Adam, where art thou?

 

Ge 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Ge 3:8 And they heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah God amongst the trees of the garden.

Ge 3:9 And Jehovah God called unto the man, and said unto him, where art thou?

If you are familiar with Genesis 3 you will recall it is the story of man’s sin in the Garden of Eden.  Satan first deceived Eve and she took the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and then she gave some to Adam and he did eat as so began the fall of man.  The first thing that Adam and Eve did was make themselves aprons of fig leaves to cover themselves with because they were naked.   Then in verse 8 we find that they hid themselves from the presence of God because of their nakedness.  Then God called unto the man and asked an odd question.  It would be odd indeed if God did not know where he was because God is everywhere present.  But if God knew where Adam was then why did he ask the question of where are you?  God certainly knew where he was but Adam didn’t know where he was.  Sure he knew his location within the garden but he didn’t know where he was in relation to the Lord.  This was unfamiliar territory, not knowing where he stood with the Lord.

I can’t think of anything more unsettling than knowing that you just blew a great relationship, especially if that other one is God.  You know you were wrong in your choice but the uncertainty of how that choice will affect future relationships leaves you with a sense of impending peril.  You have already attempted to fix it but your best effort is just fig leaves and doesn’t fix anything.  Your pain is in knowing how much you have hurt the other party as well as your disappointment in yourself.  Your shame deepens and you just can’t bring yourself to admit that you were even capable of such an act, let alone take full responsibility for your actions.  Such is the predicament of Adam.

Your next response is critical.  You must decide what response is appropriate.  Do you trust the other party enough to face them with the truth.  Excuses, blame or self justification will only make matters worse.  What qualities do they have that attracted you to them to start with?  Do you believe that their value of you will be worth saving or will the fear of rejection win?  What evidence do you have that tells you that the best thing is to face it head on and accept the outcome and learn from it.  Note that God had come seeking Adam and was not reactive to what He already knew, but was willing to give Adam the opportunity to now make a right choice.  A right heart says that I at least owe him the truth and extend to him the opportunity to advance the relationship in spite of the setback.

Resolution will require courage forgiveness, truth, ownership of our actions, trust and love to produce change.  Your victory will depend on the measure of these elements being present in you.  Do you have the fiber to turn a failure into an opportunity to grow.

Consider A Seed

Have you ever sat down and just considered the seed.  It doesn’t matter which seed you are thinking about for they all follow the same pattern.  For our consideration today we will choose a tomato seed.

It began as a part of the life of the tomato plant.  The plant produced its fruit of a tomato and contained within the tomato were dozens of seeds in their embryo state.  They were the hope of life beyond the tomato plant or the tomato.  They alone contained the hope of continuing the process of future tomatoes.  For that hope to become reality the seed must die to its present life and be separated from the tomato.  It then must be dried and stored for a future time or season.

Now consider the seed.  It is not beautiful, in fact, it looks quite devoid of life and beauty.  Notice that it is brittle and void of flexibility.  There is nothing about it to suggest that contained within it is the next plant that will produce more tomatoes and seeds.  It is quite small compared to the size of the plant or even the size of the tomato.  As long as the seed maintains its present state, nothing happens that will enable the possibilities of the hope that it represents.

Joh 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

The next event in the order of life for the tomato is that the seed must die.  Look at the process of planting.  You take a seed and place it into the ground.  The seed is buried in the dark, damp ground and all hope of it remaining a seed is lost.  Now behold the miracle of the Lord.  New life is generated from the death of the seed and from the seed a stalk begins to grow and pushes its way to the surface of the ground.  It is quite tender, yet it is able to push it’s way through the soil and even lift rocks many times it’s own in order to break forth into the sun light.  Where does it get it’s strength?  From the root system.  As the stalk pushes upward, the roots push downward and draws the nourishment and water to supply the plant above ground.  Without it the plant above ground would simply wilt and die.  Like the new plant, the Christian needs a good root system to supply the nourishment needed to do the work of God.  Notice also the the size of the root system is determines the size of the plant above ground.

The farmer knows about this process and plants with the hope of a harvest.  There may be some value to the nourishment contained within the seed but that is very small compared to the benefit from the harvest to be gained by entrusting the seed into the hands of God.  What you entrust into His hands is your seed and His blessing is the harvest.  But notice that the seed must die.  You must loose all control over the seed and to you it is lost.  Notice also that the seed must have a resurrection.  It must receive the new life from God and is not contained within itself.  God’s measure of blessing is some 30 and some 60 and some 100 fold.

