Quick Review:

God desires relationship with us, with me. This I know, but God takes us deeper into the knowledge of Him and His ways, here a little, there a little. Before continuing to the next thought, let’s review our conclusions thus far.

I shared last week that God spoke softly to my heart, “Know Me. I am seeking your face.” That set me to discovering more deliberately what it means in Scripture when God tells us to seek His face, and how that might help us to understand more fully His seeking after our face.

Thus far we have discerned together that we are blessed by God’s presence when we devote ourselves to Him, surrendering our all to His will and way. And that He is blessed by us when we do so. Because He desires a relationship with those He created for the purpose of relationship, He seeks after us with the fiery hot desire of a devotion to us that we cannot fully fathom. That devotion is proven through the fact that He so desires a relationship with us that He gave His Son as propitiation—full payment for sin, providing us a way into this relationship He desires with us.

Through every act of love, desiring relationship with us, God is setting an example for our seeking after Him with all our personality—all our being, everything that makes us who we are. He sets the example always, doing first that which He calls us to in relationship; so our next conclusion is that God desires us wholeheartedly, with everything He is.

That leads to longing for us. When we fall short of seeking His face, He longs after us, like the father of the prodigal son. He stands at the ready, eyes open, watching for our return; ears attentively listening for any sound of our feet on that straight and narrow path back to Him.

Then we found that seeking a face to face requires presence; and not just being in the same room, but giving full focus and attention to our relationship, seeking to please God fully. Any relationship will die on the vine if not tended to and given the proper care needed for it to live and function properly. So we must give God our full attention if we desire to know Him. Consequently we can know that He is there for us fully, ready to give us His complete attention, being always in our presence.

Beginning tomorrow, we will press forward this week through two or three more sessions, bringing this course of study to a conclusion.

PRESENCE

“You have said, Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word]. Do not hide Your face from me….” (Psalm 27:8-9a, AMP)

Have you ever tried to talk with someone who is fidgety: constantly moving, eyes wondering, seldom looking you in the eye? How does that make you feel?

I used to do that. I remember standing outside church once, talking with a friend and ministry partner. I was listening—for the most part. But I really focused in on him when he suddenly reached out and grabbed me by the shoulders, stopping my constant sway. Since then I have made a concerted effort to be sure that I look a person in the eye, and I stop my own fidget when I realize it.

It is difficult to visit with someone when they are constantly moving, their focus being stolen by every passer-by. And I have learned that those who habitually avoid eye contact often have issues that hinder their ability to have close relationships: not the least of which is extreme lack of confidence, often from being beaten down in this life.

And then there are those of us who are just so busy that they have no time for relationships? These issues often translate into our inability to truly and fully meet with God.

Note in this focal passage the instruction for our seeking God’s face, “inquire for, require My PRESENCE as your vital need.” We should so desire to have God’s presence and attention, that if we feel He is not listening, we will reach for His shoulders to get his attention and acquire His presence.

But God is not like us. He is all present and all knowing and all sufficient. He does not sway or fidget, nor is He flighty (James 1:17; Hebrews 1:10-12; 4:13). God’s “PRESENCE” waits for us, longing for our full attention so we can commune together in truth. Crying out for us to open up to Him so we can commune together on the deeper issues of life. He longs for us to require His presence as our body needs breath for life: To long to sit with Him, walk with Him, know Him.

“I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your holy one to undergo decay.  You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.”  Acts 2:25-28

Just as God wants us to long for His presence, seeking after Him, so He longs for our presence. He is ready to give each of us His undivided attention.

Look at this passage in Acts. See what it says.

God is ALWAYS in our presence, ready to help us, available to commune together over our situations as we face them, able to help us choose right paths. But what else does it say? “I SAW the Lord always in my presence….” It is a practice of faith. We must believe, as David did, that He is, that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him, and that He is present with us (Hebrews 11:6).

Through David’s testimonial we learn that He stands at our RIGHT HAND. That is the place of protection, ready to fight for us. Thus there is no need for us to be shaken by the issues of this life, knowing that our God is a consuming fire, a valiant warrior, and He stands beside us to come to our aid and protect us. No matter the difficulty of life, we have hope because of the PRESENCE of our God.

“You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your holy one to undergo decay.” God does not always protect us from every difficulty. Jesus warned that there will be trouble in this life. It is inevitable. But we have the promise that anything God allows has good purpose and will work for our good and His glory (Romans 8). We have the assurance that He will comfort and help us, then He will use us to walk with others in their situations to give them the comfort we received (2 Corinthians 1). And as I think on the fact that He will not allow us to come to decay, I realize that He will protect from any difficulty or trouble bringing us to destruction as we trust ourselves in Him. Though our flesh may die, to sin or even physically, as a result of our trouble in this life, the outcome will always be that of greater intimacy with God, in this life or the next.

