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Monday, September 10, 2012

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Hebrews 11:4, “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks.”

Why do we tend to compare ourselves to others whether personally or professionally? We may manage to separate out some of our activities from ‘the world’ but still make judgments, either against ourselves if we feel we don’t measure up, or towards others for doing less than us.

Often it starts as an honest question: how do you manage your time, your talents, and your finances as a faithful steward of God’s gifts, we say.  We too want to give back with open hands and gratitude. But sometimes it can feel like a competition, especially when we see a life poured out in service and all we seem to manage is a smidgen.

Whether we admit it openly or not there’s a little sympathy for Cain, a little of ‘well my brother also was dad’s favorite’ sibling attitude, running through our thoughts. Or, what exactly did he do wrong so I don’t ever do that! We really just want approval. But from whom?

Offerings—given with a whole heart by Abel. Given in outward obedience by Cain. Not a side-by-side contest or test level evaluation. Instead a private one-to-one with the Lord. Jesus pronounced the widow’s mite as honorable and the rich man’s offering as insufficient because it came out of his plenty. It did not touch him personally. Both Abel and the widow acted in faith. Too often I act in surface obedience, like Cain.

“Please take from me my life when I don’t have the strength to give it away to You, Jesus,” is from a worship song by the group Third Day. Maybe Cain didn’t realize or trust that even when his soul was cold all he needed to do was ask God for help.

Lord, please keep me from a tightfisted heart that influences everything in my life—attitude—time—gifts—family—friends—strangers—work and worship. Please show me what faithfulness looks like in action for myself, for each of us, so that we can support and encourage one another to live out Your words in trust.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 33:4

“For the word of the Lord is upright;
And all His work is done in faithfulness.”

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