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Posts Tagged ‘Hope’

Do-Not-Be-Afraid-1024x399

As Saturday fell, and Sunday rose, so did the first Sunday of Advent … the Sunday of Hope.

It is interesting that the Christmas story, though one of hope, has fear woven through the human experience of heaven’s story.

The angels who came down and spoke to Mary, Zachariah, Joseph and the shepherds in the watching their flocks were aware that their presence, and the message that they were delivering, would cause fear in the hearts of the recipients:

To Zechariah:
“Don’t be afraid, Zechariah!” Luke 1:13

To Mary:
“Mary don’t be afraid …” Luke 1:30

To Joseph:
“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid … “ Matthew 1:20

To the shepherds:
“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.”” Luke 2:10

It is said that in the Old and New Testaments there are as many exhortations to

DO NOT FEAR

as there are days in a calendar year.

Fear is a reality in our lives … we know it, God knows it.

The Bible doe not exhort, (“communicate emphatically, urging one to do something” Google search) us to not fear, because it is the exception, but because it is the norm.

God, in his wisdom and understanding, knows that we will be anxious, that we will fear in our lives. He knows that we struggle to trust our futures into his hands. He knows us so well!

The message of the Christmas story is not:

fear not, for everything is about to get easier

The Christmas message is:

life is fearful, but you don’t have to walk it alone, for God is with you always.

 

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Lift-Up-Your-Eyes-Blog-sm

It was Monday … morning.

My wonder dog had had me up in the middle of the night in gastric distress (sigh … I wonder what he ate now).

I was bone tired and just didn’t feel I was bringing my best to work.

As I drove East I reached the first point in my drive to work when I could see Mt. Baker and the mountains of the North Cascades.

My jaw dropped, and my eyes popped.

I wish I could have pulled over to take a picture of the sunrise, the light peeking through the clouds and the shadows on the mountains had a spectacular visual effect.

Wide-eyed, for the fist time that Monday morning, I smiled broadly … and felt a lightness  begin to grow within me.

I lift my eyes up to the mountains
Where does my help come from?

I smiled all the way to work.

Devotions in first block were done by a student, a student who exceeds in joy, in love, in tenderness and care to all who cross her path.

She nourished us, treated us with foods to nibble and a message of hope.

The message that I received, visually, while driving to work, after a night of poor sleep.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.”

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sparrow

I had a great morning yesterday.

I spent the morning in the garden, cleaning up an area where the roses needed a trim.

I had, intentionally, planned to do anything that resembled work (though the garbage can full of clippings and weeds might indicate that work did occur).

It was in the garden that I experienced the most joy. Earlier in the day, I had listened to a song produced by my daughter’s friend, that I loved in my youth, “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. As I wandered through the thorns of the roses the song was still in my mind, on my lips (thank goodness not a human pair of ears were within listening range, for I am only a large group singer).

The garden was a mess. The last time I had weeded and trimmed was mid March. The weeds had gone to seed, the roses were bundles of withered mess.

I sing, because I’m happy
I sing, because I’m free
For his eye is on the sparrow,
And I know he watches me.

The words played in my mind the whole time. The longer they played, the more daringly I sang (no one was home, and our neighbours live a safe distance to avoid ear damage from my version of singing). As the moments ticked on, the affirmation of security in the truth of those lyrics created the beauty of sanctuary in my weeds.

And that is what my life is often full of … weeds, and the need to have what is withered, what is worn and draining energy snipped, pruned and carried away. But, whatever state my heart and life are in, I have a heavenly father who is also the master gardener of my soul and life, and he watches over me.

“Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me”

 

“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent?
And yet not one of them will fall to the ground
apart from your Father.
“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
“So do not fear;
you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

Matthew 10:29-31

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“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 or 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.”

Genesis 22:7-8

abraham_isaac_11I was reminded of the story of Abraham the other evening, as I was catching the first part of the Bible mini series (a five-part mini series, shown on Sunday evenings on the History Channel … but I watched it on YouTube).

