• May 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « Apr    
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728293031  
  • Audio Sermons & Devotions

  • Recent Posts

  • Post Categories

  • Fighting for the Faith

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 561 other followers

  • Blog Stats

    • 38,471 hits
  • Advertisements

Acceptable Offerings

 

Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.(Genesis 4:3-5)

 

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

It wasn’t because of the offering itself that God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s.  Both gave offering to the Lord.  But such offering given revealed the kind of man who had given it.

As a farmer, Cain gave what he did, “an offering.”  Abel, as a shepherd of sheep, “brought of the firstborn.”

Lest we think that an animal offering is greater than that of the harvest, consider that the offering of grains and produce were commended and acceptable to God, as revealed in Exodus (i.e. Exodus 29:41).

The distinction between the offerings were not the issue, though the offerings did differ.

The difference between the offering of Abel and that of Cain was that of the heart.  Had Cain believed, at the Lord’s Word, he would have repented and not later murdered his brother (Genesis 4:8).

Cain demonstrated his unrepentance by murdering Abel.

He demonstrated his disbelief with the offering that he had given, not the first of the crop, but simply “of the ground.”

On the other hand, Abel, having offered “of the firstborn and of their fat,” demonstrated faith.  We know this because God accepted the offering of Abel, but not that of Cain.

Had Abel not had faith, his offering would not have been acknowledged by God.

Though we readily look at what is given by mere appearance (and the amount), God looks at the heart from which such gift is given.

We can’t see the heart and its disposition to God.  God can, and God does.

It’s not by the offering and what we do (or don’t do) by which we become (or are) acceptable to God.  Rather, first, we are acceptable to God, and then the offering (and works) are.

Thanks be to God that this is so!

Acceptance by God is not dependent on you.  It’s founded on Jesus Christ.

“By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus(Rom. 3:20-24).

“Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,(Rom. 5:1).

 

“Faith clings to Jesus’ cross alone

And rests in Him unceasing;

And by its fruits true faith in known,

With love and hope increasing.

Yet faith alone doth justify,

Works serve they neighbor and supply

The proof that faith is living.”

(The Lutheran Hymnal 377 “Salvation unto us has Come,” verse 9)

 

Luther

“First he regarded Abel, the person, and thereafter the offering.  His person was previously good, and right and acceptable.  Thereafter, for the sake of the person, the offering was also.  The person was not acceptable for the sake of the offering.  Then again, he did not regard Cain and his offering.  So also, first he did not regard Cain, the person, and thereafter he also did not regard his offering.  From this text it is certain that it is not possible for a work to be good before God if the person is not previously good and acceptable.  Then again, it is not possible that a work is evil before3 God unless the person is previously evil and unacceptable…God in the Scriptures concludes that all works before justification are evil and of no use and he desires them to be justified and made good first.  Again, he concludes that every person, if they are still by nature in the first birth, are unjust and evil, as Psalm 116:11 says, ‘All men are liars.’ Genesis 6:5, ‘Every thought and desire of the human heart is always evil.’” (Luther’s Family Devotions, p211-212)

 

Prayer: God, forgive me for thinking that You accept me on account of my works and not on account of Your Son who died for me and gave Himself for me that I be acceptable in Your sight.  Help me to believe that, not by my works, but through faith in Jesus alone, I am justified before You. Amen.

 

 

Advertisements

‘I’ and ‘We’

 

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Philippians 2:1-4

 

Increasingly today, we unashamedly pursue our own means for our own ends. It is a temptation for which everyone contends.  ‘We’ do not want to listen to others because ‘we’ are right and ‘they’ are not.  ‘We’ are reasonable, but ‘they’ are unreasonable.  ‘We’ know better than ‘they’ do.

Translate these into the singular and you will see yourself having done and doing the same.  It is the plight of American individualism, and shows its egotistical head at many a corner.

We are conceived into such a state that we define life to be all about ‘me’ and what ‘I’ want (Psalm 51:5).  What someone else says, independent of their position, does not matter.  What matters are ‘my’ wants, ‘my’ needs, ‘me, me, me.’

Yet in Christ, God demonstrates something other than individualism, self-centeredness, and self-absorption.  In Christ, God demonstrates love for another, love for the sinner, love for the selfish, love for the very people who think themselves to be the center of the universe—love for you.

 “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28)

In Christ, God demonstrates a love for you without condition, a love without partiality, a love unmerited and undeserved.

This is how God works, not thinking of Himself, but loving the unloved, the unlovable, and the unloving, because “God IS Love” (1 John 4:8, 16; John 3:16).

The one who believes that God is this way towards him does not remain selfish and self-absorbed, for such is not the way of Christ.  The way of Christ is to give, and to put others before oneself.  The way of Christ is not to ignore God’s Word because of personal needs and to put oneself above all others, but to “deny oneself,” bear the cross, and follow Christ (Matthew 16:24).  The way of Christ is to repent of selfish idolatry and to live in service of those in need. The way of Christ is to conform to the will of Christ, to cast aside “self-ambition and conceit,” to seek the “interests of others,” and to pursue my neighbor’s well-being.

 

Quote

“The New Testament has a great deal to say about ‘the people of Christ, the ‘we.’  But ‘we’ often overlook what Scripture says because we are thinking ‘I.’ Good old American individualism is alive and well in the Church, and it determines how we read the Bible.  American religiosity is all about ‘me.’”  (Harrison, Christ Have Mercy, 115)

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, forgive me for my selfishness, for neglecting the needs of others, and for putting myself first, even before You and Your Holy Word.  Change my heart that I deny my own wants and desires and seek to do what pleases You, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

%d bloggers like this: