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Showing posts with label Adam and Eve. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adam and Eve. Show all posts

Monday, January 9, 2017

Genesis, Part 1 - The Creation

            We are starting a new study on Wednesday nights and Thursday mornings at my church.  it's called THE STORY and it studies the whole Bible in chronological order, starting in Genesis.  So I thought I would share a series of blogs about the story of Genesis.  Today, I want to work through some of the highlights of the creation story from Genesis.  In particularl, I want to focus on how the story relates to people, how God’s perfect creation was spoiled, and the consequences of that spoilage on the world and us today.  So let’s look look first at Genesis 2:25

Genesis 2:25 Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.

            It's a short verse, but there is so much we can glean from it.  This is a picture of the perfect creation God made in the beginning.  Notice the total innocence of Adam and Eve.  They are naked, but they felt absolutely no shame.  When was the last time you could stand naked and feel as Adam and Eve?  They could because they were perfect in every way--just as God originally intended for humanity.
            Their bodies were yet to be touched by any sickness.  They had perfect sight, perfect senses, a body that functioned perfectly.  Have you ever known anyone who was a perfect physical specimen?  The closest we find to this in our time might be professional athletes or Olympians who are gifted with raw, natural talent and then spend their whole life developing that gift.  And yet, Adam and Eve were infinitely better than eve the best athletes we find in our world today.
            Their bodies were untouched by the slightest mental dysfunction.  They had perfect memory, perfect clarity of thought, perfect understanding.  Again, think of the most brilliant person you know or of whom you have heard.  Adam and Eve had infinitely better mental capabilities.
            They had no emotional problems, not eve the slightest.  For, no one had ever betrayed, harmed, spoken an ill word, had a misunderstanding or disagreement, been insulted or even perceived an insult, been depressed or sad or angry or anything other than at perfect peace and harmony with all God and all of His creation.
            So that Adam and Eve could stand completely naked before one another (and God) and have absolutely no shame.  They had no thoughts about blemishes, for there were none.  They had no feelings of vulnerability.  They felt perfectly safe.  They were not cold or concerned about getting a sunburn.  They did not have even a thought that there was anything to be ashamed of or that they were even naked.  To them—completely and utterly innocent as they were—it was an absolutely natural state of being. 
            And these attributes applied not just humanity. All of Creation was perfect. No wild beast threatened to harm Adam and Eve or any other animals, whether by malice or accident or necessity of food. No natural disaster existed on the earth—whether tornado or hurricane or wildfire or earthquake or frigid temperatures or scorching sun or flood or drought.  All nature was perfectly balanced and in harmony so as to make life completely sustainable and fit to enjoy.  And God and humanity were so close they lived in perfect harmony—talking to one another as friends walking through a garden on a beautiful day.  All this was the gift God gave to Adam and Eve. And yet, apparently, this couple wanted more.  The Serpent used that desire to tempt them.
Genesis 3:4-7
4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

