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Levi Lusko - Candybars, Squirrels and Homicide

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Baby Monsters Series
1. Candybars, Squirrels and Homicide
2. Corpses, Hair-Cuts and Cabernet
3. Kings, Dragons, and a One-Night Stand
4. Redwoods, Revenge and Thirty Pieces of Silver

If you have a Bible, Genesis, chapter 4 is where we're going to be. We're starting up a new series of messages this week called Baby Monsters. Yeah. And so welcome to week one, Baby Monsters, here Fresh Life Church, a subject I feel particularly qualified to preach on, because I have a one-year-old baby in my house right now. So Baby Monsters, or as we call him right now, Lennox. I love my son. Don't get me wrong. I love him a lot. And he's 99% of the time amazing. But that 1%, that 1% of time, he's kind of a cross between Boss Baby and Jack-Jack from The Incredibles, you know what I'm saying? I'm not joking. He goes from being just so composed, so calm, giving thumbs up, his new thing is to give thumbs up to people.

But he doesn't give them like you and I give them. He gives them like Bill Clinton. And he's very diplomatic. If he gives one, he'll give them to everybody. He'll work the room. You? Did you get one? Would you like one? Would you like one? Would you like one? His newest catchphrase is, oh, yeah, which he will say repeatedly if he starts saying it. And that's when he's not choosing to scream, headbutt, kick, slam his head against concrete to show his displeasure. And his newest, most horrible trick, gagging himself to the point of vomiting when he's really angry just to screw with us. He discovered he could shove these two fingers down his throat, which he will do if he's really furious, and then he projectile vomits and looks at us like, you got to clean it up. And he's right. So when he gets really mad, we know to grab his hands. And then he's like, mm. And he's trying to get them down there. He only does this daily.

So Baby Monsters. Why? Because huge terrible deeds come from teeny-tiny seeds. Huge terrible deeds come from teeny-tiny seeds. And that means that whatever you and I can cut off at the pass never has to come to pass. If you can stop it in its infancy, it will never get to maturity. Now, the devil knows this. And that's why we saw what we did in the Christmas story at Fresh Life Christmas. Those of you who were here, you heard me preach the least Christmassy message I've ever preached. You're like, was it the wise men? Was it the shepherds? Because that's what it was like at the church I was visiting when I was with my cousin's family in Pennsylvania. They preached a really nice, feel-good message about the shepherds. We got babies dying here at Fresh Life. Because right after the wise men left, Herod, the king, started killing babies all over Bethlehem, that's the real end of the Christmas story, while Mary, Joseph, and Jesus flee to Egypt. And they have to run, they leave the country and go on the lam for a while.

Why did Herod try and kill him as a baby? Because he knew if he could kill him in his infancy, he would never get to maturity. And it's a whole lot easier to snuff something out when it's itty-bitty, when it's little and small, because then it's more vulnerable. If that can be used for evil, beloved, we could use it for good. Because the huge terrible deeds the enemy wants to come out of our lives. Because, yes, it's true, God has a wonderful plan for your life, but the devil has a terrible plan for your life. And the devil would love for you to live a life full of huge terrible deeds. And we can take them out if we stop them when they are not full-grown. We got to kill them when they're baby monsters. Are you with me? Let's be here for the four weeks of this series. I got a lot to preach. I got the whole series mapped out. I hope you'll come next week. It's going to be amazing, and then amazinger, and then amazingist. So you got to be here. Make the commitment to your future. Make the commitment to your family, to your soul. Let's be here together. Let's see God, especially as we're fasting, let's see God's snuff out some baby monsters in our lives. Amen? Amen.

In Genesis 4, we see really one of the first instances of a big terrible deed really, really showing up in a tiny microscopic format in the story of Cain and Abel. And this story really could be called the Making of a Murderer. Genesis 4:1 tells us, "Now Adam knew his wife Eve". That doesn't mean he met her. It means they got it on is what that means. "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 the 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 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, '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".

