Monday, January 16, 2012
JACOB, Following The Footsteps Of Faith, 1/16/2012
V. 25b-32 JACOB WAS VERY MUCH ALTERED, Part 2b, Continued From Yesterday!
This one night in the life of Jacob was the culmination of 20 years of patient activity by the Lord. We want instant everything today. Instant coffee, instant tea, instant grits, instant gratification, instant everything! Yet there is one thing for sure: Instant holiness is not available to anyone! It is always the result of prayer, sacrifice and self-denial and that takes time. It seems that God always takes His time in bringing us to spiritual maturity. He gently and patiently leads us along and brings us to the place where we can be filled and used for His glory. This is evident in the life of Jacob.
V. 25b-27 He Was A Broken man -
1. He Was Clinging - Jacob is no longer fighting, he is merely holding on. If we insist on fighting the Lord as His attempts at growing us, He will eventually bring us to the place where all the fight is gone. You see, He knows exactly where and how to touch your life to get your attention. Absalom and Joab in 2 Sam. 14:28-32 are other examples. God's desire for your life and mine is that we come to the place where we stop walking in our own power and self-sufficiency, and we come to the place where we are depending on Him for everything. He wants us to understand the truth of John 15:5.
2. He Was Confessing - The angels demands to know Jacob's name. He forced him to admit just who he is…Jacob, which means trickster, supplanter, cheat, one who takes you by the heal. Or, in our terms, one who twists the arm. Jacob had to come to the place of seeing himself as he really was before the Lord could use him. By the way, God can't use any of us until we are willing to admit the truth about ourselves to Him. God can't use us until we come to the place where we are willing to admit that we are failures and sinners before Him and that we are incapable of anything without Him - (1 John 1:9). God will bless an honest heart, (Ps. 51:17), "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
V. 28-30 He Was A Blessed Man - The Jacob who left Canaan was capable of deceiving his brother, lying to his blind father, of cheating a crooked uncle. But, the man who returns is a man with a new nature. No more Jacob the "Trickster", but Israel a "Prince with God."
God's purpose in breaking us is always the same. He does it so that He can make us again, like The Potter - (Jer 18:4). He doesn't throw us away, but He shapes us and molds us until we fit the image He desires for us to have. He really is still working on us! Saulbecame Paul - He was worthless until he was broken before the Lord. But, once he was broken, the world was touched for Jesusby him! I wonder what God could do with each of us if we came to that place where we were totally broken and yielded before the Lord?
V. 31-32 He Was A Branded Man - The limp! Everywhere Jacob went after that day, he carried the mark of God upon his body. When he stood before Pharaoh in Gen. 47:7-10, and every step he took reminded him and everyone around him that he was the Lord's and the Lord had touched him in a very personal manner. The believer is no different ( Matt. 5:16). We ought to be branded for Jesus like Paul in Gal. 6:17 and The Law of the Bondslave in Ex. 21:1-6. After the hole had been bored into the ear, there was no doubt as to who the slave belonged to! By the way, folk ought not have to wonder about us either! The walk of the believer ought to be different ( 2 Cor. 5:17). When a man is walking with the Lord, he will always be out of step with the world!
Conc: Jacob's life was one of contrasts. Before this incident, faulty, substandard living marked this man's life. After this eventful night, holiness and spirituality marked him. If you were perfectly honest today, which would you say best describes your life? Carnal or spiritual? Perhaps this would be a good time for you to come to this altar and let this be the place for your Peniel experience. Let this be the night when you come before the Lord and allow yourself to be broken by Him for service. Let this be the time when you are forever altered. The time when you fully and finally present yourself a living sacrifice to the Lord Jesus Christ, (Rom. 12:1-2; Eph 4:22-24). Many of you know you have resisted His call; let today be the day when you find yourself out of step with the world and in step with God. Will you come as He calls you to Him?
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“HAVE THINE OWN WAY”
Words by A. Pollard (1902) and music by G. C. Stebbins in (1907).
