Archives For zachmalott.com

Hello!

Welcome to Livin’ the ‘Tudes, a new blog series here at ZachMalott.com that will paint a moral picture of what it is and what it means to follow in The Way of Jesus Christ. We all have lives. We all exist in a particular location here on this earth. Some of us have no money worries. We were either born into a wealthy family and had the proverbial, silver spoon treatment since birth or maybe we made it on our own by doing things our way – with a little cheating, lying, taking advantage, etc to seal the deals. Some of us, however, have struggled for every little taste of self-worth, kind word, and piece of food that has kept us alive just to face another day of hardship. These two descriptions fit the elite and the so-called poverty-stricken of modern day society.

There is yet another part of society that fills the vast void between those who have and the have-nots. This part of society has existed because of an economy that was manufactured by that elite, rich group that — since the industrial revolution — has produced the largest segment of our society for many, many years: the so-called middle class. This middle class has replaced the surfs and slaves and this class works for others, the elite rich (those who control the world’s businesses and industries). Why are we discussing the class system in a post that is to reveal how mankind can follow Jesus in a world gone mad? Give me just a few minutes of your time and the meaning will become quite clear.

This brief and incomplete discussion of the history from societies around the globe, both past and present, point to a common denominator – the greedy, selfish governance of man. Mankind is part of a fallen creation that has existed since Eden with one, driving and domineering purpose: the benefit of self. This self, this burden that we place upon ourselves or others place upon us, is the illusion and not the reality.

For those of you who were born about 30 years ago, do you remember when the commodore 64 appeared for home use? I do. You were just being born around that time. The personal computer, Windows, Bill Gates, the internet, AOL, MSN, Google, Yahoo, the brick cellphone, the flip phone, flat screens, laptops, the iPhone, the iPad, the Android, etc. just to name some of the marvelous inventions we have today came along after that!  Where is this train of thought going?

“Mankind is drawn to the selfishness and greed-filled lifestyle like a moth to an open flame.”

Think about this. Anyone 25 years old or less doesn’t remember a time when the personal computer wasn’t around. I remember when Oswald shot President Kennedy on the streets of Dallas. Not one of the things listed above was in existence. Not one. The very things that our society not only enjoys but society as we now know it – depends on these things totally. Have you ever been a customer when the power goes out and you are trying to pay out at the register? I have. Mind-boggling. People can’t make change anymore!

I digress.

The point of the above discussion on change is to focus your attention from the present and to review the past 30 years to paint a portrait of change. There are many things that have changed. Since when, you may ask? How about since Christ was born into the human race? How about the middle ages, or perhaps, the renaissance? Actually, we don’t have to go quite that far back in world history to focus on real change. Let’s just go to the early 1900’s. There we see a time before the great depression, WWI was in the near future but has not happened yet, WWII wouldn’t be happening for another 30 plus years. When the Second World War did come about in the mid-40’s, we can look back over that period and see many changes in American life that have occurred. The one thing that really stands out to me is how slow change occurred back then compared to now: even over the past 30 years.

With this change now circulating through your thought processes, the purpose for the above discussion is at hand.   Let’s take an overview of human nature from the period of time just covered. I should think a brief look back at history would fill in that blank. All societies, for the most part, have self at the forefront. Selfishness, greed, hatred, cruelty, atrocities, and vulgarities, debaucheries, and every wrong act can be seen as the base of every past society as well as those in our present society today.  Mankind is drawn to the selfishness and greed-filled lifestyle like a moth to an open flame. Why is this? Because mankind, on his/her own (apart from God), are selfish beyond the wildest imagination of the thinking individual. The question is – why?

Next week, we will investigate the question of why. Why does mankind, in varying degrees, seem to gravitate towards the things that the Holy Bible, the word of God, calls sin?

See you next week to further investigate secular (outside of the will of God) lifestyles and how they fit upon that path called The Way by 1st century Christians. There is a way back to The Way. If it is followed, it guarantees to the follower a map that will lead to the closest relationship with Christ Jesus possible. Do you want that kind of relationship with Jesus? Will you join me through this series that points to that path?

Please comment on this series, your input is welcome and desired.

DISCLAIMER: The brevity and over-simplification of history above is necessary in order to summarize. I am not attempting to write a history book.

Blessings,

Zach

The Forgotten Secret Of Life

September 28, 2013

 

Hello all!

It’s wonderful to see you all and to be able to share with you again!
I pray you are doing well and I want you to know that I pray for my regular readers and everyone who is drawn to my blog by the Holy Spirit of God. Praise the mighty and holy name of our Lord,

There’s just something about fall, isn’t there? Leaves are already falling from the trees where I live and the air has a definite tinge of Fall Festival about it.

I am reminded of the seasons of life as I walk familiar paths that I have walked through the years of ever changing seasons.

God’s creation reveals His presence as surely as His word. His word makes sense of the specific questions that crop up during the changing seasons of our lives, doesn’t it? For instance, when I was a child, I pondered much different questions than I did as a young adult.

