A person’s character determines how he interprets God’s will (see Psalm 18:25-26). Abraham interpreted God’s command to mean that he had to kill his son, and he could only leave this traditional belief behind through the pain of a tremendous ordeal. God could purify his faith in no other way. If we obey what God says according to our sincere belief, God will break us from those traditional beliefs that misrepresent Him. There are many such beliefs which must be removed-for example, that God removes a child because his mother loves him too much. That is the devil’s lie and a travesty on the true nature of God! If the devil can hinder us from taking the supreme climb and getting rid of our wrong traditional beliefs about God, he will do so. But if we will stay true to God, God will take us through an ordeal that will serve to bring us into a better knowledge of Himself.
The great lesson to be learned from Abraham’s faith in God is that he was prepared to do anything for God. He was there to obey God, no matter what contrary belief of his might be violated by his obedience. Abraham was not devoted to his own convictions or else he would have slain Isaac and said that the voice of the angel was actually the voice of the devil. That is the attitude of a fanatic. If you will remain true to God, God will lead you directly through every barrier and right into the inner chamber of the knowledge of Himself. But you must always be willing to come to the point of giving up your own convictions and traditional beliefs. Don’t ask God to test you. Never declare as Peter did that you are willing to do anything, even “to go . . . both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33). Abraham did not make any such statement— he simply remained true to God, and God purified his faith.
For Just Such a Time
“For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” – (Esther 4:14)
I love the story of Esther because in some ways, it reminds me of a fairy tale, except it is true. Esther was a beautiful Jewish girl who was plucked from obscurity, won a beauty contest, and became the queen of the kingdom. Then there was a wicked man named Haman, who hatched a plot to have all of the Jews put to death. It was Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, who came to her and described the plight of her fellow Jews, saying, “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
Esther was the queen who saved a nation. She used her influence with the king, the plot was averted, and the people were saved. Then, in perfect poetic justice, Haman, the guy who hatched the plot, ended up hanging on the very gallows he had erected for others. She was there behind the scenes. Esther could have said, “I don’t want to jeopardize my position. No one will ever find out I am a Jew. I am going to be careful and play it safe.” But instead, she put everything on the line.
Who knows that God has not put you where you are right now for such a time as this? You may be the only Christian in your family or the only believer in your neighborhood. You may be the only follower of Jesus Christ in your workplace or in your classroom. Like Esther, will you stand up for such a time as this? Will you use your influence where you can, when you can?
From: Through The Bible
Joshua 9:14-15 (NIV) 14The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD. 15Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.
After Israel conquered Ai, the Hivites that occupied nearby towns concocted a deception to save their lives. They sent a group of men that pretended they had come on a long journey. They had bags of moldy bread and looked travel weary. Actually they were the next towns that Israel would battle.
The leaders of Israel saw the dry wineskins, the patched sandals, and the worn bags with moldy bread and believed their story. Besides, it was kind of uplifting to hear how people in far off lands had heard the testimony of what God was doing for them. Great testimony wasn’t it?
They ate together and made a treaty with these deceivers. They had believed what their eyes had seen instead of consulting with the LORD. Now there was nothing they could do but put those people to work serving Israel. They could not take their lands as God had purposed for them.
Satan is the Great Deceiver. He often brings in subtle lies that make you feel good about yourself. It may even look like it is giving glory to God. We must consult the LORD. We must ask God to lead and not be led by our natural senses. We are easily tricked, but God is never deceived. He will always give us the best advice. It may not be a total loss, but it is not the highest and best that God had planned for us. Consult God in His Word, in prayer, through godly counsel and walk by faith not by sight.
Consider: Am I trusting God, or my senses?
Luke 1:51-53 (NIV) 51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
Today’s passage is the rest of Mary’s Holy Spirit inspired song upon meeting her cousin Elizabeth. (see April 25 evening) This was an amazing event in history. The woman whose womb holds the forerunner of the Messiah and the last Old Testament prophet had just met her cousin whose womb held the Messiah. They were both filled with the Spirit and uttered prophetic words. Mary’s words are believed to have originally come forth as a song.
In the latter half of the song, we have the passage for today. It is a sweeping view of the work of God. It gives us a principle of the way God works. God is writing history by His mighty acts. Those who are proud, even secretly within their hearts, are scattered. Pride is such an offense to God because He knows how utterly needy and poor man is. Pride denies the true condition of man and the wonder of God. God takes the rulers off their thrones and lifts up the humble. The people who think they have power find that God can take that power from them in a moment. It is the humble that find themselves exalted.
