God’s Love for Cain

3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.

4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. Gen. 4:3-7

It is interesting to read that God could actually refuse an offering from someone. In today’s church world, the improbability of such a thing happening is extremely high. Men have become so greedy for money that there are very few preachers of the gospel who can refuse an offering, for any reason whatsoever.

In fact, on the contrary, offerings are the highest item on the agenda of most preachers. For many (yes, the Apostle Paul says many), every fibre of their being is wired to the offering basket. If things don’t go well there, then the ministry is in danger of collapsing. Or, the church risks being closed!

Today, you would be forgiven for thinking that the foundation of the church of Jesus Christ is money!

I really admire God. He is not affected in the least by any vagary, be it heavenly, earthly, or from below the earth. All these can collapse, and God will remain exactly on the spot He was on while they were standing. God is so self-sufficient He can afford to refuse any offering.

But it is the reason why God refused this particular offering that concerns us here. Theories have been advanced from every corner of the church as to why God refused Cain’s offering. There are even suggestions that Cain offered God maize while God wanted only meat. You would think God eats meat!

But God does not eat meat, just as He does not eat maize.

I can tell you right here why God had no respect for Cain’s offering. It was because Cain did not carry a good heart. His offering did not come from a good heart. Cain’s offering did not bring a sweet aroma of self-sacrifice, and God rejected it on the spot.

Cain’s heart is bared for all to see in verse 5. It was quite a rotten heart that he carried.

That is why God is not happy with today’s preachers. Many are accepting offerings without looking into the hearts that give these offerings.

Now, it is not that God wants preachers to come up with a device, made in China or wherever, that can measure the sincerity of people’s hearts. But the true task of a pastor or preacher is to do just that – to know what is going on in people’s hearts. If a pastor cannot care about the condition of the hearts of the people he is leading, then that is a very big failure on his part, regardless of the nature of the gospel he might be preaching.

In Acts 16:16-18 we read, “16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”

There are some preachers who love to be praised so much they wouldn’t have cared if the girl had a demon in her or not. This girl was putting Paul & Co. under the truly big lights, and they could have glowed under her praise. But with these men of God, the issue was straightforward: there was a demon in the girl, and the only thing that was needed was for the demon to be cast out. When the moment arrived, Paul did just that. He cast out the demon.

There was no fanfare. No cameras rolling. No interviews with the demon. No “Man of God…” stuff. Nothing other than to cast out the demon.

Now, today you have preachers on TV who hold hour-long interviews with demons purportedly talking through the people they are trying to ‘deliver’. The purpose of this spiritually offensive circus, of course, is to draw attention to the ‘power’ in the minister’s church or ministry. Many people get deceived by these theatrics, but Jesus said you shall know them by their fruits. You can easily tell that a person is not really concerned with the spiritual condition of the people he is ministering to when he uses them – through excruciatingly humiliating experiences on live TV – to advance his ministry.

If someone has a demon in them and you have the God-given ability to cast out that demon, you should be able to cast it out in the blink of an eye. And for the victim’s sake, you wouldn’t hold any interviews. That person has suffered enough.

Paul did not do what these modern-day preachers do. He wasn’t pleased with the situation in the least. Instead, the Bible says that Paul was “grieved” in his spirit and, when he could not bear it any more, he simply cast out the demon.

There are many pastors who aren’t bothered by the condition of their flock’s hearts. To them, it is more important to keep the dollars, the shillings, the euros – and the compliments – flowing in. They love it when those fat checks come in, and when people call them “Man of God!”

But that is simply the flesh at work. The flesh grows fat on these things.

But thank God, God is not carnal. His is a Spirit of righteousness. And He has put spiritual ministries in the church. And with Cain we see that God was the perfect Pastor. He saw into Cain’s heart and told him, “I would be failing you if I honored your offering.”

That was love in action. Some people assume, by reading “But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect”, that God was at war with Cain. But God’s one-sided conversation with Cain proves otherwise. God loved Cain so much that He used every effort to make him see the error of carrying a bad heart. He even told him, “You need to defeat that sin in your heart!”

God was trying to lead Cain to the cross.

And, in refusing to receive Cain’s offering, we see God’s ultimate show of love. God wanted Cain to bring a heart offering, not a ‘religious’ offering. He wanted an offering that would be spiritually beneficial and fulfilling to Cain, not an offering that would simply fill some earthly coffers.

