Shirley

I will never forget the day I volunteered in my daughter’s kindergarten class. It was a Friday which was Bible verse recitation day. I sat out in the hallway and one by one the kids would come out and recite the verse of the week. That particular week it was Psalm 23:6.

The kids were so cute and sweet. Some of them recited the entire Psalm, while others could barely whisper a word. Most of the kids fell somewhere in between.

Then there was Christian. Christian was quite a character. I had previous experience with this young man while grading his spelling test. He told me if I didn’t change his grade his dad would not me happy with me (with me, not him) and his dad was a lawyer so I should not make him angry. He said it so convincingly I almost changed his grade. The kid was a stitch.

He sat down and rested is elbow on the table and started tapping his lip with his finger. He said “Mmmmm…..I know this one. It’s about that lady.” I just looked at him confused thinking “this is not about a lady”. He continued looking around trying to think, “It is like an older lady name- oh what is her name.”

I looked back down at the paper where the verse was written and then it dawned on me. I started to laugh as I said “You mean surely?” “YES!” He said all excited “That’s her name. Shirley”. He went on to recite the verse Shirley your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life”.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was talking about the Lord and not an old lady by the name of Shirley. I didn’t want his dad to get mad at me again :).

Christian had a funny and harmless misinterpretation of his Bible verse. However, many adult Christians still misunderstand God’s Word. They have never been taught how to read something in context or how to rightly divide the Bible. The entire Bible is inspired by God and is important to us today as Christians. However, not every word in the Bible is spoken to us as Christians.

In it’s most simplistic explanation the Bible is speaking to three people groups. They are the Jews, the Gentiles (those that are not Jewish or Christian), and the Church. Though it is important for us to know what is said to all the groups, it is even more important that we do not take something that is spoken to one group and apply it to us. The Jews are God’s chosen people. They have a special covenant with God. The church has been adopted into God’s family but our path and future is still different from the Jews.

I do not consider myself qualified to go into much detail regarding this. I simply want you to be aware when you do read the Bible not every Word should be applied to you. The Word of God is meant to draw you closer to Him and develop a personal relationship with Him. If you walk away from your reading time feeling condemned, guilty, and unworthy, and afraid, chances are you have misinterpreted something along the way.

I encourage you to ask someone you trust, or look into a bible study to help you understand what you are reading. Once you understand the Bible you will see it as one long love letter from God to you. You will want to spend time in it as it will leave you feeling loved, forgiven, hopeful, and encouraged.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your written Word. I ask you to give me understanding and revelation when I read your Word. Help me to see your love in every story I read. Guide me to a new study or mentor that will help me grow in my understanding. Place a fresh desire and hunger for your Word in my heart. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Love, Grace, and A Shirley Blessing To You All,

Jen

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How He Loves Us

I used to think the story of Adam and Eve was one of the saddest stores in the Bible. I felt so bad for them when they got kicked out of the garden. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to go from walking and talking with God to suddenly being escorted out of the most beautiful, perfect place created just for me.
The worst part was the thought of how mad God must have been at them. After telling them the list of horrible curses that were now attached to them, I always pictured him marching them to the edge of the garden, pushing them along on their way and then watching as they sulked off, crying with their heads down, occasionally looking back to see if he was watching them and possibly changing his mind. When they would look back on him I pictured him standing stone faced with a tear running down his cheek pointing straight ahead commanding them to continue wandering in the opposite direction. It was truly a heart breaking scene.
I see this story differently now. I see it as one of the many love stories in the Bible. Not between Adam and Eve, between God and us. It is a story of redemption, protection, and grace. Let me explain.
When God came looking for Adam and Eve after they had sinned, he found them hiding in the trees, covered with fig leaves. One of the first things they realized when their eyes were opened to sin was that they were naked and for whatever reason their now “knowledgable” mind told them this was wrong and they should cover themselves. God agreed, they should be covered. However he lovingly covered them with animal skins. It was the first of many sacrifices offered in the Bible. It was the first example of the blood of Jesus covering our sin.
As I was studying this I learned that fig leaves, when broken off their tree have a horrible pungent smell, and quickly shrivel up and die which would have left them exposed quickly. It is symbolic of the way man can only hide his sin for so long and then it will be exposed. The only way mans sin is completely covered is by a perfect sacrifice, by the blood of Jesus. i now picture God looking at them in their fig leaves and feeling pity for them. I now picture him sacrificing the animals, placing the skins on Adam and Eve, stepping back and saying “There. That’s better”, as he gives them a Fatherly smile.
If He forgave them and covered their sin, why did he still kick them out of the garden? That too was an act of love. Remember way back in Genesis 2 it tells us that God made all sorts of trees and in the middle of the garden he made two special trees- the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. If they would have eaten from the tree of life, they would have to live forever in this fallen state with no chance of redemption. They had already proven themselves untrustworthy by eating from the tree of knowledge, how much more desperate would they be to eat from the tree of life in hopes that they could somehow undo what they have done? The only reason God sent them out of the garden was to protect them from themselves.
I was also wrong about God no longer walking and talking with them. I know this because later in Genesis 4 when God confronts Cain after Cain kills Abel. Cain begs God not to banish him from God’s presence, which means they were all still in Gods presence. This shows us that though God could no longer walk and talk with them in the garden, he still chose to walk and talk with them where they were at.
Girls, I want you to see just how he loves us! Even in our worst moments, even when we are tangled up in sin and shame, God loves us. He lovingly reminds us that we are covered by the blood of Jesus. He never leaves us or forsakes. In the times when it feels like is has walked us to the edge of the garden and pointed for us to go in the opposite direction, is always an act of love. We may not see or feel it, and we may not understand it, but God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and when you find yourself removed from what may have seemed “perfect”, you need to trust that God is protecting you.
Maybe you find yourself identifying with Eve today. Maybe you have been trying to fix and cover up your own feelings of guilt and shame. Maybe you are asking yourself if God has given up on you and set you outside of the garden. If that describes you, please take a moment to sit at the feet of Jesus. Wherever you are at, close your eyes, take a deep breath and simply pour out your heart to God. Tell him your fears, your sin, and your shame. Tell him you want to feel his presence and protection. Let him cover you in his love. He did it for Eve, he will do it for you. In fact, it is his very favorite thing to do!

