Abraham

It’s Not You, It’s Him

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If myself and another person were going to enter into a contract in the Old Testament days, we would take an animal, we'd cut the animal in half and put it on two separate sides. Then I would walk through those animals and the other person would walk through those animals. 

What's the point we'd be trying to make? 

If either one of us breaks this covenant, then let this happen to us. You see, people's word meant something in those days. 

Here's the key that I want you to see—God made a covenant with Abraham. They cut the animals in two, God walked through the animals, and then what did God do? He put Abraham to sleep and God walked through a second time. 

Do you get it? This glorious New Covenant that we have with God is not about you and how much you hold onto God; it's about God and how much He holds onto you. And if you know anything about this world we live in, it's awfully hard to hold onto Him when the storms of life come our way, but it’s not hard at all for Him to hold on to us. 

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God Will Provide

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In my own faith journey, my greatest spiritual weakness is: my God is too small, and I am too big. When we see ourselves as too big and God as too small, we'll trust ourselves instead of Him. So this is what I try to put into my brain, “God will provide, God will provide, God will provide.” And when something new comes into my life, I try to remember that God will provide, and He has provided so wonderfully. 

Abraham had obviously concealed from Isaac what God had told him to do. You know, sometimes we need to do that as human beings. Sometimes to share things will wound another person and in this case that would have caused undue stress for the three-day journey Abraham and his son were embarking on. So finally, in verse nine, they come to the place. Abraham built the altar, laid down the wood, and bound Isaac. 

What happened there? What was the conversation? I wish we knew! 

Did Isaac ask, “Well, where's the lamb father?” 

Did Abraham respond, “I don't have one, YOU ARE the lamb.”

He had to have told him! I want you to see here that it is not just Abraham who was full of faith; look at Isaac! Can you imagine how much faith it took to trust his father? To say, “Go ahead and bind me and put me on the altar?” Where did that boy get that faith? You know, sometimes I think we've spent so much time on Abraham that we miss Isaac. I'll tell you where he got that faith from; he got it from watching his dad. Here's a whale of a challenge for us today, it is not our lips that will teach our kids; it is our lives! And we need to live so they see a living God in us. 

Words surely reverberated in Isaac's mind; “God will provide. God will provide.” Abraham's faith has been so tested over the years it could stretch beyond what we can imagine. Do you realize that at thirty to thirty-five years of age with a one-hundred and twenty-year-old father, Isaac could have easily overpowered his dad and said no? 

Which one had the greatest faith? I don't know that we can answer that. Is it the father who offers his son or the son who lays down his life at the wishes of his father? It was tested faith on both their parts.

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God is Good and Does Only Good

What do you do when the path that God has you on doesn't line up with what you know of God?

What do you do when the path that God has you on doesn't line up with what you know of God?

“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, took two of his young men and Isaac, his son, cut the wood for the burnt offering and rose up and went to the place which God had told him.” These are the most puzzling verses in the Word of God. Why are they so puzzling? Because there's absolute silence in these verses in terms of what was going on inside of Abraham. Notice there's no argument from him?

I've gone through near-death experiences with two of my children already. The first words out of my mouth were, “God. No!” Would they be the first words out of your mouth?

But that’s not what the Bible says; “God, you told Noah not to kill. We can't do this. God, you promised posterity for this boy. You can't kill the son of the Prophet.” We don't see any of that. Oh, he must have wrestled. How could a father's heart not wrestle with that kind of command; “Take your boy up on an altar and kill him.” Was Abraham thinking, “This is the one I waited for so long to have, the one I loved through so much. You said through this one would be prosperity. He has to live! He has to live!”?

What do you do, my friends, when the path that God has you on doesn't line up with what you know of God? What do you do? There's only one thing to do. You go back into your history, and you connect the dots of how God has proven faithful to you over the years, right? And then what kind of conclusion do you end up with, that God is wavering and erratic; He promised a son, and now he wants him back. No!  The conclusion you end up with is that God has provided in the past and He will provide in three days. Abraham doesn't know how, but he knows that God is good and big and wise and powerful and holy and he makes a decision based on what he knows about God.

