Getting Real

Pastor David Edwards - May 15, 2016

Our God has designed us to love and be loved in return. He created us to live with nothing to prove, nothing to hide and nothing to lose. Sadly something broke, but God in His mercy had a plan to make it right.

Community Group Study Notes

  • Why do we look to others to solve the problem only God can fix?
  • What are some of the roles you play to make yourself more acceptable to others?
  • Does your life reflect that you have been changed by the love of God?


Memory Verse

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Sermon Transcript

Good morning, church. Happy Sunday, everybody. So glad to be back. My name is Dave, everyone say "Hi, Dave".

I've had a tremendous week. I think this is my fourth time to get to be here and so I feel like it feels more like coming back to family. I appreciate the warmth of your church, and there's just no way you can be on this property and not sense the presence of Jesus in the hallways and up and down, I mean it really is, it really is amazing. And with that in mind I want to ask just one question this morning. Just by round of applause, how many people do we have that are glad that Jesus Christ is alive and well and at work in families, at work in your city, so, so good. I'm so appreciative of the band just to make much of Jesus and just to be here. It's been an incredible week.

I heard Pastor Jerry say I've spoken a lot this week, but all the venues together, they're all just doing unbelievable things. The college students, the high-schoolers, the singles, the men's prayer breakfast was amazing, but all of those events together, there's been, we've seen forty people pray to receive Christ this week. So that is pretty incredible, so I'm proud and amazed at how God is working in all the different ministries of the churches, and so you know, I feel like this is a good thing that I get to be a part of a little bit of each one those throughout the week.

So it's been great, great fun and so with this in mind here's what I want to do this morning. I want us to talk about something that we're all affected by, something that we deal with every single day of our life, something that you can't get away from no matter how hard you try. I want to talk to us about relationships, alright? Now, we all have them, right? We've got relationships at work, relationships in our family, marriage, the kids, right, we all have it and throughout our life there are pockets and places where there are broken relationships, right, where there are people in our family we can't communicate with and some students know what it's like to, there's a rift between you and your parents and you can't communicate with the person, the people that love you more than anybody else on the planet. Some of us know what it's like to have lost a relationship for whatever, we've had drama at our work, drama with co-workers and drama with bosses, right? And yet, at the same time, we're the smartest generation of people, we're the most connected, we have the most access to information than ever before, right? We've managed to shrink the world into a global village whereby we can access data, insight, information into any problem we have and yet being the smartest, most connected people in history. Why is it we still have relationships that don't work? How is it that we can have so much access to data and truth and online counseling and online help and yet we've got marriages we can't keep together? People in our family we don't speak to, problems with relatives and personal offenses that we've held for years. How is it we can be so connected and so smart and yet be seeing strategic relationships at work and at home breaking down and disintegrating.

This is what I want us to deal with today and to answer that question I want to take a moment and talk about rap music. Do we have any rap fans in the house? Anybody a fan of the rap, anybody, it's okay to admit it, it's fine, and I'm trying. I promise you I can make it about four bars and that's about it, but I'm trying and you know, I'm doing the best I can do and I have to say most of the things that I do, I follow bands, you know, like I follow worship bands that love to worship Jesus and but I did an event in Arkansas, like suburbia Arkansas with, instead of having a band, they had a rap group, alright. Now, we're in like suburban Arkansas gated community, you know and they had like eight or ten guys on stage, all white guys, right. So it's a hard sell, quite frankly. You know, we're doing rap inside of a gated community with eight white guys, these guys aren't really thugs, they're what I call rugs. You know what a rug is? It's a cross between a red neck and a thug, and ah, so. It's Arkansas, I mean, how hood can that be, right, you know. So, right, you've got eight white guys all with combat boots and camo and rebel doo rags on, which nothing says Jesus loves you like the rebel flag and, all right, and so, they all got microphones, right, all eight of them, pacing back and forth and doing their thing. It's like a white Wu Tang Clan, you know what I'm saying, that's basically what's going on, and so, right? And the crowd loved them, right? The people were out of their minds, right, all their raps were great, it wasn't anything cheesy or campy, right? It was great, right. And they get done, they're like yo, yo, drop the microphone, you know and they file off the stage, and so and everyone's like, they give them a big standing ovation and everyone loved it, right?

