Can you believe that we have just gone through the entire Bible?! We began in September and are wrapping up this week. My prayer is that you have grown greatly in your relationship with God over this past year. If so, our joy has been made complete! In trying to compose a final wrap-up email regarding God’s Story, I realized that I cannot do better than the Epilogue of our book, The Story.
“And now God’s triumphant Word has found its way to you. You’ve read The Story. You’ve heard the truth. You’ve come face to face with the most important message you will ever hear: Jesus, God’s Son, came, lived, died and rose again. So now the question remains … What will you do with The Story? Will you turn away and dismiss it as an interesting tale? Will you block out the light that shines so brightly? Or will you take a step down the narrow path that leads to unimaginable glory? Jesus tells us, ‘Enter through the narrow gate … small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’ Will you be one of the few?”
Our relationship with God is an individual one. We each have to make a life-altering choice as to whether Jesus is Lord of all our life or if He is even Lord at all. What is your decision?
Last Saturday, I went with my family to the Denver Zoo. It was a nice zoo and we had a good time. Of course, there were all types of animals, including “brown bears.” (They were a good size, but not Alaska-sized!) But, one part of the zoo caught my attention more than the others. We went to the primates area and saw a big gorilla. As he was walking, he noticed some food on the ground, probably kernels of corn, and picked them up exactly like we would with our forefinger and thumb. I was impressed seeing this dexterity in an animal.
This got me thinking. Humans have always wanted to know why we are here on this earth. We are always curious about how we came to be and what will happen to us. But because our hearts are sinful and full of the curse, we will always try to deny God or the supernatural. So we end up looking to the gorilla for answers. They look like us, they act like us, surely we must be related. We try to find the missing links and fill in the gaps with “logic” so that nothing supernatural and unknown could have happened. We believe anything, as long it’s not God.
God created us to have fellowship with Him which is why we have a God-shaped hole in us. He puts His handiwork all around us, but we try to fill the hole with anything but Him and are incidentally never satisfied. It’s no surprise because our hearts are wicked. We follow the god of this age and he is hell-bent against anything that points to the True source of Creation and Truth. He does not want us to know that we will only be truly satisfied when we know why we were created and what our destiny is.
Tomorrow, we reach the conclusion of The Story, the book of Revelation. This book of the Bible comes with a lot of 21st century baggage, but there are some very important points we can glean from an overview. God has always loved us and reaches out continually throughout time, but there is a limit to His patience. There will be a judgment. And Satan knows this. Satan has always wanted to be God, so through deception and lies he has been trying to drag as many people away from God before the final judgment. But since before time began, before angels or the earth or people were even created, God was in control. He is on the throne - He was, He is, and always will be!
You know how it all started...do you know how it ends?
Reading Revelation is always a challenge for me, maybe that's the reason I don't read it often. There are a lot of 'weird' descriptions of things in the adult book and the older kids get some of it too. Imagine having to sit down and write a journal entry for something you just experienced that nobody, not even you, has ever experienced before. How would you describe things you'd never seen? You use the things you are familiar with to explain the things you aren't. Obviously John lived at a different time than we do so he relies on things we are probably not familiar with. Don't get hung up in all this stuff or try to figure it all out. That is not the reason we are looking at this book. God is a mighty God and He deserves to be worshiped, honored and praised. It appears there are beings who do just that. But they do not take our place. We need to personally worship, honor and praise God ourselves.
I like a paragraph I read in The Story for Kids...the older elementary book. It says, "The things John saw were meant to show how powerful and mighty God is, not to scare us. When we get to heaven, we'll be very happy and safe there. The best things on earth will be even better than we can imagine." If you have that book in your home, you will find that on page 257.
God spent 6 days at the beginning of The Story building this planet and the heavens around it. God made it a wonderful place and then created a very special garden where he created Man and Woman. God walked with them and enjoyed their companionship in the garden. Then sin entered the world and everything changed. Not only were Adam and Eve separated from God, but the whole system started dying. It is still dying today; you can see the pollution, the evil, everywhere you go. But one day there will be a new earth and a new heaven for those who believe Jesus saved them from their sins when he died on the cross for them. Once again God will live with his creation and walk with us in a beautiful garden.
