In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1
If you are Christian you know the creation story and even if not many people are familiar with it. It is the accounting for how everything that exists was formed. Other religions have similar stories such as the flood that Noah lived through but is seen in Sumerian text and in Babylonian historical accounts, albeit the people differ. God has been there since the beginning of it all because he created it all. We literally would not exist had he not wanted it. Our reference verse shows us where creation began. Which is great for a Christian but what about someone who has no idea about God or Christianity, what if they ask who this God is?
As with any story you start from the beginning because where else would you start for a lost soul? Salvation doesn’t begin somewhere in the middle and God didn’t just appear during Jesus ministry on Earth either. His story began before we were created and will continue long after we have been judged. It is something the Bible tells us continually from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. His story is one creation, rapture, anger, judgement, forgiveness and love. The facets that are who God is are uncountable to our language but his character is woven throughout the Bible. He is Qanna (Jealous, Exodus 34:14), Adonai (Lord/Master, Genesis 15:2) Jehovah Shalom (Peace, Judges 6:24) and most importantly to our afterlife Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord who Sanctifies You, Leviticus 20:8). I know I used a lot of Old Testament references there and for good reason, we are starting at the beginning. It is proof that God has been all the things we normally tell those who don’t know about God when they ask.
What We Say
I’ve been asked plenty on what He is to me and I have always used canned responses, not because I am lazy, my responses are genuine. I truly believe all the things I say such as Lord, King, Creator, Alpha and Omega. I’m sure I am not the only one, these are correct terms we learn as children and as new believers in the truth that Christ spoke. What we say determines how people understand God and those who are lost are particularly sensitive to this. Speak your testimony and not what you just were taught. Share Him in all the ways you can, I don’t see anything wrong with expressing how you may doubt or become frustrated with Him. The easiest way to appeal to someone is to find common ground. If they have a preconceived notion that all Christians are arrogant and look down on non-believers then strip away some of that wall and show them how broken you were and still can be inside, then show them the light you carry with you.
Instead of beating a dead horse, tell me, who is God to you? Is He the shield as He told Abraham in Genesis 15:1? Is He faithful (Hebrews 10:23) and loving (John 14:21)? Is He, like David proclaimed in Psalm 19:14 as his rock and redeemer? He is all these things and more and we know this because it is in His words put to paper for man to find Him. The Bible is more than just a collection of writings found and put together. It is the words of God himself and it is also an exposure of His heart. All that God wants us to know of Him can be found in those pages if we are willing to read, study, learn, chase and exhort others to do as well. We grow as they grow and we walk closer to Him in sharing the truth.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. – 1 John 3:1
There are only a handful of names I really enjoy being called in life. Son, Brother, Dad or Daddy, Scotty (I get this more than Daddy and that is okay), Fiancé and most importantly, child of God. While I may not physically hear this from the lips of God I can hear it in my heart. God is such a good Father, in ways I will never be able to be. He takes care of things I can never imagine handling. All the children that need his attention and battling with the enemy to me seems insurmountable. He is our Heavenly Father who dwells in all places in all times so that His children’s spirit is watched over.
I want to share a story with you about a time when I was a child and I had inadvertently terrified my parents. After school in the city was an interesting time. You had to do your homework and then you could go play. I was originally just going to play on the sidewalk in front of my house and that is what I told my mom. After being out there a few minutes I realized that the small church right up the road was having after school Bible study and I so wanted to go! In my excitement I completely forgot to tell my mom that was what I wanted to do and I just went. After the program was over for the day I left the church feeling happy and I had some craft with me. As I was walking up the concrete walkway to leave the church grounds I heard, “There he is!” and looked up to see my Uncle Timmy stalking towards me. I was terrified, I didn’t understand what I had done wrong as he hoisted me up and carried me down the street to home. There I was summarily passed to my father who was intent to take me upstairs and show my hind end a thing or two with his (even in my eyes today) giant meaty man-bear-paw. Mom stopped him and reminded him that I did not even know what I had done. I was sat down and explained that I had not told mom where I was, the police were called and it was a big mess. I don’t like disappointing my family, especially my parents and I had. I was crestfallen and even though I knew I had done wrong I was punished as well. Even though some parents would have given me a pass because of the relief that I was safe and not abducted. God believe in the same thing (Hebrews 12:5-11) though I think that sometimes we misinterpret the intentions of tough love and use it as a means to justify being mean to our children when they are frustrating us. I’m guilty of it, I try to dissuade myself from irritating them back as a form of punishment but frankly, it isn’t is and I beg God’s forgiveness often and pray that I have the strength through Him to be less like that.
