Tag Archive: God’s Story


Just Enough Light for This Moment

I have a few strategically placed nightlights in my house. Not because I have small children, but so I don’t have to turn on the bright overhead lights if I get up in the middle of the night. While I usually prefer bright light to dim, it’s too much in the dark night. My eyes can’t adjust from darkness to bright light quickly enough. I blink and squint and shade my eyes. It’s too much light all at once, but the soft glow from the nightlight is just enough light for that moment.

God has always given light to His people. At creation…

…God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:3-4 NIV

He led the Israelites…

By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. Exodus 13:21-22 NIV

And God gave us light in the darkness through His Son, Jesus…

I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. John 12:46 NLT

The darkness can never extinguish the light.

When I feel surrounded by darkness, I trust the light is there. I may only be able to see a pinprick of brightness, but I know it’s there.

While I would prefer a brighter beam to guide me, God knows how much light I need for that moment. Light that’s too bright may make me squint and shade my eyes. He knows seeing too much, too soon, may distract me. But His tiny spot of light at just the right time is what I need to focus on Him.

No matter how soft or brilliant the light may seem at the time, the Light of the world can never be extinguished by the darkness.

And it’s always just enough light for that moment.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 NLT

In Christ,
Laura

Creation,Fall,Flood- Bible Study

This begins week 1 in our journey through the story of God. Genesis is a book that has so much packed in that it could take months and years to uncover it all. Scholars have written volumes of commentaries that have endless amounts of useful material. The reason I say all of this is to let you know up front that we will not even scratch the surface of creation, fall or the flood in this study. But, I hope to give you some things to think about and discuss, making it worth your time.

Read Genesis 1

Creation’s mystery and its Maker call us to know the One in whom “we live and move and have our being,” as the Apostle Paul says in the New Testament. The opening section of Genesis introduces us to the Creator. He is the main character of this book, and all of Scripture is His story. The creation account is God centered, not creature centered. Its purpose is to glorify the Creator by magnifying him through the majesty of the created order. “God” is the subject of the first sentence (1:1) and continues as the thematic subject throughout the account. “And God said” is the recurring element that gives 1:1–2:3 cohesion as he is the primary actor. For this reason, one could use as the title of this first section the affirmation of the Apostles’ Creed, “God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.”

What do we learn about God in the first few verses of Genesis?

In verse 2 we find the condition of the earth is “a wasteland and empty” (the literal meaning) which provides a blank slate by which God directs his creation story. Since the earth is lifeless, God sets about creating it inhabitable and inhabited  in six creation days, or two parallel sets of three days each. Days three and six, which conclude each pair, are highlighted by the repetition of the phrase “And God said” (vv. 9, 11, 24, 26) and the God’s assessment “and it was good” (vv. 10, 12, 25, 31). There are eight acts of creation, one on each day except days three and six, when there are two. Day three commences a productive earth that provides vegetation for both animals and humans: “Let the land produce vegetation” (v. 11); day six describes its first habitation: “Let the land produce living creatures” (v. 24). Unlike vegetation and the animals, where the “land” is God’s intermediary, the second act of creation on day six (mankind) is achieved by God directly (vv. 26–27).

UNPRODUCTIVE BECOMES                                     UNINHABITED BECOMES
PRODUCTIVE                                                                  INHABITED

Day 1 Light and Darkness                                             Day 4 Luminaries
Day 2 Sky and Waters                                                    Day 5 Fish and Fowl
Day 3 a. Land and Seas                                                  Day 6 a. Beasts
b. Vegetation                                                                     b. Human: male and female

Why do you think God chose to deal with mankind directly instead of just calling it into existence like the rest of creation? What does this say about God? What does that say about you?

The Jewish and Christian creation story differs from all others in a multitude of ways. Creation for the Hindu, Native American, Chinese religions, the pagan religions described in the Bible, the Greeks and Romans, and many others, always has an evil and a good from the very beginning among the gods or the gods children or siblings. The gods of other religions are more like the humans of the Bible, reflecting human goodness and human evil. Only the Genesis account exalts God above his creation. Only Genesis gives humankind a central place in creation, as person’s made in God’s image who are deeply loved by him. Because of this the Bibles view of creation has always been viewed as radical and stands in conflict with the modern notion of random chance and order.

Have you ever heard of or read these other creation accounts? If so, what are the greatest differences you have identified?

Read Genesis 2

About the time you think that the story of creation is over, it seems to begin again. This is not another author, but a style that was common in early Semitic writing. The writer would tell the whole story as a summary, and then go back and tell it again, but this time with more detail. The closing verses has an important exchange. Adam takes a look at Eve and names her and is joined together with her. This sets us up for what we will find in the next chapter, because Adam was supposed to take care of Eve and protect her.

Why do you think God wanted us to have this second detailed account in chapter 2?

Read Genesis 3

This chapter is one of the most important chapters of the Bible as we seek to understand humankind. This is the section called “The Fall of man.”

As the section opens, there is no sin, death or imperfection in the world. God has given only one small commandment. Don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This tree is not a magical tree that would somehow bestow great powers on the one who ate of it. It served as a tangible test of obedience.

