Last November happened to be one of those times in life when I struggled with something God was wanting me to do. A new friend suddenly needed housing, and after about a week of praying God would provide, I sensed the Lord saying we were to be His provision. I’d just met her so didn’t know her well, and the thought of inviting a near stranger to live with us made me more than a bit nervous. So instead of taking it to Gary right away, I decided to sit on it a few days and continue to pray God would provide – somewhere else. Strange though, every time I prayed, I sensed the Lord say (inaudibly), “I already gave her a home. Deal with it.”
Finally after sharing my thoughts with Gary and both praying on it a few more days, with trepidation we invited her to move in. It’s been almost 4 months now, and she has been an absolute delight. After she moved in, Gary went on extended hours at work, and L was here to keep me company. We’ve recently had some extremely stressful times with one of our sons, and L has been a huge comfort.
I’ve once again been thinking about Genesis 4, the story of Cain and Abel, and have come to see Cain’s struggle regarding his unacceptable offering to God as a matter of intimacy. Read on to see why…
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. (To read the entire conversation in Genesis 4:2-11, click here.)
The passage says Abel gave “the first” of his flock. It states Cain only gave “some” of his produce.
- Later in the Old Testament we read that God required the first of the produce or flocks as an offering every year (Deuteronomy 26:1-11). This was so God’s people would annually be reminded He was their provider, and to give them an opportunity to exhibit trust in His ability to provide well for them throughout the rest of the year. (Our tithe is to to the same.)
- Every offering had to come from the best the giver could give (Malachi 1:8). Doing anything else would mean the giver was saving the best for themselves showing the intents of their hearts to be less than fully devoted to God the true giver. (Our offerings do the same.)
From this passage, I learn:
- God isn’t being cruel when he corrects me, His love is offering me a way of growth and greater intimacy with Him as I experience His personal provision and care.
- His warnings are only to protect me from harm.
- My enemy, the devil, will always distort God’s instructions to mean God is either insecure or too demanding and therefore unfair.
- When I listen to God’s warnings in His Word and the prompting of His Spirit, I can be assured He’s pointing me to greater intimacy with Him which offers me the greatest freedom because of how He made us.
What do my actions and attitudes say? Like Cain, is pride more important than intimacy? Are my things or maintaining control more important?
What do these ‘more important’ things say about my heart toward God? Does my heart show a yieldedness that longs for intimacy with Him; or does my heart show greater loves?
I want to know [in the Greek this word is the same used for sexual intimacy – a personal knowing] Christ—yes, to know [same word] the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Phil 3:10-11 (NIV)
I long for intimacy with God, and so lately these are questions I’m asking myself.
Which are you?
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Jeremiah 29:12-14 NIV
Lord, may I seek you with all my heart, not allowing anything separate me from intimacy with You. In Jesus’ name, amen
With much love,
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