Categories
Bible Study Knowing God

God’s Love: Fixed Our Sin Problem

God solved the problem of sin through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice

     I think by now you understand how destructive sin is in our lives! It is pretty clear something had to be done about it, and that something had to come from God.  Beginning in Genesis 3:15, God revealed His loving plan to deliver people from their sin.

    In Exodus, God revealed to the Jews it was necessary for them to shed the blood of innocent animals to cover their sins. This is called atonement. In Leviticus, the ideas of expiation (to make amends for) and propitiation for our sin (to soothe or win over; appease) became clearly seen in the word atonement. The sacrificial blood was the means of atonement. Moses, who wrote Leviticus said, in Leviticus 17:11,

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’

Shedding of someone or something’s blood means taking the life from them, because life is in the blood.  It took death to pay for even one sin, so God chose sacrificial blood as payment for a person’s life.  This allowed us to have a substitute die for us.

     God knew animal sacrifices would never bring complete forgiveness for people’s sins, since the blood of animals had no power to take away their sinful nature, and intentional sins (Leviticus 4 and Numbers 15:22-31). The only blood that has the power to take away all of our sins is the blood of Jesus Christ.  This is because He is the One True God. 

     God accomplished reconciliation with us through the blood of Jesus.  This is because the punishment we deserved, Jesus took on Himself, when He shed His blood by dying on the cross.  He is our substitute.  He died in our place.  His sacrifice made amends for our sins and satisfied God’s just anger, so we could have our sins completely forgiven and be in a close relationship with God.   What sacrificial love!

  1. These animal sacrifices allowed people to be able to clearly see their need for the One and Only sufficient sacrifice for their sins, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Read Numbers 15:22-31, John 1:29, Hebrews 9:19-28 & 10:1-4, 10-20 and 1 John 2:1-2 & 4:9-10 and summarize what you learned about Jesus’ sacrifice for us.How does Jesus’ sacrifice show you He loves you?Take some time and thank God for solving your sin problem through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

     God’s Word tells us that He never changes, which means His sacrifice for our sins will always take away our sins.  Its effectiveness to completely take away our sins will never change because God and His promises are unchanging.  I know it is hard for us to understand Someone that never changes!  We live in a world, a society that seems to constantly change. One moment our government is talking about this law, and that we have to follow it. Then we hear they are doing something completely different. Your parents tell you one thing, and get upset when you do the thing they told you to do. Your friend told you he would meet you on Wednesday, but he didn’t show up, and never bothered to call.  Even your church leaders sometimes say one thing and end up doing another. I don’t know about you, but it certainly is hard on me to navigate through a world that is almost completely governed by whims of change.

     God knows how important it is to our psychological health to have security and to be able to trust. This makes sense because God created us to trust, in order that we will want to trust Him. The more we can truly trust people, the less our lives will be governed by fear, insecurity, worry, and anxiety.  If our environment is secure we have peace of mind.  If our environment is insecure it can cause great stress.  Now is a good time to learn about how we can trust God, because He is faithful and unchanging.

God is faithful-what He says, He does! He keeps His promises and is trustworthy!
God is unchangeable, immutable which means He is always the same

  • Read about God being unchangeable and faithful from Numbers 23:19, Malachi 3:6, 2 Timothy 2:13, Hebrews 13:8 and James 1:17. 
  • What does God being unchangeable and faithful mean to you? Use a Bible verse in your answer. (Examples:  When I am wondering about what I can trust in because everything always changes, shouldn’t I trust in the God Who is always the same? (Malachi 3:6) When no one is faithful to his word, I need to trust in God’s Word because He is always faithful. (James 1:17))
  • Because God is unchanging, His love for you will never change!  What does this mean to you? Have you ever loved someone but they were unfaithful to you?  How did it feel?  I hope you can feel secure in the knowledge God will never be unfaithful to you!

  • If you are a Christian you should be asking the Holy Spirit to keep you faithful.  We can be faithful by keeping God’s Word, and by saying and doing exactly what we mean. The world of psychology calls this congruence.  God calls it faithfulness. Read Matthew 23:23, Galatians 5:22-23 and James 5:12.  Now write a prayer asking God to help you be faithful.  If you are faithful, you will be as unchanging as you can be. 

