Friday, January 23, 2009

Hiding from God: Conclusion

Over the past several post, we have been looking at mankind's first attempts at hiding from God. Most of us, at one time or another, have been like Adam and Eve. Because of the lies we have believed and the choices we have made, fear for God has overtaken the love of God in our hearts. God, however, out of love for us, draws near in an attempt to woo us back into fellowship with Him. When God came near to Adam and Eve, He asked them three questions and, in these questions, we learn volumes regarding the nature of God. So, in conclusion, here are the questions and what we have learned about God.

Were are you?
While we are cowering in fear, God is desiring to have fellowship with us. The moral of this question is: No matter where we are, even in our deepest and darkest hours, God still wants to be with us. Even when we sin and disobey God, God loves us and wants to be with us.

Who told you?
We all have things we have believed about ourselves, many of which we did not hear from God. Those things in our mind that hold us back, that keep us from God, that cause us shame and fear; it was not God who told us those things. We need to learn to live by what God says about us not what others say.

What have you done?
Even in light of God's love for us, we still cannot skate on the issue of our sins. Sin is serious business and we must face the responsibility for our own sins. The good news is that God did not come to excuse us of our sins but rather to forgive us of our sins. If we answer this question honestly, God is faithful to forgive

David Robison

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What have you done? (Gen 3:13)

"Then the Lord God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?'" (Genesis 3:13)
We have been talking about hiding from God, specifically, when Adam and Eve hid themselves from God. We have also been looking at the three questions God posted to Adam and Eve in an attempt to draw them out of their hiding. The third question God asked them was, "What is this you have done?"

In leaving our hiding place and returning to God, we cannot side step the issue of our sin. Adam and Eve had sinned, they had broken a direct command from God, and before they could be restored to God, they had to face their sin. God's conversation with Adam and Eve is similar to Jesus discussion with the Samaritan woman He met at the well. After discussing theology with her, he speaks to the heart of the matter. "Go, call your husband and come here." (John 4:16) He said this knowing full well that she was an adulterer, she had already had five husbands and was now living with a sixth who was not her husband. Jesus loved her and wanted to restore her, but He could not ignore the issue of her sin.

Paul echos the same sentiments when he refers to those who, while desiring to be part of the church, were not willing to first confront their sin. "I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced." (2 Corinthians 12:21) How many today want the benefits of a "Christian" life but are not willing to pay the price to have a "Christian" life. They want to live like a Christian but only if they can ignore the reality of their sins.

Some today don't like to talk about sin; its not positive and uplifting. Others find it hard to reconcile a conviction of sin with the message of a loving God. Yet sin is serious business! Sin interferes with our communion with God. Isaiah said, "our iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear." (Isaiah 59:2) Sin also sows death into our lives, "Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." (James 1:15) In fact, so serious is the issue of sin that its remedy could be purchased with no less the price then the life and blood of the Son of God. The only remedy for our sin was the death of Jesus on the Cross. Sin is serious business!

But there is good news; the good news is that Jesus did not come to excuse us of our sin but rather to forgive us of our sin. When we confess our sins to the Father, He does not say, "well its not that bad, I'll let you go this time, it's OK" rather He says, "It really is that bad, but I have forgiven you". It is far better to be forgiven then simply excused. King David put it this way, "How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!" (Psalm 32:1-2)

When God convicts us of our sin, it's not to condemn us for our sins, but rather to give us an opportunity to be forgiven for our sins. If we are honest in answering the question, "What have you done?" then God will be faithful to forgive us for what we have done.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
More to come... David Robison

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Who told you? (Part 2) Gen 3:11

In my previous post, I talked about the lies we hear and believe about ourselves. Specifically, we talked about the lie the serpent told Adam and Eve that made them believe that there was something shameful and fearful about themselves being naked.

The serpent speaks shame and fear into our lives, but God speaks something quite different. Here are some of the things God speaks about us. "You are the salt of the earth." (Matthew 5:13) "You are the light of the world." (Matthew 5:14) "You are more valuable than many sparrows." (Luke 12:7) "You are already clean." (John 15:3) "You are My friends." (John 15:14) While the serpent speaks words that create shame and fear, God speaks words of life; words that "perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish" (1 Peter 5:10) us.

What was so insidious about the lie told Adam and Eve is that it caused them to be ashamed of how God had made them. God had created them, and he created them naked. Until they ate of the fruit, they had no problem with their nakedness, but now, in light of what the serpent had told them, they were ashamed; ashamed of how God had made them, they were ashamed to be naked.

We are all unique creations of God. God has made us each individually, with varying talents, personalities, and abilities. As Christians, God has also given us unique callings and giftings, "distributing to each one individually just as He wills." (1 Corinthians 12:11) However, sometimes we discount ourselves, not because of any lack in ourselves, but because we are not like someone else. We fail to see the incredible creation we are and focus solely on what we aren't. This comparison with others can lead us to feel ashamed of who we are; of who God made us to be. This is why Paul said, "when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding." (2 Corinthians 10:12)

What is amazing is that, too often the things that make us feel ashamed about ourselves, are the very things for which God has chosen us. For example, we may feel we are too weak to walk with God, yet Paul speaking of his own weakness says, "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10 We may also feel that we are somehow less situated than others, and this inferiority disqualifies us from service to the Lord, yet Paul encourages us to remember, "For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." (1 Corinthians 1:26-29) How often it is that our weakness and lowliness actually qualifies us before God.

So here is the moral of the question, "Who told you?" There is no shame in being you! There is no shame in being the person whom God made you to be. You may not be like others, you may not be accepted and revered by the world, but you are the child of your Father in heaven and, in that, there is no shame. Let us stop trying to be who we are not; trying to be like others, to appear different so we may be accepted by others, and let us rejoice and celebrate in our diversity, in the unique and specially different creation of God that we are. When we understand how unique and special we are to God, it will help us to come out from our hiding and return to the presence of God.

More to come... David Robison

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Who told you? (Part 1) Gen 3:11

"And He said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?'" (Genesis 3:11)
The scriptures record that, when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, there eyes "were opened, and they knew that they were naked." (Genesis 3:7) Yet, when God shows up on the scene, He didn't ask them how they knew they were naked but rather who told them they were naked. It is apparent that they knew they were naked even before eating the fruit, in fact the scriptures says that they were "both naked and were not ashamed." (Gen 2:25) They already knew they were naked, but now, for the first time, they perceived that their nakedness was something to be ashamed of. They were no longer "not ashamed" but rather full of shame and fear. In the opening of their eyes they came to see themselves in a different light; in a condemning light.

So who told them they were naked? The answer is not very difficult to discover. It wasn't God, He had just arrived on the scene. Nor was it Adam or Eve, they were the tellees not the tellers. That leaves only one other talking being in the garden, the serpent. After eating the fruit, something sinister transpired, something was said and intimated by the serpent that sowed shame and fear into the hearts of Adam and Eve, and this shame and fear caused them, for the first time in their lives, to retreat and hide from God. Something was said to them that would forever change the way they looked at themselves and would forever altered their relationship with God.

Many of us have areas of our lives where we withdraw, from life and even from God. For most of us, the leading cause of our failure to achieve our full potential or to advance further in our walk and relationship with God, is not a lack of ability or opportunity, but rather is the paralyzing effect of lies and slanders, spoken over us by others, and believed by us in our hearts. We allow the words of others to form invisible walls; invisible walls that end up defining us and form the barriers of our lives. Wall that set our limits which, in our fear and shame, we are not inclined to press.

We can all relate to these lies, many of which we repeat often to ourselves. "I'm not strong enough." "I'm not pretty enough." "I will never be like so-and-so." "I will never be accepted by others." "I will always be poor." "I will always fail." "I am a dummy and will never amount to anything." "God will never love me." "I will never change". Lies like these, and others, can cripple our lives and hinder our walk with the Lord.

When faced with these lies, it is good for us to remember what God asked Adam, "Who told you?" Who told you that you would never succeed? Who told you that God would never forgive you for what you have done? Who told you that no one would ever love you? Who told you that you can't, shouldn't, or would always do this-or-that. While these are questions you must answer yourselves, the truth is that, it wasn't God! God did not speak those things into your heart, it may have been other people or even the serpent, but it wasn't God.

More to come... David Robison

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