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06 April 2012

Living in Love - 06 April

Throughout the pages of the Bible we find that God calls His people to total commitment. Over and over He calls; over and over they respond; over and over they fall. But even though they fall, God gives them chance after chance. He does that for us today as well. Let’s look at one of the times that God calls His people to total commitment.

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? Deut 10:12-13 (ESV)

In this passage, we see that God required Israel to:

1                     Fear the Lord
2                     Walk in all His ways
3                     Love Him
4                     Serve Him with all their heart and soul, and
5                     Keep His commandments and statutes

Do these requirements apply to us today? Why does God want us to follow these requirements (v. 13)?

What does it mean to love God – and have that love tested?

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 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 am I, 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. Gen 22:1-8 (ESV)

Do you have kids (or for the childless, pets)? How would you feel if God told you to sacrifice one of them? Would you have the faith to give the same answer that Abraham gave to Isaac? And would your children have seen God working in your life often enough faith to trust in your faith?  When I read this, I am by Isaac’s total trust in his father. Abraham believed. Abraham lived his belief, and Abraham was convinced that God would not make him kill the son He had covenanted to Abraham 25 years before.

God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.” Gen 17:19-21 (ESV)

So Abraham and Isaac went to Mount Moriah.  Abraham must have had a heavy heart as he trudged up that mountain. I wonder if he silently pleaded with God, or if he just knew that there was no way that God would allow Isaac to be killed. Did you know that Mount Moriah was the site of the first Temple, and is traditionally identified with the Temple Mount in Jerusalem? It’s also near Golgotha – the place where God sacrificed His only Son.

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 am I.” 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.” Gen 22:9-14 (ESV)

Again – I am always amazed by Isaac’s behavior. Would you have had enough faith in your parent’s faith to allow them to place you on an altar and raise up a knife to kill you, just because God told them to? At that point, would you believe your father’s statement that God would provide the sacrifice, or would you assume that the sacrifice was you? The faith required from both of these men astonishes me. I would not have wanted to be in either position!

God probably won’t call on you to sacrifice your child, but He does require you to be a living sacrifice for Him.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

What evidence can others see in your life that declares your love of God?

At the beginning of the week I asked what our love should look like. I pray you can see that our relationship with God isn’t about attending church, tithing, supporting Christian organizations, or serving the church or others. It’s about our allegiance to God.

One of my favorite folk singers is Don Francisco. He wrote words that have impacted me for over 30 years, and are particularly appropriate on this Good Friday:

Jesus didn’t die for you because it was fun.
He hung there for love because it had to be done.
And in spite of His anguish, God’s Word was fulfilled –
Love is not a feeling, it’s an act of your will.

This weekend we celebrate Jesus’ ultimate act of love: His voluntary hanging death on a cross, and His triumphant return to life, having made the once for all sacrifice for our sins. He proved, by His actions and words, that He loved God with all His heart, soul, and mind. What actions can you take this week to show others that you try, as best you can, to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind?

I pray you have a blessed Easter, and I will see you on Monday.

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