Faith of Abraham!

The Sacrifice of Issac
Genesis 22:1-19
God tested Abraham.
 
This is what I was reading this morning. There are a couple of really great points that struck me in this reading. First, God uses the words “your son, your only son” three times in this chapter, verses 2, 12, and 16. I found this significant because God sacrificed His one and only son, Jesus. This chapter is a foreshadowing of God’s plan of salvation. 
 
Yes, this is a tough topic of discussion. That is why the second point that stuck out to me was Abraham’s faith is key to making sense of it all. When God called him to sacrifice Issac, we do not find him challenging God and refusing to do so. I read in the very next verse that Abraham obeyed God. Verse 5 Abraham tells the others to wait while he and Issac go to worship and (they) will come again to you. Abraham had complete faith in God that He would work it out. Abraham believed in the resurrection because he trusted in God’s promise. Verses 7- 8 Issac questions his father and Abraham tells Issac that God will provide. Abraham loved God enough to lay down his son’s life before him yet God stopped Abraham’s hand and provided a lamb for the sacrifice.
You see, God wanted to know what was in Abraham’s heart and God blessed Abraham greatly. God later proves His love for His creation by sacrificing His one and only Son, Jesus. 
I have to admit that I am a lazy Christian at times. I find myself at times not wanting to work at it, be it my faith or relationships. I want it to be easy but it isn’t as I have often read in the Bible and experienced for myself. I confess my laziness and desire to grow through putting forth effort in all things.
My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, forgive me for my laziness and inspire me me to do what is right in Your eyes. Test me and know what is in my heart. Increase my faith that I may glorify You in all I do. Amen.
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What Casts Out Fear?

Perfect Love
1 John 4:16-19 (ESV)
16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.

Love for one another comes from God because He first loved us through sending His son, Jesus to be propitiation for our sins. Propitiation is a big word that essentially means that Jesus revealed us of having to pay for our sins by appeasing God’s wrath and that by believing in Jesus we have been reconciled to God. As we begin to fathom the love God has for us and abide in that love and He in us, we begin to be changed from the inside out and fear no longer has a hold on us for fear has to do with punishment and as believers no longer have to fear God’s punishment. He will perfect His love in us as we love one another. One of my favorite hymns is ‘O The Deep Deep Love of Jesus,’ S. Trevor Francis, 1875. I particularly like the second verse.
 
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!
 
So the next time you are feeling down and in need of uplifting, stop and think about how deep His love is for you. His love never changes and He died to make you His own. He also intercedes for you to the Father. What greater love is that?

My prayer: Dear Father in heaven, always bring to mind the depth of Your love for me and by it may I in turn love others. May others be encouraged by Your love and be changed forevermore. Amen.
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F.A.I.T.H.

Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him
John 20:30-31 (ESV)
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
There are several examples of great faith in the Bible; The Leper in Matthew 8:2; The Centurion in Matthew 8:10;  and The Ruler in Matthew 9:18 just to name a few. But for me, Abraham had great faith in God to leave home to go to an unknown land. He had a fantastic adventure in trusting Him. Even when God called him to sacrifice his only son, Issac, Abraham believed in God’s promises and therefore he believed in the resurrection. Yet God provided a lamb and Issac was spared. This was a foreshadowing of what God would do for us through His one and only Son, Jesus. John 3:14-20 sums it up quite well.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
I recently heard it explained that the two thieves that were crucified with Jesus represented humanity in that there would be those who would believe in Jesus and those who would reject Him. I thank God that His Holy Spirit has lead me to believe in Him and through Him I have eternal life and hope in my heart. I, too, am having a fantastic adventure in trusting Him. I know that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). 
Believing is more than a mental assent. It is clinging to, relying on, adhering to, and trusting in Jesus with all your heart as if  your life depended on it. In whom do you trust in, rely on, cling to, and adhere to?
My prayer: Dear Father in heaven, thank you for making me Yours through Your beloved Son, Jesus and Your Holy Spirit convicting me of my sin. I know that a part from You I can do nothing. May those who read this blog be encouraged to believe in You fully. In Jesus Name, Amen.
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His Steadfast Love Endures Forever!

Psalm 118: 1, 5-9, 29
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
    the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper;
    I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.
 
29 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
 There is a lot of wisdom in this Psalm. Today, I want to focus on a couple of things. The phrase ‘His steadfast love endures forever’ is repeated at least 5 times and there are two other phrases that are repeated, ‘the Lord is on my side’ and ‘It is better to take refuge in the Lord.’ The word endure means ‘to continue to exist; last.‘ Thus God’s steadfast love will continue to exist; last. It never changes and there is nothing that I can do to add or take away from it. He loves me the same yesterday and today. He has shown me His love in Jesus.  For me, this means that His love will not fail or quit on me.

I like how I am reminded that God is on my side, my helper, and He is my refuge. The noun refuge means ‘a place of shelter, protection, or safety.’ It is better to take refuge in God than in men or princes because He will not fail and His love will continue. For me, I am to find my refuge in God’s steadfast love for He is on my side and He is my helper therefore I give thanks to the Lord for He is good.