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
JACOB, Following In The Footsteps of Faith, 1/15/2012
Gen. 32:22-32 JUST A LITTLE TALK WITH JESUS, Part 2a
This is the second spiritual encounter of Jacob's life. The first was at a place called Bethel, (Gen. 28:10-22). At Bethel, Jacob saw a ladder; at Jabbok, he saw the Lord. At Bethel, Jacob became a believing man; at Jabbok, he became a broken man. At Bethel, Jacob became a son of God; at Jabbok, he became a saint of God. At Bethel he died to his sins; at Jabbok, he died to self. He left Bethel with a spring in his step; he left Jabbok with a lasting limp but with a forever changed heart.
Now, all men need a Bethel experience. Every person today needs to be able to recall a time when you met God personally, you received Him and became His child. Isn't salvation wonderful? However, many never go beyond that experience. They get saved and that's as far as they go. They never seem to be able to produce anything for the glory of the Lord. While we must have a Bethel experience if we expect to get to Heaven, we also need a Jabbok experience if we ever hope to be useful to the Lord.
The very thing that happened to Jacob needs to happen in the life of every believer. He spent the night talking with the Lord and He was never the same. I would venture to say that 99% of all Christians need to have a little talk with Jesus like old Jacob had. Let's spend some time today looking into these verses and see what transpired during Jacob's talk with the Lord.
V. 24a JACOB WAS VERY MUCH ALONE
Jacob was facing a serious time of testing. He had left his home behind and he was about to face a brother he had wronged many years earlier. At this juncture in his life, he needed to seek counsel from the Lord. The fact that Jacob spent the night in prayer is evident from Hosea 12:4. As he entered this time of prayer meeting, Jacob found himself very much alone. All he had was gone. Family, servants, livestock, wealth, everything. Jacob was forced to face God all alone!
Many people fear this kind of loneliness! People structure their time to be as full as possible. The reason? When we are alone and unoccupied, then we have to come face to face with God; another example is seen in Judas, (Matt. 27:3-5)! People fear that kind of intimacy with the Lord! Yet, the very thing they fear is the very thing they need the most in their lives.
When we are busy, we can occupy the heart and the mind. When we are alone and still, it is easier for us to hear the Lord when He is speaking. Many sinners tend to fill their lives with busy work so that they can avoid the voice of God.
If we as Christians are going to be strong in the Lord, then we must find time to be alone with God. The value of a daily quiet time is clearly demonstrated in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. He took time to be alone with the Father ( Matt. 14:23; Luke 6:12) You and I should never fear being alone with the Lord. He only has good planned for us, (Jer. 29:11), "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
V. 24b-25a JACOB WAS VERY MUCH ALIVE
As Jacob prayed that night, it appears that he experienced a Theophany. That is, he was privileged to be in a place where the Lord decided to manifest Himself in a personal manner. Jacob experienced a theophany in a pre-Bethlehem appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ that night. The angel did not overcome Jacob for a reason. Of course, we know that God could whip Jacob with just the thought of His mind, but He allowed Jacob to fight to bring Jacob to the place where he was willing to see himself as he truly was.
At this point in time, Jacob represents the fleshy nature of man. He represents our old, sinful nature that is constantly fighting against the Lord. These natures that we are born with are stubborn, unyielding, fighting and self-sufficient. The old nature of man is everything the saint of God should not be.
The fact is, many of us are just like Jacob! We fight the Lord at every turn in our lives. God will tell us something is wrong and the old nature rebels against the Lord's truth. God will tell is something is right and our flesh will rise up in defiance. Paul struggled with this dilemma in Rom. 7:15-25. May I remind you that the old nature is not fit to live in heaven! It deserves one thing and that is to be put to death, (Col. 3:5-10; Eph. 4:22-24;Gal. 5:19-25).
