The Fruit of Sin

(Genesis 4:1-7)

As we examined the creation of man last week we noticed we were God’s crowning achievement. From clay in His hands, to thorns in His side, right to the apple of His eye.

  • Grace inacted
    • The ending of the story was the best part. 
      • God moved in to rescue the wretched hopeless creatures who had fallen so low. He did so in grace.
      •  Salvation is always by grace.
    • Adam like the rest of us tried to cover up his shame. 
      • He and his wife made a covering of fig leaves but soon discovered that his own self-effort would not do in the presence of God.
    • God who had been providing everything they needed, provided them with a covering.
      •  Right there in the garden; a place that had known nothing but tranquility and security blood was shed for the first time.
    • They must have stood there horrified as they saw the animal slaughtered. 
      • Here is this thing called death.
      • Its life removed its covering taken and made theirs. It was the first dramatic illustration of the ultimate cost of Calvary. Sin is a radical disease and calls for a radical cure.
  • To save this fallen pair God acted in grace but He also acted by governing. 
    • In the garden there still remained the tree of life. 
      • To the rebellious nature it sounds as if God was worried for His own protection.
      •  In truth, the reason God forced the couple out and placed the Cherubim there to protect the gate was once again, our protection. 
    • If they had of eaten of that tree they would have lived forever in their sins. 
      • They would have become like the fallen angels, incapable of death forever locked in their guilt, their shame and the penalty of sin. 
      • It would have been impossible to re-right the broken relationship. 
      • Impossible to find repentance, but God in his infinite mercy and abundant grace protected us from ourselves.
    • One of the effects sin has had on creation is the distortion of the mind.
      •  Without the power of the Holy-Spirit we see up as down, left as right, Holy as hellish, righteous as rebellious. 
      • The first offspring of Adam and Eve reveal that caricature. 

In chapter (4:1-7) We see the root of sin producing the fruit of sin.

  • A man
    • Eve thinks she has delivered the Christ. God had already promised a seed that would bruise the serpents head. It shows that they had not yet learned the depth of sins pit.
      •  It takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer then you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.
    • It is apparent these two boys were brought up knowing of God and sin and the whole garden scene.
      •  The bible says in (Heb 11:4) By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
      • (Ro 10:17) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
    • In verse 3 “ Cain brought” is the idea of an appointed place. It would indicate they had been instructed.
      • As we look at this account lets us remember they are without excuse. Though it is not wrote down for us to see it is apparent that over time they had been introduced to what God expected.
  • A man-centered scheme. The bible says: (Pr 16:2) All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.
    • God made the first sacrifice to cover man’s shame. 
      • We can figure since God spoke to Noah (Chp.9) and then told Moses to write (Le 17:11) For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
      •  It was the standard.
    • Cain ignored all that. 
      • He brought what he wanted to bring. To worship how he thought was best.
      • So began the philosophy that salvation had to be earned, that it had to be merited, purchased at the cost of one’s own effort.
      • Cain brought to God fruit which he labored over, toiled.
    • The notion that good works merit salvation is at the heart of every false religion on earth and in the heart of every cult of Christendom.
    • Though Cain’s offering was impressive and beautiful in its outward form,
      • It was founded on error and on willful disobedience to God’s truth.  
      • It is bluntly called by God “the way of Cain: and marked down as apostasy.(Jude11)
  • A man-centered sacrifice:
    • Don’t miss this. 
      • Cain’s offering was undoubtedly costly. It may have been more costly than Able’s.
      •  It was the result of toil, effort, hard work, persistence, and careful thought.
    • You could imagine, the most beautiful flowers, the sweetest aroma filled the air.
      •  The biggest, brightest, ripest fruit the earth had to offer. 
      • It was the best of the best. It was for God.
    • Cain did not come by faith, trusting and taking God at His word. 
      • He came on his own.
    • He was willing to worship.
      • But on his own terms. 
    • His plan made since to him. 
      • Couldn’t see why it would not be good enough.
    • The bible does not record any thought on Cain’s part that what he was doing was an offence to God.
      •  Not that he didn’t know but he justified it in his mind.
    • Just as the animal in the garden was a foreshadowing of the atonement of Christ that would cover our transgression.
      •  Every sacrifice was pointing to the sacrificial Lamb of God.
    •  Cain’s offering was the beginning of the world’s attempt to please God.
      • Doing it our way. Our time. 
      •  The giving of everything except self.
  • A man-centered satisfaction:
    • Cain could stand back and survey his offering with pride.
      • You can almost hear him. ‘There! That should please Him. That cost me a great deal, it’s beautiful. I have done my best, even God couldn’t expect more than that.
    • It was all wrapped up in what he thought God should want. 
      • Sound familiar? A lot like today
    • It was purely man-centered not God centered.( Pr 16:25 )There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
      • The difference between Cain and Able, between the religious and the real. Is not in the person themselves but in the object they trust.
    •  The one follows their heart. Their feelings. 
      • Derived from a mind stained by sin.
    • The other follows God’s word.
      • Accepts what and how God provides for them.
  • A mercy-centered plea.
    • Even after Cain chose to come his way God continued to pursue a relationship with him.
      • The bible says: (2Pe 3:9) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance 
    • God invited Cain to come the right way.(V7)
      • (Ge 4:7) If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
    • How many perish.
      • Not because God is not seeking reconciliation and offering The Way, but they refuse and instead hold to their way 
    • How many are paralyzed by sins strike and infect all those around them, not because God is not calling them back. 
      • But they refuse to repent God’s way. Instead, like Cain bring what they think God should want.

God’s inviting you today.

The Worst/Best Day Ever

Genesis 3:11-21

It would not take much thinking to come up with a list of why 2020 was such a terrible year. And let’s face it, for MANY people it was. 

  • 2020 was a year of tremendous loss for many people, the loss of loved ones, the loss of jobs, the loss of dreams, as well as the lack of ability to be with our families. 
  • When you put “the previous year” into history, it was most definitely not the worst in history.
  • When I ponder some of the worst years in history, there are many candidates; from the years war started; to the years when plagues wiped out huge portions of the world populations; to the advent of Communism, the list goes on.
  • Usually we will define a year as the worst year in our lives depending on the impact the said year had on us personally.
  • Even though we do not have an official year on the calendar for when the events of Genesis three took place, we can see that indeed, whatever the year these events happened, that year has to be the worst one in HUMAN HISTORY!
  • Life was good.
    • Life was easy, Adam and Eve walked in the garden with God himself.
      •  Life is GREAT until we get to Genesis 3.
    • In chapter 3, everything goes bad. Fatally bad, terminally bad, historically bad, inescapably bad.
      • All human beings who will ever walk on this earth are affected by what happened in the third chapter of Genesis.
    • It is the explanation of why things in this world are the way they are: why there is so much evil; why there is so much sin; why there is so much corruption; why there is disease, deformity, and death; why there is conflict, hatred, war; and why there are disasters of all kinds that fall upon man. 
      • It all comes from this third chapter.
    • Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world, in a state of innocence, free from sin, until they fell to the temptation of Satan,
      •  a temptation to call into question the integrity of God, the righteousness of God, the goodness of God, the wisdom of God.
      •  They became doubters of God. They fell, and with them the entire race fell.
      • I would say the year the events in Genesis 3 took place takes the crown for the worst year in human history.
    • We’ve all been plunged into a spiritual death. We’ve all been plunged into physical death; from the moment we are born we begin to die. 
      • We are all born dying and dead, dead spiritually and dying physically.
      •  We have no hope of life if all we have is the fall.  
      • The events that took place in Genesis 3, has affected ALL of CREATION, including ALL human beings.
    • We will see that even in the middle of the storm, even in the moment of our most epic failures, God has a plan! 
    • In verses 14 and 15, in the curse that God pronounces on Satan is the first expression of gospel hope, salvation hope, deliverance from sin and Satan; embedded in a curse is the hope of mankind.
      • This takes place AFTER Adam and Eve broke the ONE commandment that God clearly articulated to Adam NOT TO BREAK!

