Have you ever brushed your teeth and rolled, squeezed, and pressed to get that last pea sized drop of toothpaste out of the tube? You find it to be beyond empty with that sucking vacuum sound. Nothing left in the tube. That happened to me and I remember the next morning I went to brush my teeth and there was nothing to brush them with…except my girl’s toothpaste. At the time, my girls were younger so now this toothpaste was the sparkling bubble gum flavor toothpaste. It is great for kids. But when I brushed my teeth, one word came to mind…. “Yuck!” I felt like I had to brush my teeth again to get the taste of the toothpaste out of my mouth. Now, if I had been about 30 years younger, I would have loved it. But not so much now. I wanted Adult toothpaste, not kids. I had matured so my taste had changed.
The author of Hebrews tells us that as mature Christians we should crave the meat of our faith and not simply stick with milk. We are to grow up in our faith. Part of what the author was dealing with was people who refused to act like a mature Christian. They weren’t living a righteous life. So the author says, “really? By now, I shouldn’t have to be telling you that is not what you are supposed to be doing. You should know better.”
Is there something in our life that we keep doing that we know we really shouldn’t. Is it in the way we act towards others? Is it in how we pout when we don’t get our way? Is it how we gossip about others? It can be a whole list of things. But maybe it’s time that we grow up. As Christians, we are to be constantly growing more like Christ, not more like a 13 year old.
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Have you ever watched an animal ready to pounce on something? It is fascinating. They are like a spring that is coiled and ready to explode. And once it explodes from its position, it is hard to stop it. One of the key things to pouncing (or so I have heard from the animal kingdom shows, plus my dog throws me some advice every now and then) is crouching. Crouching is when you are low, unseen, folks are unaware of you, and then you catch at a moment where they are vulnerable and then (and only then) do you pounce.
Isn’t it interesting that God tells Cain that sin is “Crouching” at his door. It is was there waiting on him. It was hiding, waiting to pounce. And sin used the moment of Cain’s jealously of his brother to pounce on Cain. What was causing the “Crouching”? He is was angry. He was downcast. He was wanting to blame someone else for his not doing right. God warned him, but he didn’t listen.
This morning, take an inventory of where you are. Look around you. What attitudes and behaviors are you nursing that is allowing sin to crouch in your life. It desires to have you, but you must master it. How? Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in this world!
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Does the bible start in Genesis 3 or Genesis 1? I am pretty sure it starts in Chapter 1. We often forget that because we often start with the Fall and when things went wrong, instead of starting here with us being made in God’s image. But we can’t forget that before there was bad, there was good. Before we were deemed “Fallen”, we were deemed to be made in “His image”. Let me illustrate this. Let’s suppose that I spend all day in the kitchen making a beautiful cake. It is one of those three-tiered Food Network competition cakes. It is a masterpiece! It is the pinnacle of my cake making abilities! It is my pride and joy. Then on the way to getting it to the table, the cake decides to try to get away from me, and in doing so it slips out of my hands and drops to the floor. The once beautiful cake is now but a shattered mess all over the floor. Icing is everywhere, and the three-tiers are now one smooshed mushy layer.
Now as a baker, if you were to ask me to describe to you that cake, should I start with how it looked on the floor, or should I start with how it looked prior to the fall? The fall is only so terrible because of how beautiful it was before!
Now let’s say that years past and the cake was still on the floor. I wanted to talk to the cake and remind it how beautiful it was prior to the fall and to invite it to be in my kitchen again to be fixed. If all the cake ever knew was that it was a smooshed accident, it would have a hard time coming back to my kitchen.
We are more than just sinners. We are image bearers of God who are broken by sin, but who God has invited us back to be redeemed and restored to the beauty we had prior to the fall.
You are more than just your sins and mistakes. God invites you to come back to be restored to who you truly are in Him.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Playdoh. I wish I could say that I was creative with it, but the truth is that I am pushing it to say that I can even make a decent snake from it. But as I sit at the table with a bunch of little kids, I like to imagine all the possibilities that exist within this little lump of colored clayish material. For some reason, I get this image when I read this text of the earth being empty and formless and God hovering over the waters. Think of all the possibilities! God could have made the earth flat but instead made it round (Sorry Kyrie Irving…it is round!). He could have made everything in shades of gray with no color. He could have made everything exactly the same so that the earth looked similar to a 1950’s suburban subdivision with cookie cutter houses. Could you imagine if everything looked like (insert an ugly state name here…I chose to remain silent for fear of hatred remarks from others)? The point is that it was empty and formless but God was right there to make creation into something glorious. Isn’t that also what He does to us? Not that we are formless (though I do wish I had a little less apple form in my waist…that is besides the point…), but that we are often left feeling empty, without really knowing who we are or what we are there for…but there is God hovering right above us ready to fill us with His beauty, His glory, and His life. And He makes such wonderful and beautiful things with us.