Where is your place of refuge? In man or God? Where does your help come from?

My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, I give You thanks for You are my refuge and my helper. May I enjoy the safety of Your steadfast love that continues forever. Praise to You, oh, Lord. Amen.
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God is Bigger Then All My Fears!

Isaiah 12:2 (ESV)
“Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation.”
A very good friend of mine once told me that fear is False Evidence Appearring Real. I have to admit that I have an unhealthy fear of negative emotions particularly anger. The false evidence appearring real to me is my belief that someone’s anger is my responsibility and that it can cause me harm. God does not want me to be controlled by someone’s anger. For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control, 2 Timothy 1:7. I have had to tell myself that God is bigger than my fear and that He will protect me. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do to me? Psalm 118:6. If I give into my fear then I am saying that my fear is greater and I do not trust Him.
I know that I can trust Him. For when I stop and consider the wonder of the universe and that He holds the stars in their places and that God sent His Son to die in my place who am I to say that He can’t be trusted. There are quite a few verses that tell me to be strong in the Lord for He is with me wherever I go. Joshua 1:9; Haggai 2:4; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:10 To overcome my fear of negative emotions I am to trust in the Lord. Psalm 115:11 tells me that I can trust in the Lord for He is my help and my shield. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put (my) confidence in man, Psalm 118:8. Psalm 118 will be my meditation this week. It is so good to read.
I encourage you to read Psalm 118 for yourself and see what God is trying to tell you. As for me, I will trust in Him and not be afraid for what can man do to me.
My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, forgive me when I give into my fears. I give You thanks for Your Word tells me that You are worthy of my trust and that You are by my side. I will trust and not be afraid for You are mighty and care for me. Amen.
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Let Your Yes Simply be Yes

And Your No Simply be No …
Matthew 5:37b
Anything more than that comes from the evil one.
 
Why is it that saying No is so hard? Each person has the right to say No without guilt or explanation. This is why I like this verse. I am to let my Yes be Yes and my No be No anything more is from the evil one. I need not explain the reason for my No. It is one of my hang-ups to be overly concerned about the other person’s reaction to my No. I am fine with someone telling me No because I know when I ask that it is an option that I have to accept. On the other hand, if I make a great deal about saying Yes like expecting someone’s gratitude in return then I am not acting properly either. The same can be said if I find myself trying to explain or defend my saying No. When I ask someone for a Yes or No, I am ready to accept their answer without any explanation for their response. 
 
I learned from the book titled, “Boundaries,” that in order for my Yes to be an honest Yes and not a reluctant Yes I need to be comfortable with saying No. So why is it so hard to tell a family member No? The answer is people pleasing. One has to be free from the fear of negative emotions to be able to say No. I have to recognize whose problem is it and then not take it as mine. The other person can be angry or not. It is not my place to fix it. I also need the freedom to be told no and to have my feelings about it and get over it by myself.

An honest answer is like a warm hug. Proverbs 24:26 from The Message. 
An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. (NIV)

The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious and win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him. Ecclesiastes 10:12 AMP

So I encourage you to let your Yes be Yes and your No be No. Let us be honest with one another.

My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, help me to give an honest answer to anyone who asks. Let my Yes be Yes and my No be No. Forgive me when I do anything else. Amen.

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Thankfulness in ALL Circumstances

I Still Have Not Got This Right!
James 1:2-3 (AMP)
Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.

Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
 But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.
Colossians 3:15 (AMP)
 15 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].
I have to admit that I am not good at this. Yet, I know according to James that I should consider it joy whenever I encounter various trails and temptations because it has its purpose of developing godly character. After all how does one get good at something? Practice! There again I am not good at practice. I must admit that I want a shortcut to the change in my character. This is not how God would have it.
Looking at Colossians 3:15, above, I am to let the peace (soul harmony) that comes from Christ rule (act as umpire) in my heart to aid me in the questions that arise in me. And be thankful. I do want to grow in my faith and my character to be more like Christ. With growth, there will be pain and/or discomfort. With God all things are possible.
All in all, I am thankful that God loves me enough to do what is necessary to help rid me of poor character traits. I am thankful that He gives me the needed strength and promises to comfort me and never leave me nor forsake me. I give thanks reluctantly for those times of trials and temptations. With His help, I can get my attitude right when it comes to hardships. After all hardship is a pathway to peace. Therefore, I rejoice in my recent trial for God is in control and will use it for His purpose. By His grace, I can allow it work its purpose and practice what He has taught me.

My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, forgive me for not giving You thanks in all circumstances. Thank you for helping to see that You have a purpose in all my situations. Let Your peace rule in my heart. Not my will be done but Your will be done. Amen.
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God’s Desire for Us

God’s True Desire for Us

God’s greatest desire is for His people to live in peace with one another. Yet, there is a big difference between making peace and keeping the peace. Romans 12:18, 14:19.

