Tag: encouragement

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)

Joanie

Thought I’d write a little about my sister in law, my brother’s wife.

Joanie Grace.

She is quite a gal. I say “is” because, though her body isn’t around anymore, Joanie is very much alive.

In Heaven.

And we who are still living on this earth miss her a lot; those of us who really knew her, that is.

Here’s what I remember about her…

She didn’t care for her given name, Joan, but always wanted to be called “Joanie”. I never asked her why, just figured it was her prerogative. It did have a more friendly “let’s get to know one another better” ring to it.

She did well picking out my brother for a husband (and me as a brother in law). Too bad she didn’t know how to pick a football team. She would actually make fun of my team! Her team? The Vikings. Mine? The Bears.

Really.

But at least she could joke about it. In fact, she really enjoyed teasing people she loved. I bet Jim got teased a lot!

She loved all 5 of her children, even though two of them were “steps”. That didn’t matter to her as she figured “step” meant she was to take the necessary steps to make certain all the kids were loved and included in her family. Also loved were her kids’ spouses and all the grandkids.

Joanie had a great capacity to love.

She knew how to make people laugh, especially my wife. They would swap stories, texts, messages, phone calls…always encouraging each other through difficult and trying times.

By the way, because life is rough at times, we could all use a Joanie in our lives.

She was big on establishing boundaries, keeping offenders at a safe distance. But she didn’t give up on people. However, she could slam the door on people who acted inappropriately.

Joanie had a hunger for spiritual things, a hunger to know God better. She enjoyed bible studies with Karen and Jessi, and from time to time would toss me a question requiring me to dig a bit for an answer. I was definitely okay with that.

I had the privilege of baptizing her and Jessi about 18 months ago. We, along with many others, witnessed her profession of faith in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

That is one of the best memories of all.

In fact, because of her decision to believe and obey the scriptures, I know I will see her again. You see, like Joanie and multitudes of others, I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior some 42 years ago.

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9 – 10:10 ESV)

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12 ESV)

If you miss her and want to make sure you’ll see her again, there’s something you need to do. Follow her steps to the Savior. Acknowledge your sin, your need for a Savior. Confess Jesus as your new, one and only Lord of your life, and ask Him for His grace to help you grow spiritually in Him.

Heaven is a package deal when Jesus is the Lord of your life.

I wrote this little poem as sort of a tribute to Joanie.

There once was a gal named Joanie, Who married her man for his money, At least that was said, Through the lies that were spread, But the truth was, her man was her honey.

Yes, Joanie and Jim were an item, And their love just continued to heighten, With her kids and his, And five cute grandkids, Their family was beginning to widen.

Then a nasty disease came along, Still the couple tried to be strong, So the battle ensued, But the cancer still grew, And in a couple of months she was gone.

But this isn’t the end of her story, Though her body became cancer’s quarry, With faith in her Lord, She’s alive evermore, Joanie Grace is living in Glory!

Now her Savior calls to you, Decide in your heart what you’ll do, A choice you must make, Before it’s too late, Receive Jesus as your Savior, too.

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