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January 2 – Cain and Abel: the Difference

Where does God come into play in your daily life? In these devotionals, you will note that the readings used are linked. I do that so that you can choose to use this time to read through the Bible with me this year. Hopefully, these devotionals inspire you to make reading God’s word a priority in your life. Yesterday, I was at church. That wasn’t a last-minute decision. That was a commitment my wife and I have had since before we were married. We are going to worship God with His people on the Lord’s Day. We both worship privately each day as we read and write about what we read. We give a percentage of our income every time we get paid so that when our blessings increase we give more. It is the first check we write. We made these commitments long ago because we wanted to make sure that we put God first in our personal lives and in our marriage. We don’t do it to follow some law; we do it because it gives us joy in our relationship with God.

I say these things not to draw attention to ourselves, but to inspire you. I’ve seen too many people who rarely read the Bible at all. When asked for favorite verses they look for memes on Facebook, or if really desperate, search Google for some good pictures. Church happens for them if they wake up on Sunday and can’t think of anything better to do. The rest of the week is so jam packed full of stuff that they may give a nod to God as they’re getting ready for bed. They are reminded that they should give offerings to God when the church stands to sing as the offering is collected and they rummage through their wallet looking for a bill they can throw in the collection plate without it being too big. People who don’t intentionally commit to worship God miss out on the joy of worship. They become like Cain. “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.” (Genesis 4:3)

I don’t know for sure what caused Cain to get crossways with God, and then Abel. In reading the story, I like to add a lot of my own thoughts, and so as I read this whole story of the two brothers, I can imagine Cain looking over at Abel as Abel is preparing His offering for God. “Whatcha doing Abel?” “I’m getting my offering ready for God. Today’s the day we worship.” “Oh blast! Today? I forgot about that!” Then, Cain throws some of the stuff he had been picking into a basket and he heads off down to the altar. Cain probably thought that his presence and the fact that he brought something as an offering would win brownie points with God. But God looked with favor on Abel and his offering, while not being happy with Cain and his offering. So Cain gets Abel to go out into the field. Maybe he used the pretext of asking advice for what his next offering should be, and kills Abel. The end result is that Cain gets banished, but he gets a protective mark from God so that others won’t kill him.

So what do we learn from the story? Realizing that we don’t kill people any more when it seems like God is favoring others, ultimately our worship of God depends on our attitude. It’s not that God loved the type of offering Abel gave more than the type of offering Cain gave; God saw the attitude behind the offering. That lesson still sticks with us today. There are some people who leave worship refreshed and rejuvenated, excited at all that God is doing in their lives. There are others who wake up during the closing song and stumble out of worship wondering why they wasted their time that Sunday. The difference is not in God; the difference is how we approach our relationship with God every day. If you want true joy in your relationship with God, put Him first in all you do.

Thank You, Lord, for joy in my relationship with You. Thank You for the grace that allows me to honor and worship You. I pray for each person reading this that they might always put You first in all they do.

Daily Devotion by Bob James


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