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051715 - Genesis 3c - Cursed
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May 18, 2015 05:26 PM PDT
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Genesis 3:14-16, Pastor Scott Keller

GENESIS 3:14&15 ~
Fear NOT, the serpent is fake – it’s an artificial model at the Creation Museum… 14The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

God says, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field.” Satan is the serpent, but he’s neither “Cattle,” nor a “Beast of the field.”

Anyone reading this passage without a preconceived idea would understand that God is talking to the physical animal identified as the serpent.

Since that is so, and since there is no reason to think otherwise in Scripture, we must take this as God cursing the actual physical animal who was used by Satan as the basic and primary meaning. That’s our starting point.

The serpent was a real animal, perhaps a talking dragon with some ability to choose – it was after all the, “Most crafty,” signifying some level of reason. Perhaps the dragon was the man’s best friend.

After the Fall, it became the dog, because a snake is hard to take on walks and fetches only slightly worse than Vivian’s dog.

Maybe the talking dragon who had more reason than the rest of the animals became jealous of the woman taking Adam away. Maybe the dragon was dissatisfied…

There is a reasonable basis for thinking that the serpent allowed itself to be used by Satan and therefore bore some responsibility for that choice… Now, of course, at the same time, it may be that the serpent had no independent will and was only an unwitting tool.

The serpent who had been the, “Most crafty,” of the animals, is now the, “Most cursed,” of the animals.

So, if it was culpable, we understand the curse, if an unwitting victim of Satan, we might ask why God would curse the serpent. If that’s the case, it could be as simple as God creating a reminder of the event… every time a person sees a snake they would think about the original sin.

The curse has three parts.

1) The first is to crawl on its belly. Going from a likely very exalted status to the most humble status.

2) The second is to eat dust. Whereas the serpent enticed Eve to eat, God will force the serpent to eat.

3) Finally, the serpent will continue through its progeny as will the woman and there will be an open war between them.

Depending on the source, snakes kill between 20,000 and 100,000 people every year. People kill a lot more snakes than that. There is enmity.

In the text the human side will emerge victorious over the serpent side and I think that is obviously true.

While the human death toll is high elsewhere, in America snakes kill about 5 people a year… we’re winning.

The serpent wanted to destroy the woman, but ultimately only destroyed itself.

Now, let’s look at the deeper reality.

Whatever the serpent’s actual culpability, we know with absolute certainty that Satan was pulling the strings.

Satan was influencing the serpent, the woman and the man.

God is speaking to Satan as well as the animal we’ve been discussing. It is apparent because the enmity in verse 15, is not merely a human apprehension and uneasiness with snakes.

It is certain because the New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus is that ultimate descendant of the woman who through a fatal attack by the Serpent of Old, “You shall bruise him on the heel,” conquered death, to utterly destroy the Great Dragon. “He shall bruise you on the head.”

It is finished, and soon we will catch up to the completed reality in time… the outcome cannot be in doubt because it is already done. Mars rover 11 light-minutes away… destroyed, can’t change it, but don’t see it for 11 minutes.

In the meantime… Revelation 12:17 states, “So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”

But, in Romans 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

Nearly 19 centuries ago, Irenaeus, the disciple of Polycarp, who was, in turn, the disciple of the Apostle John wrote, (Adv, Haer. 3.23.7)
God put enmity between the serpent and the woman and her seed, they keeping it up mutually until He, whose foot should be bitten, came at the appointed time to tread down his head. Born of Mary, of whom the prophet speaks: “You will tread upon the asp and the basilisk; you will trample down the lion and the dragon;” (Psalm 91:12&13)—indicating that sin, which was set up and spread out against man, and which rendered him subject to death, should be deprived of its power, along with death, which rules over men; and that the antichrist, in the latter days, should be trampled down by Him; and that He should bind “the dragon, that serpent of old,” (Revelation 20:2) Therefore, when man has been liberated, “what is written shall come to pass, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your sting?” (I Corinthians 15:54&55).

Jesus was the son of Eve in that she was His maternal, many times, great grandmother, and He foiled the plans of Satan to destroy humanity.

Jesus and Jesus alone brings life to the dead – accept Him fully as your Savior and live!

We can be like our natural ancestors and die or with the infilling of the Holy Spirit we can be like our Savior Jesus and live.

The Gospel is all about life… let us be people who live and who bring life to others.

GENESIS 3:16 ~
16To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”

We closed with this last week and as I said then, it is just amazing what an awesome privilege woman have been given by God.

As a guy who has participated in the operation a few times I can readily attest to the fact that it is NOT easy.

It sure seems like a curse in so many ways… the discomfort of pregnancy, the crazy hormones and of course the intense pain of delivery.

Couple that with sleepless nights, postpartum depression and a body that will never really be the same and it is tough… BUT woman are more than conquerors and my hat is off to all the moms and to women in general.

Now, I said, “It sure seems like a curse,” and it has been known for centuries as, “The Woman’s Curse.” Yet, if you will notice, God never calls it a curse. As we have seen God cursed the serpent and later we will see God cursing the ground, but God does not actually curse the woman or her husband.

It really isn’t a curse and it isn’t even a punishment. The difficulty for the woman is a consequence of sin – a result of NOT living in right relationship to God and her husband.

Those two relationships will never be completely right again on this side of heaven… and there is an effect of that Truth.

So much of what we suffer in this life is simply the consequences of our choices.

One of the very best ways to discipline a child is to allow them to suffer through the consequences brought about by their misbehavior.

God mentions, matter-of-factly, two consequences she and her daughters will endure.

1) The first is actually tied to a blessing… the blessing of salvation that I alluded to in talking about the Serpent’s curse.

Additionally, unlike the serpent and the man, God never rebukes the woman with a “Because you have done this,” reprimand.

Instead, God indicates that salvation will come to the human race as a result of the woman giving birth.

It is the woman’s SEED, her offspring, who will crush Satan, sin and death. As the Angel of the Lord said in Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a Son; now this is talking about Mary, but as the Bible makes clear she is directly descended from Eve – “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

I Timothy 2:15, “But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”

It is through the woman that fallen mankind will be saved.

Childbearing actually includes childrearing and it is the single-most important job on earth – everything else pales in comparison to that…

It is so vital that women will demonstrate their love for God and their obedience to His plan by fulfilling their God-given role to the best of their ability with a Godly attitude and demeanor.

Children are a joy to women in a special and unique way and it is beautiful. From it we see a bit of God’s love, care and concern.

We get a better glimpse of unconditional love, forgiveness, mercy and grace. We catch a peek of what God is like and at what heaven will be like… BUT, oh how sad, the BUT…

Some of a woman’s greatest pain comes from the bearing of children.

Of course the physical things we talked about, but far more than that, the fear and worry for them. The sadness when they are hurt and the pain when they lash out. The depression when they detach and the emptiness when they leave.

2) The second thing is less well understood by folks and I don’t know why, because it is fairly straightforward. Please listen carefully so we understand…

“Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” The, “And he will rule over you,” part is no more a command to men, than the, “Yet your desire will be for your husband,” part is…

Anyone who uses this verse to justify men dominating woman is a misogynist (that means someone who hates women) and a Bible abuser.

God is talking to her, NOT him. It is a statement of reality, of consequence, NOT a command or even a suggestion, and certainly NOT, and get this, certainly NOT a justification!

It is simply how things will be.

The easiest way to understand it is that women will by nature desire a family – desire to build a nest, to be loved by a good man to have children with him… that’s the general desire.

Yet, it will NOT be that easy. There will be a struggle for control… men will generally be overt in their manipulation and women will generally be more subtle and secretive, but both will attempt to control the other and it will NOT work well.

What are we to do?

Children – no matter how old you are – be considerate to your mother. Make it more joy and less trouble for her.

Husbands, instead of taking this as a proof that treating your wife poorly is just part of the Fall… Act like a real man – behave like a Christian – and treat your wife as Jesus treats His church.

If you are not certain about what that means then don’t miss next week.

Women… thank God every day that He made you female and proudly embrace your role. Your gender make the world worth living in and shows us the most enjoyable aspects of God’s character.