Jennie and I had the chance with our family this week to travel to a church of some friends of ours, a pastor in South Florida. And the church is located very close to Stoneman Douglas High School, where just last February the most deadly school shooting in American history took place, and 17 people were shot down in the middle of a school day on Valentine's Day. We were invited to come to this church because a large number of the families of the victims live in and around the area, and quite a few of the funerals for those who were slain that day took place at that very high school. And having read our book that we wrote, Through the Eyes of a Lion, How to Find Incredible Power in Impossible Pain, they asked us, would you come during your preaching break and preach on the message of hope at this church as we approach the one-year mark? They said, give us one weekend before the Valentine's Day day approaches. We would like to invite every one of the families of the victims to come and be attendants that day if you're willing.

And as you preach on hope, we would also love, I know it would be imposing a bit, but in between the services, would you mind spending a few moments with the families if they would be willing to meet you? And, of course, we said, tell us when to be there. And we went, and we preached, and we met with many of the families. And as we were getting ourselves emotionally ready for those kind of encounters, we were prepped by the team who was telling us one of the things that's very hard for the families to get over it is that things have frozen in time at the school. In fact, they've left the blood pools exactly where they are at the classrooms and the hallways, because they intend to still be able to walk the jury through the school. And they want them to witness it and see it and feel it as it was that day. And so it's hard, as they still continue to have school around that and live around that.

And I was talking to one of the students who's a survivor. He was shot in the leg, but survived. And I asked him, did he change schools? Did he want to move the area? He said, no, because, yes, it's hard to be there around the reminders of it, the grisly reminders of that day. But if I go somewhere else, no one can relate to what I've been through. At least here, it sucks, but we're all in it together. Wow. And that image of the blood still seeping into the ground in the hallways of the school was in the back of my heart as my wife and I hugged these women, and weeping, and talk: the two widows of the two men who sacrificially laid down their lives that day to protect students, and talking to brothers who lost sisters. And it was, of course, devastating and beautiful. And God met us there in those tender moments there in that back room at the church service. And many came to know Jesus Christ in the gatherings. And it was a beautiful thing. And I was able to bring greetings from Fresh Life Church as we did all of this, of course. And that's the tone of this passage. What we're left here is blood crying out to God for vengeance from the ground.

This passage, it ends with pain, it ends with crime, it ends with tragedy, it ends with grief. The first family is now fractured. But it started in church. Did you catch it? Yes, it ends with a funeral. And it's become just this cautionary tale of sibling rivalry the world over. Get along with your brother and sister. Remember Cain and Abel. But it's not actually about sibling rivalry. It's about what happens with unchecked spirituality. Yes. Wow. Yes. You see, Cain showed up for church that morning. These two sons came to present an offering to God. And what the story's actually trying to tell us is that your worship life affects all of your life. It's not about the horizontal. Get along with your sister. Get along with your brother. Be nice to your neighbor. If you give yourself over to road rage one day. Temper, temper. So what's going to follow isn't 10 ways to get your temper in check and not be a rageaholic. What I'm going to do is point us to God, because it was Cain's relationship with the vertical that caused this to infiltrate the pain-filled trajectory of his relationship in the horizontal.

And it is your relationship with God that's going to fundamentally infiltrate into how you treat every single person in this world, your brother, who you are meant to be the keeper of in a loving way, and your neighbor, whether it's your neighbor geographically or just because it's the next person you bump into. You are supposed to let that love for God flow out to your love for your common man. So let's sort of weave our way through, because I believe this huge terrible deed in Cain's life actually started with this teeny-tiny seed of how he approached the worship of God. You see, unlike Abel, for Cain, it was merely a religious obligation. That's our first takeaway truth. Cain treated church like a religious obligation, just something he had to do, something he needed to do. His heart wasn't involved in it the same way his brother Abel's was. Now, you're saying to me, I don't see that in the text. I don't see that in the text. Well, aside from the fact that God did not accept Cain's worship being there in the text, we have the added benefit today where we sit, 2019, of getting the New Testament luxury of the X-ray vision to look back at the old ways.

