Sketching HIStory #10

Gen 3 – Judgement & Hope

Let us recap Genesis 3:6-15.

Adam and Eve willfully* ate the forbidden fruit. Both their eyes were opened. And shame and guilt hit them in the gutt like a brick. They covered their shames with fig leaves. When they heard the Lord walking in the garden, they tried to hide from Him. God asked them what they have done and instead of admitting their faults, they played the blame game. Seeing that, God had no choice but to be true to Himself and JUDGE.

[* Willfully – with a stubborn and determined intention to do as one wants, regardless of the consequences.]

gen-3-eve-judgemnt-w.jpgTo the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” [Gen 3:16]

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To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” [vs 17-19]

In my Bible study class, it never fails when a few of the male members begin to ask, ‘why is it that Adam, that is, the guy (only) is getting the worst of God’s judgment?’ Their claim, of course, was that, since the woman was the first one to eat the forbidden fruit, she should have gotten more judgment. Usually, after I chuckle a little, I would first ask them if any of them have ever experienced giving birth? Most of the time, they get the point. But the reason is very clear. Consider first man God is a righteous judge. So, let us look at the verses from the point of view of righteousness. Adam was created first and he spent the longest time in fellowship with God. Adam, from God’s perspective, should have known better. He could have just not eaten.

thorns-w.jpgNow, let us look at the judgment, the cursing of the ground. Mankind was meant to take ownership all of the earth. Everything and that includes the soil would have answered to his will. But because of what they did, the ground will not so easily yield its fruits. Mankind would have to sweat to break up the soil, till it, water it and hope that what was planted will sprout. But that is not all. Nature’s cards will be stacked up high against mankind. In other words, creation/nature will fight back; hence the literal as well as metaphorical meaning of the ‘thorns and thistles’ in verse 18. If you don’t know what I mean, then try surviving in a jungle were a few days without tools, food, shelter and weapons. Keep this in mind, all of creation was affected by SIN. I am sure you have asked yourselves, “why is life so hard? Why do we have war? Crime? Violence? Disease? Natural disasters? Plain hatred? And so on…” The answer of all of that started here in Genesis 3.

So, the cursing of the ground will go on until we return to the ground as dust.

Let us talk about DEATH. God’s commandment said that ‘if you eat of this fruit, you will surely die!’ The one obvious aspect of death that we know of is what we will all experience and that is ‘physical death’. This is when our physical body will cease to go on. We will decompose and return to dust. For mankind (by their own power), there is no escape. The Bible also talks about two other kinds of death. The first one is more inclined than written down. While Adam and Eve were in the garden, they were privileged to be physically present before His Holy Presence which gave them a spiritual connection. But as soon as they both bit into the forbidden fruit, that connection they had with God was severed. Though they were physically alive, they became spiritually dead.

The consequence of sin does not end here. There is another aspect of death which is more devastating and eternal. Ironically, though it is not found in the beginning of the Bible, it is strongly narrated in the New Testament by Jesus himself; most especially in the book of Revelation. It is called the 2nd Death. The 2nd Death has another name – HELL.

2nd-death-w.jpg

Revelation 20:14
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

Revelation 21:8
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

It is here that lies mankind’s greatest doom – the eternal separation from God. This is our BAD NEWS but there is HOPE.

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. [vs 20]

At least, after God gave His hard judgement on the man, a part of Adam that is of the image of God moved him to recognize something about his wife.

God named the man, and called him Adam, which signifies red earth; Adam named the woman, and called her Eve, that is, life. Adam bears the name of the dying body, Eve of the living soul. Adam probably had regard to the blessing of a Redeemer, the promised Seed, in calling his wife Eve, or life; for He should be the life of all believers, and in Him all the families of the earth should be blessed.

[Matthew Henry Commentary]

Adam’s condition was now one of death, but his wife thereby attained a higher value in his sight. Through her alone could human life be continued, and the “woman’s seed” be obtained who was to raise up man from his fall.

[Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers]

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. [vs 21]

Here, in verse 21, is not just a matter of the Lord God providing both Adam and Eve with better protective clothing. For one thing, I truly believe that God did not just make appear ‘garments of skin’ from thin air. Mind you, God could do it but then why not give them a set of modern clothing instead of animal skins. Again, I believe God is going to teach a hard spiritual lesson.

gen-3-skins-w.jpg

When after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they tried to hide their nakedness by sewing fig leaves to cover their shame. In God’s eyes, mankind’s effort to hide their sin their way is inadequate by His standard. God is going to show them a hard lesson for what is the cost for redemption. Imagine, if you will, God summoning a pair of deer. To their shock, He commands an angel to slaughter these innocent creatures and have their skins removed to be made into garments. Why this bloody illustration? Believe it or not, in this lesson is a clue for mankind’s salvation. Repeated time after time in the Bible is this spiritual truth that without shedding of innocent blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). Of course, the shedding of animal blood is just a temporary solution which we will learn more as we continue to read through Scriptures.