The thoughts that troubled me in middle age have since been resolved and replaced by questions more appropriate to my present and final season.

In retrospect, I can see my past seasons as a classroom preparing me in advance for each progressing, future season which, in turn, prepped and prepared me for each proceeding one right up to today. I write this as I slide into position from fall to the beginnings of the winter of my life.

“I can’t even walk without I’m holding His hand.”

I enter it unafraid due to the successful and God-led path I have followed through the first three seasons—my undergraduate degree in life, if you will. I feel prepared to tackle acceptance as my post graduate thesis during this race of endurance towards the finish line of the winter of my life.

The goal of this endurance being the prize of eternal life with Christ forever.
It’s amazing to me how the winding down of our personal life clock seems to be at odds with our level of creativity and confidence that God will see us through in our quest to touch the lives of others in a meaningful and enlightening way.

The older I seem to get, the more ambition for the kingdom work I appear to have!  As I painstakingly continue with my manuscript and ministerial duties, I find these insightful moments from God refreshing my mind and clarifying my spiritual calling.

It is during such insightful moments, alone and in conversation with God, that I am reminded, “I can’t even walk without I’m holding His hand.”

Until next time!

Zach

QUESTION: Do you have a salvation relationship with Jesus Christ?

Hello and welcome back!

My wife, Rhonda, asked me to say hello to you so here it is:

Rhonda: “Hello everyone!  Enjoy your study!”

Thank you, dear.  Ok, let’s get started!

I pray that all is well in your life as we begin this next look into the parables of Jesus.

Today, we are going to take a look at the overall, Big Picture of the parable.  In other words, each parable that Jesus tells reveals the Big Picture and that picture was, is, and always will be The Kingdom of Heaven!

You may be thinking, “What?  Every parable that Jesus tells that is recorded in God’s holy word, the Bible, is talking about the kingdom of heaven?”

Yes it is — the kingdom and what it consists of.

“This study reveals to the children of God the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven that the great prophets longed to see and understand but were not allowed to see during their earthly lives.”

Sometimes the kingdom of heaven is referred to as the kingdom of God.  They are both the same thing.  There is only one kingdom; it is God’s kingdom in heaven.  Matthew makes this quite plain:

He answered them, ‘Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them’” [emphasis mine].

~ Matthew 13:11 (HCSB)

The reason that we are also studying the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount along with Jesus’ parables is because the kingdom of heaven is also the big picture there also; in fact, Jesus’ whole 3 ½ year ministry was about the kingdom of God!

Within the big picture of the kingdom of God we also find three close-up snap shots.  These three snapshots are as follows:

The Character of the Kingdom of God

The main parables that reflect this character of the kingdom are:

  •  The Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32).
  • The Leaven (Matthew 13:33).
  • The Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13:44).
  • The Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13:45-46).

The King’s Character presents a snapshot within the big picture of the kingdom of Jesus Himself:

  •  The Vineyard Workers (Matthew 20:1-16).
  • The Prodigal (Lost) Son (Luke 15:11-32)

Character of the Subjects of God’s kingdom is referring to the individuals that make up the body of Christ in the church:

  • The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).
  • The Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8).

In this study, we are not eliminating the other parables.  What we are doing is showing the parables that point out these three snap shots and the obvious parables that represent them; all within the main big picture of the kingdom of God.

The other parables of Jesus also represent one or more of these three, close up snapshots of The kingdom’s character, the king’s character, and the subjects of the kingdom’s character.  All of the parables will be covered in this study!

This study reveals to the children of God the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven that the great prophets longed to see and understand but were not allowed to see during their earthly lives.

You have that privilege because you are resting in Jesus because you have been saved and adopted into the kingdom ( if not, please consider accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior).

Take a look at Matthew 13:11 and Matthew 13:35 below:

He answered them, ‘Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them’” (emphasis mine; those who are not true followers).

~ Matthew 13:11 (HCSB)

Now look at Matthew 13:35 below:

“…so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: I will open My mouth in parables; I will declare things kept secret from the foundation of the world.”

~ Matthew 13:35 (HCSB)

This scripturally proves that until this time in the history of God’s creation these truths have never been revealed even to God’s chosen people.  They were not even revealed even to Abraham, Moses, David, all the way up until the ministry of Christ Jesus began that gave birth to the Church Age.

Before you begin this study of the parables of Jesus Christ, please consider the following Scripture verses:

“Then He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.’”

~ Mark 16:15-16 (HCSB)

Are you saved?  Have you received Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?  He is the only way to the Father and eternal life.  There are two paths; one leads to God and forgiveness for sin while the other leads to eternal damnation in the lake of eternal fire.

Please consider, “If you were to die today, do you know where you will spend eternity?”

That’s it for this post!  I have enjoyed sharing this time with you.

Next post, we will begin our study by painting a Word Picture of the kingdom of heaven!

I pray blessings on you and look forward to seeing you soon next post!

