Learning to put God first in EVERYTHING we do…

God’s Word tells us that He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3)…

Read Psalm 22

What does that mean that God inhabits the praises of His people?

Psalm 22 is a prophetic psalm of David presenting Jesus Christ as the Savior who laid down His life.

The psalm begins by portraying the rejection and abandonment Christ suffered on the cross (Psalm 22:1–2; cf. Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).

Yet, immediately, the suffering Messiah makes a strong declaration of trust in God:

“But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3, KJV).

As the bearer of humanity’s sins, Christ was destined to experience untold pain and anguish (Isaiah 53:4–6, 10; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

In the seemingly endless silence in which God does not answer—perhaps the worst moment of torment Christ would ever know—the Son reminds Himself of God’s sovereign position:

“Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3, ESV).

The word enthroned here describes the circumstance of sitting, remaining, or dwelling somewhere.

(The phrasing God inhabits the praise of His people comes from the King James Version of Psalm 22:3.)

When the Messiah declared, “God inhabits the praise of His people” in Psalm 22:3, He expressed His absolute trust in God.

No matter what was happening at that moment or how alone He felt, the Messiah knew that God was present and in control, ruling over His hour of greatest need (see 1 Peter 2:23).

God the Father had not abandoned Him. God was working out His sovereign plan, and the Messiah would soon be delivered (see Psalm 22:4–5).

Here’s just one example of how this truth should be applicable in our everyday life, if we would each day put on the mind of Christ

“As she slipped and fell next to her car on an icy January morning, Aileen said aloud, “Praise the Lord!”

The woman stepping from the next car was surprised by the elderly woman’s words at a time that did not seem praiseworthy to her.

As they sought care for the resulting broken arm, Aileen shared her view of praise.

‘If I hadn’t praised God, I would probably have chastised myself for being so clumsy. Or I might have criticized the store management for not tending the parking lot better. I’m sure I would have felt more pain because I would have been angry and focused on myself. Praise somehow sets things right with God and with me.’ ”
(From the Franciscan Spirit Blog)

Praise works! We may never understand in this life how, but it does work wonders.

Clearly if God inhabits the praises of His people then the best way to get God involved with your circumstances is to praise Him in the midst of your circumstances.

SELAH (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Come join the Adventure!

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Let’s get our heads on right this morning for the battle ahead…

Let us put on the full armor of God each and every day…

Ephesians 6:10-18
Expanded Bible

Wear the Full Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His ·great [strong; mighty] power.

11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil’s ·evil tricks [schemes].

12 [For] Our ·fight [conflict; struggle] is not against ·people on earth [flesh and blood] but against the rulers and authorities and the ·powers [or cosmic powers/rulers] of this ·world’s darkness [darkness], against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly ·world [realm; places].

13 ·That is why you need to [For this reason,] put on God’s full armor.

Then on the day of evil [persecution generally or end-time tribulation] you will be able to ·stand strong [keep your ground; resist the enemy].

And ·when you have finished the whole fight [after you have done/accomplished everything], you will still be standing.

14 So stand ·strong [or ready], with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the ·body armor [breastplate] of ·right living [a righteous life; or God’s own righteousness/justice; righteousness].

15 On your feet wear the ·Good News [Gospel] of peace ·to help you stand strong [for firm footing; or to be fully prepared].

16 And ·also [in addition to all this; or in all circumstances] use the shield of faith with which you can ·stop [extinguish] all the ·burning arrows [fiery darts] of the Evil One.

17 ·Accept [Receive; or Take] the helmet of salvation, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the ·word [message] of God.

18 Pray ·in [or in dependence on] the Spirit at all times with all ·kinds of prayers [prayers and requests], asking for everything you need.

To do this you must always be ·ready [alert] ·and never give up [with all perseverance].

Always pray for all ·God’s people [the saints]. Amen
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In the Christian life we battle against “rulers and authorities” (the powerful evil forces of fallen angels headed by the devil, who is a vicious fighter; see 1 Peter 5:8).

To withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use EVERY piece of his armor.

Isaiah similarly mentions God’s armor (Isaiah 11:5; 49:2).

Paul gives this counsel not only to the church, the body of Christ, but also to each individual within it.

The whole body needs to be armed!

Satan checks for weak spots; he knows them all. So we must help each other, stand our ground, and resist the enemy until the end of the battle. Don’t try to face him unarmed.

