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Posts Tagged ‘Grace’

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool [afternoon breeze] of the day, so the man and his wife hid and kept themselves hidden from the presence [face] of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” [Gen3:8 AMP]

What Does God Sound Like?

I often wonder what would it sound like to hear God walking in the garden…would there be a mighty roar of wind?…would there be a gentle rustling of leaves?…would there be the sound of God’s footsteps?…or perhaps ‘the sound of the Lord’ relates to a sixth sense, a ‘spirit to Spirit’ sense that Adam and Eve were aware that the Lord was in the garden. Indeed, God did create them in His image [Gen 1:26-27] – which would include a spirit, as well as the soul and body.

God Confronts Adam and Eve

And the mystery of God’s presence being in the garden (more than in any other place) really points to God having a form which, for me, points to Jesus. So my long bow with this verse is that from time to time, or probably daily (knowing the love and character of God), Jesus would walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening (as He also did with His disciples when He was here on earth). You know, I believe sometimes we can get caught up in the harshness of the Old Testament and we can really miss this altogether – How great is the Father’s love is for His creation and how He longs and loves to fellowship with it (and how disappointed He must have been that Adam and Eve were attempting to hide from Him).

In any case (even if you do not agree with the above), Adam and Eve were familiar with the ‘sound of Lord’ and they knew He was in the garden and yet they did not go to Him as I suspect they usually would have, because of their sin. Fellowship and relationship with God was broken that day and instead of perhaps running to Him they hid from His face. This was a very sad day for humanity and for God!

But here is the Good News :-)…

Jesus came to restore everything that was lost through Adam at ‘the fall’!

(‘the fall’ = the fall of humanity through the sin of Adam and Eve)

To understand what has been restored through Jesus let us have a look at what has been lost through Adam.

Through Adam relationship and intimacy with our Heavenly Father have been lost. Our inherited sinful nature rebels against God and His Word. The penalty for our sin and rebellion is death and Hell. We are lost, we are condemned, we are without hope, we are without a purpose, we are without a future, and we are completely powerless and helpless to do anything about where we are heading. There is no way of escape and, because of God’s perfect judgement, nor do we deserve a way of escape.

Now putting the bad news aside here is the Good News :-)…

Jesus came to restore everything that was lost!

Through Jesus and His death and resurrection, our judgement and condemnation has been fully paid for through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We are no longer lost but we are saved by God. We are no longer hopeless but now have great hope in our Saviour and we live in the purposes and calling of our Heavenly Father which He has planned for us before the beginning of time. We are no longer powerless and helpless against the schemes of the enemy but we have given given authority in the name of Jesus through his great victory over the devil at the cross. The authority that had been forfeited by Adam has been restored by Christ. The devil doesn’t even have the keys to His own jails anymore. He is rendered powerless! All he has is lies and tricks. All authority has been given to Christ and to all who are in Christ, Jesus has given His authority. So if we don’t fall into a rebellious life or we are not tricked by the devil schemes we are truly free, free indeed [John 8:36] by the finished work of Jesus on the cross!

Additional reading here Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:45-49

A Life of Abundance!

Even further, as if this was not enough, Jesus came to give us far more than we could ever hope for or imagine[Eph 3:20]! Jesus calls us not to a life of mediocrity but a life of abundance!

In John 10:10 Jesus says “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”

When I mention abundant life I am not overlooking troubles that can come our way from time to time that can place great demands on our faith and our character. In John 16:33 Jesus was aware of these and said there will be “tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]  and He said this so that in Him “we may have [perfect]peace.”

This abundant life that Jesus speaks of in John 10:10 is created by the Author and Creator of life himself. The One who gave us life is the One who can give us our best life. God knows all about us and He has made each one of us a perfect and abundant life plan for our lives – imagine a life to the max – a life overflowing in abundance! A life of perfect peace! How can this be possible?

Getting Back to the Garden

What was life like in the Garden of Eden before the Fall and how do we get back there?

