the Lord’s prayer is short and simple, a lot less wordy than my long, drawn out prayers, yet I never get around to praying:
“Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.”
A 10 word , life changing request.
I have definitely been praying these 10 words over my two sons.
It’s hard to believe the “lead me not into temptation.”
God leads us into temptation?
After Jesus was baptized God led him into the wilderness.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.” Matthew 4:1
I can see that Jesus’ handling of his temptation taught his followers many lessons:
1. The Spirit will lead us into places of wilderness to be tempted.
2. Satan will tempt us.
3. Quoting scripture is a weapon to use against temptation. (That means I need to be prepared. Florence Littauer humorously says “You can’t speak God’s Word when you need it, if you have never taken the time to put it in your head.”
4. We have the power to reject temptation.
When I have doubts or am confused or misunderstand God, I search His Word to find clarity.
I’ve been looking for clear answers to temptation. Why we are tempted. What is the purpose?
If Jesus was led into temptation to be a lesson for us, to show us how to walk away from temptation, I’m thinking, we too can be a lesson… for others. We are being watched by the world, but most especially by our family and if we have children at home, they are surely watching us, and learning.
We KNOW we will come face to face with temptation. We will probably not be tempted by those things which don’t captivate us. Satan will attack us in our weakest spot. Jesus was hungry, alone, and a king without a country. Satan tempted him with bread, relationship and power.
I can’t relate to being hungry. I am an American. The majority of us have plenty of food.
I can however relate to the second temptation. As I interpret verses five and six in Matthew 4, I believe Satan might have thought Jesus felt abandoned by his Father. In order to prove God’s love, if he threw himself off a high point and if the angels swooped him up, that would prove God’s love for Him. The Father would rescue the Son from the fall. I have felt abandoned. I have asked God to prove his existence and His love for me. I have thought of ways I might get God’s attention.
Certainly our children get our attention by performing all kinds of naughty acts- just to see if we still care.
Jesus’ response was that we should not test our Father.
I can relate to power- not so much that I want to be a lord over a kingdom, but that I would like to have a little more control of my life. I would like to not have to worry about health care and its sky rocketing costs. If I were a ruler maybe I could do something about it. I am an educator. I have ideas that could improve learning. I am a Christian citizen of a godless nation. I would like to turn hearts back to God.
On and on…
Jesus’ words reminded me- insurance costs, education, and government become my idols and I begin to worship them if I give them too much power over my life.
Bottom line – understand temptation, be prepared to say “stop” and “no” to the world when it offers fleating promises. .
The temptations in *my life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than *I can stand. When *I am tempted, He will show me a way out so that *I can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13 *(I changed the third person pronouns to first person.)
Let’s memorize this verse, in the first person, and be prepared to quote it when we feel temptation’s vines crawling around in our lives.
1- How much time did we invest in our wedding?
shopping and planning
2- How much time do we invest in the marriage?
“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.” ? Max Lucado
Let’s spend moments each day asking God to heal our marriages. Let’s commit to search His Word looking for the guidance that will change our hearts, actions, words, and looks (the way we look at our husbands). Let’s commit to pray for the leaders of our households giving them the respect God created them to receive. Let’s commit to open our hearts to God’s love, allowing Him to be the fulfillment of all our dreams and desires.
At some point in life, it’s time to realize there is a choice to be made.
I came to that point after several years of living in confusion. I wasn’t prepared for a relationship. I had no idea how to be married. I wasn’t happy with the direction my marriage was going. I seriously doubted that we had a future together.
I never stopped praying and asking God guidance.
The first breakthrough came when two godly women in my church told me to stop thinking negative thoughts about my marriage. These women were bold, confident, and determined. I needed their confident advice. I thought my marriage had burned out and I believed the lie that I should end it.
I determined to make some choices that would change my perspective on my life.
Choice #1: I believed these strong women of faith. I trusted them and chose to stop thinking thoughts of ending the relationship. If you don’t have a close friend or a mentor who will encourage and guide you, ask God to bring someone into your life.
