Archive – 11/25/14 to 02/27/15
The History of Man – Part 1.
Not too long ago I made a note to myself about six Bible verses that give the entire history of mankind. I wrote the note and promptly misplaced it! Well, the lost is found, and I’d like to share these verses – with a bit of reflection for each of them. We start, where else but in Genesis. (Note: All Scripture will be taken from the NLT [New Living Translation] of the Bible).
Genesis 1:31: 31Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.
God pronounced everything He had created, “…very good!” It doesn’t say this in the Bible, but I suspect God being God, His creation was as close to perfect as was possible, …for earth. (True perfection is saved for Heaven). And we, all two of us at that time – but also including their intended offspring (thus the “we”) – were included in that, “…very good!” pronouncement.
Can you imagine the Garden of Eden? A home designed by God for mankind. Beauty beyond compare, ideal weather with perfect temperatures and no storms. (We know, at this point, Adam and Eve wore no clothes and water came from the ground). There were no dangerous animals, no poisonous plants or even sickness, let alone disease. And, best of all, God actually walked and talked with them. Try to imagine that! I imagine it must have been like a very close, loving, family. No guile; total innocence; never any embarrassment; complete – open – honest – communication – with one another. And, one of them was GOD!
And, time passed….
Prayer: Father, I stand in awe of your creation. I feel small in some ways, yet over-whelmed that you knew my name even as you created my grandparents, Adam and Eve. Lord, I know you consider me of great value and that I was made for your purpose. I pray you will lead me, counsel me, and strengthen me, as I do your work in my allotted time on earth. Thank you Father, Amen
The History of Man – Part 2.
Genesis 3:17-19: 17And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. 18It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. 19By the sweat of you brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”
How much time passed between verses 1:31 and 3:17 we don’t know. I suspect not very much; for I’m sure Satan knew exactly how he was going to attack God through God’s most loved creation, …Adam and Eve. Satan knew exactly how to temp Eve. And, after Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit she promptly offered a bite to Adam; encouraging him by telling him how good it was. I’m not going to rehash the whole story, but it is certainly worth a careful reading of Genesis 3.
God could have decided right then and there to remove man (and mankind) from His creation. But, He didn’t. The consequences of their disobedience were severe for man; but, horrific for God. Man had to go to work. And women would experience painful child birth. They would also desire to rule their husbands; but their husbands would control them. Yet that was nothing compared to the long term consequences. Man lost his innocence. Sin and all it consequences, including death were ushered in. By choosing to follow Satan’s words instead of God’s, Adam and Eve gave Satan control over the earth.
Now think about this: even after the catastrophic mess Adam and Eve created, after telling them the consequences of their action, what was the first thing God did? He made, and gave them clothing!
And this time, millennia will pass, ….
Prayer: Father, it is difficult for me to understand Adam’s and Eve’s disobedience. Yet, I know that, even though I love you, I manage to disobey you far, far too often. I know sin is sin, and I am sorry for my failings. I ask your help in strengthening my faith and resolve to honor you. Give me “Kingdom Eyes,” so that I recognize proper courses of action. Thank you Father for your great love. For not destroying Adam and Eve; and most of all, thank you for your plan of salvation through which I can approach your throne, …Amen
The History of Man – Part 3.
Romans 5:12: 12When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (NLT)
Paul wrote this verse to remind us that we have been sinners from birth. And, the result of our sin is death – mortal and eternal death.
Genesis 3:22 22Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” This tells me that God planned for man to live forever – evidently, on earth. (Again, this isn’t spelled out in the Bible; but it seems apparent to me. After all, the ‘tree of life’ was in the garden.1 I think God intended for them to eat this fruit at some point – but, not after they sinned.) When they sinned, everything changed. Their bodies began to age and ultimately die. Also apparent, is the fact that some part of them – and by extension, some part of us survives our earthly death. Yes! We have a “component” within us that is eternal. It is called, our “soul”.
