Sunday, January 08, 2012
ABRAHAM, Following In The Footprints Of Faith, 1/8/2012
STANDING UP FROM BEFORE THE DEAD, Part 28a
We have been privileged to walk with Abraham through the peaks and valleys of a life well lived. We have seen him leave his homeland to walk with God by faith. We have witnessed his successes and his failures. We have seen him as he experienced the joy of childbirth and watched as he willingly gave that child up to the will of the Lord. Abraham's life has been filled with the best and the worst that life can dish out.
Genesis 22 took this man to the pinnacle of faith and obedience. Chapter 23 takes him into the depths of the valley of the shadow of death. Here, we watch him say goodbye to his wife Sarah, we see a man who has learned to walk by faith as he weathers the storms of life. Today, I would like for us to watch Abraham in these verses as he teaches us how to live the life of faith even when tragedy enters our life, and for a few moments, let’s consider the thought: " Standing Up Before The Dead".
V. 1-3a IT WAS A TIME OF FAREWELLS
The Sadness Of Separation - We are told that Abraham's wife of some 70 years has died. This kind of separation is part of everyone's life,( Heb. 9:27), but when it comes, we are never quite prepared for the hurt it brings. Thank God, the cruel messenger of death will be done away with forever one day,( Rev. 21:4; 1 Cor. 15:26).
The Sting Of Sorrow - When death entered the home of Abraham, it broke his heart. The Bible says that he came to "mourn" and to "weep". These words mean "to wail" and to "shed tears", respectively. By the way, this is a natural reaction to death! There are times when we hear people tell us not to weep over our dead, but when they are stripped from our presence, it is impossible not to weep for those we miss. F. B. Meyer said this, "Tears relieve the burning brain, as a shower the electric clouds. Tears discharge the insupportable agony of the hearer, as an overflow lessens the pressure of the flood against the dam. Tears are the material out of which heaven weaves its brightest rainbows. Tears are transmuted into the jewels of better life, as the wounds in the oyster turn to pearls." When death has intruded into the land of the living, do not fear its cleansing needful ministry in your life.
The Strength Of Steadfastness - The Bible tells us that "Abraham stood up from before his dead". This means that when the mourning period was over, Abraham moved on with his life. You see, grief is a normal part of living, but there is a time when grief must reach an end. Sorrow over death is natural, but sorrow that does not end is unnatural. A woman told me recently that she has grieved for her parents for over 15 years. Folks that is not godly sorrow! We are told in the Bible, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.",(1 Thes. 4:13). May we learn to rejoice over our loved ones who, like Sarah, have entered the realms of light,( 2 Cor. 5:8)!
V. 3b-16 IT WAS A TIME OF FAITHFULNESS
Abraham has been given all the land by the promise of God. However, He does not own one square inch of the land at this point. He goes to speak to the men of the city to acquire a place to bury the dead.
V. 4a Abraham Declares His Identity - He tells the men of the city that he is still a pilgrim among them. He has lived here some 62 years at this point, but he has never settled down. He says that he is a "newcomer" and is just one "passing through". Even after all this time, he has never set down his roots in this world. What a lesson to the children of God! As long as our roots do not go too deeply in this world, we will not become too entangled in its affairs. May we never forget our identity! We are pilgrims and strangers in this world (1 Pet 2:11). Let us so live and not settle down, but keep traveling, looking for that city that will be our eternal home!
V. 4b-16 Abraham Demonstrates His Integrity - In order to secure a place to bury his wife, Abraham strikes a deal with one of the sons of Heth, a man by the name of Ephron. Abraham mentions a certain piece of property and Ephron offers to give it to him, but Abraham refuses, because he does not want to be indebted to any man,( v. 13). This is a good lesson for every child of God! We need to beware that we owe no man anything but love, (Rom. 13:8). When Ephron sees that he has the advantage over Abraham, he charges him far more than fair price, but instead of standing up for himself, Abraham humbly accepts the offer. Having to pay for land that God has promised to give him might have caused many men to stumble, but Abraham was able to see beyond the present into a future where it was all his anyway. Even in trials, Abraham was a man of integrity! How you conduct yourself when the pressure is on says more about you than how you act when things are good! Another example in the Bible of integrity under pressure is Job, (Job 1:20-22)!
TODAY’S PSALM and BLESSING!
New International Version (NIV)
1 We have heard it with our ears, O God; our ancestors have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago. 2 With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our ancestors; you crushed the peoples and made our ancestors flourish. 3 It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them. 4 You are my King and my God, who decrees victories for Jacob. 5 Through you we push back our enemies; through your name we trample our foes. 6 I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; 7 but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame. 8 In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Saturday, January 07, 2012
ABRAHAM, Following The Footsteps Of Faith, 1/7/2012
THE TRIAL OF FAITH, Part 27b
v. 12-14 SOME LASTING FEATURES: This story still speaks to us today because of three outstanding features!
