Tears of Gold (Revisited)

Originally posted Sept 16, 2018

TearsOfGold

There was once a poor man who cried and cried because he did not have enough money.  He cried in the morning because he had no fresh butter to put on his bread.  He cried in the afternoon because he had no horse on which to ride into town.  He cried at night because he had no hired servant to prepare his dinner.

Every day the man toiled at his house, alone but for the stray dog he’d adopted some months ago.  Every day he went through the motions of caring for his needs:  cooking his food, washing his clothes, tending his garden, caring for his cow and chickens.  And every day the man dreamed of having more money.

“Oh, for a fine carriage, with four graceful steeds to dance ahead of it.”  The man sighed and looked at his dog.  “Then I would not have to stay at this house all day.  Oh, for a stately mansion in which to live, instead of this hovel.”  On and on the man would dream, crying all the while for that which he did not have.

One day the man heard of an old witch who lived in a cave some distance from his home.  “I will visit this witch,” said the old man.  “Surely she will see that I must have more money.  Perhaps she can cast a spell to make my poor life more bearable.”

So the man and his dog took a journey to that cave.  The old witch stood near the opening, leaning upon a stick.  She fixed a shrewd eye upon the man.  “Hah,” she cackled, “you want money.”

The poor man looked up, astonished.  “Truly, she is a wise woman,” thought he.  He began to cry.  “Take pity on me, kind lady,” he said.  “I have never had enough money and have lived a hard life.  Can you help me?”

“Are you starving?” asked the witch.

The man stopped crying, shocked.  “Of course not.  I work hard to provide myself with something to fill my belly.”

“And your dog?”

“He gets the scraps from my table.”

“What kind of work do you do?”

The tears began to flow again.  “Every day I must get up, milk my cow, feed my chickens, tend my garden, cook my own meals, and keep my house clean.  When finally I tumble into bed at night, I scarce have time to enjoy a good book before I am fast asleep, so tired am I after the day’s exertions.”

“What do you need money for?”

The poor man mopped his eyes and blew his nose, to no avail.  The tears flowed faster than ever as he described to the witch what he could do with some money.  “Alas, I am able to enjoy only the barest of life’s necessities.  With more money I could buy a horse to travel to town.  I could buy some of the delicacies sold there, to embellish my dinner table.  I could hire someone to help me with my huge workload at home.  Ah, woman, the things I could do with a little money.”

The witch was silent.  She looked at the man as she chewed her lip with toothless gums.  She spoke.  “I have good news for you, Friend.  You will be a rich man, indeed.  Go home now.  I must work my spell.  When you wake up in the morning, you will see the magic I weave for you.”

The tears dried up.  “I’m going to be rich?” the man asked delightedly.  “How much will I get?”

“I said go home!” The witch answered fiercely.  “But leave the dog here.”

“What?”  the man asked, blankly.

“I said, the dog stays.”

The man shrugged.  “Do I need to do anything else?”

“Nothing.  Go home.”  She spun around and disappeared into her cave with the dog.

“Hee, hee!”  The man danced all the way back to his house.

Early the next morning, he awoke, eager to find his riches.  Without stopping to get dressed, he raced about his house, looking for the money.  Not on the table.  Hurry.  Not under the bed.  Hurry, hurry.  Not in the closet.  Where could it be?  He flung open the front door.  Not in his garden.  Run, run.  Not in his shed.  Maybe in the barn?  No!  He ran back into the house and began tearing the place apart.  Everything out of the dresser.  Everything out of the cupboards.  Nothing!

Finally, the man sat down at his table, panting.  That witch!  Nothing.  Nothing!  He began to cry.  He wept and wept that the witch had tricked him so.

Suddenly the man opened his eyes.   Something was happening.  Gold!  There was gold on the table, gold on the floor, gold in his lap!  From where had it come?  He reached up to wipe a tear from his cheek and drew his hand away.  There on his finger was a teardrop of gold.  His eyes darted to the other gold pieces.  They were all shaped like teardrops.

“Why, this is too fantastic,” exclaimed the man!  “Surely… Surely… But it is true!  I am a rich man!”  He pranced about in his nightshirt with glee, tossing golden teardrops into the air.  He listened to their tinkling music as they danced with him on the cobblestone floor.

Now the man’s dreams began to become reality.  He spent his gold with a flourish.  Ah, what fineries he enjoyed.  First, a fine white horse and a small carriage.  New pieces of furniture for his house, and new clothes cut in the latest fashions were fast to follow.  He ordered the tastiest delicacies from the baker and butcher.