Our God stands beside us, ready and waiting to make known to us the ways of life—life more abundant and full. Walking with Him, He will make us full of gladness in His presence.

He waits at the ready. Will you enter into the rest of your God through the practice of His presence and be blessed (Hebrews 3-4: focal verses 3:12, 19, 4:1-14)?

Eyes Open; Ears Attentive

“Now, O my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and Your ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place” (2 Chronicles 6:36-40).

 There are many passages in Scripture that call us to wait upon and watch for God in our life situations. One of my favorite passages that keep me mindful to watch for God in my day to day, moment by moment times, is King David’s words quoted in Acts 2:25-28. It is my constant goal and hope.

“I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your holy one to undergo decay.  You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.”

In Solomon’s prayer covered yesterday, Solomon prays for God’s eyes to be open and His ears attentive to our prayers. Just as He graciously answered the rest of Solomon’s request as found in 2 Chronicles 7:14, He also responds to this part of the prayer in 7:15, “Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.” When we follow the directions given in verse 14, we have the assurance of verse 15. But what about when we fall short of the goal in verse 14? God’s grace is always available for our return to Him.

I believe that God watches and waits for us, seeking our face with eyes open for our coming and ears listening with hope for the sound of our presence. As I envision that picture, I see the Father in Jesus’ story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).

Too often we let our own sin and failure hold us back from God. Satan knows this, and uses our weaknesses and failures against us, leading us to such a sense of guilt that we enter into the condemnation that God tells us we do not have in Christ (Romans 8:1). Satan knows that if he can get us into a spirit of condemnation, he can hinder our ability to commune with and have relationship with God.

Scripture mentions that there is a sin that leads to death (1 John 5:10-21). Now many, myself included, believe this passage teaches that there is sin of many types that can lead Christians, saved by grace, to an-earlier-than-God-desired physical death; sins where we simply will not repent, keep falling to, in which our witness is hurt and our ability to be His light in the earth is dulled. But I also recognize that there is one sin that God cannot forgive, leading to eternal separation from Him. This is the sin I believe this passage teaches us we cannot pray over for another and it be answered apart from their own prayer for deliverance.

I believe that sin we cannot pray for in the place of another’s own prayer is revealed to us through one specific teaching. The only name given in scripture by which we must be saved is “Jesus”, and that requires the recipient to recognize and receive within self the gift of God found in the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ, on the cross through which He bore all sin. Paying the full price required that we may be saved, all sin is covered by Christ and that saving grace is ready as a gift to be received. Once truly coming under His cover of grace and His Lordship, the proof or our salvation is “in the pudding,” as they say. Lives change when God through Christ truly has our lives, and we will, day by day, little by little, become more like Christ, who came to save those who believe and show us the way of God (Acts 4:12; Romans 10, focal: vs. 9; 1 John 1:1-2:6, focal: vs. 2:1-2).

Now we can pray for people to be open to receiving this gift of grace for themselves, but we cannot accept the gift on their behalf. It can only be received by those who confess with their own mouths Jesus as Lord, and who believe with their own hearts this teaching about Christ’s death as sacrifice and His resurrection as the first fruits of new life to be received by all who accept the gift.

God the Father, desiring us with all that He is, so longed for a relationship with the people of His own heart that He provided through His Son an atoning sacrifice—the final sacrifice ever needed for sin. For all who enter the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, there is no sin so deep, no failure so disastrous that it can keep us from finding God waiting eagerly to receive us. The Father waits eagerly for our renewed and ever deepening companionship, with a robe of righteousness at the ready for our sin-drooped shoulders, and the feast of the Lamb on the banquet table, set and ready to welcome us home.

Heart and Soul

Yesterday we concluded that God designed us for blessing—Him, blessing our lives, and us, blessing His. We also found that God is devoted to us, seeking our face as His vital necessity. Hard to fathom, isn’t it; that our God would choose to need us in His life? Before pressing to the next “Seek My face” passage, the scripture covered yesterday in 2 Chronicles 7:14 led me to a prayer prayed by Solomon in 6:36-40, as they dedicated the temple to God for His use. In it, I find another “seek My face” principle.

“When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to a land far off or near, if they take thought in the land where they are taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have committed iniquity and have acted wickedly’; if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have been taken captive, and pray toward their land which You have given to their fathers and the city which You have chosen, and toward the house which I have built for Your name, then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, their prayer and supplications, and maintain their cause and forgive Your people who have sinned against You. Now, O my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and Your ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place” (2 Chronicles 6:36-40).

