Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”‭‭

Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬ ‭NLT‬‬

  

  

Colossians 1:15-17

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.”‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:15-17‬ ‭NLT‬‬ 

 

Experiencing God

For me, knowing God, knowing He is who He says He is, knowing I’m one of His children is both easy and complex. I can show you the Scriptures, written over a period of several thousand years, that say what I know. I can tell you how long before any “religion” exisisted He was and how before “religions” that claim to be the oldest in existence are merely models of the Law God gave (first only one, to Adam, then more to Moses). I call tell you all of this but I can’t truly express what I know and feel inside of me. I can’t fully explain how it feels to know the Holy Spirit has touched you, that the Creator of everything that was, is, and will be answers my pleas to Him, the joy and peace inside me I have knowing I have been made new, born again of water and the Spirit. No, if you haven’t experienced it, I can’t fully express it to you. But I know and feel it deeply, passionately, intimately. 

A poem I wrote, in the style of tanka, for a writing challenge, prompted this thought line, which I share here:

In the beginning 
God created everything 
We see, feel, hear, know

Now I’m reconciled to God
Through His only begotten

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
John 1:1-3

“Jesus answered, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
John 3:5

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 2:4-7


Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

 

Open the newspaper, turn on the television news, click onto any of the hundreds of news websites and you will see it: bad things happen to good people every day. We see reports of natural disasters taking the lives of tens, hundreds, even thousands. We read of people dying at the hands of terrorists and man men, almost on a weekly basis it seems these days. Then there are the tragic stories of folks dying in freak accidents, the fault of no one or no thing, such as the case of the couple who recently had such a tragic accident on their motorcycle. Frequently these incidents lead us to wonder why bad things happen to good people.

The answer is not usually an easy, clear-cut one; many times we are left with no real satisfying answer to the question. But often we wonder why God let these things happen and even blame Him for these things. For some, perhaps many, folks the reasoning goes something like this:

  • The world is filled with suffering and evil
  • God created the world
  • Therefore God is to blame

While the first two points are unquestionably true, the final point, the conclusion, is a far cry from the correct answer. The truth is, and we rarely want to hear this truth, that we, human beings, are the ones who hold the bag of responsibility in the end. Let us examine, biblically, why it is I say that the blame lies with us, not upon God.

God created the world good

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Gen 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

God made the whole of creation absolutely perfect. At this point there was no death, no sickness, no “anything” that was not good.

God created people with the ability to choose

Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

In many places in God’s Word it is made clear that we have a choice, freewill, as to what we will do in a given situation. Joshua presents one of the most memorable and often quoted examples of this:

Jos 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

And Jesus Himself asked a similar question of the Twelve:

John 6:67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

It has been said that the single biggest thing that sets people apart from animals is the fact that, being made in God’s image, we have a God-consciousness and can make moral decisions that animals don’t have and can’t make. God made us for His pleasure, to honor and worship Him; He made us to love Him. If we had no choice in the matter we would be robot-like and would not be able to truly love God – or anything, anyone else for that matter. Therefore, God gave us the gift, responsibility, really, of freewill choice. And it is a gift that humans often don’t use well history teaches us.

People chose evil

Gen 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

God gave Adam and Eve the choice or obey Him or to disobey Him; they chose to disobey, they chose evil. Adam and Eve chose sin.

Their choice brought evil into the world

Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

J. B. Phillips, an English Bible scholar, translator, author and clergyman, wrote, “Exercise of free choice in the direction of evil … is the basic reason for evil and suffering in the world.” When we are tempted to blame God for the bad things and evil in this world, we need to stop and remember that is was us, mankind, that introduced sin and evil into the world – not God.

Their choices had lasting consequences

Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden the world is no longer good. The Bible explains it like this:

Rom 8:20-22 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, (21) Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

Adam and Eve’s action brought on not only their spiritual death but also a curse on all creation. Nature began to revolt, if you will, under this curse: genetic breakdown began, pain and death became a part of the human experience, as well as the plant and animal kingdoms. The good creation was now marred and no more. We now live in an unjust world that made is chaotic and unfair by a humanity rebelling against its Creator.

When we hear about children starving in third world countries what is our first thought? I’m going to make a stretch here and guess it isn’t maybe we should not be so indulgent, the ones with plenty and make a very concerted effort to help the less fortunate. Did you know that the earth produces enough food to provide every person on it with three 3000 calorie meals each day? God provides; we just don’t steward well.

When an innocent person is killed by a drunk driver do we think that blame lies with God for allowing it? What about the choice the driver made, the series of choices actually, that were wrong, evil, and culminated with the death of an innocent person? It is, again, humans using their freedom of choice to do evil, not good, that caused this bad thing to happen.

