How to Bear a Burden

Luke 2:36 – 38

“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”

What do you do when you lose what is most important to you in the world?

How do you handle it?

The most devastating things to lose are those who we care about whether it is a person or a loved pet. We can find ourselves wondering if we will ever be able to move on.

Anna is married for seven years. In the first seven years of marriage, how well do you get to know your husband? You have started out your life together, you are a family, and your plans include that person for the rest of your life.

Then suddenly you are alone. You didn’t plan for it, but there you are.
How devastated Anna must have been. For the next 84 years she is facing the world as a widow. If she had married at 20 years old, she would have become a widow before she was 30.

What would you have done? I would have struggled with God and asked why He allowed my husband to be taken.

But where do we find Anna? The Bible says, “She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” And when she sees Jesus does she yell at Him for what has happened to her? No. Amazingly we read, “Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”

How does a woman who has lost so much, be able to be so at peace?

The answer is in the text. She was in the presence of God. Even when you lose what is of the most value to you, God can fill that hole in your life.

David knew the power of God’s presence for he wrote:

Psalm 73:28, “But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.”

In our society where every burden is placed on your heart, learn to pray to God and give it to Him.

Dear Heavenly Father,

You love me with an everlasting love. You have asked me in the Bible to give you all my burdens. At this point I am struggling with _______ . You have promised that if I have the faith of a mustard seed I could move mountains. Lord please teach me to trust you enough to leave this burden at your feet, and to trust that somehow you will take care of that burden for me. Thank you for doing this for me.

In Jesus name I pray, amen.

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God’s Creation

Genesis 1,2

Right at the beginning of the Bible God tells me, “I chose to make you. You weren’t created by chance but because I wanted to meet you.”

Have you ever asked yourself, why did God create the Sabbath day as soon as he made man and woman? God is all powerful. He spoke things into existence. He could have easily created the 10 day week. He could have given Adam and Eve a day to wonder through the garden themselves.

Instead God makes man, shows him that he needs a companion, and then creates woman. Upon creating humans he looks at the world and for the first time doesn’t just think, “it was good.” looking at all He had made He thinks, “it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31). Then, almost like He could not wait to hang out with us, He organises a day as soon as He can to spend time with us and focus on building up a relationship.

But this isn’t the only creation the Bible refers to.

In Psalm 51:10 – 12 David has been visited by Nathan. His sin has been blantantly shown to him and he can no longer hide it or carry it and he cries out,
“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

And God does answer David’s prayer for David would go on to write in Psalm 32:5 that He confessed his sin to God, did not try to hide it and God forgave his sin and his guilt. Note the past tense. This shows that David is now looking back and able to say, “[You] forgave┬áthe guilt of my sin.”

When God comes to anyone we are like the earth before God created light. Darkness covers our whole being (Matthew 6:23). But it is God’s will that everyone who is willing is saved (Matthew 6:37 – 40). So God says, “Let there be light.” And we start to feel that we need something else in our life. We start to feel like we need a new start. In some way we start to get drawn to God. And when we turn to Him and like David, confess our sins to God and are willing for God to change us, then God starts to create a whole new person.

God could have created the earth in one word. But He took seven days. It was almost like He was wanting to savour the experience of each and every item He made. And He also wanted to teach man and get both man and woman involved in the process for he let Adam name the animals and during this experience, realise that man was missing a companion. When God recreates us, He does it slowly. It is a learning experience where we get involved. And in that experience we will go through different situations, but our walk with God should be an enjoyable experience as we get to know more and more the depth, breadth, and height of God’s love for us just as Paul discovered (Romans 8:38,39).

If you don’t believe me, why not take David’s invitation.

Psalm 34:8:
“Taste and see that the Lord is good;┬áblessed is the one who takes refuge in [Him].”

Why not decide right now to reach out to God in prayer and trust the Creator to recreate your life?

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Genesis 3

Yesterday I saw out of Genesis 1 and 2 a beautiful picture of how God really wants to spend time with us.

Meanwhile Genesis 3 dives quickly into the story. We left Adam and Eve together as one in Genesis 2:24,25. They were naked but unashamed. Suddenly in Genesis 3 we see Eve by herself being questioned about God’s will. Have we ever found ourselves in a situation where we are being tempted to sin and we ask ourselves, “How did I get here?”

Eve starts out so well. She does what Jesus did when He was tempted. She quotes God. She had the evidence right in front of her of what she should do, but the Bible tells us that it was when she was looking at the fruit, and considering the options that she found herslf sinning. Where she should have quoted God and left as quickly as she could, she found herself considering the offer. This is where Eve and many of us fail when it comes to following God.

Upon deciding to take up the offer Eve then goes to share the fruit with her husband. This is mistake number two. Even when we don’t immediately see the consequences of what we have done, the worst thing to do, is to encourage others to follow us in our choices when we know God has told us not to do it.

But lets not be too harsh. Eve had never been lied to before. How could she have realised what she was truly doing? That is true. But consider the fact that she knew God. She knew His character. If she had focused on Him, she should have asked herself, “If God really loves me, would He deny me something just because He didn’t want me to be like Him? Is that a loving, selfless God?” If God was so desperate to spend time with Adam and Eve as soon as He could, why would He hold them back from something that would supposedly draw them closer together?

