I was thinking about my chapel tomorrow and what I was going to talk about. I had been singing Azaria the song Arky Arky over and over again and the refrain says, “So rise and shine and give God the glory glory.” I was thinking about how everything we do we need to do it to the glory of the Lord. Everything good that happens is all because of God, so He should get the glory at ALL times! I even heard a country Christian song on the radio today called Touchdown Jesus and I was so looking forward to writing out my notes for a talk on this topic.
I went upstairs to grab a notebook so I could start writing my thoughts down and I opened up the one I grabbed, only to discover that I had already written in it. Two years ago I used this notebook to write down my thoughts and prayers on scripture readings that I had been going through at that time. Instead of flipping past these pages like I normally would, I had this strong urge to read the first one. I soon heard God telling me that this was what He wanted me to talk about tomorrow.
My entry talked about Genesis and how God had created Adam and Eve because He loved them. After Adam and Eve had fallen into sin, they were banished from the garden and lots of hard things were going to come into their lives. Increased pain with childbearing, toil and hard labor over crops. Pain, struggles, hardship were all eminent. However, God loved them then, just as much as He had loved them when He created them. God was disappointed with their choice to sin, but His love never stopped for them. Even though they hurt Him, He clothed them, gave them many offspring, and blessed them so much. This was even after they were banished from the garden. Sure it was hard, but that was the consequence that came with their choice.
My 3rd and 4th graders ask me frequently, “If God knew He didn’t want them to eat from the tree in the garden, and He knew they would, why would He put it there in the first place.” First of all, for them to even think on that deep of a level to come up with a question like that is so beyond amazing to me (teacher brag moment). Second of all, that is an AMAZING question that boggles so many brains. Why would God do that to us, why wouldn’t He protect us from the consequences of the sin. The answer is simple, and my students came up with it all on their own.
What would happen if we had the power to force another person to play with us and be our best friend? Would that person really love us and really want to play with us on their own? Think of the movie Ella Enchanted. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s about a girl who was cursed at birth to do everything someone asked her to do. Her mom called out one morning, “Ella, it’s time to practice your mandolin.” In that scene, you saw her shoot down the stairs at lightning speed to do as her mother asked of her with a scowl on her face. If you had to be forced to love someone, that love wouldn’t be true, it wouldn’t be their choice. God knew this. He placed that tree in that garden, not because He enjoyed seeing Adam and Eve screw everything up and be cursed for all of eternity, but because He wanted their love to be their own and their choices to be because it’s what THEY wanted. He didn’t want it to be forced.
1 Timothy 1:14 says, “God’s grace was poured out abundantly along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
Grace is the blessings and favor that God gives FREELY to all sinners, regardless of what they do. This means that we can be the worst person in all of history, yet God chooses freely to give blessings and favor to us simply because He loves us and He can. He’s AMAZING! This kind of love is unfathomable, so unlike anything that we would know from earthly love. So with Adam and Eve, even though they chose to fall away and sin, and broke His heart, God gave them grace in so many ways. He set up a “way out” for them even before the creation of the world because He knew the choice they would make and He still wanted them to be in heaven with Him one day.
If you recall the story of Cain and Able, Cain quickly became the first in history to murder. He murdered His brother out of spite and jealousy for what Able had. After the murder, God gave Cain an opportunity to tell Him what happened (How he thought he could get away with it in front of God, I will never understand.) Cain denied his guilt and said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” God knew what happened already and the consequence of Cain’s actions was that he would be cast out from the land of His father and would be made to be a wanderer. Cain responded to this with, “This curse is too great for me, I will be overtaken by my enemies.”
Now this is the point at which we see true love come through. God loved Cain so much, even though he had killed God’s child Able, that he marked Cain. God told him that He would not allow his enemies to overtake him, and whoever strikes at Cain, God would strike even more back. All those who went against Cain would be cursed. You see, Cain was still God’s child, even though he had committed this great sin. God’s love ran red for Cain too.
What does all this mean for us? God always wants us to fight against temptation to do what we know is wrong.
1 Timothy 6:11 says, “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”
He desires for us to cling to Him always, and in times of struggle and temptation. We are to flee it at all cost and ask for God’s strength to protect us and help us fight it. Do we still sin? Yes! Always! Does God hate us? No! Never! His love runs SO red for us that He sent His son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us. He set up a redemptive plan for us long ago, because He knew we couldn’t get to heaven with Him on our own. We need Him, and He desires us! His love is unchanging and always constant.
Romans 5:20 says, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”
The law was put in place because we are sinful and corrupt. God knew it was only going to increase as the years passed by. There needed to be rules and guidelines in play for how we are to live our lives so we know what to ask God for (His strength and help to get through our sinfulness.) BUT His grace abounds always and forever. He loves us ALWAYS! It’s uncontrollable, outstanding unfathomable, AMAZING! I don’t even have a good word for it. His grace is there, not because of us. It increases as our sin does. It’s ALL because of HIM!