Tag: Abraham

The Ram in the Thicket

Those who are obedient to God’s direction, in spite of suffering and uncertainty, experience God’s victory and provision..

God gave Abraham a very odd directive; actually, it was a command. He told Abraham to take his son, his only son, to a place He would reveal to him, and sacrifice him on an altar.

Abraham was to take his teenage son Isaac on a three day journey to Mount Moriah, climb to a particular point, build an altar with wood they carried with them, and then sacrifice his son, Isaac.

You can find all this in Genesis chapter 22.

I realize this sounds very morbid and completely out of character for God, but it actually was a move that saved the human race.

Abraham, God’s covenant partner, was asked to give his only son, his promised son, to God.

This then allowed God to make it possible for mankind to have access to His only Son, Jesus.

It’s the way of covenants.

As Abraham raised the knife in obedience to God, God intervened.

“And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.“ Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.” (Genesis 22:12 – 22:13 NKJV)

God provided the sacrifice then, as well as a few thousand years later.

Jesus became the needed sacrifice for mankind’s sin. He became our “ram in the thicket.”

Abraham learned obedience through the things he suffered. How did he suffer? As he believed and obeyed God, he suffered in his flesh because he was going against what his natural reasoning was telling him.

Jesus, not only in the wilderness but also in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffered in the flesh while obeying His Father’s will for His life (the cross and subsequent resurrection).

Faith, which many times requires obedience, will often have a degree of suffering with it. And without the obedience, the miraculous power and faithfulness of God is never witnessed.

You see, God always has an answer for those who believe and obey. But it’s the obedient that eat “the best of the land.”

And it’s during the suffering period, the period when it looks as though our faith isn’t going to be rewarded, that we sometimes feel like God’s requirements are too great, and we give up and go with our plan B.

Remember, God doesn’t tell us His whole plan. He leads us a step at a time.

Which is how we’re to obey.

A step at a time.

Do you keep looking for the “ram caught in the thicket”? You could be missing out on God’s answer. Don’t look at the thicket. That’s not where your help comes from. Stay with what He has said, and what He is saying, and leave the rest to Him.

“If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;” (Isaiah 1:19 NKJV)

“Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8 NKJV)

Our burdens can lead to a Kingdom adventure 

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Hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit allows us to feel the heart of the Father. 

Sometimes we sense a burden, a heavy weight, for someone or something. Our hearts are heavy with care, and we’re not sure what to do.

That’s one of the ways God draws us into His Kingdom work.

We haven’t heard Him say anything, nor have we seen any lightning bolts; any signs from heaven.

We simply feel as though we can’t shake a certain feeling or crushing burden.

It was how God communicated with Nehemiah.

Word came to Nehemiah about the condition of his beloved Jerusalem while he was still in Susa.

“They said to me, ‘The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.’ When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:3,4 NASB)

God used that burden, and subsequent prayers, to lead Nehemiah into a Kingdom of God adventure; one that ultimately displayed God’s glory, and His care for His people.

It was the way He drew Abraham into interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah.  

“Now the LORD appeared to him (Abraham) by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day.” (Genesis 18:1 NASB)

It wasn’t a fluke, or even a coincidence, that God appeared to His friend that day. And, if you’ll read the rest of the chapter, you’ll discover Abraham had his nephew Lot on his mind and heart, just like God did.

God didn’t HAVE to stop by and give Abraham a head’s up. He could have blasted away and all of Sodom and Gomorrah would have been toast, before Lot and his family had the opportunity to leave.

But God has NEVER been willing that anyone perish. He’s always wanted to save whoever He could.

So He met with Abraham, and, knowing His friend’s heart, drew him in to a conversation which ultimately became intercession.

That’s how He works in our lives, many times. 

That person, burden, heartache, etc. we just can’t shake from our mind and heart? It could very well be Father God drawing us in to an intimate conversation about it.

We need to yield, and follow His direction.

The Father looks for those who will work with Him, allowing Him to accomplish His will in the earth.

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him…” (2 Chronicles 16:9 NKJV)

“…but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.” (Daniel 11:32 NASB)

Burdened? Quiet your heart before the Lord and see what happens next.

It just may be a Kingdom adventure.

Worship Amidst Trials

20130403-195638.jpg“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”(Genesis 22:1-5 ESV)

Whenever the Lord initiates a test, there’s always much more going on than meets the natural eye. But even knowing that doesn’t make those times any easier.

Abraham was asked to do the unthinkable. Forget, for just a moment, that the test involved killing his own son. Instead, think of it as God telling Abraham to kill a promise, a dream; the future God had given him. Does that make it any easier to wrap your brain around? 

See how Abraham embraced this test. When given the instructions to go and kill the dream Abraham called it “worship”. Interesting? Sacrificing a God-given dream, an almost mature dream at that. A dream “old enough to carry the wood for its own altar.” Giving it up on the altar of obedience simply because he was instructed to. Worship.

Do you have any God-given dreams? Are the dreams the object of your worship, or can you worship God with your dreams? This is the fine line between true worship and idolatry. If you can kill your dream, you can worship. if you can’t…

But remember, God is able to raise dead dreams from the grave!

Prayer – Lord, may nothing in my life be so sacred, so precious, it cannot be offered to You in worship. Help me live a life of obedience to Your will, trusting, if need be, Your ability to raise a dead dream to new life. In Jesus’ Name.

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Time To Trust

20130420-084258.jpg“Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.” (Genesis 18:32-33 ESV)

Abraham had spent a considerable amount of time with God, leading up to this pivotal moment. He had entertained the Lord and 2 angels, serving them a huge meal. The Lord had reiterated His promises to the host and hostess regarding their son, who was to be born within a year. Then the Lord confided in Abraham about the mission at Sodom and Gomorrah, allowing him to plead with Him on behalf of the people living in that doomed area. Then God walked away…

Now it was time to simply trust.

Trust? How does one “trust”?

Well, for starters…

Find a chair, any chair, and sit in it.

Okay?

Ask yourself, “how much am I trusting in this chair?”

Did you feel the need to get the chair’s “performance documents” before placing your body in its care? How well do you really know the chair? Have you considered its outlandish promise to support you for as long as you trust, and stay seated?

Next, get up and turn on your television set. Any channel will do.

Done?

Before you pushed the remote button, did you, first, kneel and pray? Did you ask the neighborhood technician to check all the circuits and test all the components before pushing the button? Or did you just expect it to come on?

People exercise trust daily. Many times a day. Common, everyday actions are examples of trust. Driving a car, riding an elevator, flying in an airplane, turning on the kitchen tap…

We trust even though we may not understand how things work. We trust, though our eyes don’t see the answer.

God can be trusted.

Though you may not feel Him near, and life seems to contradict all He has promised,

God can be trusted.

When you’ve done all you can do, said all you know to say, it’s time to trust.

Maybe this is where you find yourself today. You’ve run out of ideas, paced the floor and cried until your voice, your tears, are gone. Though you’d been sensing the Lord’s Presence, now it seems you’re all alone.

It’s time to trust. For though the Lord may “walk away”, He’ll never withdraw His covenantal promises.

It’s time to trust.

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