But how many times do we follow the same pattern when we face temptation? We don’t consider the consequences, we like what we see and we do it. And like Adam and Eve we are suddenly ashamed of our nakedness. Ashamed when we realise what we are now truly like.

And in our shame, like Adam and Eve, we hide ourselves from God. We can’t bear to read the Bible. We are too ashamed to pray. We don’t want to see our friends. We want everyone to forget we exist.

But in this place we have forgotten, God desires to spend time with us. So even though, God being all knowing, would have known Adam and Eve had sinned, He still called out, “Where are you?” seeking to reconnect with them.

God is very powerful. He spoke light into existence. He could have caused a mighty wind to blow and all Adam and Eve’s cover would have been removed, but instead God called out to them. Like trying to encourage a scared wild animal to come to you, God called out in a loving, patient, kind voice. Even now, God shows His love for fallen humans.

I don’t know what encouraged Adam to respond, but Adam reaches out to God. Note that God didn’t force Adam’s answer. Adam had to respond to God’s call. And this starts a conversation.

Anyone who thinks God doesn’t care, God won’t listen, or God isn’t interested, hasn’t read Genesis 3. For God chooses to enter into a conversation where everybody knew that Adam and Eve were both shifting the blame. And yet God listens. And God takes into account all the points of view when He sorts out the mess that Adam and Eve had created.

Adam blames God and Eve, Eve blames the serpent, and as they say, in the end the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on.

I can’t explain the reasoning behind all the judgements, but God is never a cruel God so I know none of these judgements would have been given out of anger for the Bible says that God is love, and love does not work out of anger (1 John 4:8, 1 Cor 13:4-7).

So even in His judgements, God still showed His love because the judgements He pronounced were actually for their benefit in the world as they would now be faced with the natural consequences of their sin.

So consider some of these judgements. Interestingly God’s judgements are pronounced in the order of the blame that was placed. Almost like God wanted to show that each was getting true and fair justice:

Serpent:

– “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers…”. How grateful are we that we have that pull to not sin? Something inside us draws us away from losing complete control and becoming the absolutely terrible person Satan wants to turn us into.

Woman:

– “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” On the surface this looks very harsh. And some husbands can make this look like this was the greatest curse God could have put on the earth. But if you consider what God is doing you will see that He is creating a hierarchy because as anyone who has ever done any team work could probably tell you, if you have two or more people trying to get their way, nothing gets done. So what God is doing is He is saying that one person must be willing to trust the other person. And in this text God assigns the woman to trust her husband. So we need to all choose our husbands wisely.

Man:

– “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.” This seems like a curse an angry God would give: “You will work for your food!” But have you ever noticed what a blessing work is? It allows us to have some small aims in life, to have a reason to meet other people, to build up muscle, and the healthiness of being in the fresh air and doing activities is wonderful. It also helps with the situation where if we aren’t doing anything it is easier to be led to do things we shouldn’t do.

But there is one other curse that is worth mentioning.

As soon as God finishes talking about the instigator of the sinful thought (the snake (Satan)) He quickly follows it up with this statement to be a curse on Satan himself:

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.”

In the thoughts we had on Genesis 1 and 2 we saw that God wants to spend time with us so much that He jumped at the idea to set a whole day aside with Him as soon as He made creation. But when humans sinned, they separated themselves from God. Sin results in death (Romans 6:23) because sin cannot survive in the presence of a loving and Holy God. So now God has a problem. He can’t spend time with us if we can’t live in His presence. So He either lets us die or He has to resolve the punishment.

You may ask yourself, why didn’t God just forgive them and say, “Never mind. Just don’t do it again.” If God had done that, then sin would have grown. And I think each of us can look around the world today and see the consequences of a world that doesn’t love God or each other. How many stories do we read of assault, murder, robbery, and people who are unloving?

So God had to put in place a plan to give us a second chance, but also maintain that we need to live as God designed us to live: a life of love.

And that is where this curse comes in. God jumps in and says, “Satan you have won this battle, but you won’t win the war.” And God comes up with a plan to save us.

Isaiah 53:5: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

God’s Son Himself came to die in our place for our sins so that we could live with God. Once again God is showing that He would not want to be separated from us.

How loving is this God!?!

And the final act was to take man out of the Garden of Eden and away from the tree of life. It seems that God is now separating Himself from man which seems quite harsh. But I think in today’s day we can see the wisdom of God’s choice. I am sure we could all think of someone who seemed so evil that we are glad they couldn’t live forever. Perhaps we also know someone who has just had enough of living and to have them live forever would be cruel.

God wants to spend time with us. But He knows not everyone wants to spend time with Him. So to cater for everyone and everything sin has brought into this world, God had to do the unthinkable. He sent man away so we could no longer commune face to face and instead sent His own Son to die in our place. Then if that wasn’t enough He has given us the Holy Spirit so He can still communicate with us and guide us in His plan to save us all. That is how loving a God we have.

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