Do you desire to change or completely start over? Starting over is not as difficult as we think. The Genesis account of Creation reveals a divine sequence, showing us the secrets to new life. When we invite the Creator to make us new, we release any blame and regret we carry and embrace His foundation for re-creation, a new life. There we find exactly Who was presiding over the genesis of the earth. He can re-create us with a similar process: first bringing us revelation, then giving us benefits such as purpose and guidance, and finally teaching us to build a legacy. Through the divine sequence of Creation, we can learn simple spiritual disciplines for abiding in Christ and staying in step with the Spirit. If we want to begin again, we start at the Beginning.
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
When Nika was twenty years old a massive brainstem stroke left her unable to walk, speak, or even blink. Doctors warned her family she had as little as 48 hours to live. While trapped within her own body, unable to communicate her consciousness, all Nika could do was pray. Her faith sustained her and a year later she walked back onto her college campus on her own two feet. Nika went on to earn a BS in mass communication and an MA in English Education. In 2007 she was named the Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. She now writes and speaks full time, sharing her story of hope and endurance with groups across the country. Nika lives in Fort Worth, Texas.
Read an Excerpt
Let There Be Light
AS HARD AS IT IS to picture this bizarre theater of our origin, it is harder to imagine how it approached that point. What was there? In the seven-day Creation account, was God making the heavens and the earth out of substance He had already created previously, or was He creating substance from nothing for the first time?
Some details remain a mystery. The Bible gives us just enough information to establish our faith, but never so much to obliterate us, which the full knowledge of eternity would certainly do. Whatever the substance was, it was chaos — either in catastrophic ruins or in embryonic beginnings. How events came to that point is irrelevant to our exploration. This is not that kind of book; I am not a theologian.
Neither will we discuss how events led to this point in your life (you can thank me later). This is not that kind of book; I am not a psychologist. We will focus singularly on moving forward from here, on our personal re-creation according to the divine sequence of Creation.
What is important for us to take away from the first paragraph in Genesis is a glimpse of God. In the first words of the Bible we see that He is positioned to make all things new. He is in the same position with us right now.
This is very good news. Because the disorder that existed before humanity reminds me of a different kind of disorder. Read the descriptions below and try not to wince.
The Lord looks down from heaven
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened ... They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised.
What does that sound like? To me, it sounds a lot like the world we are living in.
And it also sounds like darkness and chaos. These are descriptions of human beings trying to do things without God. This is the picture of what we create when we try to create it ourselves. Where a human life is concerned, a DIY project doesn't mean Do It Yourself. It means Destroy It Yourself.
Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
Cursed is the one who trusts in man. Cursed! We simply can't remake ourselves. But God still hovers over ruined waters, waiting to speak.
When I read the first chapter of Genesis, my imagination takes a quick pan of the area, and I picture something like a ghost swan, gliding across a dark sea, its aerial glow brightening the tide. But it isn't a ghost, of course; it is the Spirit of God on the surface of the water.
God on the surface of the water.
On the surface of the water.
My heart whispers to me that I have seen this image before, and suddenly a familiar scene fills my mind. There He is in Galilee, walking on water. This is no thin specter; it is Jesus, emboldened, hovering over the deep. He stands on tanned, sandaled feet.
At about four o'clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. "A ghost!" they said, crying out in terror. But Jesus was quick to comfort them. "Courage, it's me. Don't be afraid."
When I read that the disciples thought Jesus was a ghost, I laugh for a minute. I am glad I'm not the only one. Notice the rich connection between this famous scene of water walking and the indiscernible opening of the Creation account. We talk about that New Testament miracle on the Sea of Galilee as if it were Jesus's first time to walk on water.
But maybe He had done it before.
Pay close attention to who was present at the Creation of the world:
In the beginning the Word already existed.
Jesus is the Word. He was not only there at the point of Creation, but as the Word, He is the One who did the speaking. Have you ever pictured that Jesus's voice said, "Let there be light"? Or did the events always play out in your mind as being from someone with a Santa Claus face and a Darth Vader voice? Or was it just a voice with no face? I used to think of it that way. But now I picture Jesus creating. It is no wonder that most people do not recognize Him walking on the waters in Genesis 1. Neither do they recognize their Creator's voice today. The Bible says as much:
The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn't recognize him.
Jesus came into the very world He created.
Yes, Jesus was there — being Jesus, doing what Jesus does — on Day One. The Bible tells us that "Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever," so we have every reason to believe that what His disciples saw Him do in Israel was not just a sudden and temporary phase. Walking on water and speaking words of life are what Jesus has been doing, is still doing, and will always be doing. This truth opens our eyes to see something new about how to experience real and lasting life change.
