Most of us don’t know what it means to be persecuted for the Gospel…to suffer for our beliefs…enduring hardship for the sake of His name. Most of us have never persevered under threat of bodily harm…or death, in order to reach others for Jesus. So why then do we lose heart and become offended so easily when we meet opposition? Suddenly it’s not fun anymore and we don’t like how we’re being treated…so we quit. Galatians 6:9 tells us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Not giving up means surrendering our life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and looking to Him as our example of righteous tenacity.
It’s easy to trust the Lord when everything is going great in our lives. When we’re happy and healthy and all around us is peaceful…it’s almost effortless to put our faith in God. But it’s what happens when the unexpected and the unanticipated crash into our lives that really shows how rooted and grounded we are in Him. Droughts are long dry spells when rain doesn’t fall…the plants wither and the ground cracks. There are times when all of us can go through “spiritual” dry spells. Times when our soul seems parched, our body is withering, and our mind cracking under the stress… and we feel God is so far away. But if we’re firmly rooted in the streams of living water, regardless of the trial, we can still flourish and grow.
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.
As we look at this verse, we’re reminded in Isaiah 40:14, “Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge or showed Him the path of understanding?” The short answer is no one! Only God Himself is the source of all truth. He is the origin of all reality as we know it…from Him alone is the beginning of all trustworthiness we can place our faith in. No one has ever instructed the Lord in how to run the universe, or make good decisions. He’s never asked for advice or counsel in a difficult situation. For from the beginning of time God has been the God of truth, exercising justice and rule over all.
Without hesitation I know you’d answer a resounding “Yes!” to my question of whether you’d die for your spouse or children. But if we look closely at this verse, we’re not being asked to do that. Rather, we’re being directed to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians . OK wait, you want me to sacrifice for who? My family is one thing, but a neighbor or friend or somebody I hardly know at Church…I don’t know if I can do that. But when Jesus died on that Cross He didn’t pick and choose who He was dying for…He died for all. In John 10:11 it says, ” I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” To love one another with the Agape love that Christ first showed us is to be willing to be poured out like a drink offering for our brothers…regardless of who they are.
God could easily use the powerful and super-intelligent to move His Kingdom forward…but He doesn’t. He could utilize those who are idolized and obsessed over…but He chooses not to. God would rather select those who the world would view as ridiculous to direct the course of redemptive history. Verses 28-29 go on to say, “He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.” God uses everyday, common, ordinary people to do extraordinary work for Him on a regular basis. He takes the nonsensical and creates the incredible. All He needs is a willing heart and spirit.
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.