We are engaged in a spiritual battle—ALL believers find themselves subject to the devil’s attacks because they are no longer on the devil’s side.

Thus, Paul tells us to use EVERY piece of God’s armor to resist these attacks and to stand firm, staying true to God in the midst of them.

These who are not “flesh-and-blood enemies” are demons over whom the devil has control.

They are not mere fantasies—they are very real.

We face a powerful army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church.

When we believe in Christ, these beings become our enemies, and they try every device to turn us away from Him and back to sin.

Although we are assured of victory, we must engage in the struggle until Christ returns, because Satan is constantly battling against all who are on the Lord’s side.

We need SUPERNATURAL POWER to defeat Satan, and God has provided this by giving us his Holy Spirit within us and His armor surrounding us.

If you feel discouraged, remember Jesus’ words to Peter: “Upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell WILL NOT CONQUER IT (Matthew 16:18).

When the enemy, the ruler of this world (John 12:31), sends his flaming arrows of temptation, doubt, lust, anger, despair, or desire for vengeance at us, we can hold up our shields and stop them.

We are assured that “every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Stand in faith against Satan with firm courage, even when he uses his most fearsome weapons. God assures you of victory.

The Bible tells us that we are “more than conquerors,” but ONLY THROUGH CHRIST, He’s the Vine we are the branches and we can do nothing of significance without Him!

SELAH (Pause and calmly think about these things)

Come join the Adventure!

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God says, “Fear not for I go with you wherever you go” (see Ps 139:5, Isa 41:10, Heb 13:5b)…

Our problems come to make us strong…

“I believe that God can and will bring good out of evil, even out of the greatest evil.

For that purpose He needs men who make the best use of everything.

I believe that God will give us all the strength we need to help us to resist in all times of distress.

But He never gives it in advance, lest we should rely on ourselves and not on Him alone.

A faith such as this should allay all our fears for the future.”
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The next time fear rises, turn your attention to God’s promises.

Turn your spirit to His. Ignite your faith by prayer and reading His Word.

Replace every fearful thought with Scripture because God is bigger than our fears.

Corrie Ten Boone once told the story about how she became worried about what may happen to her and her family in the future, as a result of their being a part of this underground railroad, smuggling Jews out of Holland.

This is what her father told her:

Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed.

“Corrie,” he began gently, “when you and I go to Amsterdam-when do I give you your ticket?”

I sniffed a few times, considering this.

“Why, just before we get on the train.”

“Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too.

Don’t run out ahead of Him,

Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need-just in time.

[From Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place]
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God will give you what you need when you need it!

God will only allow things to happen in your life that you can handle and that requires you to become the person He has created you to be!

God is always giving us what we need because He knows our story!

He knows what we need in order to become the best and strongest version of ourselves.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is the fact that becoming a disciple of Christ does not make us immune to life’s trials and tribulations.

Why would a good and loving God allow us to go through such things as the death of a child, disease and injury to ourselves and our loved ones, financial hardships, worry and fear?

Surely, if He loved us, He would take all these things away from us.

After all, doesn’t loving us mean He wants our lives to be easy and comfortable?

Well, no, it doesn’t. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves those who are His children, and He “works all things together for good” for us (Romans 8:28).

So that must mean that the trials and tribulations He allows in our lives are part of the working together of all things for good.

Therefore, for the believer, all trials and tribulations must have a divine purpose.

As in all things, God’s ultimate purpose for us is to grow more and more into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).

This is the goal of the Christian, and everything in life, including the trials and tribulations, is designed to enable us to reach that goal.

It is part of the process of sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes and fitted to live for His glory.

The way trials accomplish this is explained in 1 Peter 1:6-7:

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The true believer’s faith will be made sure by the trials we experience so that we can rest in the knowledge that it is real and will last forever.

Even the Bible says of Jesus that “He learned obedience through the things He suffered (Heb 5:8)

With each trial comes an invitation from God to enter into a new experiential relationship with Him, they come not to defeat you, but to make you stronger!

SELAH (Let us pause and calmly think about these things)

And then come join the Adventure!

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Faith is NOT positive thinking…

Faith and positive thinking have two entirely different ultimate objectives…

Life is about our learning to walk by faith, and our learning to trust in God with all of our heart, mind and strength!

We’re told in the Bible that once we are born-again that we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:13-16
Expanded Bible

13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom but with words taught us by the Spirit.

