Was Eve an afterthought?

I love the story of the creation: of the stars in the sky, the water, the trees, the animals, and man. What I like most about His creation of man is He knew exactly what Adam needed before Adam even asked.

The other day I had a coupon for a free coffee at Race Track. On my way to Atlanta to visit in the hospital, I stopped and grabbed a large cup of black coffee. We have had snow in our area the past few days, and nothing takes the chill off like a steaming cup.

As I exited the store, without much thought, I took a deep gulp and knew immediately, it was a mistake. My tongue, the roof of my mouth, even my nostrils felt the temperature. I was on fire and knew not to swallow it or I would burn my throat as well.

The toughness of my skin did not indicate the scorching temperature of the coffee. Yet, the sensory preceptors of my tongue, though intended to decipher all the wonderful flavors of food God has put at our disposal, alerted me quickly. How amazingly God has created us! Every intricate detail of our body and surroundings is of Him because He knew exactly what we would need.

Was Eve an afterthought? Some people believe that God looked at Adam and said, “Oh no! I’ve messed up. My man is lonely. I forgot to make him a partner.” But, God doesn’t forget.

Some people jokingly believe He created Eve because He saw all the mistakes He had made with Adam and wanted a second chance. But, God doesn’t make mistakes.

What I love about God is, in creating Adam, He took care of all the details. And when Adam became lonely, before he even knew what being lonely meant, God gave him Eve.

Genesis 2:18-23, “The Lord God said,’It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'”

Sometimes we do not know what we need; but God is always light years ahead of us. Trust Him to know exactly what you need, when you need it.

Is God different today in our modern world?

2 Kings 6:6-7, “‘The man of God asked, ‘Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there and made the iron float. ‘Lift it out,’ he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.”

A servant of Elisha the prophet borrowed an ax so that he could cut down trees near the Jordan River to build a place for the company of prophets to live. Elisha is there helping. Suddenly, the ax head separates from the handle and falls into the river. You know as well as I know that the ax head sank pretty quickly to the bottom of the river. We can assume it was in a very deep part of the river or he wouldn’t have been so despondent.

In the days of Elisha, there wasn’t a Lowes or Home Depot in every city. So, the man knew to replace the ax head would not be an easy task. He was deeply troubled because the ax was a valuable tool, and it was not his but belonged to someone else.

Elisha cuts a branch from a nearby tree and throws it where the man indicated the ax head sunk. God defies gravity, and the ax head becomes visible so that the man can reach it.

Is God different today in our modern world? Can He still defy gravity and make ax heads float? What does Elisha have that we don’t have?

Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “He is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Luke 18:27 reads, “Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.’”

Elisha was an ordinary man with extraordinary faith. He took God at His word. Because of it, he did miraculous things to glorify our Father’s name.

Believe today that God can do the impossible in your life. Believe today your God can defy gravity to help you.

He knows victory is at hand

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. ” – Zephaniah 3:17

John Paul Jones, a Scottish sailor who fought during the American Revolution, uttered the words when taunted to surrender by the British, “I have not yet begun to fight.” His statement rallied the troops to victory.

There are times in life when taunting causes us to want to doubt our abilities. The pounding from life’s struggles brings confusion and at times, makes us wonder where God is in all that is going on. I know very few people who have not experienced despair at some point in life. We allow our minds to tell us to surrender, to lower the colors, to give in to what is trying to consume us.

But, what if we shouted into the storm? What if we like David when facing Goliath announced, “…You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” – 1 Samuel 17:45? What if we stood firm and with the boldness of John Paul Jones and professed, “I have not yet begun to fight!”

God has not forsaken you. He is not in turmoil, knotting his hands together, and rocking back and forth wondering what you are going to do. God is a Mighty Warrior. He is ready for battle. He knows the strategy and He knows victory is at hand. And all He needs is for you to listen and obey Him.

Today, know that He is with you, and He is with me.

The Bigger Picture

Has your life ever taken a turn that left you stupefied – standing in the road in utter shock as to how things could possibly turned out this way? I can imagine it is how the disciples must have felt as they saw Jesus being arrested, beaten, and crucified. He was the miracle worker! He was their King! Had they misinterpreted His actions that much? Had others been right about Him? Was He not who they thought He was?

Sometimes we make a decision we believe is from God. We’ve gone to Him in prayer. We’ve studied His word. We feel assured He is with us. Suddenly, out of nowhere, it turns bad and we don’t understand. Were we that off-base? Is God really who we thought He is?

I am a big believer in “the BIGGER picture.” While we may feel we are the ones going through the fire, God knows different. Maybe He is sparing us from something far more tragic than the supposed failure before us. Maybe He is preparing for something much better than we imagined. Maybe what we see as failure is a stepping stone to a greater purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “‘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.'”

Those are not just words to make us feel better.

In the South, we often greet people, “How are ya?” Everyone knows it isn’t literal. No one would ever stop and say, “Well, my bursitis is flaring up and my septic tank overflowed and flooded the basement.” The response is, “I’m good, you?” And when we depart from one another we add, “Come see me!” No one would ever say, “OK. When? How ’bout Friday night?” The response is, “We’ll do!”

When God says He knows the plans He has for you, He means it! When He says He will prosper you and not harm you, He means it!

The next time your plans don’t fall into place as you expected, praise God for it! He is either preventing you from something painful down the road, setting you up for something much better, or using the process as a step-up to something you’ve never even thought. God is our hope for the future.

When you ask, “What happened?” Know this, God happened. And I’m so grateful He did.

Rely on Him today!

