Approved of God
I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 4 this morning.
Genesis 4 I would like to talk to you this morning on being approved by God and what that all entails.
Genesis 4 beginning at the first verse
Genesis 4:1-7 “1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. 2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. 4 And 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: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If 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.”
Attorney David Gibbs tells the story about a time he was doing a lawsuit in Alaska. They were out in the Aleutian Islands and were heading back to Anchorage and then on to his house. He had his airline ticket in his pocket and was in line to board the plane when a local pastor came up to him and said, “Bro. Gibbs, I can save you some money, I flew a small plane up here and I can fly you in my little airplane and you can save your ticket. You’ve got to do this!”
Bro. Gibbs, said, “Against every better judgment I had, I said okay”
SO the local pastor took Attorney Gibbs and his accompanying lawyer out to his plane.
Bro. Gibbs looked at it and thought “Well one good things its shiny”
They boarded with the pastor in the pilot seat, Bro. Gibbs on the right and the other lawyer sitting behind him.
The pastor started the plane and it started just fine and he began to taxi out
Attorney Gibbs asked the pastor pilot, “Should we pray?”
The pastor said “we don’t normally but thats a good idea.”
So Bro. Gibbs began to pray, he prayed several minutes as the pilot lined up, started down the runway and lifted off so gently and started climbing.
Everything was going so wonderful not a problem in the world. They climb higher and higher and flew probably three four minutes when things began to change that would impact Brother Gibbs forever
The Pilot turned to him and said, “We are going in the clouds and I can’t fly in the clouds they make me pass out.”
As Attorney Gibbs is attempting to process this statement he realizes it has been cloudy all day and up into the clouds they climb. Gibbs says, “you can’t see anything.”
Bro. Gibbs is watching the pilot and the pilot looks at him and his eyes roll back in his head and he starts mumbling and then passes out cold.
He shakes the pilot no response, he tells him to wake up again no response he turns to look at the lawyer behind him all the help he offers is, “we’re dead aren’t we.”
They notice the radio there and they pick it up - they don’t know any of the radio lingo or etiquette they just start saying “hello, hello”
Finally they get a response and they answer and say, “hello don’t you guys know proper radio etiquette?”
They explained the situation to the person on the radio
They were on an airplane in the clouds with a passed out pilot and they had no idea on how to fly the plane.
I just want to stop here a moment and say that humanity has a way of depending on humanity for its approval and support. Sometimes our only hope of salvation is for God to remove those supports and systems.
Our text talks about Cain, who was more interested in appearing right with God in front of his brother and parents than in really being right with God.
God took the support away - the acceptance or respect to his offering.
Then God and Cain have an extremely important conversation (Gen. 4:6-7)
God who knows all things wants Cain to see his need asks Cain why he was so upset and then God says something right here in the fourth chapter of Genesis that will have ramifications all through the remainder of the Bible and even impacts us here today:
Gen. 4:7 “7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door...”
Now this sounds like God is saying, “Cain if you were really good you wouldn’t have this problem.” but that is not the case
God is saying “Cain you have been given instructions on what to do. If you will obey me you will be accepted.”
Now I want to unpack this a little
I think the NASB captures the Hebrew in this text really well - “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?”
This word “accepted” in the Hebrew means “lifted up” or “exaltation” When Cain does what he knows is right, there will be an uplifted face or countenance - this is referring to a good conscience before God
Having this “good conscience before God” is what I am talking about when I talk about being approved of God.
We are living in a cloudy world in a plane and our pilot our own self and strength cannot help us.
When by God’s grace we realize our situation and turn to a higher power turn to God we begin to receive instruction and guidance from Him.
We find this thought in several Old Testament passages:
Numbers 6:24-26 “24 The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: 25 The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26 The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
Psalm 31:16 “16 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: Save me for thy mercies’ sake.”
Psalm 119:135 “135 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; And teach me thy statutes.”
The New Testament says:
1 John 1:7 “7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
This is not works based, but it is a faith that obeys God’s instructions.
We can’t always see God just as attorney Gibbs couldn’t see who the voice was coming from but that voice would say things like this:
“I’m a freighter flying out of Anchorage on the way to Tokyo. I’m going to start circling so I don’t lose you otherwise I’ll fly out of range of your radio and you won’t hear me anymore.”
