As Christians, we know “…the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). We know that without the armor of God we are unprotected and exposed to Satan’s wiles. We know God is sovereign, and He alone has dominion over the entire universe; yet He allows the enemy to attack us. Why? If we were never under siege, if we never failed to wear God’s armor—which impossible—our growth and development would halt. Romans 8:28 says, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who live Him, and who have been called according to His purpose”. Thus, within His overriding will this allowance enables us to become more like Christ. Notice, the scripture does not say, “all things are good”. It says, if you are a Christ follower, God will place all things—good, horrible, and mediocre—into a pot, stir them, and eventually benefit those called according to His purpose. I recently prayed with a young man dealing with a horribly tumultuous life situation. He has been mistreated and taken advantage of in inexplicable ways. I looked at him and said, “Although you are depressed and your situation is abysmal, God will use it for your good. It may not be today, tomorrow, or six months from now, but eventually if you remain faithful to Him, Scripture promises He will mold you and strengthen you into the person He desires.” I left him with this verse: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3).
God has a formula for faith. When we follow and live out His formula He places His hand on our lives. Scripture defines “the hand of God” as His power, protection, and provision in a person’s life. However, His hand will not be on upon us unless we submit and surrender to His mysterious math, His will. I don’t know about you, but I want the Lord’s hand on my life! His formula for faith is based on three equations:
Blessing + Expansion = Inadequacy: You might be thinking, “Ed, you mean I’m supposed to feel a bit fearful and scared?” Yes! You are right where God wants you. The apostle Paul, a man of faith and possibly the greatest Christian who ever lived next to Jesus, had a thorn in his flesh. Bible scholars believe this “thorn” was either a physical ailment or extreme life difficulty. He prayed for healing repeatedly to no avail. But, Jesus spoke through Paul and said, “My grace is sufficient for you…” Essentially, God’s grace is never insufficient. “…For my power is made perfect in weakness.” In response to Christ he wrote, “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest upon me.” You see, Paul accepted his affliction as an addition. According to the Bible God’s power, provision, and protection “rested on his life”. In this context, the word “rested” means to throw a tent over. Thus, when we rest in God’s grace and power we are enveloped and covered by His love and mercy. I love what P.T. Forsythe said regarding pain: “It’s a greater thing to pray for pain’s conversion than pain’s removal.” We don’t live by God’s explanations. We live by His promises, and He has promised us His power and sufficiency in our inadequacy.
Say yes, the right yes, to God’s principles. If I say the right yes to God’s principles, then I’m going to meet the right people, and then I can say yes to his purposes. If I say the wrong yes to the wrong principles, I’m going to meet the wrong people and end up in the wrong places and missing the purposes God has for me.
Yes and no. The right yes or the wrong yes. I say the right yes, I’m going to be a success. The wrong yes, my life will be a colossal mess.
2 Corinthians 1:20, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.”
Think about the promises of God. Think about God sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins and rise again. If God didn’t go back on that promise, he’s not going to go back on any other promise.
The verse continues, “…and so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
We can say “Amen” to the promises of God. What does amen mean? It means “so let it be.”
I grew up around preachers. My father’s a preacher. Certain preachers say amen a little bit too much. I’ve talked to some preachers, amen, they say amen all the time, amen? I’ve played golf with some preachers. They’ll make a putt, they’ll go “Amen!” I knew one that used amen as a question. Amen?
So we can say amen to the promises of God. Let your yes be yes. Let your yes be yes—a word of commitment, a word of decisiveness, a word of affirmation.
Now in verse 26, the rhythm of this creation account breaks. If you could read it in the original Hebrew, the writer wanted it to break to show the uniqueness of what it means to be a man or a woman.
Verse 26, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”
God said, “Let us…”
“What do you mean, ‘us’? I thought God was one.”
Well, he is one. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Unity and diversity; three in one, one in three. They are coexistent and coeternal with one another. I’m talking about the Godhead, the Trinity.
We’re made, I’m made, in the image of God. We’re made uniquely male and uniquely female. There is a unique masculine soul and there’s a unique feminine soul. We’re not animals. I repeat, we’re not animals. We’re fully human.
What does it mean to be fully human? We’re made in the image of God. That means we have physical bodies and spiritual bodies. There’s integration with the physical and the spiritual.
The other day a guy said to me, “Hey, Ed, that’s just my spiritual life.”
I looked at him and said, “Like there’s another one?”
Everything is spiritual. Sex is spiritual. My body, your body, is spiritual. We jump on an airplane and we’re flying—that’s spiritual. We’re fully physical and full spiritual. We’re made in the image of God. God sent Jesus Christ to live on planet Earth. He had a body. He died on the cross for our sins and spilled his blood for our redemption. He was buried and he rose again. He had a bodily resurrection. The Church is called the body of Christ. And the Bible says when we clock out, when we go from this life to the next, we’ll have new and resurrected bodies. So, matter matters in God’s economy.
You’re like, “Ed, you’re right. I mean, the words of Jesus are so true.” Others are like, “Wow, that kind of makes me uncomfortable. I want to start locking the doors. I don’t dig that.” Yet, scripture tells us that this unloading thing is going to be totally off the chain.
Look what Malachi says. Malachi 3:10 says, “Will a man rob God?” That’s what God said. And he says, “Well you rob me, but you ask how? Well, in tithes and offerings.” And a tithe is simply 10 percent; it is the first 10 percent that we make. And we’re not giving, we’re just bringing it because remember, it’s already God’s anyway.
Offerings would be over and above the tithes. So “you’re robbing me,” God says, “in tithes and offerings. You’re under a curse, the whole nation of you, because you’re robbing me.” Now that’s interesting because we can either be under a blessing or a curse.
If we rob God and keep the tithe, and spend it on ourselves, we’re under a curse. If we bring the tithe to the storehouse, to The House, we’re going to be blessed. Well let me think, “Do I want to be cursed or blessed?” I’ll take the blessings, and I think you will as well.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this.” This is the only place where God says, “Test me. Test me. Just try it.”
“And see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” How can you not do this? I don’t know. That’s between you and God. I mean, if you have some side deal with God I don’t know.