Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“And He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? Where is your faith, your trust, your confidence in Me – in My integrity?’ And they were seized with profound and reverent dread, and they marveled, saying one to another, ‘Who then is this, that He commands even the wind and sea, and they obey Him.”
Luke 8: 25
“’Even’. Is there something you are facing – whether in your outer circumstances or in your inner character – that seems impossible to command? Something that has baffled you and outwitted you a thousand times, and appears that it will win over you in the end? Something as deaf to your command as the wind or wild waters?
Don’t despair. Don’t shrug and give up. Our Lord – your Lord and mine – can command even the most difficult, unruly thing that seems as if it will never be commanded.
Let His word ‘even’ be a comfort to you. He who commands ‘even’ the winds and water (and they must obey Him) – He can say to that ‘even’ of yours, ‘Peace be still.’ And there will come for you ‘a great calm’”
(Mark 4: 39).
Today’s Study Text:
“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 split the wood for the burnt offering, and then began the trip to the place of which God has told him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.”
“The Farce We Call Fear” Part 8
“The Move, The Monarch, The Mammon, The Mistress, and The Mountain – Part C
The Day – The Way
“Not for one single day
Can I discern my way,
But this I surely know, -
Who gives the day
Will show the way,
So I securely go.”
Has there been a time in my life when I didn’t know the way?
How has my heavenly Father shown me where to go?
“Let Him lead thee blindfold onwards,
Love needs not to know;
Children whom the Father leadeth
Ask not where they go.
Though the path be all unknown,
Over moors and mountain lone.”
“Have faith in God, my heart,
Trust and be unafraid;
God will fulfill in every part
Each promise He has made.”
Bryn Austin Rees
There are situations in all our lives when “time” seems to fly by. I’ve noticed this fact as I’ve gotten older. Right now, it seems that I was just working on the devotional for January 1, 2014 and yet, within a few weeks, 2015 will be here. But just as there are moments when time slips by with lightening speed, so the very opposite happens. If you don’t believe me, take some time this Christmas to watch a young child - early on the morning of December 25, waiting to dive into the annual event of opening their Christmas presents. Time simply drags as children wait to get into their brightly wrapped gifts.
Today, as we look at Abraham’s “testing trial,” the Bible tells us that before he left his encampment, he split the wood and then began a 3-day trek to God’s appointed “testing place.” I want to take a minute to look at the way the King James Version of the Bible refers to the “wood splitting” activity. The word used for chopped or cut is “clave.” In the Hebrew, the word “clave” is a strong word. It means: to render asunder, to rip up.” The Bible doesn’t say that this activity was passed off on the servants. Instead, it says Abraham was the one who stroke-by-stroke ripped the wood apart. I don’t find it a bit difficult to visualize every swing of the ax as Abraham tried to release some of the anguish in his heart. Maybe he was hoping that as he chopped wood, God would send him another message, “Don’t go – you’ve done enough.” But that’s not what happened.
Finally with the last log chopped, the party of four left for Moriah’s peak. And this is where I feel desperately heart-broken for Abraham. This wasn’t some short little stroll…Their journey was a 3-day trip on foot, up and over a rough, rocky terrain.
Just think what must have been going through Abraham’s mind. Believing as I do that this was a man with feelings like yours and mine, it had to be tough for Abraham to think about anything but the death of his beloved son. Walking side-by-side, it is impossible to feel the depth of pain Abraham felt every time he looked at his cherished child. I know I couldn’t have held the tears back. I wonder how many times the thought went through Abraham’s mind, “Let’s just turn around and go home.” Let me remind you again – this was a three-day trek. Three days of agony as father and son, linked by a covenant bond, continued toward their final destination. Three days with heaven’s silence for God’s voice did not penetrate the heavy gloom that had to have settled over Abraham. But even when the heart break of losing his son was difficult for Abraham to comprehend, he kept walking higher and higher, step-after-step.
I’d like to share the observation author Ben Patterson makes when digging to uncover the hidden well of resilience which kept Abraham trusting God through this bitter trial: “(Abraham) had spent twenty-four long years before Isaac’s birth becoming acquainted with God’s faithfulness and love. He had the benefit of the years that had passed since his son’s birth to see in Isaac a daily, living reminder of God’s faithfulness. Abraham knew intimately the “One” in whom he trusted. He had spent years looking into the face of God and had seen His smile often enough to trust Him when he couldn’t see it. That is what a lifetime of waiting, in close fellowship with God does for you. There are no shortcuts to that kind of trust. It comes only out of a reservoir of faith that has been fed by years of experience.” As Abraham took every step up that mountain, the same faithful Father who had been by his side throughout his life, was still walking with him – step for step. And Abraham’s faith in his heavenly Friend wasn’t about to give up now.
This, my dear “Garden Friends,” is what we must never forget during the long days and nights of darkness in our own lives. When we feel that our daily trials will overwhelm us, let us hold tightly to God’s promise as recorded by the prophet Jeremiah, “For (God) does not willingly and from His heart afflict or grieve the children of men” (Lamentations 3: 33, Amplified Bible).
It was Pastor J.R. McDuff who so beautifully penned: “When tempted in our season of overwhelming (trial) to say, ‘Never has there been so dark a cloud, never a heart so stript and desolate as mine’…trust Him when you cannot trace Him…The mystery is God’s, the promise is yours…Without misgiving commit your way to Him. He says regarding each child of His covenant family, what He said of old, “I do remember (her, him) still.’ Whilst now bending your head like a bulrush – your heart breaking – remember His pitying eye is upon you.” And like with Abraham, He promises to walk by you and me, no matter how dark the way. In the words of John of the Cross, “Live in faith and hope, though it be in darkness, for in the darkness God protects you. Cast your care upon God, for you are His and He will not forget you.”
“I do not ask, O Lord, that Thou shouldst shed
Full radiance here:
Give but a ray of peace, that I may tread
Without a fear.
I do not ask my cross to understand,
My way to see –
Better in darkness just to feel Thy hand
And follow Thee.
Joy is like a restless day, but peace divine
Like quiet night;
Lead me, O Lord, till perfect day shall shine,
Through Peace to Light.”
Adelaide A. Proctor
“Who talks with God must take His way,
Across far distances and gray,
To goals that others do not see,
Where others do not care to be.
Who walks with God must have no fear
When danger and defeat appear,
Nor stop when every hope seems gone,
For God, our God, moves ever on.
Who walks with God must press ahead
When sun or cloud is overhead,
When all the waiting thousands cheer,
Or when they only stop to sneer;
When all the challenge leaves the hours
And naught is left but jaded powers;
But He will some day reach the dawn,
For God, our God, moves ever on.”
“He Leadeth Me”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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