And so we explain spiritual truths ·to spiritual people [or to those who have the Spirit; or with the Spirit’s words].

14 A ·person who does not have the Spirit [or natural person] does not accept the ·truths [things] that come from the Spirit of God.

That person thinks they are foolish and cannot understand them, because they can only be ·judged to be true [discerned; assessed] by the Spirit.

15 The ·spiritual person [or person with the Spirit] is able to ·judge [discern; assess] all things, but no one can ·judge [discern; assess] him. ·The Scripture says [For]:

16 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Who has been able to ·teach [advise; counsel] him [Is. 40:13]?”

But we have the mind of Christ [the Holy Spirit reveals God and his ways to us; Rom. 11:34].
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Positive thinking and faith may be similar, but they are different.

Positive thinking is limited by the abilities of the individual.

Faith has no limits because God has no limits.

Mark 11:22
“Jesus told His disciples: Have faith in God!”

Positive thinking attempts to use your own power or an ambiguous “higher power” to fulfill your own personal agenda.

Faith relies on God’s power!

Positive thinking is all about your agenda and you manipulating your environment.

Faith is all about God’s agenda and allowing God to fulfill His will and purpose for your life.

Positive thinking is all about yourself and what you can get.

Faith is all about God and what He can do through you.

Positive thinking is filled with pride due to personal manipulation of the spiritual realm.

Faith is filled with humility due to the recognition that your power comes from God.

Positive thinking is all about the creation; faith is all about the Creator.

Positive thinking is about satisfying self; faith is about glorifying God.

The process whereby we put on the mind of Christ is called repentance (Grk: metánoia), which literally means to change the way you think.

Through our meditation and studying of God’s Word, and our praying in the Holy Spirit (what Romans 8:26 calls allowing the Holy Spirit to pray through us in the perfect will of God), is the process whereby we are putting on the mind of Christ.

Romans 8:26
Expanded Bible

26 ·Also [or In the same way], the Spirit helps us ·with [or in] our weakness.

We do not know ·how to pray as we should [or what we ought to pray for].

But the Spirit himself ·speaks to God for us [intercedes] with ·deep feelings [groanings] ·that words cannot explain [or that are inexpressible; or that are unspoken; or too deep for words].

1 Corinthians 2:6-13
Expanded Bible

God’s Wisdom
6 However, we speak wisdom to those who are mature. But this wisdom is not from this ·world [age] or from the rulers of this ·world [age], who ·are losing their power [will soon disappear; are passing away].

7 We speak God’s ·secret wisdom [or wisdom in a mystery; 2:1], which he has kept hidden.

Before the ·world began [ages], God ·planned [decreed; destined] this wisdom for our glory.

8 None of the rulers of this ·world [age] understood it.

If they had, they would not have crucified the ·Lord of glory [glorious Lord].

9 But as it is written in the Scriptures:

“No ·one [eye] has ever seen this,
and no ·one [ear] has ever heard about it.

No ·one [human heart] has ever imagined
what God has prepared for those who love him [Is. 64:4].”

10 But God has ·shown [revealed to] us these things through the Spirit.

[For] The Spirit ·searches out [examines; scrutinizes] all things, even the ·deep secrets [deep things; depths] of God.

11 Who knows the thoughts that another person has?

Only a person’s spirit that lives within him knows his thoughts.

It is the same with God. No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

12 Now we did not receive the spirit of the world, but we received the Spirit that is from God so that we can know all that God has [freely] given us.

13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom but with words taught us by the Spirit.

And so we explain spiritual truths ·to spiritual people [or to those who have the Spirit; or with the Spirit’s words].
____

It is through this process of our studying and meditating in God’s Word and pray in the Holy Spirit that we are allowing the Holy Spirit to rewrite the code, in other words to correct the negative programming we all have received from the world, and to replace it with God the Father’s mind and His will, which is that we be conformed into the image of His Son.

Romans 8:29-30
Expanded Bible

29 ·God knew them (each of us) before he made the world [For those whom he foreknew…], ·and he chose them […he also predestined/chose beforehand] to be ·like [molded to the pattern of; conformed to the image of] his Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn [the preeminent one, but also indicating others will follow] of many brothers and sisters [Jesus’ resurrection confirms that his followers will also share in God’s glory].

