Lesson 1 Created for Relationship

MAIN IDEA: God created us in His image so that we might have a relationship with Him and fulfill His purpose on the earth.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. John 1:1-3

The Bible makes it clear: God has always been the initiator of relationship, and we are designed and equipped to respond. God created heaven and earth. He created man and woman and provided for their needs — including a place to meet with God Himself. In fact, the entire order and depth of God’s creation indicates that we were created in God’s image so that we might have a relationship with Him and fulfill His purpose on the earth. Let’s take a look.

Created in His Image
The story unfolds in the first chapter of Genesis. God spoke, and amazing things happened. God spoke light and entire solar systems into existence:

God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:3

God spoke water and land into existence and created every living thing — every plant and every animal that has ever lived on the face of the earth:

God said, “Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit with seed in it, according to their kinds.” And it was so. Genesis 1:11

God said, “Let the water swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God made the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:20, 25

But when it came to creating man, God reached down from heaven as a master craftsman at work, shaping the masterpiece — the centerpiece — of His creation. Yes, God created something very unique when He formed man from the dust of the earth — something above and beyond and quite different from all other created things.

He Created Us in His Image
The Genesis story tells us: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’ ” (Gen. 1:26). And the rest of the biblical story — from Genesis to Revelation — affirms that we are the embodiment of the image of God. God fully equipped us with His communicable attributes. He gave us intellect and the ability to reason. He made us with a will and emotions. Unlike every other part of God’s creation, God fashioned us in His own image. We have been given exactly what we need to fulfill His purpose for our lives.

Created for His Purpose
After creating man and woman, God bestowed His blessing on them and empowered them with a mission — a purpose:

God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.” Genesis 1:27-28

God revealed Himself and His plans for Adam and Eve very clearly, just as He continues to reveal Himself and His desire for us today. Our role is to respond to His revelation with worship as we fulfill our purpose, both individually and corporately.

From the first lines of the Genesis story throughout the pages of the Bible, God communicates His desire for us to know who He is, who we are in relationship to Him, how we should respond, and what we can expect. God created us in His image, and He has chosen to work through us to tend to His creation and fulfill His will on the earth — to do the good works He has prepared or planned for us. God wants to reveal Himself and His will to us every day, and as we respond appropriately, we can experience God as He works through us. The Bible makes it clear that each individual is God’s creation, and that He created us with His purpose in mind.

According to Genesis 1:27-28, what is our purpose? Let’s look at some basic truths about purpose. Read the following five comments and Scripture verses that follow.

• Purpose precedes creation
Creation occurs in the mind and heart of the creator. The creator conceptualizes the reason for creating something before the creation ever exists. For example, when building a house, the architect (creator) must begin with the purpose for the structure before the design can be formalized. God knew exactly what He had in mind before He created you and me!

It was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. Psalm 139:13-14

• Purpose determines design
Once the purpose is determined, a design is developed to accomplish that purpose. For example, the inventor (creator) of the fork and spoon clearly determined the purpose of each instrument before developing the design. The spoon was needed to transport liquids, and its shape dictated that purpose. Likewise, God determined our design before He created us!

We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10, NIV

• Our purpose coincides with our gifts and abilities
God created ducks to float on water and fly through the air. He gave them the unique characteristics of buoyancy and flight. In the same way, God has given us gifts and abilities that coincide with His plans for humanity. We are the body of Christ, and God fulfills His purposes on the earth through us. We were made with the ability to create, reason, and communicate unlike anything else He made. And each of us has been given specific gifts and abilities to fulfill His purposes. Our design is not an accident!

As we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts. Romans 12:4-6

• Our purpose is defined in our nature
Because God made us for relationship, we have been given the ability and desire to relate to God. We are the way we are because of why we are!

As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:1-2

• Our purpose requires a disciplined response
Our overall purpose is defined in Genesis 1:28 — to populate the earth and rule over it. However, our unique purpose can be found only as we walk with God. This requires daily attention through prayer, study of God’s Word, and worship. That is where we find our unique individual purpose — in God’s presence.

Do not neglect the gift that is in you … Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all. 1 Timothy 4:14,15

God desires a relationship with us. He continually searches for people who will respond to who He is and all He has done. God created us in His image, for His purpose, and for His presence. Our only adequate response is worship!

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?

Lesson 2 Created For His Presence

MAIN IDEA: God inhabits the praises of His people — He will always meet us there.

As we have seen, God created us in His image to fulfill His purpose — His will. But God also created us simply to enjoy His presence.

Created for His Presence
God’s desire for relationship with man was evident from the beginning. God chose to speak many things into existence, but He chose to speak to man — and an eternal relationship was formed. God even provided a special place for Adam and Eve, a place where God Himself would come and meet with them. We read about this special place in Genesis 2 and 3:

The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there He placed the man He had formed. Genesis 2:8

The LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. Genesis 2:15

The man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze. Genesis 3:8

When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, the stage was set. Can you imagine what that must have been like? The atmosphere, the land, the air, the food, and the animals — the whole earth was made for them, and they were made for it. All the efforts of the Creator were made for their benefit and He actually chose to dwell there with them.

God’s desire was to provide a wonderful place for Adam and Eve. He loved them unconditionally and wanted to be with them and meet all their needs — just as He desires to be with us and meet our needs today.

Those of us who are parents want the same for our children. My wife, Teresa, and I didn’t have resources as vast as God’s, to be sure, but I still remember our efforts to create just the right place for our first son, Lee.

Our home at that time looked like any other tiny apartment in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; but to us, it really was a gift from God — and from a generous man who attended the church where I served. I was in my last year of seminary in New Orleans — a two-hour drive down the interstate — and there wasn’t a lot left in our bank account at the end of the month.

I was only days away from the final exam that would earn my master’s degree in church music, and I was about to become a father for the very first time! I hoped and prayed those two events wouldn’t happen on the same day. And God answered my prayer — but just barely!

Three days before my final exam, I became a dad. I can’t begin to describe how excited I was (and still am) to have a wonderful son like Lee. My professors were gracious, and in one week’s time I had a diploma and a new baby!

Teresa and I didn’t have much money, but we had family and friends. Together we had turned that spare bedroom into a special place for Lee. On the day he came home from the hospital, he was surrounded by much love.

That little apartment that had been God’s gift to us was a perfect fit. God had provided just what we needed to fulfill our role as new parents, just as He had provided everything we needed to fulfill our purpose in ministry. And just as with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, He chose to dwell with us there.

Created to Worship
Adam and Eve were given everything by God, including the privilege of dwelling in His presence. They had every reason to understand who God was and all He had done for them, but they turned their affections away from God and toward their own desires. They had firsthand revelation of who God was and what He had done for them, yet they chose to listen to the Enemy instead. Their improper response to God’s revelation made His presence frightening.

The man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8

Just as God was searching for Adam on that day, so He is searching now for those who will respond to His gift of life and worship Him. Worship is the place of enthronement for God, and He will always meet us there.

The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His. 2 Chronicles 16:9

Adam and Eve made a choice that set the course of history in the wrong direction. They chose to respond to Satan’s lie rather than to what they knew of God. In one simple act of disobedience, they showed more reverence for Satan’s words of doubt than for God’s loving revelation and care.

Adam and Eve were made for worship, and so are we. The need to worship was inside them, just as it is inside us. We were created to respond to God’s revelation with worship, which is our show of “religious reverence and intense love or admiration” for God and God alone.

What is some evidence that the need to worship is ingrained in humans? Can you think of some examples outside of the church experience?

Whether it is at a concert, a sporting event, a Broadway play, a corporate boardroom, or a Las Vegas showroom, people will gather to worship someone or something. The deep need to respond to someone or something with our expression of appreciation and adoration is simply part of our DNA as human beings. We were created for worship!

It really isn’t hard to believe that we were created to worship something or someone, is it? The real question is what or whom are we worshiping? We can always identify what is “first and foremost” in our lives by taking a hard look at what attracts our attention the most.

Open your Bible and read the following Scriptures pertaining to God’s jealousy:
• Deuteronomy 4:24; 5:9
• Joshua 24:19
• Nahum 1:2

How do you feel about God being jealous? As the Bible tells us, God is jealous of our time and our attention, and He deserves first place in our lives. As we grow in revelation of who He is and what He alone has done in our lives, we really will experience God in worship!

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?