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Chuck Kralik

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Everything posted by Chuck Kralik

  1. “ ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ ” (John 3:16, NIV). John 3:16 has rightly been called “the Gospel in a nutshell”. It is truly the meat of the good news message of what God has done for us in Christ. We are told here that God loves the world, meaning all the people in the world. Too often we minimize the impact of these words. We can accept that God loves most people. But all people? This means that God loves the vilest of human beings, that God is passionately in love with murderers and sex traffickers, that God loves even those who will never love him back, that God loves someone like you and someone like me. Yes, God loves the world. Try this exercise. Put your name in place of the word “world” in the verse. Also insert your name where it says “whoever believes in him”. In my case, the verse now reads “For God so loved Chuck that he gave his one and only Son, that Chuck shall not perish but have eternal life. This little exercise personalizes the meaning of this powerful verse. Don’t ever think that God’s love doesn’t extend to you. God loves you so much that he was willing to give his very best to save you. Jesus faced the cruel agony of the cross so that you could have a crown of life. Believe what John 3:16 says, and share it with someone today!
  2. “ ‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’ ” (Micah 6:8, NIV). God spoke to his chosen people of Israel through a series of prophets. Micah is often referred to as one of the twelve minor prophets, not because he is any less important than the major prophets, but because his writing is less voluminous and intended for a more specific audience. God used Micah to command the Israelites to do three things: “ ‘…To act justly…’ ”, “ ‘…to love mercy…’ ”, and “ ‘…to walk humbly…’ ” (Micah 6:8, NIV), and he expects the same from us. God knows that, when we practice justice and mercy and walk in humility, we model God’s very own heart as we live with one another before a world that is watching. Like the often rebellious Israelites, we, by nature, are not always just, merciful, or humble. Still, God equips us to be more like him, and he forgives us when we fail. In fact, Jesus lived, in complete obedience, up to each of the Heavenly Father’s righteous commands and died to free us from our sinful disobedience. He satisfied justice for us, taking our sins to the cross. Time and again, Jesus chose mercy in dealing with each of us. And Jesus was the ultimate example of humility, becoming like us in order to save us (Philippians 2:5-8). So, “ ‘…act justly…’ ”, “ ‘…love mercy…’ ”, and “ ‘…walk humbly…’ ” (Micah 6:8, NIV), and live into the heart of God.
  3. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, NIV). Echoing the words found in the Genesis Creation account, the Gospel writer John declares that Jesus was present “In the beginning…” (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1, NIV). Long before the man, Jesus, took his first steps upon the planet, he existed. In fact, Jesus’ existence is eternal. He is, “ ‘…the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End’ ” (Revelation 22:13, NIV). Still, Jesus did not view his deity as some sort of divinely appointed privilege, nor did he employ it in the form of a holy power trip. Instead, Jesus lowered his standing and took on the bodily form of a man (Philippians 2:6-7). John uses the name, “the Word”, to describe Jesus and his mission. Truly, Jesus is the incarnation of God’s announcement of grace to mankind. Jesus is mercy personified. Two-thousand years ago, our Heavenly Father took the great message of his love for us and placed it in a manger. Jesus, “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14), lived a perfect existence as a man and died upon a cross to take away our sins. God’s “Word” for us today is that we are forgiven and free.
  4. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18, NIV). Suffering is often synonymous with sacrifice. The sacrificial systems of the Old Testament involved the slaughter of animals as a way of atonement for the sins of the people. The offering-up of one’s livestock was not only emotionally burdensome, but a financial sacrifice. The limitation to these sacrifices was that they had to be repeated time and again, because people continued to sin. The author of Hebrews makes a statement similar to that found in the verse above, that “…Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many…” (Hebrews 9:28, NIV). “Many” doesn’t imply that Jesus’ sacrifice atoned for the sins of some, or even most, people. Rather, “many” means that Jesus’ death paid for the sins of all people. Further, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was a “…once for all…” sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27, NIV). It doesn’t need to be repeated again and again. Jesus died, “…the righteous for the unrighteous…” (1 Peter 3:18, NIV), so that we as sinners would live eternally. We are declared just and stand redeemed before him. What great news this is for each of us!
  5. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, NIV). There’s an old adage that says, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions” (author unknown). The inverse of this statement, then, might be “The road to Heaven is paved with sorrows and troubles.” The passage above, from Paul’s second letter to the Church at Corinth, would seem to support such a statement concerning the connection between Earthly sorrows and Heavenly rewards. For Paul and other Christians, “…light and momentary troubles…” (2 Corinthians 4:17, NIV) could mean a variety of things. Certainly, the Christian must navigate the day-to-day struggles that all people deal with. But, the Christian must also face persecutions of all kinds. Throughout the ages, Christians around the world have paid the ultimate price for their faith, giving up their temporal lives for their eternal destiny. Don’t misunderstand. The Christian doesn’t gain Heaven because he has lived a good life or even because he has faced a valiant death. Our salvation is entirely based upon Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Still, the Christian life is one marked by trouble. I want to leave you today with two verses that speak to the issue of Earthly sorrows and Heavenly rewards. Jesus told his disciples, “ ‘…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world’ ”(John 16:33, NIV). Paul shared a similar sentiment when he stated, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18, NIV). We live, and we die, in Christ. Glory awaits.
