[Gary] Have you ever turned on the television and found yourself in the middle of a movie? You don't know the characters, the setting, the time period or plot. You try to pick up the story line to make sense of the various scenes, but you can't figure out what's going on. After a while you just turn the channel.
Is this similar to how you see your life? You were born into the middle of a story. What is the plot? Who writes your life script? How does it end? Well today, we're going to talk about a woman whose life isn't working out the way she scripted. We'll look at the story of two people whose decisions changed history. And we'll explore how God wants to rewrite your life script and give you real purpose and hope.
On Beyond Today we're going to help you discover how you can actually "Change Your Life Story."
[Announcer] Join our host, Gary Petty and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Gary] I know two people, Rachel and her husband who have lived by a script they learned when they were young. They worked hard, saved for the future, and raised a family in a suburban home. But things aren't working out the way they expected. They didn't plan for health problems or an adult child facing the devastation of divorce.
Rachel worries about the economy and how the money is getting a little tight. She is distressed by a constant barrage of bad news on radio and television. Her husband, he seems withdrawn and the spark is gone from their marriage.
Even though Rachel isn't a church-going person, she is becoming concerned about the morality in society and the increasing uncertainty of life. She asks her Christian friends if they think we are entering the time of the end predicted in Revelation. The answers don't seem to give her any real hope. Her story wasn't supposed to work out this way.
Everyone has a story. In many ways each story is different. Whether you are male or female determines some of how you live. Your family background, various talents, your shape and size, where you live—all these factors combine to make your life script unique.
Yet, all of our stories are part of a greater story. Your life is a thread in a great tapestry that tells the story of us. This narrative began before you were born and extends into your future.
Well today, we're going to go through the Bible to see how your story began, discover the greater plot and story line of your life and show how God can rewrite your life story.
On today's program we're also offering a free 12-lesson Bible Study Course that can help you rewrite your life. We'll give you full details in just a few minutes.
Now to understand how your life fits into this greater human narrative, let's start at the beginning: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27).
Human beings, you and I, are different than any other creation. We were created in the image of God. You probably haven't thought of yourselves as being made in the image of God. So at this point you might be saying, "Well my life's a failure. How can I be in the image of God?" Or, "With all my problems and unhappiness it's a joke to say that I'm somehow in God's image."
The truth is, you are a damaged image of God. The only way you can ever experience spiritual healing is to first understand where your life fits in this greater story, comprehend why you were born, and accept how you became damaged. Only then can you turn to God, who can heal you. Only God can change your life story.
So, first of all we have to deal with how are you made in the image of God?
Well let's look at five ways you were created in God's image.
First: You have the ability for self-conscious thought or reason. I mean, you know you exist and you want to find meaning in your existence.
Two: You have the ability to experience joy, and empathy, and grief, and sorrow and other unique emotions.
Three: You have imagination and creativity—the ability to think in abstract thoughts and create art, architecture, literature, music, build machines, do mathematics, study science.
Number four: You have free will. Now free will is the ability to make decisions, that's all that means. You have the ability to make decisions.
Number five: You were created to interact and share life with God and with other human beings. You were designed to live in intimate relationships with others.
Now according to Genesis, the first human beings were totally dependent upon God. They were happy. There was no strife or violence. But something caused them to change. They became spiritually, emotionally and mentally damaged. They learned anger, hatred, greed and sorrow.
Now understand, just like those first human beings, you—you sitting there, no matter what situation you are in right now—you were created for a divinely ordained purpose, but in your damaged state you are unfit for that purpose. The gospel of Jesus Christ is about how you can be restored to your God-designed purpose.
Now in a few minutes we're going look at more details of what happened to the first human beings in Eden and how you and I became damaged beings. But first, let's look at the five ways that you and I were made in the image of God and then we can see how each of us is really a marred image of God.
Let's go back and look at those. The first one was reason. Now every human attempt to solve humanity's problems has failed. Listen to what God said through the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah was inspired to write:
"Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." And then listen to what God says, "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor [are] your ways My ways,'" says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isaiah 55:6-9).