Until next time…

Zach

QUESTION:  Do You Know Jesus As Your Personal Lord And Savior?  Do You Know That You Are Going To Heaven?

Hello and welcome back!

I am so pleased that you dropped in!  I pray that my time and effort in writing these posts are benefiting you to grasp the great truths of God as Jesus taught through the beatitudes and now — the parables of Jesus!

We will be alternating from the beatitudes and the parables for the next few weeks.  This will provide you with a more three-dimensional connection between the beatitudes and the parables—which will be eye-opening!

Please let me know by commenting on these posts if they are being of benefit to you!  It’s lonely behind this screen and I would love some feedback from you followers of Christ!

If you do not know Jesus, I would appreciate your comments also!

“We can learn what Jesus taught the original disciples about the mysteries of God’s Kingdom…!”

I so enjoy taking the subject matter and allowing the Holy Spirit to present me with insightful ways in which to express it.  I am a storyteller.  I am enamored by a good story.  I’m sure that you are yourself.

Throughout this study, I will attempt to write this study in a conversational tone and to keep it lively and interesting.

This first post will be an introduction into the parables of Jesus.

You know, Jesus was an excellent storyteller!  I’m not sure if you are aware of this but about 2/3’s of everything Jesus spoke in the New Testament was in the form of a parable (story)!

Jesus used parables because they helped those with seeking eyes and ears to comprehend and form more concrete mental pictures and concepts so much better than mere abstract expressions.

So just what is a good definition of a parable?

The actual Koine (common) Greek word is parabole pronounced [pair-a-bowl-ley’].  It simply means a story placed beside of what you wish to compare it to in order to aid the listener to comprehend.

Example: “A newborn baby is like a delicate flower that has just blossomed and lightly covered with the warm dew of a fresh, new summer’s day.”

Notice the word like in the above example?  Most parables start out by saying, “Something is like something else.”  Jesus knew what he was doing!  He compared something that the disciples understood and could visualize with something that they had no comprehension about.

The comparative stories allowed them to hear and see the spiritual through the comparison to the physical!

The disciples came up to Jesus and outright asked Him why he told these stories.

He told them in Matthew 13:10-17 (All Scripture is from the HCSB), and I paraphrase:

 “Hey guys, I handpicked all of you and the secrets of the kingdom of heaven is for you to know, not for them.  The ones who “get it” will get even more but those who “don’t get it” — even the little they do get will be removed from them.”

Then He let them see that this wasn’t His idea but what God gave Him to say from the prophet Isaiah:

You will listen and listen, yet never understand; and you will look and look, yet never perceive.  For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn back— and I would cure them.”

Then Jesus continues:

“Your eyes are blessed (happy and totally contented in Jesus) because your eyes can see and you can hear and understand these stories.  Let me tell you for sure, the prophets of old would have given their eye teeth to hear and see what you see now and understand.”

After reading the above dialog, I pray that you go to your Bible and read Matthew 13:10-17 and not just rely on my paraphrase.  This paraphrase is for presenting the blog in a conversational tone.

The Bible is the inspired word of God and that is where your study needs to concentrate and derive from.

 You can readily see that Jesus had two purposes in using His parables:    

  • Because the people’s hearts were hardened and the parables were used to conceal.  This kept those seeking for truth separated from the fair-weather fan
  • He also wanted to reveal in order for His disciples to be able to understand what the kingdom of heaven was and then they could begin to grow towards Christ-likeness as they followed Him.

This will allow us to see what the Word of God can teach us from the parables of Jesus — through the ministry of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.   We can learn what Jesus taught the original disciples about the mysteries of God’s Kingdom and utilize it in our own walk with Him!

Next post, we will delve into what the parables consist of.  In other words, we will take the parables, break them down into categories, and discover—perhaps for some it will be the first time—the simplicity and the complexity of God’s holy word.

Until then, I will be praying for your Christian walk and also thanking God for allowing me the opportunity to minister, teach, and be of service to you!

Until next time!

Zach

QUESTION: Has this introduction been helpful to you?  Why?

Hello and welcome back!

This post will provide some background information before we start our first beatitude study, “The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (Matt. 5:3, HCSB).  If you have not read the earlier post: Part One

Reflections on Life

Wow!  The weather in New Mexico is crazy!  Yesterday, it was beautiful (sunny and warm) and today it is beautiful (cloudy and cold).  What I mean to say here is that I love all kinds of weather because I relish variety!  Looking out my study window, I am enjoying seeing the occasional flurries of snowflakes falling.

Birds are sitting on the branches of the tree and the wind is gently blowing through the newly blossoming buds of green.  Winter and spring meet in contest but it is spring that is gaining momentum and winter will soon fade into the past.

Come to think about it, what I just described above is like our lives, isn’t it?  We have seasons.  We are born and grow up in the spring of our lives.  Everything seems to go on forever, one day leading into another in an endless procession of springtime breezes.