Do what you know to be right.

Focus on the good, pray earnestly, trust God and do your best and then forget the rest.

051015 - Genesis 3b - Mother's Day
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May 16, 2015 08:43 AM PDT
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Genesis 3:7-15, Pastor Scott Keller

God’s crowning achievement was the creation of the nuclear family, one woman, one man, united together as one flesh in the sight of God, naked and unashamed, producing and nurturing children to go out and do likewise.

The woman was dissatisfied because she was focused on the tiny restriction God imposed on her, rather than on all the generous abundance He had given her. Women have been given so much abundance, including the sole and unique privilege of forming, growing and nurturing new humans… the ability to be moms and it seems that for many in America… all they can think of is what they don’t have.

Dissatisfaction always stems from a focus on the negative… what’s not working my way… so it is always an arrogance of judging and entitlement.

It is taking on the mantle of God – to be your own god.

It is the source of grumbling, complaining, manipulating and controlling…

It is a fundamental lack of trust in God… in His concern, His power, His ability, His timing.

It is LISTENING to Satan in the guise of others… whether real serpents or well meaning friends.

Airline pilots have it made and you will not find a more disgruntled bunch of people on the planet (or above the planet). The union constantly sows discontent.

How do you know Satan is manipulating you to eat the forbidden fruit – to sinning against God?

1) Is your attitude one of thankfulness for what God has given, contentment with what He has withheld and trust in His character and timing? I Thessalonians 5:18, Philippians 4:11-13, Isaiah 40:27-31, et al.

2) Is the person you are engaged with causing you to become more dissatisfied with your situation or less dissatisfied? Proverbs 26:21, Colossians 3:17, et al.

Look friends, Satan is a murderer and a liar who is always subtly seeking to divide and destroy…

What, specifically, does Satan seek to divide and destroy? What, is it he ceaselessly works to ruin?

It has always been and will always be… relationship.

That’s what was lost in the Garden… right relationship with God certainly, but also right relationship between the man and the woman.

As we go further in our study we will see right relationship ruined for their children as well… one of their sons will brutally murder another of their sons.

Satan is constantly, slyly, cunningly, craftily, subtly trying to wreck the family, the church, and the whole gamut of good relations starting with our relationship with God and then with all others.

He wants us all irritated at each other, focused on the negative, not trusting God or each other.

The way to defeat Satan is to resist his manipulation to be grumpy.

James 4:7 is an often quoted verse, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Do you know the context?

NLT, James 4:1&2, 1What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.
Skipping down to verse 6, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come close to God, and God will come close to you.
NASB, James continues in verse 11, 11Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; so who are you who judge your neighbor?

If you want to do the work of Satan, be ungrateful and dissatisfied, find fault with all manner of things and people.

LISTEN to those who highlight what is NOT working and who heighten your dissatisfaction and you will see yourself more and more isolated from God and the people around you.

Today is for the opposite!

Today is Mother’s Day… Today is for women. Women, who generally speaking, are easily moved by dissatisfaction, but who are also the ones who seek out and cherish relationship. Women are the glue that holds relationships together.

People say the glue is encouragement, or forgiveness, or trust, or communication, or love, or patience, or vulnerability and on it goes…

The real glue is God, but God has put that glue ability into women in a unique way.

If it wasn’t for women there wouldn’t be such a priority on relationship with God or family or each other.

Rightly guided men can lend stability to relationships, but the impetus for relationships comes from women… from moms.

We have all kinds of moms here today… moms indeed and moms IN DEED.

Everyone who has ever been a mom to a person needing a mom – Thank you and God bless you.

I ask each of us to quit focusing on what we didn’t get from our mom… what wasn’t right, what didn’t work, all the wrongs, all the disappointments and all the pain.

Instead focus on what is good and noble and give that woman a word of encouragement and love, TODAY! Before it’s too late.

The Bible teaches in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Anyone can be a grumbling complainer – that requires no talent, effort or character at all. Let’s be better than that – let’s NOT do Satan’s work for him.

GENESIS 3:7&8 ~ 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. 8They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Innocence lost…

We do that don’t we? It’s like little kids who think that if they can’t see you, you can’t see them.

Of course we can see them and trust me God saw Adam and his wife and God sees you and me.

There is nowhere we can go to escape God’s notice so when we run and hide from Him it truly makes no sense.

There was a movie line about a plumber asking for a deposit and the home owner said, “I’m not trying to tell you your business, but you haven’t even looked at my pipes.” The plumber responded, “I looked at them three years ago – you think they have improved with age?” We make a mess and it isn’t like time is actually going to make the mess better.

The reason we run and hide from God is we are ashamed, but probably mostly we are afraid.

We are avoiding the full impact of our sin by isolating ourselves until time has mitigated the severity of our transgression.

Obviously, we are not really hidden – He sees us. Obviously, time has no true effect on minimizing any crime in reality – God won’t forget the original impact.

We have a statute of limitations because over time the seriousness of a wrong lessens as the collective memory fades.

I was in Manhattan the day before and again 6 days after 9-11. I assure you the emotion of the event near ground zero today is not even a blip compared to the emotion then.

We even have a saying that “Time heals all wounds.” Rose Kennedy was married to a man who cheated on her and was associated with the Mafia, she had a prescription drug addiction. She was the mother of nine children…
Joe who was killed in WW II,
John who was assassinated in Dallas,
Rosemary who was given a frontal lobotomy,
Kathleen who was killed in an airplane crash,
Bobby who was assassinated in Los Angeles,
Ted who was plagued by scandal…
Things didn’t work out any better for her grandkids… Rose once stated…“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

She was probably right, but whether it is the memory that fades or some kind of scar tissue covering it – the bottom line is that time does help… us… and so we…

Foolishly we think God operates the same way… He doesn’t. No amount of hiding and no amount of time changes God’s perspective.

Since it is Mother’s Day and I shared a quote from Rose Kennedy, here’s another one, “I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love and a duty, but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best I could bring to it..... What greater aspiration and challenge is there for a mother than the hope of raising a great son or daughter?”
She endured a lot of tragedy, but…
Joe was a war hero awarded the Navy Cross the nation’s second highest medal for valor.
John was President of the United States.
Kathleen was the Marchioness of Hartington.
Eunice founded the Special Olympics.
Bobby was the U.S. Attorney General and a Senator
Jean was Ambassador to Ireland.
Ted was a Senator for so long (47 years) most people forgot about Chappaquiddick.

When we hide, we just add insult to injury… A guy forgets his wife’s birthday and because he is embarrassed and scared… very, very scared… he stays away from her becoming distant which only serves to punish her by further hurting their relationship.

It is the same with God. When you sin, run to Him, acknowledge the severity of the transgression, sincerely apologize, ask for the strength to do better in the future and accept the discipline, love and forgiveness of your Heavenly Father.

Get the relationship back on course as quickly as possible.

Running, hiding and waiting is childish, selfish and stupid.

The eyes open bit is a colloquialism meaning they became aware of something they were blissfully ignorant of previously.

Many ideas circulate concerning the exact nature of their new awareness.

Most people focus on the nakedness business. While that is certainly true, I think the main thing is the metaphorical nakedness they became aware of…

The very thing granting them insight was a crime against God and the true nakedness was the recognition of that sin – the embarrassment that they were guilty.

They desperately wanted to clothe themselves NOT just with fig leafs, but with total hiding.

They wanted the thickest protective layer possible because they no knew what it was to do EVIL.

They were confronted by a God who was pure GOOD and they could not stand in His presence.

Job was a righteous dude even though I doubt he surfed. Anyhow, Job was tested and as he got to understand God better he realized that as good as he was as a human it was nothing compared to God… recognizing God’s Holy presence Job told God, “Therefore I despise myself, and I repent in dust and ashes!” (NET Job 42:6).

The great prophet Isaiah when in the presence of the Lord said, “Woe to me,” or as the NLT has it, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips… (NLT Isaiah 6:5).

And just like the Apostle Peter when he first realized that Jesus was the Lord. Peter, “Fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, ‘Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!’” (Luke 5:8).

Darkness cannot stand in the light… they hid.

