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    Encouraging Words From the Heart

          I will be posting Bible studies that we have been doing at the county jail with the female inmates. My prayer is that you will benefit from these, and God will be glorified.

    Tue, Oct 16th - 1:13PM


    Read Genesis 22:12-19      "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."  Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.  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."  The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, "I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."  Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba. 

    Abraham passed the ultimate test. God asked him to give up what was most precious in life to him, and he gave his son to God.  And then God did, indeed, provide a ram, conveniently stuck in a thicket, which Abraham sacrificed instead of his son.  God promised him blessings and honor because of his obedience in this test, and repeated His promise that all nations would be blessed through him; the Messiah would be born of Abraham's lineage.  One day God's only Son would be the Lamb placed on the wood and pierced with a soldier's cruel spear.  It wouldn't be a test; it would be the real deal, and God would turn His holy eyes away from the sin of the world Jesus took on Himself on an old rugged cross.  No one would call out to intervene and save Him. He would give Himself willingly--the Sacrificial Lamb for the sin of the world.

    This is what the Bible says about the new covenant God makes with us through His Son, Jesus Christ:

    We are all separated from a holy, perfect God by our sin. Unless we can be perfect, and we can't, there is nothing we can ever do to be good enoiugh; we can never "earn our own way."   "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

    The penalty for our sin is death.  "For the wages of sin is death..." Romans 6:23

    Because God loves us so much, He has made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. That way is Jesus -- the holy and perfect Son of God, the only One who could pay for our sin because He had none of His own. Remember that the wages of sin is death.  "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

    Agree with God that your sin separates you from Him, humbly ask His forgiveness because of Jesus' death on the cross to pay for your sin, and give control of your life to Him, making Him the Lord of your life.  "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." Romans 10:9-10

    Salvation is simple and free, but it isn't cheap. It cost God His beloved Son; Jesus bought it with His life. And He requires that anyone "who wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23 

    Comment (0)

    Fri, Oct 5th - 11:11AM


    Read Genesis 22:9-11     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.  Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.  But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied.  

    Abraham has built an altar at the specified place, placed the wood on it, and then the bound sacrifice on that--his son. He takes up the knife with which he will slay him in obedience to God. The angel of the Lord calls twice, "Abraham!  Abraham!" Remember verse 1? What does Abraham say? "Here I am." Still here, still listening, still ready to obey. I have often wondered how Isaac felt about all this. The Bible doesn't tell us, but we know he must've willingly submitted, given his size and age. He had apparently already learned submission and absolute obedience to his father by watching Abraham's submission and obedience to His Father.

    Comment (0)

    Mon, Sep 24th - 2:56AM


    Read Genesis 22:4-8     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?" Araham 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.

    Taking two servants and Isaac, on the third day of their journey, Abraham saw their destination in the distance. Then the Bible records the most amazing statement. Abraham and Isaac would go on to worship while the servants waited, and then come back. Hebrews 11:17-19 tells us Abraham, knowing God had promised He would make Isaac the father of many descendants, offered Isaac as a sacrifice, in obedience.  But that didn't mean he was giving up on God.  To the contrary, he believed God, if necessary, would raise Isaac from the dead, in order to fulfill His promises to Abraham! That's faith! As Isaac carried the wood for his own sacrifice, and Abraham carried the fire and knife, Isaac's curiosity came to the fore. He saw everything for the sacrifice but the sacrificial lamb. By that time, he was into adolescence or early adulthood, and when he asked about the burnt offering, Abraham's answer was matter-of-fact, but short on detail. Certainly by that time, the patriarch had learned that God could be trusted, and whatever was needed, God would provide.

    There is much uncertainty in life.  On a scale of 1-10, where are you when it comes to believing God?   In our day, "head knowledge" about God abounds.  Trusting Him completely is a matter of the heart, and an essential survival skill, since God is the only true Place of Security.  Isaiah 40:8 says, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."  It makes sense to stand on what never moves, doesn't it?    

    Comment (1)

    Sun, Sep 9th - 2:16AM


    Read Genesis 22:2-3      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.

    What was that???   Can you just imagine the rapid thoughts shooting through Abraham's mind? My son? My only son? Isaac? My boy that I love?  Sacrifice? (Such an ugly word!) My son is going to be a burnt offering?  We can only imagine what that night must have been like for Abraham. But the Bible never mentions that he whined, cajoled, begged, refused, or even hesitated to follow God's life-altering instructions. What it does say is that he got up early the next morning and made preparation for the trip to Mount Moriah. Imagine his pain and bewilderment as he cut the wood for the sacrifice--the sacrifice of his son!  

    Read Matthew 10:37-39     "Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."

    In Abraham's day, the nations they had lived in, and traveled through, sacrificed their children to pagan gods (who were not gods at all).  We have no reason to believe Abraham didn't fully intend to sacrifice his son because of his devotion to God.  God doesn't require this of us, but Jesus did say in the passage above that we are to place nothing or no one above Him, and obedience to Him.  Our families, although we love and care for them, are not our gods--are they?  As we search our hearts, we must remove whatever idols are there, even if they are loved ones.  No one is to be worshipped but God.  As we see our freedoms being taken away in America, we must face the very real possibility that in our lifetimes, we may be called upon,  in a much more tangible way,  to choose between God, and whatever would challenge our allegiance to Him, even if it's our families.  We need to be praying now, not only for our country, which is in very real danger, but for ourselves, that we will be faithful to Him, no matter what. 

    God says in 2 Chronicles 7:14,  "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."  Will we wait until we have lost the freedom we enjoy in this great country to give God the respect and honor due Him?  We are witnesses that this president has made numerous statements and promoted policies that fly in the face of God.  He announced to the whole world that America is no longer a Christian nation.  Mr. Obama has withdrawn much of the support America has historically shown for Israel.  In His word, God says He will bless those who bless Israel, and curse those who curse them.    Are we so arrogant that we think He can't or won't back up what He has said?  A few months ago, Mr. Obama came out in support of gay marriage.  Jesus said we are to love everyone, and that includes everyone.  However, that doesn't mean contradicting God.  His word says homosexuality (I believe this to be the practice of it) is an abomination to Him.  So Mr. President, I respectfully and wholeheartedly refute what you said at that point.   God is the One Who has made us great, and when we cease to honor Him and do His bidding, He can take us down in a moment.  We needn't think He won't.  Israel is referred to in the Bible as "the apple of His eye," and He judged them more than once when they turned their backs to Him, bringing them into servitude to other nations. So we end this paragraph where we began it:  "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."    

    Comment (0)

    Wed, Sep 5th - 12:56PM


    Read Genesis 22:1      Some time later God tested Abraham.   He said to him, "Abraham!"  "Here I am," he replied.  

    The first verse in this passage is significant, and consistent with the way Abraham walked with God.  God called, and Abraham immediately submitted himself to Him.   This alone is a great lesson to us.

    Comment (1)

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    ChristiansUnite ID: vryder
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