But Where Is The Lamb For The Burnt Offering?

Abraham Tested

22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Father, forgive me for the absence of my sacrifice. Countless times, I have brought the fire and the wood, but I have brought no lamb for the burnt offering. I have lifted my hands and uttered with my lips, but my heart was not ready to give you everything. The altar I prepared was empty, meaningless, void. I was only willing to prepare the altar, but never willing to offer up the things I hold dear.

Help me to remember that Your name is above everything else. To love You, I must give You everything else that I love. Nothing must be before you, and everything that is must be placed at the altar before You. I ask for courage, faith and obedience birthed from love, to place my sacrifice on the altar and pierce it through the heart. I want to come broken, naked and vulnerable before You, with a spirit that is willing to be guided by You and a heart willing to be moulded by you. Amen.

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

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But God

Written by Kate Connor

God is surprising. Which is strange, since He’s also the same yesterday, today, and forever.

I think the reason that God is so surprising to me is because a creature as flighty and unfaithful as myself cannot comprehend that kind of constancy.

At my very best – my most gracious, magnanimous, disciplined, and most faithful, I still find the persisting goodness of God INCOMPREHENSIBLE. How could anything be so unyielding? Everything bends under the right conditions: granite, titanium, diamonds.

But not God.

This is why, no matter how many times I hear it, the gospel still makes my heart beat fast. My breath still catches in my chest. I still cry all the time.

Because, really? Still?

It’s too sweet. Too much love, too much mercy – it’s too good to be true – except it’s not.

And peppered throughout scripture are two little words that that point to this astonishing constancy of God – to His, as Sally Loyd-Jones writes, never-stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.

These two words make me lean forward in my seat –into the story. They make me whisper, “Oh! This is the good part.”

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They are the surprise I know is coming. Like the flips inside your belly when you free-fall on a roller coaster: you know it, you’ve felt it, you see it coming. But then IT IS, and it thrills you again, anew, every time.
“They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them.” Nehemiah 9:17

“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:7-8]

These words are carried through scripture, from start to finish, on the river of God’s mercy. They speak to both his immovability and to his great compassion. How improbable that those two qualities would coexist. But they do. But God. He is immovably compassionate.

“But God” means who He is and how He is is completely independent of who we are or how we are. Oh, you are a traitor? Adulterer? Murderer? Zealot? Racist? Christian-killer? BUT GOD.

God is the independent variable. You can change, tweak, and alter everything else – but not God. He is out of your league, literally. You can do or be whatever, fill-in-the-blank, but God.

“But God” means He can give grace lavishly because He gives it on His own terms. He loves us because He is loving, not because we are loveable. He loves us in spite of ourselves. I love the despite-ness of God.

Oh, we are rotten? But God. Oh, we were dead in our sins? But God. Oh, we are unfaithful? But God. Oh, we deserve death? But God.

“But God’s” punctuate my own life, marks of His hand, evidence of his care. My whole existence is a series of “This happened to me, but God. This is what I feared, but God. This is where I hurt, but God. This is what I did, but God.” I can’t imagine two more hope-filled words. They are full of promise. Because, no matter what horror or chaos or evil you are surviving, “BUT GOD.”

God is supreme and above and immovable. He is gracious and merciful and lavishly loving. Nothing is impossible for Him; nothing is too hard. He makes streams in the desert; He makes ways where there are no ways.

“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” [Ephesians 2:3-5]

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” [Genesis 50:20]

“Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.” [Acts 10:28]

“People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'” [Luke 18:15-16]

“My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” [Psalm 73:26]

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” [Matthew 19:26]

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 6:23]

It should not surprise me, but it does. Every time. BUT GOD.

Written by Kate Connor, March 26, 2014

http://www.kateelizabethconner.com/blog/but-god

I do not own this.

My Blog’s First Year Anniversary!

I just received a wordpress notification – ‘Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com! You registered on WordPress.com one year ago! Thanks for flying with us.’

How time flies! Within this one year,I have learned and grown so much. As much as I have not been consistently blogging, I feel like it is a little part of my life now and I am ever thankful that I get to pen my thoughts, songs of the day and reflections.

My blog has had over 5000 views (not much, but I am thankful for those views!) I pray and hope that in some little way, God was able to touch the heart of each viewer through what He has encouraged me to write. Be it my daily struggles, my Christian walk, my testimony or just the songs that I post, I hope that you have been able to see the God that I see, and love the God that I love.