As he connects the dots of the past, reason gives way to faith. Why do I say that? Because everything in a human mind would say, “No,” to what God was asking. Reason gives way to faith, and he makes the decision of a child. It took God one-hundred and twenty years to get that man to childlike faith. I look at my own life, and I think I'm going to have to live to five-hundred to get there! 

He saddles the donkey and cuts the wood. It will be a burnt offering, a worship sacrifice. God is saying, “Offer your boy in worship to me.”

Notice that Abraham didn't tell Sarah? That would not have gone over well! By the way friends, there's a very important lesson in that. Sometimes even though we're married and we are one, God still works with you individually, and there are some things that God is doing in your life that are just for you and not your spouse. It's a hard thing for a spouse to watch the other one go through something like that because we want to fix them, but you can't fix them. Only God is the fixer.

So, Abraham makes a three-day journey. Man, that must have felt like an eternity, and you’ve got to believe he's pondering the whole way. Now, I don't believe he was wrestling with what to do; he's already made the decision to do it. What I think he's wrestling with is how. He’s thinking, “I know God's going to do something, but what is He going to do? How's He going to do it?” I believe with all my heart that he concluded that although his son must die because God had spoken it, his son must live. Therefore, I believe he concluded that God was going to resurrect Isaac from the dead. I think we can confirm that if we look at Hebrews 11:19; “By faith, Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac as a sacrifice. He that had received the promise, offered up his only begotten son of whom it was said, 'In Isaac shall thy seed be called,' accounting that God was able to raise him from the dead."

Accounting is a keyword in the verse. It’s a math term; mathematics is the science that deals with the measurement properties and relationships of quantities. Mathematics is all about proven theory. Mathematics is all about figuring something out. Mathematics is about always getting an answer, and this is the term Abraham chose to use when it comes to God. When he looked at how God had proven himself in his life over the years, he knew beyond the shadow of a doubt, it was proven, God would do something, and Abraham believed God would raise Isaac from the dead. What does Psalm 119 say? “God is good and does only good.” In Abraham's mind, he'd concluded; the only possible solution that was in harmony with the God he had come to know was God could not and would not let this boy die without fulfilling his promise concerning this boy. So in verse five, What does he do? He tells his servants, “Stay here.” This blows my mind, Look at the words, “Stay here, the boy and I will go worship (meaning a burnt offering,) and then we will return again to you. Oh my goodness!

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Taking Hold of God

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Abraham’s long-awaited son is finally born at age one-hundred. Can you imagine the joy, the awe, the wonder of that long-awaited son? Thirty years you wait for that child, and then he shows up; "This is my boy," Abraham would have said, "and it is this boy, and this boy only, through whom God's promise will come."

In Genesis 17, God had reiterated the promise and said that this time Abraham's descendants would be like the sand of the seashore. That's a lot bigger promise! We have to understand that all of Abraham’s spiritual hopes were in this boy. This is the boy through whom the line of the Messiah will come. If anything happens to Isaac, there's no Messiah. If there is no Messiah, Abraham is dead in his sin. If Abraham is dead in his sin, he goes to hell for eternity. There's a lot riding on this. I put it this way, Isaac is a big deal in the promises of God! And suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, this hope is tested or more like shattered!

In verse one, God comes to Abraham and says, “Abraham!” And Abraham says, “Oh, here am I.” Don't you love that? His response is so innocent, so beautiful, so naive, so responsive; He's totally unaware of what God is about to ask of him. Wait, did you hear the word, “ask”? That's a lie! God was not asking; it's an imperative verb. Doesn’t that make you want to cry for Abraham? God is commanding here; this is the mother of all tests. 

We're going to walk through this slowly; I want you to feel what's going on; I want you IN the passage...