Nothing's changed since Isaiah wrote that many years ago. At the core of every human being—you, me—is a faulty reasoning process. You will never experience spiritual healing until you accept God's ways instead of following a flawed way of thinking that seems right and natural to you.
Now the second way that we are a flawed image of God is in our emotions.Human beings are filled with all kinds of negative emotions that aren't aspects of God's nature: destructive anger, hatred, envy, strife, arrogance, jealousy. At the core of who you are is a faulty emotional process that you can't even trust.
Listen what the prophet Jeremiah was inspired to write, "The heart"—the seat of our emotions—"the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?" God says, "I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings" (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
Your emotions deceive you into self-destructive decisions. That's why on today's program we're offering a free 12-lesson Bible Study Course that can help you break the cycle of self-destructive decision making. Now we want to make sure that your request is handled immediately, so call or write to us for your copy of this course. And we'll give you full details in just a few minutes.
The third way that you and I were originally in the image of God is in imagination and creativity. Human beings take the wonderful creative energies God gave us, and what do we do with it? We produce war, oppressive governments, arts that degrade civility and the devaluation of human life. This is hard to accept but you must understand it. At the core of who you are is a faulty system of imagination and creativity. Until you've faced how damaged you really are, you will continue to use your creativity to hurt yourself and those you love.
The fourth point was free will. Human beings continue to make bad decisions in spite of the destructive consequences. We just keep making the same mistakes over and over and over again. And the reason is at the core of every human being is a faulty system of decision making based on wrong motivations and goals.
And then the fifth point was relationships. We are relationship beings, yet we continue patterns of behavior that destroy our ability to have close, intimate, meaningful relationships. You know that. At the core of you, at the core of me, at all of us is a faulty concept of how relationships work—including our relationship with God, which breaks down into our marriages, and our interaction with children, and parents, and friends, and co-workers and everyone.
We are all damaged people. All of our stories are similar to Rachel's story that we talked about a few minutes ago. She didn't think her story would be like this. You could have never, would have never written cancer, poverty, a broken marriage, alcoholism. You would have never written those things into your life would you?
Does this sound familiar? If God loves us, how can the human condition be so confused?
To really understand where you fit in the greater tapestry of human history, you must understand the story of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is not a myth. It is the beginning of your story, and my story. It's the beginning of our story.
The first human beings had a wonderful relationship with their Creator and with each other. Something happened! What happened to change their lives and your life?
God told them not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In other words, God told them that as the Creator of life He knows how life works.
Now God allowed Satan to influence the children He created in His image. Satan didn't somehow sneak into the garden and surprise God. Now remember we talked about free will a minute ago. Free will is the ability to make decisions. If human beings were to learn the difference between good and evil, which is what God wanted, then they would have to choose between good and evil.
Unfortunately, many people do not only relegate Adam and Eve to mythology, they also deny the reality of the fallen angel the Bible called Satan. Satan is a real being. You know, whether you believe in him or not, he has played an important part in your story.
You see you and I were born into a story filled with lies. The crime, poverty, unhappiness, abortion, addictions, broken marriages and damaged lives of our world isn't a result of God's ways but the result of Satan's rule over humanity. Now you can learn more on how you came to live in Satan's world by ordering the Bible Study Course we're offering on today's program, okay? We'll talk a little bit more about this amazing study course in just a minute.
Now we've already looked at a number of passages in the Old Testament; but let's take a look at the New Testament. The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth. Now listen to what he writes here: "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds,"—now listen—"...the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them" (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
Adam and Eve's story isn't something we just tell children, a nice bedtime story. It's the opening scene of your life. You have absorbed aspects of his nature. Your reason, emotions, creativity, free will and relationships reflect characteristics of Satan's values, not God's. Satan deceives you into thinking, "I'm okay. You're okay." And the truth is, and this is difficult because people say well, we want to go to church. We want to hear all the good news. Well this is about good news but the bad news has to come first and the bad news is, none of us are okay. None of us!
Now how can your life story change? How can you find restoration and healing from God? I mean the reality is folks, Christianity without deep, personal repentance is not real Christianity. I mean there is plenty of "believers." What Jesus Christ wants are dedicated disciples.