  6. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:13, 17, NIV). In this series of writings, we have looked at what Paul refers to as the “...armor of God…” (Ephesians 6:13, NIV). We’ve discussed “…the belt of truth… (v. 14)”, “…the breastplate of righteousness…” (v. 14), “…feet fitted with the gospel…”(v. 15), “…the shield of faith…” (v. 16), and “…the helmet of salvation (v. 17). The Christian stands equipped and opposed to the Enemy with each of these powerful pieces of equipment. Today’s piece of armor is “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17). We are not meant to be only on the defensive side of things. Filled with the very Spirit of God and armed with God’s holy Word, we not only stand against the Devil, but we attack him. We cut to the heart of injustice. We strike where there is poverty and need. We stand tall with the weak and marginalized people in our society. We seek to destroy all that is evil. God’s Spirit, who lives in us, is alive and potent. Paul once shared that “…the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power…’ (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV). Further, God gives us his Word which will constantly keep Satan reeling. We have the truth on our side which includes the Gospel message of God’s love for us. We are declared righteous and are saved because of what Christ has done for us. Our faith makes us strong. We stand already victorious in the face of Satan and evil. So, battle on, protected by and armed with the armor of our God.
  7. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Take the helmet of salvation…” (Ephesians 6:13, 17, NIV). In Ephesians Chapter Six, the Apostle Paul reminds us that the Christian life is one of continual warfare against our enemy, the Devil. Paul stresses the need to equip ourselves with several strategic pieces of spiritual armor. These include “…the belt of truth… (v. 14)”, “…the breastplate of righteousness…” (v. 14), our “…feet fitted with the gospel…”(v. 15), and “…the shield of faith…” (v. 16). Each of these is meant to protect us from the relentless attacks of Satan. In today’s passage of Scripture, Paul continues his inventory of spiritual armor with what he calls “…the helmet of salvation…” (Ephesians 6:17, NIV). The very thoughts of our mind must be guarded against the harassing accusations of the Devil, for Satan would love to convince us that he stands a fighting chance in the on-going battle between good and evil. The fact, however, is that Jesus has already won this age-old conflict, and we are the beneficiaries of the salvation Christ gained for us on the cross. We stand victorious through the shed blood of Jesus, while Satan is crushed in defeat. The helmet of salvation, then, is not merely a piece of battle equipment, but our constant reminder of victory. Satan, I’m certain, hates the look of the Christian in his spiritual attire. So, let’s buckle up, cover up, lace up, take up our shield, and stand up in the knowledge of our salvation. The Devil doesn’t have a chance!
  8. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand…take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:13, 16, NIV). So far in this “Armor of God” series, we’ve looked at what Paul refers to as “the belt of truth”, “the breastplate of righteousness”, and “feet fitted with the readiness” of the gospel (Ephesians 6:14-15, NIV). Today we are discussing another piece of battle equipment, namely “the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:16, NIV). As Christians, we are under the continual assault of Satan. He is relentless in his barrage of attacks. Without faith in Christ, we stand no chance against this ancient marksman as he fires the arrows of temptation and deception with deadly accuracy. Still, God does not leave us defenseless. We stand equipped for this spiritual onslaught, protected by “the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:15, NIV). Ultimately, Jesus has already won the battle against the Devil, and Satan’s attempts to destroy us are futile. Through faith in what Jesus has already done for us at the cross, we are ready for the enemy’s advance. So, lift-up your shield, and believe that you hold the victory. Evil is no match when faith and God are on your side!
  9. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:13-15, NIV). In Ephesians Chapter Six, the Apostle Paul continues his discussion of the armor of God by making special mention of the footwear worn by the Christian. It would be foolish for anyone to march into battle without protection for his feet. And Satan would like nothing more than to trip us up with his lies and deceit. So, Paul reminds us to have our “…feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15, NIV). “Feet fitted” implies that someone else is getting us dressed for battle. Indeed, God equips us with all that we need to stand our ground against evil. Further, “readiness” suggests preparation and intentionality on our part. We must approach our spiritual battle with a divine plan for victory. Finally, we stride into combat with the good news gospel message of God’s love and mercy through Christ. Our greatest weapon against Satan is the message that Jesus has already won the battle, evidenced in a barren cross and an empty tomb. I’d like to close today with Paul’s words to the Church at Rome: “..‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ ” (Romans 10:13-15, NIV). As bearers of the gospel, we have the most beautiful feet on the planet. Let’s protect them, fitted properly and ready to move!
  10. Hey, everyone! I've been a part of this writing community for just a few weeks. My site is chuckkralik.com. Feel free to check it out!

