I DIDN’T DO IT!

“Who … me?  I didn’t do it!”  Ever hear anyone say that?  Have you heard your young children say that?  Did you ever say that? 

Birthday cake on face (C)
Yummy Birthday Cake – I didn’t mess it up! 

 

It is a common thing to hear, especially when there is some disaster that just happened and your young children are all standing around pointing fingers at each other and exclaiming, almost in unison, “I didn’t do it?” even as the incriminating evidence is still sticking to their fingers!

 

Recently, our granddog Haley was exploring the backyard when she apparently decided to get up close and personal with something that had run under the house.   We don’t know what attracted her undivided attention, but that is the only reason we can imagine that she pushed her way through the latticework so that she became imprisoned under the porch. 

 

When she did not come back in the house when we called for her, our grandson found her looking out through the latticework and he had no idea how to get her out.   The place she pushed through was blocked from the other direction, so she was literally stuck there.

 

After trying various things to retrieve her, we broke some of the slats and, ultimately, after a good bit of tugging, it folded down so she could walk out unscathed.  Here is a picture of the broken lattice with her laying on the porch with that “Who, Me?!!  I didn’t do it” look!

 

haley-and-the-porch
Who … me? What did I do?

 

This is virtually the same thing that Adam and Eve told God, way back long ago when they were in the Garden of Eden. 

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”  But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.”

Genesis 3:1-4.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Genesis 3:6-7.

But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”  And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”  He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”  The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”  Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Genesis 3:9-13.

 

Adam — “Who, Me?  Don’t blame me … I didn’t do it … the woman you gave to me did it!” 

Eve — “Who, Me?  Don’t blame me … I didn’t do it … the serpent deceived me!” 

Me – “Who, Me?  Don’t blame me … I didn’t do it!”

You — …

 

Finger pointing began millennia ago when Adam pointed to Eve, she pointed to the serpent and God said “Out of the Garden!”  Genesis 3:24.   No matter what you want to call it, the Bible gives a name to any disobedience to God … SIN. 

 

We read of sin in the very next chapter of Genesis where God accepts Abel’s offering but rejects Cain’s.  God says in Genesis 4:7:  “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

 

Did you know that according to a computer word search of the English Standard Version of the Bible, the words “sin”, “sins”, “sinned”, “sinning”, “sinful”, “sinner” and “sinners” are used a total of 423 times. 

 

In other words, “sin” is an important concept to God because it reflects our direct disobedience to His commands.  It reflects our refusal to obey Him which, in effect, puts us where God should be.  And, it will bring the same punishment on us as it brought to Adam and Eve – we will be cast out from God’s presence because a holy God cannot and will not countenance a sinful creature in His presence.  Judgment is the only response to our sin just as Adam and Eve experienced expulsion from the Garden. 

 

The Westminster Confession of Faith says this about sin:

Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 6.6.

 

However, in Romans 5:19 we read that there is hope for sinful man:

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

 

This promise is reaffirmed in 1 Corinthians 15 we read:

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. … Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

1 Corinthians 15:22, 45.

 

Again turning to the Confession of Faith, we read:

Man, by his fall, having made himself uncapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.

 

Because of Jesus Christ, we can be made alive and have a life-giving spirit.  Because of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross, He became sin for us. Because of God’s grace, we can be clothed in Jesus’ righteousness, thereby becoming acceptable to God through His blood shed for us.

 

Haley looked at us as if saying “Who me?  I didn’t do anything wrong!”  She well may have been following her nose and not paying attention to what she was doing.

 

But that same line of thought does not apply to you and me.  We do know what we are doing and many times it is sin – it is direct disobedience to what God wants us to do – and that is enough to cut off our relationship with God, forever.  We need to find help outside ourselves, and that help was sent from God in the God/man Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless life and who took our sin on Himself, who died and was buried, and who rose again to life evermore. 

 

Praise the Lord that He saves us through His sacrificial death as an atonement.  Thank Him for His obedience to God the Father, and thank God for His mercy and grace that was extended to us.  Thank the Holy Spirit for His work in convicting us of sin and of sealing us to salvation through His power.

 

Praise His Holy Name!

 

Father, I pray that you would bless these words and that the readers would be encouraged, strengthened and renewed in their faith and focus on You.

Canine Friends and Devotion!

Let me preface this post with the note that I am an unabashed dog person.  We had a cat for 18 years and I loved him, but never felt as close to him as I have felt with our canine children.  Therefore, it is from this perspective that I write this post.  I certainly mean no disrespect to those of you who love felines!

As an only child, I had a friend that was a constant in my life for a long time – my dog named Tippy.  She was all black, shaggy and soft, except for the white tip on her chin [hence, her name!].  

tippy-at-the-piano
Tippy showing her proper posture and her white chin!

She was my constant companion, confidant and comfort.  She sat with me at the piano and endured horrible playing with gracious patience.

linda-with-tippy-at-piano
Tippy with me at the piano … long ago but not so long ago that it was a harpsichord!

Doris Day is quoted as having said:

“I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.”

I agree with her.  Tippy would lay next to me on the sofa when I was ill and just provide comfort without saying a word! 

linda-and-tippy
My canine friend giving comfort when illness would come.

