Archive for September 15th, 2013

The Naked Truth: Why Did Adam Really Hide From God?

“Then they heard the Lord God walking in the garden during the cool part of the day, and the man and his wife hid from the Lord God among the trees in the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said, ‘Where are you?’

“The man answered, ‘I heard you walking in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.'” (Genesis 3:8-10 NCV).

This was part of the passage we discussed in Sunday School today. And the question was, “Why did Adam and Eve hide from God?” Was it guilt and shame? Embarrassment? After all, they looked down for the first time and realized “Whoops! Yikes! We are naked as jay-birds! We can’t show up before God like this!”

Was nakedness really the reason that they hid, or was there something else? Of course there was. The very moment Eve, and then Adam, ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they not only understood the difference between right and wrong, but they had a full understanding of the gravity of what they had done. They heard God walking in the garden and knew that they had disobeyed the God of the universe. They felt guilt, and shame. But they also felt fear for the first time. God said that if they ate from that tree, they would die. Now God was looking for them. Did He know already? Was their any way they could hide this truth from Him? Would He kill them on the spot? Adam and Eve hid because more than their bodies were naked. Their souls were laid bare, and they were now vulnerable. They were afraid. Before they ate, they lived in the comfort and safety of God Almighty. Now, God was their enemy. I’d hide, too!

They had to wonder, who was this God? Was He a God of anger and revenge? Would He be filled with hatred, and regret over creating them? Adam and Eve suddenly realized that they no longer knew God. The One with whom they had spent countless hours strolling through the garden had become a stranger to them. Something had come between them and Him, and fear gripped their hearts like it was a physical vise. It was this fear that drove them to cower behind the bushes when God called for them. They did not dare to face Him.

Don’t we find ourselves in the same situation when we sin against God? The God we enjoyed communion with in prayer just hours before becomes a stranger. We feel separated from Him. Vulnerable. Afraid to show ourselves to Him. What will He do? How will He react? We doubt His goodness, and wonder if this is the time that God says, “Enough. This is the last time you will blow it. I am finished with you.” Satan feeds us one lie after another. He overruns our mind with doubts. And in so doing, strips us naked, leaving us vulnerable and afraid to turn our face toward God.

What was God’s response to Adam and Eve? Punishment? Perhaps. To be sure there were consequences for what they had done. But God didn’t fry them. He didn’t strike them with lightening. He didn’t vaporize them. And He didn’t hate them. God’s response was to care for them. He met their needs. They were naked and vulnerable. He covered them (vs. 21). He loved them.

What is God’s response to you when you sin? He does not condemn you (There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit – Romans 8:1 NKJV). Yes, there are natural consequences for our sins. But God loves us, and He covers our nakedness. He covered our nakedness once and for all when Jesus died on the cross. We sin and build a separation between us and God, but He comes calling for us. He wants us to return to Him. He wants us to trust in His love.

So God loves us. He does not condemn us when we disobey Him. He even comes looking for us to bring us back to Him. Why then would we fear Him? Because Satan wants us to, just as he wanted Adam and Eve to. As long as Satan can keep us away from God, filled with the fear of a response from God that he has contrived, he can keep us from being used by God. Our relationship with God is put on hold, and our service to God is paralyzed. Satan becomes the victor in our lives.

We will sin. No matter how hard we try not to. But we cannot allow Satan full victory in our lives! Our time here is short. God has a purpose for our lives, and when we allow Satan to make us ineffective by not returning to the God who offers us His own righteousness, we lose. We lose out on precious time in prayer and worship with God. We lose opportunities to reach others in His service. And we lose the blessing of being used by the God of all gods. God is not the God of fear. He is the God of love, and He wants you to return to Him the moment you realize your sin. Do not delay. Defeat the fear of the Devil. Instead, seek victory in Jesus!

What is Holding You Back?

It has come to my attention (thank You, God) that it is time to share my testimony with you.  But not necessarily my salvation testimony.  I don’t have a dramatic salvation story…I was only 4 when I invited Christ into my life, after all.

Like all Christians, I had my ups and downs trying to figure out what this Christian life was all about.  One thing I always had, though, was someone who was a true faith warrior.  It wasn’t always the same person.  Sometimes there were more than one.  But these were the people who always gave God the glory.  Always held strong to their faith.  Were deep in the Word, and anchored by prayer.  For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a Christian like them.  I wanted that relationship with Jesus that filled every part of my life.  I wanted to be in love with Jesus…but for some reason I just could never seem to get there.  I prayed.  I read my Bible.  I went to church.  I always served God in some capacity through my church.  Nothing seemed to work.  So what was holding me back?