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And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. [vs 22-24]

The casting out of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden is not just a matter of being kicked out of Paradise. The Garden was not just a beautiful place. It represented where mankind walked hand in hand with God. But now, there is a separation… a wide chasm between us and God. Everyone born outside the garden has this separation (spiritual death). And there is no other way to get back in by themselves for an Angel of the Lord blocks the way.

There is HOPE, however. Here is my next…

CRIMSON THREAD

crimson-thread-wGod, in His wisdom, had set into motion a plan to save mankind from their ultimate demise. Interestingly enough, the Lord revealed a little bit of His plan in His curse to the serpent.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” [Gen 3:15]

Jesus is the offspring that will crush the serpent’s head. The serpent also struck back and Jesus died, but he was foiled when Jesus resurrected.

As an added point to the crimson thread, I also offer this verse:

Romans 5:19
For just as through the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.

 

In my next post, we will find God reaching out to us in a harsh world.

Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 3 final)

On the streets of the southern end of Jerusalem next to the pool of Siloam, a young man came out excited, shouting that he can see. Attracted by the commotion, people recognized him as the blind beggar. They were amazed. The power of God was seen in the healing of the young man who was born blind in that day, some 2000 years ago. But it doesn’t stop there. God’s power was seen in another way through the most unlikely representative.

The people asked the young man on how it happened. He told him about how Jesus healed him. Then they took him to the Pharisees because what Jesus did violated a Jewish law. The Pharisees were the fundementalist faction of the leadership of the Jewish people and they met in a judgement center somewhere in the Temple Mount. This is where the young man was brought, to stand before a group of educated old men. They questioned him extensively about Jesus and tried to convince him that Jesus was not from God. Then they threathened and cursed him and finally, they kicked him out (John 9:13-34). Where was the power of God in this encounter?

In Scripture, we find example after example of God choosing the weak to fulfill His will. In this case, here was a young man who was once handicapped and had no formal education stood toe to toe against a group of the best minds in Jerusalem. As they exclaimed that they did not know where Jesus came from, his message to them was simple: “Why, that’s very strange!” he replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”

Do you remember this verse? …God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT) Do you want to know something? God is still doing this today.

History is filled with examples. Billy Graham was a shy farming boy at the age of 12. He never thought he would become anything until the age 16 when he became born again. He became the most prominent evangelical Christian figure in modern history. He was the spiritual advisors to several U.S. Presidents and even to the Queen of England. Nick Vujicic is a 33 years old painter, swimmer, skydiver, and motivational speaker. He is an inspiration to so many. He is also a Christian born with no arms and legs. Then, there is Joni Eareckson Tada who is an evangelical Christian that became a quadriplegic from an accident. The Lord used her as an inspired author, radio host, and founder of ‘Joni and Friends’, an organization accelerating Christian ministry in the disability community. I wish I can name them all, but I’ll cite one more, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Pres. Roosevelt was America’s successful leader that led them through World War II. Did you know that he did all this on a wheelchair?

The day I read Jesus’ words about a fellow handicap that he was the way he was so that ‘the power of God could be seen in him (John 9:2 NLT).’ I was esctatic that maybe I would be used by God one day. And I was, hopefully to the glory of His name.

Thank you.

Johann Q

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NLT – New Living Translation

Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 2)

In my last post, the healing of the blind man in the story of John 9 was to support what Jesus said, “…so the power of God could be seen in him.”

The question now is, what was the lesson that the Lord wanted to teach me? Well, here is the clue that sort of popped into my mind which I believe came from the Holy Spirit. (By the way, the Spirit has that tendency to do that to me from time to time.) Anyway, here is the clue.

…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT)

What does the passage of 1 Corinthians 1:27 have to do with the young man born blind in John 9? Let us look at the rest of John 9, just as Jesus was about cure the young man of his blindness. I hope you don’t mind me playing the part of storyteller in this.

After Jesus put mud on the eyes of the young blind man, he started to grope his way toward the Pool of Siloam. The young man was a little confused in the encounter. That morning, his mother helped him to his favorite spot in the marketplace for begging. He was on his way back to his parent’s house, when from out of the blue, a man named Jesus said some words then spread some gooey mud on his eyes. Then he was told to wash his eyes in the pool under southern ramparts of the City of David. You can well imagine what thoughts was going through his mind. Is this a trick or is he the butt of someone’s joke? This young man have probably heard stories of Jesus healing the sick. Maybe, this is the same miracle healer. You can well imagine him quickening his steps to the pool. When he gets there, his hands, shaking just a little, dips into the cool water. He cups the water, splashes his eyes and rinses the mud from his eyes. For a fraction of a millisecond, he hesitates to open his eyes. Then he opens them.