So they all filed down off the platform and they come and sit next to me, right, all eight of these dudes, and the head rap guy, whatever you call they guy, the head rap guy, I was like, I go to give him a high five, like that was awesome, right, and he puts his hand out to like fist-pound me and my hand and his fist meet like this and I'm like, I'm whiter than you are and I'm so not hip and so, it's very difficult and so we go like this and so while the emcee is talking I say to this guy, man the crowd loved you, right, these people, they loved what you guys are doing. He said "Oh, yeah, son." I was like, "Dad"? Who says that, son. What is that about, right? He says, "Oh, yeah, son". I said, they loved you and then he starts to say "Oh, oh yeah, you know what I'm saying?" He just starts saying that, over and over. Oh, yeah, you know what I'm saying, I'm like no, not yet. Oh ho, yeah, you know what I'm saying, I'm like no, first you have to say something and then you can ask me if I know what you're saying. That's a question about clarity. Oh, ho ho, you know what I'm saying. Like no, could you use less words, right. Yeah, you know what I'm saying, like could you be more vague, right, you know, he just keeps saying that over and over, I was like, I don't know, can I buy a vowel, right. I don't know what you're saying, I'm lost, I'm, I'm I don't know, right. I said it's like oh, ho, ho, yeah, you know, I'm like no, I don't know. He said listen, if you want to communicate with this generation you've got to learn how to rap.

I mean, can you imagine the kind of pressure that puts on me as a speaker, right. Think about it, we're talking about relationships today and how we can be smart and yet have relationships fall apart, right. How we can be smart and still go through a divorce and we're not the only people that have every had tough times in relationships, right. Even back in the New Testament when the church, when the church had problems, the families had problems, the people that were pastoring these groups back in the New Testament, they always appealed back to the story of Adam and Eve, right. So Paul talks about it, right. Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1st and 2nd Timothy, they all have references that every time that someone was faced with a broken relationship they would say well, something happened way back in the garden, right, that is affecting what's happening to us today. Something happened way back with Adam and Eve, right that we're all still feeling the shock waves of. This is how these guys pastored their people through brokenness and rifts and un-forgiveness by talking about how the first Adam brought sin into the world and Paul says Jesus is the second Adam who brings about redemption, right.

They all, all these guys gravitate back to this story in the Old Testament and so this guy in Arkansas alright - you know what I'm saying, says to me, if you want to communicate you've got to learn how to rap. And I was like ...just for a minute, okay, just imagine, you know, it's one thing to write a sermon, Pastor Jerry and I talked about this, that it's like wrestling a tiger in many ways, right. It's another, it would be another thing if I had to rap it, right, if I walked up here and said "Welcome to the Chapel everybody, today we're going to be reading some verses on Adam and Eve out of the book of Genesis, and then I go "first there was Adam and Eve/ sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g/ up came a serpent like a water hose/ said to Eve won't you give me one of those/it was an apple, shiny and red/ big as a cup of soup head/the thunder came down the lightening went pow/Eve said to Adam you done messed up now/you coulda' had some gravy, you coulda' had some soup/but no you had to have forbidden fruit wick wick/. Yeah, yeah, you know what I'm saying? No, not yet? No, not yet?

Here's the point, and there is one. The point is, it doesn't matter whether we read this story or I rap it, it's exactly the same, right? What these guys in the New Testament saw was that something happened in the lives of Adam and Eve that sent a shock wave throughout all of humanity to the point that even this very day we're experiencing the effects of the fall. We feel it in our family, we feel it in our relationships. We feel it in the conflict and the loss that we go through. Adam and Eve opened the door that sent a fracture into the life of every person and every relationship they would ever build from now and all time of eternity. But that's not how God intended it to be.

And so this morning we are going to look at the story of Adam and Eve. We're going to really look at three verses and these three verses act like a suspension bridge, if you've ever seen the Golden Gate Bridge, right, these three verses are really kind of, are the three verses that link the story of Adam and Eve to you and I. And they help us, these three verses, to find our way back to the place where God intended it to be because this is the question, right. If this is not how God intended it to be, if he didn't intend for us to be hurt, he didn't intend for there to be abuse and divorce and loss and fall-out and unforgiveness and personal offenses, then how do we get back to the place where he designed it to be that way. To be the way He originally imagined it, right?

Let me read the first verse, right. This is the state of relationship before the fall. Alright, you ready? I didn't use my glasses in the last service, but I'm going to use them this service. So here we go. This is Genesis chapter two, ready. You got your Bibles, chapter two verse twenty-five, look what this says speaking of Adam and Eve: "They were both naked and the man and his wife were not ashamed". Now this is not about being clothing optional, right. This is the Bible's way of saying that Adam and Eve were in a state where there was nothing to fear and nothing to hide, right. They could love and be loved in return without guilt or condemnation or shame, right, that they were in a state of perfect unity.

