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WHY IS WORK DIFFICULT? (Vol 02) - SIN MAKES WORK A TOIL - PART 2

Sunday English Service - 10 SEP 17

Transcript

Genesis 4:1-15,"Now Adam knew his wife and she conceived and bore Cain and said, "I have acquired a man from the Lord. Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of the sheep but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering but He did not respect Cain and his offering and Cain was very angry and his countenance fell. So, the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door and its desire is for you but you should rule over it." Now, 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 killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is Abel, your brother?" He said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" And He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth." And Cain said to the Lord, "My punishment is greater than I can bear. Surely, you have driven me out this day. From the face of the ground, I shall be hidden from your face. I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me." And the Lord said to him, "Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the Lord set a mark on Cain lest anyone finding him should kill him."

As you know, we've been teaching on work and I said I'll teach this in three parts. We just got through the first part a couple of weeks ago. The first part was about 'Why work?' 'Why should we work?' I gave you five reasons. We talked about five reasons, Biblical reasons as to why we must work. Now, we're in the second portion where we're talking about why work is difficult. We began last week to talk about it and I gave you the first reason why work is difficult. The first reason is that sin makes work a toil. Work was meant to be pleasurable, satisfying, fulfilling. But now work has become a toil. There's a lot of pain attached to work because of sin. Sin has made work a toil.

Last week we explored Genesis chapter 3 where we read about the sin of Adam and Eve and then particularly we talked about verse 14 onwards where it deals with what God said after they sinned, about the consequences of their sin. That's a very important portion because the entire Bible is connected to that. If sin brought these kinds of consequences...everything is important there. To understand sin is very important, to understand what the consequences are and what areas of life the consequences of sin touched and damaged, it's important to understand that because only when you understand what sin is, then you'll understand what salvation is.

What is sin? I showed you last week that sin is simply the rejection of God from your life, not allowing Him to rule over you, to be the Lord over your life. When Adam and Eve took and ate of the fruit that was forbidden, they were basically saying, "We don't want you as Lord over our life. You can't tell us what we need to do. We'll do whatever we want to do. We don't want you to tell us." That's the sin. That's basically what the Bible calls sin.

What is salvation? Salvation is telling, "Lord, you be my Lord. You tell me what I should do and I will do it." That's what salvation is. It's very simple. Once you understand what sin is, then you understand what salvation is. Sin is saying, "Lord, you have no part in my life. You don't say and I don't do. It doesn't work like that. I do whatever I want to do." That's what sin is. What is salvation? "I don't live for myself, I live for God. Whatever God says, that I will do." That's what salvation is. So, you know what sin and salvation is, but then you need to know the consequences of sin, how it touched the various areas of our life because you'll see the whole Bible, the story of redemption is connected to that, you will see that the Bible talks about how, through salvation, all of these areas are again touched and changed. All the damages are rectified through salvation. That is why we read chapter 4 today. Last week we did chapter 3, today we do chapter 4.

In chapter 3, the consequences of sin were mentioned by God. Here we see it played out again in reality by the descendants of Adam. We're going to look at the story of Cain and Abel. A story that is rich with many truths. Moses wrote the book of Genesis. When you read the book of Genesis, you must understand that Moses is not a scientist. He's not a Science teacher trying to explain to us how the world was made scientifically. He's a spiritual teacher. He's trying to tell us something about God. That's why he begins the first chapter like that, that God is a good God. The word 'good' appears seven times. He also tells us that God is a God of His word. That's why six times he says, "God said and it was so." Whatever He said came to pass. These are the points he makes because he is a preacher. He wants to convey some spiritual truth. He wants to tell us about God, he wants to tell us about man, he wants to tell us about the world, he wants to tell us about sin, he wants to tell us about the consequences of sin, the human race, and all of these things. This is how the Bible goes. The Bible is a redemptive, historic story. It must be read with the view on the redemption and history connected to the redemption story. That's the way it must be read.

Moses is writing here and remember once again he's a spiritual teacher. He is writing so that this writing would be available to people later on to the readers. He wants the readers to see certain things and understand certain things about spiritual life, about God, man, sin, work, salvation, everything. He wants us to understand certain thing. That is why he is writing. The story is told by Moses in a particular way so that we can understand certain things about how it works in God's kingdom.

The story begins like this, the first thing that we understand from the story of Cain and Abel is that identity of human being and his work are almost inseparable and that sin has made work harder now. This is what you learn from the story of Cain and Abel. Particularly the fact that the identity of a man is very much connected with his work, then you can see how important work is in a man's life. That is why even today when we meet a person, we engage in a small talk many times. After a few lines, immediately we ask, "What do you do?" It means, what is your profession? What kind of work do you do? We're interested in knowing what kind of a work this person does. What kind of a work you may think, 'Well, is that so important? You shouldn't be asking people like that.' Yes, we don't want to ask like that. Even though we are embarrassed in asking, we want to know what the person is doing because that identity of a person, identity means what the person is, who the person is, is very much connected with what he does, what kind of work he does. So, we're interested in knowing what kind of a profession is he involved in, what kind of work does he do? What does he do? We're interested. The identity of a person and his work is so related and so connected with one another and you see that here played out here in chapter 4.