The man threw away his old clothing, threw away his gardening tools.  He burned his rickety old furniture.  Soon all the gold he had cried that first morning was gone.

“Oh, my!” he wailed.  “I have not bought nearly all the things I most desperately need.”  The tears flowed again.  He opened his eyes, hoping.  He was ecstatic to see that his tears were still of gold.  He would be the richest man in the world!  He would never run out of gold!

Immediately, he started planning how he would spend his fortune.  Why spend so much trying to fix up this old hut?  Why not buy a new house?  And, he would certainly be very busy with his money; far too busy to worry about mundane household chores.  Servants!  He would need an army of servants to staff his new mansion.  And more horses and carriages.  He would need more and finer clothing: he was a man of import now.

And so it went.  The man spent his gold, and then cried more.  Soon he was having a hard time thinking of reasons to cry.  He couldn’t cry because of lack of money – he knew he could produce more any time he needed it.  He tried crying for other people’s problems, things he’d heard about in the town, but those were hard tears to squeeze out.  He had a hard time feeling sorrow for that which did not touch his own life.

One time he tried rubbing onions in, but the tears that came to his stinging eyes were only wet.  No, to produce gold, his tears had to be those of true sorrow.

“Wretched, wretched life!”  The man screamed.  “How am I to cry if I cannot feel sorry for myself?”  Tears began to flow again before he realized it, and quite a pile of gold was all about him before he stopped to wipe his eyes.

He used this tactic again and again, but soon found himself walking always in sorrow, trying to eke out a few more bits of gold.  He would stroll aimlessly about the echoing halls of his mansion, take excursions in his fine carriage pulled by six graceful steeds, spend hours in his counting house, sifting through his gold.  All this he did with dry-eyed sadness.

He found he did not want to cry again.  How did he no longer enjoy his mansion, his horses and servants?  Why did he always feel he had to cry, had to have more gold?  What was to become of him?

The man went for a walk one day.  He found himself at the cave of the old witch.

She hobbled out and leaned on a rock, her gnarled hands gripping her stick.

“So,” she said slowly, “you return.”

The man kicked the dirt with his tooled leather boot and hung his head.  “I have everything I need now,” he said, “everything I’ve always wanted.”  He shrugged.

“Yet you still are not happy.”

The man sighed.  “I thought if only I could buy whatever I wanted, then I would be happy.”

“And you aren’t’?”

The man was silent.

“You must be very careful what you wish for.  Sometimes it’s not something you truly want.”  She gave her toothless smile.  “But sometimes it is.  You are a rich man.”  She turned and went back into her cave.

The man left and wandered through the fields.  He stopped by a tree and sank to the ground.  “Money!” he spat out.  “How could I have thought it would make me happy?  This is not what I had in mind.”

Money and sorrow were now forever linked as one in his soul.  Perhaps he could go back to his garden, his cow and chickens.  At least work could take his mind off his sorrows, off his money.   Where was happiness?  Joy was not to be found in money; he had at least learned that.  Contentment, maybe, could be found in the work of his hands.

He was just starting to rise when he heard rustling behind him.  He looked around, and there was his dog, tail wagging.  His dog!  A friend!  The man felt instantly guilty, knowing he had not given the dog a second thought after leaving him with the witch.  Yet, here was this dog, a gift sticking its nose under his arm.  Maybe this is what the witch had meant, a gift to make him rich.  He pulled the dog to him, hugged him and nuzzled his head against the dog’s.  The touch, the willingness of the dog to come close to him, suddenly overwhelmed the man, and he began to shake deep inside.

He felt tears welling up in his eyes.  “No!  No more gold!”  He pushed his hands against his eyes.  Try as he might, he could not stop the tears.  He sobbed and sobbed with grief, rocking back and forth as he held his dog.

Suddenly he stopped.  He rubbed his eyes.  His hands came away wet.  Wet!  Wet tears!  The words of the old witch rang in his ears, and he smiled.  “I am a rich man, indeed.”  He laughed and laughed as the tears of joy ran down his cheeks.  They rolled onto his fingers and he held them up.  Truly, these were tears of gold.

Forgiveness (Revisited)

Originally posted July 28, 2018

forgiveness pic

So, you still have told me nothing about ‘the incident,’ as you put it.

You pretty much know what happened.