There's a lot of biblical researchers that are freaked out about the fact that they can't find the actual, physical garden of Eden, that's because Eden was a state, it was a state in which Adam and Eve dwelled in of unity and connectedness and intimacy. That's how God intended it to be. It was supposed to work that way in marriage. That's how he intended it to be with our family and our kids and our co-workers that we would be in a place where we could love and be loved in return without fear of shame or condemnation or rejection. This is how, but how do we get back to this place? If that's what's in the heart of God, then how do we get back to that place.

Well, this is what brings us to--if you got one of these when you walked in today, there's a place right here to take notes and so, I'm a note guy, I'm a point guy so for each verse that we're going to read there is a point, right. The suspension bridge hangs on three verses and hangs on three points that help us to get from where we are being separated from God back to the place to where he intended us to be. How do we do it? Here we go.

Number 1. We have to recognize the holiness of our craving. Now Adam and Eve had it made, right. This verse says that they were naked and not ashamed. They had it made. I mean, think about it. Eve was the only woman on the planet who could say "I have nothing to wear" and not be lying. She literally had nothing to wear, right. Think about it, Adam was the only man on the planet who could say to Eve "you're the only woman for me" and not be lying. She literally was the only woman, right. They had it made, right, but the enemy talks them into breaking ranks and in this cosmic game of Red Rover, Red Rover Adam and Eve break ranks with God and they give away their birthright to the enemy and at that moment sin enters into the world. What made them reach for that apple was they sensed that they had a craving for connectedness, they had a craving for intimacy and when they reached for that apple it was symbolic of them taking matters into their own hands.

This is what we do. We come into this world, no one had to tell you that you wanted to be loved, no one had to train you and I that we needed to be loved, we were born with it, there was an instinct, there was something inside of us that says man, I want to find somebody or someone or some people who will love me for me and that I can love and be loved in return, right. We came into this world with that within us, right. The Bible calls that space that we try to fill a void.

So you know what we do? We do what Adam and Eve did. Instead of reaching for the apple, we reach for people and we think man, I'm going to find a person who will make me feel complete. So we start dating and looking for someone who will love us, right. I'm going to find, if it's not a person then you look for a group, I'm going to find a team or a group or some activity that's going to make me feel complete. I'm going to reach out and I'm going to put that thing right there in that hole in my heart that will make me feel complete and make me feel loved. And so we look to a family, we look to a spouse, we look to a group of people or we look to an activity. But haven't you ever noticed that every person that you meet that you think is going to do it for you, like this person is going to make me feel good, this person is going to love me, that somehow they end up slipping back out of that space.

Have you ever noticed that the people and the things we try to fill that void with, they don't stay in there very long, they slip back out. They slip back out, right. As parents you do it, right? You bring kids into the world and you build your life around your kids, man you're like I'm going to be a mom, I'm going to be a dad and you put your kids right in the middle of your world, right and you spend eighteen years and your whole identity is based on you being a mom and raising kids, but one day your kids get older, they grow up and they move on and all of a sudden you're an empty nester and everything you've built your life around now it's slipped back out and you feel empty again. You see it? And now you've got to reach for something else, we've got to find something else to try to fill in that space inside of us.

So like Adam and Eve we keep reaching for something and it keeps slipping back out and you know why nothing fits in there? Because it's a God-shaped void. Only God can fill that space with his life. There's a holiness to what you're craving, right. What you're craving you're trying to find it in another person and it can only be found in the presence of God. What you're craving you're trying to find in an activity or an identity by doing something but that emptiness can only be filled by the presence of God. That void inside of us is God-shaped and only God can fill it in. You've got to recognize the thing that you long for, that what you're craving for, you'll never get it from another person. You'll never find it in another activity. There's a holiness to what you're longing for and it can only be filled in by the Holy One. It can only be filled in by the presence of God. You've got to recognize the holiness of what you're craving.

Not only that, but number 2 is that we have to reject the counterfeit. We have to reject the counterfeit, so look what happens, ready? So, here they are in a pre-fallen state, Genesis chapter two verse twenty-five and they were both naked and not ashamed. Now look at this, Genesis chapter three verse seven, look at this, so they break ranks with God, sin enters into the world, this fracture, this rift happens, and then look at the result, verse seven: "And the eyes of them were both opened and they knew they were naked so they sewed fig leaves together and made for themselves loin coverings." At the entrance of sin, their first instinct was to find something to hide behind. They reach for something to cover the vital parts of their life.

