Sacrifice

Mountain Side 1Imagine having to make a sacrifice this week. The sacrifice is unknown, yet expected to be great. This act would scare us, granted today in 2017 comfort is high and many of us have busy schedules. Rewind to Genesis 22, Abraham was called to make a sacrifice assuming God was going to provide him with a lamb for the altar, yet prepared to use his one and only son as the sacrifice.

The outcome was relieving as God did provide a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in the end, but the point of the story is that Abraham put full trust in God regardless of the weight of the sacrifice. How often do we go that far in our walk with God? Do we get to the alter? Or do we even consider going up the mountain?

Trust in God wasn’t even a question anymore for Abraham, after being 100 years old and having a child, God was sure to be evident and trust worthy of any word he claimed. Nevertheless, was man trustworthy at this point? As the story of Abraham goes, although he was promised a great offspring, this man could not come the same conclusion. Sacrificing ourselves and putting down what everything else but God says seems impossible, yet we see the success later in Abraham’s walk with God made it all worth it.

 

Sodom

_MG_1678In Genesis 18, we find Abraham and Sarah have just received the wonderful news that they’re going to be first-time parents. Despite their advanced age, the Lord was finally going to give Abraham an heir, and continue the fulfillment of his promises to make Abraham “a great and mighty nation” (Gen. 18:18). God then reveals his plan to Abraham in regards to Sodom, that He will go down to Sodom and see if the outcry against the cities are justified.

Let’s take a step back from this, and realize God’s great wisdom and mercy here. We see that God himself has let Abraham know that he is not simply a god who does something without knowing every detail about it. Although we know that God is omnipresent (He is everywhere), He lets Abraham know that before destroying the city, God is going to give it a thorough look-over, and take all things into consideration.

Seeing this nature, Abraham attempts to appeal to God’s good graces, asking if God will spare the city if fifty righteous people are found; then forty, then thirty, then twenty, then ten. The whole way down, God, who is omniscient (all-knowing), knows that there are no actual righteous people in Sodom, but God demonstrates his mercy through His honesty. God is not being sneaky here; God is not a liar, and would therefore have actually spared the city had there been only ten righteous people, but Abraham had overestimated the righteousness, and underestimated the rampancy of sin.

In chapter 19, we see two angels enter the city. They experience harassment from the townspeople, the sick bargaining Lot for their lives, and their escape from the city. During the escape, Lot’s wife – against the warning of the angels – looked back, and became a pillar of salt. Lot would bargain with the angels to go into a nearby town, instead of the wilderness, to escape the wrath of God upon Sodom. The legacy of Lot would eventually fade into obscurity, and although his sons did become the fathers of the Moabites and Ammonites, we classically use Lot as an example of a man who ultimately ended up as a failure.

The story would continue with Abraham, who would go on to become the father of Isaac, Jacob, and whose lineage would eventually reach Jesus Christ. God would fulfill the promises in Abraham’s life, and his legacy would live on to this very day. We see in the life of Abraham evidence of God’s protection, provision, and His direction. And we see in the life of Lot evidence of God’s mercies and grace, despite his fallen state. Although he certainly did not deserve it, God spared his life. But in man’s free-will, God would not force Lot to live a moral life for the rest of his days, as revealed towards the end of chapter 19. And although we often like to identify with Abraham, we are so often like Lot in life; seeking our own benefit and compromising with the world to get by.

As you begin this week, consider the situations you have been pulled out of and where you deserved what was coming, remembering God’s faithfulness and mercy, and we should not stop at simply thanking God for pulling you out of a tight spot; we need to acknowledge our shortcomings, and allow Holy Spirit to do his redeeming work. It’s up to us to seize the opportunities given by this grace, and to allow Jesus to better us as people, to conform to His character each day, and to live the lives we have each been called to live as part of His body. May you have a blessed week.

El-Shaddai

Clouds“I am El-Shaddai- ‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.” Genesis 17:1

In Genesis chapters 15 and 17 we read of God’s promise to Abraham; that He would bless him with many decedents. It is interesting to notice that God spoke promise into Abraham’s life at a time that did not make sense. Not only does God choose to make these promises at an unordinary time; He makes promises that are monumental. As we read in the passage, we notice two distinct reactions to God’s promise. His initial reaction is to seek assurance and his next reaction is disbelief. The God of the Universe – capable of doing all things; unrestrained by time – meets the mind of His servant, Abraham.