Genesis 3:11-21

Moses tells us here the story of sin coming into the human family; and its consequences are massive, incalculable. Adam and Eve, in fact, by their sin set in motion a spiritual avalanche that carries the whole human race down and buries them in death

  • The deed.
    • God had given Adam and his wife Eve everything in the garden and simply asked one thing back.
      • Do you see a principle of a tithe here or is it just me?
    • God told this couple all the great things He had in store for them.
      • He then told them one thing that would hurt them. That would bring a thing called death to them.
      • It had to be evident that God was clearly letting them know how devastating to them this would be. 
    • You know most of us are today? You tell a young’un not to touch that or turn this and even threaten them with bodily harm. Their mind starts wondering why it’s so special.
      • You reckon Eve walked by that tree every day wondering how it would taste, I mean it looked so good to the eye.
      • Temptation always does look good to the eye. 
      • I am sure Satan was watching this scene unfold and when the time seemed to be right when Eve appeared to him to be at her most vulnerable, Satan showed up to reap the harvest of Eve’s desires. 
    • Jas 1:14-15, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”
  • The decision.
    • In verses 14-19 we see Divine Justice rendering a perfect sentence.
      •  Obviously there are natural consequences to sin, they’re just built into it. Whatever a man sows, he reaps.
      •  If you lie, there are inevitable consequences to your lying. If God didn’t do anything, there are built-in consequences to telling lies.
      •  If you are drunk, if you are inebriated, if you are an alcoholic, there are built-in consequences. God doesn’t have to act; that kind of behavior has its own consequences. 
      • If you take drugs, that kind of behavior has its own consequences. If you are characterized by hostility and anger, that kind of behavior has its own consequences.
      •  If you engage in homosexuality, sexual sin, if you kill people, whatever it might be, whatever sin, built into those sins is the inevitability of cause and effect results.
  • But there is a far greater reality than that, and that is the reality of divine judgment on top of natural consequences. 
    • The sentence that comes down from God on sin. And here God renders a sentence, an appropriate and just sentence, in absolute, divine justice, on the serpent, on the woman, on the man and on the deceiver himself.
  • The serpent (V14) as an animal, was cursed “above all livestock, and above every wild animal,
    • It’s a selective curse. “Of all the cattle and of all the beasts, only you are cursed.” That’s what it’s saying: “Of all the cattle and all the beasts, only you are cursed.”
    • Cattle refers to domestic animals, the beasts refer to wild animals, “So of all the animals, wild animals and domestic animals, only you are cursed, only you.” 
    • This is a selective curse. Fallout came on the cattle; they die. Fallout came on the wild animals; they die. But only the snake was selected to be cursed.
    • Whatever may have been its beauty and posture before, it would henceforth glide on its belly and be an object of dread and loathing by all.
    • It is a perpetual reminder to man of the instrument of his fall and of the final destruction of Satan himself.
    • Every slithering, dust-eating snake is a symbol of the crushing curse of God and the judgment that is come on Satan. Snakes symbolize the devil degraded and defeated. 
    • They are constant reminders to human society that Satan has been declared a defeated enemy.

When God created the tree that Adam and Eve were called to stay away from, God did so in order that Adam and Eve have freedom of choice, free will if you will, which is a necessary part of love. • God wanted Adam and Eve to obey Him because they loved Him.

When God was dealing with the serpent and the deceiver, both were cursed by God; however, Eve was not cursed, she was given consequences for what she did. God held her accountable, but He did not curse her for eternity. 

  • On the woman.(V16) Eve paid a high price for her sin. Childbearing pain was going to be intensified for women and because of her deception, the husband will be the head of the marriage and her desire was to be to her husband.
    • It is not as though there was to be no pain associated with birth prior to the Fall; instead that pain will be greatly increased. 
    • The discomfort and pain that comes from bringing forth new life is a reminder of the real cost of exchanging THE TRUTH for a lie.
    • Desire to the husband and he will rule over you. Thus started the great conflict between men and women.
    • At first it wasn’t so. Remember Eve was created from Adam’s side.
    • Now the consequence of her choice and the fallout to all who come after her, battle of the sexes.
    • When it speaks of her desire to her husband. Its best understood as to be over him. Wear the pants. 
    • Many today will be the first to tell you their husband is the head of the house. BUT THEY’RE THE NECK!

When God was dealing with Adam He, God cursed the ground, not Adam. Again God held him accountable. There are consequences he must face.

  • The man (V17-19) Adam KNEW better, God told him DIRECTLY not to mess with that tree, yet here comes Adam. Even worse, look at verse 6 of Genesis 3
    • Adam was with her the entire time, and he did nothing! 
    • I feel God sentenced Adam for being dumb and for not caring enough to stop Eve! Eze 3:18, “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.”
    • Adam’s life was no longer going to be easy. 
    • (Gen 2:15) We know work was not part of the sentence or punishment of the fall. But now the world was introduced to TNT: Thorns and thistles.
    • Man had to draw life from it painfully and by the sweat of his brow
  • The deceiver.
    • Satan, apparently still in the form of the serpent, was standing before God and God had a plan for him
    • Satan’s thought was this: “I’ve turned Adam and Eve, the human race, against God.”
    • And God says, “I’m going to turn the human race against you.” That’s what it’s saying. Enmity. 
    • God denies Satan at the very moment when he assumed he had triumphed. God denies him what he thought he had gained. 
  • This situation is a mess which there seems to be no way out. 
    • Adam and Eve brought a curse to creation, they began the process of their own death as well as ushering in death to all. 
  • Childbirth was going to be more painful, the ground was going to be more difficult to harvest, the woman role in the home was changed, AND ON TOP OF IT ALL, THEY WERE GOING TO GET BOOTED FROM THE GARDEN! 
    • Is all lost? 
    • No, there is hope because of the grace of God, God has a plan
  • The great promise in Genesis 3:15 has long been known as the Protevangelium, promising the ultimate coming and victory of the Redeemer.
    • God will enable man, in his sinful condition, in his fallen condition, to be so totally transformed, that he will hate the serpent and love God.
    •  God has redeemed out of the human race, starting from that very incident in the garden through all of human history until the end of the age, a humanity that has been so transformed that that group of human beings, that massive group of redeemed human beings through all of human history, actually hate Satan and love God.
    • For this to happen there has to be a radical transformation of the human heart. There has to be a deep, deep change in the human heart to turn man back to God. 
    • It is so profound that the New Testament speaks of it as the new birth. There will be a humanity that will be so totally transformed that they will love God, and they will see Satan as the enemy and God as the friend.
  • God delights in mercy. 
    • Before He pronounces sentence on man and woman, before He expels them from the garden, He gives them salvation hope, hope of regeneration that they will hate Satan and see him as an enemy, and they will love God 
    • That there will come a Savior, that there will come One who will conquer Satan and therefore conquer sin.
    • Even though He in the conquering will be bruised, He will crush that deadly enemy.
  • It has already been done. His name is Jesus, do you really know Him?
  • Have you joined the redeemed?

Hiding from God

In the book of Revelation we see in the 6th chapter that God’s wrath is finally poured out upon the wicked. What we find is (to me) very interesting. We see people of all types running, hiding looking to escape God, more willing to die than yield to the truth.

Seen this on a church sign. The truth sounds like hate to those who hate truth!