Maybe it is the pictures, the artwork that has been created, but I envision Isaac to be thirteen (like my own son), and Abraham to be in his mid-seventies (like my father-in-law).

Together they had taken a three day trip that was announced by Abraham’s heavenly, and Isaac’s Earthly fathers.

Once the servants were left behind, it was just Abraham and Isaac … father and son … beginnings of a nation that could end on top of the very mountain they were climbing.

Isaac knew that blood, innocent blood, must be spilled and poured out, for their offering to be worthy of the One who would forgive them. This was the only way that their sin-filled lives could be made clean.

The sacrifice of a pure and spotless … perfect … lamb was not something that the people of the time (or any time) relished. The spilling of the blood of one of God’s creatures was not something that the people took joy in doing. The did it because they knew that they were sinful, they knew that they needed forgiveness, they knew that their every opportunity for survival was in the hands of their Creator.

When Abraham responded to Isaac, with assurance and confidence, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” I think he was revealing something important about two relationships …

He had faith in God, that He would provide the lamb, just as He had provided all that was in Abraham’s life. His continued steps forward tells us that if the lamb that God provided was the son at his side, he was still willing to move toward that alter.

His response to Isaac did not result in Isaac asking the question “how would God provide?” To me, this tells us that the father and son relationship between these two was deeper than just a blood relationship, but that Isaac trusted his earthly father …

much like Abraham trusted his heavenly Father.

They reached the place that God had told Abraham about, and he built an alter.

Then they lay the wood for burning on top of it.

Everything was ready for the sacrifice …

Except

the lamb.

I can imagine Abraham looking around, eyes searching for something, anything else to sacrifice, except for his son.

I can imagine Isaac also searching …

and maybe wondering …

At some point the truth would have been revealed … how I wish that the Bible tells us of that conversation.

I do know, from what I have read, that up until little more than a hundred years ago, or so, people did not expect long lives, filled with ease and comfort. Life was hard, it was common for death to come early, and in tragic ways … and that was just life.

Isaac was thirteen’ish

Abraham was seventy-five’ish

Although the Bible does say that he laid Isaac on the alter, I do not think that he, in his older age, could have done so if Isaac was squirming and fighting, and moving around. My son of similar age to Isaac, certainly could put up a good physical fight against his grandfather, of similar age to Abraham!

Isaac had to have submitted to his father’s authority, and

allowed his father to tie him up

to lay him on the alter

I can only imagine the look in their tear-filled, fear-filled eyes.

I can only imagine their hearts,

beating in unison

praying in unison

for another pure, spotless lamb to be provided

I can only imagine the trust that this young man has in his father to lay there

I can only imagine the trust that this old man has in his Father-God to take hold of the knife

“But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven,

“Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“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.”

Genesis 22:11-12

And there, caught up in a thicket, was a ram.

He provided the lamb …

Freeing the responsibility of Abraham, of us, to provide it.

And He still provides the lamb,

blood spilled out on a cross

A God who knows that it is only by the spilling of the blood of the pure, and spotless … perfect that our sins could be erased.

And there was only one lamb who was

pure enough

spotless enough

perfect enough

His Son.

God’s Test-Isaac Part 1

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“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 or 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.”

Genesis 22:7-8

abraham_isaac_11I was reminded of the story of Abraham the other evening, as I was catching the first part of the Bible mini series (a five-part mini series, shown on Sunday evenings on the History Channel … but I watched it on YouTube).

Maybe it is the pictures, the artwork that has been created, but I envision Isaac to be thirteen (like my own son), and Abraham to be in his mid-seventies (like my father-in-law).

Together they had taken a three day trip that was announced by Abraham’s heavenly, and Isaac’s Earthly fathers.

Once the servants were left behind, it was just Abraham and Isaac … father and son … beginnings of a nation that could end on top of the very mountain they were climbing.

Isaac knew that blood, innocent blood, must be spilled and poured out, for their offering to be worthy of the One who would forgive them. This was the only way that their sin-filled lives could be made clean.