Then summer is upon us.  We mature, get married, raise a family and the days just seem to become a blur as fall approaches while we aren’t looking.  When the first leaves of our lives begin to change from green to various tones of browns and yellow, we notice that our children are raising families of their own.  As we are raking the leaves of our lives, our children’s leaves are just beginning to bud.

I am now at the end of my personal, fall season.  The winter of my life is fast approaching.  I have raked the leaves, put away my rake and leaf blower, and I sit here looking out at the tree that is blossoming with new life — even during winter’s last efforts to hold on.  As I look at the birds sitting in its branches, I reflect upon the winter season of my life that is fast approaching and I rejoice!

  • I rejoice because I am still running the race!
  • I rejoice because I know where it is that I am going!
  • I rejoice because this season is in God’s timing and His timing is perfect!
  • I rejoice because I am His and He is mine!

What season of life are you now in?

What season is coming?

Where are you at in this season of your life as you walk with Jesus?

It all depends upon your understanding of the Christian character and how you are developing it!  Let’s take a look at some background information needed before we begin our study of the Christian character model that Jesus provided us in the Sermon on the Mount.

The Christian Character

Did you know that Jesus has provided us the perfect Christian character development course that has ever been written?  He has!  The entire world seeks after happiness!  Unfortunately, the method in which they seek happiness has a way of turning into unhappiness.  Why is that?  Why is it that happiness, the goal of every person, seems to occur fleetingly — only to dissolve into misery and dejection?

“The beatitudes describe the character traits that separate us from the character traits of the world.”

Could it be that the world is looking for happiness on the sinful road that leads to misery and rejection?  Yes, Christians, we need to be following Christ in order to obtain true happiness.  So many Christians are missing the meaning Jesus provided in the Sermon on the Mount.

There are so many of us are caught up in the religion of our walk that we sometimes forget that Jesus is looking at our hearts.  It’s not about what we—DO—it’s all about who we ARE!  It is not so much our DOING but our BEING!  Jesus died because we cannot DO the law!

He died so that we can BECOME like Him!  The Sermon on the Mount is not about our OUTSIDE but all about our INSIDE!  It had nothing to do with empty, external religious traditions but all about who we are in Jesus!

What is the Christian character that Jesus provides the blueprint for in the Sermon on the Mount?  What is it that will bring us that elusive happiness that we all so crave?  Jesus looks at our character before he looks at how we act.  It is our character that determines our actions.

What to Expect

In the beatitudes, Jesus shows us how Christians are to become like Him.  The beatitudes describe the character traits that separate us from the character traits of the world.  These character traits in the beatitudes are portraits of Christ and not a portrait of the world.  The beatitudes describe the divine difference between those IN Christ and those who are not.

[IMPORTANT]: Please remember and tuck this away in your heart:  The Bible tells us to be LIKE Jesus and not the world.  The beatitudes provide the vehicle in which to do so.  Please join with me next post for the first study of the beatitude, “The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (Matt. 5:3, HCSB).

 

Until next time…

Zach

QUESTION:  WHAT DOES “POOR IN SPIRIT” MEAN?

Hello and welcome back!

It’s good to see you and I hope you are enjoying the site!  This will be part 4 in this series of posts.  If this is your first visit to the site, you may benefit by reading the first three posts of this series.  You will find them in the sidebar to the right under recent posts!

Last post, we left when God places the cherubim to guard and keep Adam and Eve from returning to the Garden and eating from the tree of life.  Let’s return, shall we, and see what happens next?  Yes?

Ok!  Here we go!

“Well,” Adam sighs as both Eve and he look back towards the entrance to the Garden, which is slowly disappearing in the distance, “Looks like we messed up bad, huh?”  He hitches his load and begins to slowly make his way up the incline and through the barren, rocky terrain they find themselves entering.

“I suppose so,” Eve responds, in a breathless expulsion of air, as she struggles with her smaller but necessary load of fruit and berries.  “Do you think God will ever speak to us again?” she questions as they both trudge onward.

“No idea, but I hope so. We best find someplace to settle and build shelter because it’s gettin’ late,” he suggests, as the sweat begins to run down his forehead and into his eyes for the first time in his life, “The animals seem different somehow, and I feel that they are looking at us in a way that is discomforting to me.”  They continue onward as the sun begins to get closer to the horizon.

“Yeah,” Cain mutters when they are deep into his field, “and just for making me look bad in front of God, I’m going to kill you!”

They keep up their pace for several hours until they are fearful to go any further.  Darkness begins to cover the land and the chill in the air begins to seep more deeply into their bones.

“Let’s camp over there under that tree, build a fire, and eat some of that fruit before we try to sleep, I’m starving!” Adam suggests while Eve continues on towards the tree he had pointed to. She slowly and  with unaccustomed stiffness — lowers her leather skin pouch — made from the leftover skins from which God had fashioned their first real garments.  The next morning, they set out again and finally settle into a nice area beside a stream that appears large enough to be flowing year around.