Here are a few observations about the Garden of Eden before the fall. The Garden was:

  • a place created by God for Adam and Eve to live and enjoy.
  • a place where God could enjoy and commune with His creation.
  • a place for Adam and Eve to fellowship with one another and to fellowship and commune with God.
  • a place for Adam and Eve to rule and to have dominion over all of creation.
  • a place that displayed the magnificence, creativity and glory of God.

I’ve had a revelation (which I don’t mind if you accept or reject) the Garden of Eden is no longer a physical place but a Spiritual place.

If the Garden of Eden is no longer a physical place but a Spiritual place how do we get back there?

Just before Jesus ascended He said to His disciples “don’t leave Jerusalem until you are baptized, empowered and united with the Holy Spirit” [Acts 1:4-5].

The key here is a life empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit comforts us, gives us peace, teaches us, counsels us, encourages us, exhorts us, gives us wisdom, gives us Spiritual gifts to help others, helps us to worship God, convicts us of sin, gives us strength, shows us the truth, guides us, helps us to pray, produces fruit in our lives – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, and is always with us everywhere we go.

The Garden of Eden or Utopia or Shangri-La or Paradise or any other place of contentment or peace or rest are not found in a physical place but found in a place in our heart where Jesus comes to live with us by His Spirit.

Jesus says:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” [Matt 11:28-30]

True contentment or true peace or true rest for our souls is found in Christ alone. This is not a physical place (like the Garden of Eden) but it is a Spiritual place. It is a position or posture of our heart to receive the Good News about Christ, and to receive the infilling of His Holy Spirit. Then, as God’s Word says, “our new, real life is hidden with Christ in God” [Col 3:2-3] – the safest, most peaceful, most restful and most contented place we can find!

This life is available to everyone but not everyone finds this life:

See why in Matthew 13:1-23.

Chapter 1: Life in the Garden or Getting Back to the Garden
Communication and fellowship as it should be – life in the garden.

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In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae he writes in Col 1:6:

“All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.”

The gospel is bearing fruit and growing because people are not only hearing the good news but they are understanding the good news of God’s grace in all its truth.  I believe what this verse is saying is fundamentally important in the Christian faith.  Believers must personally not only hear the good news but also come to an understanding (or revelation) in their hearts of the good news and of God’s grace and truth (through Jesus Christ).

John 1:17 says…

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

So God’s grace and truth came through a person – Jesus Christ!

Salvation comes through an understanding (or revelation) of the truth revealed of the grace of God through Jesus Christ.

Just a few verses back, in John 1:14:

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,  who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Jesus is full of God’s grace and God’s truth.  When we truly know this deep in our hearts; when we come to repentance in awe of the love of the Father and the sacrifice of the Son; when the Spirit brings revelation of this to our hearts; we are truly set free by the man of grace and truth, Jesus!

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [John 8:32]

Do you “understand” the message of God’s grace and truth?  Does something deep inside you say YES! to the truth of the gospel?  Do you want to accept God’s free gift (grace) of salvation and eternal life (knowing the Father through the Son by His Spirit)?  The Bible tells us that all of us have fallen short of God’s expectations and that we need to repent (turn away) from our sins and accept Jesus as our Lord (master) and Saviour (Jesus took the punishment for our sins on the cross) and receive His Holy Spirit.

Father, thank you for opening my eyes to the good news about your grace and truth coming through Jesus.  I am truly sorry for all of my wrong doings, I turn away from all of them and I turn to you Jesus.  You are my new master.  You are my saviour.  You have saved me from the penalty of my sins.  Thank you Jesus.  I want to follow you Jesus.  Come live in me by your Spirit and take control of my life.  I want to bear much fruith for your Kingdom, Amen.

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Just to recap ‘Sin (Part 2)’…

Sin is anything that goes against God’s written Word and God’s spoken Word.  If we are a truly, born again, Spirit filled believers we have a new Master – Jesus.  Sin is no longer our master.  The power of sin is broken in our lives and we are called to a life of obedience in Jesus.  Jesus has given us His Holy Spirit to enable us to live this life of power and victory over sin.