GENESIS 3:9-12 ~ 9Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”

Thrown under the bus big time… Adam tries to protect himself by blaming the woman and by turning the tables on God and putting Him on the defensive.

What a great start to male, female relations, not to mention God, human relations.

Evidently, we come by it honestly because people do the same thing today.

A guy will cheat on his wife and not only blame the other woman, but will turn the tables on his wife, putting her on the defensive by making the whole thing her fault.

Adam refused to take responsibility for his choice.

The Bible is very clear that Adam knew what he was doing and willfully disobeyed God’s one command.

Adam might have refused to accept responsibility, but as we will see God will judge him regardless.

God does not need our permission, our acceptance, or our cooperation, in order to rightly judge us.

GENESIS 3:13-15 ~ 13Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

The woman was a quick study. She uses the same tactic and while she doesn’t directly implicate God the charge is still there because God created both the serpent and Satan who possessed it.

Ultimately, they both refuse to take responsibility for their own actions and they certainly fail to stand up for or protect each other… as I said, the human race is off to a fine start.

The serpent is cursed along with Satan. It is difficult to tell where the physical and metaphysical begin and end, but they are both in for a rough future.

050315 - Genesis 3a - Dissatisfaction
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May 16, 2015 07:12 AM PDT
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Genesis 3:1-6, Pastor Scott Keller

God’s crowning achievement was the creation of the nuclear family, one woman, one man, united together as one flesh in the sight of God, naked and unashamed, producing and nurturing children to go out and do likewise.

“What God has joined together,” The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Let no one destroy.” Yet, we see the attack on that Biblical model in our society today… on every front the war rages against that divinely established family.

GENESIS 3:1-3 ~ 1Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ ”

There is again so much conjecture – so many opinions and what I find fascinating, is the difference between what people think the Bible says, and what the Bible actually says.

The serpent is introduced abruptly and catches the first-time listener off-guard to give a sense of the woman being taken off-guard.

The serpent is basically what we know as a snake. However, remember that we take the Bible in context.

Revelation 20:1-3 is just one of the places the Bible associates the serpent directly with a dragon… “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.”

Whatever the physical “Beast of the field” “Serpent” looked like originally and whatever it looked like after God cursed it cannot be known with certainty.

What we do know is that the fallen angel Lucifer possessed the animal and that he is known as the “Serpent of Old,” the “Great Dragon,” “The Devil” and “Satan.” As Jesus said, the Devil “Was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

God formed the “Beasts of the Field” out of the ground and this animal Satan used was one of those He created.

We will get there, but later on in the story, God is either speaking directly to Satan or a combination of Satan and the animal or to the animal alone. It’s difficult to tell because the Serpent is initially described as “More crafty than any beast of the field.”

“Crafty” is ah-room עָרוּם (ä-ȑüm), meaning shrewd, subtle, cautious, prudent, careful, cunning and sly. Jesus said in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” It can be a both a positive attribute as there, or a negative one as here…

A truly manipulative craftiness is almost indistinguishable from sincerity, just as true evil is hardly distinguishable from innocence.

There is a wordplay in the text between this word ah-room עָרוּם (ä-ȑüm), for crafty, and the word used for naked Ā-rome עֵירֹם (ā-ȑōm).

It ties the craftiness of the Serpent to the deception of the woman. She was misled.

She was deceived because she engaged. It is difficult for the most shrewd, subtle and crafty MANIPULATOR to mislead you, if you never engage in the first place.

She engaged because she was fundamentally dissatisfied… and I hope to show you that more clearly as we go.

Let me just say here, in regards to ministering to others, IF a person, no matter how entangled in sin, no matter how devoid of God they are, IF they are open to the Message of God you bear… then engage.

If, on the other hand, a person is not open – if they simply want to argue or evade or lie or try to change you… then DIS-engage.

There is nothing to be won when we engage with “CRAFTY” people or the spirit that controls them.

Be led by the Holy Spirit, be as gentle as a dove to others, but also be as shrewd, prudent and cautious as a crafty serpent.

So Satan approaches the woman and intentionally, subtlety and slyly misstates God.

Satan knows precisely what God said, but he mischaracterizes God by carefully altering His Words. Incidentally, that’s one of the reasons gossip is a sin… it always mischaracterizes another.

What God actually said was, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

There is extreme generosity and liberality in the command. Eat anything and everything… except from this one particular tree. Why? Because it is essentially poisonous. If you eat from it you will die, so don’t.

Satan quoted God as, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” the entire flow is the exact opposite. God goes from extreme generosity, “Eat freely,” to extreme oppression, “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden.”

In fact, in the Hebrew words Satan uses are the same as the words God used except Satan reverses the order of the words emphasizing the restriction and adds the negation, “NOT” to the sentence.

She is NOT equipped to respond to a crafty manipulator who is NOT seeking clarification, but only seeking his own agenda. She should run…

I have people do that to me all the time. “Hey pastor what does this verse mean?” If a person wants insight, information, elucidation, clarification; I am thrilled to oblige. When they just want me to confirm their agenda or worse, when they are seeking to trap me… well, friends, I have better things to do.

She corrects the Serpent, but actually changes God’s command in two subtle, but very important ways.

1 she subtracts from God’s Word. Instead of saying they may “Eat freely” to their hearts content from “Any” and ALL of the trees in the entire Garden, with a single tiny exception, she simply says “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat.”

It de-emphasizes God’s generous bounty and liberal provision… It hints at a dissatisfaction in the woman with her situation, because it lacks gratitude, praise and thankful worship for what God HAS given.

It focuses on the negative rather than the positive, on the one drop of water removed from an otherwise full, to overflowing, glass of water.

2 she adds to God’s Word. She said, “God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”

God didn’t say anything about “Touching” the tree or its fruit. We are always doing that… we are constantly making God’s Word more restrictive than He made it.

Like God needs our help to define sin or to complete His incomplete Word. I will make the Bible and therefore God, narrower, more difficult, more elite and, really, if you think about it, more holy. It actually says God is less holy than I am, but don’t worry I’ll fix that – I will bring Christianity up to a higher standard than God did. I’m sure He will be proud of me for that.

I will tell you honestly… I have yet to talk to the person who takes God at His Word concerning sexual relations.

Everyone I have ever discussed the issue with, either makes the issue less restrictive or more restrictive than God does. Think about that…

God had the words and the writers and the materials to make the Bible ten times, or a hundred times, or a thousand times longer than He did.

Let us be people who represent God as He has represented Himself. Let us always strive to get His Words right… It is an extremely bad habit to misquote God’s intention… please tread lightly when you speak for God as I am doing right now. There is a more severe judgment for teacher and preachers because we present and so represent God to others. We can misquote, then misrepresent and then mischaracterize God if we are not careful.

Paul taught Jesus’ Resurrection and said if it wasn’t true then he would be, Found to be a false witness against God. His testimony about that would be a testimony misrepresenting God and His intentions. (1 Corinthians 15:15).

Part of our church doctrinal statement is, “If the Word of God is clear on a point it is already doctrine from God so who are we to restate it? If on the other hand the Word of God in not clear on a point who are we to clarify it as God’s doctrine? Let God speak from His Holy Word as He determines without man adding or deleting, emphasizing or de-emphasizing, smoothing or distorting. Amen.”

God said, “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2).

The reason this is so important is that it has to do with her deception… it is far easier for Satan to mislead a person who has already misled themselves.

Most SERIOUS Christians recognize that it’s NOT okay to take away from God’s Word, but think it’s okay to make God’s Word MORE restrictive… it is like staying well away from the edge… it is safer. If God said don’t get drunk, we’ll say don’t drink at all… I’m sure if God thought it out more He would have written it that way. WRONG. Altering God’s Word in any direction is altering God’s Word!

What you can do if you’re a Nervous Nelly, is say this is what God requires, but I personally add these extra restrictions as an aid in my walk.

You can do that so long as you don’t forget where God’s Word ends and your word begins and always remember that your word is nothing more than your opinion, never to be used for self-righteous pomposity or to judge others or to fragment the Body of Christ.