Realizing as I read this passage that God’s call in 2 Chronicles 7:14, following the instruction of which places us in a position of blessing, is answer to Solomon’s prayer; I note the requirement for that blessing to come to us being our return to God – “with all their heart and with all their soul.” We are to be wholehearted toward God, giving our all to the relationship.

There is a portion of scripture that I meditate upon often which deepens our understanding here: “For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus—the leaning of your ENTIRE human PERSONALITY on Him in ABSOLUTE trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness” (Colossians 1:4, AMP). Our entire human personality—all that descriptively reveals our essence as a person, rested fully and absolutely with utmost confidence in Him.

You realize, right, that God never does anything half heartedly? That means that His devotion toward us has the full force of His entire being behind it. He seeks our face with all that is within Himself, longing for us from the depths of His being. What a great longing that must be, as our God is incomprehensible to our finite thought and understanding; and what better proof of His wholehearted pursuit of us than Jesus Christ?

“But,” you may say, “He can’t lean on us like we lean on Him.” O, beloved, I believe that He has provided a way for Him to be able to lean on, rely on, be confident in us in this relationship.

“Such confidence we have through Christ toward God.  Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  (2 Corinthians 3:4-6)

God provides His Spirit to dwell within, making us all we need to be for vital relationship with Himself, and when He looks at us, He sees His completed work in the power of that Spirit and leans Himself on His own Spirit at work in us.

Other proofs of His ability to be confident in us: Scripture teaches that He is able to make His servant stand strong and firm (Romans 14:4). And the Father jealously desires this Spirit in us to prevail, working in us a drawing to Himself that He can respond to in like kind (James 4:1-10).

All that God is longs for us, desiring you and desiring me with a longing we cannot begin to fathom. No matter how close we get to touching His face in fellowship this side of eternity, we will never know the depths of His desire for us in this life. Stand in awe! And get ready, for tomorrow we will press forward to try to understand still more

God: Devoted to His Image Bearers

Going online to that trusty BibleGateway.com site, I type in my search: “seek My face.” Taking the results in the order God gives it to me, the first passage I see is 2 Chronicles 7:14.

“If…My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Drawn to the footnote, I read, “This well-known verse states God’s requirements for blessing: humility, prayer, devotion, and repentance.”

Wow. I see a couple of cool applications here.

When we seek God’s face in right ways, with humility of heart, praying in earnest, devoted to Him and repentant of sin, we enter the blessing of God. How awesome is that.

Now reverse that thought. When we are humble before God, seeking Him through unceasing communion of prayer, totally devoted to Him, desiring His ways above our own, we bless the heart of God. God created us not only so that He can bless our lives with His presence, but so He can have the blessing of our presence in His life! “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me; bless His Holy Name!”

Did you note the word used in the footnote for “seek My face”? DEVOTION.

God said to my heart, “Know Me. I am seeking your face.” If seeking His face comes from a heart of devotion, reversing the picture to His seeking our face reveals that God is devoted to His children. Devotion, according to Webster, is “the fact or state of being ARDENTLY dedicated and loyal to.”

Ardent: “Fiery hot, shining, glowing. Characterized by warmth of feeling typically expressed in eager, zealous support and activity.” Our God is ardently dedicated and loyal to us. The Amplified translation of this verse adds to our understanding:

“If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer offered in this place.” (vs. 14-15 AMP)

Could it be true that God is devoted to us, seeking for, craving after, and requiring our face as His own necessary need for life made full? I believe so, as God chooses to love us because He is love, and love needs a place to go (1 John 4:7-8). God chooses that place to be the heart of His image bearers: the men, women and children for whom He—in the body of His Son—died with the purpose of providing for us this relationship with Him.

What an awesome beginning to my journey, as I continue my study to know and understand fully that God, whom I am called to come into intimate knowledge of, is seeking “MY” face.

“Know Me. I am seeking your face”

These are the words that came as I bowed in prayer, preparing to seek my God. Praising Him, I sense that I am to be still and be quiet. Listening with anticipation, these words come sweetly to my conscious mind, “Know Me. I am seeking your face.” My heart leapt with awe and wonder. God is seeking MY face!

I know that God desires an intimate and vital relationship with us. I know that my call to resolve for this year of focus in the Spirit is for the roots of my life to grow ever deeper into Him. With these things in mind, I am excited to understand more fully what God is saying to me. What exactly does He mean: “I (the God of the universe and creator of all things) am seeking your face (Little ol’ insignificant me who too often falls short of His glory)?”