  • End of the lesson application:    Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind one thing you learned from this lesson that He wants you to remember and make a part of your life.  Be quiet before God and wait on Him to tell you.   Write it down and ask Him to help you to do it! 

This is going to sound odd, but get a newspaper and skim over some headline news and circle each story that hints of sin.  Sin is anything that is not in God’s will.  The point of this activity is to give you a better understanding of sin’s grip on the world. (It would be a good thing to pray for the people in these articles, if you have time.) If you are doing this study in a group setting, bring the newspaper to class and share your insights on sin.

Categories
Bible Study Knowing God

God’s Love: Separation By Sin

Adam’s and Eve’s rebellion against God brought death just as God said it would. Death doesn’t mean “extinction” as you might think, but more “a separation from” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Their fall into sin caused a separation with God, which is spiritual death. This break in relationship with God was immediately evidenced by Adam’s and Eve’s hiding from Him, and blaming Him and each other for their sin. (sound familiar? )

If you think about it, we seem to live in a world that highlights death. Just turn on our news, and you hear how full of senseless violence and death our world is. Human relationships, in general, seem to be drawn towards more separation rather than harmony and peace. Just read the statistics on divorce. Just study history, and it turns out to be a study on wars. Most bodies, on the average, have a few good decades, after which the effects of age and disease start becoming apparent. Just print “anti-aging” on something and it will sell. Just talk to anyone and they will have a health problem or know someone who does.

     God never wanted us to live this way! He created Adam and Eve to live in a world that was without death. He made them to have eternal life, but they chose eternal death. God wants us to have eternal life as well, but we choose eternal death too.  Did you know we choose death every time we sin, because the result of sin is death? 

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A world with no sin is a world without death. I know it doesn’t make any sense to me why Adam and Eve chose death over life, but we do the same. The wage of sin is death, but God is life.

God is the source of all life

  • Read about God being the source of life from John 1:1-4, 3:16-18, 14:6, Romans 6:23, 1 John 4:9-10, and Revelation 22:1.  
  • What does God being the source of life mean to you?

   
Why did death bring separation with God?   It’s because God is holy and can have nothing to do with sin. It is very important we remember God is holy, so let’s learn about God being holy.

God is holy which means He is completely separate from sin

  • Read about God’s holiness from Isaiah 6:1-5 & 43:3 & 59:1-2, and Revelation 4:8.
  • What does God being holy mean to you?
  • We can only be holy through a relationship with Jesus Christ, but never on our own.  Read 1 Peter 1:16, Ephesians 4:20-24, Romans 12:1-2, and Colossians 3:12-14.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to live a holy life!
Categories
Bible Study Knowing God

God’s Love: We are Sinners

God’s Word teaches us that we all are sinners just like Adam and Eve.  This is because we are born with a nature that can only sin.  A sinner is someone who disobeys God. Romans 3:10-18 says,

…as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

King David said, in Psalm 51:5,

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

     It surely is reasonable to think that it is unfair that what Adam and Eve did thousands of years ago affects us today. The sad truth is, from Romans 3 – we all would have eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil! As a Christian, I would dare say, the number of times I sin in a day far outnumbers Eve’s sins in Genesis 3. Ouch!

 Even one sin can be life changing. Sin tends to take control and alter our lives for the worse. Remember one sin brought death and changed the entire human race (Romans 5:12). James 2:10 teaches us that if we obey God completely, then disobey Him just once, we are guilty of all sin before God.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

     For some reason, some people think God doesn’t see their sin if they hide it. I guess trying to hide our sin is part of our sinful nature because Adam and Eve tried it as well. Are you hiding from God like Adam and Eve were (minus the fig leaves)? The fact is, God knows when you sin whether you think so, or not.  He knows everything.  This is a good time for us to learn about how God knows everything, and how He is always present.

God is omniscient, in other words, He knows all things.
God is omnipresent, or He is always present.

     From Psalm 139 it is clear that God knows everything about us.  He knows every thought and motive we have (1 Corinthians 4:5).  God is always present no matter where we are or what we are doing. We can’t hide from God! He has seen you at your best, and He has seen you at your worst, and still He loves you so very much!

