Sample – Chapter 1

REALIZE

keyEars to hear and eyes to see. Both are gifts from the Lord. Proverbs 20:12

Key #1: If we are stuck and consumed by problems, the life we live is not the one God intended—but a much higher level of living can be discovered and experienced. To begin discovering that life, we must REALIZE the greatest truths about God and His archenemy, Satan, the deceiver of our souls.

I’VE HAD A NUMBER OF REALIZATIONS about God in my lifetime, the most significant ones always coming through experiences that were visual in some way or another. You have probably seen and heard a door slam. You’ve seen (maybe not used!) a tube of red lipstick. And it’s likely you have seen conch shells lying on a sandy beach. Just ordinary things, to most people. But these images are forever extraordinary and personal to me because they came to me at crucial moments in time when I sensed that God was trying to have a con-versation, and He used visuals to reinforce what He was saying so I would know it was Him—so I would engage in the conversation and then remember. Spiritual exclamation points, if you will, spanning thirty-six years. The last occurred when I wrote “The Shells.”

I have not always been able to say this emphatically, but now I can: God has been pursuing me for a very long time. I haven’t always listened. And I haven’t always remembered everything that He has said. But I have always remembered the exclamation points. And the exclamation points got me to where I am today—unstuck!

And so I want to share the principles I have learned with you, in hopes that you will develop eyes to see what He is doing and ears to hear what He is saying in your own life. God loves you and wants to have many conversations with you about things that are important to Him and to you. Even now, He is reaching down and touching your life in such a way that speaks to your heart only. You are special in His sight, and He wants to involve you in His Big Story. Even now, at this very moment, He is showing you new things! You are developing a new, broadening perspective. You are rising up! You are starting to see things from a much higher elevation. And you know this is from Him! It is becoming so obvious to you now.

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:19

The Two Trees

There are many things we need to realize about God if we are to know Him and get unstuck in our lives. For starters, we must understand this: if we are stuck and consumed by problems, the life we live is not the one God intended. He intended that we live a supernatural, eternal life on Earth in perfect, harmonious, intimate friendship with Him. God intended Paradise: the same life He created for mankind in the beginning.

There is an image in the Bible for such a life: the Tree of Life. It was a real, fruit-bearing tree among many others in the middle of the garden where creation began. But it was not ordinary. It had special, life-giving, eternal properties. To ingest its fruit was to ingest the very heart of God Himself—His love, His goodness, His generosity, His essence.

And so, because God is love, because He is good, because He is a giver, because He is forever heart-motivated and relational, His Spirit created man and woman with this highest level of existence in mind, set apart from the rest of creation. They were the highest level beings in creation, made from God’s own DNA, bearing his own character and likeness.

Then God breathed the breath of life into the first man and woman, and they lived as beings in three dimensions—spirit, soul, and body— living vessels through which God’s love and power flowed.

God made humans, in part, from the same substance He used to make the angels—His own Spirit! We share the same DNA, the same Divine Nature Ability, as God and the angels! Therefore, we are equipped to perform at a supernatural level!

Angels are . . . spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.            Hebrews 1:14

Yet you made them [humans] only a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. Psalm 8:5

This message is from the Lord, who stretched out the heavens, laid the foundations of the earth, and formed the human spirit. Zechariah 12:1

Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.          1 Thessalonians 5:23

Adam and Eve knew God intimately, understood Him completely, and were heart-motivated just like Him, just as He had intended. So God delegated to them power and authority over all of creation. Life on Earth was peaceful, restful, and purposeful. God’s Spirit was the supplier of all good things. Adam and Eve had everything they needed.

But when God bestows blessing and favor, responsibility follows. Indeed, He had blessed Adam and Eve beyond measure, giving them dominion over the Earth and the freedom to make choices. But He required One Thing. Whereas He had encouraged them to eat from the Tree of Life, there was another tree in the middle of the garden from which they were not to eat: the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God had commanded Adam, “Do not eat the fruit of this tree or you will surely die!”

Now there was a Serpent in the garden who had no power or authority over the earth—neither in the physical nor the spiritual realm of God’s creation. But the Serpent’s modus operandi was to deceive, for he represented evil. And evil did exist in the universe, though not yet on Earth or in the minds and hearts of Adam and Eve, who were motivated by God’s love only, nothing else. This is why God commanded them not to eat of the tree that would give them knowledge of evil. To do so would give them understanding that emanated from a dark place in another realm. And that understanding would destroy their heart motivation, which would change everything.

So the Serpent came alongside Eve. And he beguiled her into thinking that God didn’t really love her and that He was purposely withholding something from her—something she “needed” so as to be more like Him. Most certainly, she must eat of this forbidden tree to get what she needed.

In that instant, the Serpent managed to shift Eve’s focus from what God had done and given her to the One Thing she had not been allowed to have. Almost without hesitation, she ate. Then she distracted Adam. He lost his focus too, and ate with her. Immediately, their hearts became subservient to their minds, and they were filled with negative, harmful thoughts—all lies.

