Devotions

“The Lord Will Provide” 

Abraham “Sacrifices” Isaac • Devotion #6: “The Lord Will Provide”
Caleb Combs | Gathering Pastor

The story in Genesis chapter 22 is one with which I have always struggled. God had just blessed Abraham and Sarah with a baby when all signs pointed to them being too old. Yet, now God challenged Abraham with the blessing. He told him to take Isaac to Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice. Now, this is where I struggle. This seems totally opposite of the character of God. Yet, Abraham was obedient. He took his only son, some supplies, and headed to the mountain. On the way, Isaac asked his father, “Where is the sacrifice?” Abraham responded that God would provide. Several times Isaac asked his father on the journey, and every time the response was the same, “God will provide!” I am not sure if you have children, but if God asked this of me, I am not sure I would have responded the same way Abraham did. I would ask, “Really God? I prayed for years that you would give us a child, and now you want to take him away?” Abraham had to be thinking all of these thoughts, yet his actions showed a resilient faith. When they reached the top of the Moriah, Isaac built the altar and then his father laid him on it. The Bible tells us that when Abraham lifted the knife, God called to him, “Abraham, Abraham, Abraham, don’t lay a hand on Isaac, I have provided the sacrifice.” Just as God said, there was a ram stuck in a bush nearby, and Abraham and Isaac made a sacrifice to God. Genesis 22:14 says, “So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The Lord will provide;’ as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’”

This is an incredible story of God’s provision and testing, yet I have always struggled with understanding the desperation in which God put Abraham. Ultimately, it was a calling by God to Abraham for him to trust Him. Recently, I was able to travel to Durban, South Africa to serve at Key of Hope. Key of Hope is a ministry that works with children throughout Durban. It is an incredible ministry, founded and run by Dan and Rachel Smither. Before we went to South Africa, I thought it would be a great idea to bring some supplies. We brought suitcases packed with school supplies to be distributed by Dan and Rachel. I also know how big soccer is there, so I called in a favor. My friend, Caleb Stanko, plays professional soccer in Germany and he has a huge love for missions, and so he provided soccer equipment and jerseys for me to take with us. 

On our first day in South Africa, we dumped all of the bags out in Dan’s office, and he was excited about all of the supplies. That same day the director of his soccer programs came to him with a dilemma. He had spent most of his soccer supply budget on something other than supplies. He came to Dan and explained that his team had been unable to train and even play in games because they had not eaten. You see, most of them barely have enough money to eat once a day, and that was not close to enough nourishment for them to be able to play games or practice. The soccer director decided to use the supply of money to feed them and now was not sure how he was going to supply the needed soccer equipment. In the same response Abraham responded to Isaac, Dan responded, “God will provide!” Dan told him to turn around and see the very equipment he needed had already been provided by God. The young man was absolutely amazed at how real God was and is. 

As I sit typing this devotion, I am challenged by that exact statement, “Do you realize how real God is?” I am ashamed of my unwillingness to trust that God will provide. I want to take control of situations myself and not trust that God will intervene. Maybe you are just like me and are a “control freak.” Or maybe you have no issues in trusting God. I know in the easy situations, I have no problem trusting. But when the rubber meets the road, and our situations turn dire, that is when we truly see the extent of our faith. Do you trust that God will provide? I can say definitively that God will provide! It may not look the way you thought or imagined, but we have a real and active God working for our favor.

Faith 

Abraham “Sacrifices” Isaac • Devotion #5: Faith
Josh Lahring | Production Director

In Genesis chapter 22, we see Abraham being told by God to take his only son, Isaac, and sacrifice him on an altar made of wood. Genesis 22:6-8 (NIV) records, “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.”

 Here we see a couple of things. First, Isaac had faith in his father and second, that Abraham had faith in God that He would provide even though he did not know what the outcome would actually be. In both cases we see the child obeying his father.

After I graduated from high school, I did what every student did and tried to figure out what I should do for a career. I decided that I would go to the University of Michigan Flint to study Music. After a year of that, I realized that there was no way I would make a career out of music and that I had to change to something different.  After reviewing the degrees they offered, I started the fall semester in computer science. I knew quite a bit about computers so I thought it would be a good fit and there would be a lot of jobs available. I was consumed with being in control of my future, as everyone tells you, you have to have a plan.

Three weeks into the program, I was at a church event, and God made me realize that I could not live my life that way. When I got home, I told my mom I was dropping out and transferring to a Christian college to study Music and Bible Theology. I was nervous about it, but yet at peace that I knew it was what God had called me to do. Years later, I was asked to come work at the River Church in Goodrich full-time and every day I am able to use all my gifts for His purpose.

Imagine the fear Abraham had while heading up that mountain to sacrifice his son.  He knew he had to do what God had called him to do even though it did not make sense. Yet, he knew that God would provide. When he was about to kill his son, an amazing thing happens. Verses 12-13 (NIV) record, “‘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.” 

Sometimes what we are called to do does not make logical sense, but we must have faith that God will provide and that His ways are perfect. Trust God, have confidence, walk in faith, and look for God to provide.

Confidence 

Abraham “Sacrifices” Isaac • Devotion #4: Confidence
Mary Jane Johns

My son-in-law, Chris is an exceptional human being. He is a geologist (the study of rocks) in North Dakota. Chris has been part of our family for about four years now, we love him to pieces, and he is a rock star! We also have the world’s greatest grandchildren, Calvin and baby ToriKate. But, I digress. When our daughter, Kaili Mae was expecting Cal, we were all elated! She was having a baby boy. What would this boy child look like? Whom would he favor in appearance, disposition, coloring, and eye color? What I failed to share with you is that Chris is an only child. Chris is adopted as well. His genetic history is somewhat of a mystery. However, we do know that Chris was and is very loved and very wanted.