We are called upon to reckon the old man dead, (Rom. 6:1-18). However, we like to drag the corpse around with us don't we? The Roman practice of taking a convicted murderer into desert, staking him down and then laying the corpse of his victim on top of him. Just as the corruption from that corpse would fall upon that guilty man until he eventually died, so our old nature eats away at us bringing death, destruction and corruption at every turn. The old human nature is fit for nothing less that the fire of hell. It does not deserve to live! I join Paul in exclaiming, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with this mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
I challenge you to ask yourself tonight, "Who is alive? My self, that old man; or the Lord Jesus?" Do you constantly find yourself fighting against the Lord? Do you find yourself acting stubbornly when faced with God's plan for your life? Who is alive in you, the flesh or the Lord? Look again at (Rom. 6:6-7; Gal. 2:20).
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
"Just A Little Talk With Jesus"
I once was lost in sin but Jesus took me in
And then a little light from heaven filled my soul
He bathed my heart in love and wrote my name above
And just a little talk with my Jesus made me whole.
(Now let us) have a little talk with Jesus (let us) tell him all about our troubles
(He will) hear our faintest cry (and we will) answer by and by
(Now when you) feel a little pray'r wheel turning
(Then you'll) know a little fire is burning
(You will) find a little talk with Jesus makes it right.
(Makes it right).
I may have doubts and fears my eyes be filled with tears
But Jesus is a friend who watches day and night
I go to him in prayer he knows my every care
And just a little talk with my Jesus gonna makes it right
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Saturday, January 14, 2012
ISAAC, Following In The Footsteps Of Faith, 1/14/2012
THE REALITIES OF A PILGRIM’S LIFE, Part 1b, Continued From Yesterday!
V. 14b-22 IT IS A LIFE OF GREAT PROBLEMS
Even Isaac’s life wasn’t filled with all blessings and glories. He fought some real battles and so will you! Let’s look at a couple of the battles Isaac was required to fight.
V. 14b-16 He Faced Problems With The World - The Bible tells us that the Philistines were jealous of Isaac. Why? Because they could see the hand of God on his life! He was prospering while they were struggling! Because they were jealous, they tried to make his life hard by plugging up the wells that had been dug by his father Abraham. Their king even kicked Isaac out of the country! Just as it was with Isaac, the Lord’s pilgrims should never expect to be accepted and understood by the world. The fact of the matter is this: the Lord tells us clearly that those who live for Him will be persecuted as they pass through this world, (2 Tim. 3:12). Of course, some of the same tactics the Philistines used against Isaac are still being employed against the people of God! They become jealous when they can’t explain or understand our peace and joy under trials. They do their best to rob us of the blessings we have as children of God when they see us walking by faith through this world. They will seek to stop up the wells from which we are drawing through discouragement, intimidation and personal attacks. Yet, the Lord said it would be this way and He tells us to rejoice when this kind of situation arises in our lives, (Matt. 5:10-12; 1 Pet. 4:12-16). So, when the world turns on you, don’t be surprised or don’t get upset. Instead, rejoice in the Lord. It will make them worse, but God will be honored and He will see you through!
V. 17-22 He Faced Problems With His Wells - We already know that the Philistines plugged up the wells of Abraham, but they even fought with Isaac over the new well he was digging in the wilderness. Why all this fascination with wells? There are several reasons. The primary one being the fact that men and animals must have water to survive. In that country, being semi-desert, water was as valuable as oil is today! In those days, all waste lands were called “God’s lands”. If any man could live in a desert place, provide for his family and flocks and open a well, then that land was considered to be his land! In other words, a well was a statement of ownership! To fill in a well was an act of war! These Philistines hated Isaac so much that they declared war on him by trying to seize his lands and drive him away from that which was his! Notice the fights he had to undertake.