Choice #2: I refocused my expectations. Instead of placing the responsibility on my husband for filling my emotional needs, I turned my energy upward. I asked God to fill me with the joy that comes from work well done. My career as a teacher, as well as volunteer work in the church and community soon began to fill my life to overflowing. I was a happier woman, more confident, and appeared less needy to my husband. Slowly I began to understand what it felt like to be a woman of dignity. I felt worthy and valuable!
Choice #3: Once I had been introduced to personality styles, I realized how uniquely different we all are. I understood the importance of being created – each one of us special to perform within the gifts and talents God had given us. I actually appreciated my husband’s differences. I refused to allow his character traits to annoy me. I chose to admire his strengths, to compliment him, and to ask him to fill in the gaps in my life.
Example: Because I am sanguine I am creative and have a flare for decorating my home. Because I am sanguine I don’t want to take the time to do things just right. I am always in a hurry to get to the next fun project. I learned early on that hanging pictures takes expertise. Sanguine girls like me don’t measure. Melancholy people like my husband love to measure. Together we make a great team when it comes to hanging pictures.
Another example: Sanguine girls like me want to have fun. Fun often requires money. Melancholy people are disciplined. Today after so many years of marriage, as we retire, I am thankful my husband put his foot down, saying no to the boat, the snowmobiles, the custom made window treatments, new cars every other year… I would have had us in the poor house had he not convinced me we didn’t need those things.
Another example: I have a very close friend who is phlegmatic. She has a hard time making up her mind. Also she is a home body, not really attracted to adventure. Her husband is choleric. He is a doer, a mover and a shaker. He hardly allows her to sit still. Early in her marriage she dreaded her husband’s constant activity. It exhausted her. Today she is so thankful that he drove her to travel, make choices she might have postponed. She says her life is richer and fuller because of his influence in her life and the lives of her sons.
There was a time when I knew my husband and I had no future together. Today I call him my rock, my dependable provider, an anchor in the storm, and so much more. Because I chose to look for admirable traits I found them.
Choice # 4: I chose to obey God. God created marriage. He believes in the family. His purpose for marriage is to build a strong foundation for the community. I chose to honor God. He tells us to love one another, to be kind to each other, to thrive in relationships where accountability is important and accepted, and to be a light in the darkness. I can do that. I can obey God.
Most importantly I took my eyes off my husband and asked God to show me how to live in a marriage that would honor my husband and my God. I took on the challenge. I will never regret the decision I made to make a choice in favor of my marriage.
There are times I may not like my husband, but I will never stop loving him. Like me, he is a child of God, created in God’s image to live the life God has purposed for him until the day our Lord calls him home.
Monday, I’ll share some funny stories about how we got through some of our challenging times. Humor always has a way of taking the edge off situations that become unnecessarily serious.
I am praying for you!
I didn’t know I had emotional needs. I didn’t know I was such an emotional being, until I had been married for a while.
At a certain moment in my marriage- I guess when the “honeymoon was over”, I experienced a let down. Gone was the romance. Good bye dating. No longer was I the center of his attention.
I felt unloved.
Many years later, after being introduced to my personality style, I learned something unique and amazing about myself… and others.
Each of us has a tank, a bank, a heart that longs to be filled.
BUT, not all of us is satisfied equally.
Some of us are banks. Money supports the banking industry
Some of us are cars. Gasoline makes a car go.
Some of us are shelves. Merchandise creates the commerce that rotates through those shelves.
Some of us are flowers. Fertilizer makes the flower grow.
In each of the above cases something specific is needed to make it work, to give purpose. Those specifics cannot be interchanged. You would never pour gasoline on flowers. Can’t stuff merchandise in the gas tank. Fertilizer in banks? And piles of money on shelves would create havoc in the world of commerce.
As a sanguine bride I needed my husband’s attention, affection, approval, and acceptance.
I didn’t know what it was I longed for. I just knew I was miserable.
He, on the other hand, as a melancholy, sought silence, solace, sensitivity, and support.