  • Just a quick side note; truth is not subjective.
    •  Contrary to the lie that has been shared since our grandparents rejected God’s truth in the garden, which had Cain kill Able. That had scores of men and women refuse forgiveness and are condemned to an eternal hell.
      •  The same lie that has captivated and confused many a mind of those who are already searching for anything that will allow them to fulfil their lust and not feel guilty.
    • Truth is truth no matter where you find it.
      • It is not my truth and your truth. It is not relative.
      • Other words changing to ones conditions.
      • If it was true then it is true now and will always be true. ( like I said, quick side note)
    • Truth is NOT subjective!

We wonder how can this be? How and why would anyone given the overwhelming evidence, reject God’s truth?

 For the period of time we are looking at the answer is found in Paul’s 2nd letter to the church in Thessalonica. In speaking on the subject of the day of the Lord he says:

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.

2 thessalonians 2:11

For the day which we live in, it is simple. The bible tells us; men loved darkness rather than light.

Remember it is not that God is defrauding or deceiving, He is just allowing them to have what they desire. (Like those who want to believe in subjective truth?)He is removing His hand, He is turning them over to their own mind.  (Wow! that a scary place for many of us.)

Now we have many examples of mankind running or attempting to hide from God.

 We have Jonah. The illustration of the Prodigal son. To name a couple. But it all starts at the beginning. In the garden. It has been a character trait ever since.

This is why Jesus says “come unto me”. (Matt.11:28) We so busy running the other way, attempting to hide. Also “and if any man will come after me”. (Luke 9:23)  Jesus ain’t into the hiding seek thing. He says here I am.

This is what really floors me though. Have you ever experienced God’s presence? This is what revival is all about. Coming into the very presence of God.  If you have ever experienced it you know it’s an amazing place. Every day we should be, as born-again believers, should be in His presence. Life ought to be a romance.

If we were to be honest with ourselves this isn’t always the case. Why?

Look at (Genesis 3:6-9)

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 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. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Genesis 3:6-9 KJV
  • His Presence.
    • If anyone should be able to speak about being in God’s presence it should be these two. Think of the effect that the little glimpse of God’s presence does in us.
      • Makes a drunk man sober, a stoner straight. It brings to light all the dark recesses of our heart and cleanses them. Sets us free.
      • Now think about it. God actually walking, talking on an afternoon stroll. I can’t comprehend it. How it must have been.
    • Now look at what they (Adam and Eve) are doing. Hiding.
      • From what? God’s presence. The very thing that had to be just out of this world. The very thing they come to expect, time with God. An experience that we can none testify to.
      • Walking with God. Talking about the events of the day.
  • Sins presence.
    • What caused this turn about? What could make you want to hide from the only one who created you? Who loves you? Who came purposely to spend time with you?
      • SIN!
    • When you carry sin in your life, when you justify its presence, it drives you away from the light, away from anything lovely.
      • Sin has so marred us that we see ones that love us as enemies. Ones that destroy us as desirable.  Ones that care for us as overbearing and ones that prey upon us as protectors.
      • Sin makes us hide from the only thing that can cleanse us, heal us, satisfy us.
    • What would have happened if Adam and Eve had come straight before God and repented instead of hid themselves and explain their rebellion away?
      • ( Isa 1:18) Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
      • .James said it like this; (Jas 4:8) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
    • We could most likely conclude that life would be totally different.
      • But what our grandparents started in the garden, we carry on today. We have been hiding ever since.
  • You’re present.
    • Even today there are those who would rather hide from the truth than to confess the truth before God.
      • Sin has blinded them into thinking that God is ok with what they have done or what they are doing.
      • They continue to go through the motions but death is at work upon them.
      • Slowly corruption is eating away at their love of anything Godly. Replacing it with a self -anointed, appointed theology of service.
    • Remember when you carry, hold on to unconfessed sin in your life; it drives you away from anything of worth, anything lovely, anything of God.
      • Part of our problem is what we consider confessing. Most of us fell its telling God.
      • He already knows.
      • Confessing is actually agreeing with Gods word about the issue. Total agreement seeing it as He does reacting to it the way He does.
    • Then when we can confess we can’t help but repent.
      • Remember how David repented. If it doesn’t cost you something there is not much repenting happening.
    • We can only guess at what might have happened to creation if Adam and Eve would have repented, but we don’t have to guess about what will happen if you do.
      • (Isa 55:7) Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
      • (1Jo 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
      • Jesus said: (Lu 15:7) I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
    • Two major obstacles of repentance. Pride and fear.
      •  Fear that what we done is unforgiveable. Fear of other people opinions. Fear of rejection. Fear of the unknown.
      • The other is pride. 

Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

Proverbs 13:10
  • If you’re struggling within come today. If you’re struggling with the words I have spoken, come.

Where Art Thou?

Gen.3:9

Don’t think for one minute God was in question of where Adam was. He knew very well where he was physically but, even more important, He knew where he was spiritually.

Now from what we read in the previous verse it’s easy to deduce that they were accustomed to walking and conversing with God on a daily basis. Now we see them actually hiding from the one whom they once enjoyed.

Fact of the matter we see them not only hiding from the very presence of God, they were also covering up because they didn’t want God to see them as they were.

The reason Adam and Eve were using fig leaves: they were trying to cover up their shame. 

Our grandparents taught us well. If we are not hiding from God himself, we at least try to cover up our shame so we don’t look so bad.

Sometimes it;s with service. I’ll hold that position to feel like I am doing something.

Sometimes with legalistic tithing. Not out of a cheerful heart but to pay God off so He will bless me.

Even with devotion and study. We read, study and search but never apply.

Sometimes our best cover up is simply going to church.

Oswald Chambers: “Backsliding is turning away from what we know to be best to what we know is second-best. If you have known God better than you know Him to-day and are deliberately settling down to something less than the best—watch, for you will not escape; God will bring embarrassments out against you, in your private life, in your domestic life; He will enmesh you on the right hand and on the left.” 

Backsliding is a byproduct of hiding. The state of backsliding is referred to many times in Scripture and is always indicative of spiritual declension

For many of the religious world, backsliding is a term they like to use to cover up their lost condition. For others it is a more pleasant term then disobedient, rebellious, lover of self.

As we will see all of us are susceptible to backsliding, but as we also will see we can prevent it.

 Jude 1:24, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,”

Good quote. Once is a mistake twice is a choice 

  • Spiritual Departure starts with an unguarded Heart.
    • Pr 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
    • For many of us we allow our hearts to be filled with all the philosophies of the world. A constant deluge of their values and beliefs.
      • Then we come to services and are spoon fed the word of God.  
      • And we wonder why when we come to a spiritual crisis it is so hard to stand for what is right.
        • Or to even know there is a right and wrong
    • How do we guard /keep our hearts?
      • With the word of God.
      • Ps 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
    • Jn 15, “Jesus said: Abide in my word, keep my commandments. That your joy may be full.”
      • The most miserable person is a born again believer who is outside the will of God.
      • You might not know your miserable but everyone around you does and you make them miserable
    • How do I learn to stay in the will of God?
      • As the psalmist said “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
        • Knowing His word, living His word.
      • This is basic elementary principles but yet the most neglected.
    • Adam and Eve had a daily time with God but when they chose to do it their way the first thing they did was hide.
      • When we become undisciplined with our time with God each day, and transfer our confidence to religious or material activities, we are at the point of spiritual departure.  
      • You could argue that Eve was trying to do good.
        • But it was unfounded because it was contrary to what God’s word said.
      • One of the devil’s best tactics is religious activities.
        • Sacrificing the great for the good
        • Getting so caught up in what we consider church things that we cant be the church
      • Activities do not promote nor produce closeness with God.
      • Closeness with God produces activity.
    • The difference in the activities and God-produced activities is that they will be God-centered and not men-centered and one if not all three of these elements will be evident
      • Making, marking, and maturing believers.
    • This should be our vision at New Hope; making ,marking and maturing believers
  • Once the point of departure has been reached the decline leads to inevitable disaster.
    • Pr 14:14, “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself”
    • The word backslider means : perverse one
    • The word filled carries with it the thought of covering up by rationalizing
      • So here we have one because of an unguarded heart is now backsliding and is filled with his own way
    • Pr 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” 
    • Because they become perverse in their thinking , their understanding of scripture is distorted.
    • And because they rationalize they see no need to turn.
      • They slowly die and bring death to those around them.
      • They no longer need the church, 
      • No longer need prayer, 
      • In a matter of time you will find them at odds with the church, or simply out.
  • The proverb doesn’t stop there. “A good man will be satisfied from himself.” 
    • Who is the good man?
      •  The man whose heart is right with God,
      • Whose tongue corresponds to his heart,
      •  Whose actions correspond to both.
    • The good man will be satisfied
      • The backslider will be filled with his own way.
    • Pr 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”
      • Ever noticed when you tell one lie it takes a half a dozen more to cover it.
        • The backslider will be filled with covering up, suspicion, watching out for his own.
      • The good man will be satisfied from above
      •  There is nothing like the feeling of being satisfied
        • Not too much. Not too little.

