Introduction: The Essentials team at Pinedale Christian Church welcomes you to an adventure. Like a great novel with twists and turns, thrills and surprises, joys and cries, if you have just stepped into a relationship with God you have stepped into an adventure! God is about to unfold a story in your life. Your future life represents the blank pages that He is about to write on. Your life history prior to your relationship with God was just a very small forward compared to the chapters He is about to write. How do we know this about you?! God let us in on His secret about your life! Here’s what He told us:
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
We feel VERY privileged to be given the opportunity to be written into the early pages of your story. It is a responsibility that none of us take lightly! God Himself has given you a NEW BIRTH. Along with your new birth comes a family of “older” brothers and sisters who’ve had a few chapters already written into their lives. For the next 26 weeks, we’re going to do LIFE TOGETHER. We will all read the same material and cover the same ground. We have only one very simple purpose behind doing this: we desire that your relationship with God grow and mature. It is something that God is going to do in you as you spend the next 6 months with Him.
Let me change analogies for a moment; “eating” is perhaps the most important “job” of a new child. It is a very regular activity of all living creatures. You now have a LIVING spirit within you that needs to be fed – regularly, daily, consistently. We are all going to be feeding together through these next 6 months on the same spiritual food. “Daily” is mission critical to this adventure. We want you to grow and mature in your relationship with God. You will find that with just 5 to 10 minutes a day, your hunger for God and His life for you will grow and mature. To miss a day here and there won’t hurt you, but miss a week and you’ll stagnate! That’s why we are doing this in a setting of accountability. Each time we meet (weekly), we’ll all be responsible to each other about how we did in our study over the past week. In fact, much of the study when we are together will cover what God is showing you individually in your personal time with Him! If you miss a week of study, our whole group will miss out on what God wanted to show you! For this reason, MAKE SURE THAT YOU SET ASIDE YOUR BEST 10 MINUTES OF THE DAY IN ADVANCE. The “best” time for you might be early morning, or after the kids are gone, or at lunch break or break time or in the evening. Choose the best time for YOU - where you can be alone and free from distractions. Write it in, set it aside, and mark your “spot” where you are physically going to meet with God daily. Turn off all distractions and just enjoy God. Be prepared to unload, think, reflect, argue, drink in and cry. God has been waiting your whole life for you to give Him your attention. What He does with you in this secret place will change your world (that’s His promise too!).
Lastly, know one thing. God has poured out SO MUCH love into our lives that we can’t contain it. We love you! We’re committed to you! We want God’s highest and best for you. But each of us is human! We make mistakes and we may make a mistake with you or inadvertently hurt you in some way! Please be quick to tell us where we’ve messed up. God has poured out a WORLD of forgiveness in His Son’s work on the cross. We stand thrilled and excited to see “the things God has prepared” for you as we start this adventure together.
In reading Genesis 1-3 this week, write down a few thoughts you might have regarding what Adam & Eve would have been like considering they were “made in the image of God.” What do you think some of those characteristics would be?
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 2:9,15,19 The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 3:8-10 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
My first “real” job was for a local Chevrolet dealer. I had to clean cars, clean the shop, and organize the spare shop rooms. Occasionally, I would run into a tool that I’d never seen before. Not knowing what it was for, I’d take it to the head mechanic. He would chuckle at my question, “What is this for?” After a few choice words regarding corporate Chevrolet and overpaid engineers, he would explain, “Well, this is a ‘special tool’ designed to hold a set of bearings in place – without this tool, the engineers designed this part to be UN-FIXABLE!” Needless to say, I ran into a LOT of special tools, each with just ONE SPECIFIC FUNCTION. These unique shop tools may not have been used for months, but when it was time to fix a specific Chevrolet problem, the mechanics knew what “special tool” was needed to make the proper repair.
In the first book of the Bible, we learn that Adam and Eve were created for a special purpose. Being made in God’s image, man’s purpose was to represent God on the earth - to act as God’s rulers over His creation and take His character over the whole earth. God made a world that was “pleasing to the eye,” meaning that Adam was the recipient and appreciator of God’s creation. God allowed Adam to name all of the animals in the garden showing that God granted Adam the ability to think independently. God had daily meetings with Adam and Eve and they all shared a moral relationship with few rules. But these rules were very critical to keeping the God / Man fellowship pure. One rule forbade Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. If they ate that fruit, they would violate their relationship with God, and that action would result in a multi-faceted death. When Adam chose not to obey his Creator and Friend, he severed that relationship and as a result, all of Adam’s off-spring (you and me) were destined for purposelessness, pain, and even death.
We humans are a strange “animal.” We don’t fit. We’re broken. We constantly ask “why” and don’t seem to get answers. Like special tools for Chevrolet, we were made as “special tools” in the hands of God. BUT, we sit around on the shelf, never used, fitting nothing, looking very “purposeful” but with no place to go. We are such complex beings, but we seem to have so little significance. Genesis 1-3 outlines in a very compressed story the most important aspects of our human past. The story gives the context for understanding our way out of our meaninglessness and sinfulness; suffice it to say though, the first thing that needs fixing is Man’s relationship with God. Fix that, and we’ll begin to see our purpose – why we were made… we were made for God!
As you read Genesis 1-3, try and capture how many things Adam & Eve “broke” or ruined when they disobeyed God.
Why did Adam and Eve try to hide from God? (They probably knew He was All-Knowing and All-Powerful!)
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ…