January 21, 2018

Where Are You?

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Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

Genesis 3:1-9

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We have heard this story over and over; I think we become numb to it…sometimes.  The serpent, the tree, and the apple are all part of a story we have heard if ever  we have walked in the door of a Sunday School classroom.  But as I re-read it tonight, God spoke to me and asked this question,

Where are you?

Remember, God had made every inch of that Garden and He knew exactly where His people were that day.  See, the serpent—the slithering enemy who still spews lies—had just changed the course of the lives of Adam and Eve by tempting them with fruit.  It was fruit off  of a tree that God had specifically told them they must not eat. God didn’t give them a reason (and He really didn’t owe them one).  His Word was enough.  But Adam and Eve took the fruit and they ate it. After they did, their eyes were opened and they realized they were naked and for the first time the word “shame” came to mind.  And then they hid from God.  Can you even imagine what they felt when they heard His voice asking, “Where are you?”

The enemy, that slithering serpent, still lies to us today. Perhaps you might be right in the middle of believing him.  Like Adam and Eve, you might have just realized what you have done…and the word ‘shame’ fits like a glove.  And perhaps you may be hiding from God, too.  But He sees you.  When He asked Adam and Eve that same question, He knew where they were…He just wanted them to know and see for themselves.  They had to admit to Him that they had messed up and they needed Him still.  God may have banished them from the perfect garden but there was still life outside those gates.  He still loved them and longed to spend time with them.  And, He loves you, too, and wants to help you reclaim your life.  But first you have to know where you are.  Because He knows!

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Dear Lord, You are awesome and wonderful.  Your love for us is never-ending and we are so grateful.  Lord, You have given us a garden here on earth, with beautiful sand and oceans and flowers…beautiful places to spend time with You.  Oh Lord, there are times when we are so far away and we struggle to find our way. I pray today for those who have lost their way and the voice of the enemy has been too loud. Silence it today in Your name and may they hear Your voice asking…’Where are you?’  We love You and praise You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Imperfect Yet Beautiful

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For His invisible attributes, namely,
His eternal power and divine nature,
have been clearly perceived,
ever since the creation of the world,
in the things that have been made.
Romans 1:19 and 20

So after a long day I am out walking my precious dog with my youngest daughter and I see it—the sky is blue and pink…and there are clouds drizzled in between the colors…and the sun is breathtaking as it gets ready to drop off behind the ocean.  I stand amazed at His handiwork.  And I think of how good He is and how all He gives is good!

Then the questions come:  “Why is there so much yuck in this world, mama?  Like why do bad guys steal Christians and their children over there?” I have to really think before I answer. Because haven’t I asked these same questions? When marriages end…and children suffer…when there is cancer and chemo…and childrens hospitals that are always half full….  How do I answer?

I begin to read in Genesis and how much God loved the first man and woman and how beautiful He made their their home. The Garden of Eden was flawless. Trees and flowers bore their fruit and food. Adam and Eve met with God everyday; they walked with Him in the garden. Life was beautiful. Until the enemy convinced them that what God gave wasn’t good enough. That they weren’t REALLY satisfied and surely they wanted more.  The fall of man was ingratitude. Here is the story:

The Fall  Genesis 3:1-19

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”  He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”  The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”  The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;  He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.”

To the woman He said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

To Adam He said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

God didn’t mess this world up…we did.  He saw that we needed help so He sent Jesus to die with all this sin on Him, so that we don’t have to. Jesus was the sacrifice to save us.  God is good and all He gives is good. There is beauty that comes from the ashes of all this hard.  We may not actually see the good that comes or the one person that was saved through it…but God does and that is enough.  Yes, this world is suffering but there is a day when there will be no more bad…only good. But until that day, let’s keep encouraging each other, praying for each other, and reaching out to those who don’t know Him and together we can change lives for Him.

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Do you know Jesus?  Have you ever asked Him into your life?  Oh friend, He is waiting. Will you pray with me?

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner, I need forgiveness.  I believe that Jesus is Your Son and the Savior of the world. I believe that You sent Him to die on the Cross so that I can live free and in eternity with You.  I ask Jesus today to come into my life and be my Lord.  Please walk with me and guide me and direct me.  Thank You for loving me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Eden

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When the first light brightened the dark
Before the breaking of the human heart
There was You and there was me
Innocence was all I knew
‘Cause all I had to know was You
We were running underneath the trees

I wanna see Your face to face
Where being in Your arms is the permanent state
I want it like it was back then
I wanna be in Eden

I remember how You’d call my name
And I would meet You at the garden gate
How the glory of Your love would shine
And I remember when the stars were young
You breathed life into my lungs
Oh I never felt so alive

I wanna see Your face to face
Where being in Your arms is the permanent state
I want it like it was back then
I wanna be in Eden

To be naked and unashamed
In a sweet down pour of innocent rain
I want it like it was back then
I wanna be in Eden

Where my eyes can see the colors of glory
My hands can reach the heaven before me
Oh, my God I wanna be there with You
Where our hearts will beat with joy together
And love will reign forever and ever
Oh my God I wanna be there with You

I wanna see Your face to face
Where being in Your arms is the permanent state
I want it like it was back then
I wanna be in Eden

To be naked and unashamed
In a sweet down pour of innocent rain
I want it like it was back then
I wanna be in Eden


~  Singer / Songwriter: Phil Wickam  ~
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As you listen to these words, do you feel like you’re in the Garden? I do, and I feel like I am waiting for my afternoon visit with the Creator. Can you even imagine? Every morning, hearing the birds chirping and the wind breeze is just right and the flowers and trees are breathtaking and you fellowship with the Lord. He is your best friend and you get morning and afternoon standing appointments with Him every day.

This song is about the first man, his wife, and their love story with God. In the beginning it was just them and they were always in His Presence. Until that day when it all changed and they saw darkness and sin and they tried to hide from God. And when they were cast out, and Adam looks back 100 years later, he is longing for that time of his life when His Maker was his everything.

Same happens today with us, when we go through something really hard and we have such a bond with Him and He is our everything because we are so weak we can’t do anything by ourselves. Then we get on our feet and life goes on and we forget to have those daily chats. Then we start to long for that time we felt closest to God. We may not long for the hard part of that time but the closeness we had with God…we miss. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We can have that ‘Eden’ experience daily by really spending time in His Word and really talking with Him like He is there. He IS there and He longs to meet you at the Garden gate. He longs to meet you face-to-face. A quiet time set aside to just be with God is vital to this relationship. Think about it. What if you and your husband, or your best friend, never spent any time together, one on one and you just texted every now and then. How could you be close? Obviously you wouldn’t be. And I don’t have to tell you that life is just better and more joyful when God is center and first.

So today, I challenge you to set aside time to meet with Him. Every day, spend quiet time with Him in the Garden. I personally think that He deserves our first words—the beginning of our day. I think you will find that if you do this, your relationship with God will be unshakable. And there will be a joy beyond anything you can imagine. So, in the comment section, tell us how you are going to do this, where you have this time and what time works best for you…I’m so excited for you! It’s a journey, the best one.

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Let’s pray:  Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for wanting to spend time with us and for creating us with a desire to just be with You. Eden was beautiful and amazing and we can recreate it daily. You have given us trees, flowers, and sunsets. Oceans and sand and artwork everywhere we turn. Help us to never take You for granted. For You are always there, even when we move, You never leave us or forsake us. We love You and we praise You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

CHRISTLife — Chapter 15: Knowing My Need

CLfridaygraphicBefore Christ, I was “spiritually dead, defiled, disobedient, and deceived.” I was “empty, enslaved, and self-willed.” Then at the age of six, I knelt at an altar of prayer, and those things were washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ. Yes, it’s true, I was all those ugly things. Psalm 51:5, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Romans 3:10, “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one;” No matter at what age you got saved, I know you are saying with me, “Praise God, He saved me from all of that and so much more!”

However, I am still needy. How about you? In our flesh we are still prone toward “doing evil deeds” (Colossians 1:21, ESV). As humans we still have our limitations, and we still sin. So we must continually “acknowledge our deep need for God and cast away our self-centered pride.” God can only work in us when we admit that we are His child, and as a child we are dependent on Him to care for us and help us in our weaknesses. Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” Even though we have many wonderful qualities, we can’t take personal credit and think too highly of ourselves. Instead, we must see that it is not by our works but by His mercy that we do anything good.

He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.  He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:5 NLT

If we never had any needs—emotionally, physically, psychologically, or spiritually—we would never realize just how needy we are for God. He created us for Himself. Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness….’”

Adam and Eve spent time in God’s presence. But as I think about them, I’m not sure they truly understood their need for Him until they had sinned and realized they weren’t “presentable” anymore.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He (Adam) replied, “I heard You walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
Genesis 3:8-10 NLT

After God told Adam and Eve how their sin would affect their lives from then on, He forgave them and, through the sacrifice of animals (Genesis 3:21), He provided for their need. Life wasn’t easy (verses 22-24), but the good news is that it kept them humble and in relationship with Him.

For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise His own people.
Psalm 69:33 ESV

He stands beside the needy, ready to save them.
Psalm 109:31 NLT

The more we study God’s Word and spend time with Him, the more we will recognize our shortcomings and our great need for Him to reign in our lives. We will find our help is in the Lord, as God tells us in Isaiah 41:17-20, “When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the Lord, will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.”

As pride is gotten under control, God doesn’t want us to think too lowly of ourselves either. David said (Psalm 40:17 NLT) that even though he was needy—God was thinking about him! Please meditate on this Scripture because it shows us just how significant we actually are to our Father God. He is thinking about you and me!

Yes, we are needy. I know I personally need more love, more patience, more self-control, more—you name it. As I grow in God’s Word, I will see how He is providing for me, protecting me, guiding and guarding me. I will see more clearly how much He loves me. How about you? Have you taken time to see your needs? Have you looked into God’s Word to see how much He wants to help you? Do you know today that God loves you, my friend, and He wants only His best for you? That’s His message to you right now. Our Lord is saying to you, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

May these Scriptures be your heart cry today:

The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord.
The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
Isaiah 29:19 NLT

Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to Your truth!
Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor You.
With all my heart I will praise You, O Lord my God.
I will give glory to Your name forever, for Your love for me is very great.
You have rescued me from the depths of death.
Psalms 86:11-13 NLT

Whom have I in Heaven but You? I desire You more than anything on earth.
Psalm 73:25 NLT

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Dear Lord and Savior of our souls, thank You for loving us beyond our comprehension. Thank You for loving us enough to save us. Thank You for continuing to show us Your love by revealing to us our areas of weakness so we will repent, be forgiven, and become more like You. We acknowledge our need for You. May we always hunger and thirst for You, Lord, for You promise to answer us and never abandon us. We love You, Lord. In Jesus’ Precious and Holy Name, Amen.