Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4: 15, 16
Come Ye Disconsolate
“Come, ye disconsolate, wherever ye languish;
Come to the mercy-seat, fervently kneel;
Here bring your wounded hearts,
Here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.
Joy to the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure;
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
‘Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot cure.’
Here see the Bread of Life; see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above;
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heaven can remove.”
Today’s Study Text:
“God said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”
“The Farce We Call Fear” Part 7
“The Move, The Monarch, The Mammon, The Mistress, and The Mountain – Part B
“Nothing does so establish the mind amidst the rollings and turbulence of present things, as both a look above them, to the steady and good Hand by which they are ruled; and beyond them, to the sweet and beautiful end to which by that Hand, they will be brought.”
What type of reaction do I believe I would have had if God had asked me to “sacrifice” my child of promise?
“’He gave!’ All the mercies we have are lent mercies; by (God) bestowed; by Him continued; by Him withheld. And how often does He take away, that He may Himself enter the vacuum of the heart and fill it with His own ineffable presence and love! No loss can compensate for all losses. Let us trust His love and faithfulness as a taking as well as giving God. Often are sense and sight tempted to say, ‘Not so, Lord!’ But Faith, resting on the promise, can exult in this “Bow” spanning the darkest cloud.”
John Ross McDuff
The Bow In The Cloud
“A pure faith is a powerful faith. When God is simply taken at His word and nothing else, faith takes on a tenacity and strength. It can stand when all else fails. Because it is founded on God’s Word alone, it is not shaken when external supports and evidences are removed. It just keeps on believing. It can say with Job, who was certainly deprived of all external assurances, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 13: 15).
There are certain Biblical passages, especially in the Old Testament, that simply make me cringe. Our study text for today happens to be one of them. If the entire story of Abraham only contained this one verse – the command of God to Abraham that he sacrifice his only, cherished son – our heavenly Father would not come off looking very good. This is why it is vital to study the Bible, not only from beginning to end, but to also study Scripture within the context of all that happened within a specific person’s life.
Our text today reveals God’s request of Abraham and while at first reading God appears harsh, even mean, if we look at all the interaction between God and Abraham up to this point in time, God’s track record has been one of immense faithfulness. Not once has God let Abraham down. In fact, God has rescued Abraham from His own folly over and over again. That’s not all. God also fulfilled His promises – the covenant with Abraham – by giving him the son of promise, Isaac, at a time in life when it appeared to be physically impossible. I believe this is the reason, the author of Genesis, carefully selected the phrase, “After these events,” to begin a story which seems to appear completely out-of-character for the God of Abraham. I want to share the way The Message Bible lays out our study text:
“God said, ‘Abraham!’
‘Yes?’ answered Abraham, ‘I’m listening,’
He (God) said, ‘Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on once of the mountains that I’ll point out to you.’
Genesis 22: 1,2
Direct. Clear. And heart-wrenching. If I’d been Abraham, I would think I needed to get my hearing checked for this charge was in direct contradiction of a God of love and mercy who would have spared the evil people of Sodom and Gomorrah if only ten God-fearing individuals had been found living in the cities.
This order by God got me to thinking and asking myself this question, “How would I have responded?” It almost seems to be a question with no answer because I am not Abraham and I wasn’t there at the time.
However, there is a question which arises from this perplexing situation which does hit closer to home and it is a question posed by author and Pastor Ben Patterson in one of my all-time favorite books called Waiting which delves into the lives of two Biblical heroes, Job and Abraham. Here’s the way Patterson lays out this heart-searching question:
“Is there anything I could lose that would make me lose my trust in God?”
Isn’t this at the heart of God’s request to Abraham and to you and me as well? It is this question that leads each of us to do some soul searching. As Pastor Patterson explains, “(This) is a severe question, and one that none of us can answer ahead of time with any confidence. But we can pray that God will give us faith as we meet each test. And He will, for He tests us, not that we might fail, but that we might emerge pure…Abraham’s faith had great power and tenacity because it had great purity. It was built not on keeping Isaac, but on the trustworthiness of the one who gave him Isaac…(God) isn’t a bully who wants to cow us into submission by constantly holding over us the possibility that He may one day take from us the things and people we most dearly love. It is just that none of the things we love is worthy of our complete trust. One day, in death, everything will be taken away from us: spouse, children, home, health, car, career – everything. Then all we will have will be God and His promises. But that is all we ever have. Our trust should never be in what God gives us, but in the God who gives.”
Frequently, in my own life, I have come to realize that I’ve let myself become dependent on the gifts that have been bestowed on me by my heavenly Father’s gracious hand when in fact, my focus and allegiance needs to be directed on my divine Giver, not on the bounty He provides.
As we witness Abraham’s response to a request which seems impossible to obey, we come to realize that as author Don Anderson so eloquently states, “Abraham set out with his costliest and dearest treasure; (yet) even Isaac was not so important that Abraham would refuse to give Him to the Lord who was supreme in his life.” And so together the father and son got ready to take a three-day journey in obedience to God’s command.
In 1851 a boy, Charles A. Tindley was born into slavery. Life was extremely difficult for this child who was unable to go to school. His father could not afford to keep the boy with him in a little house, so Charles lot in life was to be “hired out.” Sometimes the people he worked for were extremely cruel but this young man was determined to learn the ABC’s so he could read the Bible. As Charles told his story: “My plan was to buy every book I could…Then I entered by correspondence all the schools to which my limited means could afford…Thus while I was unable to go through the schools, I was able to let the schools go through me. In 1885, he applied for ordination. Some of the other candidates asked him, “How do you expect to pass your examination? The other candidates and I have diplomas. What do you hold?” “Nothing but a broom,” was Tindley’s reply. However, this boy with a broom went on to become a world-famous pastor, preacher, and hymnist. It is his beautiful hymn I’d like to leave you with today as we each quietly consider if there is anything large or small that could come between us and the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour.
“For I am persuaded beyond a doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers. Nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8: 38, 39
Words and Music by Charles A . Tindley
“Nothing between my soul and my Savior,
Naught of this world’s delusive dream;
I have renounced all sinful pleasure;
Jesus is mine, there’s nothing between.
Nothing between, like worldly pleasure;
Habits of life, though harmless they seem,
Must not my heart from Him ever sever;
He is my all, there’s nothing between.
Nothing between, like pride of station;
Self or friends shall not intervene;
Though it may cost me much tribulation,
I am resolved, there’s nothing between.
Nothing between, e’en many hard trials,
Though the whole world against me convene;
Watching with prayer and much self-denial,
I’ll triumph at last, there’s nothing between.
Nothing between my soul and my Savior,
So that His blessed face may be seen;
Nothing preventing the least of His favor;
Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.
“Nothing Between/ I Surrender All
As sung by Peter Neville
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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