In reality… IF we want to be honest about it – it almost always goes there.

Whether you make the Word of God less restrictive, or more restrictive, it distorts God’s character… Your God becomes a less accurate caricature of the true God.

Your God is more like you; than like God.

That brings us to another sad thing in the text… The Serpent uses the word Elohim as the generic term for God, instead of Yahweh, the covenantal relational name of God because he is not in a covenant relationship with Him.

The woman follows Satan’s lead.

Instead of seeing God as her Father and Friend – she acknowledges Him only generically as God – Elohim, NOT Yahweh.

See is feeling less connected to her Creator than she should because she is thinking about what He has withheld rather than what He has provided.

Don’t we do that?

GENESIS 3:4-6 ~ 4The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

Satan goes from a subtle changing of God’s Word to engage the woman in conversation, and place doubt in her mind, to an outright denial that anything bad could possibly happen.

The first bit, “You surely will not die!” is usually seen as Satan calling God a liar. Here’s a better way to understand it… If Satan just blurted out that God was a liar; she might well have disengaged.

That would be the antithesis of subtle, sly and crafty.

The flow is more like, you have misunderstood God.

He loves you so much – surely you know that He would never allow any harm to come to you – can’t you see that God would never harshly judge you, let alone kill you!

Come on, God won’t let you perish – He wants you to be happy.

How can you possibly be happy with this taboo hanging over your head?

It’s the same today… How can you possibly be happy being married to this man? Surely God WANTS you to divorce him!

Satan was telling her, Look, you are in a bad situation, not knowing Good from Evil. You are sitting here without all the necessary information.

Maybe God, in some misguided effort to protect you from the burden of that knowledge, put the restriction there until you felt ready. God does care, but He needs to realize that you’re a big girl – you can handle it. God is overprotective!

God might actually be testing you. When you’re ready for the knowledge, you will understand enough to simply take it – God wants you to prove you are ready by independently choosing it.

That’s a subtle, sly and crafty way to work her until she has completely rationalized away any fear of moving forward.

I am utterly certain she thought it would be okay.

That’s the power of manipulation.

Someone can get you believing the exact polar opposite of what you knew to be true and you’ll think it was your idea!

Run. Do not allow doubt to roost in your barn.

The next part of Satan’s statement questions God’s goodness and implies that He is selfishly keeping her from being like Him because He is either unaware of her readiness, OR He’s waiting for her to take charge or He’s on a power trip and wants to keep her down.

No matter how you slice it, God is the oppressor of Eve, rather than her loving Creator.

How many women today are completely dissatisfied with what God’s Word says about women? How many women today feel that the God of the Bible is their OPPRESSOR, rather than their loving Father?

Satan says, “You will be like God.” That was the clincher. It is always the clincher. It is the essence of all sin from that moment until the final disposition of all things in the final moment.

Sin is always fundamentally a desire to be like God and the reason is that we cannot control God so we worry that He will not allow us to have our way.

I said that the whole reason she engaged with the Serpent and started down this path was because she was dissatisfied.

We today, here in this room, are dissatisfied.

None of us is completely satisfied with everything around us. We wish things were different and if we had the power, we would change things.

That dissatisfaction is the seed that births rebellion against God.

It begins by questioning God, by failing to see all that He has generously provided and focus on what’s missing.

It begins to doubt that God is able, or that God cares, or, as is often the case, it rationalizes that God must be waiting for me to take charge.

Ultimately it is a failure to trust in the goodness and timing of Almighty God.

Like children push boundaries the temptation of us all is to push those divine boundaries established by God.

Did God REALLY say, I can’t lie, cheat, steal, get drunk, have sex outside of marriage, marry someone of the same gender, hate my neighbor, divorce my wife for a younger woman, engage in lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride?

Did God REALLY say, I must love others, attend church, give to the poor, share the Gospel, he humble, kind, generous and forgiving?

She saw that the fruit was ripe and tempting, she saw that the tree was “Desirable to make one wise.”

No longer would she be reliant on the man or on God – she could be her own independent person.

“She ate.”

It should be obvious that NO one can become like God by disobeying God… yet we still try.

The Bible says in many places, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10, Job 28:28, Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, 15:33, et al.

Here the woman seeks wisdom on her own and ends up in fear.

Carl Sagan said concerning God, “I don't want to believe. I want to know.” We all inherited that trait from the original woman, our common mother.

She evidently had no desire whatsoever to be alone in her new predicament… “She gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.”

By all accounts, she was deceived. The bible says, “The serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness” (II Corinthians 11:3), and in, I Timothy, “It was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression”
(1 Timothy 2:13&14).

How did it happen? Well, of course engaging and misquoting and failing to understand God for who He actually is all contributed but at the end of the day the reason she was deceived was because she was unsatisfied.

We could spent a hundred years discussing why she was dissatisfied, but what we know is that Satan was able to tap in to a fundamental desire she had that was hitherto unfulfilled.

In Romans 1:21 it says, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

The Bible says that a lack of gratitude is always a sign of arrogance. There is always the assumption that I deserve what I want… It is an ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY. I believe that I am entitled to having things go my way…

When they don’t, I believe I am entitled to be grumpy about it and free to take matters into my own hands.

Not only is it the arrogance of entitlement – it is the arrogance of judgment.

I see how it is and I judge that it is NOT right… I make that value judgment.

And I make that judgment without all the facts and all the wisdom and all the character that God has. How can I possibly know the effect of a thing a year from now, let alone an eternity from now?

Finally, it is a DISTRUST of God.

Adam, on the other hand, knew what he was doing – he chose to blatantly, willfully disobey God’s command. In Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

We will talk more about that aspect next time… but just realize that we all are tempted by what we will get and rarely consider what we will lose in the process.

She gained knowledge of good and evil, but the cost was steep… Feminism is the same today. There are great gains for women and for society, but what was the cost to women and society?

If we push hard enough, long enough, we can usually get our way, but it certainly does NOT mean we won.

Instead of being like the petulant child that wears his parents down – let’s TRUST GOD.

042615 - Genesis 2c - God's Gift to Men
Clean
May 15, 2015 11:37 AM PDT
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Genesis 2:18-25, Pastor Scott Keller

The Sermon was cut off after about 27 minutes, but the text below contains the extra stuff...

We saw in the second chapter of Genesis that God lovingly, carefully and intimately formed man – אָדָם (ä-däm), from the ground אֲדָמָה (ă-dä-mäh) and breathed life into him in a completely unique way. Only man has God’s “Breath of Life,” נִשְׁמַ֣ת חַיִּ֑ים (nĭsh-mät hī-yēm), within him.

We also noted that the one true eternal God dwells everywhere and there is nowhere that can contain Him.

He created the universe along with the earth and planted the special Garden in Eden for man, for US, NOT for Himself.

SLIDE: GENESIS 2:18-25 ~ 18Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” 19Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” 24For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

So God had made all this stuff, Galaxies and gazelles, Atoms and Adam and He pronounced it as GOOD.

But in verse 18, the Lord God said, “It is NOT good…” God found something to be seriously amiss and in need of immediate correcting.

God gave Adam a soulmate and Adam broke into a poetic exclamation when he first saw her… The gist is, NOW, FINALLY, OF COURSE, this is the suitable partner for me, because she is from me – we are the same!

The naming of the parading animals serves to highlight that only woman is suitable for man. God made male and female compatible with each other where no one, and nothing else, is…

Not even God was enough for the man in a relational sense… Man NEEDED woman to complete him… and we will find, to enable him to grow spiritually to where God would be enough.

Adam goes on to say… “She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” She shall be called אִשָּׁה (ē-shä), because she was taken out of אִישׁ (ēsh). They are both the same and so she is the perfect match, but even more than that, they are both quite different as well, and so she is also the perfect mate.

Adam names his gift from God and in so doing he accepts her completely. As far as God was concerned… Adam was now responsible for her.

It should be the most obvious thing in the world that God created a woman for the man and that together they would be parents to their children and that would constitute God’s idea of the nuclear family.

God commanded the two of them to “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). God said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

Jesus quoted that verse in his defense of marriage recorded in Matthew and Mark where He said, “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Mark 10:6-9 & Matthew 19:3-9).