When sin came into this world it brought with it a central lie, and here's the lie: If I ever get honest, I'm going to get hurt. If I ever let anybody see the real me they're not going to like it, so I've got to find something to hide behind and since the garden we've been reaching for something to hide behind. That's the instinct that sin creates within us. If I get honest I'm going to get hurt, so I've got to find something that will cover my insecurities, I've got to find something that will make me more presentable and that will make me move lovable. So we reach for a fig leaf. See it? Since the garden that's what we've been doing.

If you are a note taker, let me give you what I call fig leaf fun facts. Alright, let's talk about you know, a fig leaf is something we use to hide the real us, right. A fig leaf is something that we choose to hide the real us because we thing that if someone saw the real me they wouldn't like it, so I'm going to cover it up. A fig leaf is something that we use to create a false sense of security like when we're hiding behind something we feel better about ourselves. There's a level of security but underneath there's still a hole, there's still a void. Something's still off. A fig leaf is something we use to mask our greatest insecurity. A thing that we don't want people to know about us, a thing that we're most aware of, that the things that we're most ashamed of, we reach for something to hide behind.

Fig leaves are perpetual, right? Whatever we choose to hide behind we have to continue to hide behind. We have to keep reaching for it. Incidentally this is where fashion began, right. The first Adam put the fig leaf on and Eve said that fig leaf is so last-season, right. That's where it came from, right?

And the final fig leaf fun fact is that fig leaves were never meant to be worn. They were never meant to be worn. Because they die, they last for a little while but not forever. So I want to ask the question this morning, do you have a fig leaf? What is it?

For some people, man their fig leaf is performance. I'm always amazed when I talk to athletes and I ask them how they are and I say, man how are you doing? And they tell me about their season. It's the same thing with people in the business world, I'll say man, how are things going for you? And they tell me about what they're doing, their titles, or how many sales they closed or what they made in commission and I always go, wait, I didn't ask about what you do, I asked about who you are.

This is what sin does, right? It makes us think that we are what we do. It makes us think that we are what we do. It makes us think that we're our titles and we're our performance. That we're only as good as how many hits we got, we're only as good as how many sales we closed. It takes our life and turns it upside down and makes us believe that we're only as good as our performance.

So we lead by what we do, we lead by how we perform and it makes us feel secure. Since the garden that's what we've all been doing. See it? Some people use work as a fig leaf.

Some people use exercise as a fig leaf. I had a guy tell me last week that he believed that weight lifting was a sport. Weight lifting is not a sport. Weight lifting is picking heavy things up and putting them back down and that is indecision, that's what that is. Right? Do you want to hold it or do you not want to hold it, just make up your mind. Just pick a view and go with it. Sorry, that's how I think about working out and so I met someone this week who said they ran a marathon, like twenty-five miles and I was like, I did a hundred sit-ups. Not on purpose, it just took me that many tries to get out of bed and, all right.

Some people, right have learned how to lead with their body because they've learned that man, if they look good, that's what makes them acceptable, so they lead with their looks. I'm never shocked when I hear interviews with super models and they talk about how they don't like themselves. We all look at the shell and go how could that be. It's because underneath it there's still a hole in their heart, there's still something that's incomplete. There's something that's missing.

Some people use substances as a fig leaf. I've heard a lot of people go man, I get a couple of drinks in me, I'm a different person. I get a couple of drinks in me I'm the life of the party, I'm like no, you're more irritating, right? But that's called liquid courage, right, so what people do is they put something in their body that alters their personality because they think that makes them more outgoing and more acceptable, right. It's a chemical state. I know everyone's got their view about drinking, but let me tell you how you know if you have a drinking problem, right. When you've been out all night on a Friday night drinking and you're riding home on your motorcycle and you think to yourself, hey, I don't own a motorcycle, and that is not a good sign. You've gone too far, right. Do you see what I'm saying? Right?

Some people use being overly nice as a fig leaf. I've met a lot of people that they're super hyper-nice but underneath it man, they've got a baseline of anger and revenge, right. A lot of time, they're overly perky. Good morning, good morning, you're like -- no and it's not, right. And underneath, man they would swerve the car into you if they saw you on the sidewalk, right. It's just a fig leaf. It's just something they put out in front to lead with because they think somehow that makes them more acceptable. Since the garden, this is what we've all been doing.

Some people man, reach for food as a fig leaf. There's a reason why there's certain types of food that are called comfort food, right. Because instead of dealing with their problems or their pain, it's easier just to eat their way through it. It's easier just to cover it up in calories. It's easier just to medicate themselves with food. It keeps them from having to deal with the pain and deal with the emptiness and like Adam and Eve, we keep reaching for something to hide behind.