Well, that’s only what I’ve heard from other people. It’s not the same as your perspective, and I think it would help our relationship if we could talk about it.

I don’t talk about it.

Can we talk about it without discussing what actually happened?

Sure, we can skirt around it all you want. But I will say one thing up front. Being a guy, you’re never going to understand the perspective of a victim like I do.

You’re right. One, I have never been a victim like you have. And, mine is the perspective of the male, the one who is usually the authority, the stronger, the dominant one. I think you know me well enough by now that you know I view my gender as a gift from God, to handle wisely and lovingly; that He created us both, male and female, as different but equal.

Yeah, I get that. And you must know that I trust you, given that we’re even having this conversation.

Thank you for that. Please know I will never knowingly break that trust. If I come close, you will let me know?

Yep, and ditto for me?

Yes.

~silence~

From our previous discussions, I know that you’re struggling with your relationship with God because of the incident. You’re upset that He would as willingly forgive those men who hurt you as He forgives you.

He doesn’t seem like a fair God.

Do you have difficulty seeing Him as a God Who loves you?

I get that He loves the world, you know, the whole, “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”

Do you think He loves you, personally?

I’ve seen His grace in my life a lot. I mean, like a lot. I credit Him with my rescue in the first place. That could never have happened if God hadn’t intervened. And I do thank Him for that, I really do. I think that shows His love for me. And other things. Yes, I think God loves me.

So, God loves you, but you’re mad that He loves those guys as much as He loves you?

No, He can love them as much as He wants. But, for what they did, they should never be forgiven. They should never get to spend eternity with Him because they should go to hell. That’s justice and righteous. God is a God of justice and righteousness, too.

I agree that those men deserve hell for what they did…. Do you think you deserve hell for your sins?

You do NOT get to put me in the same category with them! I would never do to anyone what they did, over and over and OVER!

I’m sorry that happened.

Listen, I have to get going. I think we’re finished talking for today.

I get that. Before we part, I’ll leave you with these verses: James 2.10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Also Jeremiah 17.9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” And you know Romans 6.23 tells us that the wages of sin is death.

That’s the part I’m so mad about. Goodbye.

~~~~~~

It’s been a while. Have you been able to process?

Yeah, I admit I sin. Everybody does, I know I’m not a saint or even close to it.

But?

But I’m NOT like them. I could never be like them. They do NOT deserve forgiveness.

Do you deserve forgiveness?

Of course not. No one does. But God gives grace, and He gave me grace.

But you’re mad that He could pour out His grace on those men.

You would be, too! You have never been in my shoes, but I’m pretty sure you would feel the same way if you were.

I’ll never know, Lord willing.

No. So don’t speak to me like you ever will.

I can’t. All I can do is give you what God says.

I KNOW what He says! And that’s what makes me mad at Him!

So you think there should be a rule, some sort of plumb line that, if a person crosses it, then they are automatically scratched from the Heaven list.

Absolutely!

Well, there is such a plumb line. Any sin keeps us from Heaven. But you think that some sins can be forgiven and be on the Heaven side, and some sins can’t be forgiven, and be on the hell side.

Something like that.

So you think your rules are better than God’s?

I think it’s only right.

And that God’s wrong?

Listen, I know that God’s never wrong. I know what the Bible says, and He’s perfect and all that. I just don’t agree that He should ever forgive people like that.

Maybe He didn’t.

That’s not the point. The point is that He could. God can forgive anyone, and He does! He just chooses, and He grabs them, and He changes their hearts and then they get to go to Heaven.

And that’s not okay?

Not after what they’ve done.

And you can’t forgive them?

NO..

So, again, I ask: Do you think your rules are better than God’s?

I’ll leave it at this: I know God’s right. He gets to make the rules. I just don’t like all of them, and I don’t agree with Him. He’s a big God. I think He can take a little disagreement. … … I have to go now.

Then today I leave you with these: 1Samuel 15.23 “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” And Matthew 6.15 “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

~~~~~

I agreed to meet with you today. Don’t you think I’m doing really well?

Yes, I do. Why do you think you want to meet with me?

~sigh~ Because, against my better judgement, I like you very much, and I respect what you have to say.

If your judgement votes against me, who or what is the driving force behind you being here?

Oh brother. Okay, it’s God.

I’m going to agree with you on that one. I’m grateful He’s working in you. I’ll tell you, He’s been working in me, too. I’m struggling with this; not like you, but I’m ‘way not enough to cover this. I’ve had some pretty deep times with God. I know you pay attention to Him. Have you had good conversation with Him lately?

