The spirit of Cain is loosed upon the world.

The latest church shooting brings to mind the story of Cain and Abel. That same spirit of Cain is rampaging throughout the world today. Self-righteous and full of bitterness, this spirit especially hates those who love God. It attacks with murderous intent, employing both word and action to intimidate and destroy all those who reject its beliefs.

The spirit of Cain is unrepentant, always blaming others for its troubles. In Genesis 4:2-8, we observe Cain’s anger when the Lord rejects Cain’s offering but accepts the offering of his brother Abel. Cain lures Abel to a field and kills him in his anger.

Instead of honestly dealing with his anger toward God for rejecting his offering, Cain makes Abel into his scapegoat. His issues were really with God and his own personal ungodliness, but, unwilling to repent he sought relief by expressing his anger at others.

This is the spirit of Cain.

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Father of the Heavenly Lights

If we step outdoors in the city and look up to see the stars, they can be difficult to see because of all the artificial light from the city. But if we drive out to the countryside and look up at the stars, they are considerably easier to view. The stars did not become any brighter and we did not draw any closer to them. Rather, it was the artificial light all around us that was obscuring our vision.

Have we become frustrated in our efforts to seek and experience God in the way we would like? It is not that God is deliberately hiding Himself from us. Rather, it is often the artificial light all around us that is obscuring our vision.

We may need to go out from the artificially lighted city for a time in order to have a clearer view of God’s light which is always shining down from above to light the way for us. James 1:17 declares, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

As we first venture out from the light of that which is comfortable and familiar, we may be anxious about whether we will have sufficient light to connect with God in the way that our hearts desire. But the light of God is everywhere…

As Bishop Wordsworth beautifully expresses it: ‘God is the Father of all lights: the light of the natural world, the sun, the moon and stars shining in the heavens; the light of reason and conscience; the light of His law; the light of prophecy shining in a dark place; the light of the Gospel shining throughout the world; the light of apostles, martyrs, and confessors preaching the Gospel to all nations; the light of the Holy Ghost shining in our hearts; the light of the heavenly city: God is the Father of them all. He is the everlasting Father of the everlasting Son, who is the Light of the world.’

Psalm 139:7-12
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there your hand will lead me, and your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to you, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.”

The World Today

We should not be surprised when we observe the impassioned actions and attitudes of unbelievers in the world today. Love and hate are very active dynamics in the unbeliever’s heart. And they move in exactly the wrong directions – hating what should be loved and loving what should be hated.

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. 

(Concept from John Piper’s Finally Alive)

Understanding Spiritual Priority for Effective Repentance.

Hebrews 12:15–17 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; . . . that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it [repentance] with tears.

From John Piper – “Esau became so spiritually hard and calloused in his love for this world that when he tried to repent he couldn’t. All he could do is weep over the consequences of his folly, not the true ugliness of his sin or the dishonor he had heaped upon God in preferring a single meal to his entire God-given, God-accompanying birthright.”

My comment: As a counselor for 22 years, I have seen this many times. A person comes to counseling distressed over the consequences of his folly but not the true ugliness of his sin or the dishonor he has heaped upon God. Sometimes there are great demonstrations of tears and anguish and promises of efforts to change the behavior. But what is sadly lacking is true repentance, which always considers the awfulness of our sin before a holy God as the primary reason for repentance.

King David gives us an excellent example of this priority in true repentance. Look at David’s statement in Psalm 51 when the prophet Nathan confronted him after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. David says to the Lord,

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.

“Against you, you only have I sinned!?” What does he mean by that? David has certainly sinned against the husband of Bathsheba for having him sent to the front of the battle line so that he would be killed and David could have Bathsheba as his own. He has sinned against Bathsheba for committing adultery with her. He has sinned against all of Israel for the ungodly example he has given them. And yet, he says to God, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight”!!

What we are witnessing here is a properly prioritized understanding of repentance. David realizes that every sin that is committed is first and foremost a terrible offense against God. He is not denying that he has sinned against others, but his sorrow over his sin stems initially and primarily from the realization of the terribleness of the offense of his sin against an infinitely holy God. When we sin, our sin is a greater offense against God that any other living person on this earth.

It is not that we are to disregard in any way our need to be sorrowful and repent for our sins against others. It is, however, a common mistake among Christians to believe that our offense against others is the most important aspect of repentance regarding our sin. And this lack of understanding can greatly diminish the power and grace that is needed for us to arrive at truly effective repentance in our lives.

“From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36

The Roaring and Tossing of the Sea

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. (Luke 21:25)

When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, And He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain, And brings out the wind from His storehouses. (Jeremiah 10:13)

Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble,
And He brings them out of their distresses.
He calms the storm,
So that its waves are still.
Then they are glad because they are quiet;
So He guides them to their desired haven.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men! (Psalms 107:28-31)

Was Jesus a Victim? (And does it matter?)

Having been raised Catholic and having attended Catholic school through the 8th grade, I was very well schooled on how much Christ suffered for me on the cross. In the church that I attended, it was a central point of theology that was much elaborated upon. This was not bad, in itself. But then, as a born again Christian, I was amazed to see the emphasis change to joy and celebration regarding the resurrection of Christ and our new life in Him. At times I almost felt guilty for sharing in this joy, as though it was inappropriate to experience joy or happiness about His resurrection when He had suffered so terribly on the cross for me.

But Jesus was not a victim.

Jesus was always in complete control of everything that happened in His life. Even in his death he was in control, choosing in His infinite love to submit to the will of the Father for us!

John 10:17,18 “Therefore my Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from my Father.”

Would it be reasonable for me to spend the rest of my life feeling remorse over the birthing pains that my mother endured to bring me life? In fact, it is often said that women are easily able to put that pain behind them for the joy set before them!

Our “born again” Christian life is meant to be a life of joy and celebration about the endless love of God for each one of us. Together with all the Lord’s holy people we are on a wondrous journey to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

This should, unashamedly, be the source of our daily joy.

The deception of self-righteous humanism

Do not be fooled.

A large part of the moral outrage being projected in our society today is actually an expression of self-righteous indignation originating from a humanistic belief system. Self-righteous humanism has always been the religion of the unbeliever.

hu·man·ism: an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.

Luke 16:15  And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.

Isaiah 5: 20,21  Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

Proverbs 16:2  All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.