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Genesis 3:1-9 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” 4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Silent Prayer There is a clear progression of events in this passage where Adam and Eve find themselves in different stages of disobedience.  The question “Where are you?” can have a several different answers if you break down the series of events that took place in this encounter where Adam and Eve disobeyed God. The first answer to the “Where are you?” question was that Eve was in a conversation with the enemy. Are you possibly in a conversation with the enemy?  Are you talking to the devil?  Or maybe are you giving him your ear?  Let me just help you here.  You can’t convert him.  You don’t need to talk to him in hopes that he’ll change his mind about God.  His sentence has already been pronounced.  There’s no help for him. I think many Christians think the devil is a non factor for them.  They believe once they come to Christ they don’t have to deal with the devil any more.  That’s completely not true.  You’ll remember in Luke 22:31 Jesus told Peter that Satan had asked for permission to come after him, to test him.  We see that Satan had been pursuing Peter when we read that Peter had gotten up the nerve to rebuke Jesus about something.  Jesus responded immediately as He addressed Satan directly while looking at Peter in Matthew 16:23, “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Even while Peter was following Jesus, Satan was following Peter in hopes to get him to turn around. Don’t think for one minute that you are off Satan’s radar just because you have decided to follow Jesus.  Peter was following Jesus and look what happened.  Two separate times Jesus had to address what Satan was up to in Peter’s life. Listen, whatever God wants, Satan wants the opposite.  You can’t talk to Satan because he doesn’t want what God wants.  He also doesn’t tell the truth about anything.  His opening line was a lie.  He said in Genesis 3:1 “Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the Garden?”  He knew that’s not what God said.  God had said, “Enjoy every tree but one.”  How generous.  How amazing! You see, God’s design is abundant life.  He wants us to enjoy the maximum.  He wants us to have fulfilling lives, overflowing with blessing and His abundance.  (John 10:10)  How generous and lavish it is for God to say, “It’s all yours except for this one.  The one in the center belongs only to Me.” Yet Satan wanted to plant the seed in Eve’s mind that following God was restrictive and minimizing and squelching. Satan’s still talking trash today.  He still wants people to think that following God will cramp their style and minimize their ability to enjoy life.  While John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came to give us abundant life it also exposes that Satan wants to steal life from us an inch at a time, one breath at a time.  He literally wants to squeeze the life out of us.  One compromise at a time will lead to us losing life rather than gaining the god-like autonomy Satan falsely promised Eve in the Garden. Satan comes to whisper to you that you can be self-sufficient-that you can decide what is best for your life.  “Weigh all the options. Look it all over and go with what satisfies you,” Satan would say. After Jesus warned Peter that Satan was after Peter in Luke 22:33, Peter responded, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Peter felt confident he could handle whatever was coming after him and whatever was in front of him.  Not 24 hours later, Peter denied he even knew Jesus.  How naïve he was to the devil’s schemes.  How quickly our allegiances can change when we allow the devil to whisper in our ear.  We find out we can’t handle it.  We can’t just take one drink.  We can’t just watch one time.  We can’t just “be friends” with that person of the opposite sex that we’re not married to.  Every person in the sound of my voice is just one choice away from destruction.  Just believe one lie of the enemy and act on it and your life can be altered forever in a bad way.  Satan is after us, every one of us and for us to think that we can rely on ourselves to do the right thing when push comes to shove is delusional. While God wants to reorient your mind to that which is heavenly, to that which is real, to that which is waiting for us in eternity, Satan wants to get you focused on something earthly.  If he can get you to survey the landscape of your life and convince you that you are lacking something, he’ll make a case for you acquiring it.  In Eve’s case, he told her that lacking that fruit was keeping her from a more full existence.  That if she acquired it she would be more like God.  How ridiculous.  