And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

Love, Grace, and a Day in His Presence For You All,

Jen

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Second Hand Words

Last week I left you with a question to meditate on. The question was, What made Eve more susceptible to being deceived than Adam? The question came out of something I noticed for the first time in the story of Adam and Eve, a story I have read and heard many, many, times. Somehow this detail, this very important detail, went unnoticed by me for years.
It says in Genesis 2:15-17 The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden-except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” He is talking only to Adam at this point as he has not yet created Eve.
As you continue to read the story you do not see God speaking directly and giving the same warning to Eve. Yet somehow she has been given the news because when the serpent comes to her and asks her about not being allowed to eat the fruit from the trees in the garden she replies in Genesis 3:2-4 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 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.”
Did you catch that? The response Eve gave the serpent are not the words God told Adam. She added the words “or even touch it”. We don’t know if it was Adam that added to God’s original message or if Eve added it for dramatic effect but I believe it was Adam who added to the original instructions. Not only did Adam add to the original message God gave him, he also left some of the message out. We know this because judging by Eve’s response to the serpent she clearly had no idea what the significance of the tree was. She referred to it as “the tree in the middle of the garden”.
Why is it a big deal that she didn’t know what the tree was? First of all it gave the serpent the opportunity to sound as though he knew more than her and knew what he was talking about. He was the one that told her it was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It says in Genesis 3:4-5 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “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.”Once he was able to show that he knew more than her, he was able to pervert the truth and promise her she would be like God and would have knowledge she just couldn’t live without.
Eve received God’s Word second hand. And just like when you played telephone as a kid, the end message and the original message did not match. The Word Eve received had parts added (don’t even touch it) as well as parts left out (the kind of tree it was). Since she did not receive the full Truth it opened her up for deception. That deception took her away from Gods plan for her life.
The same goes for us. If we only live by what others tell us about God, we open ourselves up to deception. Of course it is good to go to church, listen to sermons online,and read devotionals- those things strengthen our understanding of God’s word. However, these things do not take the place of us spending our own time with God in his Word. God has specific instructions for each and every one of us. Those instructions cannot be given by another, they need to come from the Lord. The best place to hear from God is by spending time alone with him, one on one, in prayer and in his word.
If we do not know what God’s word says, we will never know when someone is adding to it, or taking away from it. Throughout the ages we have seen the church adding rules and traditions that are nowhere to be found in the Bible. Perhaps if people had access to and read for themselves what Gods word truly says, we would not have all of the man made rules and traditions we see today.
The most common lies we believe are the ones that are perverted scripture- there is just enough truth in it to make it believable. The serpent told Eve she would be like God and possess the knowledge of good and evil which is only partially true. Yes, she would now understand that their is good and evil, but unlike God she would be unable to consistently choose good. Had the serpent told her the whole story she would have told him to slither back under the rock he came from.
Girls, do not relay on others to hear Gods word. Take ownership of your faith by spending time alone with God in prayer and in His Word. Only then will you know how to test what you hear against the Truth. Only then will you be able to guard your heart from deception. Only then will you see the serpents of the world for what they are.