Drawn to search for the scriptures that tell us to seek His face, desiring to refresh my understanding of that terminology and its significance, I discern that in the true meaning of my need to seek His face, I will understand what He means in saying that He is seeking my face. Thus begins several blogs that will be linked in below, showing my journey into the greater depths of God-Love, this God who seeks “my” face (1 John 4:7-8).

Index (beginning tomorrow, each title below and those yet to be added will be linked in as I upload the next session from now to the conclusion of my study. May God bless us to know Him more):

God: Devoted to His Image Bearers 

Heart and Soul

Eyes Open; Ears Attentive

Presence 

Quick Review

 – Without Ceasing 

That You May Live

The Cure for Anxiety

 “More than food” came to heart as I was in prayer this morning. Looking it up on BibleGateway.com—actually in context to desire for God—I found the following thought for us who struggle with anxiety issues.

“[ The Cure for Anxiety ] ‘For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?’” (Matthew 6:25)

Anxieties is a symptom of worry; and, let’s face it, worry is sin. Worry is sin because it proves lack of faith to trust God and take Him at His word.

Worry 1: God told us that He knows the number of our days; they are set in stone apart from our sin making our days fall short of God’s count. So why fear the things in life that may kill us. As I say to people who fear flying, “If God has ordained death by plane and we won’t get onboard, He can land it on us.” Likewise, if that is not our lot, why fear what will not kill us.

Worry 2: God promises to always be with us, to help us and protect us. He promises to provide for us, including providing opportunity for growth in faith and for imparting that faith to others. Yet we lock ourselves in our houses, refusing to go where God would have us go for His use and glory, being self-protective—which is pride’s false believe that we CAN protect self, or anything else for that matter.

Worry 3: God promises those who seek Him wholeheartedly and desire Him above all, that He will give them favor with man, and He does so in order that He can use us to reach others and to glorify His name in the earth. Seeing the look on their face, refusing to trust that God will give us favor with them, we fear man.

Failing to see that favor with God gives us favor with man that is beyond comprehension, we wallow in self-pity and self-preoccupation, often accusing others from our hearts with thought of what we think they think of us. In actuality, if we are honest with ourselves and God, the thoughts we fear others think of us, the things we fear they see, most often reveal our opinion of self; thoughts often ingrained in us by others who are likewise self-preoccupied, putting their insecurities and false identity, fears and faithless anxieties off on “me”.

On we could go. Worry, fear, anxiety. They are all linked together. We cannot have one without the other, and all are based in the sin of unbelief, an inability to trust God. Such struggle is all too often the result of an issue in life commonly known as the generational curse: the sins of the forefathers that open doors and provide loopholes to God’s enemy for plaguing the heart of the next generation. And yes, some struggles with such are due to faulty body chemistry that needs medication to correct, but more than not, our struggle causes the foul up in body chemistry.

Here is the procession I see and believe to be true with regard to such sickness of our flesh: we can cause our body chemistry to foul up with constant thoughts of worry and fretting.

Constant fretting causes a stress in the body that keeps the fight or flight chemicals churning. After awhile, just as happens when a person repeatedly eats so many sweets that the insulin systems of the body breakdown, we breakdown our body’s ability to cope with stress, causing us to require medications to help our body function properly.

Now you take a child who is raised under the influence of parents who walk in constant fear and anguish, and that child will grow to have messed up coping skills and a messed up body chemistry to boot. Continue that practice generation after generation and I believe we create through our sin the breakdown of the genome, planting within the very seed of man the tendency to give self to worry and fretting, and the flawed gene that makes our descendents more prone to the chemical imbalances of body that hinder one’s ability to cope.

There we have it, the next generation, set on course of a destructive force that rivals our own.

Ah ha! But then there is HOPE. With the help of our God, reverse the process. Deny the tendency to fret and worry and choose faith despite the spillage of chemicals begging us to cave under the strain. Deny our fears and step out with faith. Make it a habit, and the body will begin to heal. Though “I” may always need meds to help “me” on “my” way, the dosage can be lessened with perseverance in choosing to think with right thought. And as we train up the child in the way they should go, that gene pool can be transformed back to God’s design, bringing healing and freedom to future generations.

Most of us who struggle so can look back and see ourselves in our parents, and if we are not diligent to the task, we will look forward and see the same struggle in our children’s children. The only way to break generational issues is to learn the truth and walk in the victory of God’s deliverance from sin, while at the same time training the next generations in how to stand firm in faith and be overcomers. We open the door for their temptation when we give self to our sin. As we become victors in the battle, we can be used of God to train them in how to stand, firm in faith, when their temptation comes.

This is our task. This is our journey. This is the call of God on us: that we walk free from such faithless lives and self-preoccupations as is causing us worry, fear, and anxiety.

