Sacrificing your son

There you were minding your own business enjoying the son that God had promised you many years ago. Now everything had fallen into place. What could possible go wrong? Then you heard the voice of your God, the voice that had always comforted you, the voice that had always directed you. How many blessings had you received by just listening to this voice? The day just couldn’t get any better, except God made the strangest request. This loving, faithful God who hated evil and sin had just asked you to commit the most heinous act of sacrificing your son.

What do you do? Abraham found himself in this position. (Genesis 22:1-2) What is remarkable is that Abraham’s faith never faltered. He followed God’s direction to the letter.

He went to where God directed him to go, laid down the wood and placed his son on the altar. He then raised his knife and at the very last moment was stopped by God. (Genesis 22:9-12)

God provided a ram for the sacrifice. (Genesis 22:13) This must have felt like the definition of relief. Isaac was spared and Abraham did not lose his son. Beyond any doubt he proved his love and obedience to God.

Jesus reminds us that we must love God above all things. (Matthew 22:37-38) Consider those things that have the most value to you. Now consider the people you love the most. Are they more important to you than God? Would we be willing to sacrifice our relationship with God to please them?

Abraham was willing to lose his son for God. What are we willing to surrender to please God and have a closer relationship with God? This is the God who has already proven His love to us. God is the father who actually did sacrifice His son Jesus so that we might be forgiven and be saved. It was the sacrifice of His son Jesus that paid the debt of our sin and allowed us to be called sons of God.

He has shown us His love. Perhaps it is our turn to show Him our love.

 

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What is the measure of His love?

We do not love everybody the same. We love in different ways. We love our friends, but we love some more than others. Perhaps some friends have a better connection with us, while others have been our friends longer. We love our family members but there is the Uncle we hardly knew and then there is the cousin who has been our best friend. We do not love them the same or in the same quantity.

So how does Jesus love us? Let us put Jesus to the test.

When someone loves us we would expect them to hear us and speak to us. Jesus is the friend that is never too busy and never gets bored. He is patient and always hears us when we pray. He speaks to us in three ways, His word (the bible) , through His messenger (preacher, teacher, counselor etc.) (2 Timothy 3:16–17) and directly to us (our conscience, dreams, visions, experiences, and even audible). He always speaks to our needs and with the power to change all circumstances and see us through all difficulties.

When someone loves us we expect them to want to be with us faithfully. Jesus said in his word that he would be with us until the end. His presence though spiritual is real. Sometimes we are too busy and our lives too full to know that He is there. But He patiently waits until we are ready. He also said that he has gone to prepare a place so that we can be with Him forever. When someone wants to be with you forever that’s love(Matthew 28:20, John 14:1-3) !

When someone loves you they care about your needs and wants. They don’t necessarily give you everything you want, especially if like a loving parent they know what’s best for you. But they do listen, please you when it is good for you and care for all your needs. Jesus said ask and ye shall receive (Matthew 7:7-8). He also said that God would provide for all that we need if we could just seek Him first (Matthew 6:31-34).

Before someone can have a great and genuine love for you they must truly know you. How well does He know you when he is the one who formed you(John 1)?  How well does He know you when he has seen all that you do, say and think? How well does He know you when he has always been there from the beginning (John 1)? He knows you better than you know yourself.

If all this does not prove the love of Jesus, He did pass the greatest test of all. For the greatest love is revealed when someone gives his life.(John 15:13) . Jesus proved His love without a doubt by his horrific death. Taking a bullet would have been enough, but he went through so much more.  The bible reveals that he was beaten, whipped, forced to carry a cross, and nailed to the cross (Matthew 27). There he hung barely able to breathe.  He did it to save us. He did not have to. He volunteered. We cannot forget that He made legions of demons flee (Mark 5:9-13), conquered death (Matthew 28) and commanded the storm (Mark 4:35-41). He could have easily protected Himself but chose not to.

His death paid the price for our sins, so that we may be forgiven, if we only believe. (John 3:16-17) Sin condemned us to eternal damnation, but since we are forgiven our eternal home is in paradise with the one who loved us since the day He created us. Jesus loves us with the fullest and greatest love we will ever know.

 

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Love or injustice

Tamar was a beautiful submissive and obedient princess, the daughter of Israel’s greatest hero King David. Unfortunately her evil and spoiled half brother, Amnon, lusted after her and set a diabolical plan to trap her. He pretended to be sick and had his father, King David, send his sister to tend to him. When they were alone he raped her. How can this story get any worse? King David did absolutely nothing. (2 Samuel 13:1-15)

Obviously David loved his first born son and did not want to do him any harm. However is true love injustice? David appeared to have confused the two. Love should never be an excuse for injustice or it will surely lead to greater destruction and evil.