Sin (Part 3) – Displaying God’s Power and Glory!

Now I am thinking to myself, how could I have such a title?  I mean, am I suggesting that we should sin more so that God’s grace can be displayed more?  No! – this is a nonsense (Paul deals with this type of thinking in Romans 6).  What I am suggesting is, whether we like it or not, our lives are on display to God and to others.  Each one of us is a light on a hill [Matt 5:14-15].  Now if we are truly born of the Holy Spirit and Jesus is our Master then we will have the power and the victory to display God’s glory through our lives by the choices that we make.

To sin or not to sin? – this is the question

In Genesis chapter 4 for have the story of Cain and Abel.  If you remember, Abel’s offering was acceptable to the Lord but Cain’s offering was not.  Instead of Cain examining himself he became angry and bitter towards Abel (and killed him).  This is what the Lord said to Cain as he sat in his temptation…

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.[Gen 4:6-7]

Let me make this clear,

Sin is crouching at OUR door but we must master it

Listen to what James says about sin…

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. [James 1:13-15]

Are we tempted by God?  No way!  Are we tempted by Satan?  Ah – what an interesting point!  Yes, we can be tempted by Satan but Satan is a single being and is not omnipresent so normally we would be tempted by the Satanic influences of this world.  But consider the verses above in James but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed”. These influences tap into our own evil desires.  We cannot say if we sin that “the Devil made me do it” or, if we remember the story of Adam and Eve’s sin, blame shift.

The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”  13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”  The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” [Gen 3:12-13]

Each of us are responsible for the attitudes of our hearts and the ‘birth of sin’ in our lives

Just before Adam and Eve made their excuses to God I want to bring up something interesting in the story.  Let’s read Genesis 3:6-7…

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Sin appeals to our senses and our self centred sinful nature

For Eve the fruit looked good for food and was pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom.  Eve was also justifying her actions.

Looks good, feels good, tastes good

Many people try to justify their sin by their senses.  Take adultery for example, looks good, feels good, tastes good.  Take homosexuality, looks good, feels good, tastes good.  Take drugs and alcohol, looks good, feel good, tastes good.  Take the sin of revenge, looks good, feels good, tastes good.  Take the sin of gossipping, looks good, feels good, tastes good.  And on and on.

There is a certain amount of evil, sensual pleasure otherwise the battle against sin would be a no brainer.  Sin appears enjoyable and the sinner justifies the sin.

Let me state something…

God is not going to change the taste of sin!

Rom 7:5-6 says:

5 For when we were controlled by the sinful nature,  the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

If you are waiting for God to change the taste of sin you will be waiting a hell of a long time.  But, if on the other hand, you submit your heart and life to Him, throwing yourself at the mercy of God in repentance, there is hope for you.

Say to yourself…

Today, am I going to display God’s power and glory in my life?

or am I going to

‘Glorify’ the power of sin and the fruit of death in my life today


THIS CHOICE IS UP TO US!


If you are a born again believer,

You have the power to choose the fruit of death or the fruit of life!

Now if you don’t believe you have the power to choose you have believed a lie of the enemy and you make a mockery of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I believe your Word.  I submit my life to your power and authority achieved for me through the cross.  I no longer want to sow into the fruit of death and sin in my life.  Forgive me Lord that I have allowed the power of the enemy into my life.  I renounce my evil ways and I am truly sorry for my sin.  Come live in me Lord and transform me from the inside out.  I want to display your power and your glory in my life.  Holy Spirit, I receive you.  Come live in me and give me a new heart.  Lord I want to live for your glory and your Kingdom, transform me, I never want to serve sin and death again, in Jesus name, Amen

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I am thinking (again) this morning about sin and…

Why don’t we hear more preaching about sin?

