Tag: Adam

The Operation

 

imageIf I were to explain to you how I felt, sitting in the Doctor’s office that day, I’m sure you’d understand. Everyone has moments like I was having; pain, uncertainty, confusion, loneliness. I was grateful for everything I’d been given, all I had accomplished, and for the opportunities which were before me.

I was definitely part of something really huge; colossal, in fact!

But something wasn’t right.

No, nothing was wrong with the world, or even my world; everything was great. The problem was with me. The problem was IN me.

So, here I was at my very first doctor visit.

I sat with the Doctor, discussing my symptoms. While he listened, he occasionally scribbled on the small notepad he’d pulled out of his coat pocket, nodding his head as if he knew exactly what I was talking about.

Finally, I finished.

Neither of us said a word.

As we sat silently in his office, he reviewed his notes while I imagined all the things he might say to me. Frankly, I was just a little bit scared.

“You are going to need surgery”, he said, as he lifted his eyes to mine. “You are not well, but if you’ll trust me, I can make you better; perfect, in fact! It will require allowing me to put you into a deep sleep. I’ll make an incision in your chest area, about 10 inches long. There will be some loss of blood, though not a lot.

“I need to remove a something from you; but you have a couple dozen of them anyway, so you won’t miss it. Of course, I need your authorization in order for me to perform the operation.”

“Surgery? I don’t know, doctor. I’ve never had as much as a skinned knee, and now I’m supposed to allow you to cut me open? Surely there’s another way! I mean, how about therapy?”

“Therapy isn’t what you need.”

“Couldn’t I take care of my problem with medicine? I’ve got a great insurance plan.”

“No, I’m sorry. Medicine will not cure you.”

I could almost hear my heart, as it pounded nervously in my chest. An operation? Surgery? Why? And what if something went wrong during the procedure? What if the diagnosis was wrong? Could I really trust the doctor?

As I sat there, my mind racing with questions, I finally had the nerve to ask the question I’d been too scared to ask.

“Doctor, what exactly is wrong with me? Cancer? Pancreatitis? Kidney stones? Why do I need to be cut open, and have part of me removed?”

He smiled as he looked into me eyes, and deep into my heart.

“You need a wife.”

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.” 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. 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. 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. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

“At last!” the man exclaimed. (Genesis 2:18-23 NLT)

Enemy? What Enemy?

20130906-140901.jpg“Enemy? Who me? I don’t have any enemies. I’m friendly to everyone and everything.”

That is the kind of attitude I picture Adam and Eve having. After all, they were living in Eden, the place of ultimate pleasure; Utopia for those of you who aren’t quite convinced about this God thing.

Anyway, there was an enemy in the Garden. Unfortunately, he was undetected until it was too late.

God had given His kids a clue when He told them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28 ESV) The phrase, “have dominion”, was the clue. It means. “to subjugate, to bring under control, to subdue.” If there’s no enemy, there’s nothing to subdue.

But there was an enemy. An enemy of God; an enemy of man.

Undetected.

I’ll admit, there are some things I can’t explain about those Garden Days of Adam and Eve. Like people actually conversing with a serpent! I mean, I’ve yet to meet a snake I’d like to get to know. But snakes, excuse me, serpents, were different in the Garden. For one thing, they used to have legs, or else they moved about by hopping on their tail. Why do I say that? Because of this: “The Lord God said to the serpent,“Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.” (Genesis 3:14 ESV)

I’ve heard people say the serpent could talk because it was possessed by the devil at the time. Could be true. Or, God created them with the ability to talk. I don’t know. Regardless, there was an enemy in the Garden and God’s kids didn’t know it.

So day after day Adam and Eve, while tending the Garden, would walk by the tree, comment to each other about its beauty, and wave to the serpent (who just happened to be in the area). I can picture the serpent waving back, fruit in hand, giving them one of his special, “you can trust me” smiles.

Imagine with me, the First Couple, walking and having a conversation something like this:

“Eve, I really like that serpent. Just a nice, friendly creature. Always has a smile for us.”

“And he’s such a beautiful creature. All those colors, muscles; so graceful when he walks.”

“Yeah, and the way he carries himself makes me wonder if he’d be the one to put in charge when we take a vacation. Such confidence and pride.”

“Maybe we should stop and visit with him”, Eve said. “Maybe ask him over for supper. You know, Adam, I’d really like to ask him about that tree he’s always leaning up against. Are you sure that’s the tree Father told you about?”

“The very one.”

“Looks harmless to me…”

“Yeah, me too”, replied Adam. “Me, too.”

“Let’s go back and visit.”

Adam smiled at his wife and said, “Honey, I was about to suggest that very thing. Let’s go!” And away they went, back to the tree they had just passed; back to their new “friend.”

