The Funeral

I’ve done many funerals in my time as a pastor. Each varies in length with how much the family tells me about someone, how much I know about the deceased, and what God lays on my heart.

I like to honor the one that has died, which is easier and much more joyful when the person knew Jesus as Savior.

It’s really not much different from a sermon – taking anywhere from twenty to forty-five minutes.

So I was a bit surprised by the amount of time the Bible spent on the death of a great man of God – a Patriarch of the Hebrews, Abraham.

Just forty-three words.

This is the sum of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived: one hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. Gen 25:7-8

But when you think of the words of Jesus, who said,

“Have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Matt 22:31-32

Abraham did not have a funeral – but a homecoming!

And so it is with all that die in this life to wake up in NEW LIFE!
Death is not the closing of one’s eyes and seeing the darkness – it is closing your eyes and seeing the Light!

And Abraham’s life speaks for itself in the descendants he left behind, including a Child born into his family under the family of Judah – Jesus!

Abba, when I die, may the words at my funeral be “He lived for Christ!” YES&AMEN

God Provided a Memory!

I remember over 30 years ago, when I was a contractor for the telephone company, I would get a job that contained a description of the work needed to be done, complete with directions to the location.

One day I got a job that described the work area as “just past Johnny Weatherford’s old place.”

I knew Mr. Weatherford. He was a supervisor at the telco. But I did not know where he once lived. In fact, I found out later he had not lived there in more than 15 years. Only the old-timer phone men remembered that.

Each of us do much the same thing – making reference to homes and stores that no longer exist, like the old Wal-mart or someone’s old homestead.
I still refer to my uncle Curtis’ property, though he has been dead and gone for over 30 years and his daughter and son-in-law own it all now.

Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” Gen 22:14

The place where Abraham would sacrifice Isaac was around Mt. Moriah. But after the events he named it Yahweh-Yireh (Jehovah Jireh) or “The Lord Will Provide”.

I’m pretty sure that not too many people called it that. Perhaps Abraham, Isaac, maybe the men that had traveled with them, and a few other family members through the years.

What a wonderful testimony it would be if to do things like this today. And you can.

You can share with our children, grandchildren, family and friends such things as where you were saved, baptized, or first went to VBS as a child.
You can show them the pastor’s house or some old church where you experienced a great revival.

Make a memory like Abraham did for his family.

Abba, I praise You for the Godly memories throughout my life. May I pass those memories down to my family and help them make memories of their own. In Jesus name, YES&AMEN

Look for your blessing!

Linda sends me to the pantry to get a can of tomato sauce. I look and look and don’t find any. She comes in there and just grabs it.
I’m like “it wasn’t there a moment ago!”

There are those times each of us can’t see the forest for the trees. I believe that includes our spiritual lives.

Part of some of problem is the intensity of looking too hard.

There are times I know I missed the blessing from God because I didn’t see it or, better yet, I just didn’t recognize it.

Many times I can moan and complain about a problem and not realize that the problem is a blessing and the real problem could be much worse. Then I see the hand of God staring me in the face!

Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. Gen 22:13

When Abraham was in the process of sacrificing his son, he was so focused on that he did not see what was behind him the whole time – a ram!

God had provided a blessing.
God had provided a solution.
God had provided a way out.
And Abraham just failed to see it.

Do not let the world distract you from what God wants you to see.

Abba, I definitely want every blessing You want for me. Help me see them today, in Jesus name, YES&AMEN

God has Provided

God has never demanded anything from you that will allow you to provide salvation for yourself.

It is revealed that –

all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; Isa 64:6

So why would God demand a self-prescribed fix for you – a fix doomed to fail?
He wouldn’t!

Even the Law is not a cure for sin. Paul said,

I would not have known sin except through the law. Rom 7:7

So God’s demand for Abraham was not a sacrifice for sin. It was a method to increase the faith of Abraham.

A test is different from a temptation.
A temptation will entice you to sin.
A test will encourage you to do what is right.

A test will make you realize your dependence on God.

As Abraham said (and discovered) at his sacrifice of his own son, Isaac,

“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. Gen 22:8

God did this for Abraham and has done this for you. Jesus is the Lamb of God provided for you. (John 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 1:19; Rev 5:6)

Abba, You have provided the way for me through Jesus! I am grateful! YES&AMEN

The Sacrifice of a Child

And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. Gen 22:10

Child sacrifice has been part of many civilizations and cultures from the earliest of time.

It would have been part of Abraham’s world and a part of worship that he and Sarah were denied, since they were childless.

It may have been they wanted children so bad they could not comprehend how others could so carelessly toss away those innocent lives to a god.

God’s calling came to Abraham and it removed him from the land of the Chaldeans to the land of the Canaanites.

In time Abraham and Sarah had a son, Isaac. For me the test of Abraham and Isaac is perhaps about Abraham’s giving of Isaac because he loves God as compared to the devotion of those pagans he left behind all those years ago; pagans that willingly gave their children to a god of wood or stone.

Then again, Abraham’s faith is in the ability of what God can do.