Well, as I look back over my blog ‘hits’, I think I have answered my own question.  You see, my blog hits went from 70 down to 2 yesterday for the subject of sin.  I think I am onto something here.  I don’t think sin is a very popular subject.  Perhaps it is no longer ‘politically correct’ to tell people they are sinners deserving of Hell and to repent of their evil ways (he said sarcastically).  I mean who has the right to do that anyway?  Surely I have not reached perfection and I have no right highlighting other people’s sin.  Who has the right to preach this message except Jesus himself.  And there is the point, would the genuinely anoited preacher who preaches the uncompomised Word of God in power please stand up?  Could 2 Tim 4:3-4 be coming true before our very eyes?.

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

So, getting back to the subject, what is sin?
For a while there I used to define sin as something that hurts you and/or hurts someone else. But, although this is a reasonable definition, it has holes.  A better definition is that…

Sin is anything that goes against the Word of God

The Word of God being defined as God’s written Word (the Bible) but also the Word of God that directly speaks to us.  These are called the Logos (written Word) and the Rhema (spoken Word – God directly speaking to us).  So, to put it simply…

If God says ‘don’t do it’, ‘DON’T DO IT!”

There is no discussion or debate.  God and I aren’t equal debators.  My wisdom is nothing compared to God’s wisdom.  It is not necessary for me to have full understanding of ‘why’ before I obey Eg: “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” [Gen 2:17] .  The Word of God commands my full attention and obedience so that…

Whatever God says, goes!

Further Examples:
If I go out and steal my neighbour’s whipper snipper and punch him in the nose when he tries to stop me I am guilty of a number of sins as defined in the written Word of God.

Also, if God is speaking to me about going to visit my neighbour to bless him and I continually and deliberately ignore Him then I am guilty of the sin of disobedience for not obeying the spoken Word of God that is in my heart.

BOTH are disobedience against the Word of God

Now the former appears a more severe sin than the later but who can judge?  Perhaps the later has more severe eternal consequences.

Who is your Master?

Now here is a very important question.  Let’s look at some Words of Jesus.  Jesus, speaking to the ‘Jews who believed’ and the Pharisees, replied,

“I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” [John 8:34-36]

Free from what?  Sinning ?  No!  We are not yet perfect.  Then, free from what?

Free from the power of sin!

For the true, born again believer sin no longer has a hold on them/us.

Sin is no longer our master!

Have a listen to these verses from Romans 6:5-14:

5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with,  that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

The truth is, IF we are truly born again

we have a new Master

who has conquered sin and conquered death

JESUS!

and as disciples of Jesus we are to fully obey Him.

Jesus said in John 15:14:

“You are my friends IF you do what I command”

We cling onto Jesus with all of our strength knowing that we…

9 are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, IF the Spirit of God lives in you. And IF anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But IF Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And IF the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation — but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For IF you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but IF by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
[Rom 8:9-14]

Prayer:
Father, forgive me for not obeying you fully.  Forgive me for not making you my Master fully.  You are more important to me than any sin in my life.  I believe your Word that sin no longer has a hold on my life.  Forgive me of my sin, I don’t want to do that again.  May your power fully manifest in my life as I fully submit to you.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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We don’t hear a lot of preaching about sin these days and yet…

It is because of OUR sin that Jesus died on that cross

I  believe, we need to hear a lot more preaching about sin so that we hear a lot more preaching about the God’s solution to sin.

It is because of OUR sin that we needed a Saviour

You see, having an understanding of the seriousness and foulness of our sin is basic and essential to having an understanding of the graciousness of the cross and a true and correct understanding of salvation.  Sin and God’s solution to sin go together.

It is because of OUR sin that we have the cross

The offensiveness of the cross makes no sense unless we understand the offensiveness of our sin.

The horror and offense of the cross highlights…

How extremely foul and offensive OUR sin is in the sight of a Holy God

God hates sin and his anger and wrath are poured out against those who sin.

My friend…

We are in desperate need of a Saviour

The penalty for OUR sin is death but the good news is, by the grace of God…

Jesus bore the penalty for OUR sin on that cross!

