Friday, December 30, 2011

The first good deed

As we start off this new year, what do we expect of ourselves? Are you one to set goals...new year's resolutions? We will all agree that we want this year to be better than last... But what are the things that make it better than last. More money, better housing, children doing better, easier job...These are all good! But what do we expect from deep within ourselves? Do we want to be of better character...closer to God? Seriously do you want to be closer to God? For most of us that means change; a lot of change and even hard change. Sometimes it even brings about fear; can I start to get closer to God? Look at me, my life...I'm a wreck deep down.
Our last devotional ended with this verse Gen. 4:7 "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." This is a very important verse for us to consider, and it is a principle that we all must put into practice. So what we are going to do is to use this verse as the "cornerstone"...for our devotionals over the next few weeks...we will talk about touchy, hard...topics.
So here we go, "If you do well,". What does this phrase mean? Does it only apply to offerings? No. Remember Adam and Eve, what happened when they did not do well. What we need to do, is to do well according to God's standard. Not of what man may think but what God wants. So many times man's approval...get's in the way of us doing well. The next thing I want us all to recognize is that we need to think about doing well. That in our daily living we need to be thinking about doing well. That every day we have choices...and in these choices we need to be thinking about of doing well. If you are like me sometimes I just do without thinking about doing well according to God; I just do. We all need to keep our Lord God at the fore front of all that we do. Is what I am doing pleasing to God. Is my work pleasing to Him? Is my play time pleasing to Him? Am I more interested in pleasing myself versus pleasing God? You see you can be doing the littlest of things that is pleasing to God and guess what He lifts you up. Or better said is that He accepts you and what you have done. Or you can be doing something big and guess what He lifts you up, accepts what you have done. Be it little or big God accepts those "good deeds" and to have God's acceptance is what it is about. Now with that there is a beginning or a starting point. No one can by pass this, let's call it the first good deed. Last week was Christmas week...on Dec. 25, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God. The Savior of all mankind. Now here is the question what have you done with the good news, the good news of Christmas? Have you put your trust in that child, who was born that day in Bethlehem? The child who grow up into a man, doing miracles...then dying on a cross as it was written; then three days later coming back to life. Proving to the world that He is the son of God, that He is the savior of the world, that He has the ability to do what He said He could and would do. I know we have heard these words before, but they are so important John 3:16-17 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. "For God did not send the son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him." Have you believed? Have you put your trust in Jesus? For this is the beginning of being accepted of God. It starts with God giving us the Gift of His Son. All we have to do is believe, trust...and accept this most important gift of God. This is the most important thing for being accepted...of God. You cannot by pass this first step.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas is here

For us as believer this is a special time of year. It is the time of year in our country and many others call, Christmas. There is a little more excitement in the air. More decorating of homes, businesses, towns...Planning of big meals, families trying to get together... Yes there is a lot of shopping...But the season of Christmas is here! Even the real spirit of Christmas is here too. That is there are more things about our Lord Jesus being said, being displayed...that are acceptable in the public eyes. It's Christmas, the celebration of the gift of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Luke 2:10-14 "But the angel said to them. "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
This is the season of great joy! Great joy that the Lord Jesus was give to us, all men as our savior. What good news this is; it was good news back in the day of the Lords birth and it is still good news today! It was such good news that a heavenly host (many angels) appeared praising God. At the end of this praise it says this "And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." God is pleased with us His creation, and He sent His son to save us from our short comings, imperfections...(sin) to bring us to back to Himself... and this is done through the Lord Jesus Christ, the son God. So let us all get with the rejoicing of the season. Praising our Lord for the great things He has done and is doing. So put on the Christmas cheer this week. And merry Christmas to you all and to all your families.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Anger...countenance fallen?