Some people use religion as a fig leaf. I've met a lot of people, man who do all the right stuff on the outside, keep all the sacraments, do all the commands, show up at all the right times, know all the lingo, right. But underneath, man there's no fire, there's no heat. They're just going through the motions and the motions don't really have any meaning. They're just doing it because they think that makes them more acceptable to other church people and then so maybe that'll get them more business in what they do, but it's just an outward appearance. On and on it goes.

Do you know what my fig leaf was? My fig leaf was being funny. Like I grew up struggling with dyslexia. I couldn't learn to read until I was in seventh grade, and I didn't want anybody to know that I couldn't read. I didn't want anybody to know that it was hard for me to write so you know what I learned how to do? I learned how to be funny, because if I could make people laugh, it would deflect them from seeing my insecurity. It would deflect them from seeing my weakness, so as a result man, I was friends to a lot of people at school, but no one ever really ever knew me.

And what a tragedy it would be for us to spend our whole life with fig leafs on and the people around us never get to know the real us. Never get to know the real value of who we really are, because we spent so much time playing so many roles and pretending to be so many things to so many people that somewhere along the way we just lost our way. We lost the sense of who we are and we keep reaching for things. Some people push the moral envelope and they trade their body away because they think man, I just don't want to be alone. I know it's not really love but it feels like love and I'd rather have that than just to have nothing.

So the question of the morning is, what's your fig leaf? What is it you're hiding behind? For some people it's their clothes. Some people lead with their labels, right? They have the coolest shoes, the coolest bags, the coolest watch, the coolest shirt, right? Name brands matter. Think about it. The whole basis of going to a mall and going shopping is to buy clothes to hide our flaws, right? That's the whole basis of having clothes is to make us appear to be someone we're not. Like right now you can't tell it, but in real life I am a small Asian woman. But that is the power of a blue jacket and that is my point. And that is my point, right? Is that we keep reaching for things to hide behind.

And I know, listen, let me tell you the problem with all this stuff. There's a couple problems with the fig leaf. Right? Whatever relationships we build with a fig leaf on, those relationships are built on a lie. So we fall in love with a fig leaf on and there's a reason why divorce rate keeps climbing. It's because people keep falling in love with the package. They keep falling in love with what they see and then they enter into marriage and the fig leaf comes off, and they're like, you're not the person that I thought you were. Whatever relationships we build with a fig leaf on is built on a lie and won't last. This is why friendships disintegrate and marriages disintegrate and people can't speak to each other and people can't keep a job, right? Because they keep trying to pretend their way into these scenarios and it just won't last.

And I know, if you're taking notes at all, you're like, well some of those things aren't bad. Right? You've listed off work and fitness and sports and business and making money, and those things in and of themselves are not bad. You're right. But they're not ultimate. Your career won't die on a cross for you. Your clothes won't get up and be the personal sacrifice for your sin. Right? Your performance record, your athletic ability won't die on a cross for you. They're just not ultimate. We keep reaching for something that's only temporary and there has to be a moment where we reject the counterfeit and say I can't live this way anymore. I can't live this way pretending to be something I'm not. I've played so many roles to so many people that I've just lost my way. Adam and Eve lost their way. And since the fall we've lost our way. And we keep reaching for things to hide behind.

So let me just ask all of us, myself included, what's your fig leaf? Is it your pain? Some people hide behind their pain, and they've learned that they get a lot of attention with their pain - that it's better for them not to be made well because they get so much attention by talking about their problems. So they lead with their pain. Is it your titles? Your work title, your status, where your office is, what's on your business card. I mean we all know in our mind that all that stuff comes and goes. What's your fig leaf? Whatever it is it won't last forever and it can never die for the sin that's in your life.

So as we walk across this bridge and we say this is where God started - that we were supposed to be naked and not afraid, nothing to lose, nothing to hide, nothing to fear and yet sin entered into the world and caused us to believe that if we ever got out of this we'd get hurt so we reached for something to hide behind so that we'd feel better about ourselves and make ourselves more presentable to other people. Right? And we've reached for a counterfeit form of the real version of us, a counterfeit form of intimacy.

So what do we have to do? Number three if you're taking notes: we have to receive the cure. Something has to come into our life that will cure us from this sin sickness. Something has to come into our life that will set us free from this addiction to the fig leaf, this addiction to always have to pretend to be something to get people to like us or to accept us, right? And so what happens is that God moves towards Adam and Eve to cure them. This is an amazing part of the story. We're still not to the best part, but the amazing part of the story is that God comes to Adam and Eve and literally loves them out of hiding.