Let’s first look at the serpent. The serpent tempts Eve in the following ways:

  • He convinced her to doubt God- “Did God really say?”
  • You can be just like God with one little bite.
  • The fruit looked good for food, but like the apple in “Snow White” her disobedience in eating it revealed an invisible poison.
  • With the tempting by the serpent, Eve decided to reject God’s direction. It made no sense to her. It was God’s way of trying to rule over her life. She was smart enough to make her own decisions.

Should Eve be blamed for the sin of mankind? She was the one the serpent was talking too. How does Adam get roped into this?

Eve has been blamed for all the sin of the world by many. Even Paul said that it was Eve who ate the fruit. However, God laid the blame on Adam. Remember when I said the closing lines of chapter 2 would be important? This is why…Adam was standing next to wife and said and did nothing. It was his job to take care of her and protect her from harm, but instead he stood by and did nothing.

How could one small mistake be the ruin of all mankind?

In what ways have you seen the curse carried out in your own life?

When Adam and Eve sinned they made a pathetic attempt to cover their shame. They discover that their own shame can only be covered by God at a high price.

Read Genesis 3:21-24 again

God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. This is the first time death had come into the world when God killed the animals that would be used to cover Adam and Eve. That covering could only come with the shedding of innocent blood. This was the basis for the sacrificial system that was used all throughout the Old Testament.

What put an end to the sacrificial system in the New Testament?

As you all know it is the Sunday school answer…Jesus. His death meant that his shed blood was necessary for the covering of your sin and mine and it all started back in Genesis.

Verse 24- God drove out the man and woman from the garden. This is both an act of judgement and of mercy. The judgement came because God cannot tolerate sin in his presence, so man had to leave. The mercy came in when God said they will most surely die…that man will not live forever under the horrible curse of sin and decay. It was both good and bad.

In what ways have you seen the grace of God in your life? 

Read Genesis 4

It would have been nice if The Fall was the end of the bad stuff…but really it was just the beginning. We turn to the next chapter and we see brother hating brother even to the point of murder. Cain and Abel are the central focus of chapter 4 as we see the sacrificial system put to use.

Why did God not “respect Cain and his offering”? Why did he respect Abel and his offering?

What sort of person was Cain? What kind of neighbor would he be?

Turn to Genesis 7,8

Time has passed and we are now roughly 1,500 years after Creation. The people are not acting any better. Sin and immorality have had their way with the people. God has had enough. God determined in his heart to destroy the entire human race…but that is not the end of the story (if it was you would not be reading this right now).

God found one man named Noah who feared him and followed all that God commanded. God told him to build an ark that would accommodate two of every unclean animal and seven of every clean animal. But God also said make room for anyone who wanted to escape judgement, but no one listened. Take a look at an artists rendition of the ark.

What brought God’s wrath upon the earth?

What does this event teach you about God’s character? About man’s character?

Why did God select Noah? How was he different from the people around him?

After the flood subsided, God set a rainbow in the clouds to be a sign of the covenant between God and the earth, that he would never send a flood again to destroy the earth. God’s promise will prove to be faithful. God shows himself to both merciful and just.

If you had been on board the ark, how would you have felt about the friends and family that you knew were outside drowning? How might this influence your view of God’s coming judgment?

After learning all of this today, in what ways has God called you to believe his word, despite the beliefs of the world around you?

Please give me some feedback on this study. Was it helpful or informative? What would you like to see that you didn’t see here. I will continue to make adjustments as we continue in this series.

The Beginning of Life

For thousands of years, people have asked in astonishment, “How could a good God allow evil to take place?” The consequences of sin can come in the form of “natural evil” including natural disasters, disease, and death. The consequences of sin can also come from intentional evil painfully perpetrated one against another. We should recognize today that nothing we see, is as it should be. As much as the creation reveals our Creator, it also reveals our depravity. Even the earth itself is cursed because of man’s sin.

Just imagine for a moment a time with no evil, no death, no pain and no tears. Is it even possible to imagine? We are surrounded with extreme evil and the thought of perfection is hard to imagine. But, the Garden of Eden was that place; a perfect place with no evil, pain, tears or death. It is only in light of the sinless garden that we can get a taste of the eternal goodness promised to us by God when Jesus returns.

The promise of God is that He will recreate the earth in the future and once again there will be a time when there is no more evil, no death, no pain and no tears.  Yet the world to come will be infinitely better than even the garden!  In it, we will no longer have an opportunity to sin, Satan will be vanquished and we will have an understanding of the graceful redemption wrought on our behalf.  In that day, God will once again dwell among us as He did with Adam and Eve.  In the meantime, believers learn to “reverse the curse” by resisting the temptations of the evil one, by representing God in the fallen world, and by striving to restore broken relationships.