So, going back to the 3rd foundational verse (see above), Paul has reinforced that everyone has sinned; and sin inevitably leads to death. The question then becomes, “But, what happens to our eternal soul when we die?”
Remember in part 2, when I said: “the consequences of their disobedience were… horrific for God.”? Well, those horrific consequences weren’t limited to watching the chaos on earth unfold over thousands of years as mankind lived and died in sin. God could not let it stand. So, even in the garden, as God stood looking at the embarrassed Adam and Eve, He knew that in order to restore mankind’s relationship with Him, it would require an almost unimaginable sacrifice.
Before moving on, there is another fundamental characteristic of man, that we need to understand. When God created Adam and Eve. He could have created them (us) as little ‘robots’ – creatures who would do exactly as instructed. But that is not what God wanted of man. Therefore, God, in the process of creating us, gave us a gift of unimaginable power. Power that can result in good, …or, evil. That gift is: Free Will. Talk about a double-edged sword!
With free will, we have the freedom to make our own choices. And as it turns out, our lives (both on earth and for Eternity) are essentially reflections of the choices we make while on earth. Think about that as we continue….
Prayer: Father, I thank you that I am wonderfully and fearfully made. And, thank you for your gift of free will. I’m not sure we fully appreciate just how big a part it plays in our lives. That said, Father, I pray that you will help me distinguish right from wrong – not based on earthly values; but rather, by the values of your kingdom. I ask this in your holy name, …Amen
1. (Note: The “forbidden tree” was the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”. There were two different trees). Avery
The History of Man – Part 4.
John 3:16: 16For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
In part 3 of “The History of Man” I said, “…as God stood looking at the embarrassed Adam and Eve, He knew that in order to restore mankind’s relationship with Him, it would take an almost unimaginable sacrifice.” Well, this was it! Read John 3:16, again.
This verse is often called the “Good News”. “Good News” hardly does it justice. Twenty-six words that offer mankind – everyone/anyone – reconciliation with God. Totally. Awesome.
But, how does this reconciliation happen? Perhaps, the first question should be, how did it happen? The price for our salvation was paid over 2,000 years ago.
God knew the only way to wash away sin is through the blood sacrifice of a perfect animal. But, for the task of washing away the sins of all mankind, for all time, there was no suitable sacrifice – except one. God’s own Son, who was perfect in every way, would have to come to earth as a man. He did.
He was called Jesus. He was born of a virgin. He lived a blameless life. Yet, He was arrested, beaten, flogged and had a “crown of thorns” pressed deeply into His head. Already bleeding profusely from the beatings, flogging and the thorns, He was nailed to a cross, which was then lifted-up and dropped into a post-hole. There he was left to suffocate and bleed-out. He died a horrendous death to become the perfect sacrifice for mankind’s sin – for all time.
If you are asking, “How does the reconciliation happen for me?” Well, your free will plays a role. Jesus did His part. Now, it is up to you. You will make a choice as to whether or not you believe John 3:16; and that you are a sinner, and cannot fix yourself. If you truly believe those three things, then you simply talk to Jesus. Tell Him you believe He is the Son of God; you believe He died for your sins; and, you want to turn away from your sinful past and live your life under His direction.
And that’s it. It’s your decision. If you choose Jesus, you become an adopted son or daughter of God and will spend eternity in Heaven with Him. Warning: Not deciding, is a decision.
If you choose to ignore, or reject, God’s free gift of Salvation you will spend eternity in the total absence of God. It’s called Hell, and it means there is not one single, solitary good thing there.
P.S. Before his death, Jesus predicted that He would walk out of His tomb on the third day after His death, to prove to all that He is the Son of God. He did, and was observed by hundreds of people before He ascended into Heaven – where He is today, at the right hand of God..
