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Deception

We often hear, read and make our own conclusion that Eve was deceived. By the serpent.  Even Paul declares such to young Timothy “And it was not Adam who was deceived by satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result.” (1 Timothy 2:14 NLT)  However, today when we think, deceived we think of blatant ‘get in your face’ and tell you outright lies in order to get you to think or do differently.  Yet this is not what I see in the Genesis story – although often we were taught this in flannelgraph story time. The teacher places the serpent right up to Eve’s ear while making hissing sounds, as the melodrama of lies unfolds. Lies.

First, Eve wasn’t even there when God gave Adam the rules of the Garden, Genesis 2: God put the man in the Garden, and told he was to work it and take care of it (tend it) and then told, you are free to eat from any tree in the Garden – EXCEPT- the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil, you shall NOT eat.

THEN (v18) God formed Eve.

Jumping to chapter 3 – the crafty serpent asked Eve “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  Not necessarily deceptive, asking a question.  Her response: “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat from the tree in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it or you will die.’”  (bold emphasis mine) Hm… there were ‘2’ trees specifically mentioned in the middle of the Garden (see 2:9) and God never said Adam could not touch it!  He HAD to touch it to tend to it, maintain it, as was his job.  Did Adam give these instructions to Eve?  “Ok, here’s the deal, see those two trees over there – over there in the middle – we are NOT to eat from those (let’s keep this simple) and don’t even TOUCH them!”  Obedience, having a clear understanding of the instructions and abiding accordingly.  Did Eve have clear instructions, or was her response to the serpent her interpretation of God’s word? (Not an excuse, just observation)

The narrative continues … the serpents reply to Eve, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good & evil.” (3:5) then, “When the woman saw that the fruit was good for food and pleasing to the eye…” She ate. She shared. Interesting, Eve saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food & pleasing to the eye – just as it was designed!  See 2:9 “the trees were pleasing to the eye and good for food” – There is a principle for us: We too [humanity] see things ‘good and pleasing’ even by God’s design – BUT… God-may-say-“NO!”  Also, when Eve reached out and touched the fruit, did she take pause? Was there a ‘Hm… I touched and didn’t die.” Thus rationalizing, nothing happened (yet) causing her to go forward since there wasn’t instant consequences. There is always a progression.

We see at the end of chapter 3, as God prepares to send Adam and Eve out of the garden, “and God said, ‘the man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil..’” (v22) Is this what the serpent said?  Yes. Did he lie?  No.

So all this to say, (looking at what Paul wrote to Timothy) – deceived – means Eve was ‘beguiled’ – to seduce by use of misleading methods. What was the serpents method?  He asked Eve a question, causing her to rethink what she was told and to doubt God’s word, “Did God say?”   Deceived as in ‘get in your face and blatantly lie? No –  he got her to doubt God.

We need to KNOW the misleading methods of the stealer, killer, and destroyer!  (Probably not good grammar) Deception may not be a blatant lie presented to us, but a subtle question causing to rethink and doubt.  If we rethink, in our human mind, creatively rationalizing (let’s be honest) without correct reference to God’s word (and heed) – we WILL get it wrong every time. Folks, if we have a question, let’s go to the source, God Himself in His word!

Peter tells us to ‘be watchful, sober-minded.’  Paul also, ‘be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.’ In doing so we ‘put on’ God’s stuff so we can stand (not hide in the shadows) but STAND against the schemes of the devil, in order that satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. (1 Peter 5:8, Ephesians 6:10-11, 2 Corinthians 2:11) Go God!

May we not assume we are ‘deception-free’ because we are too sharp to not spot a lie, but get us rationalizing, doubting?

Oh yeah!

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” –Hebrews 10:24)

 

* Some point out the narrative  (Genesis 2:17; 3:4) stresses ‘surely die’ (die, die – in the Hebrew, ‘mooth – mooth’) that it can convey:  1) Spiritual death and 2) Physical death. Perhaps, it could mean both here. Since God said ‘when you eat of it, you will surely die.’  God knew Adam would eat the forbidden fruit.  Sadly, Adam didn’t pick up on the ‘when’ and was not on his guard. (Lesson to us, how often we read ‘when’ in God’s warnings). Generally, in Hebrew literary style as a whole, repetitive words are for emphasis. In today’s culture, we capitalize, highlight, underline or print in BOLD to make a point, the ancients repeated the word. “I love, love chocolate!” (well, maybe not THAT)

But we cannot stop here, God in His most gracious love, sent man and woman out of the Garden because of His mercy.  “He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the Tree of Life and eat, and live forever.” (3:22b)  FOREVER in that broken, fallen relationship, dead in spirit, “So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden.” The rest of God’s story?  It’s alright, I have a plan, a plan to restore. Jesus.

