Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Unacceptable

 
 
One thing I know is that there is no one perfect.  
 
Not me. Not you.
 
It is always easy to point a finger or say harsh words instead of having a heart of compassion and lifting up another when they are down.
 
Jesus is the only perfect One and He said "let him without sin cast the first stone."   
 
He said to take the plank out of your own eye before pointing out the speck in another's.
 
He went first to those in the most desperate need... the outcasts of society... the diseased, the broken, the homeless, those with foul habits and filthy language, those that lived socially incorrect lives...people that most of us would avoid.   
 
You know.... those sinners.
 
He wasn't offended by them.   He is not offended by you.
 
He loved them.   He loves us.  
 
He never said "well I hope you have learned your lesson because hey you are unacceptable the way you are".
 
He just said "come to Me, all that are weary and heavy laden." 
 
He said "let the little children come".    
 
He didn't say "clean up your act and make yourself acceptable first."     
 
He knew there was nothing we could do about it.
 
Because He loves us so much, He made a choice to do something about the unacceptable and unpresentable condition in which we are born. 
 
He went to bat for me and you and mine and yours.
 
He laid it all down...  He gave it all up.
 
Nothing was too much for Him to do for us.  
 
Nothing.    
 
Because we needed everything He had to give. 
 
Every scornful accusation He endured.
 
Every breath  He breathed.
 
Every lash of the whip.
 
Every blow to His body.
 
Every bruise.
 
Every thorn.
 
Every 9 inch nail.
 
Every disgusting dark despicable sin,  He became.
 
Every disease.
 
Every last drop of  innocent blood drained from His  body.
 
He willingly did what we needed Him to do.
 
To make us acceptable before God.  
 
Because we are unacceptable otherwise.
 
All He asks from us is that we believe Him and believe in Him....that we have faith in Him.... that we follow Him.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dark Garden

 
 
 
Gardens are amazing places... they are places of color and beauty, perfumes.   A delight to the eyes, ears and nose... they are a place of refuge and peace. It doesn't surprise me that God created a wonderful  garden for Himself and placed within it his most beautiful creations.

The Garden of Eden was full of life. The tree of life stood in the center of it. It must have been lush and new like spring all the time... no brown leaves, no dead undergrowth... just color and life unceasingly.     It must have been a place that God treasured and held close... a place where He could come and spend time with His creation and take delight in what He had made.

But, you know the story. Adam & Eve in the garden, and they blew it. Ate the fruit... invited evil into their innocent lives... and into God's garden.

Of course, the minute they heard God calling, they ran and tried to hide. They tried to find a place within the trees to get away from Him. They tried to find a dark spot in this Garden of life where God could not see.     
 
Silly humans.
 
In the presence of God, there is no hiding place. He sees through all the shadows and barriers we attempt to put between Him and ourselves.

God should have been angry. I mean... I would be a little upset if someone came in and messed up something I had put so much of myself and my time and energy into creating.     I can just imagine God... standing there with His hands on His hips...  beside Himself with disappointment.  (He can do that, you know...stand beside Himself... there are 3 of Him).  (grins)
 
Anyway... picture Him finding Adam & Eve in their useless effort to evade Him.   What were they thinking?     

The two guilty culprits just look at each other and hang their heads low.   Adam blames Eve. Eve blames the snake, and the snake is left holding the bag. 
 
What it boils down to is this:   Satan lied.   Eve believed his lie over God's truth.  Adam took her advice and they blew it for all of us.
 
These guys had an intimate personal relationship with God and traded that for a lie, a faulty knowledge of good and evil.
 
Sounds like something I might do... or have done.  And you?

Of course, God had to do something. He couldn't leave it like that. So He confronted the snake. Told him that there would be enmity between him and the woman... that her seed would crush him.   (A promise of victory!)
 
Enmity... enemies are adversaries, opponents, rivals, combatants.
 
Satan and woman are enemy combatants.   That means we just plain don't like each other. That also means that woman has a unique position with respect to satan.   Women  know  who their enemy is.   I guess nowadays we call this "women's intuition". 

It wasn't till after they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden that Adam named his wife Eve. He called her that because she would be the mother of all living.
 
Eve.... her name means life. Life is always the adversary of death. Each of us has something of Eve within us.   So... something within us is forever at war against satan. You may choose to turn and run... or close your eyes; but the conflict will still be there.    You will never be able to get away from it.

So... here we are... banished from the Garden of Eden... the garden of life.
 