Post Image: https://www.britannica.com/plant/fig

The Apple of His Eye

(Gen 1:3-3:5)                                                     

We hammered out last week the importance of the bible being Theo-centric. God centered. 

Sin has so marred our focus on the truth that we see our issue with sin in our goal driven mind, as something we have to get the victory over instead of sin breaking the very heart of God. It is more about us than about Him.

In the beginning God! If as professing born again believers we don’t have that settled in our hearts than it is for certain there are doubts about the rest.

Today it is obvious that the lost world is at war with God. On the one front it is an open assault against anything Godly, moral, just. But there is a more subtle yet I believe more dangerous front. This attack has been on the authority of the Word of God which is being eroded out from under us.

If asked about creation, it should not surprise you to hear many church gurus, mature believers, leaders, even pastors, use one or more of the following responses. 

There is a gap of millions of years between the first verses of Genesis.

We don’t really know what the days of Genesis mean

The flood was a local even. Fossils are probably millions of years old.

God used evolution to create Adam and Eve.

And there are dozens of more positions that church folk take but they all have one thing in common.  They try to accommodate what secularist believe about origins. The reason is simple. We trust what has authority over our lives. 

Paul warned the church at Corinth. (2Co 11:3) But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

In the garden Satan persuaded Eve to doubt God’s word. It is the exact same tactic he uses today.

The main reason this tactic works so well. We trust what has authority over our lives.

No wonder so many youth and young people have exited the church.

When you place doubt on the very beginning. It is easy to place doubt on the rest.

If you subscribe long ages in Genesis, then death, disease, suffering and thorns come before the fall. Not “VERY GOOD” as God said.

As Paul explains to us where the battle is. Not against flesh and blood.(Eph.6:12). We have to discern with the real attack is. It is not on Christianity but on the authority of scripture.

Rather than allowing scripture to interpret scripture, many have reinterpreted God’s word on the basis of the fallible beliefs of sinful man. Therefore making it all relative, subjective to conditions, instead of absolute.

The gathering of the body> Relative.

Living clean and Holy lives> Relative

Study…Relative

Creation. Relative.

When sinful man believes the lie that God’s word is not authoritative, they put themselves in a position of authority over God. Disregarding even rewriting His word, as we spoke about last week, to justify our lifestyles and concepts of life.

So today, you chose. Secularist who insist they know what happened, or one who revealed His handiwork. Whose Pure and Holy essence cannot lie or deceive.

So as we open up scripture today we see Elohiym, The Almighty, All Powerful, and All Authority creating something beautiful from absolutely nothing.

  • Good.
    • After each part of creation, God was pleased with it.
      • He spoke the words it was good.
    • Our minds cannot even imagine what this world looked like.
      • Just like His thoughts are above our thoughts. His good is above our good.
      • Heaven is going to be sooo utterly awesome.
    • With all the heavens and the parts that make up the earth God simply spoke it into existence. With the animals God formed them from the ground.
      • With all of the beginning of His masterpiece,  it was either God said or formed out of the ground.
  • VERY GOOD (Gen.1:26-28)( Gen 2:7)
    • When it came to forming man there is a distinct difference than in the rest of creation.
      • With man it went a little different.
    •  It is as if God pauses before He puts into action the pinnacle of His handiwork. He convenes with the Trinity and decides to do something with man that has not been done with the rest of creation.
      • His decision; create it in their image. It is like He stooped down and from the clay began sculpting. The finished work mankind.
    • It didn’t stop there. Not only did He discuss His plan and fashion us in His image He did even more. (Chp.2:7) rocks my world. God breathed into this new creation His breath of life.
    • That is what God shows us about our nature; it is defined by the fact that we bear His image. He created us with a desire to glorify His name through image bearing.
      • Our whole being points to His glorious name.
      • Don’t get this wrong. Unlike what Oprah teaches there is not a little bit of god in everybody.
    • We bear His image by the way we relate.(chp1:27)
      • God created the male version of mankind then created the female version.
      • Even in the way He created the woman is indicating His plan. From the rib. God is recreating for humanity the same sort of structure that has existed in the Trinity for all of eternity.
    • We bear His image by the way we rule(chp1:28)
      • God attaches to His creation the capacity and responsibility to rule, dominate.
        • These two attributes go together for us to rule rightly. Capacity and responsibility.
      • Here God is also demonstrating leadership. He is bringing us into what He is doing. It is easy for people to do things or get things done, but we are called to bring people on, train, prepare.
    • We bare His image by the way we work.(Gen.2:15)
      • Work was not part of the curse. This is hard but true, how you work, your work ethic, in the home on the job, at church whatever you do is supposed to be bearing His image. 
      • (Col 3:17) And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.  How’s it look?
    • We bare His image through rest.(chp2:2)
      • This is not an excuse for laziness. God’s word is full of warning to the lazy.
      • In this second chapter God tells us He rested. It wasn’t that He was exhausted worn out, but knew we would be.
      • We are unlike any other creature in that we are most Like God, but make no mistake, we are not God.
      • One of the most critical ways we can image God to a lost and dying world is to show them we are not Him.
        • If we don’t come apart once in a while we will come apart.
  • Thorn in His side. (chp.3:1-5)
    • We know God created us for His joy, to have an intimate loving relationship with us. Something happened to distort it, to pervert it.
      •  Chapter three opens up a lot like the Christmas carol. And the Marley’s were dead to begin with. When you start off an account of something by describing it as subtle, cunning, crafty its like the Jaws music, something is fixing to get ate.
    • Our act of sin was not primarily about eating a piece of fruit. It was about the exchanging The Truth for a lie.
      • Satan knew, that if he wanted to get Eve to sin, he would need to make her doubt if she could take God at His word.  He planted the idea that God was holding out on her. It wasn’t that God was protecting her from death he was preventing her from really living.
    • When they took that first bite, our grandparents declared that they were going to decide what was best for them.
      • In that moment the creation grasped for the authority that had belonged to God as our creator, and attempted to take it for themselves.
      • We decided to be our own god. 
      • We decided to put ourselves in a position of authority over God. Disregarding even rewriting His word.
    • Before this sin, Adam and Eve believed that God wanted the best for them. He had been providing everything they needed. They had a loving relationship, enjoyed each other.
      • After the rejection they began to think that if we obey God we would miss out on something, that there might be more outside of God’s will for us than in it.
      • Even today there are many who feel God just wants to sabotage our joy and happiness.
    • As I have stated, our act of sin was not primarily about eating a piece of fruit. It was about the exchanging The Truth for a lie.
      • With the eating of the forbidden fruit we in essence were saying to God anyone or anything but you. It is a family trait that is still past down today.
        • We won’t believe God, take Him at His word but we will believe anyone or anything else. 
    • Sin has affected everything. It has distorted every relationship we had; with God, man, and creation.
  • Apple of His eye.(chp.3:14-15)
    • God made a promise to us immediately after we sinned. He promised there was going to be a way to re-right our broken relationship with Him, despite our dead hearts and complete rejection of Him.
      • He would not ignore it, would not pretend it didn’t happen. It would be punished with the full fury of His wrath through a Holy judgment.
    • But instead of aiming that fury towards His creation, His masterpiece, He would pour it out on the voluntary sacrificial Lamb. 
      • His eternal Son would put us back in right relationship at the cost of His precious blood.