Yet many people believe just that today. “If only I had a different spouse.  If only I had a different car or house.  If only I had a break from responsibility and could enter the world of fantasy through the abuse of drugs and alcohol” or whatever “if only” scenario Satan puts in front of us-it’s a trap!  People are buying it left and right only to find that going after those things leaves a trail of brokenness, pain, financial debt, and ultimately chains that keep us from living the best life Jesus came to give. Did you notice the nuance in Genesis 3:3?  God told Eve not to eat the fruit of the one tree, but He also told her not even to touch it.  If you are going to touch something where are you going to have to be?  Up close and personal, right?  You’ll have to get close in physical proximity to it.  God was telling Adam and Eve for their own good, so they wouldn’t get sucked in to not even get close enough to touch it.  Once you let yourself get close to something it’s easy over time to justify in your mind that a bit won’t hurt.  A sample won’t hurt.  Just trying something doesn’t mean you are committing to it, right? God was telling them, just touching it was going to lead to death.  Getting too close was the first step in the process of destruction. It reminds me of the story of a little boy who was told by his mother to come straight home after school and not stop at the baseball field. After school, he decided to carry his ball glove with him just in case he was tempted. (Kent Crockett, The 911 Handbook, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003, 30)  Church, all too often we’re making it easy for the devil to tempt us.  We’re inching closer to the things that God has said are off limits just in case we decide to reach out and touch something we’ve been told not to. Where are you?  If you are in a conversation with the devil, if you are hearing him whisper temptation, if you are inching closer to that which is supposed to be off limits, get away.  Run away.  Turn your back on Satan.  Turn your back on the little thing God doesn’t want you to mess with, and look at everything else that is available to you.  God is more permissive than restrictive.  Look at all He is offering rather than the one thing He is asking you not to touch. Where are you?  How close are you to something you shouldn’t be messing with?  How much have you been thinking about something that God says shouldn’t be part of your life?  How long have you been entertaining thoughts about acting on something that God says will bring you destruction?  Quit listening to the enemy.  Don’t believe the lie that you can “handle it” whatever it is.  For you, this is a message of prevention.  It’s not too late.  You can avoid the painful consequences that come from acting on Satan’s whispers. We see that Adam and Eve went from talking to the devil to hiding from God. Are you trying to hide from God? Rather than hide from God, Adam and Eve should have been running to Him.  God’s love for Adam and Eve hadn’t changed.  His desire to be with them hadn’t changed.  He had a remedy for their shame and guilt.  How sad that He had to come looking for them rather than the other way around. Evangelist Billy Sunday said that “sinners can’t find God for the same reason criminals can’t find policemen: they aren’t looking!” When Jesus was on earth, He basically said that He knew we had engaged in a game of Hide and Seek and that He volunteered to be the Seeker. He said, “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Trying to hide from God is as futile as trying to nail jell-o to the wall.  It can’t be done. An atheist was lecturing at a University. He wrote on the chalkboard; “God is nowhere.” After his lecture, a Christian student went to the board and separated the letters “W” and “H” of “nowhere” leaving the statement: “God is now here.” The truth is, He is everywhere. He saw what you did when you did it.  He sees where you are hiding.  He knows every detail.  There is nowhere, where He is not.  Psalm 139:7 reiterates that we can never get away from God’s presence.  That is a comforting reality when we are hurting or in need.  It can be a frightening reality when we are living in sin and are trying to hide it.  We can’t hide from God and we can’t hide our sin.  Psalm 69:5 in the Message translation says, “God, you know every sin I’ve committed; My life’s a wide-open book before you.” Yet we still try.  Not only do we try to hide from God, but we try to “clean ourselves up” when we do.  We try to cover our sin, cover our tracks, or in Adam and Eve’s case, they made themselves some clothes to cover their nakedness.  They thought having clothes on would make them look less busted somehow.  God saw right through their cover ups into the naked truth.  