In order to be re-created, we need the Creator to speak. The Creator is Jesus.
"I am the light of the world," Jesus said to the crowds who had gathered to hear Him teach. We can imagine Him lost in thought after He said this, drifting for a moment in memory, going back to the instant He said, "Let there be light." Even then, He was summoning Himself, the Light of the World, to be our Savior in all ways.
When we study the method that Jesus uses to create, we learn how He re-creates as well. His voice is how He created, and without His voice, there is nothing. His voice is over the waters. His voice is over all.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
Maybe you need re-creation today, and you want Jesus to speak into your heart. As we journey through the divine sequence, focus on listening to His voice rather than your own. Remember when I said DIY stands for Destroy It Yourself? We accomplish nothing when we take His voice out of the equation. If we try to conquer habits alone, we only end up looking at our problems and then looking at ourselves, and realizing it doesn't add up. That's what Peter did when Jesus called him.
Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink.
God says that He has put everything under our feet. So we think we should be able to stomp on addictions and appetites. We try to harness heavy desire with thought. We try to beat back compulsion with willpower.
Why isn't it working?
Everything may be under our feet, but let's be honest: a lot of times, when we glance down, the stuff under our feet is churning. If we rely only on our might while we're standing on the stormy waves of what we want, we sink. The waters beneath us are ruined. Those waters are dark and deep. Those waters are chaos. If we look down, we will go down.
Jesus wasn't kidding when He said, "Human effort accomplishes nothing."
When He said nothing, I think He meant ... nothing.
But He also said, "If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."
Water walking is not in our skill set, but it has always been in His. Keep your eyes on Me, Jesus reassures us as we place a timid foot on the sea, and you will be able to see the next step to take. Don't look down now. Don't look down.
I love what the book of Hebrews tells us about keeping our eyes on Him.
You made [humans] a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet. In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus.
In the very sentence that tells of our beginning, we learn of our identity. We are children of the Living God, and we are vested with godly authority and rights. All things in heaven and on earth answer to God, therefore all things must answer to us because we are made in His image.
I can hear you say, "Again ... why isn't it working?"
This is the problem, as Hebrews explains it: everything is under our feet, but for now we do not see evidence of it. But we do see Jesus, Scripture says. And when we see Jesus, He brings light to the chaos. That light is called revelation.
What I am calling revelation, Dallas Willard calls vision. He writes, "The key, then, to loving God is to see Jesus, to hold him before the mind with as much fullness and clarity as possible." Willard suggests that "seeing Jesus" is split into four critical aspects.
First, we see his beauty, truth, and power while he lived among us as one human being among others ...
Second, we see the way he went to execution as a common criminal among other criminals on our behalf ...
Third, we see the reality of Jesus risen, his actual existence now as a person who is present among his people ...
But fourth, we see the Jesus who is the master of the created universe and of human history. He is the one in ultimate control of all the atoms, particles, quarks, "strings," and so forth upon which the physical cosmos depends.
Human beings have long aspired to control the ultimate foundations of ordinary reality. We have made a little progress, and there remains an unwavering sense that this is the direction of our destiny. That is the theological meaning of the scientific and technological enterprise. It has always presented itself to "man on his own" as the instrument for solving human problems. But without a divine context it becomes idolatrous and veers wildly out of human control, threatening self-destruction.
Simply put, first we open our eyes to see that Jesus lived. Second, that He died. Third, that He lives again. And fourth, that this living Jesus is Creator and Master of all things. We are not supposed to solve problems on our own; we are to submit every concern to the One who made it all ... and can make it all new.
In the book of Revelation we witness Jesus sitting on a throne and saying, "'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'"
The Creator and Master is making all things new, including you.
How He makes things new, as we have said, is with His voice. And because we are made in His image, we must join Him in what He does. Therefore, for each of the nine creative acts of Creation/ re-creation, we are going to put in writing and then repeat out loud a particular Scripture. That is our strategy. The series of declarations we will make are based on complete passages pulled directly from the Bible. They are not just positive statements that I have written myself. In some cases, I have changed pronouns (such as "you" to "I") in order to make the Scripture apply personally.
