God Gives Life to the Dead

Abraham and Sarah’s bodies were “dead” when it came to the ability to conceive apart from the miraculous work of God. They knew the promise of a son was absurd by human terms. And they knew their God was so much bigger than any absurdity!

When we believe something cannot happen, we stop looking for signs of life. If spring will never come, if all we have to look forward to is more freeze and snow, our hearts will not life at the hope of a sunny day. Our eyes will miss the first green sprout. Our ears won’t hear the first twittering of birds.

All of a sudden, or so it will seem, spring will be blowing all around you. instead of joy at the beauty, you will feel confused as to how it happened. We may even harrumph because winter is just around the corner again. No sense enjoying spring if it won’t last forever.

But our God has provided two kinds of hope–eternal and temporal.

His eternal hope offers finality to pain and tears. Revelation 21:4 tells us: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (ESV). With eternal hope in our heart, we can peek above the present trial and know the final horizon will make all things right according to God’s great glory.

Yet, He doesn’t leave us only longing with only the eternal hope. He bring the dead back to life all around us.

  • The terminal diagnosis disappears.
  • The financial disaster turns around with humility and hard work.
  • The estranged child returns
  • The addict maintains sobriety
  • The heartache heals

And winter will, every year, turn into spring. Our God of hope gives us joy to be had. When we keep our eyes looking in expectation for His next resurrection, anticipation turns to joy in the blink of an eye.

Resurrections happen all the time. What needs an infusion of life in your life?

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Who is This God?

“as it is written, ‘I have made you (Abraham) the father of many nations’ –in the presence of the God in whom (Abraham) believed, Who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope (Abraham) believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was ass good as dead(since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.” –Romans 4:17-21, ESV

In a time when people question every nuance of every belief, I longed for an overarching perspective from which to draw conclusions. I wanted to understand the bigger picture, the larger purpose. This ultimately led me to seeking to understand the God Who is above all of the human interpretations and discourses.

Before the law was given to the people of Israel, there was still faith that would save. Before any interpretation could be made about any of the commandments, God blessed and called a people already. The passage in Romans summarizes the faith of Abraham in the God of all. If Abraham, who would become the father of God’s people, found he could trust this God Who made unfathomable promises, then that period of time might be instructive for us as well. In clearing away the thousands of years of people and our interpretations, we may just get to see the simple faith of a single man. We just might see the God our souls long for, the God Who quenches the thirsts of our hearts.

Let’s take a look at what Abraham experienced with God.

God Promised a Nation

God doesn’t expect us to follow Him without the promise of something as a result of that obedience. Yes, obedience comes more easily as we love Him more. Just as love has a promise, so does God. God promised to make Abraham the father of nations. Not just a nation, a multitude of nations. Genesis 17 walks us through the situation where the 99-year-old and still childless Abram encounters God in a mighty way. God’s words to Abram were no small thing:

“I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make My covenant between Me and you, and may multiply you greatly…Behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between Me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God…” –Genesis 17:1-2, 4-8, ESV

Go’d promise continues in this passage, but you can easily see God’s repeated statements to Abraham. Maybe Abraham would have been as confused as you and I would be in his situation. Maybe he needed a little repetition of the promise as reassurance of God’s seriousness. Or maybe after the first time it was said, Abraham’s shock rattled him enough that he tuned in again in the third or fourth time the promise was made. Whatever the reason, God knew Abraham would need that reassurance.

And God delivered miraculously in providing a 99-year-old Abraham with his barren wife Sarah the promised son in Isaac.

God Provided Deliverance

Isaac, as the only son of Abraham and Sarah, the promised heir that would build multiple nations, was not the end of the story. With just the birth of Isaac, we would still marvel at the miraculous grace of God to give this couple a son. We could walk away from the story and assume that Isaac would grow, marry, and produce his own family. We could assume that the nations would come without ever checking back in on the progress.

But God is not a God of ordinary. He does not settle of a story we can walk away from. The life of Isaac would come with its own set of struggles and questions. We fast-forward in the life of Abraham a number of years into Genesis 22. Scholars believe that when Genesis 22 took place, Isaac would have been about 16 years old. Do that math: if Abraham was 99 when the promise of Isaac was given, he was well over 100 when Genesis 22 took place.

In Genesis 22, we learn that Abraham must give us his son. With no indication that Abraham knew more than what he was told, he took Isaac up a hill, prepared to give him away to the Father. I imagine a holy, silent scene as the boy and his very old father walk up the hill. Isaac knows a sacrifice is to be given, but he does not know that sacrifice is him. His curiosity getting the better of him, he asks, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7, ESV). Abraham responds with only, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (vs. 8).

And God did provide a sacrifice. A ram stuck in the thistles took the place of Isaac. Abraham trusted the command of God even when it seemed strange to him. Abraham trusted that God would provide–in one way or another. And so Abraham followed the God that he trusted.

But where did this trust develop? How could Abraham know? Aside from the miraculous birth of Isaac, Abraham experienced more with his God that cemented his belief in God’s provision.

God Provisioned the Journey

Abram, as a descendant of Noah, had to have heard the account of the flood. He had to know his family history, and how God delivered his Great Grandfather Noah through the worldwide flood. There was history to know and believe in the power of this God his family served. But God’s call on Abraham’s life came in Genesis 12.