First verse says that she bore Cain. Second verse says that she bore his brother, Abel. And then immediately goes to explaining what Abel's profession was and what Cain's profession was. It says, "Now Abel was a keeper of the sheep but Cain was a tiller of the ground." Both these professions, again, are related to God's original mandate when He put man in the garden. Remember He placed the man in the garden that He had prepared for man, the garden of Eden and told him to till it and keep it. The firstborn becomes a tiller of the ground. He is engaged in the original work that God told Adam to do. He's now a professional tiller, he's a cultivator, he's a farmer. And Abel is a keeper of the sheep, he's got a sheepfold. That's his business. That is also related to God's original mandate when God said, "Be fruitful, multiply, replenish, subdue and dominate." Subdue and dominate ultimately means subduing and dominating everything, all of creation. But particularly, in verse 28 of Genesis 1 when He said, "Subdue and dominate," He mentions the animals. The beasts of the field and everything is mentioned. Particularly subdue and dominate has to do with the animals and how to subdue and dominate, particularly mentioned. So, Abel is exactly engaged in that profession. He is subduing and dominating. He is taking sheep and raising sheep. He's made a business out of it. They're both engaged in the work. Both professions are good, both professions are God intended professions, Good, they are all engaged in their work and that is very important. Moses makes mention of that. But not only that, what happens between them is a very interesting story. Why does Moses even bother to tell that story of the conflict between Cain and Abel? Why this famous Cain and Abel story? Everybody seems to know some stories from the Bible. You'll be amazed how much Bible people outside know.

The other day I was watching television news. One guy was saying, "This is not Gospel truth." And I said, "What do you know about the Gospel?" One thing he knows is the Gospel is the truth. I was glad to hear that. He understands that Gospel is the absolute truth. People out there understand it and they talk about various Biblical terms, terminologies. And people understand lot of basic stories from the Bible that have become big stories that have captured people's attention. Why did Moses ever bother to tell this story of Cain and Abel? This whole conflict between the two brothers. Finally, Cain ends up killing his brother.

In the story, two very important things are taught. One is that God teaches how God wants His people to work. How we should relate to our work, how we should do our work. That is taught here and in a moment, I'll show you that. And secondly, He shows how He wants them to deal with the fruit of their labor. When you work and it results in an income, in the fruit of your labor, what do you do with it? How do you honor God with it? Basically, let me put it again this way, God wants you to know how to work, that is how to work according to His plan and purpose. You can even put it like this, how to work knowing that you are working ultimately for God for the flourishing of this world because God wants this world to be filled. He wants you to be fruitful, multiply and fill. He wants you to subdue and dominate because He wants the flourishing of the world. Our work is related to that. When we're working, we're literally working for God. We're not just working for that multinational company that has employed us. Ultimately, we're working for God. We're working for the flourishing of the human race, flourishing of this earth, for flourishing of all the resources that God has put in there. Subduing and dominating everything means we're working, discovering the various possibilities that are there before us through what God has created and coming up with the innovative ideas and creating things with what God has put there. So, work is a very important thing here in this story.

How to work. How God wants His people to work and what to do with the fruit of the labor that comes in through the work. Here, we read the story of Cain and Abel. Let me read from verse 3. "And in the process of time, it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord." Naturally Cain was a tiller of the ground so he brought the fruit of the ground to the Lord. "Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat." And then it says, there's nothing wrong with that because Abel was tending sheep. That's his profession so he brought some animals from his flock. "And the Lord respected Abel and his offering but He did not respect Cain and his offering." Moses, as he tells the story, he first tells us that they were engaged in two different professions and that the offering that they brought to the Lord had to do with the profession. The outcome of their work, what they produced through their work, that is what they brought to the Lord. That is by doing their work and producing something then bringing it to the Lord, they were literally worshipping God with their work. They were literally bringing the products of their work and presenting it before the Lord and worshipping. So, He tells the profession and then He says that they brought from their profession whatever they produced, they brought it to the Lord. That's how the story is told. And then, he immediately introduces the fact that Abel's offering was accepted. He says respected which literally means accepted by God but Cain's offering was not accepted by God. Immediately there is a conflict and the question arises. He wants the readers to understand this. Why Abel's offering was accepted? Why Cain's offering was not accepted? He wants to learn the spiritual truth from that. Why was Abel and his offering accepted? Why was Cain's offering rejected?