I fullt believe the comfort we get from God is not from single method. God is omniscient and He knows that we may not get our comfort in ways that someone right next to us does. Some week prayer to provide comfort and some look to friends or family. God can provide comfort in all ways but I do believer that the heavenly comfort we get from God is not by praying alone. The heavenly comfort that God blesses us with can be sought out in church. Christ was the center of the church and if we go to a place where God’s children gather we can tap in to that source of amazing heavenly love.
God does not seek to give us punishment but He does expect His children to follow His words. We should not hide our faults from God like Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) did, you cannot hide from God. It’s that weird power our parents posses, when they know you’re doing something you shouldn’t and you think you have gotten away with it and then the hammer comes down. Parenting is no walk in the park, you have to balance love, discipline, praise and many other factors to set boundaries but also encourage your children. God has given us boundaries and he has given us praise and rewarded us greatly through the death of Christ, even if we were unworthy. This heavenly love is incomparable and even though we know we are a child of God, we never really grasp all the complexities that it entails.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. – Isaiah 43:2
Water is vital to the Bible. It is vital for us to live. Water provides us with healing of the body. The connection to water is strong in the Bible and there is a lot of symbolism that occurs with it. We are baptized in water to symbolize the resurrection of our life in Christ. We say that our sins are washed in the blood of Jesus and that is what the water represents during the baptism. As we pass through the waters all things are new. Water did more than heal, it also destroyed. In that destruction, each time, God protected His children.
The flood occurs in Genesis 7:1-24 for the uninformed God spoke with Noah and saw him righteous. He saved Noah and his family against the destruction that He had promised. The Earth was flooded as the waters rose and everyone but those on the ark perished. God made a covenant afterward to never curse the ground for the sake of man again and He would never destroy every living thing as He had done. The curse upon the ground that God speaks of comes from the curse He had laid upon the Earth during the fall. This curse made it harder for man to find sustenance whereas in the Garden the fruit grew from it’s perfect ground and all things flourished. God lifted this curse as the flood had abated His anger, even in His disappointment of humanity, God found someone, some people worthy to love enough to save.
The Red Sea
The parting of the Red Sea happens in Exodus 14:1-31 in this God had delivered the Israelite people from Egypt and led them to a place call Pi Hahiroth where they were to encamp. God told Moses he would harden the heart of Pharaoh and that Pharaoh would pursue them. He did so bringing out a massive army. There, in Israel’s doubt of God, Moses lifted his hand and his staff and the Lord parted the sea so that through the night His people could cross to safety. When dawn was nearing and Egypt pursued them across the sea bed God cause their chariots to become stick. He then commanded Moses to lift his hand once more and when Moses did the sea closed around the army of Egypt and the waters swept them all away with no survivors. God was fulfilling his promise in Isaiah long before it was made.
I don’t know about you but I have issues with doubt. I genuinely think we all do because we were given free will. It can express itself in many ways and one of those ways is by listening to the enemy. He will lead us in to troubled waters much like the experience of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus wanted to cross the sea and slept along the way. Even though He was with the disciples in the flesh, they doubted and woke Him. This was the first time Jesus calmed the storm for the disciples. It wouldn’t be the last.