That is a command from Jesus – “Do not allow anyone to divide what God has joined together.”

Do not destroy the nucleus of the family that Almighty God has established.

1) I say that as part of wedding ceremonies and most think it has to do with the fact that I just said, “Can anyone show just cause why these two should not be married.” It is like after that point, no one can burst in and disrupt the wedding ceremony. “Forever, hereinafter, hold your peace.”

2) Some get that it is an injunction against some outside force messing with a particular couple ruining their marriage after the ceremony.

3) A few folks further recognize that the parties themselves must not destroy their own marriage.

4) Here’s the nuance hardly any grasp… God – the Creator of everything including you and me has as one of His very first acts established family.

It always starts with one man and one woman becoming one flesh.

That’s what God says – that’s what God established.

The Word of God made flesh – the Savior and the LORD of every Christian has commanded that no one should ever divide, destroy, diminish, that relationship. God’s word says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (NIV Hebrews 13:4).

People can say what they will – people can get on this high horse or that high horse – people can be people all day long… but friends… at the end of the day every one of us is going to stand before the Judgment of God and explain why we took Him at His Word or worked to undermine His Word.

God created and joined together one man with one woman for the purpose of intimate personal relationship resulting in children.

That was the plan and unfortunately things got a lot more difficult after sin entered the picture… but that was the plan – the ideal, from the beginning.

Now, this is a fairly easy and uplifting message to those who have not yet had a serious relationship or those who have had success at marriage and raising Godly kids. Like a Baptist preacher railing against drunkenness – everyone gives a hearty Amen!

For people who have struggled with romance, with marriage, with kids, with sexual orientation etc. the message may be painful and difficult.

Anytime we humans make a mistake we want mercy, but when someone else makes a mistake we want justice.

Think about it – it isn’t just a pithy saying… you mess up and you want people to give you the benefit of the doubt, you want support and help to get back on your feet, you want others to treat you as if nothing untoward ever happened… you want the true forgiveness that actually forgets. Ultimately you want a clean slate – no harm, no foul.

However, you become aware of someone else’s mistake and you want this thing fixed – this is serious – this can never be brushed aside and while we might say that under the right circumstances and after the villain has paid up we might forgive we certainly will never forget.

We hurt someone else and we find a loophole for our behavior, we justify it, we make excuses, we rationalize away the problem or blame others, maybe even blame the one we hurt by making the whole thing their fault in the first place… BUT boy howdy, when someone messes with us there is no mitigating or minimizing – it is unadulterated evil and must be severely punished.

I say all of that, to say this… God is NOT like us. God, my dear friends, is not interested in your past – in getting His pound of flesh from you. He’s interested your future.

So many people outside and inside of the Christian community cringe at the idea that a total scumbag murderer – a Hitler, Charles Manson, Ida Amin kind of guy could repent and be forgiven.

Why? Because that’s not fair! They need to be punished! Forgiveness is not a human trait – it is a divine trait.

God isn’t interested in dwelling on who you were, what you’ve done or what’s been done to you… the past is the past. It is spilled milk. There’s no going back. God is interested in what you’re going to do with the mess.

God created time… He made it so that it marches on and whatever you do right now will in the next moment be the irrevocable, completely inaccessible and unreachable past.

To live in the past, to not get past the past, is to waste the present and ruin the future.

God is interested in what you are going to do from here on out.

If you have messed things up – if you have sinned against God and His plan… REPENT.

Acknowledge your wrong and endeavor to turn away from it… ask for forgiveness and then accept it. I may not know you’re sincere, but God sees the fingers crossed behind your back.

Jesus paid for your imperfection with His perfection… it cost Him and the entirety of the Godhead tremendously.

Do you seriously believe that Father God will look at your life and say, “Well, that’s some pretty heinous stuff right there. I had no idea someone could be so bad. I would like to forgive you and restore you and have fellowship with you, but the sacrifice We made through the Word made flesh is simply not enough. What Jesus accomplished on the Cross is unfortunately inadequate to cover your mess.”

Take the lessons learned from the past and then move forward into a brighter future in right relationship with God… that’s what He wants… that’s why He allowed His one and only Son to be brutalized…

Won’t you let go of your failures and the failures of others who have hurt you? Won’t you drive in to the love, mercy, forgiveness and righteousness found only in Jesus?

The family God established is obvious.

Men were not to find their happiness in the things of this world, whether work or play, nature or pets. It is worth saying again…

God gave the man what God wanted the man to have… a woman.

Someone who was made from him, someone who was identical in essence and therefore in value.

Yet, at the same time, someone different…

Yet, at the same time, someone with complimentary differences.

Men and women fit – they are two sides of the exact same coin – they are two coming together to become one.

Only in our depraved society can we convince ourselves that men and women are the same or that men belong together with men, women with women or adults with children or humans with animals. You truly need to be blind literally AND figuratively to accept such absurd propositions.

If we will accept the TRUTH that God made us male and female, completely equal in value and different in function… then we can finally have a basis for right relationship in marriage.

A smart pastor would not have gone this far and only a truly dumb pastor would press on, but I’m more interested in you knowing what the Bible says, than in you, liking me.

Men, you are to love your wives as Christ loves His church… that means that Jesus sacrificially laid down His own life in order to bless you and me.

Husbands think of your wives in the same way – willing to give up everything in order to bless her.

Most of you know that God hates divorce… it’s fairly straightforward because in Malachi, it actually says, “I hate divorce,” says the Lord.”

Hard to miss that and yet people rationalize it away, but here’s my point for you married guys out there… do you know the context?

The prophet Malachi speaking God’s words says, “Here is another thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. You cry out, ‘Why doesn’t the LORD accept my worship?’ I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. ‘For I hate divorce!’ says the LORD, the God of Israel. ‘To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,’ says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” (NLT Malachi 2:13-16).

There is so much I could talk about in these verses, but I’ll stay on point… Bottom line, you made a covenant with your wife, witnessed by Almighty God, for the purpose of a family, and if you are not diligently faithful to that, you may as well forget praying.

A while back I said, “Adam was now responsible for her.” Not by dominating, coercing or manipulating, but through sacrificial selfless love.

Do what is right even when it is difficult, even when you get no credit for it, even if it seems futile… do what is right because God is watching… YOU.

Women, submit to your husbands.

I can’t believe that dude just said that! This is 21st century America baby! In less than two years we will have a woman president! I can’t believe he just said, “Women, submit to your husbands… Stone Him!”

Well, before you stone me, I didn’t say that, God did… Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, Titus 2, but really it starts in our Genesis verses today by implication and then in Genesis 3 explicitly where God tells Eve, “Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.”

After talking about marriage to a group one day, a young woman told me afterward that she didn’t want to be lost in the identity of her husband – she didn’t want to be ONE flesh. She is now divorced.

Finally, the children. Kids are not an option… Biblically. If you can’t have kids, adopt, foster or get involved in the lives of kids in other ways... Like Compassion International. Be creative, share your love and wisdom with children. Katie Ericksen on number 4… “You guys know how it works, right?”

We can live our lives for our own enjoyment, entitlement and independence or we can recognize that we belong to God and that there is a challenge before us…

The challenge for all of us is trying to live according to God’s plan and obey His commands while struggling in a fallen and depraved world where sin has taken its toll on everything around us and the whole world militates against us as it militates against God.

God’s crowning achievement was the creation of the nuclear family, one woman, one man, united together as one flesh in the sight of God, naked and unashamed, producing and nurturing children to go out and do likewise.

What God has joined together, let no one destroy and can you see the attack on that Biblical model in our society today… on every front the war rages against that divinely established family.

What can we do? We can do the best we can possibly do relying on the strength of the Holy Spirit to sustain us. As I say, it is about submitting and surrendering to God’s plan or insisting on my plan – it is that simple.

030115 - Genesis 1c
Clean
March 20, 2015 10:51 AM PDT
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Genesis 1:3-5, Pastor Scott Keller

GENESIS 1:3-5 ~ 3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Biblically, life is itself, the light that illumines thinking and acknowledgement. It is synonymous with the Message from God, which is always Truth with a capital “T.”