Prayer: I know that on my own merit I can never be free of sin; and therefore, never able to enter into your presence. No amount of work, prayer, or Bible study, will offset my unclean spirit. Yet, I know I will stand before you and be called a, “…good and faithful servant.” Thank you Jesus, for your sacrifice for me – even before I drew my first breath; and, even though I have done nothing to deserve it. In your holy name, …Amen
The History of Man – Part 5
Romans 8:28: 28And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
So, where are we now in the History of Man. Well, God’s plan for the reconciliation of mankind has been in place for about 2,000 years. Remember, acceptance of God’s plan is strictly up to the individual. So, after 2,000 years, there are still cultures that have never heard The Good News. Other nations/cultures have turned their backs on all religion, or have adopted false religions. (You can judge for yourself how well that works). Many people choose to either ignore The Good News message or reject it. While others try to “straddle the fence” with one foot in our culture, and one foot in church. Yet, a very large number of people self-identify as “Christian”.
The above verse is one of the most often quoted verses from the New Testament. It is an extremely important verse for Christians; and, and it is very often misunderstood. So, let’s “unpack” it.
First: Who can claim the promise of this verse? Certainly not everyone! And, the answer is even more specific than many who claim to be Christians realize. This promise can only be claimed by, “…those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” In other words, those who can claim this verse (a.) love God; (b.) have been called by the Holy Spirit; (c.) and, have answered that call by accepting Jesus as their Savior and Lord. When they did this, they were given a “new heart” (or outlook on life). This is the very definition of a Christian. They establish a personal relationship with Jesus and, over time, find it easier to trust in God as opposed to what this world offers. They know they are only “temporary residents” here on planet Earth, and their eternal home is waiting for them in heaven.
Second: What is the promise? Well, here is what it is not. It does not mean that Christians will only experience good things. In fact, Jesus warned us that following Him would be difficult and even dangerous (Jn 15:18-21, Jn 16:1-3). Therefore, things happen to Christians that are not good. OK, some things are horrible! Why? Because Satan is still at work on this broken planet; and, he grows more aggressive as his time runs out. But, Satan is not superior to God! And, (a.) This verse tells us that God works in everything – which includes the good and the bad. And, (b.) God will cause everything to work for the good of those working for His purpose.
Even though we do not always understand God’s purpose in what is happening, this verse gives all Christians great hope. God is with us! We can stand our ground, confident that every single thing on this planet is temporary, …except God’s love for us, His truth, and our eternal souls. God will provide for our needs on this broken planet; but, our true rewards are in heaven.
Prayer: Lord, Thank you for this verse of hope and encouragement. We know that as we persevere in our walk with you, you will use trials to grow our faith. In the military we used to say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and, you have proven this true many times in my life. Lord, I want to follow your purpose for my life. When I get off track, and I know I will, I ask that you gently turn me back into your will.. In your holy name, …Amen
The Future History of Man
This post is actually a continuation of “The History of Man” posts. I did not plan for this post; but, it has been laid on my heart to continue on to the end of what is truly, …an unending story.i
Matthew 24:30-31: 30And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.
In The History of Man – Part 5, we find ourselves living some 2,000 years after God implemented His plan for the redemption and reconciliation of mankind. So, for mankind, is that it? We are born, grow-up, either accept Christii or not, live our lives according to our belief, then die; – after which some of us will find ourselves in Heaven while others will not. Is that really all there is to it? Well, yes and no! How you live your life is critically important.
You must consider that while we are living here on planet Earth, there is a whole lot going on around us that we cannot see. There is New Earth, New Jerusalem, Messiah, dimension(?) in which titanic forces are at war. On one side is God and His angels of the heavenly kingdom. The other side is under the control of Satan and his demons. This war has been going on for a very long time. And, it is coming to its end. In fact, Satan has already lost the war.
Remember, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve transferred control of Earth to Satan when they chose to follow him instead of God. (THOM-Part 2). Well, when Christ (who frequently referred to himself as, “The Son of Man”) paid the blood sacrifice required to redeemiii mankind He regained control of planet Earth for God. For whatever reason(s) however, God has chosen to allow Satan to continue his activities (on Earth). Many people think it is so there is more time for the Holy Spirit (and we Christians) to reach more of the unsaved with the Good News message. Regardless of the reason, make no mistake, Satan is beaten and He knows it. Therefore, he intends to create as much havoc as possible until God’s “clock” ticks down to, ...The Second Coming of Christ.