            You might ask: "What was so bad about eating the fruit?"   It was direct disobedience of the one and only commandment of God--a test of their loyalty and love.  It was distrusting God – Eve (and Adam) believed the Serpent who contradicted God and even insinuated God was holding out on Adam and Eve. They wondered if they could get more. (How could you possibly have more?). They somehow believed they could get more if they disobeyed God (even though God had never done anything to make them question His love for them).
            It was appealing to Adam and Eve to be free of total dependence on God.  When my son was a young child, he loved Cheez-Its.  I remember vividly on time we were sitting in the car together--he strapped into his car sit.  I gave him some Cheez-Its and he loved them.  He wanted more.  I was delighted to give him some decided I would give him as many as he liked, but I didn't give him the box for fear he would spill them or soil the contents with his sloppy hands.  So I handed him a handful again and again each time he asked for more.  After only a couple handfuls, Gavin determined he was not satisfied to let me feed him one handful at a time.  He wanted the whole box for himself.  Even thought I would give him as many Cheez-Its as he liked, Gavin didn't want to be dependent on me.  In that moment, I perceived an aspect of our human nature.  We want to be independent--even from God.
            Don’t you see the seeds of your own human nature at work in Adam and Eve?  We are so easily tempted to disobey God.  We often distrust God though He loves us completely and unconditionally--even giving up His own Son on a cross to redeem us. We say:
  • “Why is God so mean to me?”
  • “Why can’t I find a husband? ...have a baby?"         
  • "Why can’t I have more money?  ...a better house? ... a nicer car?  Why is God holding out on me?”
  • “Why do bad things happen to ‘good’ people?”  (As if we are good people.  Romans 3:10 clearly tells us, "No one is righteous--not even one."  There are no good people, thus bad things do not happen to good people.  Yet we accuse God of making this happen.)
            We just want to live our life the way we want to without God.  I mean, we want God in our life--especially when we are overwhelmed or in trouble--but we don’t want to be dependent on God.  “Just help us out, God, when we need You and, otherwise, we’ll visit when it’s convenient.”  Who really wants God to be their All in All?  So we see in Adam and Eve the birth of the very sickness in our own souls.       
            Adam and Eve took a chance on the Devil... and lost.  And now we see the aweful result:

Genesis 3:8-11
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?”
10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
11 “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

            Adam and Eve were afraid of God--their best friend, the giver of all good things, their protector, sustainer, source of life and peace and love.  They were so afraid they hid.  So add to their malady: desperation and confusion.  For, how can you “hide” from the Creator of the universe--WHO created stars a trillion lightyears away and also created the very heart beating inside your chest?  But their fear filled them with desperation and--being otherwise innocent and unskilled in the black art of sin and deception--all they could think to do was “hide.”
            Oh, we are so much better at sin and deceit than Adam and Eve were.  We’ve had thousands and thousands of years of practice.  Some are so skilled they can go their whole life never letting a single person know the secret sins of their dark heart; some can even deceive themselves.  But NO ONE can hide it from God.  For THE ONE WHO KNOWS HOW MANY HAIRS ARE ON YOUR HEAD will come looking for you.  “Where are you?”  He calls and we cannot help but reveal ourselves, “I hid from you because I was afraid.”
            The innocence was completely gone.  Now Adam and Eve were agonizingly aware of their nakedness.  They were ashamed where before they were joyful and happy.  Their once perfect bodies now suddenly bore the awful marks of age and deterioration that must come upon every aging body. (Can you imagine terror that seized Adam and Eve as they saw for the first time in history their once perfect bodies reduced by stretch marks and wrinkles and age spots and a thinning hairline?  We take these things for granted now, but Adam and Eve had no experince to build upon.  Can you imagine their horror as they felt for the first time in history the aches and pains of old age and arthritis and the dulling of their senses--sight, sound, the ability to remember--the degrading of their reflexes, the onset of vertigo?)  And the ONE PERSON they could ask anything and completely trust for help they feared was now their enemy.

            However, despite their evil and rebellious and ruinous decision, God still was not their enemy.  They turned their back on God, but God did not turn His back on them.  God provided a sacrifice and protection.  

Genesis 3:21 – 21 And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.

            Despite their sin, God took pity on Adam and Eve.  Concerned for their fear and shame and safety, God sacrificed the lives of animals to make clothing for the naked humans.  Imagine the horror of the man and woman as they saw animals slaughtered for the first time in history.  The animals’ innocent blood was spilt because of human sin.
            The only protection suitable was animal skin.  Adam and Eve needed protection from a now hostile world.  The elements now were a deadly threat--exposure to cold or scorching sun could wipe them out.  And the inevitable consequence of sin is death.  The animals died in place of Adam and Eve.  They wore the skins as a tangible reminder of the cost of sin and yet also of God’s continuing love for people as the most important part of His creation.