  • Read about God’s knowing all things and always being present from Exodus 32:1-9, Jeremiah 23:23-24, and Matthew 28:20.  Write down any insights and applications that the Spirit is giving you from these verses.
  • What does the knowledge that God is all knowing and always with you mean to you? Use a Bible verse in your answer. (Examples: When I am ashamed about what I’ve done, shouldn’t I call upon God who knows everything about me, but loves and forgives me anyway? (1 John 4:10)  When I am alone and afraid shouldn’t I seek after the God who is always with me? (Psalm 139:7))
  • Read Genesis 4 – this chapter shows us clearly that sin passed onto future generations along with its awful consequences.  How do you think Adam and Eve felt about what happened in this chapter?  Remember they were living with the knowledge that their sin would affect all future generations. 
Categories
Bible Study Knowing God

God’s Love: Sin and Consequences

Genesis 2:16-17 New International Version (NIV)

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Genesis 3:1-15 New International Version (NIV)

The Fall

3 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’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”

Since God created all of us in His image, we have a free will. This freedom gave us the choice to be in a relationship with God or not. He gave us a free will so we could freely choose to love and obey Him! Don’t you want people to choose to love you, not be made to? Sadly, Adam and Eve chose to use God’s incredible gift of freedom to disobey Him.

Their disobedience of His one command brought the concept of sin into our world and put us in bondage to it. Their choice also brought sin into world. (Let me remind you, before Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, there was only good in the world.) Have you ever thought about how very different things would be without sin in the world?

Their sin brought death into the world as God told them it would. Ephesians 2:1-3 explains that sin puts us in a state of death and rebellion towards God.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

     What saddens me the most, is that Adam and Eve chose to trust in or rely on themselves and the talking serpent, who was actually Satan (Revelation 12:9).  They did this instead of trusting in God, who had just created them to love them (Ephesians 1:4). Throughout history, many people have doubted God and His existence, but Adam and Eve had a face to face relationship with Him. There was absolutely no excuse for them to doubt God. You either trust in God, or you are trusting in yourself or something else, which is sin.  Satan is always at the root of not trusting God.

  1. Adam and Eve’s perfect relationship with God, who created and loved them, was shattered.  They were now in a state of death because they chose to be. They were now imprisoned by their sinful desires. They had rebelled against God and were now His enemies. They had lost their freedom of choice – whether to sin or not, because they were enslaved to sin.  (Our freedom of choice whether to sin or not, is given back to us through trusting in Jesus Christ.  This is because Jesus Christ redeems us from being enslaved to sin.) Read Romans 3:21-24, 5:6-12, 6:5-7, and Ephesians 2:1-7.

From Genesis 3:1-13, why did Adam and Eve choose to disobey God?  Remember Adam and Eve did not have a sinful nature until after they chose to disobey God.

From Genesis 1 and 2, what type of world did God want us to live in? From Genesis 3, what type of world did we end up with because of sin? How did Adam’s and Eve’s relationship with God change? How does God want our relationship towards Him to be?

Before we become Christians, there is no way we can completely obey God, because we are held captive by our sinful nature. When we become a Christian, we are set free from the power of our sinful nature so we can choose to obey God. However, as Christians we can still wrestle greatly with disobeying God because our sinful nature is still with us. If you are a Christian, what helps you to choose to obey God? If you are not a Christian, this would be a good time to become one!

Categories
Bible Study faith Knowing God

God’s Love: Seen Through You

     Getting to know God’s characteristics will enable you to get to know Him better. Romans 1:20 teaches us that, God’s character, or who He is, is seen and understood by the things that He has made.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

     I would like to remind you, to look for God’s character in His creation.  If you have ever seen the movie, March of the Penguins, you saw the sacrificial love the penguins have for their young.  I thought, “Wow! What an example of God’s love.” 

     Let’s begin with the most important of God’s characteristics to us. It is His love. God’s love permeates who He is. God is sovereign, but His rule is acted out through His love. God is all-powerful, but every act of His power is done because of His love.  God’s act of creation was an act of love which resulted in life for all things.

God is love.