Ultimately, therefore, we can only come to the conclusion that God probably loved Cain even more than He did Abel. But God’s love for Cain was in the cross.

People mistakenly think that money is the root of every good in church. But the Bible disproves that, for it says: “For the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10).

Grace and truth are the things upon which Christ’s church is founded, and God wants our hearts to be perfected in these two qualities.

That is why Paul preached the cross, for it is in the revelation of the cross in our hearts that we can walk the narrow road wherein grace and truth are found.

Let not pastors and other ministers of the gospel be not led by greed, but by a true love for God’s people. Were they to do so, they would lead God’s people to the cross, like the Apostle Paul did. In every church, the Apostle Paul taught the same message, a cleaving to the cross of Jesus Christ:

“16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. 17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” 1 Cor. 4:16-17

[Below: A humble spirit is of more value to God than any offering that we can make]

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“Be Ye Transformed!” – Part 1

“Be ye Transformed!”

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom. 12:1-2

Several months ago I was in my hometown of Musoma to visit my dad and the church there. During the Sunday service, Pastor Amas stood up to lead the service and he said, “I will tell you what pleases me in church. Let me tell you what pleases me in church!”

His eyes were gleaming with excitement.

“What I love in church”, he said, “is someone who is changing. A person who is being transformed in their lives gives me the greatest joy in church.”

And y’know, I was sitting there waiting to stand up and preach, but after I heard those words I began wondering if there was anything left for me to say.

Today I cannot recall what I preached on that day, but I do remember each word Pastor Amas said in those three or four sentences.

I am forever grateful for the Lord for allowing me to know what I know today. More and more I realize the gospel is all about a transformed life. This was the singular thing that the Apostle Paul struggled so strenuously to achieve, not only in his personal life, but in the life of every believer who came to Christ.

In Colossians 1 :24-29 he says, 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: 25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

In his ministry, Paul worked to achieve only one thing – only one: to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. That means, simply, that we are imperfect, and we need a transforming work to perfect us in the image of Christ.

Here in Colossians, the apostle tells us what this work is: it is a mystery, the mystery of Christ in us. In other words, the riches of Christ in us is His ability to transform us! The “Christ in you” in this scripture talks of the work of the cross in us.

Many Christians’ eyes are on that word, “glory”; but they do not see the transforming work that Christ needs to do in them. They are not aware that the glory is in the transformation. Christ could give you all the Rolls Royces in the world, but if He is not transforming you, then that is not the Christ who died on Calvary! Remember Paul warns of “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4). There are many other Jesus-es out there!

Similarly, I could be physically raised from the dead like Lazarus was, but if there is no transformation in my spiritual life, if the cross is not at work in my life, that resurrection won’t amount to much. I will live for a few more years in this tiresome world, and that will be that. But to be like Christ is what God desires in my life above all.

And in Romans 12, the apostle tells us exactly how we are to achieve this transformation – it is by presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice. That talks of the cross again. The cross is our new altar, and our bodies are the new sacrifices. Jesus brought about a whole new way of pleasing God. Many people think God is pleased when they do things, things like giving a lot of money in church, helping the poor, etc. But that’s a big “NO!” there. God is not pleased with these things. God is pleased with a life laid on the altar. That means God is pleased with someone who is walking in the revelation of the cross in their hearts.

You can help the poor but you are proud on the inside. God wants the sacrifice of your pride, not your money. That sounds harsh, but it is the truth. And surely, it is preposterous to think that we could please God with the things we own or with our money, while the Bible declares in Psalms 50:12, “…the world is mine, and the fulness thereof”; and in Haggai, The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts” (Hag. 2:8).

The only thing we have that God desires are our hearts.

There are many things we do thinking we are pleasing God, but in which God is not pleased at all. And right here we can understand now why the Apostle Paul would preach no other gospel other than the mystery of Christ, Christ crucified. This is the gospel that brings death to the man on the inside.

I will tell you what pleases God. What pleases God, what God loves, is someone who is changing, changing through a revelation of and a working of the cross in their lives.

That person, whether they do or don’t do things, their work with God is done because they have given of their innermost things – their life. And the proof of their given life is the change in their lives, becoming more and more women and men of grace..

Today the church is seeking after many things, but God is seeking after only one thing: a transformed life.

[Below: This was the day Pastor Amas spoke about what pleases him in church]

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