Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word You have given as to your servant and (his or her) house: and do as You have said.”
II Samuel 7: 25
“God’s promises were never meant to be thrown aside as waste paper; He intended that they should be used. Nothing pleases the Lord better than to see His promises put in circulation. He loves to see His children bring them up to Him and say, ‘Lord, do as You have said.’ We glorify God when we plead His promises…Our heavenly Banker delights to cash His own notes. Never let the promises rust…Do not think that God will be troubled by you reminding Him of His promises. He loves to hear the loud outcries of needy souls. It is His delight to bestow favors. He is more ready to hear than you are to ask. It is God’s nature to keep His promises; therefore, go at once to the throne with, ‘Do as You have said.’”
Pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Today’s Study Text:
“After these events, God tested and proved Abraham.”
Genesis 22: 1
“The Farce We Call Fear” Part 6
“The Move, The Monarch, The Mammon, The Mistress, and The Mountain – Part A
“Even people of great faith experience their moments of doubt. Living the life of faith is not like starting at the bottom of an escalator that always and continually moves upward to heaven. It is more like riding a roller coaster with its hills and valleys.”
As I live the “life of faith,” how have I found myself able to cope with the challenges I’ve come upon in my own life?
In what ways have I witnessed the ability of my Father in heaven to fulfill His promises to me?
‘Very often, when people first turn toward God and realize that God loves them and that everything about them matters to Him, a wave of joyful emotion overwhelms them. But actual faith is mostly the realization that, even though we don’t in the least deserve it, God believes in us and finds us loveable. This is astonishing.”
“Great faith is not the faith that walks always in the light and knows no darkness, but the faith that perseveres in spite of God’s seeming silences, and that faith will most certainly and surely get its reward.”
Often, the Bible leads into an amazing story with this phrase, “after these things.” So it is with our study text today which begins with the phrase, “After these events.”
If you are like me and have a curious streak running through you, then you might ask the questions: “After what events?”
We can answer this query by taking a moment to scan the occurrences which transpired in the life of Abraham between the birth of his son Ishmael and the Mount Moriah experience which we will be studying in depth this week.
After the birth of a child, whose mother happened to be Sarai’s servant-girl, a time of turmoil entered the camp of Abram. Who could be surprised by this turn of events?! The fact is, Abram became very fond of Ishmael, to the point he told this young boy that he was the child of promise. As we find out in Genesis 17, this was not God’s plan for His intent was for Abram and Sarai to have their own child. God had made a promise to them and He was not going back on His word. Even though, as we read in Genesis 18: 11, “Abraham and Sarah were old and well-advanced in years.” God’s Word was still true.
But did Abraham really believe God? Was his faith unshakeable? If we read Genesis Chapter 20, we could easily come to the conclusion that Abraham’s trust in God, even in his “senior years,” was shaky at best, for when he again ran into a problem with the potential that his wife could be desired by Abimelech, the king of Gerar, we find Abraham pulling out the same old lie he had used before in Egypt to protect himself. Fortunately, God showed His faithfulness and He came in a dream, warning the foreign King Abimelech that Sarah was already married, and to none other than Abraham. I want to share the way that this king responded to Abraham’s trickery, “Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, ‘What have you done to us? And how have I offended you that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin. You have done to me what ought not to be done to anyone.’ And Abimelech said to Abraham, ‘What did you see in us that justified you in doing such a thing as this?’”
This interesting exchange should have caused great embarrassment to Abraham for this king had done nothing to warrant being lied to by God’s chosen – Abraham. Actually, it is in this moment in Abraham’s life when I believe God should have turned to him and asked, “Abraham, have you taken into consideration all I have done for you? Have I ever let you down? Have I forsaken you? Have I left you to go it alone?”
You and I would know immediately what the answers would be for God’s faithfulness had been unswerving. In fact, God had not only gotten Abraham out of some tough situations which he had gotten into all by himself, but God had empowered Abraham on multiple occasions. God had not only kept His promises to Abraham – He had exceeded His promises!
This is why I believe the author of Genesis began Chapter 22 with the interesting phrase, “After these events!” It’s as if these inspired words encourage us to take stock of all God had done for Abraham, before we begin to read about the greatest challenge Abraham ever faced in his entire life!
And it brings each of us to a question we should consider and it’s this: “When some large, seemingly insurmountable problem confronts us, and fear sweeps over us, do we stop and take a moment to bring to remembrance all the things God has done for us, especially “after these events?”
Here is what our Father in heaven has promised in I Corinthians 10: 13, “For no trial, no matter how it comes or where it leads, has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man or woman (that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance, that is not belonging to human experience, as such that (we) can bear.) But God is faithful to His word and to his compassionate nature, and He can be trusted not to let you be tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength and power to endure, but with the temptation (God) will always provide the way out, the means of escape to a landing place, that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.”
This is God’s Word to us. As author Thomas Brooks underscores, “a man (or woman) would be better to say there is no God than say that God is unfaithful.” The entire Bible contains a record of God’s promises being fulfilled by His faithfulness. And yet, when hemmed in on all sides or faced with some overwhelming challenge, do we find that it is easy to slip into the valley of fear, where we come to the conclusion that God isn’t big enough or aware enough or concerned enough to take on the total responsibility of solving our problems?
This is why I believe it is critical to think about the words: “After these events.” I wonder if at this specific moment, Abraham made a list for himself of all the ways God had led him out of a time of fear into a time of hope. The same thing goes for you and me.
What if our times of trouble and terror became times of remembrance at the way our Father untangled the net we were entrapped in? Several months ago, when the “Farce we call Fear” had me in its clutches, I decided to take a period of time in my own life that was just a couple years in length. I wrote down all the incidents that I could remember. And then, I penned beside each one the way God had intervened on my behalf to not just get me out of trouble, but to set my feet on higher ground as I recognized just how trustworthy my Father really is.
One of my favorite passage of Scripture is recorded by the prophet Jeremiah whose nickname, “the weeping prophet,” was fitting for he lived in a perilous time in history when fear would be a natural human emotion experienced by many people. Yet, within this time of tragedy, God’s prophet wrote: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3: 22-23, K.J.V.).
In the words of Thomas O. Chisholm:
“Great is Thy faithfulness,
O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not,
Thy compassions they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever will be.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.”
It was a faithful Father that Abraham witnessed as he looked over the events in his life. In the words of William S. Plumer, “What God is to one saint He is to all saints.” What God did for Abraham, He’ll do for you and me. Praise His name for His faithfulness which banishes all our fears.
“All God’s giants have been weak (individuals) who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them.”
J. Hudson Tayor
“Look upon me, have mercy upon me, O Source of my liberation, for I am heavily burdened. The cares I carry are weighing me down. I am losing all perspective. My eyes no longer see the stars in this never-ending night. I am crippled by fear and anxiety…Bend down to me and lift me up to face myself with courage…Let me see another’s sorrow, share another’s injustice, bear another’s burdens, and in the process, lose my own. Teach me to care…bid my fear be still, and let all my insecurity lose itself in Your will. AMEN.”
Miriam Theresa Winter
“My spirit bare before Thee stands;
I bring no gift, I ask no sign,
I come to Thee with empty hands,
The surer to be filled from Thine.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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