There is a child in the Bible that was also very loved and very much wanted. Although Isaac was not adopted, he was the only child of Abraham and Sarah. For years they had longed for a babe to love and hold. God kept His promise to Abraham and Sarah (after a series of mishaps on both parts) by allowing Sarah to conceive at the age of 90 years old. I can not even imagine how she must have felt knowing at the age of 90 she was going to have a baby! How crazy is that? God showed complete and utter grace in this situation. Sarah is one of only two females listed in the Hall of Fame of Faith listed in Hebrews chapter 11. Verse 11 (NIV) says, “And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.” 

Genesis 22:2 adds, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” God continued on to command him to take two servants, a donkey, and set off on the 50-mile journey to the region of Moriah. God was asking Abraham for the ultimate sacrifice. What was God thinking? Asking Abraham to give his only son as a sacrifice instead of a clean lamb was just too much! Yet, in John 3:16 God did that very thing, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Jesus, God’s Son was the ultimate sacrifice. He was offered up for us.

To make his son, Isaac, an offering was a test of character, will, and faith of Abraham. Earlier in Genesis, God specifically said that the promise would be through Isaac (Genesis 21:12). Abraham remained obedient. There was hope.

Genesis 22:8 says,‘God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ So they went both of them together.” Abraham, Isaac’s dad, was proceeding in faith toward the sacrifice and trusted that God would provide for them. That my friend is real faith. God did provide. God always provides. Whether it is a ram in the bushes, extra money to cover a bill, a child that a desperate couple desires, or a husband for your eldest daughter (Chris), He is faithful. Will you be obedient and trust God to provide for you, too?

Hebrews 11:17-19

Abraham “Sacrifices” Isaac • Devotion #3: Hebrews 11:17-19
Philip Piasecki

When I look back at my four years of college, I have a lot of really great memories. I remember meeting my wife on my first day of classes during my junior year. I remember winning the intramural dodgeball and basketball championships. I remember meeting our Waterford Worship Leader, John Hubbard, on our first day of freshman orientation. The one thing I do not look back fondly on is all the exams and tests. I never enjoyed taking tests; if someone tells you that they do enjoy tests, suggest they see a counselor because something is wrong with them. However, tests are there for a reason; it is a way to find out if you actually learned what you were supposed to. I can say I understand a subject completely, but if I cannot pass a test on it, then odds are I did not actually comprehend it.

One of the greatest tests we see in the Bible was when Abraham was commanded by the Lord to sacrifice his son Isaac. Why did God give Abraham this test? It was to see if he had learned what he was supposed to about the nature of God. Abraham passed with flying colors, and because of that we see an account of this story in Hebrews 11:17-19, By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” Abraham knew that even if God let him go through with the sacrifice of Isaac, God could raise him from the dead. Abraham understood God’s promises and fully trusted Him, even when God’s commands did not make sense to him. 

Hebrews chapter 11 holds story after story of amazing acts of faith from throughout Scripture. Abraham’s faith is so inspirational and so deeply convicting. I know that personally, I lack that level of faith every day. I know that there are tests from God of my faith that I fail daily. There are basic things that I struggle to trust God with when in contrast Abraham trusted God to raise his son from the dead. I am sure you can think of areas in your life where you constantly lack faith. The remedy to this is to gain a better understanding of the promises of God. When our faith is lacking, we can remember the words of Scripture and be encouraged. 

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Philippians 4:6-7 adds, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 6:31-34 continues the thought, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. ‘Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’”

For the rest of the day, meditate on these verses, let them remind you of the goodness of God. Let these verses encourage you to have faith in every situation just like the faith of Abraham that we see in Hebrews chapter 11.

Abraham’s Response 

Abraham “Sacrifices” Isaac • Devotion #2: Abraham’s Response
John Hubbard | Worship Leader

“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.” Genesis 22:1-3

It is important to remember that Abraham’s story does not begin here. He had already been through so much with God, waiting year after year for God to give him a son through Sarah. When I see just this part of the story, I am shocked at Abraham’s willingness to, for lack of a better word, execute this command. Keep in mind that already Abraham has made mistakes in his walk with God. He had tried to do things his own way in the past when he felt God was taking too long for his wife, Sarah, to bear him a son. So, Abraham had a son through Hagar called Ishmael. This plan of Abraham and Sarah did not work out as well as they had hoped. How often do we make our own plans in place of God’s plans? 

Whenever I read this chapter I cannot decide if Abraham knew God was testing him or not, Abraham had already been told that he would become a great nation through Isaac, so surely he will not have to kill him. Isaac is now old enough to comprehend and speak to his father about the process of building an altar. 

Genesis 22:7-8 says, “And Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ He said, ‘Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ Abraham said, ‘God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.’ So they went both of them together.”

Again, is Abraham lying to his son or is he sure that God will provide? Either way, I think the most important thing Abraham did was to respond immediately. He did not know how it would turn out, but he knew that he would do what God commanded. He did not just head out and rush through this command; he equipped himself to succeed in his task. He prepared his donkey, and he gathered and cut wood for the fire.

What has God commanded us to do now? In our day and age, we like to have the best-laid plans. We desire no surprises, no variables, and no failure. We love to prepare ourselves, but are we fulfilling our task? 



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