Now I’m not sure why we don’t hear a lot more preaching about sin.   Maybe telling people they are sinners is a little offensive nowadays and we don’t want to offend anyone do we? (he said sarcastically)  But…

How is anyone going to understand the cross if they don’t understand the foulness and offense of their sin?

The truth be known…

The message of the gospel has always been offensive

It is offensive to those who don’t want to hear it (ie: those who are perishing) but very, very sweet to those who accept it.

The Bible tells us…

All of us are guilty of sin

“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” [Rom 3:23]

and all of us need to come humbly towards our gracious Heavenly Father in…

REPENTANCE

Turning away from the stench of sin and turning towards a Holy and Righteous God.

In the light of a Holy God we see the stench and the wickedness of our sin

In the light of a Holy God we see our desperate need for the saviour

In the light of a Holy God we understand the truth of the cross

In the light of a Holy God we repent and turn away from our sin and turn towards Him

In the light of a Holy God we give our life to the One who saved us from the penalty of our sins


Thank you Jesus!

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I am wondering whether we would be a better people if sin was somehow linked to physical pain?

Now you may think I am going a bit weird but this is what I am pondering at the moment.  I know that our sin sometimes does lead to physical pain to ourselves and to others but how about the Lord makes it so that each time we sin we have pain. Maybe we would sin less or maybe it would help us to be more aware of our sins.  Maybe it would bring a level playing field where others who lie and cheat to gain a worldly advantage would cease their sin compelled to do so by their pain.

Isn’t the present system a little faulty where our penalty comes years and years later only when we die and are judged?

Doesn’t this allow us to feel like we can get away with things because there is no instant consequences?

There is a problem, isn’t there?  We don’t get what we deserve straight away?   There is no instant penalty or judgement so therefore we think we can get away with things.  Isn’t this a little faulty?  Wouldn’t it be better to have some sort of instant measure  or penalty for sin.  You know, you tell a lie and zappo! you get pain in your left leg or you murder someone or you commit adultery and zappo! you get pain all over your body.

Hmmm, how are we going to work out a fair system to administer the different levels of pain for the different sins?  Should there even be different levels of pain?

Wait a minute!  Have I completely lost my marbles!

Wouldn’t a fair system for each sin that we commit be death?  Absolutely!  The Bible confirms that the wages of sin is death.  So if we received what we deserved immediately we would never live because the just penalty for our sin would be death.  We would live for 2 seconds (probably less) and then die.

Wait a minute, again!  Our sins have caused physical pain!

Jesus bore our sins on the cross and he accepted and endured tremendous physical pain on our behalf.  Our sins caused His pain, and death, and separation from His Father.

So… our sins have and do cause pain – in the body of Jesus!  And our life on this earth, what is it? – it is a time of grace.

Our life – it is all a time of grace!

It is a time of grace for each one of us to discover how wide and how deep and how high is the love of the Father for each one of us.  Our lives are a time of grace for each one of us to discover Jesus and the grace and the forgiveness of the cross.  Don’t waste a single moment.

If we received what we deserved we would never live at all.

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“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:1-2(NIV)

The Lord has had me thinking about Romans 12:1-2 in a new light.  He has had me focusing on 5 words at the beginning of verse 1″in view of God’s mercy” . To me, these 5 words are helping me focus and refocus on what our Lord has done for me(us).  I must not loose sight of God’s mercy.  I must always keep His mercy in view or in the forefront of my mind.  If I loose sight of God’s mercy I loose sight of all meaning and purpose in the way I behave and the things that I do.  If I loose sight of God’s mercy what use is it to offer my body as a living sacrifice?  This would only become some religious act.  The same goes for choosing to live a Holy life – if I strive to do what is right I become some sort of legalistic religious nut.

Ahhhh! but if I am consumed by His mercy and love and grace and (with great thankfulness) I always keep His mercy in view He transforms me and renews me from the inside out.  Not only that, I begin to receive the ‘mind of Christ’ and I begin to understand His good and pleasing and perfect will for my life.

Just a thought…

Blessings
Steve

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