     “Agape” is the Greek word that best describes God;s love.  Agape means, unselfish love that is driven by what is best for the person loved, not by the person loving.  Agape love is a verb. ( a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence) In other words, it is an unselfish, unconditional, and sacrificial love.  I think we think God loves us out of duty not out of desire.  However, “agape” love suggests that the lover finds joy in acting on that love for something or someone.

     The Hebrew word that best describes God’s love is defined by the word “hesed”. This word is translated love, unfailing love, loving kindness, mercy, and loyalty.  It is used about 250 times in the Old Testament.  It means loyal, steadfast or faithful love.  It also stresses the idea of belonging together for those involved in the love relationship.  Both words make me think of the joy and the total commitment a bride and groom have for each other on their wedding day.  God has been waiting eagerly to love you!

  1. Read about God’s love from Jeremiah 31:3, Hosea 2:19-20, Zephaniah 3:17, Ephesians 1:4, 2:4-5, 3:17-19, 5:2, 5:23-32, and Revelations 19:7-9. Write down any insights and applications that the Spirit is giving you from these verses.



  2. What does God’s love mean to you? Use a Bible verse in your answer. (Example: When I feel unloved, I think about the fact that God loved me so much that He died for me. (Ephesians 5:2))



  3. Love should permeate everything we do.  God tells us and shows us how to love through His Word, with His Spirit.  We will never completely agape love anyone because it is a supernatural phenomenon coming from the God of love!  God does want to empower us to come as close to His love as humanly possible.  Take some time with God right now and ask Him to empower you to love someone you don’t particularly love, with His type of love.  Prayerfully thank Him for His love of you! 



     We see God’s power in creation.  Wouldn’t it have been quite thrilling to have seen God create the visible universe from things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:3)?  When I think God spoke the universe and our world into being without lifting a finger, I am dumbfounded with such power. Let’s take a look at God being all-powerful.

God is omnipotent which means all powerful, almighty.

     Many leaders throughout history have done awful and quite horrifying things because they have the power to do them.  Think of Hilter.  Just turn on the TV and you will hear how someone has misused his or her power.  No one or nothing can stop God from doing what He wants to do with His power.  Aren’t you so glad His power is permeated by His love?  If you doubt that His love leads His power, just think about His willingness to put His son under the control of sinful men and die from a man-made torture, death by crucifixion, out of His love for you.

  1. Read about God’s power from Psalm 62:11-12a, Daniel 4:34-35, and John 11:33– 45. Write down any insights and applications the Spirit is giving you from these verses.



  2. What does God’s power mean to you? Use a Bible verse in your answer. (Example:  When I am powerless to change my situation, I need to trust in God, who can turn death into life.  (John 11:43–44))



  3. No one in history has been all powerful like God except for Jesus Christ.  Some people would like to be all powerful, but thank God they are not.  Power does seem to corrupt sooner or later.  As Christians, God certainly won’t make us all powerful, but He does want us to have access to the power we need to live the right way, which is His way.  We get His power by being connected to Him through His Spirit (Acts 1:8). Personalize 2 Timothy 1:7 by writing the verse out and putting your name where the word “us” is.

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

Categories
Bible Study Knowing God

God’s Love: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

     Humans are the highlight of God’s creation.  God made us fearfully and wonderfully! King David in Psalm 8 writes about how surprised he is that God, the Creator of everything, would make us, mere humans, just a little lower than Himself.  David was amazed that God cares for us so much that He allows us to rule over His creation. David also seemed astonished that God would crown us with glory and majesty. (I can relate to what David is feeling. How about you?)  David says of God in Psalm 8:3-6,

When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him? Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, And dost crown him with glory and majesty! Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet.

     Some of you are not familiar with King David. King David reigned as King in Israel around 1000 B.C.  He was Israel’s most famous king and is called a man after God’s own heart.  King David wrote many of the Psalms. The Psalms are Hebrew poetry and were often used as songs of worship.  David was a man who truly enjoyed God. He would lift his voice in song to worship Him because he knew God loved him and he loved God.  When you are feeling down and out, it’s always a good idea to read a Psalm or two.