Note: I choose to not capitalize serpent or satan, or devil, he (lil ‘h’) is not worthy of the grammatical rule of a proper noun.

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Keepers of the Light

Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” (Jesus, Luke 11:35-36 NLT)

Wow.  I have been studying, thinking and praying through these verses, and again, “WOW – I’m undone. ”  This is what I felt God was showing me.  When we are FILLED with the light of Christ, it will affect our whole being – we are wholly bright (holy bright).  In Jesus’ prior words, He speaks about hiding the light under something – the light being hidden.  Within the context (connecting His words to the rest of the story) He speaks (in short) about folks needing to know He is greater than Jonah the messenger (and the message) He is greater than the wisdom of Solomon. (vss. 29-32) His light is GREAT and is divinely placed in public view, now we too are to keep it (Him & His message) in public view. He is Light. (John 8:12) We are keepers of the Light.

When I think of darkness, my mind automatically goes to the creepy things that go ‘BUMP’ in the night, or the evil that runs rampant in our world, and the demonic slithering around a corner.  All are true (sadly), yet the word Jesus uses paints a slightly different picture in this context. Darkness, (‘skotos’) is based around the thought of ‘shadiness’ – a covering so impeding, a faint image is only seen, it is obscure, lacking detail – just an outline.  Now put that in context to Jesus’ words:  Application: You think you got it right? Is my behavior read in such a way that HIS image is not clearly seen? Do people see a good BRIGHT picture of Jesus in me?  Do my choices shade the message of the gospel, obscuring it, fogging it up for others?  Do I allow my dark corners to bleed into the light, making my shine not so bright? (OUCH!)

In Jesus’ warning, ‘make sure’ (other translations; ‘see to it, take heed, watch out’) in the Greek it is a ‘present imperative’ – meaning, it is ONGOING – a constant watching!  Folks, we need to keep alert!  Also, “Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. ‘You’ is singular, Jesus may have been talking to a crowd, but He was speaking to the individual!

May we be aware that the standard that we are presenting is not of our own making, Solomon wrote: “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (HA!  Sorry, that’s GOOD – Proverbs 26:12) May we strive to continually take inventory of our mindset, belief system and judgments that fuel our behavior. May we shine – JESUS shine in and through us, not we shine so brightly He is missing, just like city lights keep us from seeing the stars.  We don’t get to decide where the light should go, or who deserves it.  We let the light shine, and the Light and Love of God take it from there. (Go Holy Spirit!)

Remember when Jesus prayed for the blind man (Mark 8) He first spits in the guy’s eyes, (yup, really!) then asked if he could see anything, the blind man responded: “I see, but not very clearly, people look like trees walking around.” Jesus again placed His hands on the man, and then the man could see clearly.  Jesus wants a clear picture!

No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.” (v.33)

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

 

A Quiet Place of a Mother’s Heart

There is a cute story of a young mom putting her soon to be five-year-old son to bed.  As she tucks him in, she comments this is his last day to be four.  All year he had been cheerfully showing folks four fingers on each hand. She asked if he understood, he enthusiastically replied, “YES!  Tomorrow I’ll be a handful!”  Yes, yes indeed, a handful.

Motherhood.

Our hearts have ached – agonized – celebrated and PRAYED. There are hours of holding and scolding, cleaning and crying. Yet at the end of the day, as our head lies on the pillow, our heart swells with LOVE.

Mary too knew of this, following the ever so zealous shepherd’s visit, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) Our children by no means compare to the Savior of the world, and by golly, they may never even reach the waiting list among the names of the Saints, but we moms like Mary, treasure and ponder our children.  Mary is a great example, her right upfront response to motherhood, “I am the Lord’s servant.” (Luke 1:38)  Her choices allowed her (yes, painful at times) to see God’s entire plan play out.  May I too choose so wisely!

Motherhood.

The quiet place of a mother’s heart, treasuring and pondering.

Happy Mother’s Day

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Power

Power I have heard and read multiple times that our current English word ‘dynamite’ comes from the biblical word translated as power.   Often times for convenience sake, the teacher makes that statement and in the same breath, jogs off to another point, leaving the listener to paint their own mental pictures.  Pictures of high explosive scenes with Arnold Schwarzenegger running and yelling ‘Get down!” as the building behind him blows up.   Sadly we take that scene and apply it to the saving power of Christ.

Yes, etymology-wise, (historical meaning of a word) this is where we get dynamite (from the Greek word ‘dynamis’) BUT the ‘power’ as translated into English and how we associate it, is not quite the same.  Dynamite, in the description; is explosive, destructive in nature, having a starting point and goes forth shattering violently and bursting apart.