Since David stood idly by, the brother of Tamar, Absalom, took the law in to his hands and had Amnon killed. (2 Samuel 13:28-29) Did David stand idle by again? He certainly did. It appeared that David had way too much “love” to do anything.

Absalom, also David’s son, must have realized his father’s powerlessness when it came to acting against his sons. He grew more bold and daring. Some might say he was affected by delusions of grandeur. Absalom began a rebellion in hopes of seizing his father’s thrown.(2 Samuel 15:10-12)

David would win the war and preserve his kingdom but not before he would see the death of a second son, Absalom. David’s inability to exact justice led to war and the lost of many lives.(2 Samuel 19:19)

For Christians love is a major theme in our lives but should never be confused with injustice. Justice though painful at times is an expression of love for the victim and the perpetrator. Perpetrators should learn that their acts are unacceptable. They too must be taught right from wrong and encouraged to do what is right for their own benefit. This is love as surely as a loving parent disciplines their children in the hope that they will be better for it.

 

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It’s the person, not the thing

It was Judy Pinkleton’s 17th birthday. She was a rather refined young lady who had an eye for precious things.  She knew her fashion and insisted on only wearing the best. Some of her friends were not aware of this. Tom had befriended Judy most recently.  They were lab partners in High School. Tom had a little crush on Judy and hoped to impress her. He had found what he thought to be the loveliest scarf he had ever seen.  It was red with all kinds of bears on it, in a variety of positions all holding hearts.  Surely this would express Tom’s affection. He wrapped it up and it was all prepared for Judy.

Into the classroom she came. With her head held high, wearing the best and smelling like a breath of fresh air. For Tom she was perfection. He swallowed hard and felt his heart racing. She went passed Tom quickly, without saying a word, but did manage to give him a quick look. She immediately started a conversation with her childhood friend Samantha Hoogens. Samantha’s taste was a bit more down to earth, but she knew Judy had a good heart if you could get pass all the high price gear. Judy talked fast and was obviously excited, explaining all her wonderful plans for the evening. Tom sheepishly made his way to her and somehow blurted out “Happy birthday” as he handed her the gift. The conversation came to a halt and a moment of awkward silence followed. Then Judy took the gift and said thank you Tom, how nice of you. I guess I’ll open it.” As she opened it a rather disappointed look came over her as she stared at the scarf. She seemed lost for words and finally said “Well thank you Tom this will definitely come in handy” and she quickly hid it back in the box and then continued her conversation with Samantha.

Tom quietly walked away feeling very much like a fool. Later while Judy and Samantha were walking home they noticed Tom sitting on a bench looking miserable. Samantha turned to Judy, “Isn’t that Tom? Do you think he likes you?” Judy laughed and then paused. “You think?”  Judy had always thought Tom socially awkward, yet handsome. She walked over to Tom and just asked him “Hey Tom I’m having a party tonight would you like to come over?” Tom’s face lit up “Certainly, Judy I would love to.” Judy simply said “Great. I’ll see you then.”  She started to walk away when Tom stopped her “Judy, if you didn’t like the scarf I can take it back and get you something else”  Judy turned and looked at Tom.  It was, as if for the first time she realized the importance of the gift. It wasn’t the quality or the price tag that mattered. The value was in who had given it. She looked at Tom and then at the box and said “No Tom, I think I’ll keep it. It’s starting to grow on me.” She gave Tom a smile and added “Make sure you come Tom” and she turned and walked away.

Jesus said “Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”  (Matthew 10:31)  He also said, “For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?” (Matthew 16:26) Scripture makes it clear and Jesus specifically revealed the great value of every life or soul.   According to Jesus you could take everything of value in the world and make one big pile of it, and it still would not compare to the value of a life or a soul. We are of incredible, immeasurable value.  Imagine if we could treat each other with our true value in mind.  Judy came to realize that the scarf may not have had much monetary or fashion value, but the gift giver, Tom, had much value indeed.

Also from bibleaid Are you important to God?

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A brave act of Love

Chained in the deepest most secured area of a prison, two missionaries were kept, bleeding from their wounds. They had been beaten mercilessly. They had come to the town of Philippi to preach the gospel when they came upon a demon possessed slave girl. They set her free from her demonic captives and their reward was an unlawful beating and imprisonment. (Acts 16:16-40) Would they rot in this jail and never see the light of day again? Apparently it was no concern for these men, Paul and Silas. Their response was to worship God.

Then at midnight the spirit of God must have truly been pleased by their offering for the ground shook, the prison wall trembled, the doors swung open and the chains of these Godly men broke. Surely God had set them free. Now they could run out and escape from this terrible place! We all would have! Matter of fact it was not too long ago that these men had escaped from Iconium. There they discovered a plot to stone them and quickly fled to save themselves. (Acts 14:1-7) Why not flee again?