I like that - We can get out of range of God’s voice - that is where we get into trouble and loose that approval of God - but God doesn’t fly away from us He speaks so that if we will listen we will hear what we need to hear.
The freighter pilot was able to get Anchorage Emergency on the radio and they were able to try to help attorney Gibbs in his situation.
The attorney said, “I’ll never forget what this man at anchorage said, he said, ‘my job is to get you home safe, but here’s the deal, if you want me to get you home save you have to promise me you’ll obey my voice. You can’t see me but I can see you and if you’re not going to obey my voice you are going to die.’
We can’t see God with our physical eyes, and most of us will never hear audibly with our ears God speak to us - But God has spoken to us in His Word, and He speaks to us by the Holy Spirit.
If we want God’s approval, if we want to make it home we are going to have to obey His voice even though we can’t see Him.
The voice crackled over the radio - and said, “You’re four minutes from a mountain you’re going to crash in that mountain and die unless you follow my voice.”
This is very similar to what God tells Cain -
Gen 4:7 If thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”
Sin is crouching at the door and ready to spring on you - you are going to die on the mountain unless you listen to my voice and master the sin before it crashes you.
Attorney Gibbs said, “I never said, ‘I have to follow your voice? Is that reasonable? That sounds so silly?”
No their lives were in danger, they understood that without that voice they had nothing.
If we could grasp the importance of God’s voice and approval like that it would change the way we live and respond to things in life.
Now these lawyers are good with the legal system but they didn’t know anything about flying a plane and getting home safely -
Can I say we can know a lot about a lot of things but we don’t know enough to make it by our self. We have to follow the voice of God.
With the help of the voice on the radio they were able to get turned around and the control tower froze all the traffic in the area - Isn’t it just like God to do whatever it takes to get us where we need to go even if he needs to freeze traffic to do it.
The voice said, ‘Its going to take me an hour and a half to get you to anchorage and there is some bad weather in between. But listen don’t pay attention to the weather I want you to just hear my voice. If you start watching the storm you will die.”
Peter found that out literally
We will find that out as well - if we let our eyes get on anything other than Christ we will lose our way
If we let our ears get tuned in to the many voices that are vying for our attention we will lose our way.
Sure enough the storms came, the turbulence was rough, the thunder crashed the lightning flashed but that voice kept feeding instructions on how to steer the craft, what buttons to push, levers to pull, what to watch for on and on they flew listening to that voice.
Every once in a while they would hear one of the grounded pilots say something like, ‘Keep going,’ ‘listen to the voice he will help you’ one even said, ‘ we are praying for you men’
Isn’t it wonderful that God does send people into our lives that give us that encouragement and help we need.
But there was voice a distinct voice that when they obeyed and listened too kept the plane flying even in the worst weather they faced that night.
Finally the voice said, “I’m going to line you up and bring you in right down the runway”
He told him what lights to watch for what to do
The voice is bringing them down, Gibbs and the other lawyer can’t see anything but the lights of the runway
Jesus says, “my sheep hear my voice and they follow me.”
They finally landed the plane and came to a stop and then the pilot woke up.
It is important that you know and listen to His voice - you can only make right choices and decisions by listening and obeying that voice
Maybe you have been sensing that you don’t currently have God’s approval -
Let me tell you something - It’s not hard or complicated to hear it again, you just begin to listen to that voice and follow it again.
Even if you’ve crashed and “made ship wreck of your faith” I want you to know that voice is still talking and he has rescue planes out searching for you ready to bring you back.
The many voices of the world can try to drown out that voice
But keep you spiritual ears tuned to His voice
After they got out of the plane and checked into hotel room they were exhausted and were soon asleep.
Somewhere around four in the morning a knock came at the door.
Attorney Gibbs answered the door and a man he had never met was at the door.
The stranger said, “hello” and there was an immediate familiarity.
Just as Mary at the tomb - the stranger standing there whom she thought to be the gardener said, “Mary” there was only one voice who could say “Mary like that”
If we will stay tuned in to that voice, if we will keep approved and not let any other voice take over or drown out that voice we will one day see someone we’ve never seen before utter those most longed for words,
“Well done good and faithful servant enter into the joys of your Lord.”
How about it this morning - are listening to another voice?
Tune into His voice
A good place to start is by reading HIs Word obeying what God tells you to do
Talking to Him it was only after the awkward “hello?” from the lawyers that the voice spoke to them.