Before Jesus’ death on the cross, He made some startling prophesies. One was, three days after his death, He would walk out of His tomb. He did! He also said that He would return to His Father in heaven. And, 40-days after walking out of His tomb, and in the presence of His apostles, He did that, as well—when He was taken up into Heaven. Jesus also told His disciples that He would return to earth. And, when He does, it will not be as a sacrificial lamb. Rather He will return as our Warrior-Messiah, in command of Heaven’s Angel Armies. The redeemed will be gathered. A great war (Armageddon) will be fought against Satan and his minions. Satan loses big time. And, then judgment and punishment will be brought against everyone who rejected Christ. They will be condemned to Hell. Christ will make the earth new by first cleansing it with fire; and then, God will move heaven to the New Earth whose capital will be the New Jerusalem.
No, that hasn’t happened, …yet. But when it does, it will be unexpected, dramatic, and “…in the twinkling of an eye”. And this time, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Messiah and Lord of All. The bad news for many people will be that when Christ appears, it will be too late for them to be saved.
Now, If you find yourself wondering what to do in the meantime, I refer you to Mark 12:30-31, and John 8:28.
Prayer: Abba, Father, your story is so big it is hard for me to comprehend. And then I remind myself, I don’t have to. I just need to believe in Christ as my savior; and have faith in your everlasting love until Christ returns or I’m called home.
In the above scriptures you’ve given me the words to guide my daily actions. I’ll never be perfect in my love for others or in remembering to give you the praise and glory you deserve. How you can choose to work with someone like me, is also beyond my understanding. But Lord, I am so thankful that you have chosen me, and are working to make me a better follower of Christ. It’s far more than I deserve. Thank you Lord, from the deepest recesses of my heart… Amen.
i While it is difficult reading, I encourage you to read the New Testament book of Revelation. “Revelation is written in “apocalyptic” form—a type of Jewish literature that uses symbolic imagery to communicate hope (in the ultimate triumph of God) to those in the midst of persecution. The events are ordered according to literary, rather than strictly chronological, patterns”. – The Life Application Study Bible, New Living Translation, 2nd Edition, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
ii Christ: A title: From the Greek word Christos, meaning, “the anointed one”. The son of God. In Hebrew the title is “messiah”. The one anointed by God to deliver His people and establish His kingdom.
iii Redeem: To free or deliver another from difficulty, danger or bondage, usually by payment of a ransom price.
This I Believe – Part 1
It is my opinion that my readers have a right to know what I believe. So, I am going to take the next few weeks to tell you my “core belief” set. It will take more than one per week because I’m trying to keep the posts at about 500 words.
One of the things you will hear is that, “Christianity is not a “religion;” but rather, a personal relationship with God”. And, that is true… as far as it goes. There is much room for different opinions on many subjects within Christianity. e.g., Did God create the universe and everything in it in six (literal) days? I have my opinion. Yours my differ. I am perfectly fine with agreeing to disagree. It is not a core belief. That said, there is a group of teachings from the Bible, that for a Christian are foundational and non-negotiable (core beliefs). (OK. Yes, I know some are going to say, “ …that’s not a “core belief”; or you need to add, thus and so, as a core belief. And, that’s why this is MY list of core beliefs. I truly believe that anyone who follows these teachings is a Christian and I look forward to meeting them in Heaven.
Core belief 1. God is God and the creator of space, time, the universe, and everything in it. (If He didn’t do it, He can’t be God.) Genesis 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” No one can prove it wrong. (In fact scientists cannot tell me how, 13.7 billion years ago, the Inflation (or Expansion) followed by the Big Bang was triggered. The Bible tells me God “spoke” it. I believe it. And, whether the Earth is 10,000 years old or 4.5 billion years old makes no difference. God created it. Period.