The Picture In Isaac Is A Portrait of Jesus through and through
1. Only Son ( John 3:16; Matt. 3:17).
2. Son was Obedient To The Father’s Will (Isaac about 15-20 years old), Abraham was more than 100. Isaac was more than able to overcome his father, yet he submitted, just like Jesus (John 4:34; Luke 22:42).
3. Isaac carried the wood for the offering as Jesus carried His own cross (John 19:17).
4. Isaac prayed to his Father – So did Jesus (Luke 22:42).
5. Isaac willingly surrender to the appointed task (John 10:18). So did Jesus, no one had to force Him to go to the cross ( Is. 53:7).
6. Isaac dead for three days (In Abraham’s mind)! Jesus was in the tomb for three days ( Matt. 16:21).
7. Isaac Raised from the dead ( Heb. 11:17-19 ). Jesus was also raised from the dead ( Matt. 28:1-6; 1 Cor. 15:1-23;Rev. 1:18).
The Peace In Abraham – Abraham is a wonderful portrait of the grace and peace of God. He was certainly heartbroken and miserable, yet somehow, he knew that God would intervene. His attitude is revealed in Heb. 11:17-19. Perhaps, Abraham was even excited as he contemplated what God would do. Surely, he would see a new side of the Lord in this work. This is an encouragement for you and me to continue to trust in the Lord. There is no respect of persons with God; what He did for Abraham, He will do for you!
The Provision Of God – The Ram in the thorns. God abundantly intervened and met the need. He name of the place – Jehovah-Jireh – "The Lord Will See To It." While pain, heartache, grief, sorrow, dread, death, and brokenness went up one side of the mountain, provision, healing, glory, salvation, delight, deliverance, and blessing was coming up the other side. God was Jehovah-Jireh then, and He still is today! He is what you need today in every area of your life! What God did on that mountain called Moriah for Abraham , He did 1,500 years later in the same place called “Calvary”, where Jesus died, for you and me!
Conc: Your faith, if it is real, will be tested, but rest assured today that Jesus is and has all you need to have the victory in your life. The primary thing that needs to be settled is this: Are you trusting Jesus Christ for your salvation today? Just like Isaac, Jesus climbed Mt. Moriah carrying His cross and your sins. He died there to save your soul and today, you can be saved if you will come to Him by faith. Will you do that today? Christian, are you undergoing a trial today? If so, please come to the Lord, He is still the God “who will see to it“. Bring your need to Him right now.
TODAY’S PSALM and BLESSING!
New International Version (NIV)
1 Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. 2 You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? 3 Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
Friday, January 06, 2012
ABRAHAM, Following The Footsteps Of Faith, 1/6/2012
THE TRIAL OF FAITH, Part 27a
The Siamese twins joined at the waist. Both could not live, so the parents had to choose which child lived and which child died. What a terrible predicament to be in. That, however, is the position that God placed Abraham in this passage. Abraham had a choice to make and it involved the life of his son. Abraham’s faith was on trial before the Lord.
1 Pet. 1:7, "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:" Through the centuries, Abraham has stood as a monument to true faith in God. He trusted God in every area of his life and he was vindicated by God every time. He was tried, but he came forth from the trial shining in the glory of the Lord. In these verses, we can learn much about the trial of faith. We can learn how to handle the trials of life and about the One who makes the victory possible for us. Notice with me now, three aspects of the trial of faith.
v. 1-2a A LOVING FATHER (Evidenced by:)
Isaac’s Appearing – He was:
1. The Son Of Promise – Gen. 17:19;
2. The Son of Prophecy – Gen. 17:19;
3. The Son of Abraham’s Old Age – Gen. 17:17. These three facts caused Isaac to hold a high place in his father’s life.
Abraham’s Actions – Gen. 21:8-14. Abraham held Isaac higher in his esteem than he did Ishmael.
God’s Acknowledgment – God knew Abraham better than anyone else and he stated the fact that Abraham loved Isaac! Love made the task hard!
v. 2b-14 A LIVING FAITH (Evidenced By)
v. 2b A Requirement: This was a hard request which God placed upon Abraham. True faith is always tested (1 Pet. 4:12; 1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Tim. 3:12). Faith that is never tested is not a faith at all!
v. 3-10 A Response: Without question, Abraham set about doing that which God demanded. True faith always responds to God’s call! Abraham’s faith revealed the fact that he loved God more than he loved Isaac (John 14:15).
v. 8-10 – These verses reveal the true faith of Abraham! How could Abraham do it? Because in his mind Isaac died when God spoke. He had already put Isaac to death before he ever left home! This is the secret to a walk of total faith. The sin in us has to die so we can live for Jesus. That is, a mind absolutely yielded to the Lord and ready at once to surrender all to Him!
v. 11-14 A Reward: True faith in God is always rewarded by God. When we respond to Him in absolute trust and faith, He gets the glory and He blesses us. God honors faith, because true faith honors God! He doesn’t always pay off on Friday like the world, but He always pays at the right time!