We are constantly are struggle with many things in our lives and those trouble waters can be hard to navigate because we try to control them when we really need to stop holding on and just be held by Him. I certainly founder here but even in the storms God has not let me lose focus. I love Him more every single day because I am pursuing Him. I want my race (John 7:38-39) to mean something. With God as the captain you can navigate the toughest rivers and you will never be left to tread water.
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are ever before Me. – Isaiah 49:15-16
When you have children, biological or adopted they become everything. You shower them with as much wonderful love as you can but also have to deal with the bad side. We never forget our children, it is impossible to. Whether they are throwing tantrums or winning awards we are there until God decides we have to come home. Parenting is one of the most rewarding relationships and also the most trying. In fact, it is the second on the list I feel. The first is your relationship with Christ. Through His blood we have been cemented in our relationship with God. The palms of His hands are all the evidence we need to see how deep God’s love goes.
The Hard Part of Parenting
Long nights with sick children. A willful teenager doing everything but what you raised them on. The unexpected loss of a child. These are the things that can make a parent irritable, flat out angry and heartbroken. We experience some or all of these as children grow. I am in no way minimizing the struggles of earthly parenting when I say this but God has endured that for millennia. He has created us and we often thumb our nose at God or see Him as dead because we don’t see the movement we want in our lives occur. This leads us to feel like we are better than he when we are really wretched (Revelation 3:17) and the spoiled child. We think that everything we have gained is because of our own works. Our children can feel the same way because they don’t understand the resources we pour into raising them or the sacrifices we make for them. God tells us about the resources and the sacrifices He made for us and we tend to ignore that. He, like us, have it hard at parenting.
The Good Part of Parenting
Limitless love. Bottomless grace. Good News. God gives us all of those things. As parents we get to see the wonders of our children as they grow into adults. From discovering how awesome macaroni and cheese is to the almost divine place pizza holds. We watch countless hours of Paw Patrol or PJ Masks to enjoy time with our kids. When we take an active role in parenting the way God has with us then we really truly reap the rewards of those sleepless nights and the butting of wills. Adoration, hugs, kisses and laughter should fill a home. God’s words inspire these things if we listen.
God’s sacrifices are shown in the palms of Jesus’ hands. His son was killed, frankly outright murdered for spreading the word. His feet, his side and his palms are testimony that even that sacrifice wasn’t too great because He has adopted us into His home if we come to Him seeking the truth. The next time I find myself wondering if God really cares I just need to look at my unmarred palms and realize that Jesus took that burden and allowed my skin to be untouched. He took the sin and allowed my could to be cleansed. Just look at your hands and examine your palms. Something so simple and if we stop to appreciate it, I think it will bring our focus back where it belongs. On God.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” – Genesis 3:1
There was no doubt before the fall of man. He was in God’s image and he was pure. The trust between God and man at that time was unquestionable. Yet God also foresaw what would happen and warned Adam and Eve that obedience to Him was paramount. Yet the serpent was able to cause Eve to second guess God’s command. Man had lost his trust in God because he doubted the power that God wields over him, even when it was God who created him. Every time man has sinned it is because he doubted God.
Doubt is a feeling of uncertainty or a lack of conviction. Both have separate consequences. When I am uncertain of things it is often a lack of confidence in myself. This I think opens us up to not only failure but sin. We are uncertain of ourselves and if our conviction is lacking then we doubt God. Doubting God alone is a sin, He is Creator and worthy of all of our reverence. Luke 24:38 asks us, why are we troubled, and why do doubts arise in our hearts? I think that it is two-fold, Satan is whispering to us but also our desire to self-fulfill our destiny and not place it in His hands.
To overcome doubt I think that we need to understand that it is not a lack of belief in Jesus but more a state of limbo. Having doubts does not mean you have turned your back on Christianity which it may feel like. How we overcome this is by addressing it directly. If you find yourself wavering in some manner, that is doubt creeping in. Don’t take the “I guess it’s okay to doubt” or “I’ll work it out later” road. Make strategic war with it. Eradicate it by praying and do as Jesus did. Tell Satan take a hike and don’t come back no more.
