Friday, September 09, 2016

On the Go: The Journey Begins

My Life Group lesson for Sept. 4, 2016, using a collaborative study between my church and Lifeway. The “On the Go” series is a 12-week focus on evangelism ...

Think back on a time when you were excited about trying or starting something new. What fueled that excitement and energy?

(Last week was my 23rd anniversary of starting college at Union University and still remember driving up to Jackson in my ’86 Chevy Nova with my buddy Steve, turning into campus while listening to Steven Curtis Chapman’s “The Great Adventure.” Saddle up your horses, we’ve got a trail to blaze!)

When you being a new adventure or new way of life, what is it that keeps you from turning back?

IN CONTEXT

*** For the next 12 weeks we begin a new series called “On the Go.”

*** It’s a collaboration between FBC and Lifeway, with a focus on evangelism.

*** We will be taking a look at how God calls, gathers and sends the church to connect people to the love of Jesus.

UNDERSTANDING

The lessons in these studies run the gamut of the Bible. We’re going back to the beginning today.

In Matthew 28, Jesus sent out His followers to carry on His mission in the world with the words, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).

These words – the Great Commission – did not originate with Jesus and His disciples.

In fact, the very first humans were sent by God to live on mission for Him after their sin forced them out of the garden.

GENESIS 3:1-7

1 Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?”

2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’”

4 “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit 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 knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

*** Choose the red pill or the blue pill.

--- Adam and Eve made some bad choices here.

--- Genesis chapter 3 describes the entrance of sin through the deception of the serpent. Satan twisted God’s words in a way that caused Adam and Eve to doubt God’s goodness.

--- The account of temptation and sin doesn’t attempt to explain the origin of evil. That is still under debate.

--- What’s not under debate, however, is that the Bible affirms God’s goodness and love, our disobedience and sin, and our need to confess our sin to God.

*** You’re gonna need bigger leaves.

--- Verse 7 says that their eyes were opened, they became aware that they were naked. (Not sure how you miss that, but it was a different time.)

--- It wasn’t wrong that they gained new knowledge - after all, God wants us to seek wisdom - but in a selfish quest for knowledge outside of a relationship with God it demonstrated arrogance and contempt for God.

*** Think about how sin gets in the way of our relationships just as it affected Adam and Eve. How did sin affect the way they viewed themselves? What do these facts reveal about the weightiness of sin?

*** How would you summarize this first account of sin? What was the root issue?

GENESIS 3:8-13

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 And he said, “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

11 Then He asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 Then the man replied, “The woman You gave to be with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.”

13 So the Lord God asked the woman, “What is this you have done?”

And the woman said, “It was the serpent. He deceived me, and I ate.”

*** Long live Harambe.

--- 2016 has generally been regarded as a terrible year so far around the world, in pop culture, in politics, etc.

--- Sin explains all of the troubles in the world. It is the reason for all of the dysfunction, the disease, the death, and the fact that Chris Brown and Charlie Sheen still have careers.

--- Monday is Labor Day. Adam and Eve didn’t need one. They loved their work in the garden. Then came sin, and work got harder and dirtier and then everyone needed a weekend to rest and then came TGIF and Friday nights watching “Full House” on ABC. In that order, pretty much.

--- With sin’s entrance into the world, the harmony of God’s perfect creation was broken.

*** You can run but you can’t hide.

--- Adam and Eve tried to become like God. Instead they couldn’t face Him and tried to hide.

--- How often do we do the same? When sin enters our life, we may stop reading the Bible, stop praying, and hope that God doesn’t notice us.

--- Rather than condemn them, God gave them a chance to confess and be open with Him.

--- Instead they blamed each other and made excuses.

--- Question - How does sin affect our relationship with God and with others?

(Adam and Eve’s relationship was broken. Their relationship with God was broken. Sin makes us selfish, seeking our own desires instead of God’s will.)

*** You have heard us say that as a church, we are unashamedly evangelistic, biblical, Christ-centered, and loving. How does sin hinder us from living out these values? How does it hinder us from connecting people to the love of Jesus?

*** As the next set of verses reveals, though, God does not want us to stay in our fallen state forever. As soon as there is a need for redemption, rescue is sent.

GENESIS 3:21-24

21 The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them.

22 The Lord God said, “Since man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.

*** Lather, rinse, repeat.

--- Since the fall of man, we’ve been on a cycle of sin, rescue and redemption.

(It’s like lather, rinse, repeat, but with fewer 80s songs sung in the shower.)

--- In verses 14-20, God gave the serpent, Eve, and Adam a series of decrees and curses as punishment for their sin.

---- Then out of love, He then made coverings for them and sent them from the garden. And thus humanity’s great adventure began.

*** PETA’s worst nightmare.

--- The animal coverings God made us give us a glimpse into God’s protective, redemptive nature.

--- The coverings required an animal sacrifice, which foreshadowed what was needed for our sins to be forgiven. He sent Jesus, the lamb of God, to die for our sins so that if we believe in Him we are made right before God.

*** Verses 23-24 describe how God sent out Adam from the garden. In what ways was this action a curse? How can it also be seen as a blessing?

--- Before this, in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 the world was a perfect creation and man and woman were footloose and carefree. But chapter 3 gets us out of the garden and on a new path.

--- Once we accept Jesus’ redemption, we are sent on mission as His servants. Although being sent out from the garden separated Adam and Eve from God’s constant presence, it also set in motion God’s plans for redemption through Jesus.

--- The crown of thorns Jesus wore—what does it speak of? It symbolizes the curse upon humanity, on you, on me, on us all, because of sin. When God created mankind and put him in the Garden of Eden, there were no thorns. A curse came upon Adam and Eve because they sinned and disobeyed God. The thorn, the thistle, are the result of the curse of sin upon humanity. Jesus wore a crown of thorns because He bore that curse…the hardship, sorrow, and death that come with sin.

*** What are some of the challenges – both internal and external – that we will likely face as we seek opportunities to connect people to the love of Jesus?

APPLICATION

*** Verse 23 tells us that after being banished from the garden, God expected Adam to “work the ground from which he was taken.” For us today, God also expects us to work the very field from which we came. What is this field for you? Where are the everyday places God expects you to be sharing your faith consistently?

*** Having a better understanding of God’s redemptive plan should motivate you to live out your mission of connecting people to the love of Jesus.

*** Our church’s goal is to transform our community, nation and world with the gospel of Jesus Christ as we reflect His love and saving power. We are successful at this when we have a relationship with God, family, church, and the world.

*** What is one way you can live on mission today in one of those areas of your life? Where is God sending us together as a group?