30 And those God ·chose to be like his Son [predestined; chose beforehand], he also called; and those he called, he also ·made right with him [declared righteous; justified]; and those he ·made right [declared righteous; justified], he also glorified [both a past act in Christ, and a future transformation].
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Paul tells us in Philippians that we are to let the same mind that was in Christ be in us, in other words we are to put on the mind of Christ each and every day.

Philippians 2:5-11
Expanded Bible

Be Unselfish like Christ
5 In your lives you must ·think and act like [have the same attitude as] Christ Jesus. [What follows may be from an early Christian hymn.]

6 ·Christ himself was like God in everything [Who, being in the form of God].

But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be ·used for his own benefit [or grasped; seized; held on to].

7 But he ·gave up his place with God and made himself nothing [emptied himself].

He ·became like [took the form of] a ·servant [slave; bondservant]
and was born ·as a man [in the likeness of humanity/men].

8 And ·when he was living [being found in appearance/likeness] as a ·man [human being],
he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God,
even ·when that caused his [to the point of] death—death on a cross.

9 So God ·raised [exalted] him to the highest place.

God ·made his name [or gave him the name] ·greater than [far above] every other name

10 so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus—
everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.

11 And ·everyone [every tongue] will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
and bring glory to God the Father.
___

The objective of the world is to take your God given gifts and talents in order that you may consume it upon yourself and to fulfill your ambitions in life, without considering God’s destiny and purpose for your life.

And it’s that attitude, by itself, that is the nature of what sin is.

This is what God’s will is for each one of us, and that is that if we are a follower of Christ that we must learn to walk as Jesus walked.

1 John 2:6
Expanded Bible

Whoever says that he ·lives [abides; remains] in God must ·live [walk] as ·Jesus lived [he walked].
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And in so doing, we offer ourselves each day as a living sacrifice.

Romans 12:1-2
J.B. Phillips New Testament

We have seen God’s mercy and wisdom: how shall we respond?

1-2 With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him.

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

SELAH (let us pause and calmly think on these things)

Come join the Adventure!

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Lord teach us to number our days…

Psalm 90: Eternal Perspective…

“O God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!”
— Jonathan Edwards

Moses asks that the people be taught to number their days in light of God’s eternality, sovereignty, and mercy, and he acknowledges that from eternity past to eternity future God is God.

In Psalm 90 the psalmist asked God to bless His people in view of life’s brevity.

This “one of the most magisterial of the psalms” has been called a communal psalm of trust, but it also contains lament.

Read it especially when you have lost your eternal perspective.

“The psalms of trust are written for the express purpose of declaring the psalmist’s trust in God. . . . A second element of the psalms of trust or confidence is the invitation to trust issued to the community. . . . A third element of this group of psalms is the basis for trust. . . . A fourth element in the psalms of trust is petition. . . . Given the nature of the psalmist’s faith, it is not surprising that in at least two instances a fifth element enters the psalm.

The worshiper makes a vow or promise to praise the Lord (16:7; 27:6b; 115:17-18). . . . The sixth element, and next to the declaration of trust, the most frequent component of the psalms of trust, is the interior lament.

It is not a lament as such, but the remnant of one.”

“In an age which was readier than our own to reflect on mortality and judgment, this psalm was an appointed reading (with 1 Cor. 15) at the burial of the dead: a rehearsal of the facts of death and life which, if it was harsh at such a moment, wounded to heal.

Read Psalm 90

Here’s the backstory to set the scene for Psalm 90…

The scene is the Wilderness of Sinai.

It has been years since the spies returned to Kadesh-Barnea with their evil report.

Now the people are still trekking around the desert but getting nowhere in the process (going in circles).

It is an exercise in futility. Every morning a reporter comes to Moses’ tent with a fresh report of casualties.

Deaths, deaths, deaths, and more deaths.

Obituaries are the commonest item of news, and the desert seems to be an expanding cemetery.

Every time the people break camp, they leave another field of graves behind.

On this particular day, Moses the man of God has had all he can take.

Overwhelmed by the mounting toll, he retreats into his tent, prostrates himself on the ground and pours out this prayer to God.

In the only psalm attributed to him, Moses remembered his pain over the sins of the people (see Exodus 32:9–14).

This psalm celebrated David’s glorious reign.

David’s reign was successful because God sustained him.

One of David’s descendants (Jesus Christ) would reign over God’s people forever.

Moses began by attributing eternality to Yahweh.

