Monthly Archives: May, 2019

Sin and Consequences 

Cain & Abel • Devotion #5: Sin and Consequences
Isaiah Combs | Worship Leader

Nothing in life is free. I am sure you have heard this many times in your life. 

The older you get, the more you realize how true this is. Everything has a cost, whether it is now or later. It all costs something. 

The same thing is true with our sin. There is a cost, and that cost is death and separation from God. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages [cost] of [our] sin is death.” Isaiah 59:2 adds, “But your iniquities [Sin] have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” 

So the sin that we freely commit comes with a cost, and that cost is too great for us to repay. No one is innocent, no one lives sinless, and no one is free from the cost. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We were bound to sin and separation from God. Our cost follows us around and is bound to us like weighty chains.

“BUT” is such a small word, yet it is the difference maker. “For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). There is something in this life that is free, and that is the free gift of God. He paid our debt and wiped the slate clean. No longer are we a slave to our wages (cost) and death. No longer are we separated from God. The crazy thing is, all we have to do is accept the free gift. 

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

Who says there is nothing in this life that is free?

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” 

Cain & Abel • Devotion #4: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Gareth Volz | Senior (55+) Director

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” This question was first asked by Cain in Genesis 4:9. Cain argued with his brother Abel, and it got so heated that Cain killed his brother. In verse 8, God asks Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain responded with a lie – “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

In most families, brothers stick together and have each other’s back, even if they have disagreements from time to time. The family is important, and family members look out for one another. As Christians, we are part of God’s family, the Church, and we should look out for one another. God’s Word has a lot to say about being our brother’s keeper:

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10 

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:17-18

“For all the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:9-10

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual unbuilding.” Romans 14:19

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in the spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

“Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, 

for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.” 1 Thessalonians 4:9

“Let brotherly love continue.” Hebrews 13:1

 “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8

The Bible makes it clear: I am my brother’s keeper!

“Sin is Crouching at the Door” 

Cain & Abel • Devotion #3: “Sin is Crouching at the Door”
Kenny Hovis | Prison Ministry Director

Sacrifice is such an interesting word to me. It is a word that has many meanings and applications to so many different people. We, as parents, can sacrifice our time and finances for our children. A person in the military may offer up his or her life as a sacrifice in service to our country. A religious extremist may offer his or her life up as a sacrifice, as well as taking innocent lives in the process. Couples should sacrifice the tendency to focus on other people instead of the person they married. Philanthropists are said to sacrifice for others less fortunate out of their abundance. At our jobs, we sacrifice one of our most valuable commodities, our time, as a means of supporting ourselves and our families. Others may sacrifice their family and spouse by having an affair with another person. Someone may sacrifice their financial or physical health with some type of addiction. When it comes to defining the word sacrifice, the determining factor is motive.

In Genesis chapter 4, we have a detailed account of the sacrifice of two people, Cain and Abel. As the Bible shares the account of their sacrifice, we see a stark contrast between the two sacrifices. Cain, a farmer, or keeper of the land, gives a sacrifice out of the abundance of his crops. Abel, and tender of sheep gave of the firstborn and fat portions from his flock. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice, but not Cain’s. Why? I believe it was their motives.

Cain was unhappy and jealous of Abel as a result of God’s approval of Abel’s offering. God, being all-knowing says to Cain in Genesis 4:6, “The Lord said to Cain,Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?’” God is telling Cain not to pout about Him not accepting his offering. It was Cain’s fault. God even asked him a rhetorical question in the first part of verse 7 saying, “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” The answer is, of course, it will be accepted. But, He also gives Cain a warning in the second part of verse 7 saying, “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!” He warns Cain that sacrifices given or submitted with sinful motives give an opportunity for sin to enter into our lives. We must resist the desire to keep the “best” for ourselves and give the leftovers to God.

Jesus taught the same concept. Luke 21:1-4 recounts how we should sacrifice to God. “Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’” Jesus is telling the disciples that the offering the rich people put in the box was an unacceptable sacrifice because they were giving out of their abundance. But, the widow giving much less, truly “sacrificed” and gave everything she had.

As Christians, we claim to have sacrificed our lives, everything that we have, and everything we are. We would do well to heed the warning God gave to Cain, and Jesus’ teaching to His disciples on our sacrifices. We tend to be selfish and think we can give God small portions of all we value. Our desire must be to give all of our time, finances, possessions, family, or anything else we can lay at the feet of God as a sacrifice. We need to resist the tendency to keep the best or abundance for ourselves. It is not ours to keep anyway.  