God may require that you and I walk through some pretty hard places, but it is faith that will deliver us and get us through all the valleys. Faith is the key ingredient that makes all the difference between worry and winning, struggling and succeeding, tragedy and triumph. Faith is the key to victory in the Christian life, ( 1 Cor. 15:57).
TODAY’S PSALM and BLESSING!
New International Version (NIV)
1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. 5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. 6 My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. 8 By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Thursday, January 05, 2012
ABRAHAM, Following In The Footsteps Of Faith, 1-5-2012
ON THE MOUNTAIN OF ABSOLUTE SURRENDER, Part 26b, Continued From Yesterday,
V. 3-5 INVOLVES PREPARATIONS
As we observe Abraham doing what the Lord commanded, we see a man who is throughly prepared. There are three areas in which Abraham made his preparations.
V. 3 His Hands Were Prepared - Abraham wasted no time, but got himself up and gathered everything he would need to do what God had commanded. He left nothing out, but he took nothing extra! There is an urgency to the commands of God. The moment He calls is the moment you should act (John 9:4). Procrastination has caused the death on many profound spiritual experiences. We miss them because we hesitate. Carpe Diem (means “seize the day“) should be the rallying cry of the church! Just a thought: If anything is worth doing for the Lord, it is worth doing right! May we always refuse to build with cheap materials (1 Cor. 3:12)!
V. 4-5a His Head Was Prepared - Abraham had three days and three nights to think about what was about to happen. To him, it must have made no sense at all, yet he did it without question! All he knew was:
1.) Isaac was the future - Gen. 17;
2.) God wanted Isaac back! Even though he couldn't make it add up mentally, by faith he was willing to obey God. This is the key to consistent spiritual victory! We are called to walk by faith, ( 2 Cor. 5:7). God help us to come to the place where, even when God's commands make absolutely no sense, we will still obey Him without question or reservation!
V. 5b His Heart Was Prepared - Abraham knew why he was there. He was there to offer his beloved son to God. He was there to give everything that was present in that day and all that was promised for tomorrow. Yet, he looked at it as a service of worship! Worship is taking a place of absolute humility before God, thereby leaving Him, alone, in the place of exaltation! Abraham viewed God as being worthy of receiving all he had without question or without reservation. How could he do this? Because Abraham knew that God ALWAYS honors His Word (Heb. 11:17-19). His great statement of faith in Gen. 22:8 is "will come again!" This is the place God would have us all to come to! He wants you and me in a place in life where no one or no thing in our lives is more precious to us than He is! Can you honestly say that God is more important to you than anything else in life? Be careful before you answer (Matt. 10:35-37)! Have you honestly come to the place of total and absolute surrender to God? If you ever do, you will learn that you have no rights, no possessions, no positions, nothing but Him and His will for your life (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Where are you in regard to this matter of total surrender? Have you come to the place where nothing is more precious to YOU than God.
V. 6-14 INVOLVES PARTICIPATION
V. 6 This Participation Is Personal - Abraham personally placed the wood on Isaac. He personally took the fire and the knife and he personally lead the way. For Abraham, this was an event of personal commitment and sacrifice. God has determined that you and I are to be personally and intimately involved in His service and worship (Rom. 12:1). This kind of life was modeled by Caleb in Josh. 14. Jesus Himself is the supreme example (Phil. 2:5-8; Luke 22:42).) Are you personally, intimately involved with God and His work? God has a perfect, precious plan for your life. Only your involvement will result in its being accomplished.
V. 7-10 This Participation Is Profound - Abraham willingly and completely obeyed the command of God. He held nothing back! He gave up everything he had longed for, lived for and loved at the simple command of God! What and act of love and worship! Have you come to that place in your life? Do you even want to? How could Abraham do this? Easy! Isaac was already dead! He died in verse 2 when God asked for him. That was the level of this man's commitment to the Lord! And, that is the secret to arriving at the summit of the mountain of absolute surrender. It's not about the altitude of the body, but it's all about the altitude of the heart! Isaac had already been offered in Abraham's heart, the rest was mere window dressing!
V. 11-14 This Participation Is Powerful - Abraham's participation was powerful because it gave God an opportunity to flex His muscles, and it gave Abraham the opportunity to receive some special blessings that he would have otherwise missed out on.
He Received God's Provision - Abraham gave up Isaac and got him back again because he minded God. Simply put, Abraham's faith honored the Lord and God in turn honored Abraham's faith. Think about it, while Abraham and Isaac climbed one side of the mountain, a ram was coming up the other side of the mountain! God had already gone ahead and made a way! That will still work today! Our God is still Jehovah-Jireh. When we do what He tells us, no matter what the cost, we will see Him bless in a profound way!
