Posted by: arieliondotcom | January 25, 2009

Christ’s Checkers

Christ’s Checkers

Scripture:  Genesis 4:3-7  So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground.  But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering,  but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

Hymn: “Victory in JESUS”

Sadly, it isn’t readily apparent in my life, but I have been a Christian for a long time.  And in that time I’ve learned that it is pointless, and probably disrespectful, to ask “Why” of GOD.  He’ll let you get away with it.  You can vent and scream and cry all you want to let it out.  But like Job you probably won’t get much of an answer beyond that.  Because every other question (Who, What, Where, When, How) will draw you closer to GOD.  You can do something about each of those questions.  But you can do nothing about “Why.”  And it challenges GOD’s wisdom and right in making decisions.  But as I say, I am not a very good Christian.  So I found myself asking the “Why” question of why we are still given challenges even in spite of our best efforts.  And, in His Grace, I think the LORD gave me some leniency just this once and gave me the answer below which I share with you in hopes that it helps you as it helped me.

And it all came down to a checkers game of all things.  Now checkers seems like a sissy thing to do to many folks these days, something reserved for old folks on porches in movies.  But this checkers game is very different because Christ is in this match and your soul is involved.  No, your life is not “just some game” to GOD, but there are lessons we can learn from checkers that explain why we are given challenges we don’t understand in life.

In order to have a victory you need an opponent.  And victory in those challenges lead to the Kingdom.  Every one of us faces some crisis, maybe not even a major event but just becoming overwhelmed by the day to dayness of life, the dread of the drudgery of days ahead  “Tired of living but scared of dying” as the old song says.  Or maybe there is some critical crisis that comes up.  Either way the question comes up “Why?  Why this?  Why me?  And what am I supposed to do now?”

The answer is a simple yet profound one, just as it is in checkers.  Move forward. Just one step forward, more as you’re able; mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically. Move one step more and into the arms of GOD, Paraclete, the Holy Spirit & coach Who puts His arm around you, strengthens & encourages you to go on. He is your impetus to get over that next obstacle of the enemy on your way Home.  He is the Advocate your soul is longing for to take up your cause and speaks eloquently for you when you can only grumble or groan in pain.

In our Scripture passage today, we literally see the fruit of the sin of Adam and Eve growing.  When they chose disobedience to GOD, and decided to go after what GOD is not instead of GOD though He offered Himself to them, they brought pain and sickness and death into the world.  Part of the consequences of their actions was GOD putting a curse upon the fruit of the ground.  (Genesis 3:17)  But either they didn’t tell their son Cain, or he ignored them, because although their son Abel knew how to offer an acceptable sacrifice to GOD, Cain either out of stubbornness or ignorance offered he cursed fruits of the ground back to GOD.  GOD was displeased.  And Cain threw a tantrum over it.  GOD says, in so many words, “Check yourself. You did it wrong.  But you can still fix it.”  ODD doesn’t explain why to Cain.  Maybe because Cain should have known why or did.  But GOD explains how to get back on track.  And He explains that this is a growth opportunity.  We meet challenges because the objective is to conquer them, to move forward on the checkers board and defeat the opponent.  The challenge is the purpose not the obstacle.  As our souls, red in the blood of Christ, are empowered by Him to move on, we skip over the dark spaces of life  That gives us encouragement and more power in the here and now (spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally, mentally or educationally) but also builds our strength for eternity.

What is your challenge?  It’s ironic that GOD describes sin as a beast, even perhaps a man or a demon, crouching outside your door, lusting after your soul.  Those who lust after women in pornography will be victims of a demon lusting after them if they succumb.  Those lusting after power will be ripped up by the beast of sin, stronger than any bear, drooling for them just outside the door they are rushing toward.  Whatever is waiting for you outside that door as a result of your sin, you are meant to defeat it, to “jump” it in Christ’s power and to bring that thought into captivity in Christ.  And all you need do is move one step forward, more if you’re able, with GOD.

CS Lewis knew this when he used the phrase “Further up & further in!” which is just a translation of the old battle cry “Excelsior!”

GOD will give you the strength and power to do it if you want it. And when you reach that last row on earth, when you’ve gotten as far as He means you to go, the Hand of GOD will collect you to Himself.  Then you will find, ironically, that those thoughts that were  captured are used by GOD in your crown as He “kings” you before all the souls that ever lived, a winner in His Name, just as captured pieces are used to “king” pieces in checkers.

Christ is the Checkers Champion. You can have victory only in Him. In this world you will have troubles but He has overcome the world & means for you to do the same, super-conquerors, through His win on your behalf. He tells you each move & empowers you to make it.And in the end you will enjoy His victory as He cries “King Me!” crowned with us as His glory as we share His.

What will you do?  Stand still and sin, as Cain did?  Or move one step more, just one, more if you’re able as you are held by the nail-pierced Hand of Christ, GOD in the flesh who came, bled, died and took life up again so you can live with Him in triumph?   It’s your move.

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