Sabbath, April 9, 2016

“ ‘Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over His household?’ Can we answer? Am I the steward, faithful to the sacred trust which is committed to me? To every man is given an individual responsibility. The watchmen have their specific work to discern the approach of danger and sound the note of warning. The soldiers of the cross of Christ are to have ears keen to hear. In their position of responsibility they are to give the trumpet a certain sound, that everyone may gird on the armor for action.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 236.

1. What generated dark thoughts and anger in the mind and heart of Adam and Eve’s firstborn son?

Genesis 4:3-5 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. 4And 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: 5But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 

“Cain thought himself righteous, and he came to God with a thank offering only. He made no confession of sin, and acknowledged no need of mercy. But Abel came with the blood that pointed to the Lamb of God. He came as a sinner, confessing himself lost; his only hope was the unmerited love of God. The Lord had respect to his offering, but to Cain and his offering He had not respect. The sense of need, the recognition of our poverty and sin, is the very first condition of acceptance with God. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Matthew 5:3.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 152.

2. What did the Lord do to help him come to reason? What kinds of thoughts open the door to Satan? What will happen to a person who permits satanic suggestions to enter and occupy his mind?

Genesis 4:6, 7 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7If 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.

James 1:14, 15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

“Christianity has a much broader meaning than many have hitherto given it. It is not a creed. It is the word of Him who liveth and abideth forever. It is a living, animating principle, that takes possession of mind, heart, motives, and the entire man. Christianity–oh, that we might experience its operations! It is a vital, personal experience, that elevates and ennobles the whole man. Every man is responsible to God, who has made provision for all to receive this blessing. But many do not receive it, although Christ has purchased it for them at infinite cost. They have not grasped the blessing within their reach, and therefore they have retained their objectionable traits of character, and sin lieth at the door. While they profess piety, Satan has made them his agents to pull down and confuse where he thought best. They exert an influence deleterious to the souls of many who need an example that would help them heavenward.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 421, 422.

3. Was God’s counsel to Cain accepted and followed? What terrible action followed the tolerance and cultivation of sinful, hateful feelings toward his brother Abel?

Genesis 4:8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. 

1 John 2:11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. 

“The death of Abel was in consequence of Cain’s refusing to accept God’s plan in the school of obedience, to be saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, typified by the sacrificial offerings pointing to Christ. Cain refused the shedding of blood, which symbolized the blood of Christ to be shed for the world. This whole ceremony was prepared by God, and Christ became the foundation of the whole system. This is the beginning of its work as the schoolmaster to bring sinful human agents to a consideration of Christ.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1109.

Where is your brother?

4. What question did the Lord ask the man who, following his fury, had reached the point of committing such a grave crime? What was God’s reason for asking this question?

Genesis 4:9, first part And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother?

Job 13:23, last part … How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.

Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 

“Cain the murderer was soon called to answer for his crime. ‘The Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?’ Cain had gone so far in sin that he had lost a sense of the continual presence of God and of His greatness and omniscience. So he resorted to falsehood to conceal his guilt.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 77.

“There is a work to be done for the wealthy. They need to be awakened to their responsibility as those entrusted with the gifts of heaven. They need to be reminded that they must give an account to Him who shall judge the living and the dead. The wealthy man needs your labor in the love and fear of God. Too often he trusts in his riches, and feels not his danger. The eyes of his mind need to be attracted to things of enduring value. He needs to recognize the authority of true goodness, which says, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.’ Matthew 11:28-30.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 230.

Where are our brethren?

5. What did the Lord say to make Cain–and all of us as well–sensitive to the value of and respect owed to our brother?

Genesis 4:10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. 

Psalm 40:12; 19:12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me…. 19:12Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. 

“God had given Cain an opportunity to confess his sin. He had had time to reflect. He knew the enormity of the deed he had done, and of the falsehood he had uttered to conceal it; but he was rebellious still, and sentence was no longer deferred.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 77.

“In that day the Master will demand of His professed people, ‘What have you done to save the souls of your neighbors? There were many who were connected with you in worldly business, who lived close beside you, whom you might have warned. Why are they among the unsaved?’

“Brethren and sisters, what excuse can you render to God for this neglect of souls? I would present this matter to you as it has been presented to me; and in the light from the life of the Master, from the cross of Calvary, I urge you to arouse. I entreat you to take upon your own hearts the burden of your fellowmen.” –Review and Herald, May 22, 1888.

6. What will the Lord say to all who knew and helped their brethren?

Matthew 25:34-40 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 

“In that day Christ does not present before men the great work He has done for them in giving His life for their redemption. He presents the faithful work they have done for Him…. But those whom Christ commends know not that they have been ministering unto Him. To their perplexed inquiries He answers, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.’…

“But not to any class is Christ’s love restricted. He identifies Himself with every child of humanity. That we might become members of the heavenly family, He became a member of the earthly family. He is the Son of man, and thus a brother to every son and daughter of Adam. His followers are not to feel themselves detached from the perishing world around them. They are a part of the great web of humanity; and Heaven looks upon them as brothers to sinners as well as to saints. The fallen, the erring, and the sinful, Christ’s love embraces; and every deed of kindness done to uplift a fallen soul, every act of mercy, is accepted as done to Him.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 637, 638.

7. What was Jesus’ mission in coming to live among men? Where did He say He wants to take His disciples? Do we have the same desire for others’ salvation from sin and death as He does?

Matthew 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. 

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. 

John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

“The wisdom of God, His power and His love, are without a parallel. It is the divine guarantee that not one, even, of the straying sheep and lambs is overlooked and not one left unsuccored. A golden chain–the mercy and compassion of divine power–is passed around everyone of these imperiled souls. Then shall not the human agent cooperate with God? Shall he be sinful, failing, defective in character himself, regardless of the soul ready to perish? Christ has linked him to His eternal throne by offering His own life.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 274.

For reflection

“Our life is worse than a failure if we go through life without leaving waymarks of love and compassion. God will not work with a harsh, stubborn, loveless man. Such a man spoils the pattern that Christ desires His workers to reveal to the world. God’s workers, in whatever line of service they are engaged, are to bring into their efforts the goodness and benevolence and love of Christ.” –Evangelism, p. 629.

Imagine the Lord meeting you today and asking:

• Where is your brother? Your sister? Your wife or husband? 

• What have you done for them? Do they have a place in your life and heart? 

• Do you feel responsible for them? Have you been a light and help to them?

By helping others we help ourselves

One day a young man named Eddie, who had become tired of life, decided to end his life by jumping from a bridge into a turbulent river. Jim, a total stranger, saw Eddie being swept downstream and plunged into the water in an effort to save him. Eddie, a good swimmer, noticed the man floundering desperately in the strong current and knew that without his help he would drown. Something stirred within him. With all of his strength, Eddie swam over to the man and rescued him. Saving that stranger, who had attempted to save him, brought new hope and meaning to Eddie’s life.

Let us be aware and convinced of this–by helping others we will help ourselves. Let us not lose even one opportunity to practice God’s love, and we will be the first to be blessed. –Adapted from T. Huffman Harris, Open the Door Wide to Happy Living and from Apibs web page.