Much later, Adam and Eve are intimate and they later have a son from that union whom they name Cain.  Eve turns to Adam and joyfully exclaims, “God has helped me to produce a man!”  After more time passes, she produces another son for Adam and names him — Abel.  As Able grows older, his calling is to become a shepherd of his own flock.   Cain is drawn to the fields and cultivates them.  When the time comes, Cain takes some of the produce that he has cultivated from the soil of his field and presents it to Lord God as an offering.  Abel also presents to God some of his most prized animals from his flock along with their portions of fat.

God is very, very pleased with Abel’s offering to Him and shows his pleasure in it.  Cain’s offering, however, not so much — no, not at all.  Cain becomes infuriated with God over this and becomes very sullen, hostile, bitter,  and morose.

After a time, God speaks to Cain, “Hey, what’s causing you to look so down in the mouth?  Change your attitude and motivations, son, for offering your sacrifices to me and won’t I accept you also?”  Then God continues, “But Cain, listen to me now— if you don’t change that selfish and self-seeking attitude, you are going to fall deeply under the power of the sin that is ready to pounce right on top of you and devour you.”

God continues to look at the prideful and arrogant look on Cain’s features and continues, “Cain, sin would like nothing better than to take complete control over your thinking for that is its purpose and desire.  The choice is completely yours and it’s on your head to master it.”

For some reason this just seems to set and hard-mold Cain’s attitude completely for the worse.

Later, Cain is talking to his brother Able and invites him to follow along into his field.  Able says, “Sure, big brother, I have my flock fed and nothing really to do for the rest of the day so this will be a good time for us to get together!”  Able then continues, “Actually, we need this because you and I haven’t had much fellowship together since we both prepared our sacrifices for God!”

“Yeah,” Cain mutters when they are deep into his field, “and just for making me look bad in front of God, I’m going to kill you!”  Cain promptly overpowers his younger brother and kills him, shedding his blood right then and there.  Later, God calls out to Cain, who isn’t exactly overjoyed to hear His voice.

“Cain…Cain, where is your brother, Able?” God questions when he comes up on him.  Cain feels the all-knowing  gaze of God’s all-seeing eyes upon him as he looks at the ground in absolute dread and replies sarcastically through false bravado, “How would I know, do I look like my brother’s keeper?”

“Cain, what is it that you have done!” God announces with the tone of righteous accusation, “I hear your brother’s blood calling out to me from the very ground beneath your feet!”

Cain can only stand there, frozen in silence and dread but holding onto his sullen arrogance and pride as God continues, “You are now cursed and alienated from this very ground that was soaked with your brother’s blood and that swallowed it up and took it into itself!”  God then points His finger at Cain and finishes the curse, “This land will never produce a crop for you again so you will be forced to become a wanderer, restlessly moving from place to place throughout the world.”

Cain looks up at God, with eyes that plead for mercy — half whispering, half groaning through his still stubborn pride and arrogance — “This is too great a punishment to carry, Lord God!”  He slowly casts a glance around him and continues, “You are banishing me from the land, You are making me hide my presence from You and You are causing me to wander aimlessly from place to place — no place to settle — and anyone who finds me will surely kill me!”

God responds to Cain’s plea for mercy and says, “If anyone kills you, Cain, you will be avenged seven times over.”  God then places a mark to identify Cain — that if anyone finds him they will realize the punishment if they kill him.

Cain leaves the presence of the Lord, wanders until he enters an area east of Eden called the Land of Nod, and begins to wander that area—foraging to make his way.

[The end].

I hope that you have enjoyed my narrative of the Genesis account of the Fall as well as the development of the two, separate lines extending from Adam and Eve. My prayer is that I was able to paint a mental, pictorial portrait of these lines for you.  I also hope that the resulting two lines—the line from the first Adam to the second (the Messiah, Jesus Christ) that proceeds through the righteous line of Seth and the unrighteous line that progresses through the line of Cain will demonstrate the course of obedience and disobedience throughout biblical history.  I am equally hopeful that the shadows of things that follow throughout the Bible until today have been made evident to you as well.

Please join with us by subscribing to this site above and enjoy receiving my free, quarterly newsletter that I will provide you. This newsletter, All Things Christian, will present timely information and links to interesting Christian materials for you!  You will also be qualified to receive free gifts and information that non-subscribers will not eligible to receive.  You have my word that your email is safely kept and will never be given or sold to anyone.  We wish to keep you for ourselves in our Christian community!  🙂

Also, please consider the questions in bold below and respond as your responses help in creating a relevant and interesting experience for all Christians to enjoy and to join along with you here on the Christian site!  Thank you and enjoy this link to my other book blog site, 21st Century Confusion

Until next time!

Zach

QUESTION:  CAN YOU SEE THE SHADOW OF A DISCIPLE’S WALK IN ABEL? CAN YOU SEE SHADOW OF THE UNSAVED BEING CAST INTO OUTER DARKNESS WITHIN THIS NARRATION FROM THE BOOK OF GENESIS?  WHAT OTHER SHADOWS OF THINGS TO COME DO YOU DISCOVER?