They had done what they weren’t supposed to do.  They couldn’t hide it and they couldn’t hide from God. Why would they want to?  Why would we want to when God has a remedy for our sin?  Genesis 3:21 tells us that God clothed Adam and Eve appropriately.  He made a sacrifice for their sins.  He made atonement for their sin.  They didn’t have to live in hiding.  The separation that results from sin was taken care of by God Himself.  It’s the same for us.  The blood of Jesus, shed for us on the cross, forever paid the price for the sins of all of humankind.  The hard part, the part we should be afraid of, the sacrifice of blood, it’s all been taken care of by Jesus.  His sacrifice was a “one-son fits all” sacrifice! It’s all over the book of Hebrews. Don’t let your guilt keep you from God.  Let His grace bring you close to Him. If you need a hiding place for your sin, hide it behind the cross, but you will go free! You remember Jonah?  God told him to go to Nineveh and preach the Word, telling the people to repent.  Jonah disobeyed God.  He thought going to another country would somehow get him out of God’s sight and off His radar.  How many of you know that God’s GPS is perfect?  He found Jonah on a boat headed in the opposite direction from where God had told him to go.  Jonah 1:5 implies that he was trying to be so incognito that he had gone below deck and gone to sleep (as if maintaining a low profile would throw God of his trail). Well, God caused a terrible storm to come upon them and the sailors all started praying, each to their own god.  The captain of the ship woke Jonah up and told him to start praying.  Jonah confessed that he had disobeyed God and in verse 12 he confessed he knew the storm that was swirling around all of them was a result of his disobedience. He actually told the sailors to throw him overboard and that when they did the sea would become calm.  What in the world?  What was going through Jonah’s mind?  How low and depraved and out of his mind would he have to have been to think that dying was easier than just confessing his sin and obeying God?  Do you see how far astray Satan can lead a person’s mind?  That’s Satan’s strategy.  He wants to kill you.  How dark Jonah’s mind was at that point. God provided another hiding spot, however, when He commanded a whale to swallow Jonah and gave Jonah an opportunity to reconsider God’s command to go to Ninevah.  Jonah sat in that whale for three whole days and chapter 2:7 tells us he thought about his life and he thought about his God.  And when he did, he cried out to God for help and help came.  God commanded the fish to spit Jonah out and gave him a second opportunity to go to preach to Ninevah.  Aren’t you thankful for the grace of God this morning?  Even when we are stubborn and stupid, even when we are disobedient and disrespectful, even when we have sunk to the lowest point a person can sink to God still reaches out, gets our attention and puts us in a position where we can hear Him calling once again. Do you need to come out of hiding this morning?  Listen, God already knows all of our hiding places.  He knows when you have crawled down below the deck to try to go unnoticed.  We hide in subtle ways, you know.  Sometimes we even hide behind good things like our work.  God may ask us to do something for Him that requires some of our time, and we hide behind the excuse that we have to work overtime to provide more for our family.  We may even remind God that working hard is commendable in the Bible. We may even hide behind our family.  After all, isn’t family a good thing?  Isn’t it a God-ordained thing?  I don’t know what Jonah’s family status was, but let’s say he had a wife and kids.  He might have said, “Sorry, Lord.  I can’t go tell the Assyrians to repent.  My one daughter has a dance recital, my other daughter has to shop for a prom dress and my three sons have soccer and baseball games respectively and we’re adding a new room on to our house and need to look for a new car, so I just don’t have the free time to serve you.”  Some of us need to reign in the busyness in our homes lest we use our busy schedules as an excuse for disobedience when God asks for some of our time. Jonah learned that it’s easier and a whole lot more fun to be a follower rather than a fugitive!  Pastor Thom, Pastor Honey  to me, has told me and I’ve heard him tell countless others that it has been a lot easier following God for these past 18 years than it was running from Him for the ten he tried to run for.  Where are you?  Are you hiding from God because of sin or because you don’t want to do what God has asked you to do? Where are you?  Are you playing the blame game? Reread verses 11-13 of Genesis 3.  