We all know the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and about how the serpent tempted Eve and both Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Of course, this changed the course of mankind forevermore.
An interesting story within a story happens when God comes into the garden for His daily walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening. This time, Adam and Eve were hiding from God. Of course, God searches them out and finds them (can we ever really hide from God?). He asks them why they hiding from Him and they replied that they were hiding because they were naked so they hid themselves. Now, they had been naked all along, the Bible tells us they were naked and unashamed, but now they felt the need to hide themselves from God on account of their nakedness.
Then, God asks them an interesting question. God says to them, “Who told you that you were naked?” God had created Adam and Eve, had walked in the garden with them while they were naked, and knew them intimately. He wasn’t offended by their nakedness.
Adam and Eve, it seems, had listened to Satan who had told them that they needed to hide from God because they were naked. God hadn’t told them they were naked. It was Satan’s plan for Adam and Eve to run from God, to hide from Him, and be separated from Him.
That’s Satan’s plan for us today, too. Satan tells us things about ourselves that can make us feel like God doesn’t care for us anymore. He might tell us that we have done too many bad things in our past. He might tell us that we’re used goods because of past relationships gone bad. He might tell us our criminal record disqualifies us from walking with God. He might tell us that the abuse we endured in the past makes us dirty and God doesn’t want anything to do with us. Maybe Satan tells us that addictions, or habits, or failures in the past makes God mad at us so that He doesn’t want to spend time with us.
These things are lies. Before this scenarios plays our in Genesis 3, we read that God was in the garden looking for Adam and Eve. He wanted to spend time with them. Of course, He knew that they had sinned and eaten the fruit and He came to be with them anyway. God’s plan for us includes reconciliation, regardless of where we’ve been or what we’ve done.
So, the next time you feel like you’re not good enough to have a relationship with God ask yourself, “Who told me that?”
The apostle Paul wrote raised up Timothy as a follower of Jesus and as a leader in the church at Ephesus. Paul had raised Timothy up as a leader, had placed his hands on him and released him to lead in the church. Now, after some time, Paul sends Timothy a letter that today we call 2 Timothy.
Paul encourages Timothy throughout this letter, reminding Timothy of his calling and of the good works that Timothy has done to grow the church in Ephesus. One of the most encouraging words that Paul has for Timothy, though, is found in 2 Timothy 1:6. “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
Paul had raised Timothy up to lead. He had laid his hands on him and released him as a leader. Now, Paul wants Timothy to remember these things; he wants Timothy to be encouraged by the memory of Paul’s laying on of hands and releasing him to lead.
It’s almost like Paul saying to Timothy, “I believe in you. Remember, I raised you up as a leader and released you. I laid my hands on you, prayed for you, and released you into good works. I still believe in you. I know you have what it takes and I want you to know that you do have what it takes and I am here, walking alongside you, to make sure you continue in what you’ve been released to do.”
I want to encourage all of you, like Paul encouraged Timothy. Remember that you are called to lead your LifeGroups. Remember that I believed in you as I released you to lead your LifeGroup and that I still believe in you as you lead today. You have what it takes!
So, please fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you…