As we go through life we experience many things. We even have questions about God, about Jesus...religion...Then for some reason we have questions about this word, sin. A word that just popped up. Now when we talk about sin we think of bad deeds...or even thinking of the meaning of the word sin- missing the mark. In our story of Cain and Abel we are at Gen.4:7 God talking to Cain, "If you do well will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." Cain had just missed the mark. The mark of bringing first "fruits" if you will. Cain became angry and his countenance fell. Was it while he brought the offering or was it after when God had no regards? The reason I ask, is that for us we sometimes know we are missing the mark but we still continue. But there are those times when we are trying...we think we are doing it right...then we find out we were doing it wrong.
What I want us to see here is that Abel hit the mark, when he gave an offering. God accepted it...regarded it, and Abel felt that acceptance of God. Let me use the word, fellowship, Abel still had fellowship with God a good fellowship. Now Cain on the other hand missed the mark, sinned. Sin is at the door, it is here for Cain, it has entered in. When we do those deeds, things, actions, or thinking...that misses the mark, sin has enters in. It is there in our house...we might not think so...but it is there. God is telling Cain a basic truth if you do well...if you do not do well sin enters in. Look at yourself Cain, anger...your countenance, fallen. These are signs of sin. You must deal with them, do what is right...Go back and correct the matter. Humble yourself admit the wrong and do what is right. You see God even way back here and before (Adam and Eve) is making a way for us to be in the right with Him. Now sin has a desire, a desire to consume us. Let's face it, sin is wanting for us to commit more and more. Sometimes it seems like it grows. But us the redeemed must acknowledge when we miss the mark to God, through His son Jesus Christ. Last week we mentioned not giving of the "first". But sin can involves a whole lot. Let us humble ourselves before our God in these areas...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Are you doing well?

For Adam and Eve, there was a little push to commit that first sin. That is the serpent talked them into it...Last week we talked about the consequences of sin. Well with this eating of the "apple" there was also one big thing that happened; the knowledge of good and evil. Well the knowledge of good we can handle, but the knowledge of evil, that is totally different for us. Here is where we all get into trouble. It's true! How many times do we find ourselves thinking bad things? Then we do those bad things or some of that bad things or wish that some of the bad things will happen. Have you ever had your mind wander...and then you are thinking how did I start thinking those evil things. Well it is also tied into the first sin.
Adam and Eve are now out of the garden of Eden and are now on the "Earth". It is different not the same as being in the garden. There is work, sweat, pain...but the biggest thing is that there is no longer walks with God in the evening. Sin does that, it puts a barrier between God and us. Does that mean that God does not want to talk to us? No, it means that He talks to us differently. In our story we have Adam and Eve out of the garden and having 2 sons, Cain and Able. Gen. 4. Now our story goes like this; the 2 brothers bring an offering to God and God has regards for one of the offerings (Abel's) but the other He had no regards (Cain's). Two offerings; we could look at this as strictly teaching...going into what the meanings are... But that will take a long time...And to tell the truth I am not that good of a bible teacher. So with that we will have a narrow focus if you will.
Gen. 4:3-5 "So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. 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 his offering; but for Cain and his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell."
What I want us to notice here is that Cain bought an offering of fruit and that Abel bought firstling. Or the first. You see God want from us the first fruits if you will. He wants the first. Not the leftovers...Now that has a lot of meaning. Alright, now this may hurt a little but this is what God expects. He is to be first. He is first...So for us that means we must put Him in first place. That is in our personal world, our ways, our thinking...that God is of the utmost. When He said He wants of our first fruits...we give them to Him. When it comes to our ways...we follow His ways...When it comes to service we put our first strengths...When it comes to time, our time, we honor Him first. When it comes to following Gods rules...we follow. Now this is an important concept; that God comes first in everything. That when we do anything for God it has to be of the "first". God is not impressed with the leftovers...He is not impressed with us doing things different from what He has set; even if in our modern times, when it seems better. When it comes to worship, we worship Him. When it comes to thanks for things being done... we thank Him, for He is the one Who does and provides... So guys this is hard! So God first, Including His son and the Holy Spirit. Family next, with our wives taking the lead. Others are next...So many times we get in "trouble" because our priorities are mixed up. Sometimes, We get in trouble because we think that our priorities are right but we are not giving the right amount(money, time, service...) in the right proportion. We cut back in areas...Less time with God. Doing less for our wives and family. Let's face it, it is not easy to be last! We all want to be first or we even might settle for second place. But the truth of the matter is that we are not even third... God had no regard for Cain's offering and we focused on the word, first, that it was not his first fruits. So Cain had a reaction to the way God disregarded his offering. Two things: the first was anger and the second his countenance fallen. When we fall short of something I guess this is what happens. If we are real with our selves we can say, yes this is what happens. Now God sees this in Cain; Gen. 4:6-7a "Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?" God does ask us the same questions today when He sees us angry...So what do we do, we have a choice or choices to make. We can correct the matter and give of the first. Lifting up God, so He can lift us up. So when need be let us all go back and make it right.