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ’You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. ’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. ” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened (Genesis 3:1-7 ESV)

You see, I believe the serpent could use his “craftiness” against Adam and Eve because their guard was down. They had entertained the idea of being friends with the serpent before he enticed them to eat. Why do I believe that? Because we’re the same way a lot of times.

We’ve heard at least once, that as Christians, we have an enemy who only wants to steal, kill, and destroy. We’ve heard the enemy is the devil. So, keeping a vigilant eye, we watch for any signs of the devil. But we don’t see any ugly red mess with a tail, horns, and a pitchfork, so we let down our guard just a wee bit.

Now he may not camouflage himself as a serpent these days, but he may show up dressed in a very popular ideology, or anything that seems harmless, is appealing to the five senses, yet carries the sting of death. Those who’ve accepted his friendship before they really knew who was masquerading as a good guy, will have a much harder time resisting his wonderful smile.

See, these five things can get us into a world of hurt!

1. Familiarity with the serpent

2. Visiting the tree regularly

3. Putting ourselves in compromising situations.

4. Defenses weaken when enemies are viewed as friends

5. Repeatedly viewing and visiting with your enemy can give him an opportunity to violate you

Adam and Eve had what they needed in God to recognize the enemy AND subdue him, running him out of the Garden. You see, Adam was supposed to have access to the Garden, the serpent was not.

So the undetected enemy became the master of the Garden; Adam was no longer in charge. And it would be some time before the second Adam, Jesus, would come and break the serpent’s hold and buy back Adam’s lease.

But He did, hallelujah, He did!

But there’s still that enemy who likes to hang around with people who don’t recognize him. He wants to entice us to live our lives apart from God’s ways, and distanced from God’s Presence. But, like Adam, God has given us “clues” regarding our enemy:

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.” (1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT)

“For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” (1 John 5:4 NLT)

Remember, friend, God tells us there’s an enemy in our world. He tells us to not become chummy with it, but to keep our distance. He’ll help us know what to do and say, as well as how to recognize the enemy.

One final word. God’s friend is our friend and God’s enemy is our enemy. So know your enemy just well enough to identify him and defeat him.

God will help you.

Questions for comments: have you ever witnessed the enemy wearing a special costume, attempting to lure you into trouble? What was the costume? How did it affect you?

Riches To Rags

20130627-073426.jpgHe was the richest, most powerful man in the world. His wife was gorgeous; beautiful beyond description. Everyone knew she was made for him. For years people have commented about the first time he ever laid eyes on her. They say it was love at first sight.

Yes, they were quite the couple.

He lacked nothing, nothing at all. If and when he ever needed anything, all he needed to do was speak, and his request was granted.

His influence was legendary, commanding respect. Known as a “world changer”, his pioneering spirit brought changes to such things as real estate, farming, animal husbandry, mining, fishing, parenting, religion, meteorology, and, of course, marriage.

He had it all. All but one thing.

That one thing was his undoing, his downfall.

He couldn’t stay away from it! He’d think about it constantly, looking for an excuse to walk by it, smell its fragrance, behold its shape, and etch its image forever in his mind.

He knew, deep down, things weren’t quite right. But he couldn’t stop. The voice, the calling, the attraction was becoming an obsession! Though he knew he could lose everything he had, it didn’t matter.

Finally, he reached the point of no return, and gave in to his passion.

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6 ESV)

No matter who we are, or how “powerful” and influential we think we may be, there will always be something “off limits”. Something we must not touch. Something we must not dwell on.

A thing, a person, a habit, a lust. Something we must stay clear of, or else our world will come crashing down

None of us are so high and mighty we can’t find our way from riches to rags.

It only takes one bite!

The Manifold Grace of God – Part 2

20130531-220904.jpg“Undeserved Merit”? “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10 NKJV)

This is part 2 of a series called “The Manifold Grace of God.” In the first part I mentioned the standard definition for grace being “unmerited favor.” While I understand I could never be good enough to earn God’s gift of grace (Greek = charis: gift, favor, grace, blessing, credit, concession), I wonder if that definition causes a bit of confusion among Christians and non-Christians alike? I wonder if the misconception of what Grace REALLY IS has caused the Church to become “Grace Difficient”?

There are verses that mention people, Jesus included, GROWING in grace (favor, charis). Why would Jesus need God’s grace if it is undeserved merit/favor? Surely Jesus would qualify as earning it, meriting it, wouldn’t you think? And why would Jesus need to grow in grace, if He is the One Who multiplies it toward us according to 2 Peter, chapter one? Or could it be that God’s Grace is more about His willingness to use His power and ability on behalf of those who call upon Him in faith, rather than God doling out His “undeserved favor” upon people who couldn’t care less about God, or His favor?