When we sacrifice with a pure motive and give of our best and all that we are and have, it gives God opportunity to receive that which we offer, or sacrifice, as something that pleases Him, and something He can use! Do not forget that sin is crouching at the door, waiting for the slightest opening to steal away our sacrifice, and make it unacceptable to God!

Abel’s Sacrifice 

Cain & Abel • Devotion #2: Abel’s Sacrifice
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

When you worship God, do you ever wonder if your offering is acceptable? I fear we often enter into worship with self-serving or impure motives. In our corporate gatherings, we worship by singing, giving our tithes and offerings, praying, and listening to the Word of God. Many people enter through the doors of a church with their agenda and ideas as to what worship looks like to them. They will only sing certain songs, or listen to the message if the pastor uses the proper translation. These ideas and motives are completely self-serving. Did you know that God has specific requirements for our offerings of sacrifice and worship? Jesus said we are to worship Him in Spirit and Truth! Worship is not about us, and if we make it about us, we run the risk of our worship being rejected.

God delivered a very serious and sobering message to the people of Israel in 

Amos 5:21-24 regarding acceptable worship, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Can you say, Ouch? We do not get to define acceptable worship, God does!

It is helpful to take a look at the first account of offering sacrifices to God. In Genesis chapter 4, we learn that Adam and Eve’s sons, Cain and Abel, each brought a different offering to God. Cain was a worker of the ground and Abel was a keeper of sheep. Cain’s offering consisted of “some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.” His offering was rejected because it was based on works. In Genesis 4:4, we read, “And Abel also brought the firstborn of flock and of their fat portions.” Hebrews 11:4 reads, “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous. God commending him by accepting his gifts.” What do you think was the difference? The writer of Hebrews reveals, Abel brought his offering out of faith. Some theologians believe Abel’s was more acceptable because it was a blood sacrifice. Genesis chapter 4 does not reveal the reason that Abel’s offering was more acceptable but the passage in Hebrews chapter 11 simply states that it was the better sacrifice. 

Because Abel’s offering was brought by faith is an insight to us that the condition of our heart is more important to God than the style of the offering. In 1 Samuel 15:22, we read, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” God is looking for pure hearts and a life that has been completely surrendered to Him. He no longer requires an animal sacrifice because the Lamb of God, Jesus, shed His blood on the cross and became the blood sacrifice as the only payment needed for our sins. Abel’s sacrifice foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9  

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1

Cain’s Sacrifice

Cain & Abel • Devotion #1: Cain’s Sacrifice
Richie Henson | Production Director 

I attended Bible college at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. While there, I had numerous wonderful professors, but there were a few that became easily distracted by intriguing topics of discussion. Due to this, many students would purposefully pose questions and quandaries that required hours of discussion. One topic that came up more than once is Cain’s sacrifice in Genesis chapter 4 and why God did not accept the sacrifice. There are entire books written concerning this topic, and it is quite interesting. However, based on the text, no airtight argument can be made concerning the issue with the physical sacrifice Cain brought. There are some who would claim the sacrifice was not worthy as it did not fulfill the blood requirement for forgiveness. Although this is the clear and definitive practice later in the Old Testament, there is no indication that said the practice was a requirement at the time.

That being the case, I think there is one definitive and airtight argument we can make about Cain and his sacrifice. Cain had an attitude or disposition that would have disqualified any offering he would bring. If you look at the result of Cain’s interaction with God concerning his sacrifice, the murder of Abel, I think it is entirely apparent that Cain had a serious heart condition. How full of anger and spite must a heart be to act upon the desire to murder a brother? Cain struggled with an ailment of hatred and discontent. It is this wrong attitude that eventually makes all of Cain’s worship null and void.

As Christians living in the time of the Church, we can struggle to understand the sacrificial system. We have never been required to live within the confines of the law and therefore struggle to gain our bearing in the system. However, we are still called upon to make sacrifices. 

In Matthew 16:24-26, Jesus details the way in which the church must give sacrifice, “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?’”

Whether we take the time to argue the validity of Cain’s fruit sacrifice or not, the principle remains that God does not ask for our offerings and sacrifices because He needs them, but rather, God asks for them that we may learn to die to ourselves and embrace the reality of Jesus as the Lord of our lives. As we “lose” our life, that is to say, lay aside our short sided misconceptions of fulfillment and happiness, we grow to understand true contentment in God.

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