They did not flee, out of love. This time a man’s life was at stake. They knew that Roman law would require the life of the guard if they would escape.

Just about when the guard was going to kill himself Paul yelled out, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” (Acts 16:28) Imagine the thoughts of this man, first relief, “Thank heaven”, then joy and finally confusion. “Why had they not attempted to escape? Why did they stop me from harming myself? Who are these men that would care for me?” All these thoughts must have been swirling in his head. But his heart was now open to receive their message.

Now he wanted to know about Jesus. The bible relates that He and his entire family were saved because of one brave act of love. (Acts 16:33) Paul and Silas knew how much they were hated in this town; their bleeding backs where proof of that. They also knew that justice was not guaranteed. There was a real chance that by not escaping, they could spend many years in jail or be sentenced to death. But out of love they stayed.

Let us all consider how one act of unselfish love can change someone’s life. How one act of love can change a family and maybe even a neighborhood. We have the power to make the world around us better. We have the power to reach others with the Love of Christ. We can bring real change. Let us show our love!

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Flowers for the Enemy

“Oh I love you so much honey I can’t wait to see you so we can celebrate our 16th day together. Oh I hear dragon lady coming, she drives me crazy. She really has it in for me. I know sweetie, OK, I’ll see you later, OK bye sweetie.” Manny hangs up the phone and she is standing right behind him. “Mrs. Picket how can I help you?” She has her hands by her hips and she is wearing a nasty frown. “This report is horrendous. Now I I’ve made a bunch of notations I expect it redone, on my desk and done a.s.a.p. I realize it’s your lunch break, but you’re going to have to cut that short, considering the time sensitive nature of this report.” Then she was gone, tail and all. “She hates me. She doesn’t treat anyone else like that. I’d like to show her” Manny thought, “Well this just means less time to get the flowers I wanted for Sweety, the love of my life.”

Manny was worried now, “Five o’clock and the report was not done. Sweety is waiting for me. What am I going to do? ” Manny decided to take a bold move. He threw on his Jacket, and grabbed the flowers and marched into Mrs. Picket’s office.

“Manny how dare you just barge…..” Mrs. Picket stopped mid-sentence when she saw the flowers. ”My favorite Tulips. How did you know?”She grabbed the flowers leaving Manny stunned. “Manny you remembered.” Manny was confused but managed to respond “of course how can I forget” Mrs. Picket happily announced, “our three weeks anniversary of working together. Manny do you have the report done?” Manny breathed and then sheepishly said, “Well” …Mrs. Pickett interrupted him,” I am disappointed but considering all things enjoy the rest of your evening Manny.” Then Mrs. Picket did something Manny had never seen, she smiled.

The old saying is “you can catch more bees with honey”; the bible puts it another way. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” (Romans 12:14) The wisest man of all, Solomon, had this to say “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-22)

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A Purpose for the New Year

KJV Bible

KJV Bible (Photo credit: knowhimonline)

If these are the last days what should we expect?  Faith to decline. False teaching to increase, men to become “lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”, (2 Timothy 3:1-4).

Paul also explained that in the last days instead of seeking the truth and God, people would seek confirmation for whatever they wanted to believe, and practice. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

These are not pretty pictures, men and women living their lives purely seeking to pleasure themselves without considering the world around them and most importantly those less fortunate than themselves. To make matters worse instead of seeking the truth they only look to confirm their selfish beliefs and justify their actions. Has this already occurred? Are we living in the last days?

We are the ambassadors of Christ. Jesus gave us the great commission to go into the entire world to teach everything he commanded and to make disciples. (Matthew 28:19-20) Sometimes we cowardly remain silent while we hear the world justify outrageous actions, abortion, pornography, violence, just to name a few.  We also stand by while many, including Christians, become more materialistic and hedonistic.

It may not be popular but our focus in these trying times must be preaching the gospel that changes lives, a gospel that teaches us to love God above all things (Mark 12:28-30), to obey the commandments (John 14:15), to love one another, regardless of our differences (Matthew 5:43-48), to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mark 12:30-31), to do unto others as we would have them do to us (Matthew 7:12), that directs those that have to help those that do not have (Mark 10:21, Acts 4:32-35) that emphasizes sacrifice, giving and kindness over pleasure, taking and callousness.(Matthew 25:35-40)

The living and preaching of this gospel should be the purpose of our new year. It begins at home and then extends to the rest of the world.  Let us begin today!

More from bibleaid

1-What is a Christian? article/devotional

2.-Verses on love (A  list of verses)

3-Commandments of love article/devotional

4-More bibleaid New Year’s articles and resources (link to a collection)

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