God asked Adam, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  I think if I was God I would have said, “Really?” Adam began his answer to God by blaming God. He said, “The woman you put here with me”, as if was God’s fault that He had made Eve and brought her to Adam!  Did Adam really think God would be impressed with that answer? Adam then blamed Eve.  Eve blamed the serpent.  Neither would just admit the truth.  God asked “Did you do it?” and neither one ever did say, “Yes, I did.”  They just blamed someone else.  Do we think God will somehow be pacified with answers like that?  Why is it so hard to accept responsibility for our actions?  An excuse is not the same as a confession, and it won’t produce the same results. To quote Billy Sunday again, “An excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.” Police arrested a woman in Atlanta in March of 2004 for attempting to use a fake million dollar bill in Wal-Mart. Do you remember this story? The woman, named Alice Pike went to the register with $1,675 worth of merchandise. She tried to use two gift cards but didn’t have nearly enough on the cards for her purchase. So, she pulled out the fake million dollar bill. She handed it to the cashier and expected change! Math has never been my strongest subject but by my calculation, that’s a heck of a lot of change! Was Alice really expecting that the cashier would give her $998,325? Did she envision the cashier on the loudspeaker saying, “We need a truck load of 10’s and 20’s on aisle 5”? What was she thinking? Are you ready for this?  Police reported that when they arrested her she blamed her estranged husband for giving her the fake million dollar bill which he had purchased.  Seriously.  Her blaming her husband didn’t make her any less guilty or any less incarcerated now did it?  You see, when we won’t confess sin, we can’t lose our guilt and sin will keep us incarcerated spiritually speaking. Charles R. Swindoll well pointed out, Three of the hardest words in the English language are “You are right.” The other three are “I am wrong!” I wonder how many broken relationships could be healed if we learn to stop blaming each other and start accepting personal responsibility. The more we blame the more we make ourselves lame. As much as we are eager to take credit for success, if we show the same eagerness in taking personal responsibility for failures, things would turn out quite differently. (http://www.southasianconnection.com/blogs/1091/Blame-Game.html) Pride is at the root of sin and pride keeps people from confessing it when it happens.  Look in vs.5 of Genesis 3 where the crafty serpent tempts Eve: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. Why did Eve so easily and quickly respond to Satan’s lie?  Why did she cave in to temptation, seemingly without a fight?  She thought she could be like God! The sin of pride entered her heart! We struggle with pride today. Pride prevents us from humble confession and repentance. Pride fools us into thinking we don’t need to take responsibility for our mistakes and failures. So, we blame others or circumstances for our own sin. God didn’t ask Adam and Eve where they were because He needed any information.  He asked because answering that question would give them an opportunity to face facts, to be honest, and to confess their sin.  His question wasn’t mean or harsh, but loving as the repair of the relationship and freedom from the burden of guilt and shame was God’s main concern.  The first step to any recovery is to answer the question, “Where are you?”  God knows we would never initiate dealing with our reality on our own, so He searches us and seeks us out in order to draw out of us what we would never come clean about on our own. The fact that God doesn’t obliterate us when we sin is an act of grace in and of itself.  He could have spoken harsh words of judgment and destroyed Adam and Eve, but instead He called them and gave them an opportunity to come clean. Being able to hear God speak is also another gift God gives to us.  The fact that there are times when we have wanted nothing to do with God should have been enough for God to decide to silence His voice.  But He didn’t and He doesn’t.  He is speaking still today.  In fact, He’s speaking right now.  Where are you?  Are you listening to Satan and toying with temptation?  Are you trying to hide your sin or are you trying to hide from God in general?  Are you playing the blame game, trying to avoid getting real with what is really going on in your life?  Are you where you thought you’d be or are you wondering how you got where you currently find yourself?  God’s got you covered.  Come to Him.  Confess your struggle or confess your sin, but come.  Quit hiding and start fully living.
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