The sacrifice of a pure and spotless … perfect … lamb was not something that the people of the time (or any time) relished. The spilling of the blood of one of God’s creatures was not something that the people took joy in doing. The did it because they knew that they were sinful, they knew that they needed forgiveness, they knew that their every opportunity for survival was in the hands of their Creator.

When Abraham responded to Isaac, with assurance and confidence, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” I think he was revealing something important about two relationships …

He had faith in God, that He would provide the lamb, just as He had provided all that was in Abraham’s life. His continued steps forward tells us that if the lamb that God provided was the son at his side, he was still willing to move toward that alter.

His response to Isaac did not result in Isaac asking the question “how would God provide?” To me, this tells us that the father and son relationship between these two was deeper than just a blood relationship, but that Isaac trusted his earthly father …

much like Abraham trusted his heavenly Father.

They reached the place that God had told Abraham about, and he built an alter.

Then they lay the wood for burning on top of it.

Everything was ready for the sacrifice …

Except

the lamb.

I can imagine Abraham looking around, eyes searching for something, anything else to sacrifice, except for his son.

I can imagine Isaac also searching …

and maybe wondering …

At some point the truth would have been revealed … how I wish that the Bible tells us of that conversation.

I do know, from what I have read, that up until little more than a hundred years ago, or so, people did not expect long lives, filled with ease and comfort. Life was hard, it was common for death to come early, and in tragic ways … and that was just life.

Isaac was thirteen’ish

Abraham was seventy-five’ish

Although the Bible does say that he laid Isaac on the alter, I do not think that he, in his older age, could have done so if Isaac was squirming and fighting, and moving around. My son of similar age to Isaac, certainly could put up a good physical fight against his grandfather, of similar age to Abraham!

Isaac had to have submitted to his father’s authority, and

allowed his father to tie him up

to lay him on the alter

I can only imagine the look in their tear-filled, fear-filled eyes.

I can only imagine their hearts,

beating in unison

praying in unison

for another pure, spotless lamb to be provided

I can only imagine the trust that this young man has in his father to lay there

I can only imagine the trust that this old man has in his Father-God to take hold of the knife

“But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven,

“Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“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.”

Genesis 22:11-12

And there, caught up in a thicket, was a ram.

He provided the lamb …

Freeing the responsibility of Abraham, of us, to provide it.

And He still provides the lamb,

blood spilled out on a cross

A God who knows that it is only by the spilling of the blood of the pure, and spotless … perfect that our sins could be erased.

And there was only one lamb who was

pure enough

spotless enough

perfect enough

His Son.

God’s Test-Isaac Part 1

Read Full Post »

“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 or 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.”
Genesis 22:7-8

abraham_isaac_11I was reminded of the story of Abraham the other evening, as I was catching the first part of the Bible mini series (a five-part mini series, shown on Sunday evenings on the History Channel … but I watched it on YouTube).

Maybe it is the pictures, the artwork that has been created, but I envision Isaac to be thirteen (like my own son), and Abraham to be in his mid-seventies (like my father-in-law).

Together they had taken a three day trip that was announced by Abraham’s heavenly, and Isaac’s Earthly fathers.

Once the servants were left behind, it was just Abraham and Isaac … father and son … beginnings of a nation that could end on top of the very mountain they were climbing.

Isaac knew that blood, innocent blood, must be spilled and poured out, for their offering to be worthy of the One who would forgive them. This was the only way that their sin-filled lives could be made clean.

The sacrifice of a pure and spotless … perfect … lamb was not something that the people of the time (or any time) relished. The spilling of the blood of one of God’s creatures was not something that the people took joy in doing. The did it because they knew that they were sinful, they knew that they needed forgiveness, they knew that their every opportunity for survival was in the hands of their Creator.

When Abraham responded to Isaac, with assurance and confidence, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” I think he was revealing something important about two relationships …

He had faith in God, that He would provide the lamb, just as He had provided all that was in Abraham’s life. His continued steps forward tells us that if the lamb that God provided was the son at his side, he was still willing to move toward that alter.