Listen to me. The Old Testament is in the New revealed. And the New is in the Old concealed. So when we want to understand the Old Testament, we look at the New to be the deciphering code that we could use. So what does the New Testament say about this? A lot, actually. In fact, in Hebrews 11:4, the faith hall of fame it's been called, we're told that, "By faith, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain". So you're like, what gave him the advantage? Why did God accept one and not the other? And the New Testament says, it's because Abel did it with faith. And what is inferred in that is that Cain did not. And Scripture also tells us, whatever is not done of faith is sin. Now, what is faith? It's humble dependence on God. What is the opposite of faith? It's self. If you're not living by faith, you're living by self, living by sight, what you can understand, what makes sense to you. It's the life of pride. Where faith says, Thy will be done, arrogantly, a lack of faith says, my will be done. I did it my way.

So Abel didn't have a lot to go on. Gosh, what we have now, this full revelation, the death, burial, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, His promise to return, all the New Testament epistles. Are you kidding me? All the cautionary tales from the Old Testament. We have such a leg up. All Abel had was, his mom and dad screwed up, and God said, don't worry, I'm going to send my Son to crush the head of the serpent. And Abel obviously was like, I trust you. I believe in you. In his heart, he said, I believe you're going to solve my problems. And you know what Cain obviously was saying? I don't need you to crush the serpent. I'll crush it myself. Cain obviously thought, I can take care of myself. So I'll bring you this. But it's almost like, you're lucky to have me here in this church service kind of a thing. Now a little bit about them would help you understand maybe how this happened. And I'm not saying it's their fault, but they're complicit in it. The word Cain means, here he is. The word Abel means, weakling. Thanks, Mom, right? Really? Obviously, Cain was a strapping young man. Obviously, Abel didn't do so good on the Apgar score, you see what I'm saying? The grimace was not quite there for that one, right? It's like, Cain, he's like the baby was born at 10 pounds, and Eve limped for six years. And Abel, obviously, I don't know if premature or what, but he was more of the runt of the litter.

So maybe, just maybe Abel had an easier time trusting God, while Cain was sort of favored and treated as his father's son and the strapping young man. And no one walks like Cain. And no one talks like Cain. And a spitting contest, no one spits like Cain. And so he kind of believed his own press clippings, so to speak. And faith is not about how great I am. Faith is about how great God is. Fasting is not, look at what I can do, God Fasting is, God, this is how much I need you. I'm depending on you. Look how weak I am without you. And so Abel, with faith, trusted God. Cain, as a religious obligation, brought something. But even the timing of their gifts is telling of the lack of faith in Cain's life. What do you mean? Did you catch it in verse 4, we're told, "Abel brought of the", say it with me, "firstborn of his flock and of their fat". So he brought the first and the best. First time the sheep had babies, he grabbed the fattest first one, and said, that's God's. Now, what if there's no more sheep born? Doesn't matter. That one's God's. He didn't wait to see all the ones and then go, OK, OK, yeah, I've got enough for me. I've got enough for me. OK, I can pay my mortgage. I can pay my da-da-da. OK, yep, pay my Verizon bill. Yep, got to pay down the Visa card from Christmas. Yeah, that sucked. Got to pay down da-da-da-da-da. OK. Yeah, OK, great. Hey, good news. We can tithe this month. That's now Abel approached it. Abel said, first and the best. Firstborn, fattest one, that's God's. But not Cain.

