“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

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I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

First Blackberrys and the First Family. Genesis 4:1-7

     The three girls bounded across my lawn toward me. As I sat on my porch watching them I couldn't help but to marvel at their joy. Their mother held the youngest on her hip while the older two wrapped their long arms around two large round containers that brimmed with blackberries.  
    My neighbor had walked over with her girls to share her family’s harvest with us. I felt is was a gracious and generous gesture and one that God used to teach me a valuable lesson.

“This represents the first of our blackberry harvest." She said.  "We wanted to thank you for not cutting down the blackberry bushes last fall.”
 Her youngest momentarily overcame her shyness and peeked her head out from behind her mother’s legs.  As she did our eyes met and I found myself smiling with her.

   “ Is this true?” I asked the youngest. “Are these the veeeeeery first blackberries?”
Her young eyes widened and as she looked at her mother, she nodded yes.

   "Well then, I will have to make a blackberry cobbler. Or could I eat them with milk and sugar?” As I spoke I searched the girls for a response. They in turn were searching me for my response. As I thanked them I gave them the biggest smile I could and told them to check out my strawberry patch before they left. 
     I tried to explain to their mother that it wasn’t necessary for them to give us the first of their harvest.  But she was adamant. They were very grateful to my husband and son for not mowing down the blackberry bushes. It was about gratitude. 
     Last fall, my son, new and overzealous in his lawn mowing job, had decided that he would also mow the front portion of the vacant lot next to us.  He did not realize the strip was filled with succulent blackberry vines. Our neighbors had asked him to not mow the area where the blackberries flourished. He gladly complied. 
    I didn't think much about their gift until I was contemplating why the Lord became upset with Cain. And what happened that caused Cain's countenance to fall?  Why had our neighbor been so adamant that her girls bring us the first and best of their harvest?  It wouldn't have mattered to me, but it seemed to matter greatly to their mother. Why? 
    I think it has something to do with respect and wanting to be accepted. Cain was a tiller of the ground. His brother Able was a herder of sheep. Although the Lord had given Adam and Eve explicit instructions on how to show their respect to Him and how to offer sacrifices, I don't believe it mattered what you offered as much as how you offered it. God was not going to condemn Cain for his choice of profession, but he did question Cain on the lack of faith he showed when making his offering. 
    When my sweet neighbor girls came to me and offered the first of their blackberries, they searched my face for acceptance. They wanted me to acknowledge not so much the blackberries ( I will greatly enjoy them) but mostly the fact that they offered me a gift that was meant to show respect. We had respected their wishes to not cut the path of land where the berries grew and they expressed their gratitude for the respect we gave them in doing so. 
    Cain didn't do this. How do we know? Because God did not have respect for Cain's offering.(vs5) God loves all his children and is not a respecter of persons but if the offering that Cain offered showed disrespect, then the Lord God would need to correct the standard. 
    My three little friends offered their gift on faith. Faith helped them pick with the belief that I would be pleased with their gift. Faith helped them bound across my lawn in joy. Faith helped them receive the simple reward of neighborly friendship and a jaunt in my strawberry patch. 
    So what was so different about Cain's offering? I believe he offered not the first of his crop and possibly not the best. He did not make his offering in faith.  If you offer a sacrifice in faith you give the first and the best of your efforts. If you yield to Satan's temptations you are not seeking for the Lord's approval but rather for a "Zero Sum Mentality."...I.E. A zero sum mentality says that  if I give to you, the you have to give back full fold to me. If I do all that you ask, I get to choose all that I want. I am in charge. I get what I want and what I want is to have you respect me by giving me what I want not what you choose. 
   ' Zero Sum Mentality' represents selfish desires that put your wants above all else. It does not require faith in a loving greater being, but rather relys on the rules of fairness. Cain not only didn't offer his sacrifice in faith in the Lord but he chose to obey Satan above God. Zero Sum Mentality makes it really hard to find acceptance because the only person that you are really interested in is yourself. When we have faith in others and in God, however we are able to find acceptance in all that God has given us, in the love of community, and above all else in the Lord's commandments. God's love is our reward. 
   The fact that Cain was wroth with the Lord's response surprised the Lord. He had been given a commandment to offer a sacrifice in faith. Cain had offered it out of obligation and out of obedience to Satan's plan of selfishness. He had chosen what he had wanted to give and not given of the first of his fruits nor of the best. 
   I am grateful to the Lord for the many gifts I have. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve others and to live in such a way that I might offer my sacrifices to my Lord. I am aware that there are times when my own countenance falls, when the Lord reprimands me and says, "If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted." It is in these times that I go to the Lord in prayer and seek forgiveness for my wanting fairness more than his love. 

1.  The First Family -  Adam knew Eve. The first pregnancy. The first son. Cain. The first gratitude... 
I have gotten a son from the Lord. 
2. The first professions. Able is younger than Cain. The First Family has difficulties in teaching two different spirits. And in Moses we are taught that they also had daughters, so we have the first community springing up. 
4. And he Lord had respect unto Able and to his offering. 
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. (Hebrews 11:4) 
 5But unto aCain and to his boffering he had not crespect.  - 
Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.( Jude 1:11)
5. The first anger. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
Anger actually has a cycle. 
1. Fear 2. Pain 3. Anger 4. Grief 5. Hatred 6. Revenge 7. Atrocity
Cain's anger begain with his fear of losing his crop. He loved his crop more than the Lord. 
6.  Why is thy countenance fallen? When you see someone who is angry, their soul is dark. They hold their head and shoulders low. They walk with a drag to their step. Anger is a heavy load to carry. 
 7If thou doest well, shalt thou not be aaccepted? and if thoubdoest not well, csin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be dhisedesire, and thou shalt rule over him. What does God mean to doest well? I think he is trying to teach us to live by faith. To Let Go and Let God! To love man more than increase. To practice the discipline of contentment. 

If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. And thou shalt rule over him; Moses 5:33 

I will ever hold dear to my heart the precious memory of my young neighbors bringing the joy of their gift to me. A gift that was given in faith and in joy.

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