Core belief 2. Adam’s and Eve’s disobedience of God – by following Satan – resulted in the corruption of God’s creation, including mankind and planet Earth. Thus, we (all of mankind) are born with a sinful nature that separates us from God. We are broken. Our planet is broken. And, there is nothing we can do about it – on our own.
Sorry, but that’s it for this week. I’m getting close to my self-imposed length limit. I should be able to give you three more next week.
Abba, Father, when I try to wrap my mind around creation and your great love for us, I simply give it up, …in awe. You have said that all we need to do in order to know you are God, is to look at your creation – that it provides ample evidence, …and it does. From the macro – the perfect positioning and environment of the Earth, to the micro – the double helix of DNA, your handiwork is unmistakable. Thank you, Father.
This I Believe – Part 2
Last week I gave you the first two of the Biblical teachings that I consider core belief, and critical to the Christian way of life. Today I will give you three more (3., 4., and 5.) of my core beliefs.
Core belief 3. Jesus, is God’s only Son. He came to Earth as a human baby; lived a perfect life (without sin) and died an horrendous death on a Roman cross. As He prophesied, three days later He arose from the dead. Forty days after that, He ascended to God’s Kingdom (Heaven) where He resumed His rightful position at God’s right hand.
Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection was, and is, God’s plan for the redemption of mankind (reconciliation to God). Only the Son of God could be a worthy sacrifice for mankind’s sin – for all time.
Jesus told His disciples just before His Ascension that when He joined His Father, He would ask His Father to send the Holy Spirit to reside within all Christians (as our advocate). Jesus did, and God does.
Core belief 4. Belief in Jesus, by itself, means nothing. Even Satan believes in Jesus. To become a Christian, we must accept Jesus as the Christ (Messiah), our Lord and Savior. We must ask Jesus not only to forgive our sins; but also, to help us turn away from (repent) our sinful past. We ask for help in establishing our personal relationship with Him; and help in following His will for our new life. This acceptance must be genuine and freely given. It cannot be coerced or conditional in any way.
When we earnestly ask that of Jesus, we will be accepted into God’s family as adopted sons and daughters. The Holy Spirit will move into our “heart” and we can then call ourselves, “Christian”. We can look forward to living (after our death on Earth) in the presence of our triune God – God (the Father), Jesus (God’s only Son), and the Holy Spirit – for eternity.
Core belief 5. God’s plan for redemption is the only way to be reconciled to God. It is available to everyone on planet Earth regardless of background or past behavior.
So, please don’t try to tell me that Christianity is too intolerant, narrow-minded and exclusive. Think about what you are saying! God is God. He created everything: and, He creates the rules. Yes, the gate that leads to forgiveness of our sins and eternity with God is narrow in the sense that there is only one way to get there. But, everyone is welcome through it. Accepting Jesus as your Savior will lead you into a new life on Earth, and eternal life in Heaven. Is anyone offering a better future?
Father, forgive our pride and arrogance. Send your spirit to convict us of our sin and helplessness in overcoming it. Open our hearts, our minds and our eyes to you. In Jesus name I pray, …Amen
This I Believe – Part 3
So far I have given you five of my core beliefs. Here are the last two; along with a bit of commentary.
Core belief 6. After we are saved and until Jesus returns, or we are called home; we will still be humans living on a broken planet. Therefore, we must deal with all the things this broken planet and Satan can throw at us. Because we are human, we will continue to sin. God understands this and will forgive these mistakes. But, there will likely still be earthly consequences of that sin. The difference is, we now have God – who tells us He will never forsake us or turn His back on us.
In return, God has expectations of us. Perhaps, most important is this: God requires us to forgive those who “wrong” us. We are told that we cannot be forgiven if we do not forgive. (Mat 6:14-15). Note: It is a huge mistake to assume that once you have been saved, you have a “get out of jail free” card. And, purposely continuing in your old lifestyle while making no effort to follow Christ’s example will not be acceptable to God. You are, in reality showing Him that you were not sincere; but only going through the motions of becoming a Christian. God knows your heart and your true intentions. You cannot hide from Him.