V. 18 He Had To Clean Out The Old Wells - Many years before, his father Abraham had passed through the land and he had dug some wells of water. He dug those wells to meet needs in his day and to pass them down to his son Isaac so that needs could be met in his days as well. The Philistines had come along and had plugged these wells to prevent Isaac from suing them. Notice that the Philistines didn’t want them for themselves, they just didn’t want Isaac to have them. He had to take the time to reopen those wells! These old wells speak to us of the spiritual resources that were uncovered and proclaimed by our spiritual fathers in days gone by. If we are not careful, the world will destroy everything that we have been given! Many of the wells from which our fathers drank have already been stopped! Think of it, there used to be a day when God’s people drank deeply from the well of praise and worship! The world has stopped that well by telling us that we should not be fanatics about Jesus. Our fathers opened for us the wells of Scripture, of salvation, of sanctification, of service, of the great fundamental doctrines of the faith! And the world has come along a tried to stop them up. Liberalism has tried to change our beliefs! There is a need right now for God’s people to re-dig the wells that the world has tried to stop up! We must contend for the old ways, if we do not, the old ways will die when we do!
V. 19-22 He Had To Contend For The New Wells - As he moved along in his pilgrimage, Isaac was always in the business of digging new wells. Every time he opened a well, his enemies tried to take it away from him. The water from the old wells were cool and refreshing, but more water was needed now. Therefore, new wells were dug! Three of those wells are mentioned here by name: 1. Esek - This word means “Contention”. 2. Sitnah - This word means “strife or hatred”. It has the idea of “laying in wait to ensnare someone”. The name Satan comes from the same root word. 3. Rehoboth - This word means “a wide open place”. It was at Rehoboth that the Philistines finally left Isaac alone! Everywhere the man went, he faced a fight! The Philistines tried to take that for which he had labored. The same is true in the world today. Look at the world, and you will see that they tried to take everything that belongs to the people of faith. They have highjacked Christmas and Easter. They even steal our language by talking about God in unspiritual and unscriptural ways . But, we must contend for the faith, (Jude 3). If we do not, then there will be not faith to pass down to the next generation, (2 Tim. 2:2), “Commit thou” means “to set before, or to set a table”.
For Isaac, the pilgrimage here was one fight after another! I can guarantee you that your journey through this world will not come without a fight as well. But, take a moment to look around you at the children. Then think outside the walls of this world about those who do not know the Lord Jesus. Remember, you are fighting for them! Every time we reopen a well the world has closed; every time we dig a new well for the needs of today; every time we defend the wells we have, we are serving the Lord, the lost and the little ones! It is a ministry that must be performed at all costs! If it isn’t soon, there will be nothing left to defend and nothing at all to pass down! We may have to fight for what our fathers believed and we may have to fight for what we believe, but the Lord watches over the whole matter and like he did for Isaac, He will make a place for you!
V. 23-25 IT IS A LIFE OF GREAT PRIVILEGES
Isaac enjoyed the Lord’s provisions in his life and he also experienced some problems as well. But, these last few verses in our text let us in on the fact that pilgrim life is also marked by its privileges.
V. 24 The Privilege Of Enjoying God’s Words - The Lord appeared to Isaac and renewed His promises once again! There is no greater privilege than that of experiencing the Lord’s presence and hearing His voice. We have been given His Word to speak to our hearts, (Ps. 119:105), but we have also been given His Spirit and He speaks to us as well, (John 16:13). It was the voice of God that got the attention of Elijah (1 Kings 19:12). When He speaks, His sheep know Him, (John 10:3-4). Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God ( Rom 10:17).
V. 25 The Privilege Of Enjoying God’s Worship - Isaac prepared an altar and went before his God in worship! This is a privilege enjoyed by those who know the Lord! What an honor it is to be able to enter into His presence to worship Him and to love Him, (John 4:23-24, Heb. 4:16)! When we stop to think of what we were before He found us...we bow in worship Him.
V. 25 The Privilege Of Enjoying God’s World - Isaac was able to pitch his tent in the place God had marked off for him and he dwelt there. He was enjoying the blessings of God even while journeying through a hostile land. It is becoming increasingly clear that God’s true church is not wanted in this world. This is not our home and the natives of this world do not like us being here. But, the Lord has a way of bringing His best into our lives as we travel along. While our hearts beat for Heaven, and our feet walk through this foreign land, our Father attends our way with His blessings and He makes the pilgrimage glorious!