Notice verse 3. It says, "And in the process of time". In the Hebrew, that literally means, at the end of the season. Once it was all done, once he saw what he was working with, then he was able to say, good news! We're going to tithe this month. Good news! We've got something left to give to God. Now, when you give first, it takes faith. When you give what's left, there's no faith involved. It makes sense. Anybody can wait to see what we're working with, and then give God a little tip on the back end. And it doesn't matter if he gave God a bigger gift than Abel did. He did it at the end, so it didn't take faith in his heart. You see? So it was a religious obligation. And God wasn't pleased. And so as God began to bless Abel, as the story says, and not Cain, what happened? Second movement to the story. The baby monster begins to grow a little bit. And now there's jealous frustration. Jealous frustration. Because Cain's face fell. His countenance fell. He began to brood, because God blesses faith. And God's hand is on faith. I'm telling you, when God sees a heart that's upright towards Him, heaven moves on our behalf. And though Abel's a weakling, He began to work in Abel's life. Abel had this faith that could cause him to run and not grow weary, to walk and not faint, to run as though he had eagle's wings propelling him.

I'm telling you something, when you got the Holy Spirit at your back, it doesn't matter what you're up against, it doesn't matter if the world says, weakling. God says, highly favored. Highly anointed. I pick her. I pick him. And so Abel began just, there was a glow about Abel. There was a vitality about Abel. And it was so evident to Cain that whatever Abel had on his life, Cain didn't have. And I'll tell you, I don't care if you're here he is or he or she is, the best of men are men at best. The best of women are women at best. And apart from God's Holy Spirit upon our lives, we are frail, we are sick, we are perishing, and our glory is vain glory. Our glory is not real glory. It's not lasting. And Cain coveted what Abel had that could have been his, too. That's the craziest part. He's ticked that God's not blessing him in a way that God wanted to bless him. Do you see the irony here? Cain wanted what a person would have that he wasn't willing to be. If he would just be a person of faith, God would treat him like a person of faith. But he wanted the benefits of a life of faith without paying the price of living a life of faith. You see the irony here?

In The Living Bible, God says, in verse 6, "Why are you so angry? Why is your face so dark with rage? It could be bright with joy if you would do what you should". I want to make your face bright with joy. I want to ease the guilty conscience. I want to give you peace. I want to walk with you in the cool of the day. I want to fill you with my spirit. I want to work in your life. Abel's not anything special. He just knows I'm something special. And when a person knows I'm something special, they get to know all things are going to be added unto them. Why? Because they're seeking me first. Cain, you want all things to be added unto you, but you don't want to seek me first. You want the blessings, but not the burden. You want the perks, but not the price. You want the outcome, but not the obedience. And there's a whole bunch of people who want to be right with God, but not walk with Jesus. They want Christianity without the cross. But I'm sorry, friends. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no one comes to the Father except through me.

There's nothing you can look to in this world that's going to give you what you're after, but your face will grow dark and sullen, and you'll be angry, and you'll be bitter, and you'll begin to take shots at those who are walking with God. Why? Because when your motives aren't pure, you doubt those whose are. It's easy to cast a spur. They must be doing something wrong. They must be doing something wrong. No. God says, I'm just working in their life like I want to work in yours. But jaded and cynical and snarky he grew. And this baby monster just got bigger, till finally this jealous frustration led to this huge, terrible, wicked action. And this is the grisly moment of truth where he tricks Abel to going out into the field, and bludgeons him to death, and snuffs out the life of his baby brother because of jealousy, because of rage, because the spirit of religion was on Cain's life. And now Abel's dead. And Cain's standing there with his brother's blood dripping from his hands. What have I done? He allowed the baby monster to grow. And he should have seen it coming, because God called it in advance. God spoke to him, and He said, verse 7, Cain's sin lies at the door. Its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.

Another translation gives even more clarity when it says, watch out, Cain, watch out, Cain. Sin is waiting to attack you. It's longing to destroy you. And then notice, tell me God's not on Cain's side, but you can conquer it. This is the deciding moment, Cain. I know you see your sinful desire. I know you think it's over there, and it's little, it's small, but it's crouching. Sin crouches. Listen to me. The word crouch is used of cats, always cats of prey, cats that prey on other things. And the way they hunt, you've seen them, what do they do? They crouch. They make themselves seem smaller. So if the wildebeest glances over, it's like, oh, what's that? Oh, it's just a small thing. Not a big problem. It's a small thing. They crouch. Why? It's the nature of sin to make itself seem smaller than it is, so that you invite it into your life seeing it as one thing: oh, it's just a small little thing, not knowing that once it's in your life, it's going to unfold itself and unfurl itself to its full height. And you'll see, it was just crouching, so you would think it was less dangerous than it was. But it's already in your life now. He's saying, sin is crouching at the door. Don't let it into your heart.