In the beginning God.

In The Beginning. 2021

Genesis 1:1 

Do you all like new starts? Clean slates, a refreshing?

Few people actually enjoy cleaning a place but most all feel good about a fresh smelling clean environment to live and work in.

It actually has a positive effect on relationships, productivity, and outlook.

As I have been looking to the New Year you cannot help but notice that God is really into beginnings.

Look  here in Genesis, He has the very beginning.  Have you given much thought to the next verse? Without form, void, darkness.

God created something spectacular, amazing, something that takes your breath away out of nothing!

HE STILL DOES!

As we look at those who surrendered their life to serve the One True God we see a pattern emerge.

We can look at Abram as God told him to leave where he was and start anew.

Jacob left and came back a different man.

What about Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah?

Along with their mentor Daniel, God moved them.

In a way none of us would have thought of being a God way. Slavery, fiery furnaces, really? But God had a supreme plan.

All of the disciples left what they had known and started fresh. Best I recall Paul was the only one who even used his trade again. Tent making.

God’s master plan is not necessarily we change occupations. Though for some this happens. But everyone who trusts in the finished work of the cross God says: 2Co 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

God has not revealed anything to us by accident. In His word He has given us all we need for us to live a life pleasing to Him in spite of what circumstances might be. As we open up the book of creation, Genesis, we begin to understand something right at the start.

  • In the beginning God!
    • That statement right there is comforting. God was in the beginning of all this chaos, all this emptiness and out of it brought a marvelous creation.
      • Look at the world around you. Even where we have caused havoc on this earth and filled our lust to serve the kingdom of thingdoms, we still see this world producing beauty.
      • What God started is continuing just as He planned.
    • We have begun a new chapter in this world. Our great grandparents would not recognize this world in which we live today and most likely wouldn’t appreciate it either. 
      • As Christ predicted: Mt 24:12, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”
      • He is speaking here of the church. The body of believers. 
      • It is very evident in the lives of many who call Him Lord, that other things are taking priority.
      • This is a true saying. Research history and you will find; as the church goes, so goes the nation.
    • What we see here in this first verse is the center point of scripture.
      •  It’s “Theo” (God) centric. Everything in Scripture begins and ends with God.
    • Why does Scripture emphasize this from the very beginning?
      •  Because God knows that what we focus on influences how we think. The Bible wants us to focus on God.
    • Remember Jesus’s words about treasure?
      • Mt 6:19-23, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
    • What you focus on determines how you think, and the Bible wants us to begin by focusing, not on the things of this earth… but upon God.

Poem: He was just a little lad, and on the week’s first day, was wandering home from Sunday School, and dawdling on the way. 

He scuffed his shoes into the grass; he found a caterpillar He found a fluffy milkweed pod, and blew out all the filler. 

A bird’s nest in a tree o’er head so wisely placed and high was just another wonder caught by his eager eye. 

A neighbor watched his zig zag course, and hailed him from the lawn Asked him where he’d been that day, and what was going on. 

“Oh, I’ve been to Sunday School, (He carefully turned a sod, And found a snail beneath it); I’ve learned a lot about God” 

“M’m’m, a very fine way,” the neighbor said, “for a boy to spend his time; If you’ll tell where God is I’ll give you a brand new dime.”

 Quick as a flash his answer came! Nor were his accents faint – “I’ll give you a dollar mister, if you tell me where God ain’t.”

  • In the beginning GOD!
  • The way God created, revealed His supreme, un-matching authority. (V3)
    • And God said…
      • He simply spoke into existence. 
    • I believe there is a two-fold reason God spoke into existence everything instead of just waved a hand.
      • He is placing a great emphasis on communicating. 
      • God wants us to know He desires to communicate with us.
    • God chose to use His creation, man, to write, catalog what we needed to know about Him.
      • 2Pe 1:20-21, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
    • Also He reveals His absolute power and authority.
      • He instructs Moses to use a name that describes His transcendence. His power that goes beyond the limitations of this created world. Elohim.
      • This name describes the one who is all powerful, all mighty, amazing, unlike no other that all of creation owes its allegiance to. 
    • In chapter 2In the creation of man God reveals another name, Yahweh or Jehovah.
      • The Lord God
      •  It does not describe an attribute of God but brings to light a plan. 
      • Yahweh or Jehovah is personal and intimate.
    • Because He is Elohim, God who owns and rules everything, all allegiance and worship is due Him, but because he is Jehovah, God full of mercy and compassion we should want to give Him our best, our all. 
    • Give Him praise.
  • We trust what has authority over our life.
    • Many like to say they believe God’s word is true but yet their decisions and lifestyle prove otherwise.
    •  In order to justify our lifestyles and concepts we often adopt inconsistent views of God’s Word.
      • The pro-homosexual’s re-create a “Christ” that has no problem with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered sexuality. 
      • The pro-abortionists re-create a “Christ” supportive of a woman’s “right” to abort her unborn child.
      • The feminists call on people to worship the “Christ-Sophia,” and re-creates God as “Mother.” 
      • The inclusivist / universalist re-creates a “Christ” committed to the salvation of the unrepentant and the unbelieving. 
      • And the Sunday christain re-creates a watered down sappy version of Christ- that doesn’t require faithfulness and devotion and accepts whatever we throw His way.
      • Some would have us believe the Bible contains God’s Holy Word.
      •  But the entire Bible is God’s Holy Word2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
    • As we see, the problem is many seek to fashion the Bible to meet their liking.
      •  The standard of what is acceptable in religion for many is whether it satisfies the individual.
      •  Many “shop” for a religion that meets their personal preferences, treating the Scriptures as a salad bar – picking things they like and passing over the others.
      • This is most dangerous for God’s people in that it seeks to make everything subjective and relative with no absolutes.
    • We need to realize that the Bible is “truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. All Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.”
      • (Pr 30:5) Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him
    •  The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.
      •  Christ never acted contrary to His Word. 
  • Beginnings have to have a start.
    • In creation, it was when God spoke. In Abrams life it was the moment he obeyed, in every one of those we looked at it all started when they really chose God over self.
      • The reason God demonstrates His authority, shows His desire to communicate is for us to respond.
      • All of us have responded in one way or another, either by accepting and trusting or refusing.
    • We have to decide rather we believe that God had enough sense to say what He meant and meant what He has said. Because our authority is His written word.
      • If our actions cannot be confirmed by the word of God, then we are wrong. 
      • If we learn that we are wrong, we must change.
      • If we feel or think that something is good, that is not good enough. We must be able to go to a scriptural reference to determine the accuracy of our actions.
    • When we live contrary to God’s word we are showing who has authority over us and our decisions.
    • If you are really wanting to make a change, really want to see what God has to offer, it is the easiest and the hardest thing you will ever do.
      • It is simply yielding to His authority over your life by trusting His word, that it is what will satisfy you.
      •  The hard part is deep down though God is the one who created awesomeness out of nothingness we think He needs our assistance to run things now.
    • Don’t get me wrong, it is going to hurt, it is going to take time, but God will see you through.
      • Few of us enjoy the cleaning, the work involved in making a place nice and neat, but most enjoy the way it makes them feel, especially when others take notice.
  • In the beginning God. 
    • He is not expecting you to do it on your own. He is the one who creates awesomeness out of nothing. So if you have nothing to offer you’re in the right place.