Keep in mind that he had never experienced sight in his entire life. He parts his eyes ever so slowly. At first, he frowns a little because his vision is somewhat blurry. But then his vision clears and the clarilty sharpens. He looks around with wide eyes. Passersby on the busy street stop in their tracks upon hearing a thrilled and excited voice shouting out, “I can see! I can SEE!”

You would think that a grand party would be next at hand. But the story of what happened next will have to be told in my next posting.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

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NLT – New Living Translation

Where does my JOY come from? (Part 8 Final)

I think it is quite clear that my JOY comes directly from God. The Holy Spirit had provided the tools I need, one of which is to be joyful regardless what. But it is not automatic.

In my last post, the Holy Spirit let me fly solo on my own. A good pilot never fly unprepared. They actually disciplined themselves to go through a preflight check list before they put their hands on the controls. In many ways, we Bible guided folks have our own lists or shall we say disciplines so that we can accomplish what is important to God. In my case, God wants me to be a witness to His goodness. And I do this with how I conduct myself in-front of others. You see, I want people to get to know the Lord whom I know and I want to do it through my faith and especially my joy. But my joy must not be superficial and fake.

This is where the disciplines come into play like celebrating the Lord’s Supper by properly partaking in the eating of the bread and the drinking of wine. The Lord’s Supper is a practical way of remembrance of what Jesus did on the cross. This is done by the church as a whole. There are also disciplines for individuals to practice like how believers are encouraged to put on the full armor of God daily as a way of protection against the evil one (Ephesians 6). What is the discipline for me to be a harbinger of joy to others? Enter my favorite Bible passage.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials… (James 1:2 NASB).

Allow me to be a Bible teacher for a short while. Let me ask you, What is the action word on the verse above? Many have answered, ‘to be joyful’, which is half correct. The verb of James 1:2 is ‘Consider’ which is defined in the dictionary as ‘think carefully about (something), typically before making a decision.’ How would I apply this as a discipline? How does one be joyful in the midst of a trial… in the midst of pain? You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard, ‘It is easier said than done!’ It is true but it is not impossible especially when you have the Spirit of God guiding you.

I do not mind saying this over and over again. If it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit in me, I would never be able to discipline myself to choose joy everytime. It is He that reminds me of my eternal heritage. You know how I can manage to genuinely smile inside and out as a quadriplegic. I always have a vision of myself… a vision of my body entirely whole… my heavenly body made for us by God himself’ (2 Corinthians 5:1 NLT). This is one of those things I repeatedly consider as I face an existance of trials. I do this as a discipline but I can honestly say that I also do this to bring the same joy to all of you.

So, I say, let us all ‘REJOICE’! (Philippians 4:4-9)

Thank you.

Johann Q

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NASB – New American Standard Bible
NLT – New Living Translation

Where does my JOY come from? (Part 7)

In 1990, I became ‘born again’ and I wish I could cite the hundreds of Bible verses that speak of what I gained when God sealed me with His Spirit. However, for this part of my self story of where my joy come from, there is one verse that I’ll focus on that is pertinant, Galatians 5:22-23.

On the first five years of my walk with the Lord, I underwent what I call the ‘School for Baby Christians’. Let me tell you, in that school, I learned a lot about the Holy Spirit and He taught me like a mentor. And one important lesson was that the Holy Spirit is real and not a figment of my imagination nor the brainwashing of others. You see, when the Spirit of God entered me, there was proof according to the Apostle Paul, the inspired author of Galatians, who wrote that “the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” [Galatians 5:22-23 NLT]

To emphasize this lesson, God took very good care of me like a mother hen who had gathered her chicks under her wings. I recall in those early years that I hardly underwent any negative effects of any trials that came our way (that is, my wife and I). It was like all life problems were suspended, at least for a short period of time. We were blessed. One aspect of His blessing was the incredible sense of peace I had. Where once the thought of death scared me, I had peace because I know where I’ll go when my time comes. As to anxiety and stress, well, one time, my wife returned with the news the our car was rear ended. My wife was upset but I was unusually jovial about the whole incident. One of the things I noticed was how much I can love unconditionally especially to those who the world would deem unloveable. I was even more impressed by how the Spirit worked on my self-control through which I became a disciplined student. I wish I became born again during my college days. I was such a lousy student then. Other hard trials happened, but instead of emotionally breaking down, the Spirit helped me learned and I grew in faith. So, much so, when the time came, I was ready to fly on my own.