This should send chills up your spine, because why? God is saying to you, sin is not your friend. It's not on your side. It's not a pet. It's not something to mess with. It's not something to toy with. Come on, Dustin. His name is Dart. He's a pollywog. He seems cute right now. Oh, yeah, I'm preaching Stranger Things up in here in the new year. I'm telling you, it's going to get bigger and bigger and bigger. You don't own it. One day it's going to own you. It wants to destroy you. Its desire is for you. So here's what you got to do. When the sin's small, when it's just a baby monster, you got to crush it underfoot like the monster that it is. You got to conquer it. What I'm trying to say is that you got to be a victor over your sin or you will be a victim of your sin. That's my whole sermon in just one sentence. Sin is dangerous. Sin is deadly. Sin is lethal. It always starts small, but it inevitably and invariably grows. In fact, the gospel, or, actually, the brother Jesus, James, put it this way when he said, "Each person's own desires and thoughts drag them into evil and lure them away into darkness. Evil desires give birth to evil actions. And when sin gets fully mature, it can murder you".

Someone once said that sin will always take you further than you wanted to go, keep you there longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you were ever willing to pay. It's deceitful. Sin deceives us. It deludes us. It tells us, I'm just over here. I'm not going to eat much. You won't even notice me. You can have your whole spiritual life walking with God and your happy marriage. And what's the harm once your family goes to bed if you drink half this bottle of Jack Daniels? What's the harm with a little bit of pornography? It's a vent. It's a release. You're not going to actually have an affair. This is just a little thing on the side. What does it matter if you fudge a little bit and cook the books a little bit? Well, it's not that bad. There's way worse things you could be doing. And you'll start to tell yourself things, like the worst of which would be, well, you know, Hitler. It's like, really? Is that the standard by which we judge things? As long as you don't murder 6 million people, we're OK. Sin makes you stupid. It tricks you. It seduces you. It warms you. It intoxicates you.

And when you're inflamed with passion, it's telling you all these things, like it's going to be fine. This is the last time. It's telling you you should stop. This is the last time you're going to do it. But you have to give in this time. But after this time, it's done. Tomorrow you're going to quit. And eventually it's going to be over. And you're slowly being blinded and tricked all the way to the grave. And sin always has death in mind. When you give in to a temptation, you get pregnant. Conceiving death, the Bible says. And that's what's going to come out eventually at the end of the day. And so that's why we have to see this for what it is, an opportunity to kill the baby monster before it ever has the chance to grow into a full-fledged wicked action. Now I want to close on a little bit more of a positive, upbeat note, and that is to show you that all throughout this story, there has been one consistent element in all of man's weakness and infirmity, and that is God's gracious provision. Because, yes, it was Cain's religious obligation, and then jealous frustration, and then finally the wicked action. I get it. I get it. I get it.

But that's not what the story's actually trying to impress on our minds. It's trying to show us, in the midst of all of this, how good is our God? How good is our God is the lead of this story, because in every step of Cain's journey, there was God still saying, right now, I'll meet you here. Right now, I'll meet you here. In your religious obligation, I'll bless you. Just put your faith in me. And that's why God asked so many questions. Did you notice that? Go back on your own time. Count how many questions God asked. Question, question, question. He doesn't come and go, hey, phony, I see you're fake. Those vegetables? You don't even care. Then he says, that wasn't God. He said, hey, Cain, why are you so bummed out? Why? Why da-da-da-da? Question, question, question. Why? Here's why. God's a wonderful counselor. Wonderful counselor. I know when I've gone to seek out professional counseling, because it's good for the soul, they've asked more questions than they've given answers. Why? Because they're leading.

