Sunday, April 21, 2013

Genesis 4:4-5

Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.


Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard (sha`ah: respect) for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering (minchah: present, gift, sacrifice, tribute) He had no regard. So Cain became very angry (charah: wrot, displeased, burning, incensed) and his countenance fell.

Abel, on his part also brought of the firstfruits of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard and respect for Abel and his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard or respect. So Cain became incensed with burning anger and his countenance fell.


Believers all over the world “bring offerings” when they gather. (It’s generally all monetary but we won’t get into that today.) The matter at hand in today’s verses allows us to see deep into the desires of the Father. Although Cain and Abel both brought offerings that God had previously approved of, one was deemed greater. Why? Why did God seemingly show preferential treatment to one over the other? What we must understand is that God sees the heart condition of the bringer of the offering. God’s rejection of Cain’s sacrifice presented an opportunity to reveal his hateful heart. The issue was not as much what the offering was as it was about the motive behind the presenting of it.

We have the same challenge before us today. In services throughout this nation and beyond many will write large checks and give seemingly honorable gifts to the Lord. Perhaps you will do the same. As we see in many biblical accounts and parables (such as the widow’s mite for example) one’s offering generally has little to nothing to do with it being deemed pleasing. Of course we need to know what God deems acceptable but above all else, our heart must be found pure and pleasing as we bring our best before Him. Today, what is your motive for giving to the Lord? To receive blessing? To simply be reluctantly and grievously obedient? I encourage you to sit quietly and examine your heart’s condition in regards to bringing your offering to the Lord. It’s you that God wants above all else, not your time and money. 

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

1 John 3:5

You know that [Christ] appeared in order to take away sins.”


You know that [Christ] appeared (phaneroo: made manifest, made visible, exposed to view) in order to take away (airo: take up, bear, cause to cease, take upon one's self and carry off) sins (hamartia: offenses, to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor, violations of God's law).”


You know that Christ appeared and made Himself visible to mankind in order to bear and carry off our sin and offenses against God.


As most of you who are reading this know, I work in the automotive detailing business. Yesterday I had a customer contact me requesting some interior work on her vehicle. Specifically, she had a bottled drink explode and empty a bit on her floorboard before she could get to it. So of course the drink was in the carpet and needed removed. When I met her later in the day to do the job she went on to tell me about how she had “sprayed some carpet cleaner on it” after the incident. I kind of chuckled at this knowing that this would do absolutely nothing to help her situation.

As I was doing the job, I got to thinking about the spiritual metaphors buried within this. A lot of times in our lives we approach our sin and guilt in this manner. It’s “in” us and needs removed yet we just spray some topical fix on it that convinces us that just maybe that will be enough. The problem is however that it doesn’t really do anything. The customer went on to say that she sprayed the cleaner to “hopefully at least keep it from smelling”. This too is an easy spiritual comparison. “If I can just keep it from being seen or noticed (smelled), maybe that will be enough!” we may say.

But there is really only one solution of course – it needs removed. The sin, the stain needs seized and carried off. What in your life have you just attempted to cover over with the fragrance of religious piety or masks of being “OK”? We all have ugly stains that need removed. Jesus Christ left all of Heaven to come to this earth to do this on your behalf. Invite Him to come and wash you today. No more hiding or covering up, just Jesus who appeared to take away our sins.              

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Psalm 119:102

I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, For You Yourself have taught me. (NASB)


I have not turned aside (suwr: turned away departed from, avoided, rejected) from Your ordinances (mishpat:  judgment, laws), For You Yourself have taught (yarah: instructed, directed) me.


I have not departed from or rejected Your laws and judgments, for You Yourself have instructed and directed me.


How awesome it is to be personally taught by the Father! We can read books, listen to sermons and teachings of men, study on our own the height and depth of the Scriptures but the Author and Creator of all is the absolute best Teacher of all! Do you spend time sitting is His presence? Do you open His Word for yourself and expect Him to speak to you through it? I hope you do! Jesus’ death on the cross rent the veil in two, signifying that all may enter into the Most Holy Place where God Himself dwells. All who have called upon His name and received new hearts of flesh have invited into the priesthood of Christ. In this place is revelation, truth, life and love to be encountered by those who enter in. Today, embrace the laws of God, don’t dread or run from them for they exist to rescue and preserve you. Take time – make time – to quiet yourself today and anticipate a visitation by the Great Teacher! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Matthew 11:28

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”


“Come to Me, all you who labor (kopiao: toil, grow weary, tired, exhausted – as with toil or burdens or grief) and are heavy-laden (phortizo: burdened upon, loaded down), and I will give you rest (anapauo: refresh, to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength; to keep quiet, of calm and patient expectation).”


Come to me all who have become exhausted, weary and loaded down with burdens. I will give you refreshing in order to collect your strength.


As I hear Christians often speak of all they “do” on behalf of Christianity, I wonder how much of it all is really even necessary. We’ve been led to believe that our following of Christ can somehow be modeled after how we labor in the natural. Yes, there is much to tend to – spiritual growth, serving the poor, caring for one’s family, interacting with the Body of Christ and so forth. That being said, these should not be exhausting to the point of constant weariness, spiritual or otherwise. I remember vividly the times I’d brag as a youth pastor of all I was doing, all “our” youth were doing, all our church was doing. Efforts were always being made to promote all that we were always “doing”. We were always all tired and somehow proud of it because it gave some unhealthy sense of accomplishment. 

Burdens abound within our constant attempts to be found pleasing to God equally as much as with our earthly ventures, perhaps even more. The Christ-life is meant to be a joyful one, not a begrudging and laborious yoke. So today, shake off your burdens and rest. Rest in the arms of your Saviour. Remember, He has invited you.