Created to be a Steward of God’s Creation: Day 4

Week 3 - Created to be a Steward of God's Creation

     Day 4: A NEW EARTH

There are many unique parallels between the beginning of the Bible, and the end. The Creation Story in the book of Genesis tells us about the Garden of Eden. It tells us the names of the rivers that surrounded the garden. It tells us that there were many trees in the garden, but two are specifically mentioned – the Tree of Life, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. As the story unfolds, Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and sin entered the world. With sin came hurt, pain, tears, and ultimately, death.

From that moment on, everything changed. But as the story of the Bible comes to a close, we see that it ends just as it began. 

At the end of the book of Revelation, we read about all things becoming new. There’s a new Heaven and a new Earth. There is no more sin, no more tears, no more pain, and most significantly, no more death. There’s also a River of Life, which waters the Tree of Life.

This, of course, doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility to care for and steward over God’s creation. But it does provide a picture of what’s to come. As you read today, consider this: What other similarities may there be between our current world and the world to come? 

READING:

     2 PETER 3:13, REVELATION 21:1-8, REVELATION 22:1-5

What other similarities may there be between our current world and the world to come?

How does your answer to the above question impact the way you see our current world? Be specific.

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Genesis 24

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that sometimes it’s hard to see similarities between this current world, and the one which is to come. This world is so full of brokenness, hurt, and fear that it’s hard to imagine a world without it. 

Despite this, I know that one similarity between the two worlds is that we can know You here and now in the same way we will know You in the world to come. Help me to see You and know You while I’m working. Help me to see You and know You while I’m resting. Help me to see You and know You when I’m walking. Help me to see You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

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Created to be a Steward of God’s Creation: Day 3

Week 3 - Created to be a Steward of God's Creation

     Day 3: TAKING CARE OF GOD’S EARTH 

On February 14, 1990, the Voyager I spacecraft had traveled all the way from Earth to a point beyond Neptune in our Solar System. Some of those leading the project for NASA had the camera aboard the Voyager I look back and take a “family photo” of many of the planets in our solar system. The picture included Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Earth, and Venus. At this distance, Earth was barely visible, and was simply recognized as a “Pale Blue Dot.” If you look at the photo online, you may hesitate for a moment and wonder if you’re looking at Earth, or just a small speck of dust on your computer screen. 

Despite being a small “Pale Blue Dot” in this picture that was taken hundreds of millions of miles away, Earth is full of life. The creativity of God that shines in the night sky is dim compared to the life of His creation that is visible all around us. And despite God being the creator, He left us responsible to care for it all.

As you read today, consider this: In what ways do you see humankind not caring for or stewarding over God’s creation? 

READING:

    ISAIAH 40:26

In what ways do you see humankind not caring for or stewarding over God’s creation?

Do you think there’s a healthy balance between industrialization and caring for God’s creation? Where do you see your own personal life habits within that balance? Are there any steps you can take so that this balance is healthier than it is today? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Genesis 22

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, every day I get to see and experience that Earth is so much more than a “Pale Blue Dot”. It’s the world you created for me, and for billions and billions of others. And even though we can see billions of others stars and planets, we know that there is nothing else quite like the home You made for us. Today, I pray that You will reveal to me ways in which I can better care for Your creation, and that You will help me to encourage others to do the same. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

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Created to be a Steward of God’s Creation: Day 2

Week 3 - Created to be a Steward of God's Creation

     Day 2: TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF

In the Summer of 2001, Megan and I (Pastor Justin) had the opportunity to participate in an 8-week mission trip to Burkina Faso, a small country in West Africa. While there, we were tasked with a goal to visit 7 different villages of a remote group of people known as the Marensé. Our role was simple: we were to be dropped off at a specific location, and then were to visit these 7 villages over a period of 16 days before finding our way back to the capital. We had nothing more than a translator, a GPS, some water bottles, and the clothes on our backs. Nothing more was needed.

Unfortunately, the first village was at least 30 miles away from our drop-off point. So we hopped onto our bicycles and started riding. In the West African heat, it felt like we traveled much farther than 30 miles. By the time we arrived the next day, we were thirsty. REALLY thirsty! The locals were very friendly and quickly brought us a large bowl of water. Unfortunately, the village chief really liked hot peppers, and put them in the water to add some ‘flavor’. The outside temperatures were in the mid-90’s and there was nothing to drink but hot, spicy water! We desperately needed rehydrated, so we drank it. The lesson we learned: Sometimes what your body needs most isn’t what you want. But caring for your own health is necessary in order to provide for the health of others. 

READING:

     PSALM 24

Be honest: how difficult is it for you to care for your physical body? Your emotional health? Your spiritual health?

Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which what you most needed wasn’t at all what you wanted? What did you learn from that experience? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Genesis 20-21

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, as I evaluate how I spend my time, I confess that there are many times when I go after things that I want, and that I’m not always disciplined to go after the things I most need. Admittedly, what I need more than anything is to know You. Today, I pray that You would reveal to me three things I have been pursuing that are wants and not needs. I also pray that You would reveal to me ways in which I can begin to pursue after what I most need. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

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Created to be a Steward of God’s Creation: Day 1

Week 3 - Created to be a Steward of God's Creation

     Day 1: IT’S ALL HIS

Take just a minute to think about something you have purchased that is very special to you. Maybe it’s your house? Perhaps a car? Maybe it’s a painting, or some other work of art? Maybe it’s a musical instrument? Whatever it is, it’s something you probably spent some time researching, and maybe even spent weeks, months, or years saving your money in order to purchase. Because of this, you have a unique level of ownership to it. You value it above other things you’ve purchased, because you poured a lot of time, energy, and resources into it. 

How difficult would it be for you to hand it over to somebody else and ask them to take care of it? Imagine you can’t even leave them a detailed instruction manual. Instead, you’re just going to give them a couple of quick sentences about taking care of it for you.

This is the exact situation Adam and Eve found themselves in after God created them. He basically said, “Here’s the world I created. Here’s everything I’ve ever made! Now, I’m leaving its care in your capable hands. Eat from it. Live in it. Enjoy it. Just remember that it’s Mine. I just want you to take care of it for Me.” As you read today, consider this: Do you struggle to consider that everything you have belongs to God? That it’s not yours, but something He has asked you to take care of?

READING:

     GENESIS 1:28-31, MATTHEW 25:14-30

Do you struggle to consider that everything you have and/or own belongs to God? That it’s not yours, but something He has asked you to take care of? 

How well do you think we, as God’s people, are caring for God’s creation? What’s one step you can take this week to better care for His creation?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Genesis 18-19

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today I acknowledge that there are things I own that I sometimes treasure even more than my relationship with You. I’m thankful for the reminder that everything in this world belongs to You. I’m also thankful that you have entrusted me to care for everything. This week, my prayer is that I will see Your creation through new eyes. That You will lead me to not just care for Your creation, but that You will also lead me to enjoy Your creation in new, exciting ways. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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Created to Connect with God & Others: Day 5

Week 2 - Created to Connect with God and Others

    Day 5: CREATED TO CONNECT WITH GOD AND OTHERS

READING: 1 John 4:7-8

In what ways have you grown in connecting with God and others this week?

What did you learn about the nature and character of God this week?         

What did you learn about yourself? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Genesis 16-17

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

 

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Created to Connect with God & Others: Day 4

Week 2 - Created to Connect with God and Others

    Day 4: CONNECTING WITH OTHERS: PART 3 OF 3

Over the past couple of days, we’ve looked at some steps that are helpful when it comes to relationally connecting with others. To continue quoting from the book Connecting by Larry Crabb, he notes that one final way we can connect with others is by “Claiming the special opportunities to reveal grace… .” He goes on to note that relationships (or perhaps, people themselves) heal when they reflect the energy of Christ. Some helpful steps may include:

  • “Letting people know we delight in them as Christ does.
  • Eagerly looking for the goodness in someone’s heart, and identifying the passions that are prompting loving, strong choices
  • Remembering that it’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance and healing.”

Larry Crabb, by the way, is a professional counselor. But after years of counseling discovered that the best requirement to connect with others wasn’t his education, but instead was by being godly. He confesses that being godly is far more difficult than getting an education, but that the ability to fully connect with God & others is worth it. As you read today, consider this: Do you find it challenging to let others know you delight in them? 

READING:

     COLOSSIANS 3:12-14; 1 CORINTHIANS 13

Do you find it challenging to let others know you delight in them? 

Have you had any success in being able to relationally connect with others who think differently than you do? What made those relationships successful? 

Think of someone in which you know you have not searched for the hidden good within them. Is it possible God is inviting you to think differently about them? Is it possible God is inviting you to take another step to reconcile that relationship? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Genesis 15

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that seeing the hidden good in others is sometimes challenging, but letting others know that I delight in them is even more challenging! Today, my desire is to share with at least one person something I appreciate about them. May this begin a ripple effect that helps me relationally connect with everybody in new, profound ways. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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Created to Connect with God & Others: Day 3

Week 2 - Created to Connect with God and Others

    Day 3: CONNECTING WITH OTHERS: PART 2 OF 3

Yesterday we looked into the first step that is helpful for us to better connect relationally with others. Continuing with thoughts from author Larry Crabb, the next step in connecting with others includes:

  • Remaining calm when badness is visible.
  • Keeping confident that good lies beneath. 

Specifically, Crabb writes, “When we look for the bad, we must always be looking harder for the hidden good.” 