Jennie and I, when we did some marriage counseling this past year to work some stuff out in our life, and it just was a really big benefit and a blessing for us, it was just question, question, question, question, question. Why? We started to do our own math a little bit. And in giving answers to the questions, we started to see solutions. Wonderful counselors always ask questions. And God's the Wonderful Counselor. That's one of His names. So, of course, He's peppering Cain with questions. Why? Graciously giving him a provision. This is going to be a consistent theme to the whole baby monster series. In every temptation you and I ever face, there's always a way of escape. You will never be able to say with regret 20 years from now, looking back when you made a shipwreck of your business or your marriage or your family or your life or your integrity or your reputation or the name of Jesus Christ that you've rubbed through the mud and given people reasons to say the church is just full of hypocrites because they were in relationship with you, you will never be able to say, I didn't have a chance to say no. No one can make you do anything, honey. No one can make you do anything. You have a choice. Yes, you might have bad friends. You might have been born into a screwed up family. You might have a lot going against you. But God promises in every temptation to give us a way of escape.

You have a choice. You can, right now, say, today's a different day. I'm telling tell you, right now, you have a choice. You don't have to date that guy anymore. He's no good for you. You know it. Your friends have been telling you that. Delete his number from your phone. Tell him it's over right now. Come talk to your campus pastor. Let your campus pastor send that text for you. I'm just telling you, you always have a way of escape. So all throughout, gracious provision, gracious provision, all the way to the end when Cain's killed Abel. And what does God say? I'm going to protect you with a mark. Because Cain says, someone's going to kill me. No, I'm going to protect you. I'm going to guard you. Why? Because God was still seeking out Cain, still pursuing Cain. The story, we're left seeing God chasing Cain out the door out into this lonely world where he's run out as a vagabond by himself because of his own choices. And yet God pursues, still, all the way to the grave. Why? He's trying to give Cain the opportunity to do the only thing that would give him any peace, and that is to stop lying and running and hiding, and tell his dad the truth.

When I was a little boy, my sister and brother and I found out how to steal candy from a vending machine. We could put our little arms in the little slot. You push C7, the Butterfinger, the coil moves. Remember when Dwight hammered fruit and vegetables into those coils? One of those machines. We figured out our hand could go in and then up, and we could pull the little coils. And the whole bottom row, we could get all that candy. That was just gum. We weren't really excited about gum and mints. So we got a letter opener from my dad's office. And this was in the waiting room of the building he worked in. And with a letter opener, we could get the top two rows above that. And that was where the good stuff was, y'all. There was chips. And then eventually there was candy bars. And we cleaned out all three rows, because no one's going to notice that. And now we have this big bag of candy. And our big dilemma was, what do we do with it? So we buried it. We went outside. And we dug up rocks and dirt with our bare hands. We had filth under our fingernails. I can still feel it. And I felt my heartbeat racing out of my chest as we buried this candy. And then we tried to act innocent. What have you been doing? Nothing.

And I'm telling you, I still remember when we walked back in the building, I saw someone walking in the other direction of the hallway. And I just thought to myself, that's got to be a police officer. Undercover, obviously. It's a sting operation. The candy company's been involved. I was delirious with suspicions. I walked in an eight-year-old boy, the big thing was how far I could jump out of the swing set, and now I'm paranoid of getting thrown in the slammer. A couple days later, we got brought again to this office. And had a little bit of time to kill. And all we wanted to do was go dig up our candy. And when we got to the spot, there was a dead squirrel lying there. And we were freaked out. This is a bad omen if there was ever a bad omen. The squirrel died on our, it was like, oh my God! What do we do? So we buried the dead squirrel, too. We were like, we got to hide the squirrel. They're going to know. Someone's going to see the squirrel and know there's candy below, and it was us. Hide the squirrel! So we had a funeral for the squirrel. We didn't get any candy that day.

