Sermon "Skill in Your Hand & God in Your Heart"

Friday, September 27, 2013

Seeing What God Sees

Genesis 22:4 "Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off."

Can you imagine what it looked like from Abraham's perspective on top of Mt. Moriah? His precious son with hands and feet tied, lying on an altar he had made; wood stacked up all around the base of the altar ready to burn; the bewildered look that perhaps peered through the tear-filled eyes of Isaac; knife raised in the air with its sharp tip pointed at the heart of his own son. That is what Abraham was looking at; but that is not what He saw. No, I believe Abraham had the faith-filled gift to see what God sees. God saw a man who loved Him enough to be willing to sacrifice his own son; and God saw a great nation birthed from one man who dared to love Him enough to obey Him, and through which He would reach out to the whole world.

No matter what you are looking at right now, let your faith help you to see what God sees. And no matter how big your problem, remember that: your problems can't stop God's plan; your problems can't break God's promises; and your problems are never greater than God's power.

Maybe in stead of taking our problems to God, we should take our eyes so He can change how we see the things we face. Take it from me, your outlook on life will be so much better when you learn how to see what God sees.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Naked and Not Ashamed!

Genesis 3:7 "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons."

Since today is my birthday, I thought it would be fitting to talk about birthday suits.  So here's what I need you to do. Get naked and go look at yourself in the mirror. ( I thought that would get your attention). But for real...get naked and get in front of a full length mirror and take a good look at yourself. What? Can't bring yourself to do that? Just the thought of it makes you feel uncomfortable? Yeah, me too. So scratch that idea.
But now that we are thinking about it, you are probably realizing that you pretty much keep yourself covered up, not only from the eyes of others, but also from your own eyes. Sure you get naked every day to take a bath or shower (or at least I hope you do), but how much time do you spend really looking at yourself. Maybe a brief glimpse in the mirror as you are jumping off the side of your tub through your bath towel and right into your underclothes. I would dare to guess that you have a mole on your body somewhere that you have never seen. 

So what's my point you ask (and yes I do have one).  Well I believe that we rarely if ever take a long, examining look at our bodies because we don't want to face our flaws. The truth is, we wear clothes not only to hide ourselves from others, but also to hide ourselves from...ourselves. Some of you probably rarely look at yourself in a picture or allow yourself to even be photographed because you don't want to be confronted by your own physical imperfections. I can't say that's too unnatural to feel that way.

But here is the even deeper point I am trying to make (and yeees, I do have one). Most of us don't want to have to see ourselves spiritually naked either. Having all of our sins, failures and bad habits laid to bare before our shameful eyes is too much to take. We don't just hide our sins from others, we hide them from ourselves too. That's why when we catch a glimpse of who we really are, we quickly throw on a towel of self-denial, or we cover our eyes with that hand that points out the flaws of others.  And to think, it all started with Adam and Eve. After they disobeyed God, their eyes were opened and they realized there were naked, and they were ashamed and they scuffled to try cover themselves. And we've been following their lead ever since.

But here's the thing. If we want to be freed from our sin, we have to be forgiven of our sin. And to be forgiven of our sin, we have to confess our sin. And to confess our sin we have to expose our sin. Not necessarily to other people, but definitely to God and to ourselves. And that is about as comfortable of a process as standing in front of one of those 3-section mirrors buck-naked. I know, I shudder at the thought too.

Look I want to share two things with you that I hope will help you cross your valley of shame to make it to the mountain of your deliverance. The first thing is this. Whatever you are hiding, you are only hiding it from yourself. God already knows. He can see past your church clothes and your cloak of self righteousness. He's not shocked by anything about you, and He loves you anyway. The second thing is this. When Jesus went to the cross for you, He not only took your sin with Him, but He also took the shame that accompanies your sin. Remember, before they crucified Jesus, they stripped Him of His clothes. And He allowed them to do that. Hebrews 12:2 says "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.". Jesus had nothing to hide, yet He got naked for you and me and bore our shame upon the cross to crucify it. 

So even if  you can't muster of the nerve to get naked and stand before a mirror, at least strive in your life to shed your clothes of pretense and self righteousness so that God can apply His grace to your places of shame. Then you will be able to fully know what the Prophet Isaiah meant when he said "Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy." (Isa. 61:7). Then you can be naked and not ashamed.