     Psalm 139 tells us that God made us wonderfully, which means we are amazingly constructed! As I look in the mirror or make a foolish comment, I certainly don’t think of myself as amazingly put together. Yet the truth is, whether or not we think or feel we are God’s amazing creation, we are!

     God’s Word even says God made us fearfully which means He made us awesomely.  Do you think or feel awesome?  I don’t most the time, but God thinks I am, so I am!  I do believe God thinks of us as His beloved wonder women (excuse my modernization).  Psalm 139:14 says,

I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well.

  1. Read Psalm 139:1-16 to give you some information on Who God is and how wonderfully He has made you.  Since God created you wonderfully and fearfully, what does this tell you?



  2. From a personal perspective, describe how wonderfully and fearfully God has made you. (To answer a question like this, I know for many of us women, it is hard to get past what we think is wrong with ourselves. However, ask God to force you to look past your perceived negatives, and ask Him to show you how awesomely and amazingly constructed He has made you. Remember, a lie of our society and of course of Satan, is how important looks are. God created us with much more than just looks. Believe me, since I am almost a half century old, I need to remember this fact.) Do you think since God created you, that He would automatically think of you as beautiful? Remember, He created you to love you forever! Prayerfully thank God for making you as He did!
Categories
Bible Study Knowing God

God’s Love: You Were Created in His Image

God created you in His image

Genesis 1:26–31

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.

28 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.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

     What does being created in God’s image mean?  Well to be honest, the Bible doesn’t give much detail about it.  But I will try to explain what being created in God’s image means, from my studies.

     Since we are created in God’s image, we can reason and speak, and we have a will to choose, like God.  We also have the power to act out our reasoning, our speech, and our choices, like God does.  (Granted we are limited in these things compared to God.) Our ability to do these things is clearly seen in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God for the first time.

  Do we have the same form that God has? His Word Jesus took on the appearance of man, in Philippians 2:8a, He was, “found in appearance as a man…”  So, do we look like God? I don’t know. However, Jesus did take the form of man. So we created in the very form that Jesus, chose for Himself. That’s pretty amazing to me! How about to you?  However there is a huge difference, Jesus has God’s essence and nature because He is God, we don’t!  Jesus says in John 14:7, 

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

     God has two types of attributes, they are incommunicable and communicable.  The communicable attributes of God are the ones that we have such as a personality marked with emotions, moral character, the desire for relationship, the want to be loved and to love, the capacity to have understanding and wisdom, as well as the desire for mercy, justice, truth and faithfulness. We also have an eternal existence that began when God created us. The incommunicable attributes of God are the ones only God can have because God is God.  These include being self-existent, self-sufficient, sovereign, all-powerful, all-knowing and always present.

Think about why God would make us in His image. I love my dog, but I can’t have a truly intimate relationship with her because she isn’t in my image.  We can relate to each other because we are in each other’s image, but even more importantly we can relate to God because He created us in His image.  Since God created us in His image we are linked to heaven and to God Himself unlike any other creature God made. He made us in His image to be able to have a truly intimate eternal relationship with us. All of His workings throughout eternity prove it.     

  1. Human history is being played out, in order that God can have a people who are His and who want to be His.  Read Exodus 19:2-6, 1 Peter 2:4-10, and Jeremiah 31:3, 31-34. (The word “covenant” simply put means an agreement with a person or group of people to whom you are deeply committed.) How does the fact that God wants you to be His, show you He loves you?
  2. Think about this:  What if God didn’t create us in His image, and we were all on the same level as animals? What would that tell us about God and His desire for a relationship with us? What value would humans have to Him then? (Those of you who are animal lovers, just to encourage you, God cares for animals too; but not in the same way He cares for us.  (Matthew 10:29-31))
  3. Prayerfully answer the question since God created you in His image:  What value does He give to you?  Did you know, you are so valuable to God that He died for you when you were His enemy?  We can all struggle at times with thinking we don’t have high value in anyone’s eyes, especially God’s, but we do!
  4. I am sure some of you are thinking, God did create us in His image, but didn’t sin do something to His image in us? It did!  We still possess God’s image within us, but it has been corrupted by sin and needs renewing.  Read Genesis 9:6 and James 3:9.  The only way to truly have God’s image again, is through Jesus Christ and by allowing the Holy Spirit to progressively renew His image within us.  Read Ephesians 4:20-24 and Colossians 3:9-11.
Categories
Bible Study Knowing God

God’s Love: Creation

Love has become a word that gets thrown around these days without much thought. I love cake, I love that dress, or I love this phone. However, love is an action and often times we fail to put that “love” into action.  God’s love, in contrast, is filled with action.  In numerous scriptures we are told that the foundation of God’s love is shown through the action of sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us.