God’s promises are divine and powerful; supernaturally pushing through the limits of reality. They are breathed by God and carried out by His dominion throughout the earth. His promises are righteous and trustworthy. What is most beautiful is that whatever God promises is always fulfilled; regardless of the weakness in humanity. Despite our questions and disbelief, whatever God says can be completely trusted because He is God Almighty. His timing is perfect and His promises are honorable. It seems like quite a lot for our human minds to comprehend: the righteousness God being fulfilled through heaven and earth out of perfect love for us.

Steadfast

RiverThen God said to him, “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations!” Genesis 17:3-4

God had promised Abram a son, and along with divine protection and descendants as numerous as the stars. In doing this, God changed his name from Abram to Abraham, which means, “father of many.” However, Abrahams current circumstance did not match up with the blessings he would soon inherit.

Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” Genesis 17:17

It seemed impossible for Abraham to have a son at his age. Doubts were manifesting and all seemed lost. Nevertheless, we have a God of the impossible who does not work from a human’s point of view.

And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. Genesis 15:6

Whatever circumstances you are in, that you might feel is too hard or that there are too many obstacles in the way; know that what God promises, He fulfills. God eventually blessed Abraham with his first son; therefore, hold steadfast and believe in the Lord and you will see it come to pass, just as Abraham did.

Rooted

Fog TreesNow Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. Genesis 16: 1-2

If we camp out here in this passage, we begin to notice a reoccurring trend. Abram and Sarai’s biggest insecurity was rooted in their desire to conceive a child, and their inability to do so forced them to again, forgo their trust in God. When Sarai declared that, “the lord has” we can speculate that she has done two things, they being that Sarai superimposed her own understanding of God’s covenant with Abram, and as a result, acted outside of that promise for the both of them.

In the previous chapter, God presents Abram – and by extension Sarai – an infallible promise that Abram will have children as numerous as the stars in the sky; yet, Abram and Sarai both forget the covenant God made with them, and again, began to work with their own understanding. As a result, God through an angel, had to intervene and remedy the situation Abram and Sarai brought unto themselves.

Faith is so invaluable, because even when He promised Abram and Sarai children, they in the moment could not see when, where and how His promise would come to be. What makes God so objectively trustworthy and reliable, is that when He makes a promise, it is kept; as we learn a chapter later. However, this is why faith is important, because all of scripture is a testimony of how God’s promise is always fulfilled. It is our faith in His promises that keeps us rooted in Him.

False Hope

Flower“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar;  so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Genesis 16:1

Sarai and Abram were promised a child, however, doubt flooded their hearts, and they decided to take things into their own hands and this action was not done by asking the Lord’s counsel. As soon as doubt had entered, God’s almighty power could not present itself. As followers of the Lord, we each experience times in which our patience and faith is tested. But we ought to pick up our cross and hold fast to the hope we have in Jesus. Sarai and Abram did just the opposite. False hope is dangerous because it distracts us from God’s infinite power, and places our attention on the problem that lies before us. As false hope starts manifesting itself, it’s often very difficult not to want to take the reins and try to make things happen our way. Just like in the story, this only ends in sin and conflict. However, let us not be like Sarai and Abram, but rather choose to put our hope and faith in the Him, and by doing so, we will experience His power and perfect will at work in our lives.

Choice

City Bridge 2Genesis 14: 14-16 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.

Abram understood what God’s promise to him meant, and when he conquered the kings and land before him, he denied what he had learned, choosing instead to have faith in what He promised. That promise God made to Abram was meant by faith, and not by means of man. Abram refused what he rightfully won, and chose instead to believe Gods promise for his life.

Abram chose instead to give up the lands he conquered in favor of letting God fulfill his promise by faith; not Abrams hands alone.

What we need to realize is that God will never forget his promises. Sometimes it’s difficult to put our faith in God because we do not know if he is going to fulfill the promise that he has made us, and we see that man may fulfill that promise instead. What we do instead is try and find a way to do it for him. That is what causes us to fall. Abram chose instead to give up the lands he conquered in favor of letting God fulfill his promise by faith; not Abrams hands alone.