I did a study on the verses you left with me. Number one, I looked up idolatry. Basically I came to the conclusion that you’re hinting, ever so subtly, that I’m being stubborn in not agreeing with God, so I’m committing iniquity, or in iniquity, or however you put it. And that, because I think I’m right and He’s wrong, that I’m setting myself up as my idol, putting myself on the throne and deciding that I know best. That about cover it?

Did you hear my voice telling you that, or God’s?

Same thing, isn’t it?

Really no. Really really no.

Umph. Fine. That’s what God was telling me while I was reading His Word and studying it.

You didn’t like it, I take it?

Duh.

I never do, either. Hebrews 12.11 “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” That means all of us are grieved when God chastens us. But, He gives us the peaceable fruit of righteousness if we learn from it.

So I have to learn from it in order to get the peace fruit.

Matthew 7.16 “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Do you want peace?

You know I do.

You already have the Holy Spirit within you, and He empowers you with the Fruit of the Spirit. Part of that is peace. Learn from Him. What about the second verse?

The forgiveness part?

Matthew 6.15 “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

I’m hitting a brick wall there, one that I prefer to walk away from.

I know you already know this, but I’m throwing it out anyway. Forgiveness isn’t for letting anyone off the hook. It’s for the forgiver. It’s one of God’s gifts for blessing you.

So I’ve heard.

My dear, you don’t have to generate forgiveness. It’s not in you. I see that, and I think you do, too. It’s not in anybody to forgive such a thing.

So, just let God do it in me or though me or whatever?

Pray about it. Just a tip: when I’m really struggling with something, wrestling with God, so to speak, it helps me to physically put myself in a position of obedience and worship.

What do you do? Kneel?

Well, actually, I … prostrate myself.

Like, on your belly?

Full out, face down, nose rubbing on whatever is under me. I humble myself and pour myself out to God, begging for His mercy on me.

~gulp~ Umm

Here’s a tissue.

I can’t even think about that without crying. I really don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know that I even want to. What about 1 John 1.9? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” Can I confess my sin of unforgiveness and be forgiven?

I think God will handle that. Just give it to Him.

Where are Your Oars? (Revisited)

Originally posted July 9, 2018

oars river

We all travel the River of Life.

God controls the flow, the bends, the swirls and eddies, the calm and the rushing waters. He guides each boat with wisdom and love. Some boats must endure the whitewaters for a time: baggage may be lost overboard; passengers may look up, seeking faith; lives may be lost. Some boats float along in the still waters, enjoying the view, hanging out, or stuck, as it were, for a time before being carried away or steering away. God also provides assorted kinds of boats and oars, depending on the needs of its passenger.

We all bring into our boats varying kinds and amounts of packages. Some have disorganized baggage with odds and ends leaking out; some have neatly stacked and packed boxes.

Some who go through life with messy packages strewn about may never find their oars. They travel downstream uncontrolled, hanging onto their baggage tightly, or sometimes flinging it at others. They continue adrift, hanging onto the gunnels, crying out “Oh, this is happening to me!”

Others with messy boats begin the process of tidying up. They throw overboard those items that weigh them down; they organize their things as best they know how. They may eventually find their oars.

Those with neatly stacked boxes can come into their boats with knowledge of their oars and how to use them. Some of these will use that knowledge and steer their boats accordingly. Some, even with good teaching, will make a mess of their boats and misuse their oars.

What to do with those oars?

Some who find their oars never figure out how to use them. They whack other passersby with them, or splash about aimlessly. They may think oars are for holding out to others, and that others must provide for them.

God may open the eyes of some and bring wisdom and knowledge of the various uses of oars. J-strokes, back sweep, right draw, and using the oar as a rudder all provide methods of proper steering through the disparate waters. Oars may also be used to reach out to others in their boats, to draw alongside or hold onto.

We don’t travel alone down this River of Life. We bump into others, cross paths, join together, jostle, or commune with all those God sets in our ways. Sometimes we don’t get to go where we want to go. Sometimes we are brought into new and exciting channels. Sometimes we are called to come alongside others. We must remember to be gentle and kind, to use our oars to help, guide, and steer clear.

Give some thought to your oars, and what your path will be until you cascade into the great ocean of eternity.