Here are a couple of passages describing Jesus increasing in favor (grace) and using God’s ability to accomplish His mission.

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52 ESV)

“But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9 ESV)

Jesus, according to Philippians 2, laid aside His Godly attributes and walked this earth as a man. He came to walk out His life as the perfect sacrifice and gain back what Adam had given away as recorded in Genesis 3; eternal life and fellowship with God, among other things. But in order to do that, He needed God’s help, God’s ability, God’s grace. And as much as we need God’s Grace/Ability to obey Jesus’ word “You must be born again”, Jesus needed God’s Ability/Favor/Help; His Grace to cover everyone’s debt before God.

Adam could have utilized Grace in the Garden of Eden. You say grace wasn’t available in the Garden? Wasn’t God there? Wherever you find God, you’ll find His Grace. Adam knew what he was supposed to do. He knew he was supposed to obey God and exercise the dominion he had over all the beasts, including serpents. So if he would have called upon the name of the Lord, God would have saved him! If he would have called upon the Spirit of Grace, he would have found grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). In other words, he would have received the help/ability he needed to accomplish God’s will. The first Adam could’ve/should’ve connected with God’s help there in the Garden of Eden, but he didn’t. However, the second Adam, Jesus Christ, DID receive God’s help in the Garden of Gethsemane so He could “taste death” for each one of us.

Of course, while we were sinners Christ died for the ungodly. Friend, that’s you and that’s me. Ungodly to the core. We didn’t deserve what He did, couldn’t pay for what He did IF we could live a thousand perfect lifetimes! But although Jesus did what He did for us, Hell will still have too many people there, and for all eternity. Why? Wasn’t His Grace sufficient? Absolutely, YES! So what’s the problem?

“Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6). Why was Noah given God’s Grace? Weren’t there others around who didn’t deserve it? I’d have to think there were. Was God just playing favorites? Did He have some He just couldn’t stand? No, the scriptures say, “God is no respecter of persons”, and, “He’s not willing that ANYONE perish”! So what did Noah have the others didn’t? What set him apart from the others? It wasn’t his perfection! No, it was his faith in God, which was built upon a relationship he had with God.

People have this idea that, because God’s Grace covers it all, then they can do anything THEY want.

Wrong!

Grace DOES cover it all, but the relationship one has with God affects how one walks with God; which affects what one does or doesn’t do with their life.

Grace is more than just God throwing His favor around to everyone, just because they DON’T deserve it! Grace is connected to faith, to believing, and believing grows out of a relationship with God. As Paul wrote, “it is by faith that it might be by grace, so the promise would be available to all.” (Romans 4:16)

There were a lot of people in Noah’s day who may have thought it didn’t matter to God or anyone else what they did. After all, they were all “children of God”, weren’t they? His Grace would cover them, surely!

Without a relationship with God based upon trust, no one believed Noah telling them to change their actions. I can hear them say, “Hey, man, grace will cover it. Lighten up!”

Just like I hear them today...”As it was in the days of Noah…” (Luke 17:26)

We ALL NEED His ability to help us do all He requires, and although we can’t earn it, there are things we do that either help His Grace grow or diminish in our life! We either connect with or reject His Grace.

In the next post, we’ll look at the many-sided, multifaceted, Grace of God. You CANNOT have a need beyond His ability to help!

God SO LOVES the World

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“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)

“For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.” (Romans 5:5-9 NLT)

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10 NLT)

There are so many things to discuss regarding the love of God. But as I sit and meditate on His love, one particular facet shines brighter than the rest…

He came looking for me. He wouldn’t let me lie in the mess I made, didn’t throw His hands in the air and say, “What’s the use?” He couldn’t bear the thought of me living eternally without Him, or He without me!

We were made for each other! I was created for Him, and He gave His best for me.

He came looking for me! I heard Him calling my name as I hid behind the lilac bushes.

“Adam!” “Adam!” “Where are you?”

I remember thinking, “why does He need to ask? I’m sure He could walk right to me.”

I stayed in hiding as long as I could. He kept calling, calling, calling my name, “Adam!”

At first I thought He was calling out my name in anger. Maybe my conscience was telling me that. Or, I could have been hearing the voice of the serpent who was hiding beside me, telling me God was going to beat me back into the dust for disobeying Him. Yes, now I’m sure it was the serpent’s voice.

But the more I heard God call my name, the more I heard something much different, much stronger than anger. I heard love!

I heard love! I heard Him shout my name in love. I heard Him whisper it, barely audible, but I heard it. And the more I heard His voice, the more I wanted to leave my place of hiding and find refuge in His arms.

I finally got up and left the serpent behind, still hissing his lies, accusations, and hatred.

Love came looking for me! I had to respond.

“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (Romans 2:4 NLT)

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