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Thursday, June 23, 2011

“Sins’ Shame”

(part 3)

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?”
1 Corinthians 5:1-2

In 1 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul is forced to address a situation affecting the church in Corinth. A grievous sin has been exposed within the church that the believers in Corinth have failed to address. Paul rebukes them for their lackadaisical attitude towards the issue and admonishes them to put this man out of the fellowship because of his lack of repentance:

“When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 5:4-5

Did this man create his own problem? Absolutely! Was his sin exposed? Yes! Was he repentant? Well, no…not at first. In fact, after his sinful behavior was known, he continued in his sin, and the church did not do anything to confront him. As I shared before, you cannot deal with the issue of shame until you deal with the problem of sin. This man felt no shame over his sin and so he continued in it. So, just as God put Adam and Eve out of the Garden…Paul admonished them to put this man out of the fellowship. They could not allow his sinful behavior to infect the body of Christ:

“Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast- as you really are.”
1 Corinthians 5:6-7

However, Paul leaves the door open for restoration. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes to them about how they should respond when someone they have had to discipline repents:

“If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent-not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.”
2 Corinthians 2:5-8
Forgive! Comfort! Reaffirm your love! These words are blankets of grace that need to be cast over many hurting people. People who are living lives “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.” Consider today what you can do to help someone whose sin has long been atoned for, but is still steeped in shame.

Pastor Scott Burr

“Sins’ Shame”

(part 2)

“But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
Genesis 3:9-11

As Adam and Eve stood before the Lord, the first thing God did was address their disobedience. God had given them specific direction to “not” eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The shame they were experiencing was the result of the sin that now exposed them. However, you cannot deal with the shame if you have not yet first dealt with the sin. God takes time in Genesis 3:14-20 to reprove Adam, Eve and the serpent, but once He had addressed their sinful behavior, He then addressed their shame:

“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”

Genesis 3:21

God would not allow them to remain exposed! Some of you need encouraged today regarding the shame that you still bear. You have allowed God to deal with your sin, but have not allowed Him to cover your shame. You have confessed your sins, repented and received His forgiveness, but are being eaten alive by shame. Funny thing about shame, it seems to linger around long after the sin has been atoned for. And sadly enough I think that it is our fault as a body of believers.

In Genesis 9 we read the story of Noah. Noah had come out of the ark, after the flood, and began the task of rebuilding:

“Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he had drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered (exposed) inside his tent.”

Genesis 9:21 (parenthesis mine)

The hard truth of the matter is that Noah got drunk and ends up passed out lying “exposed” in his tent. Scripture documents the event, however, it does not defend Noah’s behavior. Noah’s sin and exposure are his own doing and that should be rightly noted.

Then Noah’s son, Ham, enters the tent and sees his father’s nakedness. Ham leaves the tent and immediately tells his brothers’ what he has seen. Upon hearing this, Shem and Japheth take a garment and lay it across their shoulders. They turned their faces and walked backwards into the tent and covered their father’s nakedness. People, today, are reluctant to confess their sins and are terrified of being exposed because they do not know if who they are telling is a Ham or a Shem.

Ham immediately rushed out and told the first two people he saw!
He was more concerned about telling what he had seen and heard than he was concerned about his father’s shame. Shem and Japheth, on the contrary, demonstrated the utmost respect. Knowing their father’s situation, they chose not to ignore or focus on their father’s sinfulness. His sin had already been exposed. Rather they chose to address his shame.

We are cursed today in the body of Christ with too many Hams and not enough Shems and Japheths. Noah was exposed because of his own sinfulness, however Ham’s lack of concern for His father’s shame brought greater reproach.

We must never confuse “concealing sin” with “covering shame”. Concealing sin does not bring healing instead it fosters division, disunity, and destruction. Covering shame means that the sin has been exposed…now we must restore.

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, June 16, 2011

“Sins’ Shame”

(part 1)

“O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.”

Ezra 9:6

How many of you can identify with that prayer. We all, I am certain, have things in our lives that we deeply regret, are embarrassed about, or ashamed of. Shame is defined as a painful sense of having done something wrong, improper or immodest. It has been evident in the lives of men since the moment sin entered the world. Genesis 2:25 tells us that before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve, both walked in perfect relationship with God. They walked in obedience to God’s Word and although they were fully exposed they felt no shame”

“The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

Genesis 2:25

However, after they sinned by eating off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Genesis 3:7 tells us:

“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.”