All generations of believers have found Him to be a protective shelter from the storms of life.

God existed before He created anything, even the “world” (Heb. tebel, lit. the productive earth).

This Hebrew word is a poetic synonym for “earth” (Heb. ‘eres, i.e., the planet).

God outlasts man. He creates him and then sees him return to “dust” (Heb. dakka, lit. pulverized material).

From God’s eternal perspective 1,000 years are as a day is to us (2 Pet. 3:8).

This does not mean that God is outside time.

Time simply does not bind or limit Him as it does us.

All events are equally vivid to Him.

Time is the instrument we use to mark the progression and relationship of events.

God’s personal timeline has no end, whereas ours stretches only about 70 years before we die.

Human life is therefore quite brief compared to God’s eternality.

Life is all about our entering into intimacy with God, to fellowship with Him and commune with Him; and our learning to trust Him in every area of our life!

“Children love to swing. There’s nothing like it. Thrusting your feet toward the sky, leaning so far backward that everything looks upside down.

Spinning trees, a stomach that jumps into your throat. Ah, swinging. . . . I learned a lot about trust on a swing.

As a child, I only trusted certain people to push my swing.

If I was being pushed by people I trusted (like Dad or Mom), they could do anything they wanted.

They could twist me, turn me, stop me . . . But let a stranger push my swing (which often happened at family reunions and Fourth of July picnics), and it was hang on, baby!

Who knew what this newcomer would do?

When a stranger pushes your swing, you tense up, ball up, and hang on. . . . We live in a stormy world.

At this writing, wars rage in both hemispheres of our globe.

World conflict is threatening all humanity. Jobs are getting scarce. Money continues to get tight.

Families are coming apart at the seams. . . . We must remember who is pushing the swing.

We must put our trust in Him. We can’t grow fearful. He won’t let us tumble out.”
(From On the Anvil by Max Lucado)

When do you feel safe?

When your spouse is with you?

When the doors are locked?

When the alarm is on?

When you have enough money for any situation?

All of these securities can fail. Ask God to help you depend on Him for your security.

SELAH (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
____________________________

Friday, January 6, 2023
Worthy Brief

DON’T BE FOOLED, TIME IS SHORT AND PRECIOUS!

Psalms 90:12
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Ephesians 5:16
” …redeeming the time because the days are evil.”

Ecclesiastes 3:17
“a time for every purpose”

James 4:13-15
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

As we enter a New Year, remember the one constant true for everyone, rich or poor, male or female: each of us is given 8,760 hours in a Gregorian calendar year.

That is, 1,440 minutes a day, or 525,600 minutes a year.

Sounds like a lot, yet have you noticed how time flies these days?

Personally, I can’t find enough hours in a day to accomplish all that I want to.

When I was younger I had all the time in the world. These days its rate of passage is just short of astonishing.

It seems, for example, like yesterday, that 9/11 happened. It’s been 21 years.

Kids entering the army now weren’t even born yet!

And time is one thing we cannot recapture once lost.

Are we behaving like we have all the time in the world?

We don’t, and it was always an illusion to think otherwise.

Time is precious. A heart of wisdom will rightly value the limited and uncertain portion allotted, and will make the most of it.

Seize the day. Discover the purpose for the time.

The Lord will guide and empower you to live meaningfully and fruitfully, even as if today is the last day of your life; (it actually could be).

If you need to, repent. If you need to, reconcile; don’t wait.

Pray for the Lord’s economy in your use of time.

You’ll be amazed at the ways He inspires, arranges, and invests your time with His wonderful purposes.

Every minute of your life will be assessed according to His value. So make the most of it… Shabbat Shalom!

Your family in the Lord with much agape love,

George, Baht Rivka, Obadiah and Elianna (Going to Christian College in Dallas, Texas)
Dallas, Texas
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Come join the Adventure!

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Sin is anything we do in life, either in thought or deed, that goes crosswise against God’s original plan and purpose…

Cain Murders Abel…

After Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), sin affected the life and death of every living creature.

Sin and death reigned in every individual.

Enoch, the one notable exception to the punishment of death, “walked with God.”

Genesis 4 shows the spread of sin from Adam’s family to the larger society that his descendants produced.

Not only did sin affect everyone, but people became increasingly more wicked as time passed.

Human self-assertion leads to violence.

God had warned Adam and Eve about sin.

Even so, Cain murdered his brother, the beginning of sibling rivalry, because God accepted Abel’s offering but not his own.

