Spiritual Director · January 2, 2017

Affirm #21

So, here we are, having the first of what I hope will be many devotions in 2017. I’ve been writing these devotions for a number of years, but the last couple of years I prayed about a title theme I could use that would describe what I was trying to convey in the form of some encouragement.

For example, the 2015 devotions fell under the heading: “Proclaim.” 2016 was, “Affirm.”

Well, I been thinking about this for a number of weeks and the one word that kept coming to my mind and of which we’ll use for 2017 is, “Devote.” I believe the Holy Spirit is asking us to be devotional people, devoting our time to meditate on the Word and being filled with His presence and purpose. So let’s start Devote 2017!

Here’s what I read today,

“Abel became a sheep farmer, but Cain farmed the land. One day, Cain gave part of his harvest to the LORD, and Abel also gave an offering to the LORD.” —Genesis 4:2-4

You remember the account, don’t you? Adam and Eve had sinned and were escorted out of the garden of Eden. Eve started having babies – two to start with: Cain and Abel. As we’re told Abel grew up to be a shepherder and Cain was a vegetable farmer. I’m sure both worked hard. Both gave their full attention to their work. Each of them dedicated their time and energy to produce their best, they had too. It wasn’t as if they could go out and hire people! At this point there were no other people.

But when it came to giving back to God a sacrifice of praise, Cain had some shortcomings. His devotion to the Provider of everything was lacking. Here’s some things we should understand.

  1. When Adam and Eve were made clothes by God, they were giving animal skins to cover themselves. Therefore, they knew the sacrifice that was made, was made by an innocent third party, and innocent animal who shed its blood to cover their sin.
  2. Cain would have known that and should have brought a blood sacrifice, not “part of his harvest.”
  3. Which is also a good indicator for us. Abel sacrificed an entire lamb. Truth is, you can’t sacrifice part of a lamb. But Cain only gave a “part of his harvest.” God wants it all!
  4. Also, and I may be taking liberties with the Word of God, but I really do believe that part of the reason that Cain only brought “part of his harvest.” was because his attitude was bad. He didn’t give with a joyful heart but out of obligation or possibly even grudgingly.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today

Devote yourself this year to wholeheartedly presenting yourself as a living sacrifice to the Lord. Don’t hold anything back. Offer yourself freely and watch God bless you!

Today I start by offering myself as a sacrifice to You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

—Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

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Mark was Spiritual Director for VdC from 2016 to 2019. He's written many of the devotions, especially the Devote and Affirm series, found on this website.