START AT THE BEGINNING

Part Four of four

RECAP:  If you have been following “Daily Manna with Your Mug”, you are realizing I like to write short, personal writings that are created from my own “conversations” with God and then passed on to you each morning.  When I rise each new day, I get a large mug of coffee and a bowl of Cheerios and “have breakfast with Jesus.  It begins with prayer, reading, thinking, and then writing.  Since completing the Book of Revelation last week, I am led to go back to the beginning—the Genesis of God’s message to us and for us. 

Yesterday we learned how to PRAY before, during and after we read the Word of God to us.  When we stop to pray, asking God what He wants us to know with listening for how He wants us to change our lives, our relationship with God grows even more intimately—like we would with a best friend or mate.  Our relationship grows deeper still as we begin to see those changes, by His power working in us, in every living.  God is doing something that causes us to BE different! 

Remember, this way to understand the Bible has four parts:  READ, THINK, PRAY, LIVE.  We discussed READ in Part One, THINK is Part Two, PRAY in part three, now let’s learn to LIVE!

LIVE

This is where God’s word begins to shape life.  Jesus was the first one to become God’s word in the flesh. 

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved in the neighborhood.  We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory; like Father, like Son.  Generous inside and out, true from start to finish”.  (John 1)

God’s word by its very nature changes us to make us like Christ: “God means what he says.  What he says goes.  His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey”.  (Hebrews 4)

If you read what God has written, think about it, pray through it, but don’t allow it to change you, you’re missing a big point.  James puts it this way:

“Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other.  ACT on what you hear!  Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.”

“But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the FREE life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. THAT person will find delight and affirmation in the action.”  (James 1, emphasis mine)

The great part is that God doesn’t leave you alone.  He doesn’t show you how lost you are and then leave you high and dry.  God helps us live the way he wants.  Like Paul told the Philippians, “Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within us, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure” (Philippians 2)

The amazing thing about reading the Bible is that as we spend time with God, this reading becomes part of us!  Like the way relationships with other humans change us and shape our lives, our relationship with God changes us on a much larger scale.  In lectio divina, reading, thinking, and praying come together within us, become part of us, and are lived out even beyond our awareness—like the way a baseball player swings a bat or catches a ball or the way a violinist performs a concerto.  Over time, soaking in God’s Word leads to our living out those words without even thinking about them.

This offers us a tremendous sense of freedom—from our futile and determined attempts to save ourselves by being “good enough”, from the captivity of sin that makes us slaves.  In Matthew 11, Jesus says, “Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

The Bible and is message help us leave behind things that seem to offer pleasure (like living for ourselves) but fail and leave us empty.  God’s Word does more than that.  You find true life.  Jesus says, in John, “I cam so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of” (John 10).  Jesus himself is life (John 14).  So don’t miss this:  When you live the Word, you truly LIVE!

With these thoughts in mind, Read Genesis 1 one more time. See who God is, how He works and what He thinks of us.

Genesis 1, The Message

Heaven and Earth

1-2 First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.

3-5 God spoke: “Light!”
    And light appeared.
God saw that light was good
    and separated light from dark.
God named the light Day,
    he named the dark Night.
It was evening, it was morning—
Day One.

6-8 God spoke: “Sky! In the middle of the waters;
    separate water from water!”
God made sky.
He separated the water under sky
    from the water above sky.
And there it was:
    he named sky the Heavens;
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Two.

9-10 God spoke: “Separate!
    Water-beneath-Heaven, gather into one place;
Land, appear!”
    And there it was.
God named the land Earth.
    He named the pooled water Ocean.
God saw that it was good.

11-13 God spoke: “Earth, green up! Grow all varieties
    of seed-bearing plants,
Every sort of fruit-bearing tree.”
    And there it was.
Earth produced green seed-bearing plants,
    all varieties,
And fruit-bearing trees of all sorts.
    God saw that it was good.
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Three.

14-15 God spoke: “Lights! Come out!
    Shine in Heaven’s sky!
Separate Day from Night.
    Mark seasons and days and years,
Lights in Heaven’s sky to give light to Earth.”
    And there it was.

16-19 God made two big lights, the larger
    to take charge of Day,
The smaller to be in charge of Night;
    and he made the stars.
God placed them in the heavenly sky
    to light up Earth
And oversee Day and Night,
    to separate light and dark.
God saw that it was good.
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Four.

20-23 God spoke: “Swarm, Ocean, with fish and all sea life!
    Birds, fly through the sky over Earth!”
God created the huge whales,
    all the swarm of life in the waters,
And every kind and species of flying birds.
    God saw that it was good.
God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Ocean!
    Birds, reproduce on Earth!”
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Five.

24-25 God spoke: “Earth, generate life! Every sort and kind:
    cattle and reptiles and wild animals—all kinds.”
And there it was:
    wild animals of every kind,
Cattle of all kinds, every sort of reptile and bug.
    God saw that it was good.

26-28 God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
    reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
    the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
    and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings;
    he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
    He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
    “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
    for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”

29-30 Then God said, “I’ve given you
    every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth
And every kind of fruit-bearing tree,
    given them to you for food.
To all animals and all birds,
    everything that moves and breathes,
I give whatever grows out of the ground for food.”
    And there it was.

31 God looked over everything he had made;
    it was so good, so very good!
It was evening, it was morning—
Day Six.

WHAT WE LEARN—

FIRST GOD.  God is the subject of life.  God is foundational for living.  If we don’t have a sense of the primacy of God, we will never get it right, get life right, get our lives right.  Not God at the margins; not God as an option; not God on the weekends.  GOD at center and circumference; God first and last; GOD, GOD, GOD.

Lord, God of Heaven and Earth,

I begin this day with You.  You are God.  You are First.  I cannot do life without you for as Jesus said, I AM life.  You gave us Life at the beginning and then by your plan to rid us of the death of sin brought us back to Life eternal by believing in your Son who gave His life for us!  I get it, Lord. Continue your transformational work in me.

In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen.

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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