that, “the Lord is on my side as my helper” (Psalm 118:7). God is not above being a helper, and yet when he helps, he doesn’t cease to be the sovereign Lord of all, but provides what is lacking so that the one he is helping can complete their task. We can see from how the Old Testament uses the word ‘helper’ that it’s not a term of worth or value, but a type of relationship.

The woman is created for a relationship in which she is a helper fit for the man. With her creation God solves the problem of man’s aloneness and creates human community. And though there is order in that relationship, and they have different responsibilities, there is no inequality between them. Men and women are equal but different!

Personally reflect on God’s word to you
  1. How do you feel about the concept of woman being created to be a “suitable helper” for man? How is God challenging you today to re-think the idea of “helper”? If you’re a women, how does this challenge you? If you’re a man, how does this challenge you?
  2. As Christians, are we willing to trust God’s good design for men and women, and celebrate and honour the equal but different roles he has given us?
Speak to God your Father, Jesus your Saviour, & the Holy Spirit your Comforter

Wednesday 12/5/2021

By Neptune Tang [Sunday – Does gender matter?]

Hear God’s word to you

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20
Reflect with me on God’s word

The church at Galatia had been established as God’s Spirit worked through Paul, but after a short time, false teaching was creeping in as people were led to believe that Jewish rituals were a requirement for believers. Paul gives a particularly sharp rebuke of Peter earlier in this chapter because Peter started eating only with Jewish Christians. This was unhelpful as it distracted from the gospel message which says that faith in Christ alone is what makes us right with God. Paul notes in verse 16 that ‘no one is justified’ by following the law.

We are reminded that Christ is the centre of our faith. Paul says, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live…’ In Paul’s case, he was a persecutor of the church. He watched on as Christians were murdered for their faith. After encountering Christ, Paul would have obviously felt shame for his past and relief at being able to ‘put to death’ his former self, having his wrongs cast away and forgiven through Christ’s sacrifice. The world talks of death being rest, but being left in a broken state isn’t rest. Paul finishes this sentence with “… but Christ lives in me”. Not only does Christ cast away our brokenness, but he restores us and gives us the strength we don’t have.

In Philippians 3, Paul details how he was able to fulfil the demands of the Jewish law. From his lineage to his religious zeal, if anyone was going to be acceptable by their own efforts, Paul ticked all the boxes. Yet, Paul notes here that he wasn’t striving for God’s acceptance by his accomplishments, rather he can ‘live by faith’ in Christ who alone could fulfil the demands of the law.

So what gave Paul such confidence and faith? It is the one in whom he places his faith: Faith in Jesus – the Son of God. Jesus has power and authority. Faith in Jesus – who loved me and gave himself for me. We can love and follow Christ because he lives in the believer and we can live in faith and obedience as a natural response to the love that he showed us.

Personally reflect on God’s word to you
  1. Are there religious things (like Peter) that you say or do which are actually a hurdle for non-believers?
  2. Do you dwell on the past? If you are striving for acceptance, what does this passage have to say to you?
  3. How are you allowing Christ to shape the way you live? How is Christ involved in your decisions?
Speak to God your Father, Jesus your Saviour, & the Holy Spirit your Comforter

Thursday 13/5/2021

By Debbie Edwards [Sunday – Does gender matter?]

Hear God’s word to you

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139:13-14
Reflect with me on God’s word

Read the whole of Psalm 139 if you can as it’s a wonderful psalm and the words are beautiful! They speak of the wonderful intimacy we have with our Heavenly Father, who knows us better than we know ourselves.

Today we are focusing on verses 13 and 14. They speak of our Creator God who made us and knew us before we were even born. Being someone who loves any kind of craft, I love the fact that God ‘knit’ us together in our mother’s womb! I love to work on craft projects whenever I can, putting together wool, fabric, paint, paper or anything to create something beautiful — something to gaze upon with delight, something to display in my home or wear with joy when it is finished. Sometimes they are even good enough to bless someone else with as a gift!
So I can only imagine God’s joy and delight when He saw us developing as an unborn child – His child. And then when His project is finally finished and we enter this world – His joy must be immeasurable. We are loved that much.

It’s interesting what the world wants to tell us. The messages are not the same as the one we receive from our Heavenly Creator. Humans judge each other harshly and unfairly — and our worth is often based on what we look like or what we can do rather than the fact that we are here and we exist. Where is your worth coming from? Are you listening to the messages of the world — or are you focusing on what God says about you?
God tells us today through these verses in the Bible that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Verse 14 says God’s works are wonderful — and that includes us! Meditate on this for a few minutes and don’t find your value in what the world is telling you. Listen to what your Creator is telling you instead.

Personally reflect on God’s word to you
  1. When are you guilty of judging someone as the world sees them rather than how God sees them? How can you rectify this in your daily life?
  2. What can you do when the world shouts loudly in your ear about your own value? How can you focus on what God thinks about you instead?
Speak to God your Father, Jesus your Saviour, & the Holy Spirit your Comforter

Friday 14/5/2021

By Stephen George [Sunday – Does gender matter?]

Hear God’s word to you

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:26-29
Reflect with me on God’s word

This passage is a key moment in Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches. They were in danger of being bewitched into thinking that faith in Christ alone was not enough to make them acceptable to God. They were told they also needed to follow aspects of the Old Testament Law like circumcision and abstaining from unclean foods. In this letter Paul absolutely demolishes that idea and this passage in particular makes it clear that the only thing that matters for our status before God is being united to Christ through faith. In fact human attributions of status are completely meaningless when it comes to our status before God. Ethnicity, social status, and gender do not put us on different levels before God. We are all “sons” of God in that we are all heirs of eternal life by means of being clothed with Christ, the Son of God, through our faith in Him.

This is not at all to say that our distinctions are therefore obliterated in life. The slave is the Lord’s freed-person always, and yet at the same time remains a slave in this life, unless they can obtain their freedom. A Jew stands on the same level ground at the foot of the cross as a Gentile, and yet is not called to reverse their ethnic identity somehow. Neither is the Gentile called to erase their identity and become a Jew. Likewise Paul does not envisage the distinctions between men and women being erased by the cross. On the contrary, he unashamedly calls on men and women to live engendered lives, but they are now to be shaped by our identity in Christ (eg Colossians 3:18-19; Ephesians 5:22-33; Titus 2).

Although this passage does not call for the erasure of gender, as if it were an evil or a limitation to be left behind, nonetheless it does guide us from over-attributing significance to gender. Our purpose in this life is not found by being a male or a female or attempting to become a male or female. Our identity is not found by attaining to cultural interpretations of masculinity or femininity. Our true self is not found by our own bespoke expression of binary or non-binary gender identities. More important than our identity as male or female or ‘other’ is our identity in Christ Jesus.

It is this identity in Christ that enables us to be the men and women God has made us to be.

Personally reflect on God’s word to you
  1. What expectations around the expression of gender do you feel (or have you felt in the past)? How much are these expectations driven by your cultural context?
  2. Do you subconsciously attribute different Christians different statuses? What leads you to do this?
  3. Is your identity found first and foremost in Christ (rather than in your work, your culture, your gender, your status, your family)? How does your identity in Christ shape all these other things?
Speak to God your Father, Jesus your Saviour, & the Holy Spirit your Comforter

Saturday 15/5/2021

By Coops [Sunday – Does gender matter?]

Hear God’s word to you

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” 10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

Matthew 19:8-12
Reflect with me on God’s word

In this passage the Pharisees have approached Jesus to test him about divorce. They ask if it’s lawful for any reason. Jesus has said that God has joined a man a woman together and so no one should separate them.
So the Pharisees ask why then Moses commanded a man to give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away.

Jesus replies by saying that Moses permitted the divorce of wives because of hard hearts.
Its’ interesting that the Pharisees say that Moses ‘commanded’ a certificate of divorce. Jesus corrects them and makes it clear that Moses did not command anything – he permitted it because of hard hearts probably because it afforded some protection to wives abandoned by their husbands. In those times permitting a woman to remarry would have afforded them a home and the protection of family.

Yet it was not that way in the beginning says Jesus. Divorce is not God’s intention for marriage. What was behind Moses’ permission was not so much God’s will, but human sinfulness. Jesus says that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery. God takes marriage very seriously. It cannot be easily dissolved.

His disciples say that perhaps then, it may be better not to marry. Jesus replies with the example of eunuchs. Some are called to voluntarily live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom. Those called in this way are able (and should) give up the option of marriage in order to faithfully serve the kingdom of God.
We see that serving the kingdom of God overrides all other claims and preferences. However, only for some will serving the kingdom in dedicated singleness be possible.

For those who do enter into marriage, Jesus calls for faithfulness to each other and underlines the importance of that union. Yet in whatever context people find themselves, married or unmarried, we should expect that the priority of faithfully serving the kingdom still exists.

Note: While we look at this passage, it is worth considering that some have argued that the reference to being born a eunuch means that Jesus accepts a “third sex” or a “third gender.” But scripture does not present eunuchs as either. Actually, every eunuch we meet in Scripture is presented as male. Gender in the Bible matters and the Bible always speaks about sex/gender as binary.

Personally reflect on God’s word to you
  1. How does serving the kingdom of God fit into the context that you find yourself?
  2. If someone where to use Matthew 19:12 in a discussion with you to justify Biblical support for non-binary gender, how would you respond to lovingly help them see that is not the case?
Speak to God your Father, Jesus your Saviour, & the Holy Spirit your Comforter