Core belief 7. (Perhaps this should have been number 1, since it is the basis for all my core beliefs.) I believe the Holy Bible is the inspired, living Word of God.
By “inspired” I mean the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) was written by men working under the inspiration and divine guidance of God.
In the New Testament Jesus is referred to as “The Word”, or “The Living Word.” Jesus lives and speaks to us today, through the Bible. It is truly amazing that for many thousands of years, the Bible has been applied to our everyday life in ways that inspire, encourage, teach, sooth, help, and heal. I am now 71 years old and amazed that I continue to read familiar passages and learn new lessons from them.
Consider this: For thousands of years mankind thought the universe revolved around the earth – and then we learned it didn’t. We discovered atomic theory; the theories of the Expansion/Big Bang; and the double-helix of DNA. All these things were unimaginable to those who actually penned the Bible. Yet none of these startling discoveries contradict anything in the Bible. Remarkable? Oh, far more than merely, “…remarkable”.
Father, thank you for your plan of Redemption and Salvation. Thank you for continuing to teach me virtually every day. I ask that you continue to grow my faith and knowledge of your ways versus the ways of this broken culture I live in. Thank you Lord for your Grace and Love. Help me as I attempt to share it with others. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Thoughts About The Bible
Have you ever wondered why the Bible is so, …BIG. It is 66 books in one, for crying out loud. Couldn’t we condense it down to one or two – at most, a half-dozen? After all, what do we really need? Give us the Ten Commandments; the two Great Commandments; and the Great Commission and we have every thing we need to live a Christian life, right?
Well, the short answer is, “No! Not even close. Let me explain.
In the book of Exodus we see God delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. God had big plans for the Israelites. He would call them HIS chosen people. God wanted a relationship with His chosen people. But the “chosen people” very quickly showed God that they did not want a relationship with Him. In no time at all, they were complaining about His providence, even suggesting they were better off living as slaves in Egypt. And then they committed the unthinkable. While Moses was on Mt. Sinai talking with God, they resorted to idol worship and paganism.
God was ready to destroy them on the spot. Moses pleaded with God to give the people another chance. As a result, God gave the Israelites the Law. He knew they couldn’t keep it. It was impossible for any mere man to keep it. No, God wasn’t sadistic, or cruel. He wanted them to learn the way most of us learn to this day – the hard way, that they did not need rules or laws. What they desperately needed was the law giver, …God.
I have often said, ”…the Bible is God’s Basic Instruction Book for Living on Earth”. And, that was wrong thinking on my part! The Bible is, …oh, so much more than commandments, laws and rules.
I now consider it God’s Auto-Biography – in story form. It tells us who He is, how He operates, and how to develop a relationship with Him.
When we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, it is only our introduction to God. Is God going to be satisfied with only an introduction? Not hardly. God is a jealous God; He is going to start working on us. Like a good parent, He is going to walk with us and give us tasks, discipline and rewards. He is going to grow our faith, love, humility and “a servant’s heart”.. Yes, He wants one-hundred percent of our trust, in a one-hundred percent committed relationship with Him. (Not likely on earth). But…
Everything we do give Him, is in His hands. Can you imagine a better place for it? And us?
Thank you Father. You created everything, including me. It is one of the mysteries I can’t explain, …why you would include me (of all people) in your family. Yet, over my years of sin and flat-out rebellion, I have come to know that you are patient; that your love never ceases; and, your forgiveness is never withheld. Abba, please continue your work in me, love…
… Avery Goodday
This is the end of the first installment of posts from the archives of my other posting site: “From the Beanfield.” There will be two more installments – one on each of the next two Thursdays. I’m sorry if this is a bit confusing; but, it was the only way I could move those posts into this blog. New posts (on this site only) will continue on Fridays.