For the longest time growing up and even after I became a believer, I thought heaven would be a place where I wore a white robe and sang songs 24/7 forever. Honestly...that does not appeal to me. But walking through a beautiful flower garden or a huge forest, or even across mountain tops with The Creator...now that is something I can look forward to!
Thank you God!!!!!
ps...We have 2 Sundays left for the Story. This will be the last week with a Parent's Page. Our last week (May 28) will be a wrap up of the last 31 chapters. The preschool and elementary school kids will have a trivia game to wrap things up.
This week’s chapter in The Story talks about the final few years of Paul’s life. Basically, it shows how he ended strong. He endured beatings and mocking, prison and a shipwreck, and so many other things. In one of those times, when he was locked away in Rome under house arrest, he used his time to write to believers throughout the world. Surprisingly, his letters weren’t all woe-is-me, but were about how to have joy in the moment God has placed you. Randy Frazee asks, “How could anyone in jail write from such a positive perspective? Paul could, because he had been chiseled to look like Christ Jesus.”
Though I am a complete novice, I have done some wood-working and I know that when I chisel something, I have to remove pieces from the object that are unneeded or in the way with what my final goal is. When we become Christians, we submit our lives to God, saying “God, make me into the person that you want me to be.” When He begins to chisel away at some of the rough or problem areas in our lives, it hurts. When we start to look more like Jesus, it can get uncomfortable. In a SkitGuys skit called “God’s Masterpiece,” they say it this way:
God had worked in Paul’s life, chiseling him to look more like Christ so that when hard times came, he would be able to stand strong knowing that God would work it out for His glory. For Paul, his anchor was firmly secured on the Rock of his salvation, the Messiah Jesus Christ. “In Christ, our circumstances do not dictate our joy; our relationship with and hope in Christ do. In fact, it is often how we live when our circumstances are at their worst that either attracts or repels others” (Randy Frazee). Paul’s example spurs us on to fully realize that as God continues to chisel us and guide us, we can rest firmly in Him, knowing that in every high and stormy gale, our anchor holds within the veil.
If you would like to see the whole skit, it can be found here.
Two chapters left of this wonderful story. Last week we learned about 3 of Paul's mission trips. This week we learn about the last, his return to Jerusalem and then his trip to Rome under arrest. But this was God's plan all along and Paul knew it. The Holy Spirit had warned him over and over that he would be arrested and Paul knew God wanted him to go to Rome.
I could talk about the trip and tell you all the ports Paul stopped at and how he was treated. I could talk about the shipwreck that Paul clearly warned would happen if they tried to continue their trip. But I see a strong warning in these last few chapters we have been reading.
The religious leaders were sure they were right. They knew their laws, rules, and regulations. They knew about the history of their people and they knew many of the prophecies. But they missed that Jesus was the Messiah, they missed that He was sent by God, they missed that all those rules and regulations made it totally clear they COULD NOT make it back to God's presence by following the law. They had their eyes closed to God's true teachings.
I am so happy that as a church we have read The Story from beginning to end. We have seen all the bits and pieces we have learned over the years put together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. And that puzzle shows us that God created us to have a relationship with Him. Sin destroys that relationship and no matter how much God loves us, separates us from Him. We have also learned that God sent Jesus, while we were still sinners, to die on a wicked cross for our sins, yours and mine. Like Paul and Silas told their jailer last week, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved." That's all we have to do. Believe Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that He rose on the third day, and you will be saved. Once saved the God sends the Holy Spirit to help you live the life He wants you to live. One day, when we pass from this earth by death or resurrection, we will live with Jesus forever in paradise. Amen!
Are you living the life God wants you living? Or are you living for something else, something false or temporary?
We take turns writing when God gives us an idea. The author will be noted.