Granted saying how to overcome doubt is easier said than done but Jesus told us that if we do not doubt in our hearts and believe in what we say (such as telling Satan to be gone) then it will come to pass. Jesus used the word of God as a weapon to send Satan away. We can too because in His death we have been empowered against the enemy. Do not let that leave your mind. Satan fears you and that is why he tries to subvert you. He cannot defeat you but he can make you a bad example. Stop the doubt. Toss Satan out.
Jesus said, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” – Matthew 16:18
I won’t ever say I am a scholar of the Bible but I am a reader and I cannot recall a man in the Bible, specifically notable people who did not fail. Moses disobeyed God and was unable to enter the promised land. David, a man after God’s own heart committed adultery. Peter made the mistake of denying that he knew who Jesus was, not once or twice but three times. Each time these men didn’t just take it. Instead they showed that getting up again is what God wants us to do.
Falling is Not the End
Every Christian stumbles in our walk with God. It is why we sin. We fail to meet the expectations set before us. Whether it was what someone expected of us, our own self expectations or failing God they all merit the same response. Realizing that this failure is a learning point and that it doesn’t mean we should give it up. I found myself in that position when I was younger. I had left everything I knew behind to move to another state to live with a girl. I was young and not very cautious. Things went south after 2 years and I love everything. I moved back in with my parents and basically withdrew from society. I allowed my falling to be the end of me. I was far from my walk with God but He tells us that if we delight in Him that He will make firm our steps so we do not fall. (Psalm 37:23-24). Falling isn’t the end it is the Father giving us a chance to prove our resilience in adversity by getting up and testifying His grace.
Falling is our Wandering
If we love God’s instructions for our life we have peace and do not stumble. Think about the times when you know you’ve sinned. If God has really changed your heart you will not have peace until you make it right. It might start as a little tickle in the back of your mind but getting right with God sooner rather than later is going to prevent that time when God grabbed you by the seat of your pants and the next thing you know is you’re a blubbering mess. Saved people are His children. As we are His that means He will sometimes have to be harsh with us to bring us around. Jesus is called the shepherd for many reasons and to me this is one of the most basic reasons why. He is the one who keeps the sheep on the path and of one falls off of it He rights the sheep.
Getting Up is Finding Forgiveness
There is a reason Christian imagery shows a man beaten or broken and God’s hands lifting him.It is the Father letting the child know it is okay. We can fall a thousand times (we should try not too!) and He is always there to lift us higher than before because as soon as we confess and truly resolve never to fall back in to that place again we have gotten up. I jokingly tell Eli to rub some dirt in it sometimes when he is just being fussy, I like to think God feels the same way sometimes when he is confronted with the same person doing the same sin and asking for forgiveness. He gives it in the hope you mean it even though He knows you do not. If you are serious about getting up though God is there, hand ready to help you rise. Jesus forgave Peter three times because Peter sinned three times. Then he raised Peter above the other disciples in his appointment of Peter being the rock upon which the Church would be built.
Imagine what God can do in your life if you just let the fall be a lesson and become better are getting up than falling. Eventually you won’t fall anymore because your love for him is true and He will strengthen your steps, that is our walk with God in a nutshell. Don’t quit on God, He never quits on you.
God had made me forget all my troubles and all my father’s household. – Genesis 41:51
I think we all have a tendency of forgetting how awesome God is all the time. Especially when the good times are rolling. We don’t give thanks nearly as often then but as soon as something bad happens it is the first thing out of our mouth, ‘God help me’ or some variant. God is here good or bad. So what about when things are more than marginally bad? Do we complain to God about it because we are experiencing trauma. Instead we should be seeking the comfort of His love. Joseph who was sold in to slavery, imprisoned despite his innocence never blamed God for the bad fortune. Instead he looked to God and then God raised him up higher than his brothers could have imagined!