So now there's candy side by side with squirrel. Now we've got more dirt under our fingernails. And I don't know if it was a week or two, but I've never felt so sick. I felt awful. My relationship with my parents, school, it was all I could think about. I was having nightmares at night involving a squirrel climbing out of a shallow grave, and candy bars all dancing around, and police throwing me in prison. And, honestly, this is a traumatizing moment for me. I'm going to be vulnerable here with you. I was like, this sounds funny. It was dark. It was bad. It was like The Revenant. And then there came a day when I was in the backseat of my dad's car. He drove a New Yorker. And he said to me, how was school today? And I just started weeping. And I was just like, I stole it! I did it all! I know you sent the private detective. And it was the squirrel that died. I didn't do it! And he was more confused about the squirrel than, honestly, the candy. It took him a long time to figure out what we were even saying.

And I texted my older sister, do you remember the squirrel and the candy? And she goes, yeah. Did we kill the squirrel? I'm like, no, sicko, we didn't kill the squirrel. That's how she remembered it. In her mind, the squirrel was dead at our hands. I didn't touch the squirrel. I'm innocent of the squirrel's blood. But I stole the candy. And I owned it up. And I'm just going to tell you something. I don't remember exactly what the punishment was and what that looked like after that. I just know I've never slept so good in my life as I slept that night getting to tell my dad the truth. And Cain's running and hiding. And am I my brother's keeper? And I don't know where he is, and pretending. God didn't ask him where Abel was for information. He asked him seeking out opportunity for confession. Some of you feel like God's chasing you down and against you because He wants to bust you. God's pursuing you, so He can give you space to do the one thing that will bring comfort to your heart. If you confess your sins to Him, He's faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from all righteousness, because the blood of Jesus speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Jot down Hebrews 12:24. That's what that verse says. It says, the blood of Abel speaks out condemnation. And all of us have our own blood of Abel out there, speaking of our sins. But there's blood that was shed on the ground that was absorbed into the Earth and the soil of this planet, and it was the blood of Jesus shed for you. And the blood of Jesus also speaks out. And the reason God chases you and the reason He pursues you is not because of the blood that you shed on this planet, it's because of the blood of His son Jesus that was shed because of the blood that you shed on this planet. And the reason He's chasing you and the reason even right now He has you listening to this crazy preacher with the candy-stained memory is because He wants to tell you your sins were paid for in full at the cross. And if you would give your heart to Him, He will save you and make you new and give you a life full of peace and purpose and strength and power.

And, Father, I pray for all those listening to my voice right now. And I pray for all of us as we enter into this 21 days of prayer and fasting. And we pray like the psalmists prayed. God, cleanse me from secret sins. Raise your hands if you're willing to pray this with me. God, would you show us where our baby monsters are? What are the tiny pet sins we've excused that are going to grow up and take us out? Would you show them to us, God? And would you, by your Holy Spirit strength during these sacred days of prayer and fasting, would you give us Holy Spirit power to tear down strongholds through the name of Jesus? Open our eyes to see where we're blind to our own blind spots. We want to know you. We want to make you known to this world. Would you meet us here? You can put your hands down. I want to pray now for those who are here and you've never given your heart to Jesus. This is your day. Now is the time.

If you've never trusted Jesus for salvation for you, it's a religious obligation. Here's what you do for God. But you've never accepted what he's done for you. But the Bible says, if you believe in Him, He's faithful. He's faithful to save you, to make you new, to give you a new heart. That could happen right now, but you have to open the door of your heart and let Him in. I'm going to pray a prayer. I want to invite you to pray this prayer, making it your own, saying it to God out loud after me, declaring that you accept Jesus as your Savior, as your Lord. The promise of heaven, a hope-filled life could be yours. Pray this prayer with me.

Dear God I know I'm a sinner. I need your salvation. I've done wrong. There's no excuse for that. But I accept what Jesus paid for at the cross, forgiveness. Thank you for new life. I give you mine in Jesus' name.

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