The reason is obvious, right here if you just look at it. When it mentions Cain's offering, it says that he brought from the fruit of his ground that he worked. But when it talks about Abel, it gives some details. It says he brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. Firstborn of the flock and of their fat. Let me put it in simple English. What does the firstborn and fat mean? It means the first and the best. The fat means he did not just go over to his flock and tell somebody, "Just pick a couple of lambs. I want to take it to the Lord. I want to offer it as sacrifice to the Lord. I want to give it as an offering." And somebody didn't just go and pick up some two little lambs and bring it to him and then he brought it to the Lord. That's now how the story is told. It says he brought the first and the best. The first and the best. Everybody say the first and the best. It revealed something about this man's heart. What he thinks about God, what he thinks about work, what he thinks about how he must deal with the fruit of his labor. The whole philosophy of his work and his whole idea about who God is, and how God is related to our work. All of that is revealed here. He says bring the first and the best. Why first and the best for God? Why? Is God so special? Yes. In Abel's thinking God is so special because He has given him the breath of life, He has created him, He has given him a mind, intelligence, He has given him abilities, gifts and talents, and He's been with him, protected him and his lambs, He has protected his work and blessed him in his work. He has gone and worked out there and God has blessed the work of his hand now he's been able to increase his sheep fold. He's doing good business. So, when it comes to giving to the Lord, he thinks in this way. Without God, it's not possible for me to make a success out of my business, without God nothing is possible. It's not by my intelligence I have done it, it's not by my power that I have achieved this, it's not by my abilities I have done it. Everything that I have done, everything I have by way of ability, gifts and talents comes from God, the very life comes from God. Therefore, when it comes to giving to God, my giving must reflect the fact that everything that I have comes from God. That is why he does not reach into his flock and just grab a couple of lambs and come. He thinks about it. He says, "My giving is going to be of a certain quality. I'm going to give the first and the best. God deserves the best. God is first in my life. God has the greatest respect in my life. I respect God. He is number one in my life. That is why I give Him the first. God is the greatest one in my life. That's why I give Him the best." That's his attitude. It all has to do with how he thinks about work and what has come as a result of his work. Amazing.

Do we think like that? Abel is not the type that thinks about God only on Sundays as he goes to church. He's the guy who has been thinking about God Monday to Saturday as he's been doing his work of keeping the sheep. He thinks about God's grace, God's goodness, how God has protected, how God has blessed, how God has taken care of him and blessed the work of his hands. His mind is thinking like that so that when he wanted to bring an offering to the Lord, he reached out for the first and the best because God is first in his life and God is the greatest one in his life. So, he brings the first and the best. See where it comes from? It's not because God needs some money, it's not because God needs some food for his refrigerator that he brought something to the Lord. No. It is because God is my source. That's the way he thinks. Without God, I can have nothing. Everything that I have is a blessing of God. Therefore, when I come and give to God, my giving must reflect the fact that God is my source and without God nothing is impossible, that I respect God and I want to give to God.

Cain doesn't seem to be a person like that. He's giving is mentioned like this. Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. It looks like a very...he did it in a very lackadaisical manner. He just probably said to somebody, "Just grab some vegetable there and some grain there. This guy is taking some offering to the Lord. I want to also give something to the Lord. I guess this is something that you do. Our parents have taught us to do this. So, this is my duty to do. Let me just get this done." He's a religious guy. Cain is obviously a religious guy. He's bringing an offering but he doesn't think too much of it. He doesn't think too much about who God is, he doesn't think that God is related to his work, he doesn't think that his fields grew and gave/yielded crops because of God's blessing. He doesn't feel any special thankfulness to God, he doesn't think of God as the first and the greatest thing in his life. No, he doesn't seem to think all of those things. Said very casually here, he brought the fruit of the ground. He knows that giving offerings is something that they do, it has come into practice. Adam and Eve did it probably and now they are taught and they do it. So, religiously he is doing it, culturally, he is doing it but he's not doing it outof his heart. Heart was the problem. The two people's hearts are different. Abel is full of thanksgiving. Abel thinks about God and God's grace and goodness, God's blessing, thankful to God and he has a great deal of respect for God. That is my first and the best. This guy doesn't seem to think like that. He's like the one who's caught all of a sudden, "Oh, this is offering time. They're sending the offering plate," as they say in some places. Because the plate is coming, he reaches out and says, "Where is some money?" And so he just reaches out and gets whatever he can. He doesn't think about it, he has not thought about it, he does not give any thinking to it. He just puts whatever comes in his hands. Abel was not a guy like that. Before he left his home, he thought about the goodness of God. He decided I must give something wonderful to God because God is the source of every blessing that I have. So, he plans and purposes and with great deal of respect and admiration for God and thankfulness to God, he picks the best that he has, not just giving just on the go but picks and purposes and picks what he wants to give and brings to the Lord and gives. That is why God accepted his and failed to accept Cain's offering.

The next verse says, verse 5, it says, "Cain was very angry and his countenance fell." 5 begins like this, "He did not respect Cain and his offering." Then it says, "Cain was very angry and his countenance fell." His whole face changed and he was very angry. Tell me, if a person brought an offering like this and he sees the other person's offering is accepted and his offering is not accepted, if he is a good person, what should he think? "Well, what wrong did I do?" An intelligent person would think, "He is God. I must have done something wrong. I can't fault God, I can't fault my brother, I can't fault anybody else. I must have done something wrong. Why was my offering not accepted?" And he should have turned around and said to God, "God, sorry. I think something went wrong within me. If you just show me what I have done wrong, I'll change. I need to change. I'll make it good this time." Even God suggesting, He says in verse 7, verse 6 God says, "Why has your countenance fallen? Why are you angry?" And then God says, "If you do well," that means if you do what you are supposed to do, if you get your heart right, if you get some respect for me in your heart and if you seek to honor me, if you think about me and what role I play in all of these things, "if you do well, will you not be accepted?" If you came with the same heart as your brother, with thankfulness, with respect and reverence and give it, will you not be accepted? He says, "The answer is yes, you will be accepted." He says, "If you don't...if you do well, you will be accepted and if you do not do, well, sin lies at the door and its desire is for you but you should rule over it." The next verse says, "The next day Cain talked with his brother. It came to pass when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother and killed him."

