Wednesday, February 18, 2009

God Loves You Enough to Say No

How many times have we been in the store or at the mall and have seen a child throw a temper tantrum because they didn’t get their way. Now, you know if a child does that in public, it’s because they think it will get them what they want because that’s how it works in private. Permissive parenting strikes again! Is God a permissive parent? I mean, He wants to bless us with all good things, but does that make Him “permissive”?

In the past month, God has been picking a theme a week and everything that’s been going on in my life has revolved around that theme. First it was motivation. What’s my motivation for obedience, prayer, and service? Second, it was my priorities. What are they and are they in accordance with God’s will? Third, it was His love. How am I an active participant in His love and how does He show me his love on a moment to moment basis? And this week, it’s Confession and denial. Given that this is only Wednesday, I can only imagine what this week is going to hold, but here’s what’s been going on so far, and seeing that it’s only Wednesday, I think it’s pretty huge!

1 John 1:5-10 (New Living Translation)

Living in the Light

5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

God is perfect light and in Him no darkness can live. He has shared a spot in that light for me so that I can abide with Him and never fear the darkness of the world. Yet there is darkness in me that cannot be in the light. The sin in me needs to be taken away, which He did on the cross, but I need to daily confess my sin, not to keep myself clean, but to continue in an open, honest relationship with Him. He knows my heart and mind better than I do, but much like the parent who knows which child broke the lamp, He wants me to come to Him with my sin so that I know He’s taken it away.

Confession as Freedom:

God is not a liar, and it not mocked. For us, on point of confession is our freedom, but it’s more than that because if we confess, we can be close to God, which is His desire. His faithfulness in cleansing us from our sin comes from His love for us and His desire to be close to us. Obedience to Him begins with confession, and living in the truth comes with that. Fellowship with each other also comes with confession, freedom with God and man.

Confession and Denial (God used Sam and Bible Study last night in a big way to help me see this correlation):

Genesis 3:1-7 (New Living Translation)

The Man and Woman Sin

1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” 2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” 4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” 6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

Adam and Eve had it good in the garden, they had everything. Except one thing. One thing they were denied, though for good reason. When the serpent came to Eve, he didn’t point at the tree and say “God’s completely and totally wrong, eat it, you’ll be fine. God doesn’t even exist!” He knew that wouldn’t work because she knew that God existed in a very personal way, a way even more personal than you and I might know that God exists. Instead, Satan planted one seed of doubt and got her thinking about the one thing God said she couldn’t have. She went from being happy to be with God and have this perfect life, to being disappointed that she wasn’t God. She was denied this fruit by God, the one thing He said not to eat, and she wanted it! Notice how it didn’t take much convincing on Satan’s part to get her to eat the fruit. But when her eyes were opened, she realized that God said no for a reason, but it was too late.

Friends, God says no for a reason!

He loves us enough to not let us have everything we want, to keep us safe from hurting ourselves. Where does confession come into this? Tell Him. Tell God where in your life you feel denied and ask Him to help you deal with the fact that He tells you “no” because He loves you enough to keep you from all harm. Ask Him to show you how you try to fill that gap of what you feel you’ve been denied with things other than Him. Understanding God’s immense love for you is only the first step. Once you have a feel for His love, test it with confession, knowing that He will forgive you and, even better, heal you! Let Him show you your denial in your own life. What are you refusing to see about yourself?

Personally, and those of you that know me know this, I feel I have been denied a husband so I try to fill that gap with other things. But God has been showing me a better way, a better solution to this problem. Trusting in Him and His wisdom in my life; I’ve already proven that when it comes to my own life, I’m a terrible driver.

In what ways has God said “no” to you? Have you tried to fill that gap with other things? Have you confessed those other things with a true heart of repentance or are you just confessing to try to alleviate your own guilt? What is your motivation in repentance? How has this denial changed your view of God and how should God actually be viewed?

Remember: We are denied things for a good reason. God love you enough to say no!

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