Word Study – Angel

There are many nuggets to be mined from the study of the words used in the original languages of the Bible.  One such word is the word that we translate “Angel”.

It is the transliteration of the Greek word aggelos and in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance it is #32 aggelov aggelosang’-el-os from aggello (probably derived from 71; compare 34) (to bring tidings); a messenger; especially an “angel”; by implication, a pastor:–angel, messenger.

The word is translated 166 times in the New Testament as angel, 5 times as messenger and one time as apostle.   It is also used in reference to a heavenly being who serves the Lord in the care of His children.  Angels brought the message of God, encouraged mankind, confronted satanic powers, and watched over the souls of man.  These are the deeds of the pastor as well as heavenly angles.  Clearly then, angel is used in reference to a man that serves as God’s servant in caring for His children.   We don’t think of a pastor as an angle but the Bible makes that comparison.  It is understood by scholars that the angel of the 7 churches of Asia, referenced in Revelation 2 and 3 are a reference to the pastor of those churches.

It is no wonder then that the Bible states that the pastor is worthy of double honor.  He is God’s anointed and great care should be taken in bringing a charge against a pastor.

When he brings a message that especially touches your heart, you can truly say that you have been touched by an angel.

Course Correction

Have you ever considered how many course corrections you make every day?  As you are walking you make one or more every step.  While driving you are constantly adjusting you location on the pavement to stay in your lane.  When you make a turn you are adjusting your speed, signaling, steering, adjusting the gas pedal, etc.  When you are working your mind is always refining your thoughts and topics.  On and on it goes so that your entire life is made up of continual course corrections.  We do this to stay on track, to be safe, to be efficient and a number of other reasons.

Sometimes course corrections are mandated because we discover that we cannot get their from here.  We must take extreme adjustments to get to a place so that we can get to our destination.  It is a daunting thing to discover that your way is blocked and you cannot proceed without making matters worse.  That is when, Pr 16:9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps, begins to make sense.  I cannot see the way but the Lord will direct me in the way to go.  This is part of the plan of God for our lives, to live by faith in Him because we don’t know how to proceed.  Left to ourselves, we lose our direction just like a man lost in a forest or jungle.  Because God has the perfect vantage point, He can direct us on how to proceed.

So how do you stay on course?   Ps 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.  The answer is simple, just make the most important course correction you will ever make, and that is to have a heart change.  Instead of placing your trust in your own compass, delight in following His directions.  If you do not surrender your will to Him then you are charting your course based on where you think you are and the direction you think you need to go.  This is the description of someone who is lost and complicates his situation by going further off course.  It is all a matter of heart.  If your heart is prideful or stubborned you will not heed His direction but if your delight is to do what He directs you to do and go where He directs you to go then He will guide you into the center of His will.  The real question is, Who do you trust, yourself or Him.

Who’s Servant Are You?

Ro 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

In my last post I wrote about self deception.  This post is a follow up on how to self check on where we stand.  There are way too many professing Christians who claim to belong to Christ but their actions are those of this world.  They are understood to be hypocrites because they say one thing but their actions betray their hearts.  Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.” John 10:27  When rebellion and stubbornness consistently override obedience, one of two things must be true.  Either the continued rebellion will bring a course correction through some form of correction or there is no correction at all which means that there has been no new birth and Satan is still their father.

Matthew 6:24 and Luke16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.  The Scripture is clear that there is no middle of the road in this matter.  You are either moving toward the Lord and His ways or you are moving away from Him and charting your own course.  To those who are rejecting the Lord and His ways, I ask you this question, How is that working for you?  Do you have peace in your heart or is there a restlessness and uncertainty to life as you know it?  Is there a nagging question that says, Is this all there is to life?  Are you finding that your plans are constantly being frustrated with surprise circumstances that deprive you of your blessings?  Could it be that the Lord is trying to turn you from destruction to His grace and blessings?

In the end, it is your choice, so that there is no excuse to miss God’s best.  You can have your own way but that choice ends in certain death.  Eze 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.  That choice is confirmed every time you endorse either righteousness or unrighteousness.  There is no such thing as being neutral.  You will either love the one and hate the other or you will cleave to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both, God and mammon or unrighteousness.

 

Self Deceived

It has been said. You can fool some of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time, and you can fool all of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the people all of the time.  But of all of the people, don’t fool yourself.