The guy is angry because he thinks God has insulted him right in front of his brother. He has respected his younger brother but He has not respected his offering. He has not accepted his offering but accepted his brother's offering so he was angry, his countenance fell. Instead of going and changing himself, he went in a rage and killed his brother. He was angry at God, angry at his brother. Why should not my offering be accepted? That was the kind of thinking that was going on in this man.

That tells how he worked. That tells how he views the outcome of his work. When he earned from his work, how does he view it? As he works, how does he view his work? All of that is reflected in the murder that he had committed. He is a guy that worked for himself. He didn't care about anybody else. For himself he worked. For his needs, so that his needs can be met. So that he can eat, so that he can do things, his every need can be paid for. That's why he worked. He was only concerned about himself. He did not think about God, he did not think about God's honor. He did not think about reverencing God, respecting God, giving God the right place in his life, he did not think about God as his source. He did not think like that. He was a man who worked for himself. Abel is a guy who always thought about God. As he worked he thought about God. That it's God's mercy, God's goodness, God's loving kindness that has caused his work to succeed in whatever he put his hand to succeed and so on. That is why God accepted his offering. Now, the murder has happened.

God comes and talks to Cain. You read it from the next verse onwards. Verse 9, "Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother, Abel?" He said, "I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper?" Then He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. So now," listen to this, "you are cursed from the earth which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hands." God speaks out the results and the consequences of his sin, what is going to happen to him as a result of that. The situation has now come to the exact same situation where Adam and Eve was some time ago when they ate the forbidden fruit and God came and called out Adam and said, "Where are you?" and he came out and he said, "I was naked and I was afraid." And God started speaking to the serpent, the woman and man and pronouncing judgment upon them. The same kind of situation. God now brings this guy out and he stands before God as the accused and God is now going to pronounce his judgment upon him.

His action of murder shows that he is completely in opposition to God. He is exactly opposite of what God wants. God made human beings in His image and likeness. He wants them to be like Him, like God. That's why God made us in His image and likeness. And how did Cain turn out to be? He turned out to be in the image and likeness of the devil. His character was the same character as the devil. God made man to be fruitful and to multiply. What did Cain do? He's exactly an opposition to that very thought. Instead of allowing the fruitfulness and the multiplication happening, he kills a man. He kills his own brother so that there is no fruitfulness and multiplication. One person is reduced. God made man to subdue and have dominion over everything. But instead of promoting the flourishing of his brother, flourishing of this earth through the work of his brother, he has put an end to his brother and killed him. He is totally against God. He reveals, by his actions, what kind of a person he is. Now God says something about Cain here. In verse 11, look at verse 11. It says, "Now you are cursed from the earth which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand." Notice the words, "You are cursed," He says, it's exactly the words used in 3:14, Genesis 3:14 when God spoke to the serpent. You remember? He said, "You are cursed." Identical expression. God said to the serpent, "You are cursed." And now God says to Cain, "You are cursed." Thereby, God aligns Cain with the one who has already been cursed, that is the serpent, that is the devil. In other words, God, by using the same expression, Moses deliberately points that out. God said to the serpent, "You are cursed.", God said to Cain, "You are cursed." Moses is trying to show to his readers, here is a man who has now come...who was now born with sin. He's a devil's child. He has come from that lineage. He is just like the devil. That is why just like God spoke to the devil...at the serpent, which represented the devil, and said, "You are cursed" now He's speaking to Cain and says, "You are cursed." That same expression is used by Moses deliberately to identify that this guy is born of the devil literally. He's got the devil's nature.

The new testament teaches some great lessons using Cain. Cain is not an ordinary thing. Cain's story is. In 1 John 3:12, , John teaches the new testament church a lesson from Cain's story. This is how the apostles read the Bible. When they read Cain's story, they were not looking for some scientific information or anthropological information or sociological information. They were looking for some truth. The Bible is teaching certain truths. Now John uses that to teach this truth. He says, in verse 12, "Not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother." Let me read from verse 11. In English, I think it's better to read from verse 11. "For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another." It's talking about love, loving one another. "Not as Cain," don't love one another as Cain he says, "who was of the wicked one." Notice the expression, 'Cain who was of the wicked one' that means he is born of the devil. "And murdered his brother." And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's was righteous. Lesson well taught. He says he is born of the devil. Somehow, he's got the devil's nature. Remember in John chapter 8, the Jews were ready to kill Jesus. They were very angry at Jesus because he said, "Before Abraham was, I am." And they said, "How old are you? How can you say before Abraham was, you were there? How can he make a claim like that? Abraham, our forefather lived so many centuries ago. How can you say before Abraham was, I am? Who do you think you are?" They were really angry. They were ready to kill him. That killer thing is working inside of them and Jesus...and they said, "Our father is Abraham. Abraham is our father." They were proud that they are Abraham's descendants. "Abraham is our father." He said, "No. The devil is your father." "You are of the devil," he said. When God said to the serpent, "I'll put enmity between your seed and her seed, the woman's seed and he will crush your head and you will bruise his heel," He is saying that there will be two streams in the human race. One, is the serpent seed which will be a whole stream that'll come in the human race that will be in opposition to everything that God wants to do. They are a product of the devil. They'll have the devil's nature. And there's another stream, there'll be a Godly stream. That'll be the seed of the woman and ultimately Jesus was born...will be born out of that stream and He will crush the head of Satan Himself even though his heel will be bruised on the cross of Calvary. Now you see the birth of that stream, the devil's children coming up and Cain is one of their great ancestors. John says, "Don't be like Cain who killed his brother."