~~**~~

 NOTE: I oversee a support group on FaceBook for Christian Women who are dealing with depression, anxiety, and grief disorders. This article was written for them, but I know there are many who struggle with such, so I am posting here as well in hope of encouraging others to deal with these issues. There is help and there is hope to overcome.

          Our FaceBook support group is new, only 3 strong right now, but God is doing a mighty work among us. We are private, so we don’t show on the boards, but there is room for a few more. If you need a place to heal, contact me for details.

Silencing the Tempter

“…“MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.”…” (Read Matthew 4:1-11).

I have heard many use Matthew 4:1-11 to teach how Jesus used the word to counter Satanic lie and attack, and so should we. Yes, Jesus shows us here how we can perfectly counter every Satanic banter. Beyond that, what can we learn from this passage about stilling the false voice of evil? Here is what I see this morning as I read this passage anew.

One (4:3-4): yes, Jesus portrayed knowledge of the word of God well and used it to counter the false in verse three. We too must have this same working knowledge of God’s word if we are to counter the false. That requires that we be in the word regularly as God commands. And what does that command say (see Deuteronomy 6:7-8; 11:18-19)?

     Write it on our hands—that is to have it readily available for our eyes to see and vitally established in our lives so as to effect the things we do in life and come to our minds readily when in need.

     Writing it on our foreheads or frontals—the parts of the brain responsible for short term memory where we rehearse a verse or a truth of God until it moves from there to the permanent memory stores of the brain. There it can affect our decisions and actions, our way of life, our personalities, our belief systems, and our way of thinking about our God, ourselves, and others.

     It also says to talk about it when we sit up, lie down and go about our day—the word of God is active and effective, applicable to our daily lives and should color our decisions and direction. Talking about it with one another and especially with our children helps us to perceive and understand how to apply God’s word to the circumstances we live. It also equips us to help others see the right path before them in any struggle they may face, accurately applying God’s word to it. So yes, knowledge of God’s word is vital in countering falsehood and in avoiding the snares of the evil one. However, in this encounter with Jesus we see…

Two (4:5-7): Satan knows how to lie. He knows that the best lie is coupled with enough truth to be believable, and he, too, knows the truth of God, using it against us. After all, he once walked with God. So it is vital, as Jesus reveals in His counter to Satan in verse 7, that we not only know the Word, but we know the God. Jesus knew God and His promises to and about Himself, and He knew Him well enough to know that He did not need for the Father to prove anything to Him. He trusted God because of His intimate relationship with Him.

     Scripture teaches we can know His voice, discerning His speaking to us from the stranger, and so we follow Him. It teaches that we can have the Spirit and heart of God and the mind of Christ, discerning His ways from the false, so we are not deceived by the stranger. That also requires that we have an intimate relationship with God, more so than any other, so that the stranger’s voice is truly strange to us. Also God promises that His Spirit teaches us how to respond, just as Jesus did. Intimacy with God protects us from believing the lie and being tricked into putting God to the test.

     (See John 10; 1 Corinthians 2:16; John 14-16 – teachings on the Holy Spirit’s work; Acts 13:22; Romans 2:29; 6:17; 10:8-11; Ephesians 6:5-6; Colossians 3:12-17; and so many more that point to like heart with God being required of the believer)

Three: Jesus, having enough, stands on His authority and commands the enemy to leave. He did not continue to deal with Satan, but told him to leave and He did so by pointing out His relationship with and commitment to God alone. In the New Testament teachings, not only does Jesus promise that His authority goes with His Spirit to help those who stand for Him, but we are called His ambassadors, having authority to rightly represent Him in the earth. I believe that when we come to this point and take our stand as Jesus did, that God the Father steps in.

     Have you seen the movie Lion King? Remember the part when the little lion son is acting big, trying to send the hyenas away. Of course, he is way to small for his enemy while standing alone, just as we are. But then Daddy comes up behind him and just smiles at the enemy, as if to say, “If you don’t see his authority, you better see mine.” That is what I see in my mind when we stand on the authority God gives us. Our Daddy God comes up behind us and the enemy flees.

 What an awesome God we have. He cared enough to send His Son, not only to pay the full price as the final sacrifice for sin, but first He came to live a life that sets the example we can follow in living victorious on the earth.

     “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2). 

Darlene Davis © 3/28/11

God Planted Two Trees

God So Loved The World That He

PLANTED TWO TREES IN THE EARTH

Darlene Davis ©

“Which love is the greater one we can receive: that which is forced upon us or that which we give by free-will choice?”  This is the question I found myself asking people over and over during a mission project.  Without exception the answer was always the same, “That which is freely given by choice.”  So why did I ask that question?  Because I had a message to share.

