Hebrews

Ride Along: Abel (Pt 2)

At this point in the Ride Along, Abel would remind us not only to give God our best, but he would also encourage us to stay in our lane.

Here we have Cain and Abel, brothers who are in two different lines of work, but they are both using their resources to bring an offering to God. One is a farmer and one is a shepherd. Cain has a lane. Abel has a lane.  God designed you with some certain talents, abilities, and gifts. He has designed us to fit best in a lane as we run the race of life. 

Paul puts it this way, “We are all many members, and all members of one body. The body of Christ consist of many members.” The eye can’t say I don’t need you and walk away from the rest of the body and still function in excellence as an eye.  Likewise, a foot can’t will itself to be a brain. Each member of your body has its function and purpose and WE have our function and purpose as a part of the body of Christ. But, we all need to work together in our best-designed roles.  We need to stay in our lane and not compare our gift to someone else. 

Cain was so focused on Abel and his offering, he couldn’t give God his best. He was so obsessed with Abel and his offering, he thought it better to kill Abel so God’s standard would be lowered.  Cain wanted to get Abel out of the picture so his gift would be regarded, instead of bringing God is best and staying in his lane. Then the ground he works for a living is cursed, and he has to be a fugitive and wander the earth. One of the saddest scriptures is Genesis 4:16, “Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod (which means wandering) east of Eden.”   

Abel would encourage us to stay in our lane. He would say don’t stop running to look and compare yourself to anyone else.  We are meant to run along side each other in unity. Our lanes are going to look different, but we are better in our diversity.   He would say we don’t have the same gifts and talents, but we all can give God our best when we stay in our lane.   

 Preparing and preaching sermons are a part of my lane. When I first started preparing sermons I began to compare myself to other preachers.  I would write something and say, “That doesn’t sound as good as (Insert Name).” I stayed in this mode of comparison and I would get nowhere.  The Holy Spirit gently turned my head to focus back on Jesus and He reminded me that I was fearfully and wonderfully made and that if God wanted a replica of another pastor, he would have made one himself. 

 “But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” - 2 Corinthians 10:12b

What does your lane look like? Where has God designed you to be your best and to give your best to him? God wants to reveal His purposes for you to you.  He doesn’t wish to hide His will from you. What does your lane look like?  We all have skills. We all have talents. We all have something to contribute as an offering to the Father. We all have a lane to run in, but we have to make the choice right now to give God our best. We have to decide that we are not going to use others to measure our success. We have to decide to run the race of life free from the sin of comparison. Are you ready to give God your best and stay in your lane?

 

Ride Along: Abel (Pt 1)

Sadly, Abel’s story isn’t very long, but what he can teach us in a Ride Along is extremely valuable.  Abel would encourage us to give God your best and stay in your lane.  Take a look at Abel’s story in Genesis 4:2 – 10.

So why does the story of Abel matter to us? There is a phrase in Hebrews 11:4 that I can’t seem to get out of my spirit, “…though he died, he still speaks.” The story of Abel matters to us because God said that he still speaks and we need to listen.   

It’s pretty obvious that these brothers didn’t get along very well.  They had their differences and similarities like most siblings do. They were from the same parents, they were both bringing an offering to the Lord. We know that Abel was a Shepherd and Cain was a Gardener. Also, we know that Cain was a murderer and Abel was not.

All of us have similarities and differences and God gets the most glory when they all come together for His purpose.  All of us have something to give, some talent, some resource to offer to the Father.  We decide what that “offering” is on a daily basis.  

Abel decided that his offering was going to be the firstborn of his flock and the fat portions.  Abel gave God the first and best of his flock and the fat portions. Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground. Most of us would celebrate Cain and his effort and say, “Good for Cain, he brought something.”  But, we look at the text and we see that Cain didn’t bring the first and best of the ground, he just brought an offering of the fruit on the ground.

Abel would tell us that we need to give God our best.  There might be a temptation to give God your seconds or even your scraps or what might be normal, but don’t settle to give God just a good gift-- give God your best.  There will be rough years where it feels like all your resources are running thin, but still give God your best because He deserves your best in whatever you do, whatever you say and in whatever resources you are equipped to steward – God deserves your best.  