V. 25 The Privilege Of Enjoying God’s Water - Isaac and his servants dug a final well and enjoyed the water that flowed from it. After all the work unstopping Abraham’s well and after all the fighting over the new wells, Isaac is given a well of water that is all his. God has a way of giving us exactly what we need just when we need it. As you pass through this world, look for you a well! The Lord said that when He save you, He placed a well within you, (John 4:14). It is a spiritual well that will never run dry. Still, we need to find ourselves drinking from a spiritual well that never runs dry. Take the time, as you pass through this world, to avail yourself of the spiritual refreshment the Lord had placed within easy reach. I’m talking about the Word of God and prayer! Those two things will refresh the soul quicker than anything else! Are you drinking from the well?
Conc: So, pilgrims, keep marching! Keep heading toward that city that captured the hearts of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, (Heb. 11:10). One day we will take the last faltering step down here and we will set foot on the shores of home. Until then, keep looking to Him for your provisions. Keep trusting Him through all the problems. And, keep thanking Him for all the privileges you enjoy as His child. There may be days when the journey is rough, but there will never be a day when it isn’t worthwhile! “We are pilgrims, not settlers; this earth is our inn, not our home.“-( J. H. Vincent). So, let’s not settle down. Rather, let’s settle in for whether our journey be long or short, it will be glorious!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah Lyrics
Written by- William Williams
Guide me O Thou great Jehovah, pilgrim thro' this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou are mighty, hold me with Thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more,
Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Open now the crystal fountain, whence the healing waters flow;
let the fiery, cloudy pillar lead me all my journey thro';
Strong Deliverer, be Thou still my strength and shield,
Strong Deliverer, be Thou still my strength and shield.
When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid, my anxious fears subside;
bear me thro' the swelling current. land me safe on Canaan's side;
songs of praises I will ever give to Thee;
songs of praises I will ever give to Thee.
Friday, January 13, 2012
ISAAC, Following In The Footsteps Of Faith, 1/13/2012
THE REALITIES OF A PILGRIM’S LIFE, Part 1a
The Patriarch Isaac was a man who lived in the shadows. If you think about it, he lived his live first under the shadow of his great father Abraham, then he lived his live in the shadow of his great son Jacob. Abraham is the star of some 14 chapters of the book of Genesis and Jacob is the central figure of another 12 or so. But Isaac, is only featured in a handful of chapters. It is only here, in this 26th chapter of Genesis that we are allowed a glimpse into the life and work of this man.
Among the things we note about him is that he was a man of faith, (v. 2-5). In fact, he is listed in Hebrews 11:20 among the great heroes of the faithful. We can also see here that he, like the rest of us, was far from perfect, (v. 6-11), because he was guilty of committing some of the same sins that his father Abraham had committed. Another thing we notice about this man is the fact that he was a pilgrim. That is, he moved from place to place, like his father, not actually owning any of the land upon which he lived.
It is in his role as a pilgrim that Isaac pictures the child of God. If I may I remind you, the Bible teaches us very clearly that we are “strangers and pilgrims” in this world, (1 Pet. 2:11). The word “strangers” means “a stranger, a foreigner, one who lives in a place without the right of citizenship”. And, the word “pilgrim” means, “sojourning in a strange place; a metaphor for one who sojourns on earth”. In fact, the Bible tells us that every saved person is a citizen of heaven, (Phil. 3:20, 1 Pet. 1:4-5).
Today, I want to examine the life of Isaac the pilgrim. Because in his pilgrimage through the world, encounters many of the same problems and he experiences many of the same blessings that cross paths with us as we journey toward glory. Let’s take a few minutes today to examine the life of this man, and as we do, I just want to point out The Realities Of A Pilgrim’s Life. There is help and hope in this passage today for everyone who is walking the pilgrim’s path!
