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.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

No excuse, no retreat, no surrender

This hero will certainly battle on. He will not retire or call it quits. He has dedicated himself to the cause and regardless of the pain, discomfort or challenges he is determined to give his all. I am speaking of my eighty year old paraplegic father, the Rev. Dr. Cecilio Melendez. He is a model for all to see, an object lesson for none to forget. We live our lives with a higher calling to serve God. With each individual there is of course a variety that is expressed as God uses us all in a unique way. Whether he formed us to sing, preach, teach, play an instrument, be hands of comfort or help, pray, build or fix, and others, we have a very personal mission, a commitment between God and us. My father was formed for many reasons, but one of great importance was to preach.

It was in the fishing town of Fajardo, Puerto Rico, in a small Spanish Pentecostal church he was asked to preach to the children of his church. What was remarkable is that he was seven years old. He remembers that he preached on Matthew 24, the topic was “Signs of the End of the Age”. He never looked back. He found the courage to do what few would. He would pull up a crate on the street corner and start preaching. This started at the age of twelve. Around the same time came the many invitations from traveling evangelists for the young man to accompany them and preach before large crowds of hundreds. Before he was a teenager his ministry was in full swing.

By the time my father was twenty years old he was a fully ordained minister. All was brilliant in the life of this young man; now married and the father of a beautiful little girl, my older sister Lisa. Then he was diagnosed with cancer. Treatments began earnestly in order to save this young life. The Doctors never gave my father much of a chance. They thought he would perhaps live a couple of years. But my father a man of great faith, put his life in God’s hands and fifty eight years later he still standing. However this is not the whole story.

The effects of radiation therapy would not become evident for many years later. In his late fifties he would begin to lose the use of his hands. One complication would lead to another. To summarize, both of my father’s arms and hands are paralyzed, he has lost complete vision in his left eye, sees with great difficulty in his right eye, occasionally loses his sight completely, loses his balance, may also at times feel faint, is on a strict diet, suffers from different aches and pains, has paralysis of the right vocal cord, and gets up every morning thankful that God has given him another day, when he was supposed to have been dead over fifty years ago. Doctors have chastised him for preaching and counseling, ordering him to rest his vocal cords, which is exactly what he did for almost a year. It was yet another source of pain and frustration for a man that has been preaching since he was seven. For him preaching was as natural as walking and breathing.

Every last minister and preacher in the church had taken several turns throughout the year and then the merry go round stopped. The Pastor was going to preach. Everyone waited in anticipation. Many I am sure were just waiting for him to retire. Others had been praying for healing. Neither would occur. The brave old man with little vision would locate an old outline from his memory of thousands and the sermon began. More than an hour later, he concluded after having inspired, motivated, excited and spiritually lifting the entire congregation. The time had just flown by. The church had witnessed a man wholly and completed dedicated to God. It did not matter, what physical ailments he would have to overcome, nor would it matter the weariness he had been suffering. Not even the warnings of doctors would stop him. He knew he had to preach. It was probably the best sermon I had heard in over a year. Later in private I would ask my father “Are you going to preach next Sunday?” His response was perfect, “Of course this has to continue!” No excuse, no retreat, no surrender for this hero. He will battle with his sickness and continue with this mission, until God says “no more”.

God is not looking for excuses. He did not accept any from Moses (Exodus 3:11, Exodus 4:1, 10), Gideon (Judges 6:15) or Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:6). He does not want us to come with excuses either. He is looking for men and women who are willing to sacrifice and overcome obstacles to complete with the mission God has placed in each of their hands. It will not be easy, nothing worthwhile is. But I know as I watched My father preach, I learned that to be responsible to your calling will most likely include great sacrifices and great battles, but “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

Enhanced by Zemanta

A Good Samaritan

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

He was traveling from Jerusalem when he was attacked by vicious thieves. They took all he had including his clothes and wounded him, leaving him half dead. There he was lying in the street, dying. A Priest came by and I was elated. I thought he would minister unto him. Show him the love and mercy of God. He only looked and kept on walking. A Levite came by and I thought surely this man from such a fine stock would do something for the man. He also just looked and did nothing. Perhaps he did not have the time. No one seemed to care for this man. Then a Samaritan came and I couldn’t believe my eyes. He had compassion on the man. He bandaged his wounds and placed him on his animal and took him to an inn. Would you believe that night he stood with him and cared for him. The next day the Samaritan had to be on his way. However he made sure to pay the inn keeper for the care of the man until he would get better. He even told him that if it wasn’t enough, when he returned he would pay him the balance. This Samaritan saved the traveler’s life. (Luke 10:25-37)

Through this story Jesus revealed that love should be bestowed upon all those that we meet along the way. Love was not to be reserved for family members and close friends only. Our love should be an expression of the great love that God has bestowed on us. We have freely received his mercy and love and we should freely offer this love and mercy to others. It should come even at the point of great sacrifice and charity. The Samaritan went way out of his way. It was certainly not convenient. Nor does the story ever indicate that the Samaritan expected a reward. It was a pure sacrifice made out of love.