After aligning Cain with the devil himself, after identifying Cain and the devil as the same by the expression, "You are cursed", God says to Cain, "The ground is cursed because of you." Look at that. Verse 12, "When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on earth." So, the ground, something happens to the ground. This curse is similar to what God spoke to Adam. He said, "Because of you, the earth is cursed." Now, He's telling the same thing to Cain. The ground is not going to yield its strength to you, that means it will not have the same kind of results that it had in the garden of Eden. In the garden of Eden, the ground yielded its full strength, 100% capacity. Now, it's going to be reduced. "You're going to work so hard and have so little," He says. And then thirdly, "A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth." See how this is all connected to Genesis chapter 3?

First, I showed you the first connection is that Cain is identified as the seed of the serpent. The second connection is, just like the earth was cursed under Adam, under Cain also the earth is now cursed. And thirdly, Cain becomes a fugitive and a vagabond and that is exactly what happened to Adam. In third chapter, after God got through mentioning all the consequences of his sin and telling him everything, then finally in the end of the chapter, in chapter 3, God says to Adam...God drives Adam out of the garden, drove the man out of the garden. He loses the land, he loses the wonderful garden, the garden of God, where he fellowshipped with God where he lived in such abundant prosperity, he loses it. These three things, one, Cain is identified with the serpent, secondly, the ground is cursed in Adam's case as well as in Cain's case. Thirdly, Adam became a vagabond, literally driven out of the garden to live out in the wild and now Cain becomes a vagabond also.

The story teaches many things. See how important this story is? Because the truth that comes out of it becomes the basis for the truth that is taught later on in the old testament itself and in the new testament. Let me give you an old testament example. I already went to 1 John and showed you a New Testament example. Turn to Proverbs chapter 3. When you read the bible, it's all connected. You should see the connection then you will understand it better. Proverbs chapter 3 is a very favorite chapter for many Christians. The words that I am going to read are very familiar words to Christians. But the question is, have you made the connection to Genesis? Look at verse 5, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart." How many times have you heard it? "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding." Now listen, "In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path." You have read it so many times, from my childhood days I have heard it but never made the connection to Genesis 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and so on. How is it connected to Genesis' first few chapters? When it says, 'In all your ways acknowledge Him,' he's saying even when you work acknowledge Him, when you go to work, when you're putting your hand to work, in the work of your hands acknowledge God and God's role in that. That it's because of God's wisdom, God's blessing, God's gift, God's talents you are able to do what you're able to do. Acknowledge Him in all your ways. Don't think of God only on Sunday mornings. Think about God Monday morning also and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Everyday, think about God. As you go to work, acknowledge Him. Acknowledge that His presence goes with you, His wisdom works for you, that His goodness is upon your life, that His Grace is there for you. Acknowledge Him, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path. I never thought about it like that but it's all connected. What is the problem with Cain? He never acknowledged God is his work. What is the good thing about Abel and why was his offering accepted? Because He acknowledged Him. He saw God in his work. He saw that it was God's blessing, he thought it was God's goodness. That's why he wanted to respect God in the way that he did. In all your ways acknowledge Him. In case you're wondering, well, I don't know if it's talking about work of our hand and all that. What are you saying? Well, read verse 9, just a little bit down. You'll be convinced that it talks about that. It says, "Honor the Lord with your possessions," connected directly to Cain's story and Abel's story. "Honor the Lord with your possessions," which is what Cain failed to do and Abel did. What did Abel do when he brought the first and the best? He honored the Lord with his possessions and with the first fruits of all his increase. He brought the first and the best. What was he doing? He was honoring God. "Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first fruits of all your increase so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine. God connects everything together. He says when you work, acknowledge Him, that God's hand is there then you will succeed. It's God's grace, it's God's goodness, it's God's wisdom that is giving you that success. Acknowledge that. Acknowledge God's role in your work. And when your work brings in income, when your work brings in results, when the field produces crops, when your sheepfold produces increase, then honor the Lord with your possessions. In your work, honor Him and with the outcome of your work, honor Him. When you honor Him like that, He will make your barns filled with plenty and your vats will overflow.

