As we try, especially this week, to grasp the magnitude of the Cross, it helps to look at the Bible as one, whole, cohesive message. Reading the accounts of Jesus' humiliation and pain go far to put gratitude in our hearts, but the Bible as a whole gives us rich context for this defining event of our Christian faith.
That's what I love about the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. It captures what God is trying to say throughout scripture, as He leads up to His Son's suffering and resurrection in the New Testament. This last Saturday at our Children's Bible Study we taught "The Present" from page 62. It's the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering.
It's also the story of what each one of us has to reckon with every day of our lives.
My son Peter still has trouble with the OCD, and as I converse with another Christian mother who deals with this, I'm shocked and dismayed at the five medications her son needs to reasonably control the condition. Still, he's quirky and lonely, stressed and struggling. When he has violent thoughts he must keep them inside because friends don't understand.
OCD people are not violent or dangerous, but they have horrible thoughts that eat up precious hours of their lives and keep them isolated. This thorn in their flesh costs them greatly. They must daily remember and try to live God's response to the Apostle Paul about the thorn in his flesh:
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
The future is uncertain and every day, I have to remind myself of God's promises, especially as nine-year-old Paul develops serious anxieties of his own. I wonder about all my children. We don't have much history of cancer or heart disease in our genes. My family and my husband's tend to live long lives, but we have mental issues galore and it's scary.
Your circumstances? They're surely different, but I'm willing to guess you have at least one situation that seriously worries you, that carries risk and uncertainty and possibly staggering implications.
Every day we have to think about what Jesus calls his people to. A life of faith.
Every quality that Jesus displayed throughout his 3-year earthly ministry, he wants us to display. Sacrifice, love, gentleness, humility, peace...the whole list. He want us to become like him and only through faith--deep, abiding faith, are we transformed.
When I read the story of Abraham and Issac, I see clearly the one thing we all need to follow Jesus well. Yes, it's faith. We can't give our resources to the poor without faith. We can't deny ourselves without faith. We can't respond in gentleness and humility without faith. We are nothing and can do nothing, without faith. God's promises and His faithfulness to fulfill them, are what keep us alive spiritually on a daily basis. They feed, build, sustain and renew our faith.
Abraham's response here in Genesis 22:1-14 is staggering. Read this account and be amazed, and understand what is needed in your daily life. Our faith is not only credited to us as righteousness, it's also the key to perfect peace. It's the key to finding blessing in each hour. It's the key to a soul that soars in the heavens, while residing on earth.
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 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 cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
Giving Thanks Today:
Dear Father, thank you for these examples and blessings:
~ Abraham having the faith to say to his son Issac, "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." Abraham was surely worried for his son, like I am for mine, but he believed God and I will too...that He works all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) Like Abraham, I can have this kind of confidence in my Lord. Every day of my life.
~ A faithful, loving husband.
~ Being with my girls as I helped in their Sunday school class. I was so proud of them and so happy about the wonderful curriculum our church uses.
~ Sharing my thoughts about the Lord and His Holy Word with my children.
~ Teaching my children and others with the wonderful Jesus Storybook curriculum.
~ That our faith is a gift God's renews and feeds through his Holy Word and his Holy Spirit.
~ That God provided the sacrifice and that our faith saves us...not just that first time we believe, but every day.
~ For other mothers who share their faith and their burdens with me, and help carry mine.
~ For my daughters and the gift of their love, and the enjoyment of seeing them blossom.
~ For my sons and the gift of their love, and the enjoyment of seeing their faith grow.
What are you thankful for today?