Hello and welcome back!  If you haven’t read the first, two installments for this post series, you can read the first post and the second post  before reading on if you wish.

Are you about ready to return to the Garden to the very place we were observing Adam and Eve last as they were making coverings for their bodies. Remember? It was just when we heard God call out to Adam?  Yes? Me too!

Let’s hurry back and get settled in and hear what God has to say about this trespass against Him!

[…continued from 03/16/13]

We were observing both Adam and Eve as they hurriedly prepared coverings out of fig leaves and vines.  Actually, they designed some pretty nice coverings — a little retro for my taste — however, very efficient.

Wait!  Remember last time?  Is that God calling Adam?!

“Adam, Adam — where are you?”  God calls out as He is walking in the cool of the evening.  “You’re supposed to be here like you are every evening for fellowship!”

“Here I am, Lord God, I heard you calling but I really don’t want you to see me and the woman naked so I was busy making some of these really eclectic coverings out of these fig leaves and threading them together with these small vines,” he stuttered, trying to get God’s attention off of the circumstances, “You think these duds will catch on?”

      “You are going to have to work your fingers to the bone and strain your back just to get anything to eat from the ground for the rest of your days.”

“Ok, stop with the pretense already, Adam, who told you that you are naked?  Did you get into the fruit of the only tree in the Garden that I specifically commanded you not to eat from?”

“Not really, it was this woman that you gave me, Lord God,” Adam whines and complains, “She just up and pulled one off that tree, took a big chunk out of it, and then had the audacity to hand it to me to eat.  I really had no choice! You know how a woman can be!” Adam responds as he hangs his head — trying not to make eye contact with his Lord and God — hoping his reasoning will appease Him.

God turns to Eve and asks, “Just what in the Garden do you think you’re doing?” he asked.

“Lord!” she stammers, “It’s that talking snake over there hiding behind the tree,” she answers with a tremble of fear and dread, “he made me do it!  He deceived me and I grabbed it and ate!”

God looks at where the woman is pointing.  He slowly approaches where the serpent is hiding and with a stern voice, he loudly declares, “Ok!   Because you have done this, I am going to curse you more than any livestock or any animal for that matter!” He looks at Satan and says, “You are going to crawl on your belly in the dust and eat it for all your days!”

He then turns and points at the woman and resumes His admonishment, “I’m placing a bitter parting of the ways — a hostility — between you and the woman,” he informed Satan, “and between your seed and hers!”  Then, with a final thrust, He continues, “He will grant you a fatal blow but you will only be able to temporarily slow Him down!”

Then God turns back to the woman and stares deeply into her eyes before saying, “As for you,” he declares in indignation, “you will have such pain when you have children that you will wish you had never been born!”  Letting that sink in, He then continues, “You will hurt for hours in giving sons and daughters to the man but you will always come back in desire for him, regardless of how bad having his children hurts and he will dominate you!”

He then turns to the man, walks over, points His finger at him, and commands, “As for you, it’s because of you that the very ground — that has lovingly begat the plants and trees here in the Garden for you — will be cursed!”  He waits for effect and continues, “You are going to have to work your fingers to the bone and strain your back just to get anything to eat from the ground for the rest of your days!”

God stares long and hard at the man again and resumes his curse, “All you are going to see are thorns and thistles in your way and you will have to fight for every square inch of space in order eat bread as you sweat for everything you grow!”  God then solemnly continues, “You will eventually return to the ground from where you were brought up out of because you are mere dust and to dust you will return because of your disobedience!”

Adam turns to his wife, “Oh man, I’m going to call you Eve — that means the mother of all living!”

God killed some game and made clothes for both of them.  Adam responded, “Lord, I really think our clothing design looks more pleasing to the eye but I recognize the value of the leather since I am going to have to bust my chops to feed all the kids Eve will have to suffer in bringing into the world.”

God then began speaking, “Ok, we have to place cherubim with those fancy swords to guard the Garden so that these two don’t eventually slip back in and eat from the tree of life and live forever!”  They watched the cherubim whirl their flaming swords around and around. God stated matter-of-factly, “Wow, they are a great creation! With these cherubim getting their fancy sword play on — I see no way those two will be able to get back in now!”  [to be continued…].

Until next time!

Zach

QUESTION:  HAVE YOU EVER SUFFERED CONSEQUENCES FOR BEING DISOBEDIENT TO GOD IN YOUR LIFE?

 

 

 

Hello and welcome back!

It’s great to see you!  Remember last time?  We took a little trip back into time to the Garden as Satan planted the seed of disobedience and Eve was being seriously tempted?

Let’s return again to that exact time in creation!

[…continued from 03/14/13]

The last post ended just as Satan had pretty much opened the door to Eve’s ego.  Satan is coiling, flicking his forked tongue, and selfishly gloating over the look of selfishness he had planted in Eve’s eyes.

