Because Thou Hast Done This Thing, 2

Abraham“I and the Lord will go yonder to worship … And said, By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for BECAUSE THOU HAST DONE THIS THING, and not withhold thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee …”  (Genesis 22:5, 16-17).

As we mentioned in our last post, the story of Abraham, Isaac, and Mount Moriah (as found in Genesis 22) is a sobering reminder for all of us who claim to be people of faith, followers of the Lord Jesus, and a people who want to worship the one and true living God.

This story reminds us that true worship of God is actually a matter of faith, obedience, surrender, and sacrifice. And, when we are willing to SURRENDER and SACRIFICE that which is nearest and dearest to our heart -even that which God has given to us- it is an act of spiritual worship that is both pleasing to God and eventually results in the blessing of God.

For Abraham, Isaac might have been his promised child, his only son from his beloved wife Rachel, and the apple of his eye, but it would have been very easy for Isaac to also become an idol in Abraham’s life. And, God always has to deal with the idolatry in our lives, even if the idol isn’t a statue or a shrine. And, He often deals with it in a painful way. Concerning idols and idolatry, I like what one author wrote:

We think that idols are bad things, but that is almost never the case. The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life. What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. 

For some of us, our idols are found in family or friends. For others of us, it’s in our financial security or our future ambitions. And, still for others, its the familiarity of a good church, home, job, etc…

Someone has said, “The human heart is an idol making factory.”

Understanding this helps us to understand why so many of us, in fact, all of us, struggle with making the “hard decisions” when it comes to following Jesus. Oh, there are many decisions and choices that are “easy” to make, but its those difficult ones that get the best of us.

Path 1When it comes to bringing your only son, the one your heart adores, to Mount Moriah, now that’s another story.  And, when it comes to doing what Jesus wants us to do. And, in many cases, when it comes to going where Jesus wants us to go, that too, is another story. And, I think we can all attest to this!

Why is this? Because it isn’t really Jesus that’s ruling our hearts and lives, but the idols that we really serving. They have control! 

Again,  I like what another author wrote:

Old gods die hard. They hold on, they creep in, they quietly clutch at us. Perhaps when we meet Christ, the old gods fall silent for a while. But they regroup. They wait for their time, and they aim as high as ever. They want to rule our hearts again.

A few more questions worth pondering at the beginning of 2018:

(1) When God begins to speak to my heart, and there’s a “hard decision” to make, do I first ponder all that Christ has done for me with a heart of gratitude, or does my mind wander to someone or something that makes it difficult to make the decision?

(2) Are there any reoccurring words that God has spoken to me over the years that, because of someone or something, I keep ignoring or neglecting?

(3) When will I stop wrestling with God and simply SURRENDER and SACRIFICE whatever or whoever it might be on the Mount Moriah God has for me?

Just reflecting!

Self-2“If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”  — C. T. Studd

 

Because Thou Hast Done This Thing

Abraham“I and the Lord will go yonder to worship … And said, By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for BECAUSE THOU HAST DONE THIS THING, and not withhold thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee …”  (Genesis 22:5, 16-17).

The story of Abraham, Isaac, and Mount Moriah, as found in Genesis 22 is a sobering reminder for all of us who claim to be people of faith, followers of the Lord Jesus, and a people who want to worship the one and true living God.

This story reminds us that true worship of God is actually a matter of faith, obedience, surrender, and sacrifice!

When we are willing to SURRENDER and SACRIFICE that which is nearest and dearest to our heart-even that which God has given to us- it is an act of spiritual worship that is both pleasing to God and eventually results in the blessing of God.

As we are less than two weeks into 2018, there are a few questions worth pondering:

(1) Are there some things, or even people, that God is calling for us to SURRENDER and SACRIFICE in order to truly follow Him in this New Year?

(2) Is there someone or something that we are clinging to that God is calling us to give to Him and, yet, it seems too unbearable to give up?

(3) Is there a Mount Moriah a few days journey ahead for us? If so, are we willing to take the journey?

For the follower of Jesus, the journey of faith and obedience is, at times, lonely and long, and often painful, but in the long run, it’s always worth it!

Just Reflecting!

 

 

 

Satan’s Last Stronghold

#1“The Lord will destroy the house of the proud …” (Proverbs 15:25)

It has been said, “Pride is Satan’s last stronghold in the heart and the life of a committed Christian.” Someone else has said, “Pride is the first sin to enter a man’s heart and the last to leave.”

Regrettably, more often than not, our pride not only goes unchecked, but goes undetected and this is the root cause of so many issues in our life and ministry!

Think about all of the problems that we have in our life, our marriage, our ministry, and yes, even in our so-called movement. Isn’t it fairly easy to see that pride is at the root of much, if not all, of our problems. And yet, we are too proud to admit it! 😦

Again think about it, regardless of the circumstances, a proud spirit is almost always, if not always, at the root of our many contentions.

“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom” (Proverbs 13:10).

The quickest and surest way to see a man, a marriage, a ministry, or even a movement “destroyed” is for us to allow our sin of pride to go undetected and unchecked!

#2O Lord, help us – no Lord, help me – to pulldown the stronghold of pride in my life. Help me to follow in the humble footsteps of Jesus!