On Day One, the Creator spoke into chaos, "Let there be light." Now it's your turn to say it to yourself. I am about to give you the first declaration to write down in a journal or notebook. You are going to call out revelation for yourself, so write your name in the appropriate blank. Then go to a mirror, look yourself in the eye, and begin reading the declaration out loud to yourself. Of course, you will have to look down to read the page, but be sure to look up every few sentences and make eye contact with yourself. When people are serious about something — when they are making vows, contracts, or agreements — they look one another in the eye. You are going to look yourself in the eye because you are getting serious with yourself today. It is time to make an agreement with yourself about who God says you are, even if you do not see evidence of it right now. If it feels too weird or awkward to look yourself in the eye as you read this declaration, then your first problem is revealing itself.
You must be able to speak God's words to yourself in order to be re-created. No wonder it hasn't been happening.
It is not strange to look yourself in the eye; it is healthy. In fact, it is absolutely vital that you keep trying to look yourself in the eye and read God's Word over yourself every day until you can do it easily. Don't give up! It took me six months to become comfortable looking into a mirror and reading God's Word aloud over myself.
By the way, do not skip writing down His words because that is what He said to do in the verse above. Put it in writing! Do not take a shortcut and read silently either. Thinking these words is not the same thing. Remember, Jesus did not think Creation into being. He spoke it into being.
Let There Be Revelation (from Ephesians 1:17–23)
I, _______________, keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened in order that I may know the hope to which He has called me, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.
After you have completed your first task, congratulations are in order! Begin looking for ways that God gives you revelation in the coming days or weeks.
This may be new to you, and you may wonder how you are supposed to discern God's voice. It may be according to your learning style. When I taught English in public schools, I became acquainted with three learning styles that categorize most students. Good teachers know they can't present a new concept or information toward only one learning style because other students might miss it. Within the church, I can see that God does the same thing, to some extent.
Believers who are auditory learners tend to learn by hearing. God may communicate with you by speaking through another Christian. He may use the words of a song that comes on the radio or one that comes to mind and gets stuck in your head. He may let you "hear" a word or sentence in your heart. When this has happened to me, it wasn't as if I heard an audible voice in the room; I "heard" it in my heart. Except they were thoughts I had never thought before and were contrary to my first instinct or desire. Yes, sometimes God's voice "sounds" like your own inner voice, but He won't say what you would say. That's the difference.
The other day a friend asked me, "While I was at the grocery
store, I noticed the woman in front of me was very tired and worn out. Suddenly I thought I'd like to buy all of her groceries. Was that me or was that God? I didn't do it because it seemed like it was just me. It sounded like my voice." With this example, it is pretty clear. God's were the thoughts that motivated her to give. Hers were the thoughts that decided not to do it.
Look, it is not human instinct to give. An infant doesn't give. It only knows how to take. A toddler doesn't know how to be unselfish. Our human flesh is naturally wired that way. Believe me, you do not naturally want to spend $100 on someone else's groceries. If you think an unselfish thought, that is God within you, supernaturally motivating you.
Believers who are visual learners tend to learn by seeing. God may communicate with you by drawing your attention to a billboard or an image in a magazine. He may bring you new
understanding as you observe a scene around you. He may send you a dream, memory, or vision.
When I have experienced a vision, it wasn't like being in a trance; it was like what happens when I can vividly picture a memory in my mind. I'm sure this has happened to you before. You can be driving down the street and see a house that reminds you of a childhood friend, and suddenly you can picture everything about playing in that friend's backyard. You can "see" the memory in your mind even while you are still driving and still seeing what is before your eyes. Except you know it is a vision and not a memory because you have never seen it before.
And about dreams, how can we know that a dream is a significant dream from God and not just an average dream on a restless night? We ask Him. He will be faithful to let us know eventually. But usually I know immediately upon waking that the dream is meaningful because I sense the Holy Spirit teaching me something important through the dream.
Excerpted from "Everyday Genesis"
Copyright © 2017 Nika Maples.
Excerpted by permission of Worthy Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Altars of Earth, 1,
The First Day,
1. Let There Be Light, 13,
2. Revelation, 27,
The Second Day,
3. Let There Be a Space, 41,
4. Freedom, 55,
The Third Day, Morning,
5. Let There Be Order, 71,
6. Purpose, 81,
The Third Day, Afternoon,
7. Let There Be Fruitfulness, 97,
8. Productivity, 115,
The Fourth Day,
9. Let There Be Direction, 131,
10. Guidance, 143,
The Fifth Day,
11. Let There Be Life, 157,
12. Community, 169,
The Sixth Day, Morning,
13. Let There Be More Life, 185,
14. Authority, 201,
The Sixth Day, Afternoon,
15. Let Them Be Made in My Image, 217,
16. Legacy, 231,
The Seventh Day,
17. God Rested, 245,
18. Renewal, 257,