SETTING YOUR PRIORITIES

There’s an old story about a farmer who one morning decided to plow the north forty. His tractor needed oil, so he started to the barn to get it, but on the way he noticed the pigs had not been fed. Near the corncrib was a pile of sacks, reminding him that the potatoes were sprouting. But on his way to the potato pit, he passed a woodpile and remembered that the kitchen stove was burning low. While picking up wood, he saw that one of his chickens was ailing, so he dropped the wood to doctor the chicken … and so it went to the end of the day, and he still had not oiled the tractor or plowed the north forty.

Is your Christian life like this trip to the barn? Do you have grand visions of great service that never gets done? Have you found too many “other things”to do that interfered with your goal of being a productive servant in God’s kingdom?

The only way you and I will ever “get to the barn”of Christian service is to get our priorities in order. The farmer in the story did not have any priorities. He just flowed with the tide of events around him!

Our life contains plenty of “pigs to feed,”“wood to cut,”and “chickens to doctor.”But we can’t allow these to get in the way of serving God. If we make the commitment and extend our effort, God will make a way for us to “get in the barn!”“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mat. 6:33).

Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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PREPARED FOR BATTLE

Private Jones was assigned to the Army induction center, where he was to advise new recruits about their government benefits, especially their Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance (SGLI).   It wasn’t long before the center’s Lieutenant noticed that Private Jones had almost a 100% record for insurance sales, which had never happened before.  Rather than ask about this, the Lieutenant stood in the back of the room and listened to Jones’s sales pitch.

Jones explained the basics of the SGLI to the new recruits, and then said, “If you have SGLI and go into battle and are killed, the government has to pay $200,000 to your beneficiaries.  If you don’t have SGLI, and you go into battle and get killed, the government has to pay only a maximum of $6000.”

“Now,” he concluded, “which bunch do you think they are going to send into battle first?”

Nobody likes the thought of being sent into battle.  And yet, every day we are all exchanged in warfare.  In the great battle between good and evil, we are daily in combat with Satan and his forces of evil.  It is a battle for our very souls.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:11-12).

May you be strengthened this day, and prepared for the battles you will encounter.

Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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THANKFULNESS

One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people can be. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”

“It was great, Dad.”

“Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked.

“Oh Yeah” said the son.

“So what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.

The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”

With this the boy’s father was speechless.

Then his son added, “Thanks dad for showing me how poor we are.”

Too many times we forget what we have and concentrate on what we don’t have. What is one person’s worthless object is another’s prize possession. It is all based on one’s perspective. It makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks to God for all the bounty we have been provided by Him, instead of worrying about wanting more. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 The. 5:18).

Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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A TURNING POINT

Several years ago, Newsweek magazine carried the story of the memorial service held for Hubert Humphrey, former vice-president of the United States. Hundreds of people came from all over the world to say good-bye to their old friend and colleague. But one person who came was shunned and ignored by virtually everyone there. Nobody would look at him much less speak to him. That person was former president Richard Nixon. Not long before, he had gone through the shame and infamy of Watergate. He was back in Washington for the first time since his resignation from the presidency.

Then a very special thing happened, perhaps the only thing that could have made a difference and broken the ice. President Jimmy Carter, who was in the White House at that time, came into the room. Before he was seated, he saw Nixon over against the wall, all by himself. He went over to him as though he were greeting a family member, stuck out his hand to the former president, and smiled broadly. To the surprise of everyone there, the two of them embraced each other, and Carter said, “Welcome home, Mr. President! Welcome home!” One president to another, from different parties, they understood what they had in common, what burdens they had born in common, they were elected presidents.

Commenting on that, Newsweek magazine asserted, “If there was a turning point in Nixon’s long ordeal in the wilderness, it was that moment and that gesture of love and compassion.”

Many Christians have committed horriblesins – sins they regret for the rest of their lives. Many of these sins, though repented of, still bring a heavy burden and great sorry to their life. A turning point in the life of many of these burdened souls is how we react to them after they have repented. Do we harbor ill-will? Do we resent them? Do we avoid them? What should we do? The Bible says if a brother repents we are to forgive him (Luke 17:4). We are to treat them as the father did the returning prodigal son (Luke 15:11ff). The turning point in the life of many forgiven sinners will be our gestureof love and compassion.

Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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THE OFFERING OF ISAAC

Genesis 22:1-14 

INTRODUCTION

Genesis 22:1-14 is the high-water mark in the book of Genesis, in the life of Abraham, and in the life of Isaac.

  1. The offering of Isaac is discussed three times in the Bible (Gen. 22:1-14; Jam. 2:2:21-22; Heb. 11:17-19)
  2. In James 2:21-22 and Hebrews 11:17-19, this event is discussed in the context of genuine faith.
  3. Abraham is in the Faith’s Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11, along with many other great servants of faith.

God had made a promise to Abraham

  1. Genesis 12:1-3
  2. This promise was given six times to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:14-18; 15; 17; 18:16-19; 22:17-19)

In Genesis 21:2 Isaac is born, and Abraham now has the son he has always wanted, the one that God had promised

  1. But notice now what the Lord tells Abraham in… Genesis 22:1-2
  2. The Lord wants Abraham to sacrifice his precious boy!
  3. What would you do in this situation?
  4. Would we have the type of Faith that Abraham had in this situation?

Let us now observe what the offering of Isaac revealed concerning the faith of Abraham.

DISCUSSION

THE OFFERING OF ISAAC REVEALED A FAITH THAT WOULD OBEY

  1. This is affirmed twice in the Scriptures
  2. Hebrews 11:17
  3. James 2:21-22

Biblical faith, in every dispensation, has always shown itself in obedience:

  1. Patriarchal Age:
    • Hebrews 11:4
    • Hebrews 11:7
    • Hebrews 11:8
  2. Mosaic Age:
    • Hebrews 11:30
    • Hebrews 11:32-39
  3. Christian Age:
    • Acts 8:12
    • Obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:26)
    • Faith working by love” (Gal. 5:6)

James 2:14-20, 24here we are informed that a faith without works of obedience is:

  1. Dead …Imperfect
  2. No better than the devil’s faith
  3. A contradiction to God’s word

THE OFFERING OF ISAAC REVEALED A FAITH THAT OBEYED WITH EXACTNESS

Notice the exactness of God’s directions…Genesis 22:2

  1. Specified what He wanted – a burnt offering
  2. Specified whom He wanted – Isaac
  3. Specified where He wanted it – Mount Moriah

Abraham obeyed with exactness!

God gave Noah exact directions…

  1. Noah obeyed with exactness
  2. Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Gen. 6:22).

God gave Moses exact directions

  1. Hebrews 8:5
  2. Moses obeyed with exactness

When man does not obey with exactness, serious consequences will result

Consider the situation of Uzzah

  1. 2 Samuel 6:6-7
  2. This violated Exodus 25:14… to be carried with staves by the Levites

Consider the situation of Moses in Numbers 20:7-12

  1. Moses smote the rock and didn’t give God the glory.
  2. Many today are trying to treat obedience like a game of horse shoes … just trying to be close

We must take the greatest lengths possible to obey with exactness

Abraham had a faith that obeyed with exactness

THE OFFERING OF ISAAC REVEALED A FAITH THAT WOULD OBEY WITHOUT QUESTION

There would have been plenty that Abraham could have questioned God about:

  1. Only heathen nations offer human sacrifices
  2. How will the promise be fulfilled?

Did Abraham respond in this way?

  1. “Do you really mean it, Lord?”
  2. “Can’t you tell someone else to do it?”
  3. “What about Ishmael?”
  4. “Can’t I be faithfully thine without doing just this one thing?”
  5. “Is not this requiring too much?”

Why didn’t Abraham ask these questions?