The Greatest Christmas Present

John 3:16

When it comes to this time of year it seems we most often overshoot the objective.

Many of us will spend more money than we have attempting to fill the void we leave in others’ lives. We have taught our children this is the time of year we break the bank. We make sure people know what we have bought our kids, spouse, whoever, because it is important that they/ we have the best.

THE BEST.

One of my favorite Christmas stories comes from the secular world. As with anything Holy. The world makes an effort to insert its thoughts on how it could be, should be.

The Little Drummer boy has always been dear to my heart. Though it is wrapped up in imagination the climax of the story is a poor little drummer boy gives the best of what he has, to offer to the child king. Who is none other than JESUS.

Like so much that has been passed down through the ages, we have gotten so far from the true meaning of best.

God in His tender loving grace and mercy has taught us what it is to give the best. Here in this well-known scripture we see what it looks like.

  • For God.
    • (Genesis 1:1) In the beginning God… (Hebrews 1:1)  God, who at sundry…
      • Nothing to support His existence, nothing afterward to explain where, how or what God is, just God!
    • The only explanation God gives for Himself is in His conversation with Moses.
      • Ex 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM:
    • Here Jesus is making a definitive statement. God!
      • Why? Because it is settled. Jesus knows God. He is God, He came from God and is going back to God.
    • The one thing we must have settled in our heart of hearts is that there is a God who created us for His design and interacts with His creation.
      • He has purposely brought you into this world. He has specific plans for you. He actively engages you through various means.
      • He loves you and wants you to love Him back. Not just like, not just honor but genuinely love Him which will be evident in how you live.
      • Listen to the words of our Lord Jesus:

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15
  • Anything less is a lie.
  • So loved.
    • If God just loved the world it would be enough, but this little word so is not put there as a filler. It carries significant meaning.
      • It is like saying God loved to such an amazing, over the top, indescribably, intense, degree.
    • Jesus came to this sin sick world so God’s creation would know how much He loved them.
      • He sent His best.
    • Paul a sold out servant of the Most High desired for believers to understand the love of God
      • So it would compel them to know and experience Him.

Paul prayed for the Ephesians

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; (17) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;(19) And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19
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  • What is the breadth (width), length, depth, height of this SO!
      • Understand it is foolishness to even say we can measure the unfathomable love of God.
      • Here is an attempt to try and comprehend the very least of its magnitude by one who has experienced it.
  • The width. How wide is God’s love?
    • We used to sing a little song, He’s got the whole world in his hands…
      • God’s arms encompasses the whole world that all are included. There are none beyond His grasp. There are not any that escapes His eye.
      • Though its broad in reaching it is fine in application. It is personal. When it says He loved the world it means He loves each one in it.

Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Ezekiel 33:11
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2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

2 peter 3:9

  • You’re here today, you have been selfish, mean spirited, proud, hateful, deceiving, consumed with your life and no time for others. God loves you. Waiting for you to repent to turn away from what is killing, destroying you and come to Him to receive life, fulfillment.
  • Length. How long is the love of God?
    • He gave.
      • Length by demonstration.
    •  True test of love. To what length will it go?
      • What length did God go? How much does he love you personally?
      • (Romans 5:6-8)  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. (8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
      • While we were yet sinners. While we were still enemies with God. He initiated. He pursued. He demonstrated His eternal love towards us.
    • For God SO loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
      • The begotten one, which is His title. The only one.
      • The best He had. Something so precious, so endearing He gave for you.
      • He allowed Him to taste the pains of death to suffer at the hands of His own creation.
      • To feel the debt of sin. And He did it for you.
    • God gave. Something He had something of His own.
      •  Man had no claim on it. It was a free and unmerited gift.
  • Depth. What is the depth that God’s love will go?
    •  To the depths of hell.
      • We are hell doomed, hell deserving sinners.
      • We are not on trial waiting our sentence.
      • Judgement has already been passed.

(Joh 3:17-18) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:17-18

  • Those that refuse to believe on the name of the only begotten Son of God, are guilty of the grossest insult to the Divine majesty.
      • In neglecting, slighting, and despising the salvation which the infinite mercy of God had provided for them.
    • Therefore will receive just compensation for their choice.
      •  An eternity absent from anything, lovely, peaceful, beautiful, Godly. Suffering torments of fire, thirst, darkness that you can feel.
    • (Joh 3:17-18) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (18) He that believeth on him is not condemned:
      • God’s love is saying He already suffered this hell for you. Trust Him.
  • Height. Everlasting life.
    • The height in infinite. I’m going to heaven. A place we can only imagine. There is nothing we have seen are heard can compare to the glory we get to share.
      • The biblical writers did their best to describe what was revealed but our words fall so short.
    • You know why I am going to heaven? Because I preach? Because I said a prayer? I was baptized? I was good part of the time?
      •  None of this would matter. I have gained entrance to heaven because God saved me. God pursued, God called, God saved.
    • God gave His best.
      • I gave nothing. I have nothing to offer. He gave everything.
    • Heaven is icing on the cake.
      • Everlasting life. Jesus is my life.
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  • Imagine.
    • Giving you children, grandchildren, your loved ones a special gift.
      • And like a child they would rather play with the box.
    • In this scripture Jesus reveals the gift He has for us.
      • The very best.
      • It doesn’t take batteries, it never wears out.
      • Its value only increases.
      • It cannot be lost, stolen, or threw away.
      • And it comes with a guarantee!
    • Sadly, many would rather play with the box
  • imagine
    • I reckon the most heart breaking thing for God is to have to watch as day in day out His creation rejects his Best.
      • This supreme, sacrificial love.
      • And chose to play with the box.
      • Squander their life here and spend eternity apart from Him.
    • I suppose the second most heartbreaking thing is to watch His people those who call Him Lord and have surrendered their life to him.
      • Fail to experience all He has instore for them. To live life.
      • And chose to play with the box, simply because not willing to invest and grow in their relationship with Him.
    • God loves you and wants you to love Him back. Not just like, not just honor but genuinely love Him which will be evident in how you live.
      • The world needs to see His best. He has chosen you to reveal it in.
      • To your children, grandchildren, friends, loved ones. This crazy, confused, lost world.

The Old New You

(Matt. 9: 16-17)(2 Kings 2:9-11)(1 Kings 19:9-21)

This account that is recorded for us is in three of the four Gospels. Jesus is once again dealing with the religious know it all’s. He is dealing with some of those who followed John the Baptist. Then He actually lays out some hard truth.

(16)No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. (17) Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

Matthew 9:16-17
  • In our scripture Jesus is actually giving a great analogy of the ever changing church. It comes in reference to the disciples of John asking why did they fast so often but Jesus and His followers didn’t fast at all?

It was a sincere question. They had a desire to know.

Jesus never minded being questioned about His ways when one was sincere in knowing.

As you think about His words, they hold a clear warning of attempting to bring the old and mixing or combining with the new. I am of the belief; at least in my own life, one of the main contributing factors that hinders me from experiencing life to its fullest, free from all the mental bondage and self-imposed fetters and chains, is simply refusing to change the skins.

In the Bible we have account after account of men and women who understood and was willing to live a life pleasing to God. Even if it wasn’t kool, culturally correct or safe. Because of their willingness God used them to alter history. Change the world. 

