Have you ever been on a treasure hunt? It’s a fun adventure.
One year when our son was in elementary school, we organized a treasure hunt for his birthday party. My husband diligently surveyed our yard, making notes about possible landmarks. Then he created a map, which looked like an antique rendition of a pirate’s map, including the many markers which could lead to the treasure. (A chest full of candy and surprises which would interest boys of his age).
The map took them to the Maple tree and then 25 paces to the right where they would find the rock with a red line on it. Then the directions would lead them to turn right and take 19 paces to find the Rose bush, etc., etc. Finally, of course, the directions would lead them to the place where the treasure was hidden.
It was great fun seeing the boys run and jump around the yard, yelling with glee when they found a benchmark… And when they found the treasure, the effort was worth it!
I had a dream recently which reminded me of this moment, though in some ways it was quite different. I saw a bunch of us entering an old barn which was covered with dust and decay. We went in as a group, knowing that we were on a mission to accomplish something. (more…)
How can you really know God? That’s a question people ask often – even believers. How do you know what He is like? How do you know what He will do? How do you know what He wants from us?
There is much speculation and reasoning which goes into the answers given by many. They use rational thought to try to figure out God. They say, “If God is a loving God, then He must…,” as they run off into their latest conjecture.
Well, God really can’t be known through intellectual thought. He is far too great for us to just “figure out.” In fact, it’s laughable for arrogant men to think that they can do that.
So what is the source of our knowledge of Him? There is a source, and it seems too simple for the arrogant, but that’s the way God is. He confounds the wise with His methods.
So what is the way we could know Him? He sent us His Word, the Bible, so we could know Him. As we pray and seek the Truth, we find the Truth. If we honestly want to know Him, He will meet us in the pages of His Book.
So if you want to truly know God, read His Word and read it all! Many times we will pick certain verses out of context, and build doctrines out of those, sometimes promoting half-truths or even error. Sometimes it’s effective to pull verses from here and there to show the threads of truth God has provided us. Yet if we put the verses into the proper context, the Truth will leap off the pages for us.
From the first Words of the Bible to the last, Jesus was God’s mission. He wanted to restore mankind back to Himself, and God was going to send His Son, Jesus, to pay that price for our sins. That was the only way we could be cleansed and restored. So from cover to cover, that’s what it was all about.
Think about it. If God had beamed Jesus down to earth and had Him go through all that He did without the years of preparation through the Jews, we wouldn’t have known what He was all about. We wouldn’t have received Him as our Savior. We would still be in the dark. (more…)
What is God saying to you? That is one of the most important questions you will ever ask yourself. Are you listening? Do you hear Him? How can you know for sure what He is saying?
As you read the Bible, you realize that God has always wanted to talk to us. From the time of Adam when He met with His people in the cool of the day, until this present time, God has been speaking. So what is He saying? And how does He speak to us?
The first means by which God will speak to us is through His Word: the Bible. This miraculous book contains the thoughts and plans of God as He has walked with men throughout the centuries. Line upon line, precept upon precept, we begin to capture His nature and His intentions toward us. We begin to see His love and faithfulness toward His people.
I recently read an article written by a supposed Bible scholar, saying that to understand the Bible, you had to realize that it wasn’t consistent, but a hodge-podge of writings by many people of many different cultures. Boy, did he miss it.
Sure the cultures were different throughout the centuries as the many tribes and civilizations emerged on the scene. However, the one thing which caused the story to be consistent was God Himself. God never changed. He had a plan, and He continued to work with imperfect human beings to lay the foundation for His plan and then to build upon that foundation bringing His plan to fruition.
Think about it. If God had just beamed Jesus down from heaven and had Him fulfill His mission on the cross, no one would have understood what He had accomplished. To most people, He would have been just another man who died on the cross.
But that’s not what God did. He took centuries developing His relationship with Abraham’s children – the nation of Israel. He needed a family of people through whom He could bring His Son into the earth legally – that is, to be born into the earth. He also wanted these chosen people to understand the blood sacrifice Jesus would make when the day came for that. So He instituted patterns of worship which would lead the people to understand His perfect lamb. And He instituted patterns of the tabernacle which would point to God’s true temple in heaven. He showed all of the elements of heavenly worship so that His people could get a glimpse.
To accomplish His goal, God had to be very strict. If the people couldn’t stay focused on their relationship with Him, they would start copying the cultures around them, and they would abdicate their mission ordained by Him. To accomplish His plans, these people had to be true to Him. So when God’s people turned away from Him and followed after other gods – the gods of the surrounding neighbors – they received strict punishment in order to keep them on track.
So this unchanging, all powerful, all knowing, forever loving God dealt with His chosen people so that His Son could be brought to the earth. When the day finally came for His entry, the Holy Child Jesus came to earth as the son of Mary, from the family of Abraham. Though His entry had been prophesied and promised for centuries, most of the leaders could not understand who He was and what God was doing.. They were too focused on outward, prideful appearances, and they were offended by the humble entrance of the Savior.