Sibling rivalry plagued each of the godly families in Genesis.

Cain, like Adam and Eve, wanted to keep his distance from God.

Rather than confess his sin, Cain tried to hide it to keep it from God.

Cain denied responsibility for his sin and objected to the severity of God’s punishment.

God graciously provided protection for Cain in response to his complaint.

Chapter 3 gives the cause and chapter 4 the effect.

In Genesis 4: The Fall Continues

Adam knew Eve his wife in the sense that he had sexual relations with her.

When Cain was born, she acknowledged that this birth was only by the Lord’s enablement.

In naming him Cain (“acquisition”), Eve may have thought that she had given birth to the Promised Seed.

The process of time mentioned in verse 3a allows for a considerable increase in the world’s population.

In my opinion, there must have been a time when Cain and Abel were instructed that sinful man can approach the holy God ONLY on the ground of the blood of a substitutionary sacrifice.

I disagree with the above video in this one respect, when it says that Cain and Able’s offerings were not sin offerings.

The first thing God did after Adam and Eve fell, when they tried to cover their nakedness with fig leaves (Gen 3:6), God slew an animal and provided His covering for them (Gen 3:21), through the shed blood of the animal.

We’re told in Scripture that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin (Lev 17:11; Heb 9:22).

Cain obviously had rejected this revelation and came with a bloodless offering of fruits and vegetables.

Abel believed the divine decree and offered slain animals, thus demonstrating his faith and his justification by God (Heb. 11:4).

He brought the firstborn of his flock, saying in effect that the LORD deserves the best.

Abel’s offering points forward to the substitutionary death of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Cain was angry. Furious. Both he and his brother Abel had given offerings to God, and his had been rejected.

Cain’s reaction gives us a clue that his attitude was probably wrong from the start.

Cain had a choice to make. He could correct his attitude about his offering to God, or he could take his anger out on his brother.

His decision is a clear reminder of how often we are aware of the right choice yet choose the wrong one, just as Cain did.

We may not be choosing to murder, but we are still intentionally choosing what we shouldn’t.

The feelings motivating our behavior can’t always be changed by simple thought power.

But here we can begin to experience God’s willingness to help.

Here is a good rule of thumb: Those who keep secrets from God keep their distance from God.

Those who are honest with God draw near to God.

Asking for God’s help to do what is right can prevent us from setting into motion actions that we will later regret.

Ask yourself: What am I trying to hide from God?

Confess your sins and your desire to live your life independent of God.

He wants us to live in full fellowship and communion with Him.

SELAH (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
____________________________

Monday, January 02
Today in the Word

PRAYER IN A BROKEN WORLD
by Dr John Koessler

Genesis 4:1–26

When my children were small, I was often amazed at their confidence in me.

While they were sure I could fix any broken thing they put in my hands, I knew that I couldn’t.

God is a different matter. If the world were not broken, we would not need to pray.

Prayer is needed because we will always face circumstances that go beyond our ability.

The good news is that, unlike a human parent, God has the power to fix it.

The first explicit mention of prayer in the Bible does not come until sin had made its first serious inroads into human experience.

In Genesis 4, we read that Cain murdered Abel and was sentenced to a life of restless wandering.

Cain’s descendant Lamech became a polygamist (v. 19).

Lamech’s boast in verse 23 suggests he had a violent nature.

“Lamech’s short poem demonstrates the progress and magnification of sin among humans,” Old Testament commentator Andrew Steinmann observes.

Yet the news is not all bad.

We see God’s common grace at work as Lamech’s son Jabal becomes the first to live in tents and raise livestock, and his brother Jubal is the first to play stringed instruments and pipes (vv. 20–21).

Both were born of Lamech’s wife, Adah.

Lamech’s other wife, Zillah, gave birth to Tubal-Cain, “who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron” (v. 22).

However, the most important cultural development came after Eve gave birth to “another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him” (v. 25).

Seth became the father of Enosh, and “at that time people began to call on the name of the LORD” (v. 26).

As sin and the damage resulting from it spread, we see people divide into two basic categories.

One group did not know God.

The other called upon God by name.

If we divided up the world today, to which group would you belong?

Pray with Us
We call upon Your name, God—for provision, guidance, faith, and every good thing. You who have known humankind exhaustively from the beginning still love and care for us. For this we thank You!
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