Christians have changed over the years. Now more Christians are saying, "Well, I don't want much. All I want is just three idlis. What am I going to eat after that? "All I need is just two pieces of clothing. We don't need more than that." Their logic is like that. "We don't need more than 600 square feet at best. What are we going to do with the rest of this space? We don't want all these other things. We don't want too much. Too much is not good." They think they are wiser than God. God never had any plan like that. Look at God, how He is talking. He says, "Hey, when you work, don't work like this is enough for me. No. Work counting on my blessing, counting on my grace, counting on my goodness, my help. Acknowledge me in your work. And when the increase comes, when you increase in your possessions, when your increase comes, honor me with that also. Think that I made that possible." And then when you honor Him like that God says, "I'll fill it even more." God says, "I want your barns to be filled with plenty," and Christians are too holy, holier than God. They say, "I want only little." But God says, "I want it to be full." Christian says, "I don't want all that. No, no, no." God says, "No, I want your vats to overflow." Why? Have you ever thought of this? Why does God bless your work so much? Have you ever thought of that? Why does God give you much more than what you really need? I've thought about it sometimes. Really, you don't need so much. People are right, some Christians are right when they say, "We don't need so much." They are saying three idlis, I don't even need three idlis. You don't need so much. You don't need more than 5 - 600 square feet but why does God give you more. You don't need above a certain income. You can live with much little. I have lived with a lot less, not needed. But why? I have thought why. Why Lord? Why do you give me more than what I ever need? More than I ever dreamed? More than I have ever wanted or asked? Why? Because God says, "For my glory." I will come to it at the end. It is not so your stomachs will be filled, it is not just because He wants you to live comfortably and all that, even though that is pleasing to God. Ultimately, God will be glorified by it and you will be a blessing to others. He wants you to have more so that you can be a blessing to others and God will receive all the glory out of it. But some people are wiser than God. They think we should only have this much and they are telling everybody else how much they should have also. They decide.

This is all connected. Proverbs teaching is connected to Cain and Abel's story. When you read this about honoring the Lord with your possession, the first fruit of all your increase, you need to think about Cain and Abel. That's the problem with Cain. He did not honor God with his possessions, he did not honor God with the first fruit of all his increase, he did not bring the first fruits, he brought the fruits. He didn't care to honor and respect God in that way. There is no honor of God in that man's life. That is why he ended up as a vagabond, having nothing, running around here and there, not having a place to stay. That is not God's will.

We talked about the curse a little bit here and now a lot of people say, "What you're talking about blessing. But the Bible says the curse is there. The earth is cursed. Everything is cursed. No wonder we're having so much difficulty in our work because the curse is working." But I want to show you that in the Old Testament itself, after all these curses were mentioned, the story doesn't stop there. God's intention is never to leave man living in the curse. So, you go from there, from the fourth chapter, you proceed forward in the fifth chapter, you see in the fifth chapter the lineage of 10 generations is mentioned. The tenth one is the birth of Noah. Noah is born and I pointed out to you last week when Noah was born, they named him with a great expectation. In chapter 5:29 we read...or 28 we read, "Lamech lived 182 years and he had a son and he called his name Noah saying, "This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands because of the ground which the Lord has cursed." The ground which was cursed has been bothering them, has made life difficult, it's been a toil, it's been a hardship. For generations, they've been going through that. They have experienced a lot of hardship. They realized that sin has brought great damage. Now, every generation they're hoping that the deliverer will come, who will bring relief from this hardship. When Noah was born, there was a great expectation. I think they sensed that he is a special child and during his time something great is going to happen and something did happen. You know the story of Noah, the flood and all that. But they thought maybe this guy is the one who is going to comfort us concerning our work. In the work, terrible damage. It has become hard, difficult toil so maybe he'll bring some relief concerning our work and the toil of our hands, it's mentioned like that. It's not saying that he will come and deliver us from working. No, you're going to continuing to work here and in heaven. Not deliverance from work, deliverance from the toil. Toil came after the fall, work came before the fall. When everything was in a blessed state, work came, work was given. Toil came after the fall. God's will is work not toil, right? God wants to remove the toil and God does not want toil in our life. Sin has brought toil into man's life.

In Genesis chapter 5, that expectation and as you go on and go to chapter 11 of Genesis, there is the birth of Abraham. When Abraham is born and then he grows up and God calls him. In Genesis chapter 12 you see the call of Abraham. God says to him, "Now the Lord God said to Abraham, "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house to a land that I'll show you." I want to show you that even though the earth is cursed and all of these things have happened and curse is a reality right now in this present life, that we can literally rise above that curse and live in the blessing. I want you to know that. God says to Abraham, "Get out of your country, from your family, from your father's house to a land that I'll show you. I'll make you a great nation. I'll bless you and make your name great. You shall be a blessing. I'll bless those who bless you and I'll curse him who curses you and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

God promises Abraham three things. He promises a land to Abraham. This is like being connected to Genesis chapter 3, the consequences of the fall. What happened as a consequence of the fall? Adam lost the land, the good land, the garden of Eden, the place where God's presence was and there was such opulence and prosperity. Abundant prosperity was there. There was no lack, wonderful, happy living place. He lost that, he was driven out of there. It was locked up and he was left out. He lost the land. Now the promise to Abraham is,"Abraham come, leave your country. I don't want you to live in that country. I have prepared a special place for you, a land flowing with milk and honey, the Canaan land. I want to give it to you." God says. "I want to give you a land." That land talk about the restoration of what was lost through sin.

Secondly, the promise of a seed to Abraham. Abraham didn't have any children and God says, "I'll give you a seed." One of the consequences of the fall is marriage relationship became very difficult. I showed you last week how husband and wife, instead of joining together and dominating everything and ruling over everything, that's how God intended first, in Genesis 1:28 God says, "Subdue and dominate," to man and woman. But after the fall happened, we read in the story of the consequences of the fall in chapter 3:16 we read that the woman will desire to dominate and the man in the end will dominate her. There is a tension. Instead of both of them dominating everything, each one trying to dominate one another, there is a competition therefore, not much achievement can be made there. And then, it also that in child birth there will be problems. There will be pain in child birth. In light of all that curse, marriage is going to be difficult. Two people living together is going to be difficult. They're going to be always fighting. Child birth is going to be difficult, there's great danger involved. God said I will give you seed. Not ordinary seed, like the stars of the sky, like the dust of the earth, sands of the sea. God says, "I'll make you a great nation." To a man who does not even have a child He says, "I will give you a seed." That is the restoration. He lost the land now a land is given. Adam ended up in trouble. Marriage relationship was now difficult, child birth is difficult. God says, "Never mind difficulty. I'll still give you a great nation." I guess God's original mandate is still working. That is why people fight like cats and dogs sometimes. The way they are fighting you would think no children would be born but children are regularly born. There's no shortage of that. Fighting goes on but the birth also happens regularly. The blessing is more powerful than the curse. The curse says child birth will be difficult. Everybody says, "Never mind, we have found ways now. We can have a cesarean or something like that. Have it easy." The curse says people will be fighting. They say, "Well, we'll break the fight little bit, have children." So, they are multiplying.

So, promise of a land, promise of a seed and then promise victory over enemies. That's why God says to Abraham, "I'll bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you." Why? That is also a cancellation of the curse that happened in Genesis chapter 3. There'll be the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. The seed of the serpent will be against the seed of the woman and so on, the enmity. And now God says, "Your enemies will be cursed, your friends will be blessed." God is on Abraham's side.

Before they enter the promised land, I'll just show this to you and close. Before they enter the promised land, turn to Deuteronomy, Moses teaches them...listen, a lot of people say, "You're talking about blessing. Don't you know we're living in a cursed land or cursed earth? Earth is cursed, how can you expect blessings?" Well, the Bible teaches like this. Moses should have taught...if what these people are saying is true, Moses should have taught, "Well people, I'll take you to a land. But in that a land you're going to have curse, you're going to have famine, you're going to have lack and want and insufficiency. That's what you can expect. You cannot expect anything other than that because the curse has come. We're living under curse." He never speaks like that. Look at this, in Deuteronomy chapter 28 it says, "Now, it shall come to pass if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today. The Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth." He's talking about blessing. "And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you because you obey the voice of the Lord your God." This is very much like Genesis chapter 2. When God made the garden and said, "You can eat of all the trees of the garden" and here God is saying, "You'll be blessed in this way. All these blessings will come and overtake you. And if you don't do it, if you don't listen to me and do what I say," verse 15 tells what the consequences will be. "It shall come to pass if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commands and statutes which I command you today, then all these curses will come upon you and overtake you." And if you read the rest of the verses, your heart will stop. Terrible curses. God is speaking exactly like He spoke to Adam. He said, "You can enjoy everything, all the trees. Of all the trees, you can eat but of this one tree you shall not eat." What shall happen if he eats of the one tree? "You shall surely die." Verse 15 onwards in Deuteronomy 28 all the way to 60-some verses you will find that 'you shall die' is expanded and shows in what all ways you will die. You will experience the death as a result of disobeying the voice of God.