V. 12-14a IT IS A LIFE OF GREAT PROVISIONS
The Size Of The Provisions - We are told that Isaac enjoyed a 10,000% return on his investment! What makes this all the more astounding is the fact that this occurred during a time of famine, (v. 1). While everyone around him was going broke and starving to death, Isaac prospered. His crops flourished while the crops of others dried up. His flocks and herds grew while the flocks and herds of others starved and died of thirst. It seemed like Isaac had the golden touch.
The Source Of The Provisions - Some may have called it good luck, others may have looked upon Isaac and wondered how he did it, but the fact of the matter is this: God was just blessing him! Isaac wasn’t a better farmer than the other farmers. He didn’t know more about botany, horticulture or zoology than the other men around him. But, he did have an advantage, he knew God and that translated into blessings in his life when others were experiencing defeat! You see, when the famine arose, there was evidently a temptation within Isaac’s heart to flee to Egypt like Abraham had before him, (v. 2). However, in obedience to the Lord’s command, he stayed where he was, in the midst of that famine, and God honored his obedience! I would just like to point something out to every believer here today: the very fact that you know God in a personal way places you in a position to enjoy His wonderful provisions in your life! You may look at your situation today and say, “Friend, it sure doesn’t look like I’m receiving a 10,000% return on my investment! I’m saved, following the Lord and trying to be obedient, but I’m just about flat broke and everything is falling apart in my life!” Just because God isn’t paving your path with diamonds and giving you a new Rolls Royce every year doesn’t mean that He isn’t blessing you!
Look at it this way: you may have it as bad, or even worse, than those around you who aren’t saved, but you have something they do not have! You have a personal relationship with the Lord God of Heaven! What does that give you? Well, the list is almost endless, but a few of the benefits are:
1. Eternal salvation - never lost!
2. The presence of God in your life - never alone!
3. The power of God working in your life - never in a hopeless situation!
4. The promises of God active in your life - never without hope!
5. The Word of God to guide your life - never without direction!
The list could go on, but you think about it; if you are saved and your neighbor is not, who’s children have a better hope of heaven? What kind of a value do you on place on that? Would you rather have “money or the Master“? Well, if you have the Master, He will take care of all the real needs in your life anyway!
Isaac enjoyed the great blessings that he did because he was obedient to the command of God, (v. 2-4). The same thing holds true for you and me. If we will put God where He belongs: FIRST; then, He will see to the rest of our lives,( Matt. 6:33). No one said this life would be easy, in fact the Bible teaches the opposite, but, those who walk with God know that He is in control, “The unseen hand of providence“! What looks like the worst disaster you ever faced can be used of God to bring into your life some of the greatest blessings you have ever enjoyed, (Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:17).
TODAY”S HYMN and BLESSING!
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS by J. Oatman and E. Excell
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Thursday, January 12, 2012
ABRAHAM, Following In The Footsteps Of Faith , 1/12/2012
ABRAHAM GATHERED TO HIS PEOPLE! Part 30b, Continued From Yesterday!
HOW HE LAID DOWN HIS LIFE
In his life, Abraham was a wonderful example of what a believer should be, but even in his dying there are precious truths that can be seen in him that should mark all those who know the Lord Jesus!
He Laid It Down With Readiness - v. 8 - "He gave up the ghost" - There was not struggling to stay, but a simple releasing of life when it came time to go. He had lived a full and long life, 175 years, but when the time came to make the crossing out of this life into the next, Abraham did so with grace and serenity. Why? Because he had spent his life looking for a particular city. Not a city that can be found on this earth, but an everlasting city made by the hands of God in Heaven, (Heb. 11:10). Abraham knew that Sarah was waiting on him on the other side. He knew that the only way to reach that city and to be with Sarah again was to give up the ghost. That he did without fear, fretting or fighting. His deathbed scene was one of peace! Everyone in this room has looked beyond the years to a day when we too will make this crossing. It isn't something we discuss, but it does come to mind from time to time! I have noted that the passing years seem to bring the thought around more often. However, those who know the Lord have a great assurance when we look at the day of our departure! We have the Lord's promise concerning that day. For us, it will be a time of laying aside the temporary for the permanent, (2 Cor .5:1). It will be a time of leaving the land of the dying to enter the land of the living, (John 11:25-26). It will be a time of passing through the veil to stand in the presence of the Lord Himself, (2 Cor. 5:8). It will be nothing more that a "departure", (2 Tim. 4:6), from this life and an entrance into a new and better life in that same city Abraham looked for. Abraham knew it before there was even a Bible from which to read it! He knew it by faith and so do I! How about you?
