September 3, 2017
Summer is a time when we tend to focus on special trips. You may have taken a family vacation this summer – traveling to the Gulf Coast or to Disney World. Over the last few weeks, we’ve heard from a couple of our students who went on mission trips this summer to the Middle East and San Diego. This last week, one of our college students left on an extended trip to Spain to study for the next year.
I remember one year when Janet and were much younger and working with students in our church, we took a group of teenagers to Port Sulphur, Louisiana. That’s over an hour south of New Orleans, out on the bayou between the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.
You can imagine what a place called Port Sulphur smells like. Many of the homes there are actually out over the water, up on wooden stilts. You get there by boat.
In Port Sulphur they sell something at the supermarket called Ground Meat. It’s packaged and displayed right next to the ground beef. I accidentally bought this one day when we were going to make spaghetti for dinner, and I only realized my mistake when we got a strange and unpleasant smell as it was cooking.
So I took it back to the store and asked what was the difference, and they just said, “not much,” and gave me ground beef.
After about a week working and ministering there with our students, I said to Janet, “I could see moving down here permanently,” and she said, “you’ll be coming by yourself, buddy.”
So that was an exciting journey.
I’m sure some of you have been to exotic, far off places – like Alaska, Mexico, the Bahamas, Europe, maybe further.
And one of the things that is special about every journey you take is that you learn some things you didn’t know before. You encounter a different culture, you maybe learn some about yourself. And that changes you.
Over the next 16 months we are going to take a Journey as a church family. We are going to travel down Route 66 – the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. You’ll probably see some familiar sights along the way, but I also think you’re going to learn and grow on this journey, and God’s promise is that when we receive His Word, it will change you in a way that is good and brings blessing to your life.
God says He works through His Word to give you peace and understanding and wisdom and blessing.
That’s a journey worth taking. So we begin at the beginning. Every week you’ll find a very brief summary of the book that we’re focused on right on the back of your bulletin. And some weeks we’ll spend more time on that than others, but it will always be there to kind of help you get the lay of the land that we’re covering.
Details and Summary About Genesis:
1 - Genesis / Beginning
Author: Moses (even Jesus accepted Moses as the author of the first five books of the Old Testament.)
Date: 4000-1500 B.C. (Moses compiled materials and wrote the first five books of the Bible as instructed and inspired when he received the law from God on Mt. Sinai.)
Significant Events: Creation, The Fall of Humankind into Sin, World-Wide Flood and Noah’s Ark, Beginnings of the Nation of Israel, Abraham’s Offering of Isaac, Joseph’s Rise to Power in Egypt
Key Verse: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1
Now obviously we will never cover every story and truth in any of the 66 books, but we will stop and take a closer look each week at one significant site along the journey. And I encourage you then to maybe track with our trip and take some of your own time to learn more about the other sites along the way.
This morning let’s read from Genesis, chapter 3:
Let’s take away 3 truths from this foundational passage in Genesis:
1. You can be your own worst enemy.
I wish this wasn’t true. But it obviously is. As much as we want to blame Satan, the evil serpent, for all the problems in our world, this early account reveals that from the beginning, even when God had granted humanity everything necessary for life and joy, still there is a part of us that wants to go our own way. We rebel against God. We cause much of our own heartache.
Adam and Eve knew God – the Sovereign Creator, the Father of us all. They understood His counsel. But when confronted with a choice between God’s direction and their own will, they went their own way apart from God.
You know, I had to deal with this as a young man. My father abused alcohol. And in that situation, he would beat my mother and wreak havoc and ultimately abandoned our family when I was just about 7 years old. So when I was about 19 and 20, when my life wasn’t going the way I wanted it to, what did I do? I begin to abuse alcohol just like my dad. And things didn’t go well. Whose responsibility was that? My dad’s? No, it was mine.
I came across this anonymous poem years ago that captures the reality of the human condition:
From beginning to end, the Bible is full of stories of people who are broken, foolish, stubborn, selfish, and yes, sinful. One of the great fights you and I are engaged in every day is the battle within against sin.
Some people don’t want to accept that. They want to blame everyone else for their problems and challenges. But the reality is the Scriptures say we inherited a selfish, sin nature. Many of my own troubles, your troubles, are caused by our own poor choices. And I think when we’re honest, we know this is true. But thank God, this is not the whole story.
Let’s look at truth #2:
You are not your only enemy.
There is an Evil One who seeks to devour and destroy. He came to Adam and Eve in the form of a serpent. The Scriptures say he is a fallen angel who is in rebellion against God.
He is fixated on Himself. As one of God’s creatures, Satan doesn’t accept God’s authority or His love. He doesn’t want God to be God in his life.
So even though you and I are responsible for many of our own struggles and failings, the activity and the alliances of the Evil One will bring heartache and difficulty into your life that are not the result of your own choices.
Sometimes people will oppose you, even when you are doing the right thing. Other times you will suffer defeat when you did nothing wrong.
You may not get the promotion you deserve. You may not get the grade you earned. Your house may flood or be blown away. How do you think they are feeling down in Houston?
Your spouse or parent may abandon you. Many of you know what that is like.
You may get cancer. Or someone you love dearly may die without living a long life. The brokenness and unfairness and injustice of this world may threaten to beat you down and dominate your perspective.
This is a tough reality, isn’t it? This world is full of the trouble of sin that we bring on ourselves and the trouble of evil that is the work of the devil.
But there’s another truth:
3. Your enemies are defeated in Christ.
Praise God, praise God this is true!
Satan came to tempt and destroy. And Adam and Eve sinned. But then the Scriptures say God made garments of skin to cover Adam and Eve, who had become ashamed of who they were and what they had done.
Where did God get the garments of skin? There was a sacrifice of life to cover their shame. Foreshadowing the sacrifice of God’s Son Jesus to cover our guilt before God.
God made it clear what was going to happen. He said to the Evil One:
There will be ongoing, unceasing hostility between you and men and women.
And that’s true, isn’t it? Every day you are at war. With your own sin, with the brokenness and the evil of this world.
You will strike the heel of the woman’s offspring.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, leaves heaven and comes to earth, born of a woman. And He experienced the effects of evil in this world. His hands were nailed. His side was pierced. He was crucified on a cross, put to death to pay for our sin.
But He will crush your head!
The Apostle Paul was later to write that in His death and resurrection, Jesus nailed sin to the cross, He canceled its penalty, and He made a public spectacle of all dark powers and authorities.
In other words, what Satan meant for evil, Jesus Christ turned to good!
What does that mean for you?
It means you never need to despair that this evil world is going to have the final say in your life.
You never need to give in to the false philosophy that your trouble and suffering are random and without meaning.
You never need to yield to the idea that you are too far gone, without hope, beyond redemption.
With Christ, In Christ, through Christ, you will experience life as God intended.
I like how one Christian music artist put it back in the 80’s:
Captivity has been set free. Salvation bought for you and me. Because Satan is defeated. And Jesus is your Champion.
“1Now 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 certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from 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?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? 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.”
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 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.” – Genesis 3:1-16
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