Monday, April 27, 2009

Jehovah-Jireh - "The Lord Will Provide"

Hebrews 11:17-19 "By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.  He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned."  Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from the dead."  

The story of God testing Abraham's faith recored in Genesis 22:1 -19 is so powerful!  It is a clear picture of the provision of our God, the power of God, and then love of our God.  It also reveals our humanness compared to God's divine nature.  

Remember from one of my earlier posts what John MacArthur pointed out about our tests/trials:  We don't experience them b/c God is trying to "figure out" our faith. They come so we can see the condition of our faith (how strong) and so we can see what we really are clinging to the most!  

I think it's interesting that Isaac is repeatedly referred to as Abraham's "one and only son."  (Gen. 22:2, 12,16, Heb. 11:17).  It's interesting he is described this way b/c Abraham had another son, Ishmael.  Now Ishmael was not the Son who God had chosen to establish his covenant with, but still he was Abraham's son.  Hmmm... I am no theologian.... so don't quote me on this one... but could it be that Isaac is referred to as his "one and only son" to describe not his literal familial standing but perhaps his standing in the heart of his father.  Issac was not Abraham's only son but he was the son he treasured the most, the fulfillment of God's promise, a sign of God's provision & power to do the impossible.  In that sense, he was the one and only son who captured his father's deepest affections.  "It's through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned."  He was a treasured possession.   

That's interesting you might be thinking.  I know that's what I'm thinking!  But wait... from what we know about Abraham he believed God.  He believed God's promises.  When God said to sacrifice Isaac he believed that God would even raise him from the grave just to keep his promise to Isaac.  He recognized that God could do the impossible for his son was the proof of God's power!  So why would God test Abraham?  We already see that he believes the Lord will provide: 

Genesis 22:5 "He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there.  We will worship and then we will come back to you."  

Genesis 22:8 "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering,my son."  

Let's see what Genesis 22:12 says, "Do not lay a hand on the boy, "he said.  "Do not do anything to him.  Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."  God was testing Abraham to see his genuine fear of him.  His reverence for God.  His respect for God.  I believe the reason it was so important that we noticed that Isaac is called Abraham's "one & only son" is because it shows us the place he held in Abraham's heart.  Maybe at times Isaac even held 1st place in Abraham's heart. And God needed Abraham to see that He, Jehovah-Jireh, needed to be the one who received his deepest affections and attentions.  

Wow.  There's so much more to say about this passage... but I'll leave that for tomorrow.  For now let's all take time to pray about the "one & only" in our life.  Is our "one & only", where our affections and attentions are set, God or someone or something else?  Let's pray that God will give us the strength to sacrifice whatever it is that we may treasure more than God so that He may be glorified more in our lives and so our lives may be more blessed by finding our joy & security & fulfillment in the One who Provides all things for those who love Him!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Choosing what is better...

Luke 10:38-42 "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to come help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Food for Thought: "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better..."

I can totally relate to Martha.  She has a house full of people, and not just any people, special people... Jesus and his disciples.  She is trying to prepare for their visit, striving to be the best hostess she can be and she's feeling the pressure of not being able to get it all done. (Reminds me of preparing for guests during the holidays).  In her frustration it clicks... "My sister can should be helping me! If she would stop being so lazy and come over here I wouldn't be so stressed out!"  Meanwhile, she storms out of the kitchen ( or where ever she was) to see Mary relaxing at the feet of Jesus as he speaks.  I can feel inside me Martha's blood pressure rising.  "I am going crazy trying to prepare for all these people to make them happy and Mary is just sitting on the floor!"  A mix of jealously and anger I'm sure.  And then she snaps (as we all do when trying to pretend we've got natural Martha Stewart like instincts), she goes right to Jesus to plead her case.  I can see the wheels in her head turning now... "fine Mary isn't going to help well wait until I tell Jesus about this one... I am doing all this for him and she is choosing to be lazy."  And THEN the unlikely response "Martha, are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
AND her jaw drops.  Talk about humbling huh?!  Haven't we all had days like that?  We just want sympathy, we're stressed and need help, we're frustrated and just as the pressure makes us want to explode b/c of all we're doing (to serve others and God no less!) we're humbled by God pointing out our wrong motives.  Martha wanted to receive attention for all she was doing but Mary received it because of the attention she gave Jesus. Martha wanted Jesus to scold Mary for her lack of help but instead he pointed out Martha's need to be humbled.  

I love Psalm 139:23-24 "Search me, O God, and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in your way everlasting." In Martha-like times I like to say this verse to myself.  It helps give me the right perspective.  When we're frustrated it's easy to blame someone else and difficult to see we need an attitude check.  

Let's make it our prayer today to surrender our Martha-like ways of worry and stress and at times jealousy.  And let's instead pray to be like Mary choosing what is better.  To put Christ first in everything we do.  To focus on him in times of frustration.  To choose what is indeed better.  

Thursday, April 2, 2009

God's Possession

Ephesians 1: 3-8 "Blessed be the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him.  In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us all , in all wisdom and insight."

Consider: "He chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him..."

He CHOSE us.  I love that God CHOSE me.  He didn't just put up with me he chose me.  When I was in elementary school I wasn't very athletic.  Sure I played softball and soccer for rec sports for a short time (except that I never made it to 1st base and use to take a seat in the middle of the soccer field to pick dandilions while the other kids swarmed around the soccer ball like bees would a beehive).  I was just more of an artsy kid... I wanted to pick flowers and draw stick figures in my journal and dance and sing.  Well having a more "artsy" side in gym class in elementary school didn't really pay off.  Kickball was not my favorite game.  So there I would stand on the softball field the last of three waiting to make it on a team.  I wouldn't have admitted I was a worthy player.  I wasn't going to score a homerun and my team would be lucky if I made it to 1st base.  Eventually I would hear... "Ok I'll take Kristin."  And off I would go to join a team feeling discouraged, unwanted, insignificant. My teammates would have to "put up with me" as I would miss the ball and kick a foul.  They didn't have a choice I had to be picked.  

God doesn't play favorites. Isn't that cool?  He doesn't just deal with us either.  He didn't say (sigh) "Okay I'll pick Kristin fulfill my purposes and be in heaven with me since she's the best out of the last 3.  At least she'll enjoy my creation of daisies in the outfield when she gets bored."  NO... that's not what God said.  He said "I chose Kristin."    Before the foundation of the world God chose us to be adopted as his sons to be holy, forgiven, & redeemed.  In love he predestined us.  It's one thing to feel loved b/c God is loving and you know he created you.  It's another thing to feel loved b/c he chose you.  We choose people for a reason. In a human sense we choose to love people based on their personalities, what they look like, sometimes even the things they have.  I don't believe God chooses the way we do...that's why it's so beautiful to know He chose us.