How does a silent person give attention or express approval?
How does an affectionate person reach out to and touch someone who wants to be alone? I’m inclined to give a hug or sit close to a friend or child to offer support!
God really made it difficult! Or did He create humans so intricately that we would be forced to probe deeply, thus becoming intimately acquainted, so much so that we would have to get creative to express, show, and prove our love to one another.
A choleric wants to hear “job well done” for all their efforts. Loyalty, appreciation, and a sense of control fill the choleric with a sense of well being.
The phlegmatic personality needs respect, a sense of worth, peace, and a stress-free environment.
Now let me give you a few scenarios as to how these needs struggle to be met.
As a young bride I had to learn to cook. The kitchen has never been a favorite place of mine. In my effort to be a good wife I tried cooking. First of all I didn’t like it. Secondly I often failed miserably. When I did accomplish a meal all I wanted was a word of approval.
My husband on the other hand had a mother who was a fabulous cook. She cooked for the family because it was expected, and she loved it. It wasn’t a big deal. In her generation it was just another responsibility. Two things clashed at our dinner table early on. He didn’t feel supported because my meals didn’t match his mother’s. Because he is a quiet man, he didn’t voice approval when I did succeed.
I was hurt. He didn’t understand.
In our early years we moved several times. While he went off to work, I stayed home to put our home together. Loneliness consumed me. When he arrived home each night I attacked him with questions, demanding a conversation. He only wanted to come home to be left alone. I wasn’t sensitive to his emotional needs.
We endured vicious cycles, me needing something he couldn’t deliver and him needing something I couldn’t deliver.
We were trapped. We had no idea what to do with each other!
Once I became more acquainted with him and understood that he too had emotional needs I understood. It wasn’t that he didn’t love me. He just didn’t know HOW to love me. All during those years I had not known how to love him either.
I remember hearing Dr. James Dobson teach about a woman’s vocabulary versus a man’s vocabulary. Women have many more words. So not only is my husband energized by silence. He runs out of words early in the evening. Dr. Dobson reminded the women listening to his radio show that day “Women you have your girlfriends. Let your men off the hook. Go hang out with the girls and get all your talking done.” I was relieved to be free to go hang with the girls and my husband was relieved to be left alone.
Because I am fun loving, I like to poke, tease, and joke around. Because my melancholy husband is sensitive and serious he sometimes feels that I am not supporting him. Who knew? He likes to work. I like to play. If I take the work we do together too lightly, he takes it as a personal affront.
Oh we humans are so tender. We just can’t be considerate enough toward each other.
My mother is a strong choleric. Daddy was a peaceful phlegmatic. The slow motion and ease with which he moved through life frustrated my mother. Sometimes he read her impatience as disrespect. It hurt him deeply. She on the other hand felt belittled when he didn’t give her control of certain situations.
Oh the human psyche. It is so complicated.
Do you know your husband’s emotional needs?
We’ll continue our conversation on Friday. I’ve appreciated your comments and encouraging words. I’d like to continue with this topic. Share your thoughts and put a few questions out there.
Friday I’ll be sharing some intentional steps I took that helped our relationship survive.
Meanwhile, if you are interested in learning a whole lot more about personalities, I encourage you to follow this link. I highly recommend the DVD series. It is entertaining and educational.
“Many asked, ‘What’s your secret to staying together?’ ”
I never set out to be a marriage mentor.
You see, I haven’t done marriage very well. Like I explained in today’s devotional:
Lots of tears. Selfishness. Loneliness. Hard moments. Difficult standoffs. Emotions I didn’t understand and couldn’t control! Painful words. Challenging situations.
To that add two stubborn and highly independent people.
Like I said, “I haven’t always done marriage very well.”
But, as I recently danced with my husband of 42 years at a wedding in January, I had a moment of clarity. I’ve possibly been more successful at my marriage than I was willing to give myself credit.
So I flash back…
We met in college, on the phone, sort of.
I was talking with his roommate and best friend, the boyfriend of a dorm mate of mine.