I'll bet in a crowd this size most of us, maybe in a small group, maybe through Pastor Jerry or one of the other pastors here - you've heard somebody say God loves you. You've heard somebody make that statement - say that God loves you. And it would be easy for us to think that, we'll maybe that means he has an affection towards us, right? That he has a warm spot towards us, that he reaches out and wants to hug us, right? And give us a big heavenly hug. But it's more than that. When someone says God loves us, that's not just about how he feels. It is about who he is and the way in which he treats us.

And so God sees us with our fig leaves on, and moves towards us to love us out of hiding. To love us out of what we're hiding behind. So when someone says God loves you, what does that mean? To say that God loves me out of hiding, how does he do that? Well, if you're taking notes under the third one, let me give you some ways that he does that. For God to love us out of hiding, he initiates - he doesn't invade.

Look at this, right, if you've got your Bibles. Genesis, chapter three verse eight - look at this. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. This is one of the things that makes God so cool, right? He picks the best time of day, right? He comes strolling through the garden. He's not running towards them, right? He's not moving towards them in anger. It says that he walks towards them. You know what that's body language for? That God initiates a relationship but he won't invade. He initiates a relationship with you. He makes the first move. He takes the first step towards you and I but he won't invade your fig leaf. He won't rip if off of you. He just moves towards you and makes you an offer of relationship. To say that God loves you means more than just an affection. It means that he takes the first step and that he initiates relationship with us. He'll always initiate but he doesn't invade. Right?

The second thing that it means is that he questions - he doesn't accuse. He questions, he doesn't accuse. Look at this, ready? Look at verse nine. And the Lord God called to them and said to them, where are you? All right, now, this is not a location question. Now you cannot tell me that God being all knowing and all powerful has lost track of the only two people on the planet, right? That can't be it, right? God can't be walking through the garden and going, the camo got me. I don't know where you guys are. Go ahead and show yourself, right?

Any time God asks a question, it's never for him. It's for us. God asks the question, it's for us, right? It's not because he doesn't know. He knows. Because when God loves us he questions, he doesn't accuse. Right? He doesn't hurl accusations at us and stick labels on us and go, oh, you're the one person couldn't keep the marriage together. Oh, you're the one person who is addicted to such and such, right? God doesn't hurl accusations at us. He uses questions to draw us out into the open. Where are you? Where are you? What's your fig leaf? What are you hiding behind? He asks questions in hopes that we'll respond to his invitation to relationship. He asks us questions and hopes that as he steps towards us that we would step towards him. See? He questions, he doesn't accuse.

C: He tells the truth, he doesn't deny. God always tells the truth about where we are. If you've got your Bibles and you look at it starting in verse fourteen through verse twenty, all of those verses are indented from the rest of the text, right? This is because this is God speaking to Adam and Eve. You know what he's doing in these verses? He's telling them about the consequences of the decision. He's saying because you broke ranks with me, Eve - you ate of the tree and you gave away your birth right - here's what's going to happen. And he says to Eve there's going to be pain in your family. There's going to be pain in childbirth. He says to Adam there's going to be pain in how you have to earn your living. You're going to have to earn it by the sweat of your brow. It will be like thorns and thistles, right? You know what God's doing? He's telling the full truth about exactly what happened. God's not an enabler, he doesn't make excuses, right? He's not co-dependent on us. Instead he says here's what you've done and here's what happened.

This is why the Bible says it's our sin that has cut us off from the presence of God. It's always clear about the condition and the consequences of the choices that we make. To say that God loves us, he initiates - he doesn't invade. He questions - he doesn't accuse. He tells the truth - he doesn't deny. And he responds - he doesn't run from us. He doesn't run from Adam and Eve. Right? He doesn't go, well you guys are sinners now. I can't have anything to do with you. Right? I'm going to go over here. Instead, he sees our condition. He takes steps towards us and he responds to what we're in the middle of.

God's responsive to your brokenness. God's responsive to your broken family. God's responsive to your addictions. God's responsive to what you're struggling with and what you're fighting with. He understands the fig leaf. He's responsive to why we're doing what we're doing. He responds to us. He doesn't run.

