Christine

Daughters of Promise

AND HIS FACE FELL?

In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.  Genesis 4:3-5

         The concept of making an offering is when an inferior brings a tribute to a superior.  The gift, and the way it is offered, ascribes honor.  The one who brings the tribute knows his place.

         If a king made a law about how he was to be approached, out of respect, shouldn’t his people follow protocol?  Perhaps he receives visitors only on Tuesdays, wearing certain attire, approaching respectfully with a bow, being addressed by a certain name.  Such is the case when entering the presence of Queen Elizabeth, for instance.  Because she is the people’s sovereign queen, she has the authority to set protocol.

         Cain and Abel had both been made aware of God and his holiness.  They knew that to approach Him, they would need to make a blood sacrifice.  This was Yahweh’s protocol.  Abel respected God and knew his place.  He brought his best, the firstborn of his flock.

         Cain disrespected authority.  He conveniently disregarded protocol, failed to take God’s holiness, and his own sin, seriously.  He brought fruits and vegetables. When God refused his gift, Cain was angry and his face fell. He didn’t think God treated him fairly.

         I think of another man, also angry, when God treated his enemies mercifully.  It grated against this sinful man’s sense of justice.  Jonah’s preaching to the Ninevites was blessed.  Many came to trust in God but Jonah was not celebrating.  God asked, “Do you have a right to be angry?”  At that moment, Jonah and Cain were alike.  They questioned a sovereign King’s judgment.

         I have strained against some of God’s choices.  I didn’t think certain people should be blessed.  I also wondered why He wasn’t quicker to judge sin.  My elevated opinion of myself and my distrust of the way He ruled fractured my relationship with God for a few years.  I was brought low, repented, and am very grateful that I live in the age of grace.  Jesus bore my punishment against His Father and today I remember my sin humbly.

         The sin of self-exaltation must be reigned in constantly.  The opposite of living as though I have rights to rule my life ~ is submission.  I follow Jesus today who only did what His Father told Him to do.  Our perfect Brother made no autonomous decisions.  He obeyed without question.

When I don’t understand Your ways, anger is inappropriate.  Your ways are higher than mine and I trust Your character.  Amen

GIVING WHAT I WANT

In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard.   Genesis 4:3-5

         Considerable time has elapsed since Cain and Abel were babies.  Apparently, instruction was given by their parents on how to approach a holy God.  I can imagine that Adam and Eve also told their story of relationship lost.  Perhaps their kids heard a tearful account of what life had been like in the garden before there was sin and how wonderful it was to be near God.  Both young men knew about God and what was required to approach Him.

         One respected the terms and the other did not.  God was treated casually as Cain decided that he could concoct the nature of his own offering and God would just accept it.

         All throughout history, mankind has given a Cain-kind of offering.  God’s response has been just as severe yet the majority never listens.  We decide that God should be happy with tireless Christian service, with token sacrifices made in the temple.  With the illusion that God has been bought off, we live with an illusion of eternal security.  All the while God’s requirement is unchanged.

         For Cain and Abel, it was a blood sacrifice – a symbolic look ahead to the Lamb of God who would shed His own blood.  For me, it also involves a blood sacrifice but I don’t bring my own lamb.  I trust in the one God provided in 33 A.D.  I can’t reject Him and then bring money, philanthropic efforts, church service, or a chart full of green check marks that signify good deeds I accomplished over the course of my lifetime. God rejects any offering other than the blood of His Son.

         Many marriages fall apart because a husband or wife don’t express love in a way that the other has desired.  One is bought off with token gifts that are resented rather than cherished.  What they asked for was denied and the path of love and respect was rejected!

         Our holy God is the spurned Lover anytime I decide to give what I want rather than what He requires.  When I determine my gift, I’m the object of my worship.  When I give what He requires, He is the object of my respect and my worship.

I pray for those I love today who have wrongly assumed that You have been appeased by their good deeds.  Oh God, show them Your displeasure so that they may make things right before it’s too late.  Amen

AM I HELD CAPTIVE BY MY NAME?