This means that if you want to be healed from your broken marriage, destructive addictions, meaningless sexual encounters, anxiety and fear, you are going to have to change both the behaviors and thinking patterns that led you to your present condition. Too many times, what we want is to write our own life story following a plotline of tragedy, and then we expect God to come in and fix the bad consequences while we go on with life in the same old way.
God will rewrite your life story, but you need to do your part.
Let's just take a minute here and let's review the five ways you were made in the image of God and see how God wants to restore you to your original purpose. God can change your life story. You need to respond to this.
The first thing we talked about was reason. Remember at the core of every human being is a faulty reasoning process. You will never experience spiritual healing until you accept God's ways instead of following a faulty way of thinking that seems right to you; it seems natural to you. God wants to teach you to give up selfish thinking for outgoing thinking; short term thinking for eternal thinking; disobedience to God's law for obedience to His way of life.
The second point, we talked about emotions. How much of your life is absolutely controlled by anger, hatred, feelings of hurt, envy, fear and anxiety?
Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount: "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles"—or nations—"seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But [first, seek] the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Mathew 6:31-33).
What does God want to hold back from you? All these things will be given to you. God wants to replace your fears with peace, and your anxieties with faith.
The third point was imagination and creativity. In another part of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.'" But Jesus said, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28).
You know if you want to get off the meaningless sexual merry-go-round, or overcome your addiction to pornography, you must first deal with your damaged imagination.
I hope you're beginning to see how damaged we really are, and how God wants to heal you! The Bible Study Course can give you a place to start. These 12 lessons we'll offer in just a few minutes.
Our fourth point is free will. The story line of your life is a composite of all of your decisions. You can't keep making the same flawed decisions; you will simply arrive at the same destructive conclusions. Isn't it time to attempt something different? God wants to replace your short-sighted, self-destructive decision making process with a way of making decisions that produces happiness and purpose.
Relationships. All of us long for a deep, meaningful relationship with God and with others. You were designed with those needs. If you will allow God to heal your relationship with Him, He will teach you how to heal your relationships with others.
This is the story God wants to write for your life, but how do you make those changes?
Well first, you pick up the Bible as God's instruction book for humanity. But then how do you apply this information to everyday life? Well you can discover God's script for your life by taking the free Bible Study Course from Beyond Today . The first two lessons "Why the Bible Is The Word of God " and "The Word of God: The Foundation of Knowledge " will help you understand how the books of the Bible fit together into the Old and New Testaments and why this ancient book is relevant to you.
Each lesson takes you through God's Word to help you find a practical Christianity as a way of life. You will find out why were you created , uncover the comforting truth of "Why Does God Allow Suffering?" and discover God's plan for humanity as revealed by the Bible's annual Holy Days .
You need these lessons in your life, and we want to give you all 12 lessons at no charge. You need to know about God's calling and how He wants to transform your life . He wants to restore you to your original purpose as His child.
I can't express enough how important these lessons are to you in your relationship with God. And they're absolutely free!
You can read the Bible Study Course online at BeyondToday.tv . Or request your free copy to be sent to your home by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Now if you live outside of North America, you can write to the address that you see on your screen.
Have you ever wondered "Is There Hope for Human Survival? " or "What is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God? " You will find the transforming answers to these questions from God's Word in the Bible Study Course.
Now when you order the Bible Study Course we will also send you a copy, a free copy of The Good News magazine. The Good News will help you make sense of today's bewildering news and events in light of biblical prophecy.
Call right now: 1-888-886-8632.
We're joined by fellow Beyond Today hosts, Steve Myers and Darris McNeely to discuss how you can change your life story.
[Gary] Darris, how did God change your life story?
[Darris] Gary, when I was 12 years old living in the Midwest, part of a God-fearing family, my mother began to understand just exactly what you have been talking about here today from the Bible Study Course and God's Word. And she began to show it to me and teach me and it really began to change my life and it really started to make a generational change. Where I was probably going to, destined for a mediocre life and existence there with who knows what might have happened. Again some of the same problems and frustrations that you spoke of here that people have. My life at least began to have some purpose and I understood the purpose of life. I understood these principles from God's Word. And I began to think beyond just the moment to begin to thinking beyond today and taking a longer term view of life, which is exactly what you're talking about. To begin to really build a meaningful and lasting relationship with God and one that helps us to avoid the problems that creates a frustrations here that create a story line that we sometimes have to change. I didn't have to write a lot of the things that people write. I guess that's probably the biggest thing. At an early age I started to write more of a story that was positive with purpose rather than some of the other problems.