God is glorified through His handiwork, but only with humans is He glorified by His handiwork.

“In him was life [ζωή (dzō-ā) – that is the life-giving force]… and the darkness has not overcome it [καταλαμβάνω (kä-tä-läm-bä-nō) – darkness cannot control light]” (John 1:4&5).

John 8:12

The Bible starts with the beginning, but the beginning has a goal in mind. It is, “What will you personally do with God’s revelatory Message?

John 1:6-18, II Corinthians 4:4, John 3:19, et al.

God does not actually need to do anything in this physical reality, but He constantly does precisely that.

The metaphorical, allegorical, typological, eschatological and symbolical must all flow out of the plain, obvious and straightforward.

Jewish Rabbis began interpreting the Bible allegorically and over time, most Rabbis abandoned the plain meaning of the Bible in favor of an ever more esoteric meaning. Christians began to do the same.

Without any concrete literal sense, anyone can make any verse mean anything. If the Bible can mean anything, then it means nothing.

That is WHY God presents His Message as being factually based.

The personal presence of God in creating is confirmed by light existing apart from the sun…

God evaluated the light and He proclaimed that it was good… God is the Judge of all things that He creates… He is the standard.

God separated the light from the dark leaving a remnant of darkness to remind us every day that God creates light – life – and Truth!

Psalm 30:5b

God then named the light and dark, “Day” יוֹם (yōm) and “Night,” לַ֫יְלָה (lī-läh) respectively.

God then said, “There was evening and there was morning, the first day.” Was it an actual 24 hour long day? The very first people to propose that it was anything different were those allegory loving ancient Jewish scholars.

We understand Genesis as a Message from Almighty God relating a truthful account in simple terms to uneducated people...

OR...

We understand Genesis to carry a deeper meaning in contradiction to the plain, straightforward meaning an uneducated person would recognize.

It is God’s Word and it means what it says and is therefore the same for all recipients for all time, or it is a story that individual people understand differently as experience, education, information, culture and personal needs change.

Romans chapter 14… perfect Theology.

022515 - Genesis 1b
Clean
March 19, 2015 01:01 PM PDT
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Genesis 1:2, Pastor Scott Keller

GENESIS 1:1-3a ~ 1In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3aAnd God said…

Last week we covered Genesis 1:1 and we were reminded about the importance of Biblical context.

In verse 1, God created the heavens and the earth, and in verse 2, the point of view becomes geocentric. Creation by God is viewed from earth.

I asked, “Why would God expend the energy necessary for creation?”

God is by very definition, self-actualized. God is EXISTENT.

We, on the other hand, are in constant flux, as is everything in the universe…

God’s true Covenantal name is Yahweh.

That God chose to share Himself… selflessly… with you.

The Bible is a Theocentric revelation, but it is told as a geocentric story, because it is an anthropocentric message.

The universe declares to us (the audience of God’s revelation)… Who God is.

Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:20

There is a pause at the beginning of verse two. The NASB, NRSV, NLT, NKJV, ESV and others, all omit the pause. The NIV, Holman and NET all start verse two with the word, “Now,” and the KJV with, “And.”

The first word in Hebrew is וְהָאָ֗רֶץ (vĕ-hä-äȑ-ĕtz), the root meaning earth, along with the word, “the,” and a conjunction.

The Gap Theory was introduced to account for scientific discoveries that indicated an ancient universe and macroevolution.

While scientists work diligently to take their personal bias out of the mix, it is, unfortunately, completely impossible.

If we believe scientism’s interpretation of the data then we are forced to change our interpretation of the Bible and in particular our interpretation of the first few chapters of Genesis.

When we take the surrounding verses in context, we recognize a pattern throughout Genesis that begins here. When we then expand the context to include the entire Bible, we find more difficulties with a gap in time. It is the key to Christianity that death is the result of sin.

I Corinthians 15:17, et al.

“Formless and void,” refers to the fact that the earth was not yet suitable for human habitation.

The second description is that it was dark. While “Darkness” in this case is not a metaphor for evil, there is definitely a sense of foreboding here.

Third, the Breath of God was hovering, giving a definite gentle protective feeling here, counterbalancing the bit before.

Verse three starts out, “God said…” To this point, it is implied that God desired to create, that He did so by speaking and that His Holy Breath carried His Word.

Psalm 33:6

022515 - Genesis 1b
Clean
March 19, 2015 12:58 PM PDT
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Genesis 1:2, Pastor Scott Keller

GENESIS 1:1-3a ~ 1In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3aAnd God said…

Last week we covered Genesis 1:1 and we were reminded about the importance of Biblical context.

In verse 1, God created the heavens and the earth, and in verse 2, the point of view becomes geocentric. Creation by God is viewed from earth.

I asked, “Why would God expend the energy necessary for creation?”

God is by very definition, self-actualized. God is EXISTENT.

We, on the other hand, are in constant flux, as is everything in the universe…

God’s true Covenantal name is Yahweh.

That God chose to share Himself… selflessly… with you.

The Bible is a Theocentric revelation, but it is told as a geocentric story, because it is an anthropocentric message.

The universe declares to us (the audience of God’s revelation)… Who God is.

Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:20

There is a pause at the beginning of verse two. The NASB, NRSV, NLT, NKJV, ESV and others, all omit the pause. The NIV, Holman and NET all start verse two with the word, “Now,” and the KJV with, “And.”

The first word in Hebrew is וְהָאָ֗רֶץ (vĕ-hä-äȑ-ĕtz), the root meaning earth, along with the word, “the,” and a conjunction.

The Gap Theory was introduced to account for scientific discoveries that indicated an ancient universe and macroevolution.

While scientists work diligently to take their personal bias out of the mix, it is, unfortunately, completely impossible.

If we believe scientism’s interpretation of the data then we are forced to change our interpretation of the Bible and in particular our interpretation of the first few chapters of Genesis.

When we take the surrounding verses in context, we recognize a pattern throughout Genesis that begins here. When we then expand the context to include the entire Bible, we find more difficulties with a gap in time. It is the key to Christianity that death is the result of sin.

I Corinthians 15:17, et al.

“Formless and void,” refers to the fact that the earth was not yet suitable for human habitation.

The second description is that it was dark. While “Darkness” in this case is not a metaphor for evil, there is definitely a sense of foreboding here.

Third, the Breath of God was hovering, giving a definite gentle protective feeling here, counterbalancing the bit before.

Verse three starts out, “God said…” To this point, it is implied that God desired to create, that He did so by speaking and that His Holy Breath carried His Word.

Psalm 33:6

021515 Genesis 1a
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March 12, 2015 04:44 PM PDT
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Genesis 1:1, Pastor Scott Keller.

GENESIS 1:1-3a ~ 1In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3aAnd God said…

1) The Old Testament is old…

Example… Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”

The word translated as “Virgin” here is the Hebrew word, עַלְמָה (äl-mäh). That Hebrew word was translated into Greek well over 100 years before Jesus was born as παρθένος (päȑ-thĕ-nŏs).

Matthew 1:20-25

The Old Testament can only be interpreted correctly, through a New Testament filter.

2) The word Testament is misleading...

3) The Old Testament has three parts… God wrote the first part, the Torah, through Moses...

Example… I Timothy 2:11-13, 11A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.

We can see that as an archaic cultural issue that has no application today, or as the Word from an immutable God.

Genesis is from the Greek translation. The Hebrew title is בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית (bĕ-ȑä-shēt), which is the first word in the actual Bible text rendered, “In the beginning.”

Word-for-word it is, “In beginning,” without the definite article. Likewise when translated into Greek it is Ἐν ἀρχῇ (ĕn äȑ-ĉā), again, literally, “In beginning.”

“In the “NON-TIME” before God created time or space, before God had begun to create anything and when there existed nothing except Him… in that beginning…”

John 1:1a, Ἐν ἀρχῇ, “In beginning,” ἦν ὁ λόγος (ān hŏ lŏ-gŏs), existed the Word.