We could go on and on with illustrations and examples but I think these two give you a pretty solid idea of where the real blame or responsibility lays: sinful people making sinful choices cause evil and bad things to happen.

Okay, you say, what about earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, what about disease, what about cancer? Surely God must bear the responsibility for these things that just happen, that no one caused by making an evil choice, right? No, He doesn’t. These things were never a part of His plan for humanity or the earth. Remember, when Adam and Eve chose to sin in the Garden they brought devastation upon the whole of creation; without their sin there would be no natural disasters, there would be no genetic breakdowns that lead to disease, there would be no cancer. Again, people making bad decisions caused bad, very bad, things to happen.

Now for a moment, think about all of the good things that happen to us. Think about all of the unexpected, and undeserved, blessings that happen in all of our lives. Perhaps the question we should be asking is not “Why do bad things happen to good people?” but “why go good things happen to bad people?”

God is Creator- Genesis 1

When we look around us we see many things. When we see a building, we logically know that there was a builder who built it. When we see a painting, we know there was a painter that painted it. And when we see creation, we know there is a Creator who created it. Today we will talk a little about The Creator, whom Peter called the faithful Creator, and His work. (1 Peter 4:19  Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.)

Genesis 1:1-5  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  2  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  3  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  4  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.  5  And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Day 1 heavens and earth, light and darkness

day

BDB Definition:

1) day, time, year

1a) day (as opposed to night)

1b) day (24 hour period)

1b1) as defined by evening and morning in Genesis 1

1b2) as a division of time

The world throws out all kinds of garbage today, attempting to convince us of how long the earth has been around, how old it is, and how the account of creation is just a symbolic story. And yet if we dig a little into the known language and customs of the peoples we can easily see that the writer meant exactly what he said: a single, 24-hour day. And this is true anytime the phrase “the evening and the morning” are used. Yes, that is a common way of saying a day as we know it now and it was used extensively in the Hebrew language and not just in Scripture. And it always, without exception, means a 24-hour day. And we mustn’t forget that Scripture is made up of many types of literature: prophesy, poetry, songs, wisdom books, and history. The book of Genesis is a book of history: accounts of facts, not allegory, not fables. Being a history book we must interpret it properly, as we must with all types of literature, both those included in God’s Word and those that are not. The mistake of not knowing the customs/culture and wrongly interpreting the type of literature one is working with leads to confusion and even false teaching.

Genesis 1:6-8  And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.  7  And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.  8  And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

Day 2creation of the firmament, and the separation of the waters above the firmament from those below it, the atmosphere if you will

Genesis 1:9-13  And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.  10  And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.  11  And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.  12  And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.  13  And the evening and the morning were the third day.

Day 3– waters are separated from the earth and formed into seas and plants are created

Genesis 1:14-19  And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:  15  And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.  16  And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.  17  And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,  18  And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.  19  And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Day 4– the sun, moon and stars are created

Genesis 1:20-23  And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.  21  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.  22  And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.  23  And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

Day 5– birds, reptiles, and aquatic animals are created

Genesis 1:24-28  And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.  25  And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.  26  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  28  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Day 6– all land animals are made and finally man is created in God’s image and likeness


Genesis 1:29-31  And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.  30  And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.  31  And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

And so we have it, all created life were given to eat of the fruit of the earth, to be vegetarians. The significance, you may ask? To eat meat would’ve required death, and death was not a part of God’s original plan. There were no predators and prey, only all of creation living in peace and harmony.

Of course that didn’t last too long, as sin and death soon entered into the world. But thankfully The Creator had a plan to defeat these evils: redemption and salvation through His son, Jesus Christ.

This is a lesson outline I prepared for VBS 2014, the topic being “God is the Creator of all”. The Key Verse to this lesson is Psalm 24:1 and text is Genesis chapter 1.

Where is the Fish?

Image

This past April my wife and I bought a fancy fantail goldfish for our grandson, Connor, for his birthday. We, of course, let Connor pick it out, along with all the “stuff” that one needs for a new goldfish: rocks, tank, decorations, etcetera. Naming animals is always a family affair with us and this new pet was no exception. It took an hour or so and several discarded candidates before my wife offered up the winning moniker: Jonah. Connor loves old Jonah and is so cute watching him and especially at feeding time when he almost always says, “Papaw, somebody looks hungry!”, which makes me laugh every time the event it repeats itself.

A little over a week ago Jonah began to act odd: Staying hidden and low in his tank almost all the time, not being at all active and not eating, something he excelled at! I diligently changed his filer, added medicines and anti-stress “stuff”, and performed multiple partial water changes trying to revive his health. At one point it looked like Jonah had turned the corner, too, but alas it wasn’t to be: Jonah went to the big fish tank in the sky late last Saturday.