Near Bethlehem is Herod’s incredible structure, the Herodium. Like a giant hill on the landscape, this towering circular structure is an architectural wonder. Underneath it are vast cisterns for water storage. Before it was a giant water arena in which sea battles were performed that included hippos. Surely the King of the Jews would be born in such a magnificent place. No, the incarnate God was born in the shadow of this structure in a little rock grotto. The humble unknown woman from Nazareth, a tiny, despised town in the far north, gave birth to the God-man, Jesus. God lifted up the humble.
Those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness will be filled. They know they are needy. They know God is great. They know He is their only hope. They touch reality. May we all lose our pride in recognition of the reality of our sinful condition and the awesome sufficiency of God.
Consider: Your view of this reality will determine whether you go away hungry or filled.
Hebrews 7:1-28 (Good News Translation)
From; American Bible Society
God’s Word: Giving Us Hope
Hebrews 7:1-28: God sent Jesus to make a new agreement with God’s people. In it God makes a new promise that goes beyond the promises God gave to Moses and the people of Israel. The old agreement was based on the Law, but the new agreement is based on Christ’s sacrifice to take away sins.
Today’s Scripture: Hebrews 7:26a
Jesus, then, is the High Priest that meets our needs. He is holy; he has no fault or sin in him.
1 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and a priest of the Most High God. As Abraham was coming back from the battle in which he defeated the four kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him, 2 and Abraham gave him one tenth of all he had taken. (The first meaning of Melchizedek’s name is “King of Righteousness”; and because he was king of Salem, his name also means “King of Peace.”) 3 There is no record of Melchizedek’s father or mother or of any of his ancestors; no record of his birth or of his death. He is like the Son of God; he remains a priest forever. 4 You see, then, how great he was. Abraham, our famous ancestor, gave him one tenth of all he got in the battle. 5 And those descendants of Levi who are priests are commanded by the Law to collect one tenth from the people of Israel, that is, from their own people, even though they are also descendants of Abraham. 6 Melchizedek was not descended from Levi, but he collected one tenth from Abraham and blessed him, the man who received God’s promises. 7There is no doubt that the one who blesses is greater than the one who is blessed. 8 In the case of the priests the tenth is collected by men who die; but as for Melchizedek the tenth was collected by one who lives, as the scripture says. 9 And, so to speak, when Abraham paid the tenth, Levi (whose descendants collect the tenth) also paid it. 10 For Levi had not yet been born, but was, so to speak, in the body of his ancestor Abraham when Melchizedek met him. 11 It was on the basis of the levitical priesthood that the Law was given to the people of Israel. Now, if the work of the levitical priests had been perfect, there would have been no need for a different kind of priest to appear, one who is in the priestly order of Melchizedek, not of Aaron. 12 For when the priesthood is changed, there also has to be a change in the law. 13 And our Lord, of whom these things are said, belonged to a different tribe, and no member of his tribe ever served as a priest. 14 It is well known that he was born a member of the tribe of Judah; and Moses did not mention this tribe when he spoke of priests. 15 The matter becomes even plainer; a different priest has appeared, who is like Melchizedek. 16 He was made a priest, not by human rules and regulations, but through the power of a life which has no end. 17 For the scripture says, “You will be a priest forever, in the priestly order of Melchizedek.” 18 The old rule, then, is set aside, because it was weak and useless. 19 For the Law of Moses could not make anything perfect. And now a better hope has been provided through which we come near to God. 20 In addition, there is also God’s vow. There was no such vow when the others were made priests. 21 But Jesus became a priest by means of a vow when God said to him,“The Lord has made a solemn promiseand will not take it back:“You will be a priest forever.””22 This difference, then, also makes Jesus the guarantee of a better covenant. 23 There is another difference: there were many of those other priests, because they died and could not continue their work. 24But Jesus lives on forever, and his work as priest does not pass on to someone else. 25 And so he is able, now and always, to save those who come to God through him, because he lives forever to plead with God for them. 26 Jesus, then, is the High Priest that meets our needs. He is holy; he has no fault or sin in him; he has been set apart from sinners and raised above the heavens. 27 He is not like other high priests; he does not need to offer sacrifices every day for his own sins first and then for the sins of the people. He offered one sacrifice, once and for all, when he offered himself. 28 The Law of Moses appoints men who are imperfect to be high priests; but God’s promise made with the vow, which came later than the Law, appoints the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
In biblical times, priests made sacrifices as an act of thanksgiving and also to seek God’s forgiveness for the sins of the people. According to verses 20-28, what is the difference between the sacrifice Jesus offered and the ones offered by the priests and high priests of Israel? What does Jesus’ sacrifice mean to you?