He overheard the conversation. He wanted in on it.
The “dance” began.
We danced through our college years. We grew to like each other. We decided we were in love. We decided to get married. We did.
We moved into a tiny efficiency apartment on the edge of campus. We didn’t need much. We were newlyweds. In love. Clueless.
It didn’t take long for me to realize ~
We were so different. I mean we were not at all alike!
It went beyond the obvious. He is tall, I mean really tall. I am short.
He is quiet. I had no idea. I mean we talked on the phone for hours while we were dating. The reality , as I later on found out, he asked questions and I talked on the phone for hours while we were dating! He listened.
He is serious. I had no idea how serious. I mean I knew he was smart. I knew his major was engineering. He certainly was much more studious than I, but seriously…
He is a loner. I had no idea that he is really happiest when he is alone. When we were dating he always wanted to be with me. We spent a lot of time together with all our friends.
He is different! He is not like me!
Our differences threatened to destroy our marriage.
I realized, I didn’t know him!
He preferred being at work, accomplishing challenging tasks. At home he sought silence and solitude.
He liked thinking with his mind! I don’t use my mind. I use my mouth!
I, on the other hand, wanted to go out on the weekends. You know, like we had in college when he was wooing me. I expected a constant conversation to run back and forth between us.
And then came the real blow- REJECTION. Well, it certainly felt like it.
I was convinced he no longer loved me.
The differences between us loomed. To make matters worse, neither of us was willing to adjust.
Days, I thought we had no future together.
I turned to mentors who counseled me and encouraged me.
I ranted and raved.
I asked God to show me the way…
A major breakthrough flooded my perspective on marriage when my mother introduced me to an amazing speaker and teacher Florence Littauer who in turned introduced me to her book, Personality Plus, a study of personality styles.
I learned the following
#1Not everyone is like me. That is OK. Stop focusing on the negative in others. Appreciate the good.
#2 I am not going to change others.
#3 As annoying as others are to me, I am equally annoying to them.
#4 Each personality style has its strengths and its weaknesses.
#5 Strengths taken to an extreme become weaknesses.
#6 There are four personality styles.
Just let me say here, I know there are many personality profiles. I recommend the one Florence uses because it is simple and fun, easy to understand, remember, and apply.
Not only did the personality styles study introduce me to myself, freeing me to be who God created me to be, it introduced, for the first time to my husband- now of 15 years!
I thought I knew him when I married him. Truly, I had no idea who I had married. The more I learned about personality styles, how they interact, clash, and complement each other, the more I wanted to know. The personality styles are divided into four types of people, each so different::
Once I understood the concept of personality styles I got a grip on my relationship with my husband. Oh how I wished I had known this all along. Of course we were battling. We each had different goals in life.
I wake up each day seeking fun, activity, lighthearted routines. Being with people, sharing good times is what life is all about to me. I thrive on living from event to event. Don’t rain on my parade. I lose keys, have a hard time finishing what I have started, get easily distracted.
When company is coming for dinner I may start dinner, begin to set the table, go outside to pick the flowers for the centerpiece, talk with the neighbor, pull a few weeds, water the fern I purchased impulsively which is now drooping because I forgot about it. Twenty minutes before company is due to arrive I am not ready!
When my husband plans something, he makes a list. He thinks about it a long time. He doesn’t start anything until he has methodically planned his course. He focuses and goes for it. He never stops to chat. He is never distracted. He gets the job done.
People get in my husband’s way. People ARE my way.
My head is full of creative ideas. He has one thought.
He makes a list and checks it off. I have a vision that grows and grows and grows.
He finishes. I dream on.
See the differences.
Couples can either allow the differences to destroy or they can use the differences to develop a strong relationship with strengths from each person.
Once I had these personality tools, I began to intentionally choose to ignore his weaknesses and focus on his strengths.
I encourage you to take a look at this chart. It is simple. it explains a lot.
Today I realize that each one of us is a unique workmanship fashioned in God’s hands – special, unique, funny, and infuriating to those who have to live with us!