Deborah was known as one of the wisest people of Israel. She called herself “a mother in Israel.” Deborah, a prophetess of God, held court under a palm tree to help the Israelites settle disputes. The Canaanites’ commander, Sisera, was a cruel man under the reign of Jabin, king of Canaan, and for 20+ years, the Israelites suffered because of him.

One day, Deborah called for Barak and says to him, “…The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’” - Judges 4:6-7.

Whether Barak believed her or not is unknown, but he insists that she come with him. Deborah went with Barak and ten thousand men to Kedesh. She realized that Barak was not following God’s words exactly and she stated, “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.”

The interesting part of this passage is Deborah’s willingness to do whatever God asked of her. Not only was she stepping outside the cultural norms being a judge for the Israelites, but she was willing to go into battle. The scriptures do not indicate that she argued about going. When God directed, Deborah followed.

Then Deborah said to Barak, ‘Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you!'”

Every man in Sisera’s army was killed, and Sisera fled on foot! Later, Sisera was killed by a female named Jael while trying to hide in her tent. Talk about a victory!

Do you know that the words ‘the Lord has gone ahead of you’ are not just for Deborah and Barak? Do you realize those words are for you and me too? In every situation God’s children face, He has gone ahead of us to work out the details for our good. Sometimes we know God is leading us but we want that assurance, like Barak, to ask Deborah to come along. Oh that we could  have the faith of Deborah and simply obey!

Listen for the word of God and follow His command. Even when you face the cruelest of giants, God has gone ahead of you. Rely on Him today!

Transcends all understanding

Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

As a pastor I have seen people at their best, and I’ve seen people at their worst. It is the reality of my job; but, I am most surprised at times by the strength and character I find in those who put their trust in God. Insurmountable odds; yet, there is peace. Unbelievable grief; yet, there is peace. Many times I have done a funeral and heard the comments of those around, “I don’t know how they are doing it. How are they putting one foot in front of the other?” God says we won’t understand it but He will give us what we need to get through the really tough moments of our lives if we rely on Him.

Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.”

What do you do when your world is falling apart? How do you deal with the crisis that seems crippling?

Tragedy does not discern race, age, education, or social status. It gives little warning and comes into our lives regardless of whether we know God or we don’t know God. For some people it visits more frequently than others.

My heart is broken today and my community’s heart is as well. We lost to severe tragedy three people – all with families – all with friends – all with promise for a beautiful future – all with hope for tomorrow.

How do you handle unthinkable tragedy?  That’s the question I contemplate today.  My friend is dead.  In fact, three of my friends are dead, all shot as a result of a foolish act of rage.  Two other friends are recovering from gunshot wounds.  Families I desperately love are reeling under the throes of grief.  Two children have lost both their parents.  How does one handle the loss of parents, a sibling, a child, a friend?

All these effects were caused by a senseless, staggering, nefarious choice.  So how do I and those I love respond?  What are we to think?  How are we to work through the heart wrenching pain?

It is in moments like these that one must face the ultimate realities of life.  Unanswerable questions flood our minds and overwhelm our emotions.  Fears grip our hearts, and in the gut wrenching hours that follow, we come face to face with what really matters in life.

Today, I challenge you to never take a single moment for granted.  Relish each one.  Celebrate every victory.  Passionately embrace every friendship.  Take the time to express love to your family.

Sometimes, you don’t realize the value of life until you are encompassed by death.  In those crushing moments of incredible grief when in a moment life as you know it changes, you come face to face with what really matters.  Repeatedly, we have learned it; it’s relationships, first with God and then with those we love.

I find myself unable to answer my own questions in this overwhelming moment, much less the questions of others.  In fact, the emotional challenges make me feel fatigue.

Yet, I find security, rest, and peace internally in God’s Word and in relationships.  I still have questions.  But none of them remove the awareness of the presence of God and the blessedness of His touch in my heart.  What is more, the embrace of friends helps sustain me.  Just like others, I face an imperfect world filled with imperfect people who do amazingly stupid things.  But, in the midst of pain pushed upon us by the circumstances we face, there is joy in knowing a God who cares and feeling His love expressed through those around us.

“…He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Fear has no hold on us

1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

I once heard someone say that “do not fear” was written in the Bible 365 times – one for every day of the week. I loved that; but then I realized it wasn’t true and after studying the subject further, found that ‘do not fear’ is commanded a little over a hundred times. Still, God says it quite a significant amount of times.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. 

Psalm 27:1
The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

Scriptures such as these encourage me. You and I have nothing to fear because God’s love casts out fear. He is the protector, the provider, the rock. With Him, we have nothing to FEAR.

Deuteronomy 6:13, “Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.”

Joshua 24:14,Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.”

Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

The very instructions not to fear in the Bible, which is found some 100+ times; the very same word is used in the context of God to fear Him. To take these scriptures and rationally lay them out – we are told “do not fear;” “love God;” “perfect love cast out fear;” but, “fear the Lord.” Looking at it this way, it seems contradictory and confusing.

Perfect love casts out fear but the fear of the Lord brings wisdom. When we sin, we fear the consequences. When struggles come our way and hardships surround us, we fear the outcome. Because of the love of Jesus Christ, He took the burdens of our sins and trials and hardships and conquered them on the Cross. The only thing to fear is being without God; being away from His presence; being outside His protection. The fear of the Lord is being outside of Him; but His perfect love for us forces our fears away. He is BIGGER than anything we could ever encounter. He is STRONGER than anything that could ever harm us. He is more POWERFUL than any evil force that could influence us. What we have to do is stay in His perfect love and fear has NO hold on us.

Today, pray about your fears. Understand that your faith in God doesn’t prevent scary things from coming into your life; your faith in God equips you to handle them.


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