And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.  Genesis 4:2

         When Eve gave birth to her second child, he was named Abel. The meaning of his name fit his destiny.  ‘Abel’ means ‘breath or vapor’.  As the story of his life unfolds, his life is short, just a vapor.  He is to be the first martyr for the Christian faith and will be remembered in the great hall of faith chapter in Hebrews.

         Names are interesting things.  Oftentimes, the meaning of someone’s name holds great spiritual meaning.  It’s something we can grow into.  I believe God often handpicks names though parents think they made the decision.  Names so often seem to fit the child.  Continue reading

PAINFUL SEPARATION

He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.  Genesis 3:24

         God drove them out of the garden and placed two cherubim angels at the garden gate to make sure they, and all who descended from them, would worship another way.  Without an intervention of mercy, mankind would never again be in the presence of God.  We would never be stunned by His beauty and by His glory.  How heartbreaking this had to have been as they walked outside the garden, the streams of light and glory behind them.  As they looked over their shoulder, they saw an angel guarding the entrance to, what had once been, home.

         We are born with the sting of this banishment written on our soul.  Sin holds us in bondage.  God seems far away.  We fear He is angry with us.  The pain of separation feels extreme and permanent.  The news is dire without the good news of the Gospel story.  As Adam and Eve walked away from the garden, God felt their plight and love overruled.  In fact, He had made a way for their restoration before He even created them.

         A merciful God, in the face of Jesus Christ, would come to end the separation between man and his Creator.  Until then, even in the temple, people would only worship God at a distance.  They could never go behind the curtain (the veil) that separated sinful man from the holy of holies.  The curtain, made of blue, purple and scarlet threads, actually had cherubim embroidered into it, so significant were these angels who guarded God’s throne room.

         When Jesus died, an earthshattering event occurred.  The curtain in the Jerusalem temple, 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, and 4 feet thick, was torn in two from top to bottom.  No man could have done this.  The moment Jesus died and the process of reconciliation was finished, the sound of tearing could be heard.

         The way into the Garden of Eden is now open to any who have fallen into the arms of the One who bore their sin.  The pain of separation is over.  God’s wrath toward His forgiven children is non-existent.  He is love driven and ever stands with welcoming arms to give us the privilege of beholding His glory in person.  Intimacy has been restored.

Help me start at the beginning when I share this story with others.  If I start with the cross, it’s incomplete.  How beautiful a story you’re written – and put me in the center of it!  Amen

LETTER TO ADAM

The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was mother of all living.  Genesis 3:20

Dear Adam,

         What name will you choose for your wife?  Can you name her anything remotely heartwarming?  Are you feeling the pressure?     You’ve just watched your wife sin while you stood passively by.  You’ve both experienced God’s judgment.  You’ve both heard a curse pronounced on the land, on this beautiful garden that has brought you nothing but pleasure and the best of things to eat.  Life must seem like it’s over.  How does it feel to have broken the heart of your Creator?

         And yet, you choose to name your wife, Eve.  It means ‘life’.  Really?  You can name her the ‘mother of all living’ in spite of your grief?  I don’t understand.  There is no way you could think this up apart from feeling some kind of hope.  You heard your Father, didn’t you!  In the middle of pronouncing the curse, He told of someone who will come from your wife…one to crush the head of the serpent who deceived you.  You feel the tinge of justice rectified?  You feel the ache of personal sin forgiven?  Your hope hangs on the God you know you can trust.  You know He is good for His word.

         So ‘Eve’ it is!  When you speak it against the backdrop of tragedy, it is an utterance of faith.  When you say her name, do you feel anything joyful?  Probably not yet.  The grief is too recent.

         Please know that all who live after you will struggle with the same challenge.  We will choose names for children who will be hopelessly lost without the Redeemer to come.  We will grieve for them, wondering if their cherished name is a mistake.  But we will trust the same God who walked with you in the garden.  We will know He can’t fail.

         We will choose names for ministries that make no sense at all based on the mistakes we’ve made and our track record to date.  Those who initially hear of our dreaming will laugh.  But the one who crushed the head of the serpent is our Redeemer too.  Though we were born cursed, we are children of the living and not the dead.

         Thank you for exercising faith in what looked futile.  In heaven, we will worship together at the feet of our Creator.