In this book, the “One Thing” is anything in life that causes harm or stymies spiritual growth. It might even be something that is ostensibly good. Most humans have at least One Thing that fits this description. What was Eve’s One Thing at this time? What was God’s intention or objective here? What does His intention signify to you?

The Pursuit

“Where are you?” God asked the question when He walked in the garden after Adam and Eve ate from the tree. Of course this was a rhetorical question. He knew exactly where Adam and Eve were hiding. Having eaten from the tree, they had realized their nakedness, becoming “self” conscious. Suddenly everything in their lives seemed confused and out of control! They had lost their power and authority! So they ran and attempted to hide from God, who was pursing them.

But God came to them. And there they were, crouching and covered in fig leaves—not resembling anything He had created them to be. Before, Adam and Eve’s hearts had been conduits of His infinite love, which had poured forth from them like gushing rivers. Now their minds were dominant—and twisted—controlling their self-centered, self-defensive, self-preserving, and self-sufficient hearts. Adam and Eve’s disobedience had foiled the plan God intended for them on Earth. They had willfully yielded their God-given authority to the Serpent. Evil had then entered the earth, forcing oppression, self-centeredness, distrust, and all kinds of other problems upon the hearts and minds of men.

Now, the character and nature and integrity of God never change. So when God granted power, authority, and freedom to physical human beings, He was bound by His Word to uphold those things. Even when Adam and Eve mishandled their responsibility and got themselves into a real jam, God could not just change things up and renege on the gifts He had given them. Understand: He certainly had the power and authority to do that if He wanted, but His integrity would not allow it.

So it was because of His love and His great mercy that God formulated a plan of action that did meet His integrity requirement. It was an intricate, yet very simple plan—one that could ultimately restore human beings back to their original value and identity as heart-motivated beings who would again manifest God’s love and power.

The pursuit was on! No doubt, God’s creative abilities and processes would be needed to get the job done.

There are two Hebrew words in the Bible used to describe God’s creative process. Bara means to “create something out of nothing.” Asah means “to create or make out of existing material.” Most theologians argue that both words connote an instantaneous and supernatural creation. Many say bara is the verb emphasized as regards the creation of the heavens and earth, the sea creatures and birds, and man.

In the beginning God created [bara] the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

So God created [bara] great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:21

So God created [bara] human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

In the same way that God created the original heavens and Earth out of nothing, He is able to supernaturally create new things in your life and mine, even out of nothing. This was His plan since the beginning. It is the way He restores us to our “rightness” with Him! Only then can we solve life’s problems, get our hurts healed, and find and live out our God-ordained purpose!

Back to the Beginning

God has loved us with an everlasting love since the beginning of time. He has always wanted to have an intimate relationship with us, His creations. He intended a life for us here on Earth which existed for only a short time. But then man fell due to his rebellion. His heart-motivation was displaced by a quest for ultimate knowledge, and his God-given authority and power over creation was yielded to the devil. But God’s love compelled Him to pursue us. He knew a way He could restore us back to our original state without violating His integrity.

So God kept talking to anyone who would listen. He kept using visual images so we wouldn’t forget. He unveiled a plan. Then He showed us how we can participate, not only returning to our origi-nal purpose ourselves but also becoming His touch and His voice to others. We still live in a fallen world, but we can rise high above it. We can thrive, not just get by! The more we have ears to hear and eyes to see, the closer we get to living the life He intended. Salvation is not just going to heaven. It is to bringing heaven back to Earth! We can receive this! We can live at the highest level!

“I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

Discussion Questions

Look up the Scriptures listed and reflect on the questions presented. Possible “answers”, along with Scripture references from the New Living Translation, can be located at the back of this book.

  1. What has been God’s intention for humanity since the beginning? (Genesis 1:10, 12, 22, 28, 31; Psalm 37:23–24; Romans 8:28; Genesis 2:18; Jeremiah 29:11; Luke 24:50–51)
  2. What did the Tree of Life offer Adam and Eve? (Genesis 2:9; Revelation 22:1–5)
  3. Why was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil so bad for them? (Genesis 2:16–17)
  4. How did God set man apart from the rest of creation? (Job 33:4; Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8:3–6; Genesis 2:15–17) Why do you think God made us?
  5. How does God feel about us on an emotional level? (Psalm 23:6; Psalm 139:7, 17; Isaiah 43:1–4)

Personal Reflections

  1. God can supernaturally create things in our lives even out of nothing—just as He did in the beginning when He spoke the heavens and Earth, the sea creatures and birds, and man into existence. If you could get rid of the One Thing, would you be able to see the New Thing that God is creating “out of nothing” in you? What might your New Thing be?
  2. How does it make you feel to know that you cannot hide from God—that He is constantly pursuing you? Do you think of it as an invasion of privacy? Or is it comforting to know that God is constantly thinking of you and that He loves you?
  3. God is creating something for you that is good and satisfying. Will you let Him? Do you believe there is anything too difficult for Him?