So today, think that of all the things God could have made…He made you. Of all the things He could have filled you with…He chose to fill you with His Spirit. You are not empty and formless….you are the image of the Living God!
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Have you ever felt guilty because of pleasure? I am in the process of reading a wonderful book called “Becoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life?” by Michael Wittmer. Don’t let the title scare you. It isn’t about becoming some carnal Christian, but rather about enjoying the things that God has blessed us with. Somehow we have associated God’s creation and the pleasures of life as being somehow opposed to God. We feel that if we are actually enjoying life that must mean that somehow we are doing something wrong. Why would we think that our God would want us to live in a constant state of miserableness? God created these things for us to enjoy. This recently came up when my wife and I made a purchase. Our car broke down and we needed a new one. Now, we are cautious with our money (ask my daughters the dollar yogurt story…I have to hear it every time we pass the dairy aisle!), so my wife and I had budgeted for this, and so we went and got a car. We could have got a old used clunker (which kind of got us in the predicament…another story), but my wife has always dreamed of owning a Toyota (Her dad used to sell them). Not just a Toyota, but a new Toyota. So we looked at what we could afford and justify with our spending, and so we bought a little Corolla. And it is a nice car. It’s not overly extravagant, it’s a smaller car, but it has the bells and whistles. Now, when my wife drives (I have only been allowed to drive it once!), do you think she should be thinking, “God, I feel so guilty for having this car when there are so many needs in this world.” or do you think she should roll down the windows, go cruising on the windy Kentucky back roads and say, “God, thank You for allowing me to have the ability to purchase this car.”
Of course, God is the ultimate source of our pleasure, and all things need to be enjoyed in moderation and with responsibility (like buying a new car that cost more than what you make in 5 years while your children are starving and in need of diapers…oh yes, I have seen it. Can you say “TRUCK and BOAT combo!”). Give thanks, enjoy, and give back (like let your husband drive the car!).
Today, enjoy life. Enjoy God. Enjoy the life He has given you and those He has given you to spend it with.
1 Timothy 4:4-5
4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
Let’s talk laundry, shall we? Everyone has a system for doing it. My wife and I have different ways of doing laundry. She is focused on smaller, separated loads. Me? I focus on getting as many clothes into the washer as humanly possible, no matter the color, material, or who it belongs to. Of course you can understand why we would have some disagreements about laundry. Right now, you are probably picking a side. (TEAM BARRY!)
Now let’s pretend that we were all giving a command to do one thing: Laundry. The command was do the laundry. Nothing specific. Just do it. Now what would happen if as I was doing the laundry, my wife came up to me, told me I was doing it wrong and that I didn’t really believe in doing laundry? What if she said that unless I was doing laundry exactly as she said to do than I wasn’t being obedient to the command to “Do Laundry”. What if, she deemed whether or not I was doing laundry not by whether I was doing laundry but rather by how she thought I ought to be doing laundry?
Paul is talking to the young preacher Timothy, and he is telling him to be careful of those who are adding additional rules to the faith. They were telling people what they could and couldn’t eat, who they could or couldn’t marry, and if they didn’t tote the line then they weren’t truly following Christ.
Here is your homework for today. What does it mean for you to follow Jesus Christ and how are you adding to or subtracting from what He has said it means? What burdens are you placing on others because of how you think they should follow? Oh, and here is your second homework assignment….do the laundry.
1 Timothy 4:1-5
4 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
I love the story about the little three-year-old boy sitting on the toilet. His mother thinks he has been in there too long, so she goes in to see what’s up.
The little boy is sitting on the toilet reading a book. But about every 10 seconds or so he puts the book down, grips onto the toilet seat with his left hand and hits himself on top of the head with his right hand.
His mother says, “Billy, are you all right? You’ve been in there for a while.”
Billy says, “I’m fine, Mommy. I just haven’t gone doody yet.”
Mother says, “Okay, you can stay in there a few more minutes, but Billy, why are you hitting yourself on the head?”
Billy says, “Works for ketchup!”
Sometimes what makes sense to one person doesn’t make sense to anyone else. So often what Jesus says makes no sense from a worldly standpoint. To win we must surrender? To live we must die to self? We must love our enemies, forgive those who hurt us? Humble yourself and be exalted? All these make little sense to the world, but to the Christian it makes perfect sense! Why? Because we know Jesus and we trust in His wisdom above everyone else.
23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.