Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Lay It on the Altar

*Today, I am going to follow with the same thought as yesterday, that is the provision of God.

We love getting blessings, don’t we? How many of you have ever had a time where God came through and met a need in your life in some amazing, and even miraculous way? I’ve had my share, too. One in particular, several years ago happened at a time when we were totally broke, with no money for groceries. We were really low on food in the fridge and cupboards, and my sensed the Holy Spirit tell her to write out a grocery list. So she did, listing everything we needed, and even some things we wanted. When she was done, she prayed over the list, and asked God to do whatever it was he wanted to do. She went back about her business that day.

I came home from work that afternoon, and grabbed the mail from the mailbox. I walked in, and my wife was relaxing on the couch. She saw in the mail that I hadn’t even looked at yet a small card, like a thank-you card, and she said, “Ooo, a card came!” She happily opened it to see who sent it, but she didn’t notice the green paper that fell from the card. I did, and I quickly grabbed it, and found that it was a folded $100 bill! That was when she told me about the grocery list, and we rejoiced because God had provided for our need. Immediately, I took that list she had made and went to the store. We got everything on the list!

I have many other stories that I can share about our wonderful Savior who provides for our needs. After all, Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”. God is a gracious God who knows what we have need of, and provides it! Often, I have verbally praised the Lord the way we often do when he has provided for us, with a shout of “Jehovah-Jireh”, which means, “The Lord will provide”.

Where do we first see this name of God in the Bible? It is in Genesis 22, when Abraham commanded by God to take his son Isaac to a certain mountain and offer him as a burnt sacrifice. I can’t imagine how hard this must have been for Abraham. This was the son of promise, miraculously born to him and his wife Sarah in their old age, and with Sarah having been barren her whole life, unable to have children. He loved his son, yet he loved God more, and did as he was commanded.

When they got to the place God showed them, they began the ascent to the top. Though the Bible refers to Isaac as a “lad”, most scholars believe that he was a young man, possibly 30 years old (Chuck Smith’s commentary). At any rate, he was easily quick and strong enough to overpower his elderly dad to escape certain death. But instead, we see Isaac as a willing participant. There is no reading of a struggle ensuing as if he sought to save himself. He laid his life down on that altar in complete obedience to his father, and to God. I’ll save that for a later devotion.

As they walked to the place of sacrifice, Isaac asked his father where the lamb to be sacrificed was at. Abraham responded prophetically, saying, “God shall provide himself a lamb…” (v. 8) With his son now tied up and laying on the altar, Abraham took the knife, and raised it to kill him. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the angel of the Lord stopped Abraham just before the knife made contact. God commended him for his faith, and provided a ram that had been caught in a thicket by his horns. Abraham untied Isaac, and got the ram, and sacrificing the ram that God had provided, called the place they were “Jehovah-Jireh”, or “the Lord will provide”. It’s interesting to note that the place this event happened was called Mount Moriah, which was the very place that Christ hung upon the cross. God did indeed provide himself a sacrifice there, in the person of Jesus Christ!

Nowadays, we often look to God to take care of our every need. We look to him as “Jehovah-Jireh”, but he didn’t become known as the God who provides until Abraham made the sacrifice. How often do we want God to provide for us, yet the area we want his providence in remains in our hands? We want God to give us a better job, or more money, but we refuse to take our hands off of it and let God do what he will. Our finances, our homes, our children, and our jobs all belong on the altar. We have to give these areas of life up to God, for him to do what he will with them. Perhaps there are friendships that need to go on the altar. Maybe relationships that we want God to move in, but we’re unwilling to totally remove our hands and let God do what he will. How can we expect God to bless areas we refuse to give completely to him?

I have to give my family to him, my marriage, and my work. How do I do that? I have to come to the understanding that I can’t help any of these areas without God’s help. I recently took a second job delivering pizzas to make some extra cash for my family. How do I make sure I’m keeping my hands off and doing things God’s way? I make sure that I pay my taxes on what I earn in tips, first of all. Most delivery drivers don’t do that. I’m certainly not above them, but I want to honor God, and I want to walk in his provision. I have to have integrity. I have to do what is expected of me from my boss. I can’t cut corners and expect God to bless it. Keeping my hands off means I’m not trying to make it work by myself, but I’m doing it God’s way. He will bless it.

I encourage everyone today to put those areas of need on the altar. Get your hands off it, and let God do what he wants to do with it. The Bible tells us that God desires to give us good things. But unless we’re willing to take our hands off, and give him complete control, I have to believe that God can’t bless whatever area we need his touch in. May God bless you as you put your situation up the altar.

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