March Madness begins this week. Here are my picks to make it to the Final Four.
• Louisville Cardinals
• Ohio State Buckeyes
• Miami Hurricanes
• North Carolina Tarheels
Let the “madness” begin.
Speaking of madness…the Bible is full of madness. Many tragic stories flow from the pages of God’s Word. The first tragedy was the careless sin of Adam and Eve. They were tempted surrounded by ideal conditions, the Garden of Eden, yet they still yielded to temptation. The second tragedy quickly follows in Genesis 4. This chapter contains the tragic murder of Abel by his brother Cain. Take a few minutes to read Genesis 4:1-9. Let me share some valuable lessons one can learn from this story.
1. God cares how He is worshipped.
There are many myths in religion today. One popular myth is this; God doesn’t care how He is worshipped as long as He is worshipped. This statement is false. This statement is often made to justify personal wants when it comes to worship. Humanity continually battles selfishness. It is not different concerning worship. We need to remember that God does care how He is worshipped. God accepted the worship of Abel. He rejected the worship of Cain. It matters how we worship God. I don’t have the right to decide what God likes and what He doesn’t like. I don’t have the right to decide what God wants and what God doesn’t want. God has not left it to His creation to decide these things. God has spoken. He has revealed His plan. Take a look at Jesus’s words in John 4:23-24. God has a plan for worship. God is the creator. I am the created. Humanity would do well to remember this fact.
2. Life is about choice.
Abel made a choice to bring a proper sacrifice to God. He brought his best. God provided instructions for both Cain and Abel on His expectations. God did not force either of these brothers to bring their best. Abel chose to do this. Cain made a different choice. He chose to short-change God. God was not pleased with Cain. He was not pleased with his worship. He rejected his offering. Immediately after having his offering rejected, Cain was faced with another choice. God describes the choice to Cain in Genesis 4:7. He could choose to do well or he could choose to not do well. We are faced with this same choice. Life is about choice. What are the most important choices a person will make in life? “Who will I marry? What will I do with my life? Will I become a Christian?” These are big choices. These are important choices. God wants you to choose Him, but He won’t force you to do it. Life is about choice.
3. Sin can multiply in a hurry.
Look at the progression of sin in Cain’s life. Cain sinned by bringing an inadequate sacrifice to God; a sin of selfishness. Then Cain killed his brother Abel; the sins of murder and jealousy. Next, Cain tried to deny any wrong doing; the sin of lying. It’s alarming how quickly sin can multiply in a person’s life. We see this in the life of Cain. We witness it in the life of David. We also have experienced this in our own life. What should be some components of a Christian’s day to day life? People ride along with cops to discover what they do on a “normal” day. Children go to work with their parents to see what they do on a “normal” day. What does a Christian’s day to day life look like? Jim Valvano led the North Carolina State Wolfpack to an unexpected basketball championship in 1983. A few short years later he was diagnosed with cancer. Coach Valvano became a spokesman for cancer research. In his last speech before succumbing to cancer, he encouraged the audience to live a meaningful life. He went on to challenge them to do three things every day: laugh, think and cry. What should Christians do every day? A Christian should pray every day. Take time to talk with God. A Christian should read God’s Word every day. Schedule this time; it won’t happen automatically. A Christian should talk about Jesus every day. Tell someone what Jesus has done for you. A Christian should repent every day. I sin too often. I need to always be willing to repent. Having a penitent heart will keep sin from multiplying in our life.
4. Faithfulness can endure for generations.
Abel lived a short life. His legacy lives on. The legacy of Abel is described in Hebrews 11:4. “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous. God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.” Teaching is an essential part of God’s plan. God’s plan is a teaching plan. God has spoken to His creation. There was a time when God spoke directly to His creation. God spoke directly to Cain and Abel. God later spoke to His people through prophets. God speaks to us today through His Son and through His Word. God has spoken. Now, He needs us to speak. Take time to teach your children. Take time to teach the lost. Live a life that will continue to teach after your life is over. Abel’s legacy lives on. His faith has endured for generations. Yours can endure as well. Live a life that continues to speak about God even after you’re gone!