In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.

Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. God called the space “sky.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.

Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened. God called the dry ground “land” and the waters “seas.” And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. The land produced vegetation—all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.

And evening passed and morning came, marking the third day.

Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened. God made two great lights—the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

And evening passed and morning came, marking the fourth day.

Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day.

Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.
Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!

And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

Genesis 1

The story does not end there.
Let’s go on to Chapter 2:1-3.

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.
This is the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth.


Heavenly Father..Thank You for using me in Your ministry. Thank You for guiding me thus far and granting me Your grace. Even now, Lord, You know the purpose for which I have come to You. O Lord, The Scripture says that You were with Your great servants like Moses and Joshua and used them to bring Your children out of bondages. Today Lord, fill me with the same grace, anointing and power so that I can preach Your word boldly and with authority for the deliverance of those under the bondage of Sin.

I’m unworthy Lord. But make me worthy by cleansing me and filling me with Your Holy Spirit. I, on my own, am an empty vessel. Let Your Holy Spirit fill me and take full control of me and let Him speak, not me. You know the needs of the people who’ll be listening to this preaching. I submit myself to You so that You can use me in whichever way You want to. I choose to glorify only You, Lord. I do not want any glory for me because I’m just clay in Your hands. Thank You for fortifying me with Your special grace, power, and strength Lord. I take great comfort in knowing your love never fails and your word never returns empty.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Christmas in July?

Jim Brandenburg

We greet the world with a cry and a scream, with clenched fists grasping after what we so desperately need. None of us remember the shock and drama of being born, but have you seen a baby’s birth? I recall the moment when my wife, Lindsay, gave birth to our youngest child, Julianna. Julianna was warm and safe inside her mother’s body. Everything she needed came through a tube into her belly. Then suddenly she was taken from that warm, safe place and thrust into a cold, harsh world, naked, gasping for breath, and bombarded by bright lights and loud noises. Red-faced and crying, she squeezed her tiny fists in protest.

Our brains are wired to detect danger. Primal anxiety keeps us alive at birth. The fight-or-flight response activates the amygdala, increasing heart rate and blood sugar levels, giving a temporary boost of energy to react. But when our brains become flooded with adrenaline, we can’t think clearly, and it’s hard to calm down. That’s why a baby needs a caregiver’s soothing voice and touch. An anxious response can be activated even when there isn’t an imminent danger. The sound of a car alarm or when a loved one is late and doesn’t call. Our constant scanning for potential danger can result in hyperarousal and chronic stress. An instinct, designed to keep us alive, can quickly become a threat to our well-being.

Jesus came into this world in the very same way. He was born of a virgin, Mary, in a stable in Bethlehem. He spent his first night in a cold, cold world, far from home. Born to a couple, who would no doubt love him as their own. Jesus the baby. What a shock! Our king in a lowly manger.

Do you remember what happened next? After the wise men came to visit Jesus, they left and went back a different way, under the direction of God through a dream, avoiding Herod.
Matthew 2:13 After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

I assume most of you are familiar with the story, but consider this…
Leaders and rulers were looking to condemn him. Arrest him. Put him to death.
What kind of “thank you” is that to the creator and sustainer of the world?
But this world is not His home.

Paul writes to the Ephesians

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12

This world that Jesus came to was created by Him and the Father. John explains in the opening of his gospel. He says, “All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.”

We know the world as we know it today. God knows the world in a collective, more complete understanding. A snapshot of the entire timeline as opposed to our snapshot of a daily account.
I can’t fathom or explain God’s point of view. No one can except Jesus.
I am just trying to give you a mental picture to grasp of His unfathomable, awesomeness. God’s plan was to send Jesus here for us. To rescue us.
He was determined to win us back from sin and destruction and even death. This was not His home.

I recently returned from a vacation with my family. We went to Hocking Hills in lower Ohio. Beautiful country and amazing landmarks. We got a hot tip from John Topola, to head into an uncharted area. Well, not completely uncharted, but maybe not as popular as the other places.
We followed some iffy directions to find a gate. Then a path led us up a hillside. When we finally reached the top, low and behold there it was.

Airplane Rock. What a view. We stood in absolute awe of the expanse of trees and valleys. You could hear a pin drop from miles away. Definitely worth the climb.

Next, we went to Old Man’s Cave. This was a much longer trail that followed the canyons cut out of rock deep into the earth. There were streams and waterfalls. So many different shapes, sizes, and colors of rock. Trees and plants live in the bottom areas of these formations.
Absolutely breathtaking.

We also hiked to a place called Rock House.

That was a trail that began going downhill.
Just a word to the wise, if you begin a trail going downhill, please keep in mind that you will be climbing that hill when you are on your way back to the car. WOW!
There was a lot of heavy breathing and drama on that ascension.
Thought we might need a nap or some O2 halfway up.
Can I stop and say “How awesome is our God?”
God is Good.. All The Time..
That he would have planned long ago for those rock formations to be set in motion, so that in July of 2022, I could travel to Hocking Hills with my family and see these things. I love nature. My family has always been sort of outdoorsy. We like camping and trails. Lakes and trees. We love doing these things together. I want to give a special thanks to Eric Wilson who is Larry and Marla Wilson’s son. We stayed in his cabin called Cedar Pines. What a beautiful place. And Eric was such a great host. At one point, we were without power because of the storms that came through. He kept checking in on us and making sure everything was OK.