The good news: we don’t have to change. We only have to perfect our strengths and eliminate our weaknesses!
Your turn: Ask God to help you find yourself in this quadrant. Praise Him for creating you in His image. Now find your husband. Focus on his strengths. Praise God for providing you with a man whose strengths compliment you.
Next week I’ll share a bit about the emotional needs of each personality. Another eye opener and game changer in my marriage.
I am praying for you today, asking God to open your eyes as He did mine! Asking Him to renew your love and rekindle the passion in your marriage. I know He can because He worked a miracle in my home.
During a particularly difficult time in my life a dear friend read this verse to me. Since then I have often referred to it when I simply had no energy left to figure life out.
“My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. (The New Licving Translation reads with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp) But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. …put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.” Psalm 131 (NIV)
Yes, I have given up. What I learned from giving up was far greater than what I was attempting to gain from straining like crazy to make life work for me. I rested. I gave God responsibility, I trusted Him to take control. I “crawled up in his lap” and took a nap. I even told him, “God, these are matters too complicated for me. I am going to obey you, quiet my spirit, and, compose myself. When I wake up we will deal with it.”
This devotional is a result of my “matters-too-complicated life.”
…and it was chosen for the Real Life Devotional Bible!
COMPOSED AND QUIETED
I watched the young mother deftly work in her kitchen, amazed at all she could accomplish with one hand. In her left arm she tenderly cradled her little one. With her right hand, elbow, shoulder and hip she opened drawers and shut doors; she pulled out cups, saucers, and spoons; she scooped coffee and poured water.
While Juan Valdez’s aroma filled the air, she gathered pastries from her pantry and other refreshments from her refrigerator. When silence replaced conversation, she hummed a quiet melody into her baby’s ear. Finally we sat down to enjoy our mid-day visit and I realized
…her tiny infant had slept through it all, mindless of the constant noise and swirling activity.
Oh, to rest in such peace while all around me chaos reigns. What secret lay hidden in that little heart?
The chapter which contains today’s key verse offers the answer- such a short and simple Psalm, yet says it all, “I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother.”
I long to for an escape from life’s challenges. Sometimes the force and frequency with which my trials torment me threaten to undo me.
I’ve been tested and tried to the point that I thought, “if the barrage doesn’t let up, I am a goner.” I held up my hand in the stop position and screamed out to God, “No more! Have mercy. I’m undone! How am I supposed to juggle all this?”
In that instant God whispered, “Like a child rests against his mother, quiet your soul.”
Then the Master Artist sketched for me the picture I described earlier. His reminder recalled a young mother tenderly and safely holding her baby, while all around, life’s responsibilities increasingly swelled like waves on the ocean.
Sweet friend, do you feel like you are losing your footing? Are you struggling to conquer the chaos? If you are like me- you are on the brink, throwing up your hands and screaming, “I give up
That’s good! Give up.
Yes, that is what I said.
Give up and, like a child in her mother’s arm, trust, obey, rest…
Let God open and close the doors. Believe that He will prepare and provide. He created you, his precious child. He is protecting you in the crook of his strong right arm.
Today is an absolutely gorgeous day in Charlotte. I cannot wait to get outside and do what gives me so much joy and energy- digging in my garden. I have such a grand plan for an area of my yard that has yielded mostly ugly weeds in the middle of grass and a lot of moss. We’ve tried growing grass for years and now it is time to ditch that plan.
I am going to grow moss. That’s right. I have encouraged moss on my bird baths and in the cracks of the stones on my patio. Moss has tried to grow where I wanted grass. Now it’s time to stop fighting the battle of the grass and join the way of the moss.
I think of my own life. Times when I have a plan that doesn’t go along with God’s plan. Times when I want to grow grass and God has already poured out the spores for moss to take hold.
I hope you get the picture. I know you too have your own dreams, that for one reason or another, haven’t been realized. One thing I have learned, when I submit to God, when I allow wisdom to rule and trust His perfect ways, when I step into his path and let his Word light the way, peace reigns and joy soars.