And then finally, he protects - he doesn't expose. He protects - he doesn't expose. Right? He doesn't run up to Adam and Eve and rip away all the foliage and go, Aha! Right? Instead he protects them. Look at the condition they're in when he finds them. Look at this, ready? Genesis chapter three verse eight. Look at this. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden and - look at this - and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord amongst the trees of the garden. Right? At the beginning of the fall when this happened, they sewed fig leaves together and covered the violent parts of their life and as time passed, they kept putting more stuff between them and God. By the time God gets to them, they are behind more foliage and more trees, because this is what sin does is that it works to separate us from the presence of God. Where God initiates - right? - sin works to push us back away from God. By the time God gets to them, they don't only have fig leaves on, they're behind more foliage and covered up and they've got more barriers and more obstacles - and God's responsive to it. And he moves in an act of protection and salvation towards Adam and Eve.

And this is the verse that I'm most excited about today that we hear, because look what happens. God calls to them, they stand up and go, we heard you and we were afraid so we hid ourselves and we got all this stuff between you and I now. We've got all these barriers. We've got all this separation. And look how God treats them. Look at this - verse twenty-one. And the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and he clothed them. That may not mean anything to you and I, but it will in just a minute. The garden of Eden didn't have any death in it. Adam and Eve had never seen anything die. This is the first sacrifice in all of Scripture.

And do you know what verse twenty-one is? It's the first promise of salvation in all of Scripture. While Adam and Eve were listening to the serpent and listening to the enemy, while Adam and Eve were reaching for the apple and sewing together fig leaves - do you know what God was doing? He was setting a plan in motion whereby he would get his Son into the earth, and his Son would live a perfect life and die on the cross for all of our covers and for all of our disguises and for all of our masks. And then Jesus would beat death. He would beat physical death and beat spiritual death and come back to life. While we were messing around trying to find somebody who would love us and try to fill the emptiness in our life with more relationships and more stuff and more status, God was setting something in motion that would be eternal. He makes for them garments of skin and he clothes them.

So God comes to Adam and Eve and he says to them, let's make a trade. Let's make a trade - you give me what you've been hiding behind and in exchange I'll cover you with something you can never lose. So God loves us today. I came to tell you today that God loves you and that he moves towards you and initiates relationship and he says let's make a trade. Let's make a trade. You give me the temporary - the fig leaves, the disguises and the masks - and God says in exchange I'll cover you with something timeless.

And everything that our old emptiness convinced us that we needed to do to get loved, every act of manipulation and contortion and every kind of disguise and role that we tried to play - that once we give all that stuff up, and God covers us with the life of the sacrifice of Jesus - that all the stuff that we really wanted has a way of finding its way to us when we're in Christ. When you place your life in Christ, it affects the quality of your relationships and the kind of people you attract. It affects how you communicate with your kids and how you deal with co-workers when you've put your life in Christ. All this other stuff - there's a big struggle with the fig leaves and all the counterfeit roles that we've chosen to play - all of a sudden we put Jesus on, it affects every relationship we have.

And the reason why this matters is because when you can receive the love of God, you'll be able to receive love from other people. Once you know what it feels like, once you've experienced what it's like to be loved by the presence of God, it's a lot easier to spot that same quality of love in other people. It's a lot easier to love the way he's loved us. It's a lot easier to love the hard to love because we've been loved unconditionally and all of a sudden we've had the sacrifice of Jesus placed on us and now there's a level of security. We don't fear being rejected. We don't fear being offended. We're not afraid of loving without someone loving in return because our identify, our security is in the presence of Jesus. That's the power of Christianity.

And so, God says let's make a trade. Let's make a trade. You know there's a little verse within the story where it says God called out to them, and he said where are you? And Adam and Eve said we're over here. And I wonder if we've got some people in the house this morning that need to say to God: God, I'm over here. I'm over here. I hid myself because I was afraid. I covered myself up because I didn't know any other way to fill the emptiness that was in my heart and so I put on a bunch of stuff and I played a bunch of roles and I pretended to be something I'm not. But God, I'm over here. I've got a lot of stuff between you and I. There's some barriers, there's some obstacles and they've been there for a long time. But God, I'm over here.

Could you let God come and love you out of hiding today? Could you let him come and find you right where you sit and just say, God, it's been a long time. It's been many years - for some of us it's been thirty or forty years that we've been covered up in fig leaves and maybe this morning you could just say God, I'm over here. I need you to come find me. I'm ready to trade in the temporary for the timeless. I'm ready to give up what I can't keep for something I could never lose. God, I'm over here.

I'm going to ask you if you would to just bow your heads and close your eyes with me just for a minute. And I want you to imagine that right where you're sitting this morning is your meeting place with God. That the presence of God is not more powerful on the stage or in the band or in me - that the presence of God is as powerful in the very corner of this building as he is in the other corner of the building. That right where you sit this morning, that God can hear the cries of your heart. He knows why you have the fig leaves that you have. But this morning, could you just let him find you? Could you say, God, I'm over here? Could you let him find you this morning?