Joshua’s Admonition

JoshuasAdmonition

Joshua 23.4-13 Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the great sea westward.  And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you.  Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;  That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them:  But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.  For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.  One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.  Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God.  Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:  Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.

In the book bearing his name, Joshua was “old and stricken with age.” He called together all Israel, with its leaders, to give them final reminders, admonitions, and comfort.

He warns them not to mix in with the remnant of the nations that God had driven out, and among whom they lived: Do not make mention of the name of their gods nor swear by them or serve them or bow down unto them, do not marry among them, do not go in unto them or they to you.

Joshua’s admonitions to God’s people pertains to us today. We are God’s people. God Himself has driven out all our enemies from within us, and we belong to Him. We serve Him only. We are not to entertain notions of the gods around us (money, fame, entertainment, drugs, alcohol, food); we are to find our delight only in Him.

Because God is all our delight. Find your comfort, your delight, your joy, your peace and education and enlightenment, your fulfillment, in Jehovah God, and Him alone.

Maureen’s Bad Day (Revisited)

Originally posted June 12, 2018

While I am immensely glad to be retired, and I very much enjoy staying at home, I will say there were many perks in my special ed teaching job. Those almost always had to do with my students. I had a great bunch, overall. At the high school level, I received new students at the age of 13 or 14; because we were a self-contained classroom, I kept them all day, every day, until they turned 21. I got to know them and their parents pretty well.

One student in particular became close to my heart. That was Maureen. Maureen and I simply liked each other. We were kindred spirits. Her dad was the ROTC teacher at my school. Maureen had really cool parents – both of them, and a really cool family.

Each morning in our classroom the students would come in from the buses and hang up their stuff in their individual cubbies. This area was a new addition, and I had designed it so that each student had a coat hook, and a small area above the hook to put their books or other belongings. The students had supervised free time before the bell rang.

Promptly at 8 a.m. the bell rang, and everyone was herded over to sit at the tables in the calendar area. Everyone was expected to participate in calendar, when we went over what day is today, what happened yesterday, what today’s schedule would look like, counting, colors, patterns, etc.

One morning I had started on calendar, and I noticed that my aide, Gloria, was looking a little harassed. She came over to the other side of the bookcase between the calendar area and the coat area and flagged my attention. I went over, and she explained that she couldn’t get Maureen away from her cubby. I gave an inquiring look, and Gloria simply pointed. I peeked around the bookcase and beheld Maureen, la plus pathétique.

I don’t know if it was the parent in me, or the teacher, but I immediately and silently started to laugh. Not one to let a good situation slip away, I grabbed the camera and took the shot.

Maureens bad day Fall 2012

Gloria explained that a bus driver had told her that one of the other kids on the bus had screamed all the way to school, and Maureen hadn’t taken it well. Mind you, school bus rides are often longer than an hour. I had Gloria take over the calendar while I ministered to Maureen.

I went over and gave Maureen a hug. It didn’t seem to help much. I asked her if she needed a hug from her dad. She looked hopefully at me. I took Maureen to my office area within the classroom, and talked to her about the picture I had just taken of her. Together, we decided on some words to go with it, and I printed out the picture with the caption: “Dear Dad. I’m having a no-good, very bad day, and I need a hug.”

I gave the picture to Maureen, and together we walked down a few hallways to her dad’s classroom. He came to the door when he saw us, and we explained what had happened. Maureen got her hug, Dad kept the picture, and the rest of Maureen’s day was much better.

I e-mailed that picture to a fellow teacher who knows Maureen. She got quite a kick out of it. She printed the picture to put by her desk; her caption was, “Some days are just like that!”

Waters (Revisited)

Originally posted June 15, 2018

water W imageaters, born from above

gurgle and babble, stumble and tumble.

Bubbling, dodging, splashing against        

obstacles in the way, as a springboard,

                      running between deep and shallow,

                      flowing like sinews and muscle

                      then

                      leveling, slowing,

                      sliding into silken pools

                      gliding sedately in their paths,

                      nodding and yielding to immovable rocks.

                      Deep underneath

                      tribulation, distress, leaps and joys tangle,

                      rising to the surface as lines of grey,

                      and forming ripples and swirls

                      like wrinkles

                      as time suddenly catches up.

                      It straddles the precipice, clinging to moments

                      before its swooping descent, splashing

                      in streaks of wild white strands

                      plunging with reckless abandon

to its end

                     b

         e

  l

                                                                   o

water W imageaters born from above

                                                      gurgle and babble stumble and tumble.