And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life, and in the holy city that are described in this book. Revelation 22:18-19

Love, Grace, and a First Hand Word Day to You All,

Jen

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She Was Convinced

We are kicking off our “Women of the Bible” series by taking a look at Eve. The story of Adam and Eve is one of those stories that most people, both Christian and non, are somewhat familiar with. Though many may not understand the truth and relevance of the story, they have heard the basic concept- Adam and Eve naked in a garden, Eve is tempted by serpent, eats apple, and after that they are hiding behind bushes. For those of us who live a life a faith, we know there is so much more.

We know that the world we live in is not the world God desired for us to live in. We know that had it not been for that one act of disobedience, we would be living in perfect harmony not only with each other, but with the animals and the environment. We know that we wouldn’t always be running frantically to and fro trying to fit 36 hours of work into a 24 hour day. And we know that we would not experience pain, loss, suffering, and death.

The Good News is we also know that this is a temporary situation. We know that one day things will be restored and we will experience the world God desired us to live in. We know that we will see the people we miss and that every tear will be wiped away by Jesus himself. And though these truths bring us comfort and peace there are still days when I say “seriously Eve, what were you thinking?”

Think about it. Prior to the fall, Eve was content walking around naked! That alone is a world I cannot even fathom. I don’t even like walking around in a swimsuit or shorts let alone be naked. And I must say I find relief in knowing that we are given white robes of righteousness in heaven because the thought of being naked just may keep me out.

All joking aside, have you ever wondered why Eve did it? Why would the woman who has everything, even the gift of walking and talking to God himself, risk it all? Though it may seem easy to judge and question her, the same is true for many of us today. We buy the same lie that Eve did. We believe there is something more out there and if we have whatever that something is, we will be happier.

We are bombarded with a million “somethings” every day. It says in Genesis 3:6 that “Eve saw that the the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom the serpent told her it would give her.” I don’t know about you but to me it sounds like most of the magazines, commercials, and Facebook posts we take in every day. We are presented with something beautiful and perfect and told if we buy this product we will be beautiful and perfect also and then we will be happy. We are solicited to join a dating site filled with handsome, adventurous men that will listen intently to our hopes and dreams while going to the mall with us and our new lives with these new men will be perfect. We see friends and family going on perfect vacations, buying new perfect cars, and building big perfect houses, and we look around at our stained carpet and old car and decide to bite the financial debt fruit.

It’s easy to see that Eve, like us, bought the lie. She was convinced there was something more. She was convinced that God was holding out on her. She kept looking at the one thing she didn’t have until she finally couldn’t take it any longer and just had to have it no matter what. And once she had it, just like us, she was not only disappointed, but now for the first time experienced shame and guilt.

So the short answer of why Eve ate the fruit is that she bought the lie. What I want to look at next is how she bought the lie. What made her more vulnerable than Adam? I have an answer based on something I noticed for the first time yesterday. You have another day or two to read the chapters and see if you come up with an answer also 🙂

For those of you who may be feeling like you are not enough, especially in your marriage, take today’s verse as a little kiss on the forehead from God

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him” Genesis 2:18

Love, Grace, and No More Lies To You All,

Jen

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All About Eve

For the first time in the eighteen years that I have been going to the cabin in Washington I had not one, but two girlfriends come visit. It was so much fun that from now on it is the only way this chick is going to roll 🙂

One night my girlfriend and I were sitting on the bed chatting about different Bible studies and good books to read. We were both setting some personal goals, and we wanted to include a spiritual growth goal. She showed me one of the books she had bought titled Women of the Bible. She hadn’t read it yet so she started looking through it.

The book was divided into chapters discussing different categories of biblical women. For example, women that endured severe hardship, women that made history in a man’s world, etc. She would give me the category and I would try to guess the women listed for each chapter. It was actually really fun. Am I a nerd?

I was surprised by a couple things. First of all there were women that were not listed in areas I thought they should be listed in (does that shock any of you), and I had never even heard of a few of the women. Not knowing who these women were peaked my curiosity. How could I have never heard of them or remembered them?

So I have decided to do my own little “women of the Bible” study. Who better to start with than our girl Eve? You may think you know all there is to know about Eve, but when I read Genesis Chapter 2 and 3 this morning I saw things I had never noticed before. We won’t cover all there is to say about Eve- entire books have been written on Eve. I just want to highlight a few things that stand out to me as I study. I would love it if you wanted to study with me :).

Tonight I simply want to share with you the chapters that discuss Eve so you can have a chance to read for yourself if you choose. Genesis 2:8-4:1 will give you a good context of the things we will discuss over the next few blogs. Please bear with me as I adjust to the new work schedule. I am hoping to post Monday-Friday but it may take me a week or two to get there.

I always want to leave you with a verse and since it is bedtime I will give you one that I say to my kiddos and to myself when my mind is racing at night.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

Love, Grace, and a Sweet Sleep Night to You All,

Jen

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