  11. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…with the breastplate of righteousness in place… (Ephesians 6:13-14, NIV). In my last post, I discussed what might be considered the first line of defense in the Christian’s stand against Satan and his attacks: “…the belt of truth…” (Ephesians 6:14, NIV). By and through the truth of God’s Word, we can stand in victory against Satan, a.k.a. “…the father of lies…” (John 8:44, NIV). Today, we’re looking at what Paul refers to as “…the breastplate of righteousness…” (Ephesians 6:14, NIV). When Satan attacks, he strikes at the very heart of the Christian. Therefore, we must remain guarded if we are to continue to stand. Fortunately, we are covered in Christ’s righteousness. The Prophet Isaiah states it this way: “… (God has) arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness…” (Isaiah 61:10, NIV). The Apostle Paul adapts Isaiah’s language of “a robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10, NIV) to “the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14, NIV). Paul knew that we would be fighting nothing short of a spiritual war. So, just what is righteousness? Paul puts it this way: “God made (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV). In other words, God made an exchange at the cross, taking our sin and trading it for Christ’s “right-ness” before him. Because of this one act on the part of Jesus, we are declared forgiven and free. We now stand against Satan protected by “the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14, NIV), the victory already won!
  12. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…” (Ephesians 6:13-14, NIV). In Ephesians Chapter 6, the Apostle Paul tells the Christian to arm himself for spiritual warfare. Our chief enemy, the Devil, stands in opposition to us and would like nothing more than to destroy us, both in the present and for all of eternity. Here’s what Jesus, the self-acclaimed “ ‘…way and the truth and the life…’ ” (John 14:6, NIV) said about Satan: “ ‘(He is) …a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies’ ” (John 8:44, NIV). With this description, it’s no surprise that Paul tells us to get ready for battle, to buckle-up with the belt of truth. Satan will continually lie. It’s his nature. He deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden. He twisted the Word as he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Deception and falsehood are two of Satan’s primary weapons and he wields them with mastery. Even today, he belittles and berates. He accuses and harasses. Satan continually barrages the Christian with lies such as these: “You’ll never be good enough!”, “You’re unlovable, unforgiveable, unworthy, unredeemable!” But, Jesus once said that “ ‘…the truth will set you free’ ”(John 8:32, NIV). And when we listen to the truth of Christ, we can stand against the Devil’s scheming attacks. So, let’s buckle up for warfare “…with the belt of truth…” (Ephesians 6:14, NIV). It’s our one-size-fits-all defense!
  13. Chuck Kralik

    Armor Of God

    “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17, NIV). In this new series of blogs, I will be looking at what the Apostle Paul calls the “…armor of God…” (Ephesians 6:13, NIV). With battles against temptation, sin, Satan, and the like, the Christian is to be prepared for nothing short of spiritual warfare. So, just what does that look like? God equips us with things like truth, righteousness, the message of the gospel, faith, the assurance of our salvation, and the Holy Spirit himself. We’ll look at each of these in this series. So, check back regularly. And thanks, as always, for reading!
  14. I remember when my daughter was three years old. Each night I would tuck her small frame into bed and we would share a brief conversation. I would ask her softly, “Where do you want to meet in our dreams tonight?” She would contemplate the question and then offer her answer. Sometimes the place of our midnight meeting would be Grandma’s house. Other times it would be the amusement park or the playground, in outer space or some far away land. With a yawn and a twinkle in her eye, with excitement in her heart and wonder in her spirit, my little girl would close her eyes in restful sleep, awakening to the adventure held in her dreams. The truth is that bedtime was sometimes difficult for my daughter. There were fears found in the darkness of night, noises that frightened and shadows that looked like monsters. That is why I had designed our bedtime ritual, an attempt to help my child go to sleep. I liked to imagine that, in her dreams, she was chasing butterflies, flying high on a swing, touching rainbows, and exploring distant lands, all while holding my hand and smiling. The Apostle Paul wrote about those who have fallen asleep in Christ. Going to sleep was a metaphor employed by Paul to describe death. The moment our eyes close in death, we are awakened to new life in eternity. Death has no power over us and we have no need to fear it. In the words of Isaiah, death has lost its sting. So relax. Dream on. And rest in Jesus.
  15. Chuck Kralik

