Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lent 2011: God's Creation, Fall, Temptation

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. – Genesis 1:31

Picture this: miles and miles of green grass. Or maybe white sand and a peaceful ocean. Or maybe a snowy, winter wonderland. Whether or not we admit it, we often imagine a “perfect” world. And despite differences in the scenery, most of us will agree that this “perfect” world is one free of troubles, heartaches, sufferings, and pain.

The story of Rebecca Asiimwe reveals a world far less than paradise. Hers is a world where lack of choices often leaves her family helpless.

But God created this world, and He takes pride in every aspect of His creation. Today, spend some time reflecting on the world God had created. What elements of your life are “very good”? What hardships has He spared you? Take a moment to thank Him for the good parts of your life - even the small, simple ones.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.
– Romans 5:12

We just imagined God’s perfect world, and now we focus on why that world no longer exists: sin entered the world. The imperfections we see today are mainly manifestations of men missing the mark, through sin. Greed and apathy are some of man’s most damaging vices, but there are many others that invite imperfection into God’s perfect world. In this week’s story, Rebecca’s world is hardly perfect; she faces the harsh realities of poverty and malaria every day. Though she too is not perfect, her world’s circumstances are not a result of personal sin, but are a result of humanity’s general sin.

What are some of our actions, or inactions that make God’s perfect world a bit less “perfect”? What are some ways in which we bring sin into this world? “Because all sinned…”

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men, but to God. – Acts 5:3-4

Ananias got caught. He, and his wife, were tempted, gave in to the temptation, and lost their lives because of it, end of story. Or is it? Those two were tempted by money because they allowed it to cloud their view of God. We’re told in James 2:13 that God cannot be tempted by evil, and he does not tempt anyone. But life tempts us whenever it clouds our views of God.

Most of us are tempted by everyday life’s circumstances. We’re tempted to give up on difficult circumstances. We’re tempted to seek other solutions to our problems. We’re tempted to count on ourselves, rather than on God.

As we’re going through this experience of feeling vulnerable, what are some of the temptations you’re dealing with? Do you want to try and save, by yourself, every mother from making the choice Rebecca makes? Or do you want to give up because the situation is hopeless? Let us remember that temptation can take on many forms, and we rely only on God for the strength to continue. To rely on our own understanding could become disastrous – learn from Ananias.

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