Upon becoming painfully aware of their nakedness, Adam and Eve’s initial response was to cover themselves. There was now something in their lives they did not wish to have exposed. So they covered themselves (hiding themselves from one another with fig leaves) and then they hid themselves from God:

“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. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Genesis 3:8-10

Shame is always accompanied by an attempt to cover ourselves. In fact, throughout scripture, specifically the Old Testament, shame meant to “cover one’s face.” Covering one’s face is a natural response to shame. Do you remember getting into trouble as a child and when confronted about what you did wrong you “hid your face” in your hands? Psalm 44:15 says:

“My disgrace is before me all day long and my face is covered with shame.”
In those moments of painful awareness when our sin is exposed we “hide our face.”
Kid’s hide behind the curtains, in the closet or under the bed, but adults do it to. Maybe it isn’t as primitive, but we hide ourselves in busyness, work, activity, alcohol, prescription medicine…all in an attempt to conceal the pain and the shame.

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, June 9, 2011

“Believing is Seeing”

(part 2 of 2)

“Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
“You believe at last!” Jesus answered.
John 16:29-31

In John 16, Jesus reveals to His disciples that soon they will see Him no more and then after a little while they will see Him again. The disciples, perplexed by Jesus’ statement, began to ask one another about what He had said:

“They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”
John 16:18

The disciples were anxious about Jesus’ remarks. They wanted to know clearly what Jesus meant when He said “soon they would see Him no more and then after a little while they would see Him again.” Where was He going? When was He coming back? What does He mean by “a little while?” Jesus perceiving their apprehension, went on to clarify His message. Like many of us, they wanted to have all the information up front before they would believe.

When Jesus had finished speaking His disciples proclaimed… “NOW we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. THIS makes us believe that you came from God.” Only after they could clearly understand what He was saying would they confess they believed. Notice that it wasn’t Jesus that caused them to believe, it what because “Now” they could see. Jesus knew that their “belief” in Him was not rooted in faith…it was rooted in sight! They only believed because it made sense to them.

However, the definition of faith found in Hebrews 11:1 declares:

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Faith is being able to accept in our Spirit what is undetected by our physical man. It is the kind of faith that great men and women of God were commended for in Hebrews 11:

“By faith Noah, when warned abut things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” Hebrews 11:7

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance , obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”

Hebrews 11:8

In each case, the believing proceeded the seeing. If we are going to live by faith, we too have to believe if we truly want to see.

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, June 2, 2011

“Believing is Seeing”

(part 1 of 2)

“Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Christ, the King of Israel, come down from the cross, that we may see and believe.”

Mark 15:29-32

How many of you have ever said, “I’ll believe it when I see it!” Probably everyone of us. We live in a “Seeing is believing” society, where if it cannot be verified with our senses then we have a hard time accepting it. We have been conditioned by our culture to be “sensual” allowing sight, sound, touch, taste and smell to become all the truth we need.

I came to meditate of this after asking myself, as a Christian… “Why do I believe?” The word believe means to: accept as true. So if “Seeing is believing”, then only what is seen (verified by our senses) can be accepted as true. A careful reading of the above passage, however, shows that this cannot be so:

In Mark 15:29 the people testified that they “heard” Christ’s message, but they did not accept it. In Mark 15:31 the chief priests and teachers testified that they had seen Him do miracles, yet they did not accept it! If “seeing is really believing” then why did they not accept what they had seen and heard as true.

The problem was not what they could see, hear or touch. The problem was that they did not want to accept “who” He claimed to be. So, regardless of what He did, even coming off the cross, would not have changed their minds. They would have simply asked for another sign! You cannot see your way into believing!!!

Jesus actually rebuked one of his own disciples, who refused to believe. Even after Jesus had been raised from the dead Thomas needed another sign:

“Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

John 20:24-25

A week later, Jesus came to his disciples again, this time Thomas was with them. He stood among them and said to Thomas:

“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
John 20:27

In essence, Jesus came to him and said, “Here I am Thomas… see me , hear me, touch me!” Scripture is unclear about whether Thomas even dared lay a hand on Jesus, but he did make a confession of faith saying to Him: “My Lord and my God!” However, his confession wasn’t followed by platitudes as was Peter’s confession of faith. Jesus did not say… “Good job Thomas!” Instead he told him:

“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John 20:29

Jesus words to Thomas are still as powerful today as they were 2,000 years ago…It is when we first “believe” that we begin to truly see!

Pastor Scott Burr