                                                      Bubbling, dodging, splashing against

                                                      obstacles in the way, as a springboard,

One Year of Maggie’s Blog

Maggie One Year

Well! It’s been one year that I’ve been blogging! In honor of this auspicious occasion, I plan to re-post some of my past writings from the very beginning and up through a few. Here is my first post (and, I believe, my longest):

An Overview: One Approach to Reading the Bible

The Whole Bible:

God says, in 1 Corinthians 2.12-14: Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

So, when we read the Bible (God’s Word), we must understand that we cannot discern the meaning of God unless His Holy Spirit reveals it to us. Therefore, the first step in reading the Bible is to pray and ask God to show you what He wants you to understand. It’s like having the Holy Spirit at your shoulder, explaining to you what you read. The Bible is a book we can read at any stage of life, for any purpose. Even when we read the same passages again and again, they take on new meaning, along with the perspectives we morph into as we grow in God’s wisdom. And it’s still all true.

Keep in mind that God is giving us, in His Word, as clear an explanation as is possible for human minds to grasp, even with the Spirit’s guidance. His ways are not our ways. Isaiah 55.8, 9 says, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. God is always right. If we have a disagreement with Him, we know Who is right, every time. If there’s something that doesn’t sit right with you, ask God about it. He longs to sit with you and reveal Himself. He already knows you intimately; He’d like this relationship to go both ways. God never forces Himself on us. But it pleases Him to no end when we seek Him out, when we mindfully sit with Him to commune (as Mary did in Luke 10). He loves it when we obey the promptings of His Spirit and take heed.

The Old Testament:

God gave us the whole Bible, and says of it in 2 Timothy 3.16, 17: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

All Scripture includes the Old Testament, so that means the Old Testament is richly useful for us. Why is the Old Testament still relevant today? Because neither human nature nor God’s nature changes. He remains the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Humans will always have the same nature, and we will always need God.

The book of Genesis, all in one book, tells the story of

  • creation
  • God’s power and might and love
  • God’s desire for relationship with man
  • God’s pursuit of man in order to have that relationship
  • man’s inability to live a sinless life
  • man’s inability to seek a relationship with God (because man loves himself first)
  • man’s need for salvation
  • man’s need for God, and a relationship with Him
    • God created us. He knows the hairs on our heads. Before we were knit together in our mother’s womb, He knew us. He had a specific design in mind for each of His children. One part of that design is a desire for intimacy with our Creator. Man may try many and various ways and means to fill that need, that void, but the only thing that fits is God Himself.
    • 1 Chronicles 16.11: Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.
  • God’s promise to make a way for a holy God to have a relationship with sinful man
  • our unique make-up, the way God created us to long for relationship, to long for meaning, and the way He created us to find joy and peace and meaning
  • our inability to find joy or peace or meaning in our own efforts
  • God’s choices:
    • His chosen people, to show the world what a beautiful thing relationship and obedience to God can look like,
    • and those whom God does not choose – the evil ones who will end up in the pit of fire.

God so loved the world that He created man and woman in order to have a relationship and share His love. He created His beings with the ability to choose: love is not love, of course, if one is programmed for it and unable to choose love. He created angels with this ability, and some chose to be their own gods. He created man and woman (and all people who came after) with this ability, but, alas, none of the people were able to choose God in and of themselves (Psalm 14.1b – 3: They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. John 15.5: I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. And Romans 3.23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God) While it’s easy to become huffy and counter with our own goodness, God shows us in the Garden of Eden that our goodness is not the same as His goodness. Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They chose for themselves the ability to make their own plumb lines. They chose to make themselves gods, instead of relying implicitly and completely on God. They willfully turned from obedience to God, and broke the total unity they had with Him. [Just to be clear, we cannot place all the blame for our fallen state upon Adam and Eve, since any of us would have done the same thing (see Psalm 14.1b-3, above). Even with God among us, even with abundant evidence of His goodness and presence and love, even with our created design of desiring Him, we still choose our own way.]

God is a holy god. He will not tolerate sin. He cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden. In His love, He did not allow them to eat of the Tree of Life, for eternity on man’s own terms would be intolerable.

