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Thursday, December 8, 2011
We often pass this tidy farm on Mount Pleasant Road
in southern Lebanon County, Pennsylvania
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"Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son" (Genesis 22:13). "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons" (Galatians 4:4,5).
Consider all the tests we take in the course of life. All through our schooling years tests had a pretty specific purpose. I usually enjoyed taking tests and normally did pretty well. Brooksyne on the other hand dreaded taking tests although she normally did OK.
A verse that has great meaning in our times states, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). We certainly believe this would fundamentally be Bible knowledge so we prepared a Bible Knowledge test using a survey program that can be taken online. The link to get to this test is below this message in the footers.
But tests aren't all over after we complete our formal education! We have tests all through life, many of them far more difficult than those simply learned from reading a book and memorizing the answers. I suspect we will be thoroughly tested until we're called home to Heaven. In the movie "Courageous" one of the characters undergoes a test to determine his integrity and character. It's a memorable highlight in the storyline as to how he gets a passing grade!
But we also have tests from God, often called trials. "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (James 1:2,3). One of the most famous testings in the Bible is the one given to Abraham in Genesis 22.
Abraham's great test of obedience is so powerfully instructive and wonderfully inspirational as we consider the meaning of Christmas. After waiting so long for God's promise to be fulfilled in the birth of his son, Isaac, Abraham was now being asked to sacrifice this very son. Apart from the lessons of faith and obedience God taught him, I find a remarkable typological lesson for all of Abraham's children.
At the point of today's verse Abraham had dutifully obeyed God in taking his son Isaac up on the mountain at God's command. He was at the point of sacrifice, with his son bound, that he took the knife to slay his son. There's no indication that he was not prepared to follow through.
But an angel of the Lord intervened and called out from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!...Do not lay a hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him." Never was there a sweeter command spoken at just the right moment, nor an easier command to obey!
Abraham passed the test. At this point, "Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son."
A ram is a male sheep. At just the right time God provided a sacrifice in place of Isaac. Consider the words "instead of" in the text. That's the heart of the gospel message! And that ram is a powerful type of Christ, who, some 1,900 years later, would be provided and die for our sins instead of us.
Consider the message of Christmas found in Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Indeed Christ died for us! Instead of us He was provided as the sacrifice and God fully accepted His payment on our behalf. How can we not respond by fully committing our lives to Him!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Jesus to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins. At just the right time, while we were still powerless and dead in our trespasses, He died for us. Through His sacrificial death we are reconciled to You, our loving Father. Just as many in the human race died by the trespass of one man, Adam, how much more has Your grace overflowed, through the one Man, Jesus Christ, so that we live no longer as bond slaves to sin. Just as sin reigned in death, so also grace reigns through righteousness so that we have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. You're an on-time God sending Your Son, Jesus, at just the right time, to save us from our sins which would separate us eternally from You and the joys of heaven. In the loving name of Jesus, we thank You. Amen.
(Inspired by Romans 5)
Note from Brooksyne: Genesis 22:1-18 is about Abraham's testing. As I was studying this very brief but extremely important portion of Scripture I considered the things that might be going through Abraham's mind after God told him to take his son, whom he loved, and offer him as a burnt offering. "What am I going to tell Sarah when I return home alone? How could she possibly think I heard this deadly order from You, God? Will she ever speak to me again?" I have little doubt that this sort of dialogue crossed his mind, so in reality he was not only offering the sacrifice of his son, but also the sacrifice of his marriage in his desire to obey God. Abraham's obedience is truly an inspiration when I am reluctant to obey God because the stakes are personally high for me.
An email we received last night from Josephine's son: I went to your website and found the pictures of my Mom and Roxie - she did enjoy having you and Stephen and Roxie visit her. We also are thankful for your prayers for us and especially for my mother. She was a Christian woman who was always helping others in their time of need. I remember in 1942 we had a very bad flood in our home area (north of Scranton). Our house was on a hill and Mom and Dad invited many people from our village to come and stay at our house. The house was full of people and Mom made them all feel comfortable. She cooked meals and washed clothes for days until they could return to their homes. There were many people in our village who would share their concerns with Mom - she was like a counselor to them. She most likely could have been a minister if she wanted to - she had that gift you all have.
Thank you, again, for all you did for Mom while she was a resident at Longwood, especially in her last days.
(Josephine went to be with the Lord in July this past year. Her son, Jim, visited her very faithfully - such an inspiration to us when we'd make our rounds. His above note is such a good reminder of what strengths, gifts, and kindnesses reside in a resident's heart though they are no longer able to carry them out due to their age and limitations. Jim and his wife was at his mother's side during her last moments on this earth. The residents continue to miss this dear woman and so do we. If Roxie were human, even she would say how much she misses her. Josephine absolutely adored her!)
Speaking of tests! Daily Encouragement Net Bible Knowledge Test: Here's a Bible Knowledge test we prepared using a survey program that can be taken online. Go to this page to take the test. (It will take awhile for most!) After you have taken the test the answer key is here. Enjoy!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" Video Christy Nockels It's no secret that I have a personal preference for congregational singing that has minimal instrumentation or is sung Acapella. When I listen to this version I picture gathering with my brothers and sisters around the Communion Table during a Christmas Eve service, holding candles, and singing the great songs of our faith! This Charles Wesley hymn has one of the great phrases in hymnody: "By Thine all sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne."
"O Come O Come Emmanuel" Video Selah
"Jesus Paid It All" Video Aaron Keyes
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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