Inspired by you, I am your distant relative,

Christine

LAND CAN BE CURSED

Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:17-19

            Cursing is when a supernatural power is called upon to injure something or someone.  In this case, God initiates the curse upon the earth.  Sin has brought about desperate consequences for the man and woman.  The very planet that God had created for them to subdue will now hold them captive.  The irony is that, in death, earth will swallow them up completely when they return to the dust of the ground.

The land still feels the effects of man’s sin.  It holds the memory of whatever has been done upon it.  God’s original purpose for His creation (including the land) was that it glorify Him, as well as bless and sustain the people He created.  But man’s sin defiled the land. If we are responsible for defiling the land, it follows that we are critical to the healing and restoring of the land.  If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chron. 7:14  Old Testament reformers like Hezekiah and Josiah repented and cleansed the land from defilement and they prospered.

In the Canadian Arctic, a very moving reconciliation ceremony was held between original inhabitants of the land and those who came afterwards to settle there. As the newcomers repented and rededicated a particular plot of land, they were overwhelmed with God’s immediate response. Although caribou (a mainstay of life) had been scarce in the area for nearly four years, suddenly 15,000 caribou showed up two days later. The caribou spontaneously gathered on the very spot where the land had been rededicated.

The power of God to heal and restore is released through repentance.  I encourage those who attend my prayer mapping training to pray through their homes, sanctify their property, and if needed, repent for whatever has historically happened there. Wherever there has been sin, residue remains and the land holds the scars.

God longs to bless His children.  We must actively rule over every place the sole of our foot treads.  Many today, as a result of reading this, will spiritually cleanse their homes and feel a powerful difference as they experience a peace never before felt on their property.  God is true to His Word. “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things!  Fear not, you beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and vine give their full yield.  “Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain.  Joel 2 

You give me all the spiritual tools I need to live in freedom.  Even on my land.  Show me how to rule over every part of my life.  Amen

DISCIPLINE?  YES!  CRUELTY?  NO!

“I will put enmity between you {Satan} and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  Genesis 3:15

         So many have had their heart broken by bitter vows and judgments.  “I’ll never forgive you.”  “You’re no longer my son, or daughter.”  “I never want to see you again.”  “I’ll never speak to you again because you said that!”  “You’ve gone too far and you’re hopeless!”

         Ever heard those words?  You know you’ve blown it so badly that you’ve been told there’s nothing you can do to make things right.  Finding this hard to believe, you try everything to make it up to the person.  A parent, a boss, an old friend.  But, you’re shut out.  Bearing consequences without any chance of restoration is cruel.  God does not ever do this.  He never inflicts hopeless despair.

         Can you picture this scene in the Garden of Eden?  Things were absolutely perfect.  There was no disease, danger, or disappointment.  No famine, nothing bitter or rotten to eat. No hurt feelings.  No fear of intimacy.  Then the serpent came.  He lied, cajoled, and reasoned with the woman while Adam stood nearby and probably heard everything.  Doubt about the goodness of God was planted and the woman chose to explore the alternative path Satan presented.  Can you feel the weight of her choice?

         Creation broke in half.  Immediately, she and Adam knew something horrific had happened.  I’m sure it felt cataclysmic and irreparable.  God cursed the earth, inflicted the consequences, but in the very same breath gave hope for a Redeemer.  From the seed of the woman, One would come who would crush the head of the serpent and offer redemption to fallen men and women.

         If I know Jesus, Eden is offered to me now, internally.  Through Jesus, I am made perfect again.  I walk with His Father in the cool of the evening, just like Adam and Eve.  I get daily instructions for how to rule my Garden, just like Adam and Eve.  I ask Him, daily, for the wisdom to see through the lies of the tempter and He promises spiritual savvy.

         The eternal judgment I deserve has been withheld because the Redeemer came and I trusted in Him for total forgiveness.  For every child of God, the kingdom-Eden, is here now. We need only look inside to Christ to live there.  And one day, we will step into a tangible Eden to live forever with our Creator!

You never speak hopeless words over anyone who trusts in the Redeemer You sent to undo what happened in the Garden.  Jesus – the name of above all names – is our Savior.  All glory to you, God.  Amen