Out of the world, God chose Abraham as the Father of His people. God’s Chosen. This is a picture of what a people look like when God chooses them and showers His blessings on them. He is clear that He is making a covenant with them: He has a plan for their lives, He created them for this plan, and they will find their greatest joy and peace and meaning if they follow this plan. He will bless those who obey Him. God cannot bless disobedience. Even as parents we understand discipline. We do not reward our children for disobedience; we understand what will be good for them, and we nurture them in that direction. We parent imperfectly, but God parents perfectly.

God desired to give all the people of the world a picture of what living with God looks like. Even the pagans understood the power of God and His protection of His people. (Ex, in Joshua 2.9 – 11, Rahab explains the terror all the people have. This is one example of many.) God chose the location of Israel for His people, not only because it was a land flowing with milk and honey, but because it was a crossroads of all civilizations, and His people would be able to spread God abroad from the comfort and safety of their own land.

The Temple in Jerusalem was a physical place where people could come together to worship God Almighty. Because they were human and finite, they needed something they could go to and look at and touch. God gave His people explicit instructions for the construction of the traveling temple (when Moses led the Israelites) and of Solomon’s temple. People needed to have a visual of the awe and majesty of God’s presence. This was just one way God could show us the discrepancy between His holy presence and our sinfulness, and show us our need for Him.

For a long time, Israel lived in abundance and obedience to God. Oftentimes they deviated and went their own way, and God would allow the consequences of their actions to fall on them; He would take away His protection. Then His people would remember Him and return to Him.

But again and again, the Israelites chose their own ways above God. Even though they knew Who God was, knew His power and His love and protection, man always chose evil, always chose to be their own gods (like Lucifer did). God always provided a remnant, though, people whose hearts were knit with God, like David, like the prophets. But the Israelites, God’s chosen people, had fleshly hearts, just like all people that God created.

Because God so loved the world, and because He always did want a relationship with us for eternity, He provided a way, since before the world began, to restore us to Himself permanently.

God represents Himself to us as Three in One. In the Old and New Testaments, God reveals Himself as Father, Son/Word/flesh, and Spirit. His presence as Father / Protector / Provider and Lover of our Souls is prevalent throughout the Old Testament. His presence as The Son / The Word / God Among Us / God in the Flesh is revealed when He sits to eat with Abraham, when He wrestles with Joshua, and other incidences as He manifests Himself in the flesh (foreshadowing His birth and life among the people in the New Testament). And His presence with us as Spirit is oft mentioned when His Spirit rested on David, Saul, the prophets, and others, as well as the Spirit that dwells in believers in the New Testament.

As God the Father, He sent His only Son, Jesus, to be the propitiation for our sins. Sin is what separates us from God, and He so desired one-ness with us that He paid for our sins with the blood of His Son. And, so that we were not left destitute without His personal presence, He sent His Spirit to live within us after Jesus went back to Heaven. This same Spirit comforts us, directs us, convicts us, and pleads before the Father for us.

The New Testament

The angels could not contain themselves. God’s plan for salvation was culminating in Bethlehem, and they rejoiced in praise.

The four Gospels relate the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. If you’re reading a Bible that provides cross-references, you can trace much of what is happening to Old Testament prophecies.

The Epistles are letters written by various disciples of Jesus, outlining what it means to be saved by grace, and how to walk in that grace; how to receive forgiveness, and how to give it; and how to walk with God and receive the joy that comes with His walk. It teaches us more about God’s love, and gives us a peek into Heaven. As believers, we are God’s chosen people. Again, cross-references trace back to Old Testament passages pointing the way.

*           *           *           *           *

In the Old Testament, God’s chosen people were the Israelites. His chosen location was Israel, and the temple in Jerusalem. Through the Israelites, the world learned about God – they were a living testament for Him; through the Israelites, God sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. In Acts, Jesus commanded us to go and tell the world about Him (Acts 1.8). Also in Acts, God sent His Spirit to live within us (Ch. 2). We are now the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3.16). We are fearfully and wonderfully made to His exact specifications.

*           *           *           *           *

The genius of God’s moral code is that everything He requires of us is for our own good. When we violate His code of life, we suffer harmful consequences. – Quiet Walk, May 1, 2015

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.    Hebrews 11.6

It’s not that God hates us when we disobey Him. It’s that He designed us to be in perfect peace when we walk in His ways; and He loves us so much that He wants us always to walk with Him and have that peace. We cannot walk with Him if we don’t know Him. One way to get to know Him better is to read His Word. Another is to commune with His Holy Spirit. Another is to listen to Godly preaching and teaching of His Word. And another is to congregate with His children, talk about Him, encourage one another.