    East From West

    “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:11-12, NIV). Let me begin by addressing the word “fear” in this passage. Are we really meant to fear God? Part of this answer, I think, lies in how we understand the word “fear”. God is perfectly holy and just, and because of our sin, we can never, on our own, live up to the perfect standard he sets. Scripture says that even our most “…righteous acts are like filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6, NIV). People in Old Testament times “feared” God to such an extent that they refused to even speak his name. This, however, is the same God who knows each of us by our name. And what we could not do to earn our favor with God, he sent his Son Jesus to earn for us. By Jesus’ death on the cross, we are forgiven. We are declared righteous, made right, before our Heavenly Father. As followers of Jesus, we do not need to fear God because of what Jesus has done for us through his death at Calvary. The rest of this passage of Scripture further clarifies our unafraid response to God. I’m reminded of my school days and the lessons I learned in geometry. I remember that a line extends infinitely in opposite directions. By its very definition, a line is without end. This is what I think about when I look at the above passage from the Book of Psalms. The beginning point of our forgiveness is found at the cross where Jesus died. He took our many sins into his flesh and removed them from us “…as far as the east is from the west…” (Psalm 103:12, NIV). Our forgiven sins could not be more distant from us than how they are described by the Psalmist. At the same time, God is with us. By his Spirit, he lives within us. He loves us. He forgives our all of our wrongs. Believe that. Live today as someone who is truly forgiven and free. Because you are. Thank God.
  16. Thanks, Joeli, for reading my blog and responding!
  17. “…‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’…” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV). Pastor George Matheson once prayed, “My God… I have thanked you a thousand times for roses, but not once for my thorn.” Matheson’s point was that sometimes God allows us to suffer the prickly and painful things in life, but it can be these very things that God uses to bring us closer to and make us more reliant on him. You see, God has a way of twisting the tragic into the triumphant. This, I think, is why God doesn’t remove every thorn or calm every storm of life. The Apostle Paul speaks of a thorn in his flesh. While we aren’t for certain what Paul’s particular thorn was, we do know that, whatever it was, it did what thorns do. It irritated him. It nagged him. It hurt him in some way. And Paul wanted it gone. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me” (2 Corinthians 12:8, NIV), Paul states. Still, God did not remove Paul’s thorn. But here’s what God did say, “...‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’…” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV). God was giving Paul something greater than relief from his thorn. God was offering Paul grace. It’s as if God was saying, “Paul, you have to take this thorn in your flesh, but I took the nails in mine. And because of that I can give you grace.” The grace of God, purchased by Jesus at the cross, is sufficient for each of us. And while we may fall victim to the thorns that hurt us in this life, we have a certain victory through the wounds of Jesus. We have eternity in Heaven that awaits us. So, I thank God for the thorns in my flesh, but even more so, for the nails in his.
  18. “(Jesus) went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around…” (Mark 5:39-42, NIV). Great things are accomplished by faith. Sometimes, however, we must dismiss the doubters. Jesus was approached with the news, first that the synagogue ruler Jairus’ young daughter was sick, then that she had died. It had all come about so quickly, and Jesus, it would seem, was simply too slow to respond. “…‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’ ” (Mark 5:35, NIV) the family and friends of Jairus asked. But, Jesus told Jairus, “ ‘…Just believe’ ” (Mark 5:36, NIV). When Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house, a crowd had already gathered there. These mourners were inconsolable and grief-stricken. Then, when Jesus told them that the little girl was only sleeping, their cries of grief turned into rumbles of laughter. “What a foolish thing for Jesus to say!” they thought. As Jesus entered the room of Jairus’ daughter, only the girl’s parents and Jesus’ disciples were invited. The others – the doubters and disbelievers, those who had mocked Jesus and laughed at his words – had already been put out of the house. Their doubt would not be allowed to interfere with the miracle that was about to take place. Soon, the little girl would be healed. There are several lessons to be learned from this story, but here’s one angle. At times, we too, must dismiss the doubters. Otherwise, their second-guessing, their cynicism, and their skepticism will not allow us the room to do what is needed. Our ambition and our dreams will be undermined by the nay-sayers if we allow them to stick around. So, just who are the doubters in your life? Who are the whiners, the wailers, and the laughers that you need to put aside? I’m not saying that you need to make a complete break from them, although sometimes that can be the case. But maybe they do need to be put out of ear-shot. Don’t let the doubters deter your dreams. And don’t let the foolish sway your faith. Just believe!
  19. Hi, Kirstie. I'm so glad you liked my post. Thank you for your response and encouragement!
  20. Chuck Kralik