My wife wasn’t too concerned about the tragedy, she thought a four year-old wouldn’t even notice the fish was gone. But I had doubts, big ones, that she would be correct on this issue. Time would surely tell who was right and who wasn’t since Connor would be back with us Monday after school through Tuesday evening.

Monday my little buddy came home exhausted, as he often is at the start of the week, and wanted only to have his favorite after school snack and relax while watching some Scooby Doo episodes. My wife thought that this proved her point: Connor didn’t really pay much attention to that fish. And to be honest, I thought that she might have been correct on this now ,too. But Tuesday changed everything…

Connor hadn’t been home from school more than 10 minutes when he looked at me and asked “Papaw, where Jonah at?”. My response hadn’t been thought through or rehearsed in any way, I was shooting from the hip, when I answered him “He is at the fish doctor. He got sick, like Gypsy did and had to stay at the dog hospital, and will be home Friday.”. Without missing a beat, I had avoided “the death talk” and a crying little boy; I was pretty proud of myself I have to admit!

Part of my errands today involved picking out a “new” Jonah. I had studied that fish, both before and after his demise, pretty well so as long as there was one in-stock I’d be in good shape, I was sure of that. They lady who netted my pick of the tank was pretty patient with me (after I told her the story), netting and releasing at least three other fish before finally chasing down the soon-to-be Jonah; he was a spunky fish that eluded her for several minutes, I was glad to see that zest in him.

When “we” got home I realized that I had yet to clean out the old tank for the new fish. So, I set Jonah (it’s officially his name at this point) safely aside in his bag and began to clean, rinse, and wash the tank and the entire contents. I must have had help setting the tank up the first time, though I don’t recall it. I made quite the mess sloshing the tank and water across the kitchen to the metal cart that serves as the fish tank stand, which I;d have to clean up, and is still drying as I write this. But within an hour the tank and all of its “stuff” were cleaned and dry and Jonah was in the fresh, treated water, looking pretty happy to boot.

As I cleaned up the mess I began to contemplate the decision I had made to spare my young grandson “the death talk” at this time. It was during this time that I remembered that my own children were merely five and seven when they experienced their first real encounter with death: My grandmother’s death in October 1995. I hadn’t expected them to react with the emotion they did: They were too young to really grasp it I had, in my youthful ignorance,, thought. But they most assuredly were not too young I quickly learned, as I comforted them and wiped their tears, still somewhat in shock myself both at their grief and in my own.

Sooner or later we will all experience death on some level, be it a “Jonah” type situation or one like that of my grandmother’s passing. Did I do Connor any favor by avoiding “the death talk” over Jonah? Was “saving” it for another time/creature/person really a good idea? In retrospect, probably not. Now I don’t know if the knowledge of death will come to him through a small matter, like a goldfish, a larger one, perhaps one of our dogs, or worse of all from a family member. And I don’t know who or how that event will be dealt with. If I had it to do over with I would have handled it very differently. Hopefully I have learned a valuable lesson here and will use it to good effect in the future.

Almost Tame

Monday evening my wife and I took our grandson out to a local lake to enjoy some relaxing family time. We had a great evening together watching the other folks, seeing the boats on the water, and playing on the huge playground near the marina at Beech Fork Lake.

You probably have already realized that I’m a nature lover: birds, flowers, animals, all of it. Well, as I suppose most three year olds are, Connor is, too; I can’t say if he likes the animals or the old, dead trees best though! Monday we saw lots of animals out after the heat of the day had settled and dusk approached. There were two that caught our attention more than the rest: a young deer and a raccoon. Both of these creatures were unusually carefree of our presence. In fact, I told Billie that they were so accustomed to people that they were probably almost tame. In case you’re wondering, we didn’t press our luck and test my theory.

I don’t know what Heaven holds for us; the Bible tells us it is beyond our comprehension and imagination. But I can imagine a place where every thing is in perfect peace and harmony. Imagine that the beautiful creatures we admire but can’t approach here on Earth, like the deer and raccoon, we’re truly tame and not only would let us approach them but desire it. I can imagine a place much like the Garden where all is perfect and free of sin, death, and disease, a place where we will walk with God in perfect fellowship for evermore. I can imagine all this and more. Yet God’s Woes says it will be so much more, so much better than I can imagine. Makes me look all the more forward to seeing it someday. Until that day though I, and you, have a work to do, to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to dark and dismal world so that they too may have the hope to look forward to that we can only imagine.