             God made Adam and Eve perfect and gave them the freedom to love Him or not.  They chose to love selfish desires and independence instead of God. They betrayed God for a deceiving snake and lost.  Their sin corrupted all of creation--sin, death, destruction, and disorder are now the norm of this life. The only thing holding back the doom is the loving hand of God--who despite being betrayed--still hopes and longs for a restored relationship with His people.
            Eve is the mother of all who live (Genesis 3:20). And so, we inherited Adam and Eve’s sinful nature and their resulting suffering. But God has not left us without hope.  Through Christ, our sins are forgiven and we are given new life and eternal life.  Through Christ, we can once more come before God and each other with an innocent heart.  For our sins are no more.  They have been crucified with Christ!  His blood has washed our sins away!  The blood of animals was only a temporary solution.  It was insufficient to truly wash away our sins.  But the blood of Christ is all-sufficient.  It washes us clean for all time--every sin we ever committed and every sin we might commit in the future are scoured clean by the blood of Christ shed on the cross. 
            One Day, God will even restore Creation.  Romans 8:21 - “...creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”  I invite you then, to take hold of this hope through God’s promise in Christ.  Turn away from your sin.  Stop chasing your own sinful desires.  Turn back to God.  He is your only hope, the hope of all Creation.
I invite you to bow your head and pray to God and turn your life over to Him completely.

“Lord God, forgive me my sin.  Just like Adam and Eve, I listened to the serpent in my heart and tried to find happiness on my own without You.  It did not work.  I am so sorry I turned away from You. Please forgive me.  Restore me, by the blood of Jesus Christ, to a right relationship with You so I may walk with You unashamed and unafraid all the rest of my days, and I can have everlasting life with You in eternity.  Amen.”


Monday, February 22, 2016

Biblical Advice for A Better Marriage

Genesis 2:18-25

We were made for deep relationships.  A deep relationship is a profound, caring connection of mutual support, cooperation, and trust.  Deep relationships can be with family, friends, someone we date, a spouse, or a co-worker.  However we find them, our souls yearn for deep relationships.  Today, I want to offer some biblical advice to help strengthen the deep relationship between a husband and wife.
In the beginning, God created a man named Adam as a living, breathing being to have a deep relationship with God.  God also made a woman named Eve because God wanted people to have relationships with each other.  Let’s read the story from Genesis of how God made the first woman.

Genesis 2:18-25
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.
21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.
23 “At last!” the man exclaimed.
“This one is bone from my bone,
    and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
    because she was taken from ‘man.’”
24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.
25 Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.

Women and Men
God made Adam and Eve because deep human relationships are as important as a relationship with God.  Adam and Eve were so much alike.  The story says Eve was made from Adam’s own rib.  Yet Eve was also different from Adam.  She was a woman, not a man.  Even young children splashing around in a bathtub together perceive there is a very basic physical difference between boys and girls.  Then as they grow up, they perceive the differences are more than just physical appearance.  For instance, men tend to be logical and rational and women tend to just be completely crazy...  :)
Of course, I jest, but jokes like these are funny because of the deep differences we perceive in the way men and women tend to think, communicate, and view life.  It almost seems as if we are from two different planets and speak different languages and have different customs.  Yet, these mysterious differences between the sexes makes for one of the most complicated and rewarding deep relationships known to humanity.
It’s important to remember that the differences between the sexes was designed by God.  So when you get frustrated that your spouse thinks or acts so differently from you, take a moment to relax and remember God made them that way for a reason.  Ultimately, you need them to be different and their differences enrich your life.  Yet it also means you have to be patient and be diligent to build a deep relationship with your spouse. 

Biblical Advice about Marriage
            The best very place to get marital advice is from the God who designed the human heart and created the institution of marriage.  Here are four passages from the Bible about marriage I think will help improve your marriage. 

