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Friday, January 11, 2013

By Faith, Abraham....

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son...
Hebrews 11:17

In my Bible reading yesterday, I read the story of Abraham and Isaac - when God had asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac - his only son, "even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." " (Hebrews 11:18)  As I read, I thought carefully about Abraham's strong faith.  I want to have a faith like Abraham, don't you?!  I really do!  But, things hold me back.  People hold me back.  Maybe they hold you back, too.

How can you and I have a faith like Abraham?  There are three ways that I believe we can have a strong faith like Abraham.  Let's look at them today!

1.  PUT GOD ABOVE EVERYTHING - EVEN FAMILY!

As a wife and mom, my family is very, very important to me.  And they should be.  BUT, is it possible for my to put my family before God?  Yes, it is.  If I'm not careful, I can make it where my whole life revolves around my family.  If I'm not careful I will neglect God, neglect worship, and neglect serving or telling others about Jesus because of my family.

If you and I constantly put our families before God, we're going to have problems down the road.  That's a guarantee.  It will eventually show up and prove to be the wrong choice.  Maybe our children will not have a strong faith in God.  Maybe they'll forsake the church and decide it really doesn't matter.  Maybe they'll grow up to be selfish and self-serving, instead of unselfish and willing to serve others.  Maybe you and I will eventually turn away from God - because we've gotten use to putting him behind family.  Maybe we're waiting to be workers in the church until our kids get bigger....they grow up....they leave home.....whatever.  What a waste of many years and an example to your children!  Don't waste precious time!  Teach them and show them while they are home.  Let them learn to serve right along with you!  

If you have grandchildren, you can do the same.  Some of my fondest memories are with my grandparents and their service projects.  I would go work at the building with my grandma making "Sunshine Baskets" then deliver them to the hospital and nursing home.  My grandpa had a grocery store, but did service projects while he worked - delivering food to shut-ins.  I made many trips to homes with him and have great memories and fun memories of those times.

Sound impossible that you or your family would turn away or become less committed to God and to Jesus?  It's not.  Many in the Bible would have thought it impossible, too.  It's a serious matter, and we must examine our lives constantly to make sure we are growing closer and never falling further away.

But it's not too late if you realize you're slipping! It's never too late!  We can choose today to put God above all else, or as I like to say - make Him the CENTER of EVERYTHING in your life.  When God is the central focus of your family, you'll understand that in order to love your family and take care of your family in a Biblical way, God MUST be at the very center - the very core - of your family.  Serving Him, loving Him, and telling others about Jesus is what your family does.  There would be no other choice and no better way to show your love for your family.

2.  TRUST AND OBEY

Not only my favorite song when I was little, but a truth we must sign and live each and every day:  Trust and Obey!  Abraham didn't hesitate one bit when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac.  I can't truthfully say I would have been obedient without questions.  As a parent, I can't imagine offering one of my children as a sacrifice, and most likely I will never have to, but I must be willing to go to that degree if God asks me to.  That's something I have to work on....having that obedient heart to that extent.

Some in the Bible obeyed God, but not quite so quickly.  Sometimes they struggled, just like you and I may do. Moses questioned God when God asked him to go and rescue the Israelites from Egypt.  Exodus 3:11 says, "But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  It took several questions from Moses and reassuring answers from God before he goes.  And God wasn't happy with Moses because of his doubt.  He spares his life, and He continued to use Moses.  Moses trusted God, but at times his faith and trust wavered.  The key is that he didn't give up.  We can't give up, either!

I love the story of Abraham and Isaac because I believe it shows Abrahams unswerving trust in God.  When Isaac asked his father about the sacrifice, Abraham confidently and trustingly answered him:

Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied."The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
 Genesis 22:7-8

TRUST AND OBEY 
(lyrics for 1st stanza)
When we walk with the Lord 
in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, 
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Refrain:

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

3.  HAVE FAITH - A STRONG, UNWAVERING FAITH!


I believe that Abraham's faith was so strong that he never doubted God's promise for one second - that Isaac would be the one through whom the "many nations" would come.  I believe he knew that God would provide another sacrifice, but I also believe he knew he had to follow God's command exactly as he was told.  Oh, what faith!
    And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  Hebrews 11:6
Without faith, we're unable to please God.  We can say we believe in Him, but even if we say it, we can live as if He doesn't exist.  That's what displeases God.  We must live as if we believe He is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do.  And to a greater extent, we must believe that He WILL do what He has promised!  He has promised both good and bad.  He has promised blessings to those who obey Him.  He has promised salvation for those who obey His gospel and accept the salvation that the blood of Jesus can give.  He has promised that He will do many wonderful things!  We have to believe and claim those promises!  

But, for the bad, He has also promised that there is no other way to Him except through His Son, Jesus.  We can't do it alone.  We can't do it through any other gospel or creed.  It won't work.  It's only through Jesus and through the steps He has given us through His Word.  Just like Abraham followed the commandments exactly, we must be willing to read God's Word and study on our own to make sure our "election is sure" - not based on what you and I are told or what we read in a book, hear in a lesson, or even read on this or any other blog!  Read God's Word for yourself.  Make sure you understand what it says.  Don't be mislead, but pray for wisdom.  God will show you what you need to know - if you'll just ask Him to help you and His Spirit to guide you.  

In Abraham's story, it sticks out to me that his faith was his own.  He didn't run to Sarah and ask what she thought about the whole "sacrifice" situation.  I'm pretty sure we all know what Sarah would have said, don't we?  Ummmmmm, "ARE YOU CRAZY, ABRAHAM?  DO YOU REALLY THINK I'M LETTING YOU TAKE ISAAC TO BE SACRIFICED?  I'VE WAITED 90 YEARS TO HAVE A SON!  YOU ARE NOT TAKING HIM!"  Yes, something like that!  And could you blame her?  Well......maybe not by our human standards, but yes, God could.  Isaac was a gift from God, and He was telling Abraham He wanted His gift back.  Interesting.

How can you and I have a faith like Abraham?  I've seen a quote that goes something like this:  If we have faith in God in the little things, we'll have an easier time having faith in God in the big things.  That is so very true.  Each and every day, let you faith show in little day to day things.  Nothing that involves faith is little, really.  What it boils down to is QUIT WORRYING!  Have faith that God is in control and that He will take care of anything and everything.  Don't stress!  Don't panic!  Don't fear!  It's in those little things our faith is small and we make our God really small.  Sing the children's song, "MY GOD IS SO BIG!"  Sing it over and over and over.

There are many other points we could get from the story of Abraham and Isaac.  If you haven't read it in a while, please do today.  You'll be blessed by the example of Abraham and by the love of God.

So, how about it?  You want to be more like Abraham?  Me, too.  We can do it.  Let's start today!

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