Let's fast forward a few thousand years to another garden... the garden of Gethsemane.  A vast difference is visible between this garden and the Garden of Eden.
 
If you will notice, in Gethsemane the setting is night or dark. After the Passover feast, or the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane.
 
Jesus had just finished telling His disciples that His time was short.    He also had broken the news that one of them would betray Him.
 
Their hearts were heavy with sorrow and denial of their friend and Master's words.      Jesus told them that they should pray so they would not fall into temptation... and He went off to pray by Himself.
 
But.. the disciples were exhausted by sadness.   Although they were in the company of the Light of the World,  all they could see was that  they were in a dark garden, and they fell asleep. They fell into the temptation of darkness... closing out their Lord.
 
They slept... closed their eyes and ears, while their Lord prayed. They could not see or hear what He was doing.
 
Have you ever been exhausted by sorrow and the knife wound of  brokenness?  Ever been at a point where all you wanted to do was crawl in bed and pull the covers over... close your eyes and sleep so that the pain would go away? I know I have.
 
The thing is... when you are in a dark place.. and you close your eyes... no light can get in.
 
I remember when I was a little girl and my family traveled to Israel. I got to run and skip beneath the ancient olive trees along the stone path through the garden of Gethsemane!   I remember the longing I felt in my heart while I was there. Even as a little girl, God had a plan for me. I stood in the garden with my brother and sisters and looked out across to Golgotha and felt a stirring in my heart that is hard to describe. 
 
God knew my future. He knew that my brother and  a sister would both die as young adults. Even then, He knew the heartache to come in my spirit.  He knew the broken path I would walk and the tears that would fall.      He knew I would close my eyes and heart to Him during that dark time of  stark pain.
 
I shut Him out when I needed Him most.  I chose darkness over His light.
 
At the very time when we should be keeping all of our senses open to what God is trying to do, we shut them down so that we won't be hurt.
 
It is a choice.   Like Adam and Eve, we choose darkness. We can be saved and standing in the light and we will put on shades, close the blinds... pull the drapes... eagerly crawl down into a lightless lifeless pit of our own making.     While Jesus is lifting us up before the Father and praying blessings on us, we are shutting ourselves off to the very thing He wants to accomplish in our lives.

Another difference between the garden of Gethsemane and Eden is that there is now a tomb or a grave in the garden.
 
If you will remember, there was no death in the garden of Eden. It was a garden of  life.
 
After His crucifixion and death, Jesus was laid in the garden tomb. His body was anointed and wrapped in grave clothes. A stone was rolled over the opening to the tomb. Guards were set in place to keep anyone from disturbing the tomb.
 
The world wanted to keep Him dead and hidden. After all, He was a pretty controversial guy and it would just be better for everyone if He was gone and forgotten. Things would quiet down in a few days and people would forget all about this man that claimed  He was the Light of the World... the Son of God.
 
God had another plan! Jesus burst forth from the tomb a victorious Savior and King! He opened the tomb and shook off the grave clothes and knocked the guards out cold with His resurrection explosion!   They never knew what hit them... He is the light of the world!

My mom used to wake me up in the morning... knocking on my door and singing "Rise & Shine!"     Man! that was annoying...  I didn’t want to wake up.    I would pull the covers over even tighter and try to go back to sleep.

God has given us  life!  Our lives are like gardens... they contain much beauty in them. Through Jesus they should be gardens of life and growth... light ...  blossoms...a delicious aroma to Jesus.

What is your garden like? Is it light or dark? Are there blooms or tombs in your garden? Are you closing your eyes and putting on shades... refusing to allow the light in?
 
Or have you lit a few candles... letting in just enough light so you will be safe, just enough Jesus to get you to Heaven, but not enough to change your life?
 
Have you buried things deep? Rolled the stone over? Have you carefully dressed your sin or your problem in grave clothes and set up a guard around it to keep it from the light? 
 
Are you annoyed by His voice calling to you to rise and shine?
 
Is it a relationship, an attitude, an addiction?   You may be lost in sin and need to ask Jesus to forgive you and be your Savior. Or you may be straying from Him on a dark path while He patiently waits for you to turn back.   Calling for you to rise and shine for Him.

You can not hide from Him. Even in a dark pit with your eyes closed, He still sees and knows everything about you.  He wants to shine His light into your life and roll away the stone from the tomb in your heart so that your life will be forever changed.
 
Let  Him shine in your heart.   You will never regret it.
 
 
In Him was life and the life was the Light of men.      John 1: 4