So we can see that these supposed Bible scholars didn’t recognize their Savior when He arrived. They were too caught up in the pomp of their positions, and they wanted to look good to those around them. So they missed it.
Now we come back to our original question. How can we know what God is saying? How can we know His character and His nature? How can we know His will for us?
When we come to the Bible and receive it with humble, teachable hearts, we will begin to see who He is. He will speak to us through the passages of scripture written so long ago. He will open our eyes to His plans and His purposes in the earth. We will truly come to know our God and to hear what He is saying to us.
As you read the Bible ask the Holy Spirit to show you what He wants you to know. There will be times when you will start reading in a ho-hum manner and suddenly some divine thoughts will leap off the page. You will see things you never saw before – even in passages you have read over and over.
As you and I continue this journey, we will begin to hear more and more from God. He will reveal Himself – and He will reveal His will. We will begin to know what we are to do in order to fulfill our purposes in the earth. Then we will grab hold of the grace available for us to accomplish those purposes.
We will hear what He is saying.
P.S. If you would like a Bible reading plan with notes for understanding, check this out. If you want the big picture, you must read it from cover to cover.
What’s so significant about the Bible?
Why is the Bible truly one of God’s greatest miracles in the world today? For the next few posts I want to be sharing my perceptions about this.
Let me start with a story. You may remember – or remember having heard about – a horrific incident which happened in 1979. It was right after the Shah of Iran was overthrown by radical Muslim clerics. (The same radical group still in power there today).
Thousands of radicals screaming, “Death to America,” stormed the American Embassy and took 66 Americans hostage – and held them captive for 14 months. We are talking about U.S. government officials being taken captive and held by this evil regime. It was unbelievable.
Jimmy Carter was president at the time, and it was the greatest embarrassment of his presidency as he was totally ineffective in trying to obtain their release. In fact, when President Carter directed an attempt to rescue the people, 8 American servicemen died in the effort, without obtaining their release. The mission was a dismal failure.
The United States was humiliated – and shocked at the treatment of their officials and the inability to find a solution. The release of these people didn’t come until Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president. That very day, they were released. (more…)
On a cold winter night in 1981, I had a life changing experience with the Lord. I remember the year, because our country was going through a crisis at the time. A revolution in Iran had occurred, overthrowing the Shah, and putting the radical Islamic rulers (the same ones who threaten the world today) into power, and in the process, seizing the American Embassy. By the time of my encounter, all of the American workers had been held hostage for more than a year, and there seemed to be no solution to getting them released.
That night, as I snuggled down under the covers and drifted off to sleep, a voice woke me suddenly. I knew that God was speaking to me, but the message seemed strange. “What if you could send a coded message to the hostages in Iran which would contain a perfect plan of escape?” I sat up in bed, pondering this unusual message. Of course, I thought that was a good idea, but the question seemed so strange. I knew it was God speaking, but I didn’t understand why he was saying that.
Then He clarified the statement. “That’s what I have done with My Word.” Suddenly what he was saying became crystal clear.
People all around the world are being held hostage by their circumstances. They may be victims of abuse, neglect, or poverty. They may have hurts, fears, and frustrations which run very deep. Anger, resentment, and bitterness may seem to rule their lives.
Yet they don’t have to stay that way, because we have been given a plan of escape. God’s Word is that plan of escape. It will point us in the direction of release from all of the negative influences which try to hold us, and it will give us the power to overcome those influences.
Some see the Bible as merely a history book; others see it as a rule book. Yet the Bible is so much more than either of those things. If we will begin to read it and ask Him to show us His plans and purposes, we will begin to see a God of unconditional love who is reaching out to us. We will begin to understand His power toward us and we will want to latch onto it.
Here’s the thing. We have to read it for it to make a difference, and we have to meditate on what we have read. It is a coded message which only God’s Holy Spirit can reveal in its entirety. As we read, pray, and listen, our eyes are opened to see realities we have never seen before.
Joshua 1:8 says it well. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
There’s wisdom in God’s word and there is power. When you allow yourself to feed upon His word, something happens on the inside of you. You find your faith and confidence increasing. You also see your world view changing – coming closer to the way God sees things.
The best part is that you receive the liberating message which sets you free from the negative elements of the world around you. You are no longer a hostage to these evil forces, but you are set free – into the liberty of God’s plan.
Thine eyes have seen mine unformed substance, And in Thy book they were all written – The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was one of them.
I love that verse! Especially the words “unformed substance.” Think about it. On the inside of each of us there are gifts and talents, even desires, which we haven’t discovered yet.
Why is it “unformed?” It’s only potential; it hasn’t been realized.
Then what about the “days that were ordained?” God has plans for us – great days for us. It’s almost too awesome to comprehend.
I’m sure that when we get to heaven, we are going to be surprised to see what “could have been.” What was God’s plan? What great things had He planned for us to do? Which gifts had we never discovered? (more…)