PeaceKeeper Vs. Peace Maker

Keeping the peace is not a healthy choice.  The person keeping the peace sacrifices one’s self for the sake of the other person thus losing and being vulnerable to manipulation later. The other person appears to get their way but in the end the relationship is only weakened. This perpetuates a nasty cycle. It is a win-lose situation which in turn becomes resentment later. I know I have been there done that.
Whereas the peacemaker works towards a win-win situation. People involved are free to discuss their opinions and ask questions in order to come to an agreement. There is mutual respect and they seek to understand one another. This is what I am striving to learn and act upon.

Peace Maker

There is a really good book titled, “The Peacemaker,” by Ken Sande. In chapter 2, he discusses peace with God, peace with others, and peace within yourself. He states that this peace, which often is referred to as “unity,” is not the absence of strife and conflict. The unity is the presence of genuine harmony, understanding, and goodwill. From my experience, I have come to understand that some of the strife between people can stem from a lack of peace within themselves. I get my peace within from my personal relationship with Jesus because He gave me a right standing before God. He Loved me enough to die for me.

Hebrews 12:14 (AMP)
  Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.
Mark 9:50 (AMP)
Salt is good (beneficial), but if salt has lost its saltiness, how will you restore [the saltiness to] it? Have salt within yourselves, and be at peace and live in harmony with one another.
James 3:17  (TLB)
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere. 
 
I particularly like James 3:17. It is God’s wisdom that can help us work out peace because it allows for discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere. Praise be to God for this is where I am learning to operate from and now I understand better that it is God working in me.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ seek to live at peace with all people for this is how we reflect Christ to those around us. With God all things are possible.
My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, I rejoice at this point in my life where I can strive to live at peace with others. Forgive me, Lord, when I fail to work toward peace. I truly desire to reflect You in my life to others. May we all strive to live in peace with one another. Amen.
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Priorities!

We All have Them But
Are They in the Right Order?
To be honest, I don’t always get my priorities in the right order, meaning I put myself first and what I need. Yet, when I do get them in the right order, meaning God first and me second, I have experienced more peace and stability as well as order in my life. I remember singing, when I was a child, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Alleluia!’ You will find this in Matthew 6:33.
Seeking God first. There are a few verses that I have found that address this quite well.  Psalm 105:4,  Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!
 Jeremiah 29:13, You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Proverbs 8:17, I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.
 From these verses, I find that I am to seek the Lord continually, whole-hardheartedly, and diligently. What does it mean to seek? I looked it up in the Bible dictionary, ‘to seek or strive after, endeavor, to desire.’ It is an action on my part in my relationship with Jesus.
I have come to look at it this way. When we first fall in love with someone, what are some of the things we do? One, we seek to spend more time with that person and talk with the person frequently.  Another thing that we do is that we desire to tell others about that special someone. The same needs to seen in my relationship with Jesus. If I say that I love Jesus then my actions need to reflect it.
Another of my favorite verses is Micah 6:8,
 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.
I see in this verse that God desires for me to walk humbly with Him. As I spend time with God, I will begin to reflect His character. Some of His characteristics that I know that I want to reflect  are to be slow to anger, to act justly and to love mercy as well as to be forgiving of others.

So I need to get my priorities straight in order to live a life that is pleasing to God and reflects His character.

My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, forgive me for not getting my priorities straight. Give me, I pray, a true desire to draw near to You first and seek Your kingdom and Your righteousness. Amen.
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We Are Called to Be Free!

Galatians 5:13-14,
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b]
 

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he was addressing the conflict over circumcision. He tells them not be bound by the former things because Christ has made all things new. He reminds them that in Christ, we are free but not to use the freedom to indulge the flesh, sinful nature. As believers, we are to serve one another humbly in love. We are to live by the Spirit, therefore, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law Galatians 5:17-18.

This is how we are called to live differently from the world. We are free from the consequences of sin as long as we choose to live according to the Spirit and not the flesh. Yet, if we fall short and we will. God is faithful and when we confess and turn back to Him, He will forgive us and give us a fresh start. I know that I have fallen short many a time and I have experienced God’s grace when I was prompt to admit my wrong.

In 1 Timothy chapter 6:17-18, Paul instructs Timothy to command the rich not to be arrogant or put their hope in their wealth but put their hope in God. They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.I believe that as believers we to are called to do the same, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous. This is pleasing to God. Paul summed it all up in Galatians 5:6b, The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Footnotes: [a] In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit; also in verses 16, 17, 19 and 24; and in 6:8. [b] Leviticus 19:18 [c]  Or you do not do what (Bible Gateway) Scriptures taken from the NIV.
My prayer: Dear Father in heaven, help me to live by the Spirit so that I do not gratify my sinful nature. By Your Spirit, help me to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and willing to share so that in doing so it brings You glory and draws others to You. Give me the desire to humbly serve others in love as You would have me to do not as I would do. Amen.
Disclaimer: I am sharing with you what I am learning and what I desire to add to my life through study of God’s Word and prayer. May you also desire the same.

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