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘God from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…” –Genesis 12: 1-4, ESV

It is commonly understood that Abram was 75 at this point. 75 years old. He was 75 when God promised to make him a great nation and to richly bless him along the way. It would be 24 years later that the nation would be specified as coming from a son. We often focus on the 24 years as being a long time to wait for the promised son to arrive. Yet let’s not miss the full blessing God spoke over Abram. The nations were not the only promised. God also promised to bless him and make his name great. God promised to make Abram’s name great, and to bless those who blessed Abram.

The 24 intervening years were not sitting around thumb-twiddling. They were rich years of journey and blessing at along the way. Abrams name did grow, as did his material wealth. He and Sarai (who would later be renamed Sarah by the Lord) were honored where they went.

God’s blessing was not a one trick pony of one-and-done. God’s blessing and promise held rich depth, breadth, and established His chosen man. Abraham lived through these decades of blessing. He knew that God had already delivered on the promised to save Noah and family in the flood. Abram was one of the products of that rescue–and he had to know the part of the story where Noah built an ark in a desert for many years prior to that ark being practically useful. Abrams knew things sometimes came over the course of years. Abrams also knew the breadth of the promise–that making nations didn’t come overnight. He lived the blessing along the journey. He knew the Lord’s favor as the Lord continued to deliver not the promise. So when the day came to believe God in the promise of a son, the 99-year-old man without the physical means to make that happen could trust that God would provide that, too.

Who is This God to You?

Abraham’s God was not a one-and-done God. He didn’t speak words and then bail to let the chips fall. God intervened in Abraham’s life again and again. And He does the same with you. Think back on your life’s journey. Where had God delivered on His promises? And which promises are yet to see their fulfillment? When we feel frustrated that part of a promise has yet to be made a reality, we must remember all that God has done before. He has been faithful int he past, and He will be faithful in this as well.

Where has He delivered you? From a situation, a person, a job, a destructive way of thinking? Deliverance comes in many forms. How has He delivered you from your sin?

Where has God provided?

Just as Abraham could trust God, so can you. If there is anything standing in your way to trusting, pray about it. Your prayer need not be lengthy or wordy. Pray honestly about this roadblock, and He will take delight in responding to a sincere heart.

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[Published] Meekness: Exerting Power in Measure…

The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12) sing like a harmony of promises–be this and you will receive that. Yet as I get to “Blessed are the meek” (vs. 5)–clunk. Like hitting three keys next to each other on a piano, this one stops me. The song no longer sounds the same…”

Read the rest on Page 5 of The Christian Journal at this link: http://en.calameo.com/read/00437127085e77d54efb4

Press On…

Was 2017 hard? Press on.
Was it pure bliss? Press on.

Yesterday need not be your tomorrow. Press on.

Have you delved deep into scripture, learning at a level as never before? Press on.
Have you languished in your discipline toward scripture? Press on to do better.

Did you or a loved one receive a terminal diagnosis? Press on. As one terminally-diagnosed woman says, “We are all terminal. I just know mine will come sooner.” Press on.

Has your energy flagged or your focus blurred? Press on.
Have you built more strength, more perseverance? Press on.

Be not discouraged by what life has been–for God’s rain fall on the saved and the unsaved. He loves you. He works in your life. Press on.

Be not be lazy in expecting everything to be of ease–for we are promised challenges as well as blessing. Press on.

Whatever comes today, your race is not yet over, your life has purpose more. Press on.

“…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 3:13b-14, ESV

Take a breath. Bow in prayer, and walk forward with the confidence of faith. Press on.

Gimme the ball, gimme the ball, gimme the ball..

As I watched the Golden State Warriors (pro basketball) this season, I tried to describe concisely what is so different about them. many things can be said, but during game 1 of the Finals, it struck me. Every player wants the ball–and every player wants to pass the ball to someone who has a better shot.

Gimme the ball so I can shoot. Gimme the ball so I can pass.

The number of assists on this team of superstars is astounding. When most teams are built around one or two superstars, what makes the GSW great is their truly team approach. What makes them dangerous is that even if you clamp down on one player, they have six more who can still beat you. Shut down 3-point shooter Klay Thompson in Game 1, and you still have to deal with NBA MVPs Kevin Durant and Steph Curry. Clamp down on Durant, and Draymond Green, known for his non-point stats (rebounds, steals, assists, etc), will open Game 2 with a three-pointer. And when the depth of the bench can fill in to allow the first six to cycle in and out of the game without much loss of progress, a team becomes unbeatable.

Every player wants to make the play. Every player wants to give the assist. And every player hustles from start to finish. Even if the talent of the other team exceeds that of the Warriors, the Warriors will outlast them almost every time. Go ahead and start fast–they’ll out pace you in the end. Their conditioning, their work, and their hustle is unmatched.

Imagine if we approached our life of faith the same way. When God calls, we want the ball and we will make the play. When God calls someone else, we will take the assist and get them what they need to make the play. We cheer from the bench, and we high-five on the floor. We hustle in practice. We work. And in any situation, we might be beat down temporarily, but we will never be out-worked. In the life of faith, working means trusting, working means pushing when God calls us to push, and working means hitting our knees in prayer as often as we hit the floor in action.

We are given armor, for the life of faith is a battle. Maybe that’s why I enjoy sports–because there is an opponent, you have a team, and the work you put in behind the scenes comes on display in the battle. Let’s aspire to be so on point in our walk with Jesus that we will confidently make the play just as confidently as we pass the ball to our bother or sister in faith for their play.

Let’s be playmakers.

Gimme the ball, gimme the ball, gimme the ball.