1Jo 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1Co 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

To see things as they really are, is truly an art.  Few there are that can properly appraise things objectively.  We see things through the eyes of various prejudices, preferences and presuppositions.  We set the standards of acceptance and tolerance.  Our perspective is often based on half truths or even untruths in some cases.  Because of this, we are often self deceived.

Failure to acknowledge the truth about ourselves is another way we deceive ourselves.  It does not matter if that failure is because of misinformation or because of stubborn refusal to accept the truth about ourselves, the outcome is the same.  Unless and until we come to acknowledge (not just admit) the truth about ourselves we will remain with only a partial view of reality.

Another way that we can be self deceived is when we have an inflated view of ourselves.  We call it “prideful”, “a superiority complex” or even “arrogant”.  Regardless of what we call it, it remains a false and incomplete assessment of the truth.  Based upon the above scripture, we must accept the truth that we have a sin problem and humble ourselves before the Lord so that He can make us more than we presently are.  It is vital that we have a proper assessment of our condition in order for us to properly respond to the world, ourselves and the Lord.

Preparing the Clay.

Isa 64:8 But now, O Jehovah, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Jer 18:6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith Jehovah. Behold, as the clay in the potter’s hand, so are ye in my hand, O house of Israel.

Ro 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why didst thou make me thus?  Ro 9:21 Or hath not the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?

I was on Youtube the other day watching a video on making primitive pottery and it made the point that it is not enough to just put clay on a pottery wheel and shape it into something useful like a bowl.  The video made the point that the clay must be “cleaned” from foreign matter such as rocks and sticks so that the object made doesn’t crack and ruin it.  The more critical it’s use, the more critical it is to “clean” the material.

We are compared to the clay and the potter is God (Eph 210)  Our purpose is for the Master’s use and must be prepared in like manner of the clay.  When we come to the Lord we are like the clay with foreign matter mixed with the clay.  We bring our misinformation, our false ideas, our weaknesses, and our rebellions as the raw product to be molded into vessels of service.  Prior to molding, comes the removal of the impurities.  So many times we seek to be used before this refining process is done and become frustrated because we do not see the necessity of refinement.  We could not stand the stresses required if we do not first go through the refinement process.  Nor would we be able to be the blessing that is needed.

Another interesting point of the video was that for some uses, highly refined clay is not needed.  A simple screening of impurities would suffice in making things like bricks or feeding trough but a highly refined process is required for vessels of more delicate use.  The highest level of refinement requires the removal of foreign matter as well as even the smallest grains of sand, then the clay must be worked to get even the particles of clay aligned and the removal of even small amounts of air.  This process requires a lot more work but once completed, the clay is fit for molding into the most delicate vessels of use and beauty.  We must yield to the Master’s hand, in His preparing us for service.  If we will not yield to His refinement, then we settle for being made into vessels of lesser value.  It is ultimately our choice as to how mold-able we are, and it is God’s choice as to what specific vessel we become withing that level of clay.

Deficiency in Prayer

Ro 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Today’s post is on praying.  If you have walked with the Lord for a while, you no doubt have had prayers block.  It is when you meet with the Lord in your prayer time and just do not know how to pray about some matter.  It may be because you lack knowledge of the real need.  It may be because the request conflicted with your spirit as to the real need.  It may be because you are being challenged by demonic obstruction or some other possibility.  We may sense the need for prayer but simply cannot identify in your spirit what you are sensing.

Whatever the cause, you need not be defeated in your prayer effort.  The  autobiography of praying Hyde was insightful for me as I struggled with this problem some years ago.  Praying Hyde was a young preacher that felt his calling was not to be the spokesperson but the prayer warrior behind the scenes.  It is said that while the preacher was preaching, he would be in a secluded place praying and sometimes he was heard just groaning in prayer.  This is in perfect harmony with the above verse.  If you cannot get it out verbally then send the prayer to God in the form of a groan and the Holy Spirit will translate the prayer accurately for you.  That is just one of His responsibilities.  Where ever you are deficient, He will make up the difference to complete the request.

Furthermore, the Lord knows our thoughts.  Consider  Job 21:27 Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me. Also,  Mt 9:4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?  Nothing is hid from God.  If you are struggling with a prayer, know that the Lord not only knows your heart but is also there to make you successful in prayer.  He is more desirous for your victory than you are.

