Monday, February 24, 2014

Sermon Ideas for Genesis 4

- Giving Our Best - Why did God look with favor on Abel's offering, but not Cain's? The Scripture says that Abel brought his offering from the firstborn of his flock, indicating he brought the best of what he had. Cain only brought "some" of the produce he had grown, and probably not the best of his crop.

When are you tempted to not give God your best in life?

What makes you want to give God your best?

Notice that Abel was perfectly happy when he gave his best to God. Cain, on the other hand, was angry, depressed, and prone to commit more sin. One sins leads to another. This shows us the difference in attitude between someone who is serving God with their whole heart and someone who isn't. When you serve God, you're happy. When you don't, you're not. Which would you rather have, God's approval and joy in your life, or God's disapproval and inner turmoil?

Commit today, and every day, to giving God your best in all things and know that He will smile upon you.

- Then the Lord Said to Cain... - God comes to Cain and warns him. How gracious is it of God to reach out to us when we were the ones who did wrong?

How does God warn you?

God often speaks through our conscience, Scripture, circumstances, other people, and His Spirit speaking to our spirit. Are you looking for those warning signs? Are you sensitive God's movement in your life?

Unfortunately, Cain didn't heed God's warning and ended up regretting it. Let's not follow his example, but let us pay attention to God's warnings and thank Him for them.

- The Mark of Cain - God punishes Cain for what he's done, but he also disallows anyone else from taking revenge on Cain. The mark of Cain is a call for others to forgive Cain rather than perpetuate the cycle of sin he created. God always interrupts sin with grace and forgiveness.

What cycle of sin is God wanting to interrupt in your life? Who has hurt you? Who do you need to forgive? Imagine them having the mark of Cain not as a sign of their sin, but as God's call for you to forgive them.

- Went Out From the Lord's Presence - Cain committed sin and was exiled from God's presence. Have you felt as though you had been separated from God, as if His Spirit was no longer in communion with you spirit because of some sin you had committed? What restored your relationship with God?

It nowhere says that Cain repented, only that he feared his punishment. Sin separates us from God. If we continue in our sin, God will not be present in our lives. God hates sin and refuses to be around it. He will continue to reach out to us from time to time, but will not be an abiding Presence with us unless we repent. Eventually, if we continue in our sin until death, we will be exiled from God's Presence forever, just as Cain was. With God is comfort, joy, peace, love. Without Him is emptiness and despair. Let us not trade our fleeting sin for the continual joyful experience of having God's Presence with us in life, and in death.

- The Value of the Non-Christian - In the latter part of Genesis 4, we are given a snapshot of Cain's descendants. Though we cannot know for sure, because they are Cain's descendants, we are probably meant to assume that this family line does not acknowledge God in the same way that his younger brother Seth's will.

Notice, though, that not everything the Scripture says about Cain's line is negative. In verses 19-22, it enumerates some of the many accomplishments and societal advancements that Cain's line contributed to the world. From nomadic shepherding to music making to metallurgy, Cain's descendants certainly made some important discoveries.

And yet, Seth's line would probably still regard their Cainite relatively negatively because of Cain's family's godlessness.

How do you feel about your relatives who are non-Christians?

It's often difficult (and rightly so) for a Christian to respect the life choices or perspectives of a non-Christian. We simply don't see things the same way and we want more than anything for that family member to understand the truth that we do.

At the same time, we know that we cannot keep "hounding" our non-believing family members to accept Christ when they're not ready to do so or else we will only resent our religion and push them further away from it.

So what do we do?

We keep praying for them definitely, and sensitively bring up the topic of God when it seems the time might be right, but the hard truth is that some people will never acknowledge God.

So, as Christians, rather than allowing our religious views to separate us from our non-Christian family members, we should embrace them all the more. We will not have them for eternity like we will have our fellow Christian brothers and sisters. Our time with them might be short. Enjoy it while you can, and acknowledge and focus on the good that they do, just as Genesis 4 highlights the good of Cain's line.

- Seventy-Seven Times - In verses 23-24, Lamech, one of Cain's descendants, boasts about the vengeance he has taken on another man who hurt him in a fight. He refers to the fact that Cain was to be avenged seven times if someone killed him and then makes himself greater than Cain by saying that he has, and will, take vengeance seventy-seven times.

Lamech lashed out in anger against someone who hurt him physically. Putting this in more common application, how do you react when someone hurts you emotionally? 

Do you become angry and strike back at them with your words or actions? Or do you keep quiet and resent them internally?

It's interesting how Jesus contrasted this vengeance taken by Lamech. In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asks if it is enough to forgive someone who sins against him seven times. Jesus tells him to forgive seventy-seven times in the same day.

As Christians, we know that people will sin against us and hurt us, but our command is to forgive them, not to seek vengeance or to harbor resentment. Notice that in Genesis 4:15, it says that Cain will be avenged, but not that Cain was to take vengeance himself, like Lamech did. If there is punishment to be dealt, God will take care of it, not us. As Romans 12:19 says, "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[Deuteronomy 32:35] says the Lord."

- God Has Granted Me Another - Eve acknowledges that God has given her Seth as a replacement for Abel. Whereas we wouldn't think of people as being replaceable, the grace of this statement is that God does see our hardships in life and works to turn them around.

When has God turned your hardships around?

God always knows what we're going through and will work to bless us again. Have hope that He is the God who grants "another". Another season of hope. Another season of joy. Another season of prosperity. God is not just working for our good in the afterlife, but also in this life.

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