Matthew 19:6 – "Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” 
These words, spoken by Jesus, remind us that God unites husband and wife as one in marriage.  It is a deep and mysterious union meant to last a lifetime.  Therefore, when it comes to your spouse, keep a lifelong perspective about everything.  As you are choosing a spouse, understand that you will be with this person for the rest of your life.  As you argue with your spouse, remember you will be with them for the rest of your life.  As you make decisions about your friends, your career, your children, your church, remember you will be with your spouse for the rest of your life.  Always have an attitude of life-long commitment in your marriage.  Avoid people, situations, or attitudes that threaten to split apart what God has joined together.  Work hard to invest in a happy marriage, knowing you are investing in your own happy life. 

Ephesians 5:21 – "And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
The love between a husband and wife is meant to be an illustration of the way Christ loves the Church.  Remember, Christ laid down his life in sacrifice for the Church.  That was true, sacrificial love.  And that is the kind of love we aim for in our marriage. 
Sacrifice for your spouse as service to Christ.  You won’t always feel like it, and your spouse won’t always deserve it.  Do it anyway, out of reverence for Christ.  Make your own desires secondary and put your spouse ahead of yourself.

Hebrews 13:4 – Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.
Honor your spouse.  Speak well of them—to others and to them.  Point out the very best in them and look for ways to show them how much you appreciate their best qualities.
And be faithful to your spouse.  It almost goes without saying that you shouldn’t cheat on your spouse.  Few would argue with that.  But faithfulness is deeper than just sexual faithfulness.  Guard your eyes that you don’t seek enjoyment from other people in ways you should only find in your spouse.  Guard your emotions; don’t seek emotional and relational fulfillment from other people in ways you should only receive from your spouse.  Be faithful to protect, honor, and respect your spouse.  Be faithful to the life-long partnership you are building together.  Ultimately, don’t put anyone or anything above you marriage—not kids, not parents, not friends, not hobbies, not anything.  Only God has primacy over you marriage.  And the truth is, God is not really above your marriage, but an equal part in it. 

Proverbs 5:18-19 – "Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.  Rejoice in the wife of your youth.  She is a loving deer, a graceful doe.  Let her breasts satisfy you always.  May you always be captivated by her love."
That verse is a little risque for church! But it’s from the Bible so...   Find reasons and ways to keep falling in love with your spouse.  Meditate on the ways you are attracted to them.  Remember often the qualities that initially attracted you to them. 
I once had a husband and wife come to me for marriage counseling.  The husband wanted a divorce because he said he no longer loved his wife.  He admitted he had already kissed another woman.  His wife was devastated, but she still loved her husband and they came to their pastor as a last resort.
I asked the husband what initially attracted him to his wife and what he had loved about her before he "fell out of love".  He talked about the way she had made him feel special, the way she had made him feel like her hero, and many other qualities that he had been so important to him.  Through our discussion, I helped the husband to see that his wife was the same person she had always been and he just had to remember not to take those important qualities for granted.  The couple agreed to give the marriage another try.  They both spent time intentionally loving each other and focusing on what they loved about each other and it brought real healing to their marriage.  It has been several years and I still get emails from the couple sharing how happy their marriage is now.
Remember why you fell in love and find ways to let your spouse know how deeply attracted you are to them. 

            You will struggle to have a good relationship with God if you do not have deep relationships with other people.  If you are married, work diligently to have a strong, healthy relationship with your spouse.  If you are not married, work diligently to have strong, healthy relationships with other people—friends and family.  God designed you for deep relationships with other people and you will not find satisfaction in life without them—even if you have a relationship with God.
You will also struggle to have deep relationships with your spouse or with other people if you neglect your relationship with God.  He is your creator and you will not find true satisfaction in life without a deep, personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Yet when you submit and let Jesus be your Lord and Savior, all your other relationships will begin to fall into place.
So I encourage you today, get your heart right with Jesus and then delve deeper in your relationships with other people.

Click Here for more advice about marriage shared by other people - 62 Words of Advice About Marriage