“Thaaat’s riiight!” Satan whispers to himself in ecstasy as Eve timidly reaches towards the forbidding fruit.  The sun is shining gloriously and it is a beautiful day in Eden.  It is difficult to tell at first because the change is so subtle.  Suddenly, it becomes quite noticeable — it’s too quiet!

Wow!  We already know what happens next!  I’ve read it, you’ve read it, and all of Christianity has read about this creation-changing incident in Genesis.  Doesn’t seeing it, as it happens, cause you to want to shout out, “Noooo!”

Shhhhh!  It’s God’s plan and nothing can stop it.  Be quiet.  Let’s watch.

There is just something unsettling about the first sin ever committed by mankind.  As all of creation waits in suspended horror, Eve’s fingers slowly but surely extend and everything plays out in slow motion.  Her fingers begin to close upon the forbidden fruit that almost seems to shimmer in the mid-afternoon sunlight.

 

“Surely we won’t die!” She whispers, “The serpent told me we would be gods!”

 

“Go ahead, make my daaaay,” Satan continues to whisper over and over as he waits with baited breath.  Eve tightens her grip on the fruit, slowly begins to pull it, and suddenly—the stem suddenly separates from the body of the fruit and—the unbelievable and horrifying deed is completed.

Disobedience has gone from a temptation to action.  The first temptation has been acted upon.

“Yesssss!”  Satan hisses, gleefully coiling around and around as Eve takes the first bite.  She then hands it off to Adam who sniffs it and then, slowly raises the fruit to his mouth and takes his portion of the deadly curse that has now fallen upon mankind and all of creation.

Sin and death has now been turned loose in creation!

“Oh yes, oh yessss,” Satan weaves around bobbing his head in time with his chant.  “It’s over, it’s done!  I win, I win, I winnnn!” He hisses loudly!  Eve looks at Adam and Adam returns her gaze, “What have we done!” Adam shrieks.  Adam takes Eve’s hand, dropping the forbidden fruit on the ground and begins running.  He has no idea where he is going, he is just running, running, and running deeper into the trees.  There is no place to run.  There is no place to hide.  Sin—is now in the world.  Everything has changed.  He turns towards Eve, who is looking bewildered and frightened.

“Surely we won’t die!” She whispers, “The serpent told me we would be gods!”

“Well,” Adam glares before responding any further, “I don’t feel like any god, I feel scared and lost!”  Both of them begin looking around.  They then begin gathering the large fig leaves from the branches—threading small vines through them, making coverings for their new-found nakedness.

Can you believe that?  Reading about it is hard enough, but seeing it is mind blowing! They have everything they could possibly want!  They have it all but they trade it for a lie!

They trade eternity and perfection for forbidden knowledge, knowledge that leads to death and separation from their Creator!  Listen!  Do you hear something?

Mid morning turns into afternoon and as the sun begins casting ever elongating shadows upon the ground, a voice is heard softly calling:

“Adam, Adam—where are you?  [To be continued…]

 

Until next time!

 

Zach

 

QUESTION:  WERE BOTH ADAM AND EVE THE FIRST DISCIPLES SINCE THEY WERE THE FIRST TO FOLLOW THE COMMANDS OF GOD?

How to Poison a Disciple!

March 14, 2013

Hello!

I don’t know about you, but I often ponder the mystery of eternal life with Jesus.  I remember when I was young; I had different visuals in my mind’s eye than I do now.  Over the years, I have come to understand the deeper meaning of our permanent, eternal home with Christ and Father God.

What used to appear to be a place longed for by the dying and despondent has now been clarified in my mind to represent the place that true Christians long for regardless of age or how great life on earth is going for them or not.

In other words, I mean that this has been our destination ever since the journey began at creation back in the Garden!  The end goal has always been to arrive at the end of our earthly sojourn to eternal life in the paradise that heaven is and that was promised by Christ himself.

Let’s take a trip!  No, not a journey by automobile or plane!  Let’s take a journey in our minds and discover what it is we, as Christians, need to realize: regardless of what takes place around us in this life.  Are you ready?  Let’s go!

The Portrait of True Discipleship

Here we are!  We have safely arrived in the Garden where it all started for mankind (us).  There is Adam and Eve over there.  Wow!  What a time to arrive!  Eve just wandered off and Adam is following her.  What is she doing?  She is talking with someone!   No, not someone but some-THING!  What is it?  Oh my, it’s a snake — a talking snake!  Let’s sneak up behind that bush there and see if we can hear what they are talking about:

“You will be as smart as God and He just can’t stand the thought of that!”

“Whaaaat!” giggled the snake, “God told you what?”  He then rolled his eyes and let out a belly laugh, “If you believe that, let me sell you a bridge in the far, distant future for a song!” he replied and began to coil slowly down the tree trunk and onto the ground.

“What we got here, missy, is a lack of communication!” he exclaimed with glee as he ran his forked tongue in and out of his mouth with a flicking motion.  “Psssssst,” he whispered to Eve.   Becoming wary,  she slowly approached the Serpent.

