A different look at every day issues.

Ram in the Thicket

We have all measured the cost of our own generosity. In our minds, we think, “I can afford this . . . or at least recover shortly.” Isn’t that the way human nature calculates seeming acts of sacrifice?
Abraham was asked by God to give Isaac as an offering upon a mountain. Isaac was God’s fulfillment of a promise made long ago to a barren couple well into their final years. Now, God told Abraham to give him back.
Imagine with me the untold devastation the couple felt when everything they had ever hoped for and prayed for was now being recalled.

I can see the knife being held in his hand just as it ascends before the plunge. I can see the young boy on the stack of stones being used as an altar. I can see the pain in the father’s eyes as tears flow down his cheeks. But, like I said, God provided a ram to be the sacrifice. He wanted to know what was in Abraham’s heart. Would he cling to the blessing of a child in his old age or would he honor God’s directive?

Of course, we know the biblical narrative behind the directive. It was a test. Abraham passed. The boy and his father returned home to a very relieved mother.

Isaac’s father was provided a ram in the thicket—just in time!

God does ask things of us in order to test and stretch our faith. He knows what’s ahead and has promised to always keep us in the hollow of his hand. However, during the test we often feel abandoned and left to our own calculations. God’s reason for the test is to take us to the next level in our trusting him and in his demonstration of provision.

What is He asking of you? Has he asked something that your calculations cannot justify? Your part is to trust him. His part is to provide a ram in the thicket—just in time. What he placed in your heart, he will accomplish – with room to spare.

Jim Beaird

"The Pain of Overload"

“It hurts!”
Those were the words of David Tate, 180 pound safety for the 1990 Chicago Bears. He was not referring to getting blocked on a play. He was referring to the good-natured rivalry between the smaller defensive backs and the defensive line of the Bears.

One day, 320 pound William “the Fridge” Perry caught Tate and collapsed on top of him. As if that were not enough, 270 pound Richard Dent, 275 pound Dan Hampton, and 270 pound Steve McMichael joined Perry in squishing the much smaller Tate. That’s 1135 pounds of pain! More than half a ton! Tate later replied, “I don’t think those guys knew how heavy they really are!”

Life has a way of weighing us down and pinning us to its playing field. We feel hard pressed with the responsibilities of life—not to mention the things