1 John 4:9-10 New International Version (NIV)

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

His love for us is also seen through His creation. His creation is His work of love for us (Psalm 119:64).

64 The earth is filled with your love, Lord;
    teach me your decrees.

In all actuality, God created you to love you! Just a little reminder from scripture, it is very clear humans are the focal point and masterpiece of God’s creation.

God created you very good

     God created everything in 6 days.  After each day of creation God saw that what He had made was good.  Yet, after God had created everything – especially man and woman, He saw that all He had created was very good.  God creating humans made His creation very good.  You are very good in God’s eyes!  Genesis 1:31 says,

And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. ®

In Genesis 1 and 2 it is obvious that His creation is His work of love for us! If you doubt this, as you read Genesis 1 and 2, make the creation story personal to yourself. You can do this by asking yourself, “Why did He create that for me?”  Example: God created the sun so I can delight in its warmth and light on chilly days.)

At one time in my life I thought I was worthless. I later realized from Genesis that I was very good in God’s sight.  The word “very” means exceedingly.  The word “good” is defined by many positive words. Some of the positive words are: beautiful, delightful, pleasant, glad, precious, correct, excellent, lovely, convenient, joyful, fruitful, secure, kind, and righteous. What if someone who loved you wrote you a letter using these words to express what they thought about you?  How would you feel?  Remember, these words are what God thinks about you!  Take a few minutes and think of that fact. 

Answer the question, “What do you really think of yourself?”  Take some time with this question. Use your journal if you want. Ask the Spirit to search your heart and mind, so you can answer truthfully. Be specific.

Take some of the positive words from above that define the word “good”.  Describe how that word applies to your life with God.  (Examples: I am beautiful to God because He called me very good in Genesis 1.  I am convenient to God, not an inconvenience as my childhood family led me to believe.)

You are very good in God’s eyes and that is the truth!  Since you are very good in God’s eyes, how should you think of yourself? Use God’s Word to answer this question if you can.

Categories
Bible Study Knowing God

1 Timothy: Hold on to the Gospel

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to live in a different time in history. A think maybe a time when the world wasn’t so cynical, when tolerance wasn’t a religion, when success meant more than money and power, and when more people genuinely looked out for each other. But different times only would have come with a different set of challenges for Christians in the world.

Paul and Timothy had their own set of challenges for sure.

But instead of focusing on another time in history or some kind of easy way out, Paul focused on their assignment in the present.

They were men on a mission, and it was time to get serious.

1 Timothy 6:19-21 New International Version (NIV)

19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.

Grace be with you all.

Guard what has been entrusted to your care

When I read “ guard what has been entrusted to your care ,” I see a soldier or police officer who has just been given the order to guard a building or a person and is guarding it with his life as he walks with purpose watching and listening for any movement. Hopefully he is alone, but he is ever aware that there is someone who want to stop him from guarding this precious thing. Someone will get in his path, others will try to knock him down, and others will may try to sneak past. Each one wants to stop him from doing his job, guarding. That’s a picture of what our spiritual lives can feel like some days. But despite who or what comes against us, we hold on to our faith, we keep our eyes fixed on heaven, and we remember how precious the gospel is that we guard.

While studying 1 Timothy 6 this morning, I put the verses in bible gateway. I have been working on writing our vacation Bible school, and the version was set to International Children’s Bible. I LOVE the directness of Paul’s words to Timothy throughout this chapter in this translation:

1 Timothy 6:19-21 International Children’s Bible (ICB)

19 By doing that, they will be saving a treasure for themselves in heaven. That treasure will be a strong foundation. Their future life can be built on that treasure. Then they will be able to have the life that is true life.