New Revelation:

Some time ago, while reading Genesis one, I noticed something I never noticed before and it solidified my understanding of Christ and Him crucified.  Reading through Genesis one, I began underlining every instance in which God looked with approval on His work.  At the end of each day’s work, scripture records that God surveyed all He did that day and He “saw that it was good.”  All, that is, except for one day.

As I marked each occurrence, it suddenly dawned on me that God proclaimed the work in each day “good” except for that of day two.  Looking back at day two, I asked, “Lord, why did You proclaim each day’s work good except for that one.”

Reviewing the passage, “Then God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.  God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so.  God called the expanse heaven.  And there was evening and there was morning, a second day” (:6-8).

Meditating on that in light of my question, I recognize that water is water.  Whether it is in the form of mist, steam, ice or liquid, it is all H2O.  All water is alike.

My thoughts turned to verse 26 of Genesis 1, where, when God created humans, He said, “Let Us make man (humankind) in Our image, according to Our likeness….male and female, created He them.”  Throughout scripture we find that God desires an intimate relationship with the people of His creation, people He created to be like Himself.

Thinking on these things, I looked back to creation-day one.  There God calls only the light good.  I realized that God did not say that the expanse separating the like waters was good because of sadness.  God knew from day one that the darkness of sin would enter the world to separate Him from the beings He created for the purpose of relationship.

So I asked God, “All of this being true, Lord, why did You put that tree in the midst of the Garden?”

With that question, understanding flooded my soul, and I personally realized for the first time something I’d heard many times but had never seen it in scripture myself until that instant.  Jesus was never plan B, He was always plan A.

Deeper Understanding:

The first tree

We are told in 1 John that God is love.  That is His very nature.  Love is useless without someone on which to pour out that love.  And a love not returned is sad.  The thing I have come to understand is that God placed that tree in the center of the Garden with a command to not eat of it, not to be mean, but to set in place the plans leading to the fulfillment of His ultimate purpose: creating living beings like Himself who love Him by choice as He loves them.

Now, we are also told in the book of James that God does not tempt us to evil.  That being true, why would He place that tree there where Satan could use it to tempt His loved ones away?

I believe His purpose in placing that tree in the midst of His people where it could be used by Satan was to give His loved ones a choice.  Remember, a love by choice is always better than that which is by force. Deuteronomy records that our choice is life or death, good or evil, the blessing or the curse.  As I think on this, I understand that there is one other thing that Deuteronomy passage does not specify, but that is ours to choose nonetheless: to love, believe and trust God—or not.

In 1 Corinthians 13 we are told that love trusts; that love always thinks and hopes the best of the one loved; and that love never fails.  To choose to love God is to choose to trust Him, to believe in and have hope in the fact that His motives and purpose is always right, true and good—for our good, to give us a hope and a future.  This is the choice God provided for Adam and Eve: to choose for themselves whether to love, believe and trust Him wholeheartedly and above all else.

But get this: God is all knowing and He knew that Adam and Eave would fail to choose life, good, blessing, love, yet He still chose to plant that tree.   Why?

I believe it is because not only did God know that they would fail, He knew that they MUST fail.  Why?  Because God was not just building a home where He could live with Adam and Eve.  God is building a Kingdom of many people, descendants of creation with whom He desires to live in love and harmony.  All who enter in must have chosen to be there out of a personal love relationship with the Creator.

So we see that the tree in the Garden of Eden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, continues in the heart of mankind, giving a choice.  That garden failure is followed by thousands of years: God allowing each human born to choose to love or not, and in the process, letting mankind learn that we cannot be good enough to please Him in our own strength and that it takes a lot of perfect sheep being sacrificed daily to cover our own sin.

The second tree

After allowing plenty of time to pass in setting a precedent revealing our lost-ness and inability to save ourselves, God planted a second tree, the tree of Calvary on which hung the Perfect Lamb of God.  God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him and chooses Him can have eternity with God.

You see, true death, the death that God speaks of when He tells Adam and Eve, “In the day you eat of it, you will surely die;” that death is the eternal separation from a loving God who longs to have an intimate relationship with us.  That death began for all mankind the day Adam and Eve chose to hate God through disbelief and lack of trust.

