Monday, December 20, 2010


We all hate tests and the only thing worse are finals. As the semester ends and we approach Christmas, students are glad their exams are over. When you read about Abraham’s life in the Bible, you see that his whole life led up to a huge final exam. It challenged his faith to the endth degree. It was the greatest test of all.

Many times in Abraham's life, his faith failed him. But the great thing is that although his faith failed him, God never ever failed him. Abraham loved Isaac his only child, and he was extremely proud of him, but even more important all of Abraham’s spiritual hopes were centered in him. His own hope of heaven was centered in God’s promise of the Savior that was to come out of the line of Isaac. You can almost see him with worshipful eyes as he looks upon his son, thinking of the promises of God, and thinking of the miracle of God in his life. But God had to have that place. God must occupy the highest place in our hearts.

How do we give Him the highest place in our hearts? Sometimes you must let go of what you love. In Abraham’s case it was his one and only son. In Genesis 22:2 God said to Abraham, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."

I’m not saying that God will tell you to do what He told Abraham. The principle that applies to all of us is letting go of something we love if it keeps us from letting God have the highest place in our lives.

Things were going great for Abraham and his family, and then out of the dark of the night a voice said to him, “Take your son and give him up as a sacrifice to Me.” Abraham’s world came crashing down around him. He couldn't believe that this, his son of promise, was to be taken away from him. The turmoil in his mind and in his heart, the “spiritual wrestling” that he went through, coming to the realization that God gave this son and now God wants to take him away again. But “Why?” His heart must have broken.

At first glance it almost seems that God is mocking Abraham. If you know the story, God promised Abraham and Sarah a son and through that son a great nation would grow. And now God was going to take his son away? Why did God say it the way He did – that he was to offer his son to God as a sacrifice? Had Isaac grown too dear to Abraham’s heart? Had he begun to take God’s place in his thinking?

But Abraham’s response was immediate. He quickly arose and traveled 3 days with Isaac until they reached the place of sacrifice. I wonder what thoughts crowded his mind during that long journey. Did he doubt God’s wisdom? Surely this question must have raced through his mind: “If Isaac, who was born as the result of a miracle and is the son of promise, why is God asking me to kill him?” The patriarch, Abraham, however, did not retreat, disobey, or turn aside to avoid making this ultimate sacrifice.

Here is what God is doing in each of our lives:
God is leading each of us to the place where He asks us all to “let go” of our “Isaac”, to let go of the thing that we love and let God own it.

God wants every child of His to get to the place where everything in your life is consecrated to Him, sacrificed to Him, given to Him.

When you can learn to let go of the thing you love, the thing you're worrying about, the child that’s breaking your heart, the problems that are in your life that you're frustratingly trying solve – when you let go of them and let God “own” them, the miracle of God's grace is this: He gives you back something far greater – peace of mind, depth of relationship with Him, strength of character, a stronger faith, freedom from your fears, and confidence in knowing that God will meet all your needs.

When we take the gifts God gives us and grip them tightly to ourselves, we may find ourselves loosening our grip on God. When that happens we need to let go of the gift, let God own it, and strengthen our grip on Him, the Giver.

This Christmas as we are reminded of how the Heavenly Father offered up His only Son as a sacrifice for our forgiveness and salvation, may we gladly release to God whatever it is that we love more than Him. May our love for the Giver overshadow our love for the gifts.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Who has not asked the question, “Why? Why me? Why my family? Why is this happening to us?” These are familiar questions. No one is immune to suffering and adversity.

Job says Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward (Job 5:7). Some suffer for what they have done; others suffer because of what people do to them. Many suffer from circumstances which they cannot control. There can be nights of agony when God seems so unfair and it seems that there is no possible help or answer.

Temporary relief may seem adequate for the moment. But the real solution to suffering is not to isolate it in an attempt to do away with it, nor even to grit our teeth and endure it. The solution, rather, is to condition our attitudes so that we learn to triumph in and through suffering.

When the Apostle Paul sought relief from his “thorn in the flesh,” God did not take it away, but reassured him. He said in 2 Cor. 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Paul concurred in 2 Cor. 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Billy Graham says: “Nowhere does the Bible teach that Christians are exempt from the tribulations and natural disasters that come upon the world. Scripture does teach that the Christian can face tribulation, crisis, calamity, and personal suffering with a supernatural power that is not available to the person outside of Christ.”

If you know anything about Job you know he lost everything. He lost his children, he lost his home, his business, his friends’ loyalty, his wife's confidence, and then finally he lost his health. He came to the conclusion at the end of it all that he wished that he had never been born. If anybody knew about trouble, Job knew about it. Yet he developed such a faith in his God through his trials that he could say “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;” (Job 13:15). There's a turning point within the book of Job, and at the end in the last chapter it says in Job 42:10 The LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. He was blessed again, he was given health, he was given his friends back, and he was given a beautiful family and abundance of riches. And he lived another 140 years.

Handling suffering seems to be a question of attitude: “What can I learn from it? How can I use it to the advantage of God’s eternal purposes?”

Learn to look over and beyond the suffering in order to see God’s higher purposes and what He wants to teach you. Give altitude to your attitude.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Why are commitments important?

2 reasons:

1) They bring reward.
Matt. 25:23 “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”

2) They prevent pain.
1 Tim. 5:12 They bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge.

We inflict pain on ourselves when we break our commitments.


1. Have a clean reputation.
1 Tim. 5:22 (NLT) Don't appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don't want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself.

As you grow in Christ and become more of an influence, more of a leader who leads people to Christ and to grow in Him – people “watch you.” We live transparent lives.  We are therefore responsible to them to show Christ to them, not our self-centeredness.  Where we go, what we do, what we say, what we type in emails and on FaceBook – all is connected to our reputation. And if we bear the name of Christ, as a follower of His, then we take His name, His reputation with us wherever we go and through whatever we say. Build up Christ-likeness in your life, and He will shine through more than your “self.”

2. Influence others by truth, not bias.
1 Tim. 5:21 (NLT) I solemnly command you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus and the holy angels to obey these instructions without taking sides or showing special favor to anyone.

It’s easy to let those close to you persuade you one way or another. But if it goes against the truth of God’s Word, what are you going to do about it? Learn to lead lovingly by God’s truth.

3. Emphasize maturity before ministry.
1 Tim. 5:22 (Mes) Don't appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily.

We have a responsibility to facilitate the maturity of others before we place them in leadership. Otherwise, they become conceited and self-centered and lead others away from Christ instead of to Him.

4. Learn contentment.
1 Tim. 6:6 …godliness with contentment is great gain.

Contentment is something practiced. It is something learned. It’s a skill that pays off with great rewards, peace of mind, satisfaction, and joy.

5. Trust in God not money.
1 Tim. 6:17 (NLT) Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.

Learn to enjoy trusting the Lord. Learn to enjoy what He gives you each day. Have an attitude of delight, joy, and celebration for the things and opportunities He gives you each day.

6. Invest in Heaven.
1 Tim. 6:19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Take in to account which life you’re investing in – the temporary one here on earth on the permanent one in eternity. Commit the remainder of your life to building God’s kingdom, not yours. Prepare for where you’re going to live eternally.