Not only does God deserve your best; He requires it.  Don’t hear me wrong, there is a difference between attempting to give God your very best and falling short – God has grace for us in that situation.  However, God does not have grace for us when we knowingly keep the best for ourselves and offer Him our seconds. God had regard for Abel’s offering, but God had NO regard for Cain’s offering. The word regard here means, “To formally accept or look upon.” God formally accepted and looked at Abel’s offering because Abel gave God his best.  God formally rejected and looked away from Cain’s offerings because Cain knew that he didn’t bring his best offering to God.   

We know that Cain knew he didn’t bring his best because of what God says to Cain in Genesis 4:6&7.

Ride Along: Noah (Pt 2)

"By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.  By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”  (Hebrews 11:7)  

 The backdrop to Noah’s story is Genesis 6:5-8. God isn’t very happy, but Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. In Verse 13 God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.  Then God tells Noah to make an ark and then God gives him instructions on how to build the ark down to the material he is to use.

 God asks Noah to build a giant boat, so that his family and all the animals will be saved from a flood that is going to kill everything on earth that doesn’t make it into the ark.

 Noah obeys God for 100 years. One hundred years of waiting wasn’t wasted for Noah because he remained in relationship with God.  For Noah, running the race was about trusting and obeying God because Noah loved God. Noah and God had a covenant, a relationship with each other.

 So a 100 year building project is complete and God shuts the door to the ark and the rains start to come and they don’t stop for 40 days and 40 nights. The flood water covered the earth for 150 days.  Noah and his family endured 100 years of boat building with no rain, now they were going to endure 190 days of close living quarters with all the animals, birds, and creeping things.  Can you imagine sleeping in a tiny zoo exhibit with ALL the animals?

 During an hour in the car with Noah for a ride along and he would tell us how to worship God the Father in every situation.  He would say, it doesn’t matter what’s going on around you, it doesn’t matter what God is asking you to do, it doesn’t matter where God is asking you to run – ALL THAT DOESN’T MATTER, ALL THAT IS SECONDARY.  THE MAIN PURPOSE OF THE BREATH IN OUR LUNGS IS TO WORSHIP GOD FROM A PLACE OF RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM.

 He would say, “Friend I know God is calling you to DO some crazy things.  I know God is asking you to sacrifice and endure more than you think you can.  I know God is requiring your patience and endurance in every minute, in every day. In the race of life, Noah would encourage us to keep the main thing the main thing and the main thing is Jesus.  Noah would tell us that our work, hobbies, and situations become weights while we run if they don’t bring glory to the Father. God will ask you to do some crazy uncomfortable things, but He is completely worth it.    

Ride Along: Noah (Pt 1)

Today we began our new series called “Ride Along”.   A ride along is where a civilian gets to spend a shift with one of our awesome first responders, so the civilian can learn what our first responders do on a daily basis.  For the next few weeks, we will be going on a ride along with some of the giants of our faith as listed in Hebrews chapter 11.  Giants like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Rahab, and Sarah just to name a few.

 We are all running this race called life and, as Jesus followers, our leader, Jesus, ran the race of life with the greatest endurance.  He endured the cross with joy because, by enduring the cross, he would get the opportunity to become your friend and to enter into relationship with people like us. Jesus is who we look to while we are running because we are running to Him, He is our prize.  

 I don’t like running at all.  I know that’s hard to believe that running isn’t fun for me - at all.  It doesn’t matter if I am doing wind sprints or jogging, it’s just not fun.  Running by itself isn’t fun, but imagine running with weights… running with weights sounds horrible.  We are all called to run the race of life with endurance.  More importantly, we are all called to finish the race of life. We determine the amount of weight and sin we run with, therefore, since we are surrounded by great cloud of witnesses, those witnesses surround us to teach us how to lay aside our weight and sin which clings so closely.

 We have people who are living now that are filled with the Spirit of God and His Word who, through relationship, will point us toward taking off weight and sin from our past and present, so that we can run with endurance the race that is set before us. Likewise, we have people who have successfully run the race of life with endurance by faith.  These people, listed in Hebrews 11, are the cloud of witnesses who were normal people.  They made mistakes and they messed up just like me and you, but their mistakes make them the best teachers.

 Who do you allow to speak into your life? Are they people who add weight and sin OR are they people who help you lay down weight and sin?

In part two, we are going to “Ride Along” with Noah and hear what he has to say.