Two things.  The first was the belief that God could not use me.  I’ve heard people use this argument when they have led a rather sordid life.  They have skeletons in their closet that would scare ghosts.  Not me.  For the most part, I was a pretty good kid growing up.  The kind of trouble I got into was fighting with my brother, and talking back to my mom.  No drugs.  No alcohol.  No illicit sex.  Even as an adult, I was tame.  I married, had children, and settled down to make the good Christian home.  We took the boys to church on Sunday.  Went to Sunday School and made sure they did, too.  I taught in Vacation Bible School every year.  Still, I didn’t believe God could use me.  Why?  Because I knew my heart.  I knew the thoughts that ran through my mind.  The judgments I made of others.  I knew how frustrated and angry I got with my boys when they misbehaved.  I knew the bitterness I held in my heart for some.  All the little secrets held inside me that no one else could see…but God.  God could see them.  I’m not perfect.  I’m not holy.  I’m pathetic.  There is no way God can use me.  I’m a living, breathing example of a hypocrite.

The second thing holding me back from that love relationship with Jesus was fear.  Oh yes!  Fear.  I was scared to death of what He would do in my life.  And maybe not even that as much as how He would do whatever He wanted to do.  What trial would He ask me to bear?  What pain would I suffer?  What, or even who, would He ask me to give up?  I guess I was afraid of the process of learning to love Jesus, more than the end result.

Still, I watched the faith warriors in my life, and longed for that same relationship.  That longing just became greater and greater over the years.  It never waned.  Always at the back of my heart was the call to draw closer to Jesus.  I know now, of course, that He was calling me.  Never giving up.  Because even though I couldn’t love Him completely, He loved me more completely than anyone else ever could.  A few short years ago God’s pull finally overcame my push.  And I realized that the only way I was going to have that relationship with Jesus was to completely surrender to him.  I had to believe that Almighty God could actually do something with my life that would bring glory to Him.  And I had to give over to Him all of me, and all those people and things that meant so much to me, and trust Him to do whatever He knew to be the best.  I had to lay it all on the line.  And I did that.  One day as I sat in a room alone, with the door locked shut, I cried out to God.  “I want that relationship with you, God.  The one that so-and-so has.  Please, take me and make me Yours.  Do with me as You please.  Just use me, please.”

Then came the change.  It wasn’t instantaneous.  But it has been steady.  I have found a deep desire to learn more and more about the God I serve.  I am drawn to read His Word like I am to eating sweets.  I crave the Bible, and find myself looking for opportunities to read it, even outside of my devotion time.  I have the same craving for my prayer time.  You might say I have a sweet tooth for Jesus.  And I finally have that I’m-in-love-with-Jesus kind of relationship with Him that I have longed for since I was four!  It has been a long time coming!

What about my fear and belief that God can use me?  The fear God has taken care of with His peace that passes all understanding.  Now and then I will hesitate, or even find myself gripped by fear, but I have learned to recognize that as Satan trying to pull me away from God.  The Bible tells us that God does not give us a spirit of fear.  So praying and praising will quickly dispel that trouble.

As for God not being able to use me, well, that is another story.  And it is one that you are reading right now.  Since my cry out to God, I have learned that He has given me the gift of prophecy.  And I am learning how He wants me to use it to lift up, encourage, and edify His people.  This blog is a direct result of His calling to me, and a demonstration of how God is using me.  Am I any more perfect or holy than I was before?  No.  Just ask my boys:-)  I still lose my temper.  I still wrestle to keep my thoughts controlled.  I still say and do things I shouldn’t.  And I’m sure there are still people who could look at my life and call me a hypocrite.  But I’m trying.  And I continually give myself over to God, asking Him to change me and make me the person He wants me to be.  God is using me in spite of myself.  I guess that is what makes this relationship so humbling.  God knows me better than I know myself, and yet He still loves me, wants a relationship with me, and wants to use me for His honor and glory.

The thing I want most in this world is what I hope to hear in the next.  I want desperately to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Someone out there is reading this blog post and longs for a deeper relationship with Jesus.  Someone is wrestling with the same fear that I did, and believing the lies that Satan is telling them.  I want you to believe that God can use you!  Heed His call in your life.  Cry out to Him!  He is waiting, longing to ease your fear, give you peace, and shower you with Himself.  And He will use you.  I don’t care who you are, what you have done, or what sins you still wrestle with.  God is God, for Pete’s sake!  Of course He can use you!  Nothing is impossible for Him, including you.

My prayer for you today is the courage and faith to surrender to God, and then all the blessings that come with being in love with your Lord and Savior.

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