He Received God's Praise - Abraham got to hear the Lord say, "I am pleased with you" in vs16-18! This verse points out the whole purpose behind this episode. This was never about Isaac, it had always been about Abraham! God wanted Abraham in that place of total surrender and love for Him. That's what it's about in our lives as well! When God's commands calls for sacrifice, it has nothing to do with what we are told to give up. It has everything to do with our being willing to give it up at the simply command of God. God doesn't want your Isaac's, He wants you! Is there anything in your life that you have not been willing to give to the Lord?
He Received God's Promise - God renewed His covenant with Abraham (v 16-18). This is merely a reminder that the condition of their relationship was still intact. God know what Abraham would do! He put him to the test so that Abraham might see what was in his own heart. He was brought to a blessed place of peace, provision and promise, because he put God ahead of everything else in life. If you really want God's best, then put God first (Matt. 6:33).
Conc: So, is everything you have and are, totally, absolutely and completely surrendered to God? God isn't really interested in your Isaac's, it's you He wants! Does He have all of you there is to have?
TODAY’S PSALM and BLESSING,
New International Version (NIV)
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. 4 Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. 5 Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare. 6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire— but my ears you have opened— burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. 7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come— it is written about me in the scroll. 8 I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
ABRAHAM, Following In The Footsteps Of Faith, 1-4-2012
ON THE MOUNTAIN OF ABSOLUTE SURRENDER
This is one of the great mountain top passages of the Bible. In it, we find one of the clearest pictures of the coming sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. It seems as though God used the life of Abraham as a canvas to paint a portrait of His Own heart as He willingly gave His Own Beloved Son to die for the sin of man. This is usually how we approach this passage. However, there is another dimension to this text.
I would like to look at this passage from Abraham's perspective. As we read this passage, we are confronted with the truth that no other man was called upon to give so much. Yet, as Abraham's sacrifice to the Lord is offered, we do not see the heart of a devastated broken man. Instead, we see the heart of a worshiper! I believe there are lessons that we can learn from Abraham today.
As you and I pass through this life, there will be demands made on our lives by God. Often, these demands will call for personal and profound sacrifices on our part. From a human perspective, we may not want to participate in what God calls us to do. However, God's demand from your life and mine is total, absolute and unquestioning obedience to His perfect will, ( 1 Sam. 15:22; Rom. 12:1-2). Even though we know this, there is still a part of us that wants to rebel against the command of God for our lives. Today, I would like for us to join Abraham as he climbs the lonely Mountain Of Absolute Surrender. There are steps we must take if we will climb that mountain. Let's join this great man of God on this mountain and see what it would take for us to be On The Mountain Of Absolute Surrender as well.
V. 1-2 INVOLVES PERCEPTION
We must be in a position to hear God.
This Demands A Relationship - Abraham came to know the Lord back in Genesis chapter 12. The reality of his conversion is revealed in Gen. 15:6. Their relationship had often been rocky: with Lot in Gen 12:4; In Egypt, 12:10-20; with Hagar in 16:1-4; in Gerar in 20:1-18. He wasn't perfect, but he knew the Lord. How about you? Have you been saved? If so, then no doubt your relationship has been rocky too. Be that as it may, there is still a relationship. If you have not been saved, you need to bow to His will and be saved!
This Demands A Readiness - As soon as God speaks, Abraham responds! This implies that he had been listening for the voice of His Lord, and he was not disappointed. God is on the lookout for people who want to be in a deep, close relationship with Himself (John 4:23). If you ever get hungry for the Lord, you will not be disappointed!
This Demands A Revelation - God revealed His plan for Abraham's life. This was a necessary part of the process, for no man can know the mind of God until it is revealed to man by God.
Notice How God Defines His Commands - "thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest." Abraham's son Ishmael had already been sent away. Now, the command comes that would take Isaac away as well. God was asking for everything Abraham had! All his hopes, his dreams and his plans were bound up in Isaac. God says "give it all to me!" God wants nothing less than everything ( Rom. 12:1; Luke 14:26-27).
Notice How God Details His Commands - God was very precise about what Abraham was to do. When God speaks, He may not reveal every detail of His plan, but your next step will always be made clear.
Notice How God Darkens His Commands - God does not explain the "why?" to men! Does the "why?" even matter? It shouldn't! Faith knows that the path of God always leads to good for us and to glory for Him ( Rom. 8:28).
TODAY’S Psalm and Blessing,
New International Version (NIV)
15 LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God. 16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.” 17 For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. 18 I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin. 19 Many have become my enemies without cause; those who hate me without reason are numerous. 20 Those who repay my good with evil lodge accusations against me, though I seek only to do what is good. 21 LORD, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. 22 Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
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