In 1994, the bottom fell off from under me. That was the year, when the peso’s value went so low, I lost a lot of work in the broadcast production business. For awhile, my wife and my savings was down to a few thousand pesos and we had bills and rent to pay. You can imagine, how my mind tried to play tricks with discouraging thoughts. What sustained me emotionally was a promise of God in the Bible’s Old Testament. It read like this. “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” [Joshua 1:8 NLT] So, I did. I continued my daily meditation of the Bible and went to numerous Bible Study classes. Some thought I was wasting my time. I was even approached by a family member who took my Bible from my hand and slammed it on the table in front of me and said, ‘it will not put food in-front of me.’ Funny though, the Bible did feed me, so to speak.

One lesson I learned was that God always keep His promises. Less than a month after our bank account went very low, first my wife got hired on a new job and then, money (when needed and unlooked for) would come our way from unexpected sources. You see, by faith I acted upon on Joshua 1:8 and as promised, the Lord prospered me, so to speak.

I have been now walking with the Lord for more than 25 years and I have yet to be disappointed in how the Lord had led my life direction. Sure, it could seem to others that my life story was heading downhill. Since 1994, I have not been able to gain work (except for sporadic projects). Then in 2001, my body started to slow down to a point where I began to depend on an electric scooter. I graduated to a joystick controlled chair when my left arm… my working arm… lost all strenght in 2010. Then my legs gave out and I needed another machine to transfer me from my bed to my chair. By 2015, excruciating pain invaded my body and I was diagnosed that my spinal cord was being dangerously compressed. Today, it is 2018 and I am a quadriplegic unable to be independently mobile like in the old days.

I could be depressed but I choose to be grateful and joyful… an after effect of a Spirit filled life.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

NLT – New Living Translation

Where does my JOY come from? (Part 6)

John 3:3,7 NLT
[3] Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
[7] “…don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ “

Ephesians 1:13,14 NLT
[13] And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. [14] The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

Here is a riddle that actually popped into my head as a way to prepare me for the significance of the spiritual truth that blew my mind away. “How do you fit a square peg into a round hole?” Believe it or not, this is actually a simplistic but yet precise illustration to what happened to me when I believed that Jesus died for my sins.

You see, the square peg was me and I so wanted to go through the round hole very much like the way I desire to be in Heaven. But a square peg can never go through the round hole unless it can become a round peg. In John 3, Jesus said that ‘You must be born again’ or else ‘you cannot see the Kingdom of God.’ To keep this short, let me already reveal that the one who is ‘born again’ is the round peg. So, if the square peg wanted to go through the round hole, how does it become a round peg? Or in this case, how does one become born again?

In my last post, I have said that because of sin I can never earn my way into Heaven. Guess what, there is no way the square peg can transform itself into a round peg. So, what can the poor square peg do? Enter God… and rightly so. For only God can take a square peg like myself and make me new… make me born again. How? When I believed, God placed His Spirit in me (Ephesians 1:13). I’ve been born anew where once I was once without His Spirit and now I am indwelt by Him. As the Bible says, I am a new creation. And by the way, I have and still am REJOICING this truth, even in my present condition as a quadriplegic. Halleluhiah! But my story doesn’t stop there. In my next posting, I’ll show you how my Spirit filled life sustains my continued joy.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

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NLT – New Living Translation

Where does my JOY come from? (Part 5)

Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Romans 6:23 NLT
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

In my last post, God did the hardest part and for my joy to be ‘overflowing’, I had to do my part. Let me say, that my joy today is anchored on, first overwhelming gratitude to what Jesus did on the cross. The second part is that I was so happy and relieved to the biblical truths based on the passages above. This needs some explaining.

I always thought that I had to be a perfect person to enter Heaven. This always scared the heck out of me. For I knew I could never live up to it. I really thought I was doomed and I was right to think it. Look at the first part of Romans 6:23. The term ‘wages of sin’ for me means that because of sin, I earned (that is, deserved) death and in this case, Hell. But then, here comes the good news.

In the past, I didn’t really know the true meaning of the word, ‘grace’, which means undeserving favor. This is what I gleaned from the Bible passages above. Sure, I deserved death but salvation was never meant to be earned. This was actually a great relief, but I felt I still had to do something. I prayed it was something that I was capable of doing to God’ satisfaction. The answer was in the verse above of Ephesians 2:8 and especially in John 3:16 which says, “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

There it is. God did not ask us… ask me… to be perfect to enter eternal life. All he asked was that I “believe” in Jesus, the one whom He had sent. This made me very happy but not as joyful as to what happened next.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

NLT – New Living Translation