    Crowded Out

    “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2, NIV). Lately I’ve been praying a simple prayer that goes something like this: “Lord, please fill me with your __________ and crowd out my __________.” Depending on the day, or even the time of day, those two blanks can reveal different things. The first blank is always something positive and the second something negative. “Lord, please fill me with your Spirit and crowd out my fear.” “Lord, please fill me with your joy and crowd out my anxiety.” “Lord, please fill me with your peace and crowd out my anger.” Regardless of what I pray, I know that God hears me and accepts my prayer invitation. This short prayer, and God’s response to it, has done some amazing things for me. It centers my attention and recalibrates my sense of direction. It helps me focus and calms my anxious thoughts. For I know that where God’s goodness is, there is no longer any room for the negative things of life. Satan cannot reside where God’s Spirit takes up residence. Fear and anger cannot exist within a culture of love. Darkness cannot prevail against the light of God’s peace. So, entertain my request here. Please respond with the two words or phrases (one positive and one negative) to complete this prayer: “Lord, please fill me with your __________ and crowd out my __________.” And then, of course, pray it! You’ll be amazed at how God answers!
  21. Thank you so much, Joeli, for responding to my post. Feel free to read more of my writing at chuckkralik.com. Thanks again!
  22. “…I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2, NIV). The foundational doctrine espoused by the Apostle Paul is “Christ crucified”. This is simply the idea that the most impactful moment in Jesus’ life occurred as he breathed his final breaths hanging from a Roman cross, where he secured our forgiveness of sins and freedom from their eternal consequences. Now, one might argue that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead served as Jesus’ crowning achievement, and certainly, the resurrection assures us that Jesus’ sacrifice was complete. But remember. The glory of Easter doesn’t occur without the gory scene of the cross. Calvary is the scene of the most pivotal point in human history. God’s heart, while broken at the cross, was most clearly reflected there. We learn that Jesus “…was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities…”, that “…the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV). This all occurred, not because God loved Jesus any less, but because God loved us so much that he was willing to allow a part of himself to die, rather than to go on living without us. God understood that the only way to restore the sin-broken relationship separating us from him was through the agony of the cross. Sometimes, we, as followers of Jesus, get hung up on doctrinal differences and divisions. We proudly sport our denominational labels and cloister ourselves from those whose beliefs are contrary to our own. We love our theologies more than our fellow brothers and sisters. What if we, who call ourselves Christians, spent less time focusing on the ministry minutia of things that divide us and gave ever increasing attention to that which unites us? What if we focused less on debate with one another and more on reaching the lost and the lonely? What if we simply loved one another and served together? Could it be that there really is common ground among us? I think the answer to that is found in the message and mission of Christ crucified.
  23. Thanks for responding, John. You have some great insight!
  24. “…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…” (Genesis 4:2-5, NIV). I must admit that I’ve always been a little troubled by the Bible story of Cain and Abel. Why, for example, did God look so favorably upon Abel’s sacrifice of livestock from his flock and so negatively toward Cain’s offering of produce? Does it simply have to do with God’s dislike of vegetables, or is there something more to the story? And what does this say to me personally? Perhaps you remember the story of these two brothers, these sons of Adam and Eve. Cain became furious at God’s lack of appreciation with his sacrifice and took it out on Abel, killing him in a fit of rage one day. God would confront Cain concerning his sin, but, although Cain would be punished, God would still offer him protection in the days ahead. So, let’s get back to the question at hand. What was so special about Abel’s offering compared to that of Cain? You may notice that, according to the text, what Cain offered God was essentially his left-overs. We read that Cain gave God “…some of the fruits of the soil…” (Genesis 4:3, NIV). It was as if Cain’s offering was mostly an afterthought. Compare that to Abel’s offering of “…fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock…” (Genesis 4:4, NIV), and you can see that Abel’s offering was sacrificial and given out of reverence for God. Abel’s offering was not necessarily greater in terms of quantity, but it was greater in quality. So, what does the story of Cain and Abel say to me personally? I think it teaches me that God wants my best, my first-fruits of time, treasure, and talents. He desires that I would be sacrificial in how I live and generous in what I give. He, after all, gave me the very best of himself – even offering his own Son, Jesus. How great a sacrifice that was for me!
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