Today we are so tied up with this worlds delusions as we load ourselves with overwhelming burdens. It appears we have lost our vision, our dreams and are no longer interested in impacting the world for Jesus. 

Ever notice folks; though rare, that really seem to have it together? They are focused on serving God. Not detoured because of circumstances. Not wavering because of uncertainties?

There looks to be a common thread running through the lives of those born again bold believers in Christ. I want to share with you a couple of thoughts today that if you really want them to, could strengthen your life in Jesus. 

We have an Old Testament prophet who can help us get a grasp on this simple truth.

  • Elisha’s request.
    • A double portion of God’s Spirit.
      • Understand, Elisha just didn’t happen to be in the right place at the right time.
      • There had been some preparation in his life.
    • Look back with me at (1 Kings 19:19-21)

(19)So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. (20)And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee? (21)And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.

1 kings 19:19-21
  • We find a very wealthy man settled in his life and occupation.
    • He was not only a leader but a servant leader.
    • He had twelve set of oxen. Eleven was being used by servants or family. He was plowing with the twelfth. 
      • (Side note: Don’t ask others to do what you won’t do.)
    • While out doing his normal duties God came to him by way of His servant Elijah.
  • Elijah.
    • Here was a man of God. One who had stood toe to toe with the enemies of God. 
      • He had seen the mighty works of God. The latest, the show down with Baal prophets.
      •  Fire fell down from heaven burning up the drenched sacrifice.
    • The day he and Elisha meet though this strong man of God had been hiding and on the run.
      • What could cause a seasoned prophet of The one True God like this to fear and run? A horde of demons? The devil himself?
      • A woman. Jezebel to be exact. Now there is a life group lesson for us…
  • The Encounter.
    • The day these two met something very interesting happened.
      • Elijah called Elisha to service by casting his mantel (robe) on him.
      • Elisha asked to go home to tell his people by.
    • In the gospels, Matt and Luke; we find where Jesus told a man who asked to go bury his father, “let the dead bury the dead.”
      • This man was looking at staying till his father passed then go and follow Jesus.
    • Look at Elisha.
      • (1Ki 19:21) And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.
      • Elisha wasn’t waiting to bury his dad. He was burying himself!
    • He didn’t go back to talk of his plans and reminisce. 
      • He went back to cut himself off from his old life.
      • Most farmers have their hoe, their tractor, and their implements they like to use. The other ones aren’t as special and the farmhands use them.
      • I take this as these are Elishas favorite. He took his special plow and yoke and all that went with it and set it ablaze. He took Brutus and Bubba and turned them into bar-b-q. Fed his farmhands friends and folks.
    • Why didn’t he just sell them or lease them, pass them down?
      • Because Elisha was serious about serving God and left nothing to pick back up later or fall back on.
  • The reason many never go the distance 
    • We continue to pour new wine( our new life in Christ) into old wine skins.(our old life, ways, habits…
      • It actually works for a while, but then they begin to crack, swell and finally burst. 
    • Church becomes a got to again instead of a get to.
      • Preaching becomes stale and meaningless. People become bothersome and draining.
    • Yet we continue to tell ourselves its not us…
  • We need to recognize there are some bridges we are holding on to.
    • Those that we are not willing to burn that tie us, connect us to our old life without Jesus.
    • Some out of pride. Feeling this is what distinguishes us. Defines us.
    • Some out of guilt. Feel like you have to continue the legacy, carry the torch, 
    • Some even out of fear. Letting go means not being in control.
  • Heres the whole in a nut shell. 
    • For us to be who God intends for us to be it takes yielding back to God everything He has given to me.
      • If we hold on to these things you never own them but they own you!

Thanksgiving 2020

                                                       (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

I spoke to you a couple of weeks ago about gratefulness. One of the most profound statements to me in that sermon was this. 

Someone once said that gratitude is the source for all other Christian virtues. If that be the case, then perhaps we need to reason that ingratitude may well be the source of all, or at least much of our vileness, our depravity as well.

In the letter to the Thessalonians, Paul gives out instructions to this congregation on how to not only survive but thrive. He speaks of rejoicing, praying, even being careful not to quench the Holy Spirit. He also lays out for all to see what God’s will, His desire, His plan for those who trust Him is.

In everything give thanks:

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

It really is the will of God to live a grateful life.

What do we know about gratitude and being grateful?

Often we hear things like; well I’m grateful in my heart, but I’m just not very good at showing it. But you know my heart. 

No I don’t know your heart, what am I, a cardiologist? I don’t know your heart, unless you say it and show it.

I want to give you three things to help us grasp a biblical understanding of gratitude.

  • True gratefulness, gratitude is never invisible or silent.
    • My Lord said:

(Lu 6:45) A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

  • When your heart is grateful, it’ll overflow to your mouth. 
    • When you’re grateful, you’ll say it and you’ll show it. 
    • When you’re grateful to God, you’ll tell Him, and you’ll show Him, you won’t just assume that He knows, 
    • When you’re grateful to God for others, you’ll tell them, and you’ll show them.
    • If you’re grateful in your heart… out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 
      • So if you’re not speaking it, your heart isn’t really grateful.
    • Some like to say,” well I’m just not that type…
      • Can I say this one more time?… for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
    • From the overflow of your heart, the mouth has to speak, and if you’re really grateful it will show up in your life, through your words and your actions.
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  • Have you ever received something special or seen someone who has received? 
    • Often they break down with emotion. They can’t speak, they are overwhelmed and the face, body, their being shows it.
    • I’ve seen proud, ungrateful people get mad. Get bitter. Feeling now they have to do something
      • But I’ve seen grateful people humbly, lovingly, gratefully, accept and not feel they have to do something of equal value.
    • Now, if we can be that thankful for a special touch from someone, then I know the church of Jesus Christ ought to be able to give God the same kind of praise, for sending His son Jesus Christ to die on the cross. 
      • To set us free forever from our sin and guilt.
      •  Giving us eternal life,
    •  Are there any grateful people here today? 
      • Is there anybody who isn’t just grateful in your heart, but you’re willing to show it with your life, you’re willing to shout it with your mouth?
    • Now I know that you have to be real, I know that you can’t walk around all the time saying, praise the Lord, about everything, or you’ll sound phony,
      • I’m telling you, most of us are in no danger of being too grateful to God. That’s not what we’re struggling with.
      • Gratitude is never invisible or silent
  • Gratitude Sustains Joy and Blessing.
    • A piano has three foot pedals below its keys. The one on the far right is the damper pedal also known as the sustain pedal.
      • When this pedal is depressed it lifts the dampers off the keys allowing the sound to be prolonged.
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  • Does anybody here remember a time in your life when you relieved an offense over and over again, 
    • Somebody hurt you and you replayed that in your mind a 100 times, through bitterness.
    • There is a perverted power or pedal in our mind that enables you to re-live an offense over and over again because of bitterness and un-forgiveness.
    • If you’re a follower of Christ and the Holy Spirit is in you, then by the perfect power of the Holy Spirit, ,( the regenerated pedal)  you can relive the blessing of God over and over and over again, and you can sustain the blessing of God.
      • Even when your situation starts to go bad, or even when someone hurt you today, you can flash back to the times in your life when God was faithful, and He worked it out, and He blessed you.
      • It depends on what note you’re wanting to prolong?
      • Gratitude sustains joy and blessing in your life.
  • Lastly, and very powerful! Gratitude Begins Where My Sense of Entitlement Ends.
    • You cannot be grateful for something that you feel entitled to.
      • That’s why people don’t write thank you notes to the IRS when they get a tax refund.
    • If you start to feel entitled to something, then your gratefulness just immediately ends.
      • It’s gone, disappeared, the moment you feel entitled.
    • When you first became a Christian and you felt that forgiveness and grace of God.
      • You realized what Christ had done for you on the cross, and the huge price He paid so you could be part of His family, you feel so grateful, so blessed. But what happens?
      • Over time you start to take it for granted, and you start to feel entitled. 
    • It is an honor to be allowed to serve Him, even the privilege of knowing Him is a huge blessing.
      • How in the world can we ever start to think we’re entitled to any of that?
      • We’re not entitled to any of it, but we are hugely blessed by God, and we ought to be extremely grateful.
    • Now, the unfortunate truth is, some people in the church do feel entitled. 
      • We get the privilege to teach a class, sing a song, lead in silent prayer all of a sudden it’s ours for life.
  • Let me close with this:
    • Gratitude is never invisible or silent. Gratitude Sustains Joy and Blessing. Gratitude Begins Where My Sense of Entitlement Ends.

