Verbal histories from our elderly family members give us insight into just where we come from. Those precious stories are filled with important events, human struggles, and surprising accounts of things we had no prior knowledge of. Within those verbal histories, we hear bits of wisdom, sage advice, personal warnings, and lots of humor. With our own ears we listen as important information is given to us about the past. But have you ever thought about how important it is to give a “verbal history” to your children or grandchildren about God’s influence in your life? A once I was… but now I am… testimony showing the Lord’s redemptive power over sin in your life is more important than any other story you could share with them.
There is much to be said about gathering together as a Body of Believers to worship our Heavenly Father. Whether it be in a huge sanctuary, or a quaint clapboard place of worship, or the darkened confines of an underground Church …it’s a chance for all come together. But that’s not the only “house” that God lives in…for the Lord’s spirit lives within us. (I Corinthians 3:16) And Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them.” So if you think about it, we don’t need a “Church building” to have the Lord among us. We simply need to come together in His name. For when we do, God will act, according to His character and purpose, on our behalf.
Cain had worked the soil, giving the Lord grain offerings…while Abel kept flocks, giving the Lord fat portions from the animals. On Abel’s offerings God looked favorably, while on Cain’s He did not. But it may have had nothing to do with the physical offerings themselves, but rather in the men’s attitude bringing it before God. Attitude we see here in this verse when God asks Cain where his brother is…(as if God didn’t already know what had happened.) God was testing Cain to see if he would be honest and take responsibility for his actions…but instead, Cain retorted back to God with lies and anger.
If the Lord Almighty is defending my cause…why do I always feel compelled to justify or explain myself? If God is contending for me in a dispute…why do I need to somehow prove myself right also? St. Augustine was correct when he prayed, “O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.” We have this fleshly desire to be right…to explain ourselves away until everyone finally agrees with us…but if you look at Jesus teaching among the crowds, He never explained anything or made excuses for Himself. He left the misunderstandings and misconceptions of others to correct themselves.
Humans are funny…we get caught in something, and we’re sorry…not sorry for what we did…but rather sorry we got caught. We make a big emotional show…but there’s no humility or remorsefulness involved in our actions. Psalm 51:17 reminds us of what God really wants from us…not a showy display of emotions that look good to those who are watching, but lack the brokenness of spirit that comes from a truly regretful heart. Rather, God desires from us authenticity, humility, and taking responsibility for our actions.
There I was a few nights ago…lying in bed, awake and worrying about medical tests I had just completed. Mentally, I was taking myself through every worst-case scenario, when God stopped me mid-thought with, “Haven’t I had your life in My hands all these years, and won’t I continue?” For the next few minutes it was like a video ran in my head of past situations where God had literally saved my life…some I had been immediately aware of at the time, but some I had totally forgotten about. By the time this “Video” was done, I was seeking forgiveness for my lack of faith and declaring with new-found confidence, “My life was in Your hands then, and it’s in Your hands now…my faith and trust is in You, Lord, regardless of what happens.”
What the Lord requires of me is completely different from what He is calling you to accomplish for Him. But we have all been set apart or selected by God…entrusted with the divine call to share the Gospel Message with others. Yes, your calling is to your co-workers, friends , and family…those in your circle of influence. But it’s also to those people He brings across your path daily…the sad looking waitress, the harried, young Mom waiting in line with you, or the neighbor who’s just received devastating health news. You have been set apart for all them…called to bring the Good News of Jesus to those who desperately need it.