But there is another eternity available to us.  That is to see the tree of Calvary, and choose life!  This is to choose to love God by believing all He says to be true about Jesus.  It is to choose to rely on, trust in, and lean on the Christ of the cross of Calvary; trusting and being confident in the fact that through Him we have eternal life with God renewed.  But get this: as God sets this tree before us, He says, “Come and eat of its fruit.” The fruit of the cross of Calvary is life eternal with God in Christ; it is cleansing from all sin; it is power to become one with the tree, bearing the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Through this vital relationship with God found in Jesus Christ, we are reborn spiritually and set in right standing with God again.  The separation is bridged, the gap closed by Christ.  Never again can we be eternally separated from God by sins grip.  Once we sincerely and fully choose Jesus as our hope of salving grace, never again will we die the death brought into existence by Adam and Eve’s failure to choose life – and love.

The Proof?  The Wisdom of God Revealed

How do I know that this was God’s plan all along?  THE PROOF BEGINS by looking at the end of creation week.  At the end of the week we are told that God “saw ALL that He had made, and behold, it was very good”: ALL includes the expanse—the time of separation that gave mankind a choice.

Scripture tells of the wise builder does not begin to build without first making sure he has all he needs to finish the work begun.  It tells of the wise king does not go to war without first figuring if he has sufficient resources to win the war.  God is wisdom.  He counted up all He needed to build for Himself a Kingdom of people with whom He can have an intimate love relationship.  He saw the war that was necessary to secure that Kingdom.  And He paid the price by deliberately and strategically planting two trees so we could have a choice—to love and live with Him—or not.

Both of these trees call us to the same choice that Joshua set before Israel, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.”  Scripture tells us that today is the day of salvation.  Why is it important to choose today?  Because we have no guarantee of a tomorrow.

In Tanzania, not long before writing this, a team of believers shared Christ with a Tanzanian man, who joyously and sincerely prayed to receive the gift of Jesus on Monday.  On Tuesday, they ran up a hill in response to the screams of a woman, and they watched that man’s earthly life fade away.  On Wednesday they rejoiced with Christian brethren there, knowing that they will see this man again in the eternal Kingdom of God, and they shared Christ with over a hundred of his friends and family. We never know when our last breath will come, and the opportunity to choose will be behind us. “Choose today Whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve The Lord” ~ Joshua 24:15.

Gift To Receive

God holds Jesus out as a gift.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

In John 6:51 Jesus said of Himself, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”  Jesus gave His life for the whole world.  All of sin—the sins of an entire world is paid for in Christ.  Now He is a gift, held out by the hand of God for all who will believe to take and have for all eternity.  But a gift remains the property of the giver until the one it is offered to chooses to reach out and take it for his own.

Choose you this day.  Today we have two trees to choose from.  Will we continue in the way of Adam and Eve, choosing the tree of the knowledge (intimacy with) the good and evil of this world, struggling in our flesh to find significance and to reach the god called “desire”?  Or will we choose the tree of Calvary on which a sacrifice of love was made, giving opportunity to enter into an eternal love relationship of intimacy with the only true God and Father who gave His Son so that we might know Him intimately for all eternity?

How?

How does one reach out and receive the gift?  It starts by acknowledging the truth that God spent eons revealing: that all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23); that we are incapable of earning our way to heaven because of our tendency to fall to sin’s ways, thus we need the provision of God to give us that way.

With true and sincere repentance, desiring to turn from sin to walk in righteousness with God, we must believe and acknowledge that Jesus died as a perfect sacrifice for our sin, and that God raised Him to life again, the propitiation—full price required to pay for our sin, and that He has seated Him at His right side on the throne of glory as Lord and King of His eternal Kingdom.  Then we must acknowledge that only Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, just as He proclaimed—that no man can come to the Father but by Him (John 14:6).  Once we acknowledge these facts, then we can reach out by faith and ask God to place the gift of Jesus into our hearts, giving us the eternal life He died to provide, and giving us power over our own sin, equipping us to follow in Jesus’ example, making Him Lord of our lives.

Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as LORD, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

“Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you–not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience–through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him” (1 Peter 3:21-22, NASB).

Go to someone you know is a believer who has chosen Love of God through Christ and tell them of your decision.  They can help you know what to do next.

Assurance

Verse 11 of Romans 10 promises, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”  You can have assurance of eternity with Christ.  It is promised to those who believe.  God is big!  Nothing is to great for Him and all things are within the realm of His possibilities. He is trustworthy.  You can take Him at His word.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (The words of Jesus in John 5:24).

WHAT NOW? 

Spiritual growth is a result of true salvation: seek to grow in the Lord through prayer and Bible study.  God gives His Holy Spirit to teach and instruct our hearts.  He gives us His God inspired word, to instruct us in righteousness.  He gives us each other, the family of God and Church of the Living God, that we may encourage one another in this life, helping one another to spiritual growth and to a stable commitment of faith.   