With this, I leave you with three points:

1. Update on Lent

It’s the second day of Lent and as promised, I am trying to give up pessimism. Today didn’t start out too well, given that there was an essay due, I still don’t understand land law, and exam preparation is looming. It reminded me of how difficult it is to give pessimism up. I realise that there are days where I literally live for pessimism. I thrive on pessimism and the worries of my life. If there are worries, I worry. If there are no worries, I worry more. Thus, it has been hard to hide the clouds and bring the sunshine out in my mind.

Also, there is a fine line between pessimism and being realistic. I suppose that I first started out being realistic, but that evolved into pessimism. But then again, I think the key is relying on God, because that reliance will allow me to be realistic about God’s outcome and optimistic about His plans in my life.

2. Live the YOLO life, live the Christian life

Having just come out of the Christian Evangelism week run by Durham University, I have been encouraged by the searching, curiosity and exploration by so many non-Christians. Yet, I also sense a lot of hesitation. Of course, there is a need to come to a coherent and reasoned decision to become a Christian but if this decision takes a long time to reach or think about, it eventually dies. It eventually becomes a decision not to become a Christian not because there was a clear decision not to, but rather because the interest waned.

I believe that every important decision in life should be made after much contemplation, and not through the waning of interest through time.

Besides, what have we got to lose? It’s like bungie jumping, take a deep breath and jump! It’s about the experience, the adrenaline, the excitement, the emotions.

If hypothetically, God does not exist, what have you got to lose? You lived your life with hope, assurance and love. And if God exists, even better! You made the right choice! You only live once, so don’t waste chances.

3. God loves you

If you haven’t already gotten the feel of my blog, it’s about His love. It’s about His guidance and relentless love.

There has not been a day that I thought a god could actually truly love me, my darkness and weird habits. Yet, in the bible, Jesus dwelt with the tax collectors, the poor, the prostitutes. I was all of them combined, but God chose me. I have been purified and lifted up as His princess.

You may not think He loves you, but that definitely does not change the fact that He loves you. How do I know that? Simple. Because Jesus saw everything you did and are doing now, but chose to die on the cross for you 2000 years ago. He looked into the future and saw you, and wanted to take your punishment. It’s like the song I used to sing as a child and I slowly began to understand the weight of those words:

You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose
Trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
Above all

The greatest love of all of one that is willing to die for another. I cannot imagine a greater love.

And if you don’t feel it, well the best love is one that is reciprocated. Let Him into your life and let Him show His love. 🙂

So PTL for the blessing of blogging. Throwback to nights when I’ll run for the laptop to post a song or verse. Or those half an hours trying to type out a whole excerpt from a book. Or those emotional posts where I poured my heart out.

It’s been a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to write more.

In His love,

Isabel

The Beauty Of The Lord

Taken from ‘He Restores My Soul’ by A 365 Morning Light Devotional

January 2

The Beauty of the Lord

Why does every mother believe she’s given birth to the most beautiful child the world has ever seen? Because the more you love someone, the more beautiful they become in your eyes. The same is true with God.

Loving a God you cannot see can be tricky at times. That’s because it’s unlike any other relationship you’ll ever have. You can’t experience God with your five senses, like you do everyone else. But you can experience the effects of His love.

As you become more familiar with God by reading the Bible and spending time in prayer, you become more aware of God’s hand at work in your life. You notice peace beginning to replace fear and worry. You find joy, even in difficult circumstances. You feel valued, even when you fail. You find forgiveness erasing your guilt and shame. You discover firsthand the true beauty of the Lord.

Draw closer to God. Celebrate the fact that He’s near. Take time to bask in the beauty of loving and being loved.

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

Jeremiah 31:3

Thanking God For A Bad Day

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Everyone has had bad days, some worse than others.

Yesterday was one of those days for me – nothing beat a defeated post-5hour-interview Isabel who then missed her train and had to pay for another ticket. Honestly, the first time I have broke down for maybe a year?

But after a few phone calls and countless Whatsapp messages, my family and friends kept saying ‘Thank God. Give Him thanks for the experiences that you gained for the interview.’

You might think ‘Ah, another Christian quirk! A Christian thanks God for a bad day – doesn’t even make sense!’

But the thing is when you thank your Almighty Creator, you are acknowledging that through it all, He was with you and that He deliberately let you go through those circumstances to sharpen, season and polish you. When resentment and anger turns into joy and thankfulness, everything feels a lot lighter. Life feels lighter. Life feels happier. What I went through yesterday humbled me, gave me experience and made me even more determined.

I am comforted by Psalm 34, a song written by King David when his own son turned on him. Despite this pain, David chose to praise the Lord.

Taste and See That the Lord Is Good

Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.

34 I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11 Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is there who desires life
    and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
    and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.