“What do you want?” Eve questioned in response to the Serpent’s attempt to gain her attention.  “God told me not to talk to strangers,” she informed.

“Hey!” the Serpent replied.  “I’m no stranger!” he bleated in false anger, “I have been around here longer than you!”

“Oh, Eve responded,” then she offered, “Ok, then what is it you want?”

“Wellll,” the snake replied, “It’s not really about what I want — it’s all about what God wants!  He knows that if you eat of that tree over there you will not surely die but will obtain the knowledge of God and will become a God yourself!” he gleefully shrieked as his eyes darted back and forth, making sure that God was not already walking in the cool of the evening.

“You will be as smart as God and He just can’t stand the thought of that!” he happily informed the confused Eve.  “Go ahead, trust me, why would I lie about something as fantastic as that!” he stated with a look of innocence on his evil countenance.

“Well, God told us not to even touch it, that we would surely die!” she responded, “was he just telling me that to keep me from being smart?” Eve said, looking around at the tree that stood there in the middle of the Garden.

“Exactly!”  Satan said, coming towards her, herding her towards the tree, “Go ahead, eat — become a god!” Satan glowers, offering the poison of deceit.

Eve reaches out, grasps the fruit in her hand, and… (continued)

Until next time!

Zach

QUESTION: IF YOU KNOW HOW THIS SCENE TURNS OUT—THAT’S GOOD—THAT’S VERY, VERY GOOD!    IF YOU WERE IN EVE’S PLACE, WOULD YOU HAVE DISOBEYED GOD’S COMMAND?

Living In God’s Rest

February 17, 2013

Hello Everyone!

I pray you are all well and have had a wonderful weekend and a restful and enlightening Sunday!  Speaking of restful Sunday, I am so excited and honored to be able to introduce you to a new book that will bring new focus on a subject as old as history.

A good friend of mine, Nancy LaPointe—who is a Christian counselor and an author — has a recently published her new book entitled, Living In God’s Rest: At Peace In A Chaotic World.  Rather than rush right into this book review, I would like to present what I perceive to be an intense experience in discovering God’s rest and peace for the author.  This experience can be yours also!

I personally met Nancy and her husband for the first time through a mutual friend.  Nancy and her husband came to our mission church on the Mescalero Apache reservation in SE New Mexico to offer their gift of service during a revival we were holding.  The second time that we worked together revolved around her providing Christian counseling for one of my church members.

She is the real deal and her main purpose for writing this book is in obedience of her call from God to do so.  That being said — let us take a look at what I call a very Spirit-filled and spiritually enlightening experience.  Yes, that’s right.  I said a spiritually enlightening experience, not just a great read from a great book.

Nancy has a way of making God’s truths come alive.  Her writing style is one of lively communication, a — from her to you — verbalization in written form that expands your thinking about God’s word while lifting you to new heights of understanding and application of God’s truths.   In other words, her new book is an experience of meeting God face-to-face as you lose yourself in its pages.

Nancy’s book is organized into 16 delightful chapters that take you on a journey of understanding, desiring, and finding God’s rest.  It is full of biblical Scripture references that provide contextual truths as sign posts on your journey of discovery.   God’s rest for yourself and those you love can be found within its pages.  You will find extremely comforting and beneficial meditations on Scripture that provide the living water from the well of Jesus’ love.

This book paints a picture, in well chosen and thoughtful prose, revealing the Chaos in the world and God’s answer to it.  With stunning narrative and talented story-telling, Nancy paints that picture in multi-colored dimensions that not only make her words come alive but allow her words to sink deep down inside — providing  a warmth of understanding that you can’t bear to put down.

This is one book that provides a three-dimensional look at the many aspects of resting in God.  Unlike other books that touch on this subject, the reader comes away from the experience with a deep and abiding desire to have a closer walk with Christ.  Learning how to live in God’s rest allows you to see yourself in perspective, to notice the anxiety that comes from running from crisis to crisis — depending on self.  You discover and gain experience putting your faith and trust in Him.

Nancy describes the experience of putting on Christ and His righteousness and seeing yourself and the world in like-mindedness with Him.  Nothing can grow your faith better than seeing things through His eyes.  The medical profession has known for decades that rest for the body is one of the best medications one can have for physical illnesses.  Nancy provides a worldview from God’s plan for us.   She provides guidance in discovering your path to living in God’s rest for healing damaged emotions and the damaging effects of depression.  We are vividly shown how to recognize positive change, how to prevent satanic deception, and to be humble and accepting of God’s sovereignty in our lives.

This book also tackles the subject of suffering in the lives of Christians and sheds truth on this subject in a way that opens the heart and provides understanding.  The last two chapters of Living In God’s Rest wrap this package of the pearls of wisdom that are found between its covers.  I choose to allow you to discover these blessings, like a child opening its long-awaited presents, because the joy is in the discovery!  Happy discoveries!

Until next time!

~Zach

 

Question:  What would it look like for you to find God’s rest in your life?