Sin. It mucked things up. It is THE THING we wrestle with every day of our lives. It causes us such distress and harm. And inwardly we know, “This isn’t how things are supposed to be.”
Adam and Eve cave. They take a bite. And at the very beginning of humanity, sin enters in. And if we end the story here (as so many do)…we would miss the story of JESUS unfolding before our eyes. By stopping short, there is no hope. The lost believe this earthly world is the end.
Read Genesis 3: 8-13. The remainder of Scripture serves as a story of how God overcomes and rescues us from sin by sending His Son, JESUS, who is the face of God. And in the coming days, we will look at various accounts of Scripture that depict our fallenness of man and the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. A love for His people to partake in His glory (John 1:3). But not only to be partakers (observers, beneficiaries), but also to savor and enjoy Him through a personal encounter.
This is the purpose for Advent. To experience Jesus anew. To open our eyes to who He is and who we are. To realize that we were made to see and savor His glory. That is my prayer for all of you! I pray that you will relish, delight in, treasure, and love Jesus more!
God shows up. And ahhhh…this might be my favorite verses in the Bible.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?Genesis 3:8-9
God doesn’t leave. He doesn’t withdraw. He doesn’t throw His hands up in the air. Instead, he “passes over our sin” (Rom. 3:25) as a foretelling of someone who would take our place on the cross. Throughout the pages of Scripture…with every turn…we are seeing glimpses of JESUS.
We are seeing God calling us into a personal relationship. Not because of anything we have done or ever could do. Simply because He wants to. God desires to have an intimate, private, one-on-one kind of relationship with YOU!
[Jesus said] I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 2I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”John 17:20-26
May our love for JESUS grow so deep that it overflows by leaps and bounds to those around us so that they see JESUS too! I pray our love goes way beyond our half-hearted human capacities, enticing others to want to know what we have.
Are you spending time with God daily? Are you savoring in His love and glory? If not, what needs to change?
Here’s what “Crafty” does NOT mean:
The Hebrew word for crafty is arum, meaning subtle, shrewd, sly, or sensible. We are given a depiction of Satan as someone who could pull the wool over your eyes. A smooth talker. A liar (John 8:44). One who doesn’t have your best interest in mind.
Satan, a fallen angel (Jude 1:6), desires to have power and authority over God. Satan continues to lead this rebellion today and bring many with him. He desires to be fully exalted to the position that only belongs to God. In his attempt to deceive and tempt, He subtly asks Eve, “Did God actually say? (v. 3)”
Then doubt creeps in. Takes root. And grows.
As I ponder this initial sin, I am reminded of the sin in my own life. How I am tempted to doubt God. Is God really good? Does He truly love me? Are His words true? Can I trust Him? Why is being a Christian so hard? Like Eve, it is tempting to look to the tangible things of this world for our hope and security. It is tantalizing to try to control our lil’ ole’ worlds. It is desirous to jump on the bandwagon of materialism for Christmas. But if I do, would God be pleased? Would the longings of my soul be satisfied?
When we try to fill our longings with anything other than God, we will come up empty-handed. The serpent’s promise to “be like god” (v. 5) is something we all wrestle with. We wrestle with control. We think God is holding out on us. If we could, we would run our lives differently.
It is important that we understand the doctrine of sin. Sin is what has caused the disruption in God’s original design. Sin and its consequences have resulted in a broken relationship with God. But thankfully, this story is not done! God does not abandon us here. He sends us Jesus to overcome sin and its consequences through the gift of salvation. Jesus is God’s answer to the problem of sin. This is why Christmas is such a big deal!
We have a tendency to minimize or side-step our own depravity. However, in doing so, we also are making little of what God has done for us. So, I challenge you today…reflect within. Search your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your sin.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.Psalm 139:23-24
Where do you seek satisfaction?
Read Genesis 2. God creates and places man in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. Then He gives Adam a command, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (v. 17-18). This command was for their good. Their protection. The boundaries of God are to keep us out of harm’s way.
Throughout the Old Testament, we see orders from the Lord. The Ten Commandments are given in Exodus 20:
All of these commands are summarized for us in the New Testament as Love God, Love Others (see Mark 12:30-31).
When God speaks, we listen. God speaks to us through His Word, which is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). As pertinent as His Word was 2,000 years ago when it was written…it holds the same authority to us today. It’s not a history textbook or romance novel or dry ink on a page.
It is important for us to understand that we live in God’s universe. He has authority over us. It is His land. Our temporary bodies are residing here but for a moment, like a vapor (James 4:14). We don’t know what tomorrow will hold. We belong to God and as such, He has the final authority in our lives.
For example, as a citizen of the United States, I must obey the laws of the land. I must pay taxes. I must stop at red lights. Littering is a crime. Jaywalking is prohibited. Likewise, with a broader perspective, I am residing in God’s universe. I am His creation and I must abide by His rules.
In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.Job 12:10
But that being said, my heart affections must be stirred towards obedience. Because I am like Adam and Eve, my heart bucks at the word “rules” unless I gain a deeper understanding. Naturally, we don’t like anyone telling us what to do and when to do it. We want to do things our way. We want to call the shots.
But, if I know more about God and more about His nature…I am more likely to respond in obedience. Yesterday I was driving around town and came across a construction site unexpectedly. I was required to slow down and wait until the road crewman waved me through the oncoming traffic. I was inconvenienced at a crucial time and sat twiddling my thumbs on the roadway. However, as I got closer to the situation, I realized there was a large pothole that would have done severe damage to my car had I avoided the warning sign. I was grateful that I heeded the law.
The Bible is not merely words about God…it is the active word of God. The Word of God is God’s voice in print. And if we listen, we will hear Him speak.
No one understands you like God does. He knows your deepest thoughts and concerns (Psalm 139:2). He knows your waking and your slumber (2 Kings 19:27). He knows the things that keep you up at night, and your biggest dreams and desires. It is He who knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). And not a hair on your head goes unnoticed (Matthew 10:30). He keeps tracks of your tears (Psalm 56:8) and has not forgotten you (Psalm 105:8).
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10
What lies are you currently believing about who God is and who you are?
In a recent conversation, my teacher-friend mentioned how the school system has recognized the need to teach kindness to the kids. Over the years, it’s been forgotten and kids are not as kind. They make fun of others. Tear down. Have exclusive clubs. And the such.
Kindness? Really? It’s not something that they already know? After reflection, I realized…you know what? They’re right! They know what it means but fall dreadfully short when it comes to living it out.
Shows like Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood have been replaced with Fairly Odd Parents and the like. This generation has grown up watching intolerance, injustice, and acts of hatred left and right. They’ve seen us let fear take hold….and watched as we fret at night. But kindness…have they seen it modeled? Do they recognize it as a need right now?
As parents of the generation-rising, we have a responsibility. It is our job to instill an attitude of gratefulness and stop passing the buck around. If we want a world where kindness looms, then we need to reflect within. What do we show with our own lives? Would others say that we’re kind?
How do you show kindness? What suggestions do you have to spread good cheer?