So God, now taking the people of Israel to the promised land acts just like He acts in Genesis chapter 2 when He made Adam and put him in the garden, planted a garden for him and put him there. Israel has become like another Adam and now he's taking Israel and putting them into a land that He has prepared for them, the land flowing with milk and honey. They're going to enter into it. They have to the brinks of it and now Moses is teaching, "Listen. I'm going to teach you exactly what God did when He put Adam in the garden. When you go there, just do what God says. Don't disobey God, then you'll have a tough time." He uses a certain style of writing here. They call it merisms, maybe you've heard of it. That is, for example we use expressions like high and low. What we mean is we're talking about the totality of high all the way down to the low. Not just high and low. When we say high and low, we mean from high to low. Everything is covered there, right? That kind of expression is used. Now listen to that, it's used everywhere to emphasize certain things. It says, "Blessed shall you be in the city, blessed shall you be in the country." It doesn't mean only in the city and in the village you will be blessed, everything in between also you will be blessed. That's the whole point. 'In the city and in the country' means it doesn't matter where you are, everywhere you will be blessed. This is a particular kind of writing style that wants to emphasize that fact that the place does not matter. You may be in Somalia, you will be blessed. Blessing is not just in Dubai, blessing is not just some place there. Blessing is everywhere. Blessing is everywhere. That's the point they're trying to make with the writing style. It's again and again repeated. Then it says, "Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds, the offspring of your cattle and the offspring of your flock." The fruit of your body has to do with your family. The people in your family, they'll be blessed. The produce of the ground and the increase of the herds and the increase of your cattle, the offspring of your flock. The fruit of your ground refers to your possessions, your land, your properties and so on. The cattle and all those things refers to the work of your hands because these were professions of people in those days. God says, "Listen, I'll bless you in every way." That's why this expression is used. "I will bless you. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, the fruit of your land will be blessed, the fruit of your cattle will be blessed." That doesn't mean just your family and your land and your work. It means everything about you will be blessed. Everything, that's why that expression. Everything about you will be blessed. "Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl." Even that will be blessed. Then it says, "Blessed shall you be when you go in, blessed shall you be when you go out. The Lord will cause your enemies that rise against you to be defeated before your face. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. The Lord will command the blessings on you in your store houses, in all to which you set your hand. And He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you." Again and again the blessing is spoken upon the land, blessing is spoken upon the people, the family, blessing is spoken upon the work of their hands, blessing is spoken about their life in the world full of enemies, those who come against them God will give them victory. Blessing is spoken. God says, "I will bless you. Your enemies will run seven ways." It's all connected with Genesis chapter 3, Abraham's blessing and now Cain's problem.

You remember what Cain said? "I'm going to be a Vagabond, they're going to kill me and God protects him. And now, under the blessing God says, "They will run away from you. Your enemies will run seven ways." Verse 9 says, "The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself." Holy means you'll be a distinctly different person, not the kind of holiness we talk about. Distinct difference between the other people of the world. You'll be totally different from the rest of the world. "You'll be a blessed people," He says. In verse 10 he says, "Then all the people of the earth shall you that you are called by the name of the Lord and they shall be afraid of you." Look at that. "The Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, in the produce of your ground." How many times He has to say that? Again, and again and again He says and here He particularly talks about abundance of prosperity. Then it says, "He will open the good treasure to you, the heavens to give you rain in season to bless all the work of your hand." How many times the work of our hands is mentioned in so many ways? A lot of people don't even take these things into account. I tell you when you go to work tomorrow, remember that God is very interested in the work of your hands, in blessing the work of your hands. God is not sitting there saying, "I don't care about the work. I'll meet you Sunday." No. "Don't talk to me about Monday to Saturday." No, He is interested in you succeeding in the work of your hands. It's a very important aspect of your life. It makes you who you are, very much connected with who you are. Your identity and your work. God wants you to succeed in your work because your identity and your work are so connected. That's why you need to succeed in what you do and God says, "I want to make sure that you succeed in the work of your hands, that you be blessed in everything that you put your hand to do." Then it says, because rain will come in season, "You shall lend to many nations but you shall not borrow." That's a wonderful thing. "The Lord will make you the head and not the tail. You shall be above only." I like the English because it says 'only'. In the Tamil it's not there. "You shall be above only and not be beneath if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God.

God's will is that you live like this. This is the way to live. You notice in this whole passage the covenant blessing covers everything, everything that is lost because of man's sin. What did man lose because of man's sin? There was an enemy, the serpent, the seed of the serpent, an enemy was there. Now, the blessing says there's protection from the enemy. What did they lose, Adam and Eve? What did they lose because of their sin? The fruit of their womb is going to have problem. They're going to have problem in child birth and marital relationships. Now, the blessing is upon the fruit of the womb. What did they lose as a result of sin, Adam and Eve? The work of their hand will not produce 100%, it will not have maximum results. "Thorns and thistles it will grow and from the sweat of the brow they will eat," they were told, but now there is a blessing on the fruit of the land. I am telling you this is not future. This, the people of Israel experienced at that time in the land of Canaan, in the land of milk and honey, and how much more us living in the New Testament as the children of God, where Jesus has already taken our curse, the curse of the Law on the cross of Calvary so that we may have the blessing of Abraham? I tell you that this blessing that is mentioned in Deuteronomy 28:1-14 is ours today.

I am aware of the curse. I am aware that curse is all around. It was demonstrated in Abraham's life. He went and there was famine. There's the curse, it is working. But for him, the blessing was working. In the midst of famine God made him rich, the blessing was working. He went and there were enemies. Four kings came against him. He defeated every one of them because enemies shall be cursed. "All those who are enemies to you shall be cursed," the Bible says. He experienced these blessings in his lifetime and his descendants experienced it and I'll tell you we must experience even more in the New Testament times because Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law as it written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree," so that the blessing of Abraham can come upon all of us. And I say to you, 2,000 years ago, it has already come upon all of us. Allow it to flow in your life. Believe that, everyday confess that. Everyday in the midst of curse all around you, speak blessings because you are the owner of the blessings of Abraham. Don't be afraid of the curse, don't be discouraged by the curse, don't be discouraged by the problems. Be encouraged by the power of the blessing. The blessing will put you over and give you victory. Amen. Shall we all stand together.

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