20 Timothy, God has trusted you with many things. Keep those things safe. Stay away from people who say foolish things that are not from God. Stay away from those who argue against the truth. They use something they call “knowledge,” but it is really not knowledge. 21 They say that they have that “knowledge,” but they have left the true faith.

God’s grace be with you.

And so I have to ask.

Are you actively taking hold – seriously guarding with everything you’ve got – the life that is true life?

Or are you living on the defense, surrounded on all sides, believing the lies, and feeling like you might as well give up as the weight of the world closes in on you?

Get back in the game by drinking deeply of the gospel.

The gospel is where hope resides. It’s where our minds are guarded against the battles that rage all around us. The gospel lifts us out of the muck, sets us on course, and plants us firmly on solid ground. It gives us strength to get back up with more determination than ever because we are convinced that nothing can get in the way of sure victory.

If you guard the gospel, the world can’t take your joy.

If you guard the gospel, the world can’t sway your mind.

If you guard the gospel, the world can’t steal your focus.

If you guard the gospel, you can’t help but give it away…

Categories
Bible Study faith Knowing God

1 Timothy: Spiritual Fitness

Tonight we have exercise class at church. I really love the fellowship and fun with my church family, but my body absolutely dreads it.

I realize how important exercise is for my heart and my muscles. I know how necessary exercise is for effective body function. I know how crucial it is, and still…

I don’t like pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I don’t like stretching beyond my limits.  I don’t like being uncomfortable.

My battle for physical fitness wages on.

But I wonder how often you and I consider our spiritual fitness?

But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.  For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. – 1 Timothy 4:7-8  

Paul urges Timothy to exercise himself towards godliness because godliness is valuable for all areas of life, whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. Godliness strengthens us, not only for this life, but for eternity.

While there are many similarities between physical and spiritual fitness, physical fitness only leads to a physical outward transformation. But spiritual fitness leads to a divine inward transformation which also shines through in our outward speech, attitude, and behavior.

Every person has the exact same number of muscles. However, some have exercised to develop, stretch, and enhance those muscles. Romans 12:3 tells us that God has given every believer a measure of faith. Like our muscles, we are able to exercise, develop, and stretch our God-given gift of faith.  Even the smallest amount of faith is much in the hands of God!

Imagine God’s gym. God’s desire is to train us, strengthen us, and grow us to become more like Jesus. God uses everything in life, every circumstance and every relationship, as the gym equipment to make us fit.

Our fitness trainer is the Holy Spirit. He knows us inside out – our strengths, our weaknesses, and our potential. He knows exactly how much weight we are able to lift and carry. He knows exactly how much potential we have to endure. He knows exactly how much strength we need right now in order to face the trials ahead of us. He motivates us when we are lazy. He encourages us when we are weary.

Our fitness plan includes resistance training. God places us in uncomfortable circumstances that shift us out of our comfort zone in order to purge us of pride, arrogance, and self-reliance.

He also offers strength training, strategically weighing us with burdens that force us to stretch our faith and seek Him in confidence.

God puts us through endurance training – encouraging us to run our individual race at our own pace. We need endurance to keep standing and pressing forward in faith when times are hard.

With diligence, effort, and consistency, in His time, we are being transformed. With physical exercise, our desire is to look like a better us. With spiritual exercise, our desire is to become more like Him.  As we press forward, we gradually shed more and more of ourselves, while we gain more and more of Him.

Godliness does not come easily. It isn’t always comfortable. The path doesn’t always lead to instant gratification. It stretches us in areas we never expected. However, the reward for sacrificing everything for Jesus brings eternal joy and far outweighs the fleeting happiness of anything else this world offers.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:29-31

A believer’s greatest privilege is to present our bodies and our lives to God to be used by Him. The key to victory is to simply surrender all that we are and all that we are not to God.

I despise exercise, but I love the Lord. So each day, I choose to surrender all my ‘can’ts’ and ‘won’ts’ to Him. In exchange, He lovingly equips me with new mercy, unlimited power, and increasing strength to remain in His will.

Our battle for spiritual fitness wages on.

In what circumstance is God exercising your faith? How can we pray for you as you passionately pursue godliness?