He Laid It Down With Reassurance - The Bible tells us that he was "gathered to his people." This does not have reference to the grave! No, he was buried with Sarah in Canaan. His people had died in Haran and Ur. Abraham was gathered to those who had died before him in faith! He went to that place where those died in faith were waiting for him, (Luke 16:23)! They were all waiting for another One Who came into their midst with some glorious news one day! When Jesus died on the cross, He descended into Paradise with the glorious news that redemption had been purchased for all those who had died in faith! With that news, He lead them out of Paradise and into Heaven in a glorious parade of triumph and victory, (Eph. 4:8-10; 1 Pet. 3:19)! Somehow, Abraham knew this by faith! You and I have a better assurance that even Abraham had! He was to go to Paradise to stay until the price was paid. Neither he, nor anyone else, knew how long that would be! They were looking forward to that event. We look backward at that event today! It is finished! The way is opened and all those who died in faith are immediately gathered home to the presence of the Lord in Heaven!
HOW HE LOVED HIS LORD
A third characteristic of Abraham's life that is worthy of note is how he loved the Lord.
His Love Was Displayed - All through his life, he simply obeyed what the Lord told him to do! When the Lord said go, he went. When the Lord said do, he did. When the Lord said stay, he stayed. He obeyed even when the command was difficult and costly. He obeyed when every instinct within him told him to do the opposite. You see, the true essence of love for the Lord is that genuine love always manifests itself in obedience to God, regardless of what He says to do! This was a truth that became crystal clear because of the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, (John 14:15; 21). We can say anything we wish about the level of our love for Him, but the ultimate expression of our love for Jesus will be found in how we obey Him in whatever He tells us to do!
His Love Was Declared - As you read the Bible, you see the love of Abraham declared. But, it is never declared by Abraham! Isn't that strange? There are lots of people who want to tell us how much they love the Lord. Abraham didn't talk about it, he just did it! There is a big difference! However, the love of Abraham is declared in the Bible. It is mentioned by a man named Jehoshahat in (2 Chr. 20:7). God Himself talks of this man Abraham and his love for the Lord in (Isa. 41:8). Both of these references refer to Abraham as being a "friend" of the Lord. This means "one well beloved by another." You may wonder how I can make to leap from Abraham being called a friend of God to his love for the Lord. The answer lies in what Jesus said in John 15:14 and John 14:15. Taken together, those two passages tell us that one who is God's friend in one who is obedient to the Lord. And, those who walk in obedience are those who really love Him!
Conc: As you consider these characteristics from the life of Abraham, I wonder how your life measures up. How is your life being lived? Are you ready to lay it down the right way when the time comes? Do you really love the Lord this evening? These are extremely important questions that need to be addressed in your life and mine today. I don't want to be Abraham, but I do want to look at those areas in my life that could be changed to line up more clearly with what God found pleasing in his life. We should all want to glean the best of Abraham's characteristics and make them true in our own lives as well!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“THERE IS A HABITATION”
Words: L. H. Jameson Music: J. H. Rosecrans
There is a habitation Built by the living God For all of ev’ry nation Who seek that grand abode.
O Zion, Zion, I long thy gates to see O Zion, Zion, when shall I dwell in thee?
A city with foundations Firm as th’eternal throne Nor wars nor desolations Shall ever move a stone.
No night is there, no sorrow No death, and no decay No yesterday, no morrow But one eternal day.
Within its pearly portals Angelic armies sing With glorified immortals The praises of its King.
TOMORROW WE WILL MOVE ON IN OUR STORIES TO ISAAC, THAN JACOB and JOSEPH!
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