Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.”
John 3: 16, 17
The Message Bible
“God’s Plan Revealed”
“And the Lord God said to the serpent…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel” (Genesis 3: 14, 15, Amplified Bible).
Salvation: Deliverance from the power and penalty of sin.
What does the word “salvation” mean to me, personally?
“Satan never sells his poisons naked – he always gilds them before he vends them.”
I’ve always been a “garden lover.” This might be something I learned from my grandmother who had a vegetable and flower garden. Whenever I’d come to her house on vacation, she’d let me go outside and dig in the dirt alongside her. Grandma felt a garden should be filled with variety – so right by a zucchini squash plant, she’d have a row of brightly colored zinnias blooming. And she always had a border of sweet peas suspended with stakes and strings bringing color and aroma to her garden beds.
With a heritage that taught me some of the finer details of growing plants, one would think I’d be able to have a beautiful little garden plot of my own. Wrong! I think when plants see me coming they begin to cry for I don’t have a “green thumb” – I have a “black thumb.” I bring death upon the plants I touch. From houseplants to the pots on my patio, I struggle to bring health and keep life flowing through the stems of my plants.
Perhaps it’s my battle in the living garden that has made me long to live in a garden created by God. I’ve tried to imagine what it would have been like to watch God, as He “brought forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind” and then see as God looked at the beauty He created in this perfect garden and hear Him say, “It is good!” (Genesis 1: 11-12).
I’d love to live in a garden where God could smile as He walked through and say to me, “Dorothy, isn’t this fabulous?” And this, my friends, is exactly what Adam and Eve enjoyed everyday they spent in the Garden of Eden – until that dark day when a disguised, gilded serpent began to spit out one lie after another. “God said ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Wait one minute! God said just the opposite. “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it.” (Genesis 2: 16, 17). Let’s see – you can eat until your heart is content of every tree but one. Now, that’s different from what the serpent insinuated. But there were more lies! “Ye shall not surely die!” That’s another big lie. Here’s another! “Your eyes will be opened, and ye shall be as gods.” So this was the scenario presented by the serpent! “God is an arbitrary ruler who is trying to control your life by telling you what to do and where to do it. He doesn’t want you to be as smart as He is so He’s keeping you from the very thing that can turn you into a god yourself. And by the way, there’s one more thing. If you do eat from the “No-No” tree there’s no consequence – it won’t hurt you at all. Remember, you’re a ‘god’ now, so how could anything ever kill you.” Sadly, Adam and Eve fell for the serpent’s story. When they ate the apple, they ate the devil’s bait. Before we say, “How could you do it, you fools? How could you be so stupid?” let me note, that we have all been taking our own share of bites from the serpent’s bait ever since!
Here’s the most amazing part of this garden story. God could have kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden and left them to harvest the consequences of their willful behavior – and He could do the same thing to you and me. He could have washed His hands of all of us and left us to reap the results of our dastardly deeds. For even though the “liar” said, “There aren’t any bad consequences,” believe me, we’ve been seeing the horrid consequences to universal disobedience ever since a pair of perfect people decided they knew more than God!
However, instead of leaving us to “reap what we sowed,” God revealed, as soon as the catastrophe of sin entered this world, that He had a plan…a contingency…a what if the worst happens. This wasn’t a plan He wanted to use. In fact, just the opposite. He hoped He would never have to go to Plan B. Plan A was perfect. The world was perfect. The pair was perfect. And yes, the garden was perfect. But there’s one gift God gave us that is sobig that in order for us to have this gift, He also had to design, Plan B. God gave you and me the power of choice. We aren’t robots or dummies with strings being pulled by the great puppeteer in the sky. We are free agents to make decisions on our very own. You see, right up there with the serpent’s lie that “you won’t die” is another lie that “you’ll become like gods.” Why in the world would one of God’s created children – children whose DNA came from the King of the Universe want to be more? Or different? Or better? How, I ask you, could I get any better than being the daughter of God? I can’t! I couldn’t! We didn’t! Instead, we did get what God said we would. We got the knowledge of good and evil – especially the evil part!
So God came to the serpent and to Adam and Eve and said, “I’ve already prepared a plan for this mess.” And to the serpent, God said, “You are cursed. And furthermore, you may think you’ve won this fight – but you didn’t. This was the first round. And since I tell the truth, I have some truth to lay on you. Your head will be crushed. Yes, you may bruise my child – but you’ll only cause pain to the heel. Remember, when your head is crushed – you won’t be able to live. You’re the one who’s going to die!”
The apostle Paul, in his letter to his friends the Galatians, lays out the details of God’s plan for restoring the unity He first intended for this universe:
“But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His son, born of a woman, born subject to the regulations (the consequences) of the Law. To purchase the freedom of (to redeem) those who were subject to the Law.”
Galatians 4: 4, 5
This means that the truth that God spoke that sin causes death was the “rule of law.” But God said, “My son is going to come and redeem those who are under the penalty of the law.” A generous, unbelievably kind gift on the part of a loving God. A God who planned ahead in case the worst happened. And when it did – God was prepared in advance to swing into action immediately to bring “oneness” back to the universe again.
In the very last book of the Bible, Revelation, God tells us about another garden. It’s a garden where we are promised no one will enter who “makes or loves a lie.” (Revelation 21: 27, 22: 15). What’s more, we are told about a tree of life in this garden which has twelve manner of fruit and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22: 1,2).
I have to tell you, I can’t wait to be in this garden! A place where no matter how lousy your gardening skills, plants will never die because death has been obliterated forever! I don’t know about you, but what I find so unfathomable is that my heavenly Father went to the extraordinary lengths of making certain I can come home to His perfect garden again by having Plan B ready just in case the worst happened.
Tomorrow, when you come to Transformation Garden, you’ll find out what the first step was in God’s implementation of His plan to restore the love and unity in His universe again. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5: 8, N.I.V.).
“The love of God is like the Amazon River, flowing down to water one daisy.”
“And God said to the soul:
I desired you before the world began.
I desire you now
As you desire me.
And where the desires of two come together
There love is perfected.
Lord, you are my lover,
My flowing stream,
And I am your reflection.”
Mechthild of Magdeburg
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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