[Steve] I think it's interesting when you begin to think about writing or rewriting your life story, changing your life story. What do you want for your life? I think we all have hopes and dreams and envision certain things for ourselves but when we step back and we realize who is the Creator, who is the One that guides the creation? And when we begin to look in His Word and take direction from Him, our life is going to change. So no matter where we're at, when we look to Him for direction, then we're going to have a better story.
[Gary] Well not only that I think when we start to let God write this story, some of the tragedies and difficulties we go through in life actually begin to have meaning. I can remember when my dad, before he died, he and I had a chance to talk about death because we had been very close in his life. And he looked at me and he said I'm not afraid of death, my next waking thought after I die will be to wake up and be in the resurrection. And then he looked at me and he said, but you, you have to stay in this mess. And it gave him a viewpoint God had been with him all his life, his story was written, but it wasn't about to end. He was about to enter the next stage of his story. This is eternal what God wants to do with us.
[Darris] Yeah I think where your father is experiencing and relating to you Gary was the fact that he has come to understand and to know through a lifetime of relationship, obedience and coming to know God, he'd come to know the God who rides in the storm. The God who plants one foot on the land, one foot in the sea, guides the course of history, guides the storms of life and is there as we're going through them and is there to help us and your father came to understand and to see that. And when we do, come to understand that God, then we can meet those challenges that do come, the trials and the tests and the storms that are there because we know the God who is in those and has those designed and hardwired into life to make life what it is to prepare us for His Kingdom.
[Steve] It's a reminder of Romans 8:28. That no matter where we are in the challenges of life, that when we trust God and when we look to Him, He can work those things out for good. And so wherever we are in the challenges that we face, when we look to God, those challenges can be great in the end.
[Gary] So sometimes we just have to remember when it seems like we're at a dead end. God has to finish the story. Step back, and let God finish the story.
God wants to change your life story! Now, you have to do your part. And you can learn step-by-step how God is working out a plan in the history of humanity and how He can work out His wonderful plan in your life by taking the Bible Study Course from Beyond Today . "Why did God Create Mankind? '', "What is the Church? ", "The Calling of God ." These are just three of the 12 study lessons we will send to you without cost or obligation.
You can read the Bible Study Course online at BeyondToday.tv . Or request your free copy to be sent to your home by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632.
And when you order the Bible Study Course we will also send you a free copy of The Good News magazine. The Good News will help you make sense of today's bewildering news and events in light of biblical prophecy.
In addition, I really encourage you to visit the Beyond Today website where you can find daily video commentaries on breaking news and important biblical topics. Join us throughout the week for BT Daily and get additional analysis on prophecy, the Bible and God's plan for your life.
You exist because the Almighty God wants children. You, yes you, were made in His image, but you have become a damaged image of God. Salvation is God saving you through His Son, Jesus Christ and restoring you to your original purpose. This is the aspect of the gospel that is missing from so many Christian messages—God is creating a family!
We'll be right back for a final word right after this:
[Narrator] Christ came to earth with a central message of the Kingdom of God. What is the Kingdom of God? Most have never heard or understood what Jesus actually taught on this subject. The United Church of God is hosting free seminars held simultaneously around the world.
[Steve] That Kingdom is coming to earth—that was the message of Jesus Christ. It's not a Kingdom that's off up there in heaven but it's a Kingdom that Christ is going to establish right here on this earth.
[Narrator] Go to KOGSeminars.org for details to find one near you. Kingdom of God Bible Seminars—giving the message of hope for tomorrow, beginning today.
[Gary] Join us next week on Beyond Today as we continue to discover the gospel of the Kingdom of God. We also invite you to join us in constantly praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today, I'm Gary Petty. Thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today's program, go online to BeyondToday.tv. Please join us again next week on Beyond Today!