By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4, NKJV)
God is not obliged to accept anything and everything people offer to Him in worship. If He is, then God is to be charged with wrongdoing toward Cain. Yet, “by faith” Abel offered “a more excellent sacrifice than Cain”. The Scripture says the Lord “did not respect Cain and his offering” (Gen. 4:5). It is apparent Cain did not bring his offering to God “by faith”. Since faith comes by hearing the word of God, it is evident that Abel followed God’s word concerning the sacrifice; Cain did not (Rom. 10:17). True worshipers are careful to bring before God the worship He approves (Jno. 4:23-24). It is not up to us to decide what is good to give God. We must listen to His word and humbly come before Him with the worship and service He deems acceptable.
18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18–20, NKJV)
Peter and Andrew’s immediate decision to follow Jesus sets an example for all who are contemplating following Him. Delay is dangerous and deadly, for by delaying one remains lost in sin. Peter and Andrew walked away from their livelihood in order to follow Jesus. The cost of being a disciple is real. God’s call to follow Him challenges one’s faith. Christians, too, are tempted to hesitate when the word of God calls us to do some good thing. What are you being indecisive about today? When you know the Lord’s will, do it with your whole heart and have His blessing (Jas. 1:25).
19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19–20, NKJV)
Instead of listening to the urgings and enticements of sin (see Jas. 1:13-16), we should be swift to hear “the word of truth” (Jas. 1:18-19). Instead of speaking rashly and letting anger boil up and spill over in angry words, we must keep hearing the word of God. When God’s word is heard and obeyed it produces “the righteousness of God” (v. 20). This controlled spirit avoids sin, but the angry heart spews out transgressions (Prov. 29:22). Don’t give in to the temptation to be ruled by angry passion. It never brings you closer to God.
4 The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts…11 He has said in his heart, “God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see.” (Psalm 10:4, 11 NKJV)
Is your pride preventing you from seeking God? This verse teaches us pride is a great hindrance to look for and inquiring about God. Of course, just thinking about God does not make one acceptable to God, but it is a place to start. When thinking about God, His presence and His will forms no part of your conscious thought process, then what is right in God’s sight no longer matters. It becomes easy to think, “God doesn’t care, God doesn’t see, God has forgotten me.” But, God never sleeps. He sees everything, including your heart (Heb. 4:13). Humble yourself before Almighty God. Turn your heart toward Him, learn from Him and live for Him. He is ready to save you and shower you with spiritual blessings you. Do not let pride stand in your way.
30 “As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ 31 So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.” (Ezekiel 33:30–31, NKJV)
Everybody wanted to hear the prophet! Yet, God was thoroughly disgusted with His people. They were comfortable with their outward display of being interested in God, even while their hearts were far from Him. They were excited to hear what the prophet said “from the Lord”, but they were not at all interested in doing what He said. Their words talked of love for God, but their hearts were full of selfishness – and their lives showed it. Let us learn from them and avoid being like them. We must completely devote our hearts to loving God. Only then will we conform our words and our actions to God’s word, and by doing so, come into His presence.
He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord. (Proverbs 17:15, NKJV)
An “abomination” is detestable and repugnant, a cause of hatred and disgust. Solomon said two sorts of people disgust God. First, the one who justifies (vindicates) wicked people. Next, those who condemn those who are just. Many people justify immorality under the guise of “personal choice”, “freedom”, “love” and “inclusion”. For example, when people support and promote homosexuality, Transgenderism, and any other sinful conduct, they do so without God’s approval. Be assured, it is an abomination before God to justify what God says is sin (2 Jno. 9-11). Not only is God repulsed by immorality, but also by those who excuse it. Those who condemn the upright are repugnant to God. Of course, it is always easier to condemn the righteous than it is to repent of our sins. Let us be careful not to excuse sin, and not to denounce the upright. Truly, “woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isa. 5:20).
28 The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. 29 The way of the Lord is strength for the upright, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity. (Proverbs 10:28–29, NKJV)
The Christian’s hope brings gladness to the heart, a joy that the world cannot take away. In vivid contrast, those who choose to live in sin never truly obtain what they expect, for everything in this world will perish. Remember, sin never delivers what it promises. Walking the path of the Lord gives strength and stability to life. Those who build their lives on the sands of iniquity never find true joy and peace; only a facade that vanishes into eternal destruction. Lay up treasures in heaven, not on the earth.
13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:13–14, NKJV)
What others said about Jesus does not define who He really is. The evidence shows that He is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16-17). Sometimes people say cruel, untrue things about us. They intend to bully, to hurt and to harm. What others say about you does not define who you are. Do not be afraid of what people say about you, or even of what they may do to you (Matt. 10:28). Be a faithful Christian before others, so that regardless of what they say you are, you will be a “good and faithful servant” who is received into eternal joy (Matt. 25:21).
15 The joy of our heart has ceased; Our dance has turned into mourning. 16 The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned!… 21 Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored; Renew our days as of old, 22 unless You have utterly rejected us, and are very angry with us! (Lamentations 5:15-16, 21-22, NKJV)
The Lamentations is a woeful, sorrowful book; the funeral dirge of Jerusalem, afflicted by the Lord “because of the multitude of her transgressions” (Lam. 1:5). No longer did she take joy in her sinful excesses. Now, all that remained was the painful sorrow and shame of sin. Yet, the Lord would turn their tragedy into triumph. He had not utterly rejected them in His anger. His mercy would reclaim a remnant and return them from Babylonian exile. He had even greater plans than that, for out of the remnant He would bring the “Root of Jesse” (Christ Jesus) and raise Him up as an banner for all to rally around for redemption (Isa. 11:10). Is there sin in your life? If so, acknowledge your sin with a repentant heart, repudiate it and turn back to the Lord. He will redeem your soul and refresh you with the joy of salvation (Acts 3:19).
28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Colossians 1:28–29, NKJV)
Christ is proclaimed when His gospel is preached (1 Cor. 2:2). Gospel preaching contains warning and wise instruction intended to present souls complete Christ; cleansed of sin and fit for the Master’s use. Preaching that does not convict sinners of sin is not gospel preaching (Jno. 16:8). Preaching that does not teach sinners how to be saved in Christ is not gospel preaching (Mk. 16:15-16). Preaching that does not trust God to work mightily through the word that is preached is not gospel preaching (1 Cor. 1:18; Rom. 1:16-17). God works through His gospel to produce faith that leads to salvation. That is why the whole gospel must be preached. Preaching that is not gospel preaching forfeits the power of God to save the lost and to perfect (complete) the saved. What kind of preaching do you desire and demand?