His response to Isaac did not result in Isaac asking the question “how would God provide?” To me, this tells us that the father and son relationship between these two was deeper than just a blood relationship, but that Isaac trusted his earthly father …

much like Abraham trusted his heavenly Father.

They reached the place that God had told Abraham about, and he built an alter.

Then they lay the wood for burning on top of it.

Everything was ready for the sacrifice …

Except

the lamb.

I can imagine Abraham looking around, eyes searching for something, anything else to sacrifice, except for his son.

I can imagine Isaac also searching …

and maybe wondering …

At some point the truth would have been revealed … how I wish that the Bible tells us of that conversation.

I do know, from what I have read, that up until little more than a hundred years ago, or so, people did not expect long lives, filled with ease and comfort. Life was hard, it was common for death to come early, and in tragic ways … and that was just life.

Isaac was thirteen’ish

Abraham was seventy-five’ish

Although the Bible does say that he laid Isaac on the alter, I do not think that he, in his older age, could have done so if Isaac was squirming and fighting, and moving around. My son of similar age to Isaac, certainly could put up a good physical fight against his grandfather, of similar age to Abraham!

Isaac had to have submitted to his father’s authority, and

allowed his father to tie him up

to lay him on the alter

I can only imagine the look in their tear-filled, fear-filled eyes.

I can only imagine their hearts,

beating in unison

praying in unison

for another pure, spotless lamb to be provided

I can only imagine the trust that this young man has in his father to lay there

I can only imagine the trust that this old man has in his Father-God to take hold of the knife

“But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven,
“Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“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.”
Genesis 22:11-12

And there, caught up in a thicket, was a ram.

He provided the lamb …

Freeing the responsibility of Abraham, of us, to provide it.

And He still provides the lamb,

blood spilled out on a cross

A God who knows that it is only by the spilling of the blood of the pure, and spotless … perfect that our sins could be erased.

And there was only one lamb who was

pure enough

spotless enough

perfect enough

His Son.

God’s Test-Isaac Part 1

Read Full Post »

“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 or 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.”

Genesis 22:7-8

2I was reminded of the story of Abraham the other evening, as I was catching the first part of the Bible mini series (a five-part mini series, shown on Sunday evenings on the History Channel … but I watched it on YouTube).

This story of Abraham and Isaac is one of my favorite stories in the entire Bible. It provides sufficient drama, intrigue, secrets and integrity to hold ones attention fully, and leaves you in awe, but still wondering when it is through.

Isaac intrigues me in this story. Although the Bible only records one interaction between he and his father, it is reasonable that there were many more …

perhaps discussing the humorous individuals in their camp of people

perhaps discussing the ewe about to birth

perhaps discussing the servant who always forgets to bring the morning meal on time

For Isaac, we presume that this trip was not out of routine, but a normal, common and regular movement of life.

Three days to journey.

Three days for this son, this son whose age we do not know (estimated to be anywhere between 5-30), to walk and talk with his aging father (well over seventy-five) who seems to be hanging onto every word Isaac speaks, and yet a million miles away at the same time.

On the third day of the journey, “he (Abraham) said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

WE … no reason for Isaac to doubt, to wonder, to worry.

But then, as Abraham is laying the wood for the burnt offering (tied together with the ropes that would hold the offering to the alter, no doubt) onto the back of his son, Isaac asks his father, “dad, we have the wood, we have the fire, but there is no lamb to suffer for our sins.”

Isaac knew that blood, innocent blood, must be spilled and poured out, for their offering to be worthy of the One who would forgive them. This was the only way that their sin-filled lives could be made clean.

Abraham responded with assurance and confidence again, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”

And doesn’t He always?

God, through the grace that only He can and does offer, provides.

He provides the redemption

He provides the forgiveness

He provides the lamb … his son.

Tomorrow, I will finish this mini-series on the testing of Abraham, with more about the lamb.

*This is a re-post, of a re-post, from a few years ago. The story of Sarah, Abraham and Isaac have always captivated me.

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