This is not our biblical dynamis.  Yes, power, but ‘achieving power.’  Achieving power paints the picture, not of destruction as to blow apart, but the gathering of the qualities of God coming into one place, known as the manifestation of God.  In the context of Paul using it in Romans 1:16 “For it is the power of God to salvation…”  It (the gospel) is the appeased manifestation of God working on behalf of the believer with the sole purpose, making things right – extending HIS righteousness!   THAT is not explosive, destructive, shattering or bursting.    That is God in action!   The gospel is Jesus coming in the form of man; living, dying, resurrecting, being the payment for a debt owed, freeing the believer – enabling them to be in right standing before a holy God.   BOOM!  (Just kidding)

It is unfortunate that we associate all this good God stuff with modern dynamite.   Because God’s power is so-much-more!   Dynamis is constructive, the power that creates with just a divine word.  Within the manifestation of God, He puts life where death was, strength over weakness and light where there was darkness.    An example is in Mark 5:30, the story of the woman with the bleeding issue, she reached out and touched Jesus’ robe. “And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power (dynamis) had gone out of Him…”  His power did not cause the women to explode, but be healed, the power that makes life.

Peter learned of this, he writes: “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3)  And Paul says, “God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power (dynamis) that worketh in us.’ (Ephesians 3:20, emphasis mine) The same power that creates, heals, and restores life…  is in us, is in YOU!

The next time we see power in the scriptures, may the picture in our mind not be of a stick of dynamite, but of all the good God stuff divinely commissioned on behalf of the believer.   Go God!

Power.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Interesting Side Note: I appreciate something my pastor friend told me, she said, “The force of the dynamite is out of proportion to the size of the stick.”  There is a lot packed in that small bundle.  With that being said:   Dynamite was invented by Swedish engineer and inventor Alfred Nobel in the 1860’s. Initially working alongside his father and brother, after multiple attempts, he invented a way to safely detonate highly volatile ingredients, only after his brother and others were killed.  He mixed the two ingredients (nitroglycerine and kieselguhr) turning the liquid nitroglycerine into a paste that he then molded into rods and cylinders. He called his new invention along with his patented detonator cap, dynamite, after the Greek word dynamis, or power.  Upon his death in 1896, Noble devoted his wealth to be given “annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.”  Prizes are given in 6 categories: (Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Peace, Economics, and Literature) Thus we know it as The Nobel Prize.   Although Alfred Nobel never gave a public explanation for why he decided to create the awards, many have speculated that it emerged from his remorse over inventing a slew of agents used to such lethal effect in the wars and various national aggressions of his age.  [Excerpt from the Article: The Story Behind Alfred Nobles Spirit of Discovery’ – by Dr. Howard Markel / PBS.org]  A destructive element called dynamite.  Hm…

Through

Recently I was encouraging a dear friend that I admire her, ‘throughness’, though not perfect in any sense, but she doesn’t shy away or back down from God taking her in the direction He sees fit.  That means no shortcuts – but right smack through the stuff.  It is evident in her life that she takes notes, doesn’t have her head down, but looks at the scenery with the one goal, “What am I to learn here.”

Through.

There are over 450 mentions of ‘through’ in scripture (in various contexts) there are also times around came first.  Like the Hebrews exiting Egypt, when Pharaoh finally released them, “God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter… He lead the people around by the desert to the Red Sea.” (Exodus 13:17-18, emphasis mine)  He knew they were not ready to encounter the Philistines (yet).  This was their first field trip with God, and He didn’t want to freak them out.  So what did He do next? With the Egyptians in hot pursuit, He takes them through the Red Sea.  Can you imagine the wide-eyed look on the faces of God’s people as they walk right down the middle?  The very cool part, God took them through, but their enemies when attempting to follow were destroyed.

Their learning journey had only begun.  Long story short, their goal was Canaan, Egypt to Canaan, the shortest route would have been approximately about 250(ish) miles and could possibly be done in about 11 days.  Eleven days turn 40 years.   God taking them through the wilderness, they learned of God’s character: He provided quail, manna, water, they received the law, built the Tabernacle, and learned sacrificial offering.

As I am meditating on this, I sense God speak to us to be thorough in our throughness, meaning – learn what we can!  To this day, the Jewish people after thousands of years remember the Exodus, the wilderness and celebrate God’s faithfulness.  God has a reason, a reason for around and His goal is to, that to, leads to through.   It is in the through that our enemies are destroyed, in the through there is deliverance, in the through we learn of God’s character.  May we not seek shortcuts, let’s face it folks, we may not be ready for what’s there, in the shortcut.