Here’s the deal – we live in a broken world. A broken world is full of broken people. And sometimes, hurt people hurt people. But as author Bob Goff writes, “God makes people. People make issues. But people aren’t issues.”

If we want to better connect with others, we need to not only remain calm when we see badness come to the surface in the lives of others, we also need to be confident that there is good there, too. We need to remember that they, too, were created by God, in the image of God, and for the glory of God. We need to remember that God made them, and they may be making issues, but that they themselves are not the issues. As you read today, consider this: Which of the quotes in today’s reading resonates with you most? 

READING:

     PROVERBS 18:24; LUKE 6:31

Which of the quotes in today’s reading resonates with you most?

Why do you think people struggle to look for the hidden good in others? 

What are some daily practices you can put in place so that you more regularly look for the hidden good in others? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Genesis 11-12

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that in the same ways I see my own flaws, I often see the flaws within others more than I see the good that lies beneath. Today, I pray that You would provide me with reminders that everybody I see and interact with almost certainly has hidden good. That they, too, have been created by You, and that You have given them a purpose I may not always see or recognize. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

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Created to Connect with God & Others: Day 2

Week 2 - Created to Connect with God and Others

   Day 2: CONNECTING WITH OTHERS: PART 1 OF 3

In his book titled Connecting, author Larry Crabb writes that in order to relationally connect with others, we need to:

  • Accept who we are.
  • Envision who we could be. 

In other words, when we fully accept that we are God’s and that He truly delights in us, and when we’re able to envision who God has made us to be, it is then that we can truly be on our way to connecting with others in meaningful ways. 

Another equally important truth about connecting with others is this: We can only love others as much as we love ourselves. 

Think about that for just a minute. How much do you love yourself? Not in a a self-esteem or self-centered way, but how much do you like and appreciate who you are? Put it on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being extreme appreciation for yourself.

Guess what? You can’t love, like or fully appreciate others any more than you love, like or appreciate yourself. Not your spouse. Not your kids. Not your roommate. Not anyone. 

As you read today, consider this: Is a lack of self-love preventing you from being able to love others? If so, what steps can you take to more fully accept who you are, and envision who you could be?

READING:

   ECCLESIASTES 4:9-12

Is a lack of self-love preventing you from being able to love others? If so, what steps can you take to more fully accept who you are, and envision who you could be? 

Remind yourself of the truths from Week #1. You were created by God, in the image of God, for the glory of God. How can these truths help you better connect with others? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Job 40-42

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess there are aspects of myself I don’t like very much. And more often than not, I find myself noticing my own flaws more than remembering that I was created by You. Today, my desire is to remember every minute of every hour that I have been beautifully and wonderfully made. As this truth continues to rest deep within me, help me to see that others I interact with on a regular basis have also been beautifully and wonderfully made. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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Created to Connect with God & Others: Day 1

Week 2 - Created to Connect with God and Others

    Day 1: CONNECT WITH GOD

How do you connect with God? If we’re all being honest, we may confess that we find it somewhat difficult to fully connect with God. The primary reason for this struggle is because we all want to have something to offer Him. Perhaps some of these quotes sound familiar: 

  • “I’ll get closer to God one day. But I need to get my life cleaned up first.”
  • “A relationship with God is a really serious commitment. I’ll have more time to give God later in life, but for now I’m OK just knowing He’s there.”
  • “I don’t feel like I have anything to offer God. But as soon as I feel like I do have something to offer, I’ll bring it to Him.”

Here’s the thing: there’s nothing we have that God needs. He just wants us. Even more specifically, He just wants you. He’s done everything that needed to be done for the relationship to begin. And the best way you can relate with Him is simply to receive from Him.

Receive God’s forgiveness. Receive God’s grace. Receive God’s love. You’ll not only connect with Him, you’ll be prepared to connect with others. As you read today, consider this: How difficult is it for you to receive from God? 

 

READING:

     EPHESIANS 2:4-10

How difficult is it for you to receive from God?

Which of the three statements (bullet points) in today’s reading resonates with you the most? 

Have you considered this may be preventing you from being able to relationally connect with God in new and amazing ways? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Job 38-39

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess it isn’t always easy to receive from You. There are many times in which I want to be in control. Sometimes, for reasons I don’t always understand, I want to take on the burden of trying to fix some of the difficult problems that have come up in my life. But I’m learning more and more that the best leaders are those who follow You and receive from You regularly. Today, my desire is to be with You. I humbly ask that You continue to reveal Yourself to me in unique and awesome ways. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

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Created to be an Image Bearer: Day 5

Week 1 - Created to be an Image Bearer

     Day 5: CREATED TO BE AN IMAGE BEARER

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 15:49

In what ways have you grown in being an image-bearer this week? 

What did you learn about the nature and character of God this week?         

What did you learn about yourself? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Job 1-2

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method