The next word is, “Created.” Hebrew בָּרָא (bä-ȑä). This word is used exclusively for the activity of God.

God creates, we make… the distinction is important.

John 1:3, Colossians 1:16&17

Since nothing physical or metaphysical exists that wasn’t created by God, then by logical necessity, God created everything out of nothing. It is “creatio ex nihilo.”

E=MC2 is really telling us that there is a mass–energy equivalence. The equation means that energy is equal to mass times a truly huge number…

2,204 pounds of mass converted to energy…

Now, think about the reverse…

The third word in the Bible is אֱלֹהִים (ĕ-lō-hēm), without any question meaning the one true God, creator of everything, but in the plural form.

Jewish, non-Christian and, so now, most Christian scholars say it is nothing more than a “majestic plural” to give a greater sense of awe.

Genesis 1:26 et al.

“The heavens and the earth,” is a colloquialism in Hebrew, which means the entire creation. It is a merism, like those in our wedding vows, giving two opposites to indicate the whole range.

“When only the One true, triune God, existed in perfect internal and eternal relationship with Himself, He chose to create both the supernatural realm and the natural universe, exclusively from His own personal power.”

011115 - Super Spirituality - ABRIDGED
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January 15, 2015 02:06 PM PST
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II Corinthians 12:1-10, Pastor Scott Keller

This is a greatly shortened version of the sermon last Sunday that you can get through in just over 20 minutes...

Don't you wish all of Scott Keller's sermons were condensed?

011115 - Super Spirituality - II Corinthians 12a
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January 13, 2015 05:31 PM PST
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II Corinthians 12:1-, Pastor Scott Keller.

Alêtheia ~ II Corinthians 12 ~ 011114

Scott Keller

For basically three chapters of God’s Holy Scripture, the Spirit-filled and inspired Apostle of Jesus, we call Paul, defends… … … himself.

As I’ve said so many times, his motivation and goal was to keep the Corinthians in correct relationship with JESUS.

For them to reject Paul in favor of new teachers with a different Gospel was to simultaneously reject the true Jesus that Paul represented and proclaimed.

If a pastor/teacher/prophet/spiritual guide came to you and disparaged me to the point where you rejected me to follow them, I would defend myself against their false claims… for your sake, NOT mine.

As an aside, using counterfeit money as an analogy, it occurs to me, that…

A treasury training expert would constantly show you what real money looks like and then, only if necessary, he would remind you that he has the credentials to do so… He might even point out what’s wrong with false money. It is even possible that he would talk about the evil of counterfeiters in a general way, but what he would NOT do, is waste time and effort disparaging individual counterfeiters!

So many so-called ministries, make it their stock and trade – their vocation – their bread and butter disparaging the actual counterfeiters.

They are all about exposing and condemning “False teachers.” Just exactly like the “False teachers” did to Paul… makes you wonder doesn’t it?

Paul doesn’t care about the actual dipsticks disparaging him, he doesn’t single them out and disparage them…

1) He teaches the Truth, 2) when necessary, he defends himself and points out false teaching… If he can show the teaching is false, he doesn’t need to talk about the teachers. We need to teach the Truth and when necessary we can attack lies, BUT we rarely, if ever need to attack the liars.

Last Sunday, I read a huge section of Scripture, and as much as I would like to read again – we don’t have the time or patience. So, if you missed it, I am sorry, because I think it is really important to HEAR it all in the flow of context, but we must move forward.

Those are the actual words I wrote… but I was compelled to say that we do have the time and we do have the patience… So once again for the flow of God’s word let me read to you this big passage – I will shorten it slightly from last week…

Just sit back, but don’t relax… close your eyes, contemplate the words – let God speak to you this morning.

In II Corinthians chapter 11, verse 22, through chapter 12, verse 10… God through the Apostle Paul says…

SLIDE: II Corinthians 11:22–12:10 WEAKNESS ~ 22Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23Are they servants of Christ?—
I speak as if insane—
I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.
24Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.
25Three times I was beaten with rods,
once I was stoned,
three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.
26I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;
27I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
28Apart from such external things,
there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.
29Who is weak without my being weak?
Who is led into sin without my intense concern? 30If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.
31The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.
32In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, 33and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands.
1Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know,
or out of the body I do not know, God knows—
such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3And I know how such a man—
whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—
4was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
5On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses.
6For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth;
but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. 7Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh,
a messenger of Satan to torment me—
to keep me from exalting myself!
8Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9And He has said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

SLIDE: VERSES WE DID NOT READ ~

That was a lot… What I read is in yellow, BUT this is probably what I should have read… it would have been even better and made the whole thing a lot easier to grasp if you heard the whole nearly four-chapter section first, but we will do our best… we’ll muddle through.

SLIDE: SUPER SPIRITUAL charlatans ~

The false teachers were claiming to be 1super Jews, Paul played the game and proved he was a better Jew. They claimed to be 2“Servants of Christ,” Paul proved that he was more so. They claimed to have 3suffered for the Gospel, Paul proved he had suffered far more than all of them…

Now, in chapter 12, we see that the false teachers were appealing to their greater spirituality as another way of building themselves up and tearing Paul down. They were claiming a superior spirituality and supernatural power… People have always craved and still crave the supernatural.

The usurpers claimed they had “Visions and revelations of the Lord.”

Paul showed that, he more than equal in that area as well. But, he also demonstrated something more than that – something important for us to grasp, that unfortunately, many people don’t.

As often happens, most people get engrossed in the flash and excitement of a thing and miss the subtle Truth also there.

It is easy to focus on the “Third Heaven” and what he might have seen and heard there or delve into the “Thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan” and what that might have been, but there is more important stuff, so stay tuned for that…

SLIDE: UNPAKING AS A FAMILY ~

This is a difficult passage to unpack and so bear with me as we look at many different elements and then try to put it all together… So stay tuned, but also stay alert! We don’t want to accidently throw out a box with something important still in it…

Paul used a single event in his life that illustrated both a supernatural VISION, and a natural result leading to a REVELATION of the Lord.

SLIDE: PAUL OR SOMEONE ELSE? ~

Sometimes people get confused and wonder if Paul was actually talking about himself or someone else with his third person account and all his objectifying, “I know a man…” and “Such a man,” language.

It is an absolute certainty that he’s talking about his own experience as is made clear in verses 7 through 9, but even more so in the plain reality that if the “Visions and revelations of the Lord,” happened to someone else, then instead of making Paul’s point, it would actually strengthen the point of Paul’s opposition!

If it were another minister who is unnamed and therefore unknown, it would only serve as proof that Paul was NOT as spiritually powerful as others were… truly less than what the false teachers claimed they were.

It would be like Paul saying, “You think you are more in tune with the supernatural – well let me tell you about some dude I once knew a very long time ago who thought he went to heaven!”

It was just a way people boasted… humbly.

It made others aware of his experience, but without seeming like he was bragging. As I have said before, Paul was very uncomfortable in this role.

He also revealed the net result of the experience and that’s the area where we will see this other point so many overlook.

Paul had many supernatural events in his life to choose from but he specifically mentions this particular event and specifies that it took place 14 years ago.

SLIDE: the three-fold reason ~

The effect of that is three-fold…

First, it set a specific and therefore verifiable event. It isn’t some nebulous, disputable, mumbo-jumbo experience.

It also shows that Paul had been at this Apostle business for quite some time. More than 14 years anyway (it had actually been much longer).

Probably most important though, is the implication that Paul lived with, and ministered to, the Corinthians for a year and a half, without ever mentioning such a remarkable supernatural occurrence.

Paul wasn’t interested in telling ghost stories about his spiritual greatness or retelling with ever-increasing hyperbole his metaphysical meetings with Jesus.

So many preachers do that today… they constantly recount miraculous stories and spiritual encounters and supernatural wonders rather than teach God’s Word.

It’s exciting, but it is not satisfying. You cannot show me a person deeply involved in the exciting supernatural realm who doesn’t crave more.

The person who truly knows God’s Word, doesn’t need a fix in order to remain steadfast.

Paul was interested in teaching people the Gospel Truth that could set them free from sin and death!