Or maybe some of us here this morning, there's never been a moment that you've ever experienced Jesus in a personal way and you watched these baptisms and you think, man, these people have encountered something that's not real to me. And maybe you believe that Jesus is real but the problem is he's just never been real to you. You keep trying to fill in that space in your heart with other people and things and relationships and titles and they keep sliding back out and no matter what you place in that emptiness you end up with a hole. It's because only the life of God could fill it. Only the life of God can fill our heart and repair the break between us and him. Could you let God find you this morning? Could you just say, I'm over here?

If you've never given your life to Christ, I'd like to invite you this morning to pray with me. I want to navigate us through a prayer to give our life to Christ. The prayer is not magic. But we do it because when God called out to Adam and Eve there was a confession and they said God, I'm over here. We're over here. All the way throughout the Bible when people met Jesus it was always followed by confession. Right? Even Peter said we've come to know and believe that you're the Eternal One of God. We can't look to anyone else for the answers, right? There was a confession. For Zacchaeus there was a moment of confession and that's what this prayer is. It's a way of saying God, I'm over here. I need you to step out of heaven and to step behind my fig leaves - to step past the barriers that I've created and place your love right within me.

I bet we've got some moms and dads that need that. I bet we've got some grandparents and some young adults and some students in the house that you'd say man, I need the life and the love of Jesus to come live within me. If that's never happened to you or if you've just gotten so covered up by playing so many roles that you've lost who you really are, you don't know what it means to be real anymore, then I'm going to ask you to pray this prayer as well. I'm just going to say this slowly enough so you could hear these words in your head and your heart because when we pray that's where God listens. He listens to our thoughts and he listens to the cries of our heart. He can hear you when you say, God, I'm over here. I'm over here.

If you've never given your life to Christ would you pray this prayer with me? Would you just say: Dear Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. I believe you died on a cross for me and I believe that you're alive. And I admit I can't fix myself, that without you I'm empty and as best as I know how I ask you to step out of heaven, step into my life and from this morning on be the leader and the Lord of my life. If you just prayed that prayer along with me and you meant it with all of your heart whether you prayed it for the first time or you prayed it because you just lost your way - if you prayed that prayer because you meant it with all your heart, would you just put your eyes on me and just look right here at me? Would you just look right here at me? You came out of hiding today and the presence of God - you've stepped out from the barriers and out from behind the fig leaves and said God, I'm over here.

When we get done in just one or two minutes, we'll be done - as you leave today we have a place across the foyer called the Fireside Room and that's a place where I'll be there and some other prayer people will be there and if you prayed that prayer this morning, if you got your eyes on me because you prayed that prayer I'm going to ask you to stop through that room, give us two minutes to pray with you, pray for you, we'll give you a little thing called your first week as a disciple - it's a little booklet to help you to begin to learn to live without your fig leaf, right? We'll give you a Bible if you need it and part of walking into that room is a way of saying I'm stepping out from around my fig leaves and I'm taking a new step today. I told God I'm over here and now I want to live like it. Now we have to learn to live without the fig leaves and it happens a step at a time.

And so if you prayed that prayer would you stop by the Fireside Room and let somebody know. If this morning you're a believer and you've got your own share of fig leaves - I've got mine. I have to say I had to take mine off today in order to rap in front of you. That was a stretch, right? But if you've got your fig leaf, would you just tell him what it is. Would you say God, I've been in hiding. I've just been in hiding and would you teach me to learn to live without my disguise, to learn to live without my mask? Would you teach me to live out in the open? And God, I pray that tomorrow would be different because of the truth of these words in Genesis and that our lives would be different because of the way that you love us out of hiding. And in your strong and powerful name I pray. Amen, amen.

Thank you church for being here. One last thing - thank you, thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you for receiving the word today. You saw me for the first and last time rap, so you saw it today. I had to take my fig leaf off to do it but I was glad to do it. Also, when you go out, your Pastor Jerry talked about my newest book. This is called the Gift of Jesus. It's a page a day on the life of Jesus so the deal is if you read one page a day, right? Each page has a verse, a little thought about the verse, and a prayer - if you do those three things once a day this is how you build momentum in your devotional life that will help you to learn how to live without your fig leaf and to learn to live your new identity so my prayer is that everybody here would get one of these and that you just make it your goal to say I'm going to do a page a day with Jesus for this next year. I'll be right out there to meet you, church. Thank you so much. Blessings on you. I hope to see you next year. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

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Subject: Getting Real

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