To the chief Musician upon Muthlabben, A Psalm of David.

I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvelous works.

Psalms 9:1

  • Are you grateful for what God has done in your life? 
    • What He has allowed you to be a part of?
    • For those He is letting in to be to carry on?

Do you really know Him? 

Does it show? 

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Gratefulness

Luke 17:11-19

Most of us are familiar with the traditional story of Thanksgiving where William Bradford, of Plymouth Rock, proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving to celebrate the survival of the Pilgrims in their second year in the New World, as well as an abundant harvest that they had reaped with the aid of the Indians.

 Most people don’t realize the first recorded thanksgiving actually took place in Virginia more than 11 years earlier, and it wasn’t a feast. The winter of 1610 at Jamestown had reduced a group of 409 settlers to 60. The survivors prayed for help, without knowing when or how it might come. Talking about the valley of the shadow of death. When help arrived, in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God. 

You would think that after seeing so many of their loved ones die due to the hardships of the New World, they would not feel that thankful. However, the opposite was true. They realized they had much to be thankful for.
We ourselves often don’t realize how blessed we are, or how thankful we ought to be, until what we have is threatened to be taken away. It is good and fitting that as Christians, we ought to celebrate Thanksgiving for God has certainly been good to every single one of us. 

Someone once said that gratitude is the source for all other Christian virtues. If that be the case, then perhaps we need to reason that ingratitude may well be the source of all, or at least many of our faults as well. When we begin to take for granted what God has done for us, then we become calloused and filled with pride and then God will no longer use us. For a Christian, every day ought to be a day of thanksgiving.

I have always been intrigued with this account of these men.

  • We see there were ten lepers who met Jesus and had a life changing encounter with the Lord.
    • They all had a life changing experience. 
      • Not salvation, but life changing.
      • Jesus met, like those He fed, a physical need in their life. It changed their life.
      • You cannot help but to notice a difference in one.
    • When you break this story down to its simplest elements, it describes mankind.
      • We are outcasts from the Kingdom of God, on our way to certain death, but God through His Holy Spirit testifies to us through different ways of His love and mercy.
      • Sometimes through healing. Other times through deliverance from bad circumstances. Sometimes simply a loved one or a servant of His introduces us to Him.
      • Then we have a life changing encounter with Jesus. But like this account. You seem to notice a difference in some. 
  • In this account what is so significant about these lepers who were healed, is that out of the ten, only one returned to say thanks. 
    • If you were to infer the truth of this story on general humanity, we could say that nine out of ten people never really pause to give thanks for where they came from and what they have. 
  • While we should never look back on the pleasures of sin, we should never forget where the Lord has brought us from.
    • The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said, Isaiah 51:1, “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.”
      •  In other words, look at where God has brought you from, remember what God has done for you.

What I would like to focus on this morning is what made the difference in the one?

  • The whole picture. (V.12) Ten Lepers.
    • It is possible to presume that these men were in different stages of this deadly disease, but the end result would be the same.
      • A lonely, painful, death.
      • Hey, aint that just like living in sin? Might be in different stages but the end results are the same.
    • They stood afar off because that is all they could do. According to tradition lepers couldn’t get no closer than a hundred paces.
    • (V14) This is very important. According to what is written here all ten lepers exhibited a life altering faith.
      • Lu 17:14, “And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.”
    •  They heard the Word of Christ and they believed and they were healed. This was by faith. They were not healed first and then told to go to the priests, they had to act on faith.
      • So why did only one turn back?
  • The perception of gratitude: I believe the answer lies in (V15) And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God. 
    • He shouted, WHEN HE SAW that he was healed.
    • Now the others no doubt knew that they were healed, but there was something different here.
      •  The Greek word used is the word eido, and it means to know, see, consider, or perceive.
      •  He took the time to note that he had been blessed. He realized that something wonderful had happened to him.
      •  He was sensitive to the power of Christ working in his life.
    •  Do we really perceive the ways that God has blessed us? The devil will do his best to keep your mind off the blessings of God.
      •  He will constantly tell you how bad you have it, of how everything is wrong in your life. 
    • In the 10 chapter of 2nd Corinthians where we are instructed where to wage our battle.
      • We are given a secret that will bring success to our walk with Christ. He says “…and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”. 2 Cor.10:5
      • We need to ask and allow the Holy-Spirit of God to reveal to us the abundant blessings God has poured out on us. Then our outlook on the present and the future will be intensely different.
      • This is not just a positive thinking exercise to convince yourself the ship is not sinking even though you’re neck deep in water.
      • It’s when you begin to realize how much you have in the Lord that you will truly begin to be thankful.
    • Do you understand that for God to forgive you it cost the very life of His only begotten Son?
      •  His life was as precious to Him as any of our children, family or friends are.
    • Do you know the pain and the lost feeling we endure at the passing of a loved one? 
      • SO DOES GOD.
      • If you were the only one He would have still done it.
    • An unthankful Christian is a defeated Christian for he/she has lost their joy.
  • We also see the priority of gratitude (V15) “…when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,”
    • Now the Lord had given the command to go to the priest but he delayed, he turned around and went back to the Lord. Why didn’t the Lord rebuke him for this? 
      • The reason is because this man realized the priority of gratitude and worship.
    • It wasn’t that this man wasn’t going to follow through with the Lord’s directive, but he realized that he had a higher calling that must first come first. 
      • If you don’t give God thanks, it won’t be long until your obedience just becomes a job to do, you lose the meaning of what God is wanting you to do. You become unthankful. 
      • If you don’t give God thanks, it won’t be long until your obedience just becomes a job to do, you lose the meaning of what God is wanting you to do. You become unthankful. 
      • Did I repeat that?
    • Couldn’t help but notice: The leper came back praising God despite his unsolved problems. Job, family, friends, home, etc… So can we in all circumstances. Focus on the belief that God is bigger than the problem and is present right now in the middle of it.
  • The placement of gratitude.
    • Where did the others go? Speculation.
      • One could have been thinking get to the priest and then rush off to family because that is what he missed.
      • Another to his job that’s where his happiness was.
      • Another going to the ball game, the hunting woods, wherever all his friends were..
    • This one (15-16) with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks:
      •  He fell before Him in perfect submission and gave Him thanks. 
    • Then note what He told this man, “Arise, go thy way, thy faith has made thee whole.”
      • This was something that the others did not receive.
      •  I don’t know exactly what all this means. Maybe as one commentator put it. –not as the others, merely in body, but in that higher spiritual sense.
    • Many accept the physical blessing of our Gracious Lord but few will take the time to grasp the spiritual!

Our story at the beginning, how far did the suffering go?

 The sixty survivors were already loaded on a ship and headed back to England when they met the supply ships coming into the harbor.

They gave thanks!!

Are you grateful? Does it show? Today give your time to express it.