SLIDE: TREE SAW - IT IS JUST PLAIN DUMB! ~

So starting in verse one we see that Paul again pulls back with a parenthetical comment to show the foolishness of this line of discussion.

Foolish – and shouldn’t have been required, BUT unfortunately it was required.

Paul boasts for three chapters, but lest anyone today think that boasting is therefore okay, he flatly states that it is “Not profitable.”

What he means is that it is a stupid thing to do and he’s only doing it out of love for the Corinthians. Let us be careful NOT to boast, except in what the Lord has done. Your personal testimony is about what Jesus did, NOT about what you did…

SLIDE: VISIONS & REVELATIONS TELESCOPE ~

“Visions and revelations of the Lord.” This is what the false teachers were claiming…

It is precisely what false preachers, teachers, prophets, miracle workers, claim today.

Do NOT be misled by such claims… people who have actually connected with the Lord, don’t brag about it.

If a pilot tells you how great he is – he’s NOT. A great pilot doesn’t talk about it – he shows it.

I knew a couple. One was terminally ill and had exhausted every medical and homeopathic possibility.

This person had been prayed for by several pastors… they were on several prayer chains and they had travelled extensively all over the country to be prayed for by faith healers and mega-church leaders.

This person told me how exhausted they were and how they just wanted to die in peace, but that their family would see that as both selfish and as a lack of faith.

The feeling was that if they could just get the right person to lay hands on them, then God would heal their body.

Even after this person died and was embalmed the family assembled some super-spiritual Christians and attempted to raise them from the dead.

It wasn’t about God or His will and it wasn’t about the dying person… it was about the family dealing with the situation in a way that they could feel better… not a comfort for the suffering person or a glory to God, but a way to feel like they had done everything they could… staying busy, focused on healing, instead of dealing with reality.

Does god heal people? Of course, Acts 28:8, “The father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him.”

Does God raise people from the dead? Of course, Acts 20:9&10, “There was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill… and (he) fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead. But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, “Do not be troubled, for (he is alive).”

If it is God who heals and raises from the dead, does it matter who prays?

The entire point of last week and really of this week as well, is that God’s strength is proven in, and through, our weakness – our imperfection, our inability.

If I can work diligently enough to track down the person with the Midas touch then who gets the credit?

If some great and powerful Wizard of Blank… Faith healer so-and-so, Prophet Blah, Blah, Bishop Humpty-dumpty, Apostle Zippity-do-dah or Miracle worker Umpty-fratz, prays for you and you are healed… was it because God is good or because you sought out and were touched by the right human being?

People today, just like the Corinthians 2,000 years ago, still flock to so-called prophets and healers – people with supposedly greater spiritual gifts – people who see, “Visions and revelations of the Lord.”

You might say, what’s the harm? Personally, I am completely unaware of any person who claims to have an extraordinary spirituality who also teaches sound doctrine. That’s the harm.

The “Name it and claim it,” prosperity Gospel is no true Gospel at all. If you understand that, I don’t need to list and disparage the immensely popular ministers teaching that false Gospel.

Paul chooses this particular experience to show the obvious and the subtle…

He could have chosen from many other experiences like the whole reason he lived with the Corinthians in the first place.

Things weren’t going so well a few years earlier when he got to Corinth and it is recorded in Acts 18:9–11, 9And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” 11And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”

But, Paul used this particular experience for two reasons… First, the obvious, “You false teachers want to talk about spiritual credentials… I’ll show you spiritual credentials.” Have you been to heaven recently?

SLIDE: STAIRCASE INTO HEAVEN ~

Paul shares that he had an experience in Christ – not in himself, in Paul’s strength or IN anyone else’s strength or other angelic/demonic power, but iN relation to Christ Jesus…

To emphasize that fact. Paul was taken into heaven… He was ἁρπάζω (häȑ-pä-dzō). He was “Caught up.” ἁρπάζω is the word used for the concept of the rapture… I’ve heard people complain that the word “Rapture” doesn’t actually occur in the Bible.

That’s true, because the word that does occur is ἁρπάζω, which translated into Latin, is the participle raptus from the verb rapiō from which we get the word and concept of the Rapture.

SLIDE: HARPY EAGLE ~

A person is enraptured or a bird of prey is a raptor (actually a Harpy Eagle is a raptor so both Greek and Latin) or the saints are Raptured are all derived from raptus… meaning to seize, capture, take by force.

Paul was taken by God and there was nothing anyone could do about it – likewise on the day of the Rapture Almighty God will snatch you to Himself and nothing in heaven, on earth or in hell can stop Him.

Anyway, Raptured to the third heaven. A Jewish way of saying the heaven where God lives… The first heaven is our earthly atmosphere where the clouds reside, the second heaven is outer space where the sun, moon and stars reside and the third heaven is beyond the universe in the supernatural plane where God and the Heavenly Host reside.

SLIDE: MOUNTAIN MEADOW GARDEN ~

In verse four he calls it “Paradise.” Greek παράδεισος from Hebrew פַּרְדֵּס meaning garden. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus told the criminal that he would be in Paradise with Him and in Revelation 2:7, Jesus said, “To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.”

Checking out the accommodations in Heaven… that’s some experience… Paul then he follows that up with a dialogue between him and Jesus.

Ending in the Risen Lord telling him, “Look Paul, My Grace is sufficient to accomplish what I want in your life both on earth and for eternity.”

That’s pretty cool – fairly amazing… Paul has definitely made his point.

That’s what is obvious… here’s what’s subtle…

Paul enters into heaven where he sees and hears some incredible things… BUT here’s the deal… those things are only for Paul.

It is between God and Paul. It is NOT something to be shared and certainly NOT something to be used for more personal power and prestige.

Most people think that a Top Secret security clearance is the highest… Confidential, Secret and Top Secret. Well it’s not true, there’s a clearance above Top Secret that I held… I knew stuff that I couldn’t even tell other guys in my squadron.

I couldn’t tell anyone… Well neither could Paul. He had an even higher security clearance and couldn’t tell anyone about what he saw and heard!

People who love to tell you all about the details of their vision, probably had their vision due to “An undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato.” “More of gravy than of grave…”

A real vision isn’t to be bandied about like some tall tale or fishing story… same thing.

SLIDE: THE PLEASURE OF THORNS ~

Paul then tells us beginning in verse 7, that as a direct consequence of this remarkable trip to heaven he was given “A thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment” him.

Specifically, this “Messenger of Satan” that tormented Paul was to keep him from becoming prideful, arrogant, as he said, “To keep me from exalting myself!”

People love to speculate on the thorn and by doing so miss what I think is the real point the Holy Spirit through Paul was trying to make here.

There’s the “Thorn,” there’s the “Flesh,” there’s the “Messenger” – really angel, and there’s “Satan.”

But all the emphasis of that passage is on the TORMENT. Torment is the focus, not the “Thorn,” “Flesh,” “Messenger” or “Satan.”

It hurt deeply – Paul felt tormented by Satan… It is κολαφίζω (kŏ-lä-fēdz-ō). It actually means to hit or beat with a fist – it is to be punched in the face.

Paul felt like he was repeatedly punched in the face and in my opinion it was due to his personal lack of perfection.

Whatever the “Thorn,” the point is it was used by Satan to torment Paul… to beat Paul down, to discourage and defeat him.

Paul desperately wanted to live up to his road trip to heaven – but he was never worthy…

He begged Jesus to fix him.

And here is the point… Jesus said NO!

Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

The false prophets wanted to talk about “Visions and Revelations,” but someone who actually had “Visions” couldn’t talk about what he had seen… and someone who had actual “Revelations” often got the answer they didn’t want to hear.

Some people use these verses to focus on the exciting, super-spiritual, emotionally charged supernatural, but the point is the exact opposite.

Will God show you things? Yes He will. Will God reveal things to you? Yes, He will, but it will always be His grace extended to you IN SPITE of your greatness, NOT because of it.

Paul grew up and matured when his prayer changed from, “Make me great” – to “Oh God, use me to proclaim your greatness.”

Thorns are the very things that can sharpen our focus on God’s necessary power and grace…

As the great Apostle said, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

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