I guess you could say that I have had a canine companion almost my entire life.  Tippy has been gone for decades, but I still smile when I think of her.  Other canine blessings have been Missy and her daughter Winnie.  Here they are with my infant son many years ago.  

jonathan-with-missie-and-winnie
Missie (left) and her daughter Winnie (right) with infant son in between.

Skippy who was the head puppy in charge, at least he thought so.

skippy-close-up
Skippy, the Lhasa Apso/Poodle mix who was love on four paws.

Glitz, Goldie and Sweetie were marvelous retired greyhounds who graced our presence with their stately tranquility and incredible speed.  Goldie loved to travel in the RV:

dog-sweet-goldie
Goldie thought riding on the sofa in the RV was appropriate since she was in her retirement as a racing athlete, after all!

Now we have our MinPins, Cuddles and Snickers, along with our granddog, Haley.

spring-lake-the-three-friends
Three friends, enjoying the sunny day at the campground lake.

Of course Tippy was not my only friend, I did have some playmates who were even called “best friends”.   

Children swinging
Children swinging at the campground playground.

Now it is BFF – Best Friends Forever!  That “Forever” may seem likely at the time we speak it, and some of those persons do remain friends for many years.  Others, however, disappear from our lives but they leave imprints on our heart and spirit just the same.

With Facebook and other social media, we can have friends all over the world and never even meet them or speak to them in person.  To my way of thinking, this takes the meaning of “friend” and stretches it so that it bears little resemblance to its meaning in decades past.  But such is the reality for millions of youth today.

Scripture talks a great deal about friends. 

Probably the best example of a real BFF is the friendship between David and Jonathan in the Old Testament.  In 1 Samuel 17, David defeats Goliath and is brought before Saul as the victor in battle.  The very next chapter introduces us to Saul’s son, Jonathan, and we read in 1 Samuel 18:1 that “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”  Their friendship continued for years, even through the time that Saul was hunting David to kill him, with the two men making a covenant between them that they would care for each other’s families if harm should come to them.  1 Samuel 20:42.

David remembered his covenant with Jonathan even after both Jonathan and Saul, his father, were dead.  King David asked if any of Jonathan’s family were still alive and we read in 2 Samuel 9 of the story of David’s kindness to Mephibosheth, the crippled son of Jonathan, who from that day forward sat and ate at the King’s table. 

We may not recognize the significance of this but in those days, all the family members of the preceding king were killed so that there would be nobody who could contest the validity of the kingship.  Mephibosheth escaped this fate when his nurse took him and ran, hiding him far from the king. 

In other words, it would be rare, indeed, for a son of a deceased king to sit at the current king’s table and to be brought under the care and protection of that king.  But this is what happened to Mephibosheth because of the friendship King David had with his father, Jonathan.  That’s a BFF!

While he was loyal to the covenant made with Jonathan, not all of King Davids friends were loyal to him, however.  In 1 Chronicles 27 we read of Ahithophel, the king’s counselor and Hushai the king’s friend.   Ahithophel was definitely not a BFF because he sided with David’s rebellious son in an attempt to take the throne from King David.  Scripture tells of the pain David had when he turned into an adversary:

Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.

Psalm 41:9

Sometimes friends betray us, and that is painful.  For this reason, we tell the children that their friends are important.  We tell them that the type of person they befriend can have an influence on them beyond just the immediate friendship.  We tell them to choose their friends carefully because of the strong influence friends can have on them.

In Exodus we read of God’s relationship with Moses:

Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.

Exodus 33:11a 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have this type relationship with God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of the Universe?  

Well, I have some news for you …  the reality is that we can have this type relationship because of the sacrificial death of Jesus for our salvation.  When the Holy Spirit is within us, we can even address the Almighty Creator God as Father.  That is even closer than a mere friend!

Friends – we need them so that we can be socially healthy and so that we can live a full life.  But, we need Jesus Christ so that we can have a relationship with God because in and of ourselves we are sinful and unable to even approach God, let alone please Him. 

Praise God for our salvation; and praise Him too for the gift of Christian friends who encourage, support and love us in our good times and through our difficult times as well. 

Cuddles and Snickers
Cuddles and Snickers, our two MinPins

And praise God for the gift of our canine friends who love us unconditionally and who give of themselves in cheering us up, in grieving with us when we are hurt, in snuggling when we are ill, and in running with glee when we are happy.  Oh that we as Christians would be as kind to others as our canine children are to us!  

 

But we err if we think that is all that is required of us as followers of Christ.  Rather, unconditional love is the initial threshold that Christian love should pass.  Jesus’ love for us, and thus our love for our fellowman/woman, is to be sacrificial, not self-centered. When we love others as Jesus did, we will tell them the good news of the gospel and of the kingdom of God.   And it all is to be to the glory of God, our Father.

 

Father, your kingdom is one of marvelous wonders and goodness.  Thank you for the gift of canine friends, of feline friends, of the friendship of so many of your creatures in this world.  Thank you also for the gift of Christian friends who show us Jesus in their love and service.  May I be Jesus to others as I live through the power of your Holy Spirit.