Just Reflecting!

ARE YOU GOING THROUGH CHANGES? I HOPE SO!

#1Hebrews 5:12-6:1, For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.

2 Peter 3:18, But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

While most of us would readily admit growing in Christ is the will of God, if we aren’t careful, some times we just stop growing. And, if we are going to grow, we are going to have to spend time in the word of God, spend time sitting at the feet of Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the changes that need to be made.

#3When it comes to loving, learning and living the Bible—especially the “meat” of the word—MATURITY matters. The question is, “DO I WANT TO GROW?” “AM I WILLING TO CHANGE?” or “AM I SATISFIED WITH MY PRESENT SPIRITUAL CONDITION?”

I think most of us want to be used by God to make a difference in the lives of others. I think most of us want God to use us to change others. I am convinced most of us want God to continue to use us to change others. If so, it would be good to keep in mind:

God has to CHANGE ME before He uses me to CHANGE OTHERS. And, He has to continue to CHANGE ME, if He is going to continue to use me to CHANGE OTHERS!

#2Romans 12:1-2, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed [CHANGED] by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

A Few Important Questions Worth Pondering:

  • Am I still growing in my love and service for Christ or have plateaued in my Christian experience?
  • Am I changing, or am I stuck in a spiritual rut? If not, why?
  • Am I a little bit more like Jesus today than I was yesterday? If not, what’s holding me back?

Just Reflecting!

Knowing God’s Ways

#1Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith), To day if ye will HEAR HIS VOICE, Harden not your hearts, as in the day of the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness. … Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not KNOWN MY WAYS. … To day, if you will HEAR HIS VOICE, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation” (Hebrews 3:7-8, 10, 15).

“To day, if ye will HEAR HIS VOICE, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7).

One of the many important lessons that we see clearly in the Bible, and in the two passages above, is that HEARING GOD’S VOICE and KNOWING GOD’S WAYS always go hand in hand.

#2The question isn’t, “Is God speaking today?” but, “Are we listening?” and “Are willing to obey the leading of God?

Unfortunately, far too often, we are either too busy or too distracted to hear the Voice of God as He speaks to us.

Like Martha of old, we are often too busy or distracted to sit at the feet of Jesus, as Mary did [LK 10:38-42]. And, because of this, we often do not know His way, and if we don’t know His way, it’s really hard to walk in His way!

#3O Lord, like Mary, help me to be still and sit at your feet, hearing Your Voice. Help me to know Your ways, and follow Your leading. Help me to avoid all of the distractions and voices that are calling out for my attention!

Just Reflecting!

Loving Righteousness and the Righteous One

#1“Being made so much BETTER than the angels …” (Hebrews 1:4).

“Thou hast LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS, and HATED INIQUITY, therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Hebrews 1:8).‬

While reading from the Book of Hebrews this morning, two thoughts really stuck out to me. Of course, the writer of Hebrews, among other matters, reminds us that Jesus is BETTER —He has more dignity and value, more power and prominence—than anyone and anything. He’s better than angels, Moses, the prophets, the law, the traditions, and the list goes on.

My first thought this morning, from this great book was simply:

Can I honestly say, JESUS IS BETTER THAN ANYTHING OR ANYONE IN OUR LIFE TODAY? Is Jesus the Preeminent One in our life, or is He simply prominent?  There is a big difference!

My second thought this morning was also very simple:

Can I honestly say, I LOVE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATE INIQUITY-especially the iniquity in my own heart and life? And do I LOVE THE RIGHTEOUS ONE from where all true righteousness springs?

Definitely, thoughts worth pondering and praying over!

#2O Lord, help to open my eyes to the goodness and glory of the the Lord Jesus. Help me to acknowledge the Lord Jesus for who He really is, the Pre-eminent One, the Lord of lords, the King of kings. Lord, help me to hate the sin in my life far more than the sin in the lives of others. And help me to hate it with a passion. Create in my heart a longing for righteousness, and for the Righteous One. Anoint me with the Spirit’s presence and power!‬

Just reflecting!

 

 

 

Closed Doors

Closed doorsActs 16:6-10, Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

The passage above, which I read yesterday, during my time with the Lord, is one of my favorite stories. While we may not understand why, the apostle Paul “was forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia” (ACTS 16:6). Humanly speaking, it makes no sense whatsoever.

Paul had a desire to do, not only a good thing, but a godly thing. He wanted to preach the gospel in Asia. He wanted to win people to Christ. He wanted to baptize new converts. He wanted to disciple new believers. And, no doubt, Paul wanted to plant another church or two, or three, or more.

But God closed the door!

It is good to remember, that while God is in the business of OPENING DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY, at the same time, He occasionally, He CLOSES DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY.  And, often when He does, it makes no sense whatsoever. It often bewilders and frustrates us, but we must let God be God, and recognize that He knows better than we do.

Understanding that God occasionally CLOSES DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY, and being sensitive to the Spirit, as Paul was, will enable us to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives and ministries, and help some folks who really need our help.

Open doorsWe can always rest assured, if God closes one DOOR OF OPPORTUNITY, there’s another DOOR OF OPPORTUNITY that will be opened before long.

Just reflecting!