God says, “Take your son.” What must Abraham have thought? God says, “Take your son,” and then look what He does, He keeps going with the superlatives; “Your son, your only son. Isaac, the one that you love.” Is God being mean here? No! He's helping Abraham out. How many of you know that when you go through a difficult time, you want somebody to understand what you're going through? You want somebody to hear you. You can go through it if you know there's somebody that gets it and that's what God is doing here. He's got his arm around Abraham. He's saying, “I get it. I get it. This is your boy. This is the ONLY boy. The only begotten boy, the beloved boy.” How come God gets it? Because a few centuries later, God's going to give his own boy. He’s saying, “I’m in your court Abraham. I know what I'm calling you to, son. I really, really do. I gave him to you, and now I want you to give him back to me.”

One writer says this was a “test of necessity." He has the conviction that Abraham had grown too fond of Isaac, that Isaac had taken the place of God in Abraham’s heart and that it could cause great harm to Abraham's walk of faith because the place reserved for God has been squeezed out by another. We don't know if that's true, but I have to wonder if you wait for a boy that long and that boy finally shows up, he's going to be precious in your heart.

Watchman Nee even commented along the same lines. Listen closely, please my friend, because this is all of us. He said “Isaac represents the many gifts of God's grace. Before God gives them to us our hands are empty, afterwards, they are full. Then sometimes God will reach out His hand to take ours in fellowship. He needs an empty hand to put into His, but when we received His gifts and are nursing them, our hands are full, and when God puts out His hand, we have no empty hand for Him to put His hand into. When that happens, we need to let go of the gift in order to take hold of God Himself.” And then Nee adds these very sobering words. “Isaac can be done without, God cannot.”

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Walking By Faith

God is good, and He does only good ~   Psalm 119:68

God is good, and He does only good ~ Psalm 119:68

The Mantra I seek to give you is this: He promises to be all that He is to all that we need at the moment of faith. Well, if we're going to walk by faith, we need a definition of faith, and the Bible itself gives us that definition in Hebrews 11. It says that faith is the assurance of things not seen, faith is a confidence. It's a hope so real that when God speaks something we believe that it is true and we are able to walk in the path that He's called us to with absolute assurance. He goes on to further define that faith is the conviction of things not seen. Sometimes God will call us to something that we cannot see and perceive. But if God said it, it's true, even if we can't perceive it. 

I think of Noah; Noah believed God that it was going to rain. If we understand the pages of Genesis correctly, it had never, ever rained. But Noah believed God, to the point that he built a really, really big boat because God said there was going to be so much rain. 

The essence of faith is simply acting on what God has said, and so I trust you see, that by its very nature, faith has to be tested so that it can be proven so that we can continue to trust God for even bigger things. That is what the testing of our faith is all about.

The testing of our faith produces endurance, and the best illustration I can think of is stretchability. For example, take a new rubber band versus an old tested rubber band. When you get a brand new rubber band out of the package, you can only test it and pull it so far. But when you have a rubber band that is old, and it's been pulled and pulled and pulled, it can pull much farther. That's the idea here. Over time, God wants to test our faith so that we can trust Him for bigger things and, trust Him more courageously. That's what Genesis 22 is all about my friends. 

Notice that it says in verse one "after these things did God test Abraham." That's very important to understand! God didn't call Abraham in Genesis 12 and then in chapter 13 tell him that he was to sacrifice his son. No, no, no! There were decades where God continued to test Abraham and stretch him with, for example, Lot, and he had to battle with Chedorlaomer, and he had that long-awaited birth where God said He was going to give him a child, and he had to trust over the years that child would come. Only after all those things did God test in the manner in which He was going to test. 

We need to understand this, my friends, this test originated in the mind of God. This was not the enemy. This was God himself, and it's a test that seems so harsh. So, we first need to remember this life verse; it's a life verse for all of us. Psalm 119:68; “God is good, and He does only good.” Oh my beloved, memorize that verse. If you walk much longer in this world that we're in, you're going to need that verse.

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Stunned by God

When Father impresses us with Who He is and What He has done...we will find ourselves in an overwhelmingly impressed state. Then, we have no other choice or desire - WE HAVE TO WORSHIP!

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Stunned Ones Worship God

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STUNNED PEOPLE WORSHIP GOD!