For many of us our plans compared to God’s plans look very different. God’s plans are definitive and look like a straight arrow. Or plans on the other hand look like a winding snake over His plans. In fact it looks like this;
As our walk gets closer to God those waves, those deviations lessen and sometimes they become the same straight line but we are human and prone to error. Even in those times when we are far far from God’s plans for us He is there filling in those gaps with His grace.
Life is Tough
Because we are promised suffering (2 Timothy 3:12) we should become comfortable with seeking God in the hard times. If you’ve ever found yourself in the floor crying out to God for help then you know exactly how powerful God can be when He moves. His plans may be that someone has a hard life from the beginning and uses those experiences to lift that person into ministry. It could be the death of someone so that others connected to that person come running to Him. There is no shame in reaching out to God in your greatest need but it should not be the only time. He deserves out attention all the time not just when things suck.
God is the perfect father because he is there endlessly. We may come into friction with our parents here on Earth and in some cases those parents will disown us. God does not do that. He waits until you are broken and with no second thought picks up the pieces to make sure His children are whole. Life is really tough and being a Christian does not exclude you from that. In fact, you become a target because Satan wants to lure you away more than anything. It’s not the lost souls but the ones that know Jesus so he can tell God to look at how his servant is failing him. If we can be like Job or Joseph we take that power from Satan because God gives us that armor. I feel like one of my biggest strengths is that I do keep my eye on God in good and bad. Part of why I can is because of Bethany. She is far more than I ever deserved in my life and yet God planted her there for me. I am also surrounded by Greg and Melissa who are just an awesome God loving couple. My parents love God and encourage my relationship with Him. The support system you build helps you remember that God is there always listening when things are great and when they are tough.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! – Philippians 4:4
All praise belongs to God. Everything we do, everything we experience is by our Father’s design. So we should always rejoice in Him. It is an outward showing of an inward treasure. God has made you alive again and in doing so has brought great joy and comfort to your life. Your place in Heaven is secure because the Father has given up His Son and the Son has prepared a place for us (John 14:1-3). To me it is the most fantastic thing, to know that my Father is ready for me to come home whenever that may be.
Why is rejoicing important?
Rejoicing in the Lord is worship. We worship God to show our love for Him as He has shown us uncountable love already. Rejoicing is something that the bible speaks about 286 times in some form or another. God clearly wants us to rejoice in His love and in His works that have been performed for us. Rejoicing in God is more than just praise and worship. It gives us strength to overcome things and it shields us.
Rejoicing is part of your testimony
Rejoicing in God is a tool that Christians can use in testimony. Think about this, even in trials if we rejoice we get the strength to persevere (Romans 5:3). God knows we will see suffering but He is an awesome Father and will pour in to us, the Holy Spirit to strengthen us if we call upon Him. There are lost souls out there that may find your tribulation as the catalyst to come back to God. God has used you to bring another child home. Maybe there is no trial to go through but God has touched you and to someone else that may be what they want. To be able to rejoice in the Lord in all things. Our active rejoicing in God is an outward showing of our change to inspire others to make that leap of faith and become One with the Father.
Rejoicing is Protection
When I rejoice in the Lord it helps me focus when I have doubts or am struggling in my walk. God is peace and He is protection (Philippians 4:7). By focusing on God I can push away the troublesome thoughts I may have. Most of my thoughts surround whether I make the right choices for my family or whether I am putting Him first in my choices for them. All of that is Satan whispering in my ear to make me doubt. If I remember that through the blood Jesus shed I was given the tools to defeat Satan (Revelation 12:11).
Rejoicing is a privilege that anyone can make use of. In fact, I don’t feel that you necessarily have to be a Christian to use it because God works on the hearts of the unsaved and if they thank God for bringing them back to Him it is just as good as if I did it. Rejoicing allows us to be closer to the Father and to thank him for all he has accomplished and will. I fail often enough that it makes me upset with myself and makes me determined to thank Him more. If we make a habit of thanksgiving we will never forget that God works for us always. I should rejoice in the Lord more because I want Him to tell me I’ve done well. I want to please Him and rejoicing is a great way to start that.