Seek spiritual growth

Through Prayer

Prayer is simply talking to God as one friend talks with another.  You may feel awkward at the first, but believe that He is listening and that His Spirit will instruct you as promised, and He will do it.

Jesus, in John 10, tells how His sheep—his followers—hear His voice and they follow Him, and a strangers voice they simply will not follow.  That is a promise we can walk in. We can call to Him in faith, trusting Him, in the power of His Spirit, to make us aware of His truths and His directions, and to keep us from following falsehood.  I can tell you from personal experience that God is faithful to His promises, this one included.

Though not many have heard His audible voice, He promises to reveal Himself to the true seeker, those who search for Him wholeheartedly. He will impress His truths upon your heart, confirm them through His word and the encouragement of fellow believers, and with time, you will recognize His presence “speaking” into your life, causing you to know and recognize Him as you commune together through prayer.   

Through Bible study

Grow in the knowledge of His Word: Jesus promises that when we become His, He sends His Holy Spirit to teach and instruct us, to empower us to live righteous lives that honor Him, to grow and mature us and do a work of transformation in us.  This work is greatly aided as we trust God’s Spirit to bring understanding of Scripture and as we read His word daily, allowing Him to instruct and direct us through its teachings.

The best way to grow in knowledge of God’s word is to read through His word.  It is recommended to begin reading in John following this pattern.

  • Read John through Revelation
  • Read Matthew, skip to Acts, and read through Revelation
  • Read Mark, skip to Acts, and read through Revelation
  • Read Luke, skip to Acts, and read through Revelation
  • Read John through Revelation again
  • After reading the New Testament through 5 times in this fashion, then go to Genesis and read from the beginning to the end.  Once you have done that, start the process again.

This allows the reader to know the New Testament more fully before reading the Old Testament, which enables us to see the correlation of the two and how God was working a plan.  Plus it protects from discouragement: for the Old Testament believers were under Law, which was hard.  God’s discipline is more readily seen in the Old Testament than is His grace.

We are under the grace revealed in the New Testament, though we can still fall under the disciplining hand of God, who disciplines us in love as a Father disciplines a son.  God’s discipline in our lives, teaching us right from wrong, according to New Testament teaching, is a sign that we are a child of God.

A thorough study of the New Testament helps us to get a firm grasp on God’s grace in Jesus and the love that is coupled with His discipline before we face His disciplinarian characteristics expressed in the Old Testament.   It is much easier to understand and face the disciplinarian characteristics of a Father once we are assured of His unconditional and incorruptible love and grace. And, as I am finding, we more readily realize the grace and love that was coming to the world in the discipline sent during pre-Christ days when we understand the ways of God found in Christ.

Through fellowship of the believers

Another vital need in growing spiritually is to get involved in a true Bible teaching church.  Find someone you know believes these things about Jesus, and find out where they go to church.  Start there in your search of the place God would have you make your church home and family.  Get involved in Sunday School class and Bible study groups as often as possible.  There you can not only learn scripture, but the things going on in Bible days that help us to understand the scriptures.  And it is in church, among fellow believers, that deep, abiding relationships and ministry begin.

Which brings us to another important reason for getting involved in church, and especially the small group settings provided there: we need fellowship/family.  God created us for Himself, for a people with whom He can have a relationship.  Inherent in that is the fact that God created us to need companionship—thus we need each other.  The company we keep truly does make a difference in the character we exhibit.  We need each other, and if we have been involved with people who live lives in clear opposition to God, it is important to begin today to distance ourselves from those associations and develop relationships with people who have characteristics that will influence us for good: people who understand God and His ways and who work daily to emulate Jesus.

Through focused learning about God

Apostle Paul is recorded in the Amplified version of scripture to have said, “For my determined purpose is that I may know Him…” (Philippians 3:10).  God not only created us to need companionship, but He placed in us a space to be filled with companionship that can only be filled by Him.  Thus we are back again to the need to grow in our prayer life.  Through prayer, intimate communion with God, we grow to know Him, and He is faithful to fill that empty place within us.  The Amplified Bible continues Philippians 3:10, explaining that the knowledge of God we seek is progressive, here a little, there a little, as we grow to perceive, recognize, and understand God more strongly and in ever deepening intimacy.  Only with God possessing His rightful place as our companion can we experience the deep, true peace and rest of wholeness that all the world is looking to find.

Blessing Promised

I pray God’s BLESSings for you as you seek to grow in your relationship with Him.  I pray the Lord BLESS you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.  Numbers 6:27 promises that, with this prayer of BLESSing, we invoke God’s name on those we give it to, and He will BLESS them.

Let it be as You have said, O Lord. Amen!

Seeking Holy Habitation, seated at God's feet (Exodus 15:13).