I reflect on my life.
I realize how broad and deep my life has been due to the many corporate moves God laid out for my life.
I remember the extended family members who have adopted me and my family into their traditions, amazing and fabulous people I would have never known had I always depended on my family.
I recognize the absolute joy of living in God’s will: working with teenagers, watching them grow, laughing with them as I share their humor, weeping with them when they fail, spurring them on to excellence, cheering with them as they celebrate victories. I would not have traded one experience with any of my students for a “lucrative” career!
I relish the thought of knowing lots of people. People are fascinating, charming, intelligent, inspiring, and motivating. Being with people energizes me. Truth be said, though I now realize the simple sweetness of a few wonderful friends who know me and care for me and pray with me. I couldn’t ask for anything more!
I wish life were free of struggles and trials. I especially hate it when those I love have to suffer through challenging times. I hated watching my daddy die. When my mother-in-law and then my mother faced cancer I struggled to keep my footing. Since my mother-in-law’s death I have missed her in many ways. There are other trials my family has faced, circumstances that threatened to undo us. Yet- when I invited God into the journey, He graciously showed me the Way.
He blessed me with strength, confidence, peace, trust, friends, answered prayer or a calmed heart.
God’s ways truly are higher and more beautiful!
Today I end my battle with the grass and join the way of the moss.
At wedding showers we have decided to concentrate more on the blessing than the giving.
Oh yes- the bride-to-be is showered with gifts, but opening presents is not the purpose of our bridal showers.
Showering her with blessings – blessings of wisdom and encouragement have become the focal point of the showers we host for the soonto-marry-our-sons young women.
Day before yesterday- a lovely spring Sunday afternoon I hosted a bridal blessing.
I spoke directly to the bride to be about the young man she allowed to steal her heart.
I’ve known this young man since he became my son’s best friend in the 6th grade. Today they are 25 years old. I’ve watched this young man stumble, make mistakes, choose wisely, and grow. I have had a front row seat to his life since I walked into a Moms In Touch gathering of mothers praying for their children in middle school. I would not exchange those morings in prayer for anything.
Way back then we often prayed for the little girls who were growing up and would one day be our sons’ wives.
I told the bride to be that it was no surpirse that young girls grow up dreaming to be a beautiful bride walking down the aisle toward her handsome groom.
I spoke about the verse in Ecclesiasties 3:9 where we are told that God created us with eternity in our hearts, a longing so to speak, for something, someone, to fill that place in our hearts meant to be filled by an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ.
We women dream to be a beautiful bride adored and loved by the dashing man with whom we will live forever.
As women, though, we are confused. We forget that earthly men can not possibley fulfill all our dreams, no matter how handsome they are. We forget that their love for us in never enough to satisfy our needs.
Not only do we forget, we create high expectations that no man can ever accomplish.
We forget. We expect. They disappoint.
I reminded the bride, “Only Jesus can fulfill the roll of a perfect bride groom.”
I encouraged her to enjoy her marriage, but to hold on carefully. I reminded her that true happiness comes from allowing the works of her hands,- her service to her community and most especially her relationship with Christ to define her and give her life meaning.
There is no doubt what we expect from her~
not to be a good cook
not to be a meticulous house keeper
not to serve our sons and make them happy,
although these are good goals,
but to love her Lord with all her heart, soul, mind and body.
That is all we ask as a mother in law.
Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. 10 But he does not hesitate to punish and destroy those who reject him.
Yesterday I spent the morning with a youth group from a Spanish speaking church. Their youth pastor asked me to speak to them about choices. I titled my presentation Spring Fever.
I began by sharing my most recent favorite commercial with them, the Allstate crash between business suit and casual guy. Business suit is sure that casual guy isn’t responsible enough to carry insurance. Wrong! Casual guy is actually very responsible and an incredibly respectful young man. I call this commercial: Connected.
My point in referring to this commercial was simple. Even though I am an old lady and they are young teens, we are connected. They immediately wanted to know, “How?”