From the very first story of the very first family, sin wreaks havoc on humanity.  They lived in a perfect environment and sinned anyway.  Perhaps “the fall” sounds almost accidental, as though we trip and fall head over heels into sin.  As the story makes clear, Adam and Eve deliberately chose their path and the rest of us have followed in their footsteps.  But with the first sin came God’s first act of redemption.  With each successive story—Cain and Abel, and Noah’s family—we see God’s repeated faithfulness to redeem helpless and hopeless humanity.  God is always the pursuer.  Man’s default position is always to choose sin.  As the cycle continues we are reminded that God alone is our only hope.

As we get ready to start talking about creation this week, think about the plan that God set in motion to get us back. Can you see how this is the greatest love story ever told?

Even though we don’t live in a perfect place, what is the place you like to go that reveals God’s glory to you and helps you feel close to him?

Intro- Questions to Consider

“The Bible is like a pool, shallow enough that a little child can come and get a drink without fear of drowning. So deep that scholars can swim in it and never touch the bottom.” -Martin Luther

I have had a lot of experience going through the Bible. Through all my interaction with the Bible, several things have jumped out at me. One in particular is the fact that the Bible can be very intimidating. New and old Christians alike can be intimidated by this collection of books for several reasons:

  1. People don’t know what to do with the labels applied to the Bible such as inerrant, infallible, inspired, etc.
  2. People often don’t know which translation to read
  3. People don’t seem to know where to start
  4. People get bored by the lists of genealogies and aren’t sure why that stuff matters
  5. People are confused about which parts to read literally and which to take figuratively
  6. People aren’t sure which laws or teachings apply to us today (Old Testament vs New Testament)
  7. People aren’t sure how to interpret various passages
  8. People sometimes have doubts about its validity and relevance today
  9. People are confused by “apparent” contradictions that often discourages them

For the longest time the best way people have dealt with this, is to simply not read the Bible at all and avoid any problems. But, if the Bible is a significant part of our faith then we should be reading it.

So…it’s time that we take our fear and intimidation and cast to the side and we must seek to understand the Bible together.

Over the course of 31 weeks we are going to take a deeper look at the Bible as we read through “The Story.” Let’s understand how this collection of scrolls came into our hands. Let’s take some of the mystery out of the Bible and make it a little less intimidating for people to read.

Before we start our Bible study time together next week, I want to leave you with six questions to consider whenever you are reading your Bible:

  1. Is there an example to follow?
  2. Is there a sin to avoid?
  3. Is there a promise to take to heart?
  4. Is there a command to obey?
  5. Is there a verse to memorize?
  6. Is there a challenge in which to respond?

As we study the Bible together you can go back to these questions if you are ever in a place that doesn’t seem to have a purpose. As you read always keep in mind PEER.

Prepare

Expect to encounter God

Exalt

Respond

Let me know if you have any questions about this study, as it will be different from the rest of the stuff being posted on the blog. I look forward to our journey together through God’s revealed Word.

My Lower Story in God’s Upper Story

Laura Rath will be a regular contributor on this blog throughout the journey we are taking through “The Story.” Today, Laura will help us understand Upper Story and Lower Story, which are very important concepts that will be explored throughout the 31 weeks of this series. We look forward to interacting with you as we find our story together.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

This is one of my favorite verses in Scripture, but sometimes I want to ask, “God, my life doesn’t seem to be going all that well right now. Is this what you have planned for me?

Everyday life often doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand why things happen, why people act the way they do, or why something doesn’t work out when I did my very best. I don’t know why some days are so difficult.

But here’s the thing…my life isn’t the complete story. It’s only a piece of God’s story.

Author and pastor Randy Frazee says to understand the Bible, we need to view it with a dual lens, one that allows us to see the Upper Story and the Lower Story. The Upper Story is God’s grand story of something larger—His eternal plans.

The Lower Story is our individual stories of everyday life—the struggles, the joys, the getting through the day-to-day. God’s Upper Story encompasses our Lower Stories.

Since the very beginning, God has wanted to be with us. That’s why He created Adam, and then Eve. He wanted to be with them every day, to share His love and joy with them, and to live with them in a perfect place—the Garden of Eden.

However, God does not force Himself on us. He wants a personal relationship with each of us, not out of obligation, but because we want to be with Him.

Enter free will.

I used to wonder why God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden to begin with. Maybe you have too. In order to want to be in a relationship with God, we have to have the freedom to choose. God gave us that freedom in the form of a tree. And when Adam and Eve ate from it, we lost the perfect relationship God created us to have with Him. Forever.

From that time on, God’s plan has been to have that relationship with us again. And He has given us that hope through His Son, Jesus Christ. The only way we could ever be with Him again was for Jesus to pay the price of our sins. Through His death and resurrection, He conquered the hold sin has over us. No longer are we slaves to our sinful nature, but through Him we have the ability to align our lives with God’s Will. And when we do, we can know without a doubt that no matter what happens in our Lower Stories, God will work it out for the good of those who love Him.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT

Throughout the Bible, God used the Lower Stories of sometimes the most unlikely people as part of His master plan. And He continues to do this today as He uses our Lower Stories, for good in His Upper Story.

In Christ,

Laura

Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith

Click on the link ^ to explore Laura’s blog page.

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