I am challenged, thorough in my throughness.  Taking notes.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

The Reason, ‘So That’

In my quiet time, I have been reading through the book of Galatians, I am fascinated by Paul telling of his encounter with Jesus. He, zealous in the traditions of his forefathers, advancing ahead of his colleagues, and once a persecutor of the Christians – “But when God…” (Galatians 1:15, see key verses below) don’t you just love it, we all need us a ‘but when God’ in our life!  He goes on to say God called him by His grace and revealed His Son to him.

The word Paul chooses to use for reveal, is thought-provoking: There are 2 uses for this Greek word, one is used to describe something given to the spirit-man, (the inner man, associated with the mind, will and emotions) God reveals to the intellect of man (see Matthew 16:17, when Jesus states His Father revealed to Peter, that He was “the Christ, the Son of the living God“).  However, here Paul stresses the other usage, within the context this revealing is done to the senses (the outer-man) to sight, hearing, feeling, touching.  Meaning, when Jesus presented Himself to Paul (remember the bright blinding light) He knocked Paul on his backside and was appealing first to His senses, He had to get Paul’s attention!  Paul was a highly educated man, a thinking man; perhaps God was getting past his head so he could not attempt to rationalize the encounter, (thus three days of blindness, see Acts 9).  The verse goes on to say, that all this was done ‘so that’ he might preach Him.

I appreciate that the word of God is so practical, the phrase ‘so that’ not only gives us insight but also is powerful, ‘this is why,’ not that God needs a reason, but graciously inspired the writers to include it.  “Walk in the ways of the LORD your God so that you may live and prosper.” (Deut. 5:33)  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16,17) Paul prays ‘I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.” (Ephesians 1:17) “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11)

May we spot the so that’s in scripture, aware there is a reason and the reason is intended to be known. Noting toolike PaulGod may find the need to get our attention and knock us on our backside, (He has me a couple-three times) when He does, let’s look for the reason, So that ______________________  (you and Holy Spirit fill in the blank).

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Key Verses: “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man.”  (Galatians 1:11-16 NIV)

Suspicious Kindness

It was the summer of 1983, I was home between semesters of my bible college days, I was standing behind the counter of my father’s fast food restaurant, when a small boy reaching his arm up, releases a fist full of coins onto the counter.  His warm freckle-faced smile causes me to smile in return.  Raising his eyes to mine, he simply stated, “A vanilla cone please.” Looking at the coins still rolling on the counter, I knew he didn’t have enough. Taking my index finger, I began to count the coins. When there was none left to be counted, the boy’s face grew very solemn. He too knew it wasn’t enough. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a couple more coins and placed them alongside his own.

His response shocked me. With a suspicious look, he again reached forward and began to pull his coins away. I told him, it was ok, he now had enough, matching my tone with the kind gesture. With a slight pause as if struggling against his better judgment, his smile returned, and I quickly scooped the coins up and proceeded to make him the LARGEST ‘small’ cone I have ever made complete with a curly-Q top.  That moment impacted me and has never been forgotten.

Suspicious kindness, sad isn’t it.  Much of the time we are not used to receiving kindness; our first reaction is a pause, question the motive, and then often times, refusal. Kindness disorients us, with instant worry there HAS to be something wrong, or WAIT, what do you want in return? Our society has become so ‘ME’ focused, to think on behalf of another with goodness takes great concentration, not to mention potential risk. For some, to be kind is a sign of weakness.

The Apostle Paul speaks directly to the qualities that do not (notice the NOT) come naturally to us, “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…” (Colossians 3:12, HCSB, emphasis mine) we are not born with them; they are a CHOICE, a day-to-day, moment-by-moment choice.

Kindness is the softer side of mankind, the God in us peaking through with love and mercy. It is described by scholars that kindness is the inner heart attitude of tenderness, gentleness, and then goodness takes over and acts on the heart attitude. I see it in the word picture of one walking by a blind man holding a charitable cup for money. The HEART sees the man, the heart feels the man, the heart responds with God to the man, filling his cup. Love, kindness, and goodness all go together.  Love sees, kindness feels, and goodness does.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, a leading Jewish Theologian had this to say about kindness, “When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people, as I grow old, I admire kind people.” Godly kindness does not require a return on your investment. It is self-less-ness. We see, we feel, we do.

May we all be challenged to be kind beyond ourselves, remembering that WE have been bathed in God’s kindness and goodness.  We take an extra moment to listen.  Find more coins in our pocket, open more doors, whatever is needed at the moment. Like the little boy with ice cream at the counter, he now has ENOUGH! God uses US in the enough equation.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds” – Hebrews 10:24)