I told them my story, how I had grown up like them, an American girl in a foreign country. Our story is similar but reversed, sort of. I was born in a Spanish speaking country to American parents. They were born in an English speaking country to Latino parents. It told them I was their age when I moved to the US. I encouraged them to accept the idea that I had experienced some of the same emotions they have experienced: rejection, alienation, and loneliness.
I also told them that in the midst of these emotions we were connected in another way- as teens they were experiencing the challenge of growing up. I talked about Dr. James Dobson’s book, Life On The Edge. I introduced them to the Decisive Decade, that 10 year period between 16 and 26 when so many important decisions are made. I let them know that the choices they were about to make would impact their lives forever, either positively or negatively. I told them we would sepnd the next 30 minutes talking about how to make good choices.
This was my outline:
Who are you hanging out with?
Where are you?
When are you hanging with your friends?
What are you doing?
I told them that how they answer these questions can be very important!
We began with the story of Eve.
Chapter 3 of Genesis begins by introducing the serpent. He was crafty the Bible tells us. We discussed the meaning of crafty. We taked about words like shrewd, deceptive, and sly. I reminded them of the old saying “sly as a fox.” I drew a mental picture of the beautiful fox slinking around at the edge of the forest, waiting for the sun to go down. I told them a fox enters the chicken coop to steal the eggs, when no one is looking. I encouraged them, beware the fox.
The serpent was/ is like the fox, waiting for the right moment to slink in and steal what is important.
So Eve was taking with the serpent. I explained to the young teens that Eve knew better. She was in the wrong place. We talked about places that are acceptable places to be and places that are unacceptable, like
- Homes without parental supervision
- Scenes of crimes (Let the kids know that watching friends shoplift was not cool!)
Then I explained how Eve was also with the wrong character. We discussed shifty, dishonest, untrustworthy types. Tod them it was best to stay clear of people whose presence made us feel uncomfortable.
Next we talked about what she was doing? Clearly she was listening to the lies of that questionable character. She knew better. God had warned her. So what was she doing? Disobeying God.
Eve was at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong person, doing something wrong,
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
I’m praying the kids gained some insight and wisdom from our time together. If one child is kept from making a life changing choice that might devastate them my time with them will not have been in vain.
I gave them two phrases to take home:
When in doubt, get out
OBEY, I’ll never regret doing the right thing
These are not just good words for teens, they are good practices for people of all ages.
-In the garden we disobey. He gives us EVERYTHING we need and warns us to stay away from that which will bring us death. We can’t stay away. We taste. Our eyes are opened. We feel guilt. We realize regret. We run. We hide. We are ashamed. God finds us in our secret places. He covers our sin, thus the first sacrifice. An animal must die to clothe us.
“And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” Genesis 3:21
-Again in Egypt an animal has to die to protect the sins of God’s children, to rescue them from slavery, and deliver them to the promised land. When the lamb is sacrificed and its blood wiped over the door post, the angel of death ‘passes over” the homes of those who obey God’s instructions. (Exodus 11 & 12)
Sacrifice as an offering to God and for the repentance of sins continued to be an important part of the Israelite worship throughout their history. Priests were chosen to lead the people in the rituals. Families took their animals to the tabernacle and the temple where they handed them over to the priests who performed the sacrificial rites as gifts, offerings, and acts of repentance. One of the rituals is found in Leviticus 4:5 & 17. The priest places the animal on the altar, sacrifices the perfect animal, and sprinkles the blood seven times.
Jesus was not only the perfect Lamb of God who sacrificed his life, He was the high priest who performed the sacrifice on the cross, (his altar). He spoke seven times from the cross allowing His Word to do its work in the hearts and lives of the people who stood at the foot of the cross.
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He took His place beside God and ended the system of sacrifice once and for all time!
“ There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever.” Hebrews 7:23-28
Jesus accomplished work on the cross conquered death, saved our sins, set us free, and opened the path for a future and a hope.
Hallelujah, it is finished and all things are made new!