I am encouraged by the story in Daniel 10 where he set his heart in prayer an prayed for three weeks before a messenger from God revealed that his prayer was heard from the first day but the answer was delayed three weeks in coming because it was hindered by satanic forces.  It is an awesome thing that we have been included in God’s plan to fight these satanic forces in prayer.  It is an unseen battle that we fight but we know that God is the victor and we are a part of that battle.  It is not in the physical utterance of sound but in the thoughts and intent of the heart.

Pain

My oldest daughter has a low pain tolerance.  Once, when she was in grade school, she was stabbed in the hand with a freshly sharpened pencil.  It became infected immediately and was causing her great pain.  When I tried to look at it, her fear of me increasing her pain level was so great that she couldn’t even allow me to even look.

I have know many people who have endured great pain and have even endured great pain myself.  Pain can cause great fear and is difficult to endure.  So why did the Lord include it as a part of life?  I submit the following reasons in answer to this question:

  1. Pain is a warning of danger. The Lord has provided amazing healing powers that are built in to our bodies, yet not all healing is automatic.  Sometimes your healing will require assistance beyond what is built into your body.  For example, if you break a bone it may need a splint, or cast, or even surgery and screws to hold the bone in place.  Failure to address the issue will cause extenuated limitations, even to the point of death.
  2. Pain demands attention.  It needs to grab your attention, which is does quite well.  It doesn’t matter what you are involved with, when pain announces itself it cannot be ignored.  It gives the situation an importance that it demands.
  3. Pain is a demonstration of love.  One of the things about love is that it does what is best, not what is easiest or the most enjoyable.  God’s love for us mandates that He provide the means to insist on our care for our bodies as it is the temple of God.  He wants the best for us and is more intent in our completion according to His standards, than He is on our own success rate.
  4. Pain is trans-formative in that it makes us mold-able.  It breaks down our resistance to change and cause us to become willing to move in a given direction.  People who endure great pain often say, I have no choice.  You become pliable like plastic that is forced into a mold.  It causes us to go where we would not go and become what we would not become
  5. Pain is a teacher. Consequence is a great instructor and guide. Often we hear with our ears but not our hearts.  Instructions have to find a lodging in our hearts in order for us to learn.  When we suffer the consequences of our actions we learn its importance.
  6. Pain helps the memory.  Because pain is so repulsive, we will take great care to avoid it when possible.
  7. Pain highlights the importance of the details.  Often we tend to major on the big things and to minimize the minor details.  Greatness is in the minutia, or the seemingly unimportant details.  The major things are obvious but the minutia is essential.

Wisdom speaks and says that it is good to make friends with pain.  You will not enjoy pain but you can be benefited by it.  Pain is for our good.

Word Study – Love

Love is a word that merits study in the Greek language, the language the New Testament was written in.  Note the following quote from Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.

In NT times three words for love were use by the Greek speaking world.  The first is eros, referring to erotic or sexual love.  This word is no used in the NT or in the Septuagint.  It was commonly used in Greek literature of the time.

The word phileo (and its cognates) refers to tender affection, such as toward a friend or family member.  It is very common in the NT and extrabiblical literature.  It is used to express God the Father’s love for Jesus (John 5:20), God’s love for an individual believer (John 16:27), and of Jesus’ love for a disciple (John 20:2).  The word phileo is never used for a person’s love toward God.  In fact, the context of John 21:15-17 seems to suggest that Jesus desired a stronger love from Peter.

The word agapao (and its cognate agape) is rarely used in extrabiblical Greek.  It was used by believers to denote the special unconditional love of God and is used interchangeably with phileo to designate God the Father’s love for Jesus (John 3:35), Bod the Father’s love for an individual believer (John 14:21), and of Christ’s love for a disciple (John 13:23).

In English we have just the one word, love, and it can mean a lot of different things.  We have to look at the context and subject matter to discern its meaning and even then it may not be clear.

The NT is repleat  with multiple scriptures on love.  Biblical love has God as its object, true motivator, and source.  I Corinthians 13 (known as the love chapter) list the characteristics of love and concludes with the statement about the three everlasting qualities of the believer, faith, hope and love, and the greatest of the three is love.  It is the fruit of the spirit and the quality that exposes Christ in us to the world that we are Christians.

We are to love in four directions.  First, we are to love God. Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  Second, we are to love thy neighbor.  Mr 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.  Thirdly, we are to love one another (the brethren).  Joh 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  Finally, we are to love our enemy.  Mt 5:44 But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;