  1. His faith was too strong
  2. Romans 4:20-22

We must never put a ( ? )where God has put a ( . )

We should never question the Lord for He always know what is best…Isaiah 55:8-9

THE OFFERING OF ISAAC REVEALED A FAITH THAT WOULD OBEY WHEN SUCH WAS NOT CONVENIENT

Notice the inconvenience for Abraham

  1. There were donkeys to saddle
  2. Young men to recruit, wood to gather
  3. A three-day journey to make, thus – two days of camping.

It is not always convenient to obey and serve God

  1. The eunuch traveled some 1,000 miles to worship God (Acts 8:26-40)
  2. What about the persecution Paul had to bear?
    • Persecution is never convenient
    • 2 Corinthians 11:24-28

1 Kings 12:25-29… not convenient so he changed God’s plan

We must realize that we all have crosses to bear

  1. Matthew 16:24
  2. It is not always convenient to:
    • Attend worship
    • Study your Bible
    • Teach the lost
    • Encourage a way-ward member
    • Do any aspect of the Lord’s work

Convenience must never dictate our faithfulness

THE OFFERING OF ISAAC REVEALED A FAITH THAT WOULD OBEY REGARDLESS OF THE COST

Oh, what a price Abraham had to pay!

Obedience can be a very costly thing:

  1. Obedience cost Job everything (Job 1)
  2. It cost Moses riches and esteem (Heb. 11:24-27)
  3. Obedience cost Daniel his safety (Dan. 6:10-24)
  4. Obedience cost Stephen his life (Acts 6:10-24)

There is a cost attached to Christianity

  1. Luke 14:25-33
  2. We must not teach or practice discount Christianity!
  3. 2 Samuel 24:24

What will obedience cost us? It may cost us our:

  1. Friends … family
  2. Job
  3. Personal joys and habits

But whatever the cost, it pays to be obedient unto the Lord

  1. Mark 10:28-31
  2. God’s shovel is bigger than our shovel

CONCLUSION

Is it any wonder that Abraham is called “a friend of God”? (Jam. 2:23)

Are you a friend of God?

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A SOLITARY EMBER

A Christian who had been devoutly active for many years suddenly was absent from the assembly. One cold winter evening the preacher knocked at his door. Actually, the preacher and the church member had been long-time good friends.

As they watched the wood burn in the fireplace, the preacher mentioned his absence from the church assembly. The man candidly confessed that he had decided he was just as well off without the church as with it. The minister didn’t say a word. He took the tongs from the rack, reached into the fire, pulled out a flaming ember, and laid it down by itself on the hearth. He still said nothing.

Both men sat in silence and watched the glowing ember lose its glow and turn slowly into a crusty, black lump. After some moments of thoughtful silence, the man turned to the preacher and said, “I get the message, my friend, I see what you mean; I’ll be back next Sunday.”

You see, my friends, we need our church family to keep us strong – away from the fiery family of God our light soon goes out. “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh” (Heb. 10:24-25).

Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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CLEANING FROM THE INSIDE OUT

The story is told of an old man who lived on a farm in the mountains of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson. Each morning, Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading from his old, worn out Bible.

His grandson who wanted to be just like him tried to imitate him in any way he could.

One day, the grandson asked, “Papa, I try to read the Bible just like you but I don’t understand it, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Bible do?”

The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and said, “Take this coal basket down to the river and bring back a basket of water.”

The boy did as he was told, even though all the water leaked out before he could get back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, “You will have to move a little faster next time,” and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again.

This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was impossible to carry water in a basket, and he went to get a bucket instead. The old man said, “I don’t want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You can do this. You’re just not trying hard enough,” and he went out the door to watch the boy try again.

At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got far at all. The boy scooped the water and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty.

Out of breath, he said, “See Papa, it’s useless!”

“So you think it is useless?” the old man said. “Look at the basket.” The boy looked at the basket and for the first time he realized that the basket looked different. Instead of a dirty old coal basket, it was clean. “Son, that’s what happens when you read the Bible. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, it will change you from the inside out.”

Thus, we must “Give diligence [study] to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth”(2 Tim. 2:15). “Already ye are clean because of the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).“Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed theretoaccording to thy word”(Psa. 119:9). “For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

Are you being cleaned from the inside out?

Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”
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