Thank you Eric. We had a wonderful time.
I can’t wait to go back in the winter and sit in the hot tub in the snow.

So let’s turn to 1 John 2:15-17.

A Warning about the World
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions — is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.

Hey John! Now, wait a cotton-pickin’ minute. Hold on, Be kind, Rewind.
What do you mean, do not love the world or the things in it??
What about my wife and kids? What about my music and guitars?
What about friends and lakes and trees and animals?

From the book, Worldliness, Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World, the author, Carolyn Mahaney has some insight into this scripture. She says:

Which “World” are we talking about?
The “world” of 1 John 2:15 doesn’t refer to the created order or to the blessings that come from living in a modern society, such as modern conveniences or medical and scientific advances. For God created the world and declared it “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Nor does this verse refer to economic and social structures of society—our family, friends, vocation, field of study, government, or community. All of these are ordained by our heavenly Father. As David says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1).

And of course, we’re supposed to love all men—not only our brothers and sisters in Christ but also those who are not Christians—because “God so loved the world” that he gave his Son (John 3:16). In fact, true love for God is demonstrated by a growing passion to tell others about his love…So what is the “world” we are forbidden to love?

The world we’re not to love is the organized system of human civilization that is actively hostile to God and alienated from God. The world God forbids us to love is the fallen world. Humanity at enmity with God. A world of arrogant, self-sufficient people seeking to exist apart from God and living in opposition to God. It’s a world richly deserving of the righteous wrath of a holy God. Dead set against the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the world we’re forbidden to love. 1

Thank you Carolyn for clearing that up.

When you distill what is being said here, it’s simple. God is Good. His creations are good. His creations glorify Him. They draw us closer, whether it be in awe or amazement of Him. Or if we just feel blessed, thankful, and deeply gratified.

When we cross the line from loving Him for sharing this wonderful thing with us and instead, focus our love on the item itself, that’s where we head into sinful, lustful worship of creation and not the Creator.

Remember last week, Randy spoke about falling into that hole in the sidewalk. Easy to Grab – Hard to let Go. We have all been in that pit. Clawing our way up the sides to get out. God has a safety harness for us all. It’s the Holy Spirit. Our advocate.

The Holy Spirit is in perfect harmony with God.
That’s what Paul tells us in Romans 8:27-29.

And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

The more we allow the Spirit in us and God to harmonize, the more closer our walk is with God. This comes through study and prayer. Prayer and study.

This book. This bible is a portal into the amazing world of God. All that He has done and what is to come. He has spoken to many through this book. The prophets and preachers. Sunday school teachers.
I am not saying that if you read your bible all day and go to church every Sunday that you will never fall victim to sin or temptation. What I am saying is that when those trials confront you, you will be better equipped to handle the situation through the Holy Spirit living inside of you reaching out to God the creator.

Do you remember the temptations of the devil in the readings last week?
Jesus was equipped with scripture, but above all, a relationship with the Father through prayer. Study and Prayer. Prayer and Study.

So why is it that we want this world to be so perfect and friendly, where everyone is nice and cares for each other? Why do we put such a high goal to attain in this world?

I would say there are two reasons for this.
The first is obvious. Most of you probably have it on the tip of your tongue.
Let’s say it together. 1..2..3.. Peace.
We want peace not only in our lives but for others as well.

Remember the prayer song?

My peace I give unto you. It’s a peace that the world cannot give. It’s a peace that the world does not understand. Peace to know. Peace to live. My peace I give unto you.
True peace does not come from anything here on earth.
God is the only one that can provide peace.

The second reason for wanting this world to attain a more perfect status is because we live here. Right? It’s a selfish answer but true, am I right?

We have to spend all the years of our human lives here. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were a little safer and cleaner and friendlier? If there weren’t shootings and destruction. Wouldn’t it be great if you could turn on the news and hear about people getting along and caring for one another???
This just in… a boy scout in New York City, who wishes to remain anonymous and humbly give all glory to God, has just broken the record for helping the most old ladies cross the street.

Although it may be a little self-centered, I think it would be great to have peace and friendship throughout the world.

James says, count it all joy brothers and sisters when you are faced with trials. This is not because James is a glutton for punishment or likes flat tires on the freeway. It’s because, through these trials, we draw closer to God. It gives us an opportunity to grow.

Matthew West says it like this…
Maybe the reason for the pain
Is so we would pray for strength
And maybe the reason for the strength
Is so that we would not lose hope
And maybe the reason for all hope
Is so that we could face the world
And the reason for the world
Is to make us long for home

When life has beaten you down and you are flat on your back.
There’s only one way to look… and that my friends is to look up!
We look up to the one who created it all. Who sent His son to die for us.
The one that made us righteous.
The one who gives us peace in a world that is not our home.
This is my father’s world. He made everything and saw that it was very good.
God is full of love and grace. He has a place for us when we leave here. But while we’re here, we may as well enjoy what we can and give thanks and praise to the one who created it all.

1 C. J. Mahaney, Worldliness, Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World, Crossway.