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How do I begin to tell you…

 

There’s a book. But don’t view it like a religious thing. Treat it as a manual. Practical.

 

In England, soon after buying a second-hand car, one goes to a shop and buys a Haynes Manual for that make and model which explains, in practical terms, how to replace the water pump, all about the engine and how to repair it, and so on. It is a book to be used. After a few years, it will be covered in grease marks, drips of oil, there might be extra notes written against some sections etc.

 

Well, the Bible is just such a book. Not to be read but not used, or read and quoted in order to impress others. This Laptop on which I’m writing these notes has a manual as well as on-line help. Well life is like that. The Bible is the manual and there’s on-line help available.

 

There are all kinds of religions advocating all kinds of lifestyles. This can lead to confusion and despair. Eventually, most people decide to get on with more pressing things like earning a living, finding a partner and so on.

 

But, I tell you the truth. There is only one truth and everything that departs from it is a deception. I hope and pray that He will give you understanding. For it is Him who gives you breath and life.

 

If He says yes to something, then nothing can stop it. If He says ‘No’ then nothing can make it happen. He has the ultimate say so over everything. This does not mean that everything that happens is just what He wants.

 

So, what’s He like ?

 

He’s loving and caring, He’s generous, lavish, faithful, patient, peaceful and great fun. He is incredibly honest. His attention to detail is breathtaking. He is altogether wonderful. He is also the judge and will hold everyone to account for what they have done in their lives in the time given to them.

 

This next bit may be a bit difficult, but stick with it….

 

God has revealed himself as a team of three...

 

God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit.

 

They are basically three separate God-persons who have worked together as a team since before the beginning of time to create the world, the universe and everything we know of. The members of the God team each have different roles, but, unlike people, they are of one mind and heart, they are not divided. They don’t argue with eachother as we do, or hold separate opinions.

 

In a way, it’s similar to a child and its’ parents. The parents should be as one on most issues, so if the child asks ‘Can I stay off school today to watch TV’ then it wouldn’t matter which parent he/she asked, on a schoolday, the answer would be ‘No’.

 

So the three God persons have one motivation, to be intimately loving and caring, and to share their love with us and all that they have created. The Father is the leader of the God team, so I refer to Him.

 

So they decided to make us. First they made a fantastic universe, and world and then put us in it. To give us an idea of what their vastness and variety, they made it awesomely different. Phenomenal. Like a great play-area, with great diversity of plants, animals, weather, geography.

 

So, we are made as miniatures, each individual and different, and each given our own time-slot and characteristics in a bold opportunity to come to know, meet and, if we wish, to make friends with our maker.

 

This is what life is for, it’s our chance to get to know God and enjoy Him and all that He has done for us.

 

He has given us an account of who He is, what He is like, how we came to be here, and what will happen in the future in the Bible. Most of this has been largely discarded in our ‘modern’, fashion-conscious, frantic world. But He’s far ahead of the game. He knows everything. Over the last few years, He’s corrected me on many things I hadn’t understood.

 

You see, He’s passionate about us. He really cares about us. Just like you care about your children.

 

When you first saw one of your babies, just after they were born, you will have become aware of how much they needed you to provide and care and protect them. How helpless they were as newcomers to a hard, tough world.

 

Well God feels like that about you. He knows you’re stuck without Him, and He knows that you don’t know that. Just like a newborn baby, who doesn’t know it’s mum or dad, or the love and care that’s awaiting them. The room’s been made ready at home, probably freshly decorated. The milk’s ready in the bosom. There’s an alternative supply so that if one side gets empty/sore the other side’s available.

 

Before God brought you into the world, He prepared a way for you personally to come to know of Him, so that you could have the chance to get to know how great He is, and that you and He live your days together, as friends, until your time on earth is finished, and then you go and spend eternity together. That’s His plan for you. He has a unique itinerary planned for you, where He’ll demonstrate to you His greatness and power, His Unfailing love and unerring judgement. When you see Him do something, you’ll be surprised and delighted and worship and adore Him in all His splendour, and in amazement that He would even let someone like you or me even glimpse Him. Not like some forced trite religious ritual, but a rich celebration of His goodness and kindness to a people who depend utterly upon Him to provide and protect them.

 

He wants you to know Him. He wants you and He to work together. In my own experience, He’s a brilliant computer programmer. He knows what I like. I’m married to the most wonderful woman, of course, He knows. He made both of us, so He knows what we both like, and how we fit together. He knows everything that’s ever happened to us, and what has influenced our thinking. Now, having put us together, He’s in the process of healing and cleaning us up from the hurts and damage we’ve sustained so that we’re even better !

 

We become willing examples of His workmanship. So that others who’ve been hurt and damaged trying to get along without Him can see what a difference He makes, and may choose to give Him a go in their lives too.

 

Do you get the idea ? This is real and practical. It is not some vague, mystical thing where you can’t tell what’s at the end of it.

 

 

In the Bible, we’re given an account of what has happened to obscure God from the world. Apparently, there was a mutiny in heaven, and a powerful being called the devil became corrupt and led some of the angels to join him in revolt, and, determined to destroy what was precious to God. He came to the earth and tricked the people into believing his story instead of God’s.

