May 2016 newsletter
What’s in your heart?
Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now 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.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. (Genesis 22:1-3)
Abraham was called by God. God led him out of his familiar environment into a country he did not know. And He promised Abraham that his descendants would one day inherit this country. At that time, Abraham had no descendants; both he and his wife Sarah were long past the age to have children. Yet God gave them a son, whom they named Isaac, as God instructed them.
We can only imagine the love these parents must have had for their little boy. They had waited a lifetime for a child who would be able to continue their family line. They must have looked at their miracle baby in wonder, always keenly aware that he was a gift from God. We can only guess how proud father Abraham must have been, as he watched his beloved son grow and mature. He must have treasured every moment he was able to spend with his lad, as he taught him all the things a young man needs to know. He must have thanked God every night, as he reflected on the precious hours spent with Isaac and dreamed the dreams that fathers dream for their sons. And now God was asking for this!
At the time, Abraham did not know what we know. He had no idea that God was merely testing his love for Him and his obedience to Him. He did not understand the purpose of God’s request. In fact, he must have been quite confused: had God not promised that Isaac would be his heir? (Genesis 17:19). Nonetheless Abraham obeyed. He was willing to lay down everything for God. So he immediately took Isaac and headed for Mount Moriah, just as God had told him. He prepared everything for the sacrifice, as he had done so many times before when he had offered up the very best of his livestock to God. Yet this time Abraham was laying something far greater on the altar. This sacrifice was even greater than his own life – he was giving his heart.
As Abraham raised his knife ready to kill Isaac, God spoke to him. “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld you son, your only son, from Me.” Abraham had passed the test, because his love for God and his fear of God were greater than any gift God could ever have given Him – even Isaac. Therefore he was called the friend of God.
So often we hold on to things that we deem precious. Like Abraham, we may have been blessed by God with good gifts: a family, a career, or even a ministry. We appreciate God for His blessings. We continually thank Him for what He has done for us, but somehow our affection is shifted from the giver to the gift. God’s presence somehow becomes dispensable, now that we have what we asked for. We neglect to seek His face, because we are too busy enjoying His benefits.
Are you a friend of God? If He were to test you today, as He did Abraham, would you pass the test? Is God telling you to let go of something that He knows is more precious to you than His presence? Where do you need to make sacrifices for God? What do you need to lay on God’s altar to remain close to Him?
Maybe you already feel far from God. Maybe you feel He doesn’t care about you. Could it be that you are living in disobedience to His will? Is your heart attached to things that God calls sinful, things that separate you from His presence? If so, it is time to repent – to turn to Him and to surrender your heart to Him. As you do so, you will receive new life and hope in Jesus, the Son of God who laid down His life for you.