Doing as the Samaritan did may be difficult. But we can certainly begin to take steps to show God’s love. Kindness should be a constant expression that others can see in both our words and actions. This love should be present in our interactions even under the most stressful situations. We should willingly be of assistance in time of need and if charity is something we can offer then do so. By letting love be our guide we please God and become a vessel in his hands.

Stay the Course

For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. 1 kings 11:4

Staying the course, especially if it’s a long one, can be a difficult challenge. Preparing for a competition, seeking a new career, sticking to a weight loss program, starting a business or just getting a degree; there is an endless list of long term goals that can start with a fury of commitment but end with a quiet fizzle, like the air coming out of a balloon.

Solomon, one of Israel’s greatest kings, the same Solomon famous for his wisdom, was given a lifelong course. He was to remain faithful to God, so that God would bless his descendants. Solomon started out great. He asked God for wisdom and used it to make his kingdom great. He enlarged the kingdom, built a larger army and navy. Increased his wealth and gained famed throughout the world. But he also married quite a bit. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. That’s 1000 women to keep happy and listen to. In the end it was too much for even the wisest and richest man Israel ever saw. The bible relates that Solomon in his old age worshiped the gods of his foreign wives. God was angry and punished Solomon. Most of his kingdom was torn from his son, coming under the rule of another family, tarnishing the greatness of Solomon.

Our Christian life is a lifelong course as well with many challenges. There are many forces seeking to take us in different directions. Temptations that would cause us to sin and commit acts that do not please God, tops the list for sure. However quiet innocently we can relegate our walk with Christ to low priority without even knowing it. We can fill our lives with many wonderful and productive activities. Too many activities, like Solomon’s wives, can act to squeeze God out. We must be attentive to where God is fitting in our schedule. If there isn’t much time for Him we risk an even greater danger of failing God, as Solomon did.

Consider the time we spent on God, once upon a time, when we were on fire for Christ. There was time for Sunday school, prayer services and even a chorus rehearsal. Bible reading and prayer was a daily routine. Whenever a special program or service was announced we were glad to be there. No sacrifice was too great for our God.

Perhaps some of us are still on fire. We must stay the course and be aware of the forces working against our commitment. However if we are within the group that has grown a little cold don’t wait another second to seek God earnestly. Make a re-commitment to serve God fully.

Apple of God’s eye

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

When did we become the center of God’s eyes? Was it when with His hands he formed Adam? Was it when he dreamed up Adam’s great love Eve? Was it when they first spoke or was it their first smile? We were the Apple of God’s eye before the creation. He had the entire Universe planned so that we could exist and prosper.

He certainly placed the stars in the heavens for us to ponder them. He set the oceans in motion that we might have adventures, placed the mountains to inspire us and filled the earth with animals to delight us.

But even before that He already had planned our future. Our purpose was always to be with Him. He knew we would fall and need redemption. He knew we would need forgiveness. Scripture reveals that since the foundation of the earth the plan of salvation had already been made. (1Peter 1:18-20, Ephesians 1:4) Jesus knew even then that his destiny was earth and to be the once and forever sacrifice, that the world could be saved. (John 3:16) The sacrifice of Jesus pays the price of our sins so that we might forever be with God, fulfilling Gods ultimate desire for us, to be with Him.

Some would have us believe that we are accidents of the cosmos. But are we to believe that while rocket ships, super computers and skyscrapers all have designers and makers, the most intelligent creative complicated being on this planet was just an accident?

Certainly we are the apple of God’s eyes and we are forever in His living hands!

What shall we do with Jesus?

And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head.  And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified. Matthew 27:28-31

Roman soldiers took the creator of the universe and stripped Him of all his clothes. Then they put a red robe on him. They put a crown of thorns on his head and mocked him. They called him the king of the Jews. Then they took a reed and beat him over the head. They spat upon him and then took Him to be crucified. These soldiers of Rome had no idea who was in their presence, the almighty and holy God, the eternal creator of the universe. At any moment he could have brought their lives to an end or even worst reversed roles with them. But he chose to show mercy and endure.

Makes me wonder how our treatment of Jesus has changed. Surely many treat Him as he rightfully deserves. They worship and adore Him. They faithfully serve Him and sacrifice to please Him. Yet many others do not. Some are still mocking. They find joy in making fun of their creator. They make fun of Him who was sinless but carried all our sins, He who quietly gave his life so that all might live.

Some deny He ever existed, even in the face of massive historical evidence. They would rather pretend that the man who started a massive revolution that would overturn Roman society completely, never walked in Galilee.

Others belittle who he was. To them he was a fine teacher, with brilliant ideas about how we should treat each other, but in doing so they indirectly call him a liar or a lunatic, since He claimed to be the messiah and the son of God. They also belittle his death, turning his sacrifice into nothing more than a sad case of Roman injustice.

For some of us Jesus is just an afterthought. After the work day is done, the chores are complete, errands are run, and facebook time is over, then we remember to pray a few words in hopes of getting something from our Lord.

Perhaps it is time to reconsider how we are treating our Lord. We can only hope he is still saying Father forgive them for they know not what they do. But here’s a scary thought, perhaps our generation doesn’t get a free pass, because we do know, don’t we?

Send comments to bibleaid@yahoo.com