He concluded that God was able to raise [Isaac] up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. Heb 11:19

As for God, He gave His only Son for us.

He became sin for us!
He became despised for us!
He was rejected for us!
He was cursed for us!

That we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17

Today children are still sacrificed but only for the god of selfishness. Abortion is a blight on our land and it is the demise of any civilization – when it’s citizens are destroyed even before they are born.

There is forgiveness, even after abortion!

If you know someone that has had an abortion, you could minister to them or at least pray for that person. Perhaps seek the council of a pregnancy help center for advice.

Abba, children are a blessing. Help me to touch the life of a child today or the life of someone that has loss one. In Jesus name, YES&AMEN

Your Ministry

I believe everyone has something to do in ministry.

The Bible says,

He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, Eph 4:11

And

God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 1 Cor 12:28

Sometimes the ministry is not glamorous or giving much credit.

And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” Gen 22:5

Abraham and Isaac were going to worship and sacrifice to God. The young men with them were told to stay with the donkey.

On the surface it seems like Abraham is doing all the important ministry – the worshipping, the sacrifice, and the fellowship.

But the young men have just as important job. They had to watch the stuff. Perhaps Abraham set up camp and the young men are waiting on their return with a hot meal and drink.

When I was in elementary school I thought the coolest adult at school was the janitor. He got to handle all that neat trash, push garbage cans around, mop up messes, and he picked at us kids.

Now that I’m grown it’s just not as glamorous but I see how important it is.

Whatever God has you doing, whether it’s pastoring a church or handing out tracks on a sidewalk – be the best you can be at it. If it wasn’t important He wouldn’t have you doing it.

Abba, thank You for the ministry You have given me. I want to do my best in it. In Jesus name, YES&AMEN

Misunderstandings

Gen 21:25-26 Abraham rebuked Abimelech because of a well of water which Abimelech’s servants had seized. And Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor had I heard of it until today.”

Misunderstanding can ruin a relationship just as quickly as a slap to the face.

Abraham was holding a grudge against Abimelech, for something Abimelech knew nothing about.

They eventually did resolve this misunderstanding.

How many times do you get angry when someone misinterprets what you say or misdirects your intentions?

Better yet, how many times do you misunderstand someone else?

Give others the benefit of the doubt and let God do a work to clear things up. And remember that you shouldn’t spread rumors about what you do not fully understand.
It would have been easy for Abraham to tell all his friends about how Abimelech was such a thief and a scoundrel and Abraham would have been wrong.

Today you have a marvelous principle from Jesus on clearing up relationship problems.

Matt 18:15 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.

Of course, there is the old-fashioned “forgive and forget” and don’t bother bringing it up!

Abba, there are instructions for all relationships in Your word. YES&AMEN

Believe the Unbelievable

Here is an interesting scripture,

Remember Lot’s wife. Luke 17:32

Jesus spoke those words and it adds validity to the story in Genesis where Lot, his wife, and daughters were fleeing from the judgment of God on Sodom and Gomorrah.

But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. Gen 19:26

I know that sounds impossible but even Jesus did not dispute it.

Jesus did not dispute the Jonah story. In fact He said,

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matt 12:40

The fact is the wild and fantastic unbelievable stories of the Old Testament are very believable in and of themselves; but more so because the Savior believed them.

To me this makes all of the New Testament believable and to be expected.

1 Thess 4:16-17 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

While that sounds utterly fantastic and many doubt that it will occur, if the Bible speaks the truth about the past then it speaks the truth about the future.

Believe it!

Abba, I believe the word. Guide me to live according to what I believe. In Jesus name, YES&AMEN!

His Anger

Do you ever feel like God is angry with you? Like you can’t do anything right?

Though God can be a God of anger, it is aimed specifically.

When God told Abraham of His intentions toward Sodom and Gommorah, Abraham began to plead for the cities.

Would God destroy everyone if fifty righteous people could be found? Then forty?

It was here that Abraham said something that seems strange to me.

Gen 18:30 “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?”

Why would the Lord be angry at someone for interceding for them – even the exceedingly wicked (Gen 13:13) people of Sodom.

God’s anger is not directed toward good. It is directed at sin.

His anger is not against…

love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Gal 5:22-23

His anger is not because of prayer and intercession. His anger is not at preaching the Gospel. He is not angry at praise and worship.

He is not angry with those that seek Him with their whole heart.

Abba, though I deserve Your fullest wrath, I am so thankful that You are not angry with me in Jesus name. YES&AMEN

Never too old – Never too young

The service of God has no age limit – either upper or lower. We only limit ourselves by health and physical ability.

God does not!

Gen 18:11-12 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”

I cannot imagine myself retiring from pastoring, teaching, and preaching. It’s not like I will one day speak on everything in the Bible and be through. It doesn’t end.

Lam 3:22-23 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning;

With God it’s always a new beginning.

Did age stop God from using Abraham and Sarah? No.
Did physical ability stop God from using this couple? No.

God will use the willing heart no matter how many times it has beat in its lifetime.

Abba Father, here I am – use me. I am available for Your service today! In Jesus name, YES&AMEN