When He impresses us with Who He is and What He has done... in our overwhelmingly impressed state WE HAVE TO WORSHIP!

Ponder this...

Abraham is promised at an advanced age that he will have a son. He looks at himself, then he looks at Sarai, and tells God, "How about this boy, my servant Eliezer, he can be my son."

In other words, "are you kidding me?... We are too old to have a son!" "No," God says "this son, as promised, will come through your seed!"

MORE TIME PASSES...

Then, Abraham has a go at getting a son through Sarai's handmaid Hagar, and Ishmael is born... "How about this one, Ishmael, came through my loins, he can be my son!"

God says, "No, this son, as promised, will come through your seed (Sarai included)"

MORE TIME PASSES...

At a very advanced age, God visits the elderly couple personally and declares that in one more year, this promised son, will come through the "elderly couple".

Sarai laughs, and Abraham "chuckles"

Do you see much faith here? If you do, let's be honest, it is not very much faith.

As God promised, against overwhelming circumstances, Sarai conceives, and the promised child, Isaac, is born! Wow!
Do you think this stunned man worshiped God? Ah, but we are not done yet!

The real glory (for me anyway) comes in the fourth chapter of Romans where Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declares that Abraham NEVER "waivered" in faith!!!
WHAT?

God says Abraham NEVER WAVERED?

Makes me want to ask, "God, have you ever read the Old Testament that you wrote?"

The glory of course, as revealed in the New Testament that He wrote, is that Jesus has died for our sins, and removed them from us so completely, that there is NO RECORD LEFT OF THEM! THEY ARE GONE!!! GONE!!!

I AM STUNNED! ARE YOU STUNNED?

Then, let's worship him together, you and me, who as the New Testament says have NEVER wavered in faith! 
Worship Him, you "stunned ones of God"

WORSHIP HIM!!!

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It Can Be Hard to Wait...

I am so excited to share with you today.

In the book of Genesis, it records how God came to Abraham, and promised him an heir through his own seed with his bride Sarah, and through that seed would come descendants numbering like the stars in the heavens. In addition, God promised that through his seed ALL the families of the earth would be blessed! Abraham was 75 years old when God made that amazing promise to him. Even more amazing, Sarah was 65 years old. What an exciting promise to an old, childless couple!

As the years went by, though, no child arrived, and God continued through those years to reaffirm His promise. Abraham and Sarah had to wait and wait and wait! "WAIT" is for me one of the worst four-letter words found among humanity! It is hard to wait, especially when the promise of something so good and wonderful is delayed. 

As time progressed, Abraham and Sarah decided to take matters into their own hands. First, they offered to God that their servant Eleazer might be considered the heir. Then, at Sarah's request, Abraham had sexual relations with Hagar to produce Ishmael, whom they offered to God to be the heir. God, of course, said "No" to their suggestions of help and continued throughout the years to affirm His promise that He would provide an heir through them, until one day He did provide when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90, and way past the onset of menopause! 

The amazing thing I find in this account is the commentary found on it in Romans 4:18-20, where God says of Abraham, that "against hope believed; he was not weak in faith; and never doubted but was strong in faith!" Are you kidding me? He NEVER doubted? What about Eleazer? What about Hagar and Ishmael? Makes me question, "God, do you even read the Bible that you wrote?" How are we to explain this, that God says Abraham never doubted, when clearly he did?

The answer I believe is very simple. The Bible tells us that whatever is not of faith, is sin. So Abraham's lapses in faith were sin. However, through his seed that was going to be born, Jesus, God removed all of Abraham's sins and cast them as far as the east is from the west, to be remembered by God no more... in other words, when God looks at Abraham He truly does not see ANY lapses of faith; nor ANY sinful choices, He sees only righteousness, for God has chosen to not remember such failures. 

And now the glory... It is the same for you and me. We have had many lapses of faith, many sinful choices that we regret and find hard to forget. The glory is that God has taken those things infinitely away from us, and chooses to remember them no more... So completely has He done this, that when He looks at us today, He sees only righteousness. WOW! Glory to God!