 

The devil doesn’t care how he obscures the truth, as long as he can keep people from learning the truth about God, he remains in some sort of power. A bit like some of the disgraced leaders of nations we have now.

 

He has taken what God made to be good and perverted it such that it’s unrecognisable. Just like in politics or war, when one side comes to reign, the first thing they do is to disable any opposition such that their reign continues.

 

As you read this, pause, and consider the thoughts that pass through your mind. Do they pull you towards your maker, or pull you away? When something bad happens to you and you’re under pressure, is there an accusing thought of the sort which says ‘God should never have let this happen to you’... An incitement to blame God for your plight ?

 

In countries where there is war and oppression, we get ethnic cleansing. Where the men are wiped out so they can’t fight, and the women are raped and tortured so that, if they even survive the war, they’ll be so damaged they’ll never want to be touched by a man again. They’ll be so defiled that they’ll never recover and that people-group will die out.

 

Why does God allow this ?

 

Because this is what the enemy is doing to the world. Corrupting it so that it can’t form a relationship with God because it’s so damaged.

 

It is like people who are born into one kingdom which is evil and oppressive. Some cry out to God, and He helps them, and they become ambassadors for Him, and then more can be helped. If one generation does not embrace Him, then the mess continues. If they embrace God, and get help, then the next generation will be blessed and inherit a better

situation. God stands ready and willing to help all who ask. What we get is what we want.

 

In Britain, there are several companies that offer an emergency breakdown service. You can join their scheme, pay the money, and then if you need assistance you call them up. Just like when I was a kid, and Thunderbirds was on TV. John Tracy sat in a spaceship monitoring for cries for help. God is just like this. He is available and willing, but will not invade your life without first being asked.

 

So you’ve had some chance to experience life without God, you also have the chance to sample life with Him.

 

In the same way as Alfred Hitchcock used to make an appearance in His own films, so God came to earth as a man. This is where the team demonstrates the different personalities and roles.

 

After much planning and preparation, God the Father sends God the Son to earth, as a man, to provide a demonstration of all that they’re about. The third person of the team, the Holy Spirit is to provide the on-hand support for the Son. The Son is to leave heaven, laying aside his glory and being, in every way a true man, is born of a woman. The story is told in the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Some by the team of people whom the Son gathered and trained. So the Son lives a life, just like you and me. If he stubs his foot on a rock, it hurts and He bleeds. He experiences everything, and teaches us how to cope throughout all circumstances. They make sure it’s written down and kept for all time. The Son works closely with the Father and the Holy Spirit and goes around healing people, teaching them about the Kingdom of God and warning them that God will assess each one at the end of time, so to be careful how we live.

 

Having done this for a few years, and trained a group of ordinary men how to heal the sick, raise the dead, deal with demons (the angels who chose to follow the devil) and the like, the Son then does something amazing.

 

He then allows himself to be taken by the religious leaders of Israel, and be crucified along with criminals. In an awesome display to all of creation, the Father then raises the Son back to life to be seen by hundreds of people over a period of weeks.

 

As I type this, it is Ascension Day. Around forty days after being raised from the dead, the Son returns to the Father, by ascending into the clouds.

 

Some days after this, the Holy Spirit comes on His followers, and then works with them in a similar kind of double-act that the Son and the Holy Spirit had previously demonstrated.

 

This still happens today.

 

Jesus will come and live inside of people. The Spirit of God will become your friend and guide. As you grow in Him, you’ll end up healing the sick and so on. It’s practical. The Father’s and Son’s will is that we, people, join Him in driving out the enemy like the vermin he is.

 

If we shrink back from this, we are responsible for appeasing an evil dictator. If we try to do this by other means than in partnership with Christ, we will fail. If we accept His offer and are joined with Him (as a good wife is joined to her husband), we will flourish. If we refuse His offer, what more can He do ?

 

I’m sure all of this will be a bit new to you, and so how can you know it’s true or not ? After all, there are all sorts of crackpot religions and ideas floating about.

 

Well, believe it or not, the news is good.

 

Take something that’s a problem. I find buying my wife a birthday present difficult. I’m stressed by certain situations at work, or with the family (being a step-father to three teenagers does have it’s difficult moments). Something that’s a genuine problem which you don’t know what to do about.

 

Then, quietly, just between you and Him, ask for his help. If you trust Him with your problem, He will see to it that you not only get the answer, but that you’re aware He’s provided it specially for you. It’s a bit like your child. If your child asks you for something that is good for him/her to have you make special efforts to get it for them, it’s important to you to be the one who fulfils their hopes.

 

Afterwards when you’ve seen the answer, say thank you. It’s all you can do. You’ll probably be a bit excited too….

 

Don’t give up. Before God made the world, he held you in his hands. He’s committed to you, and to you and He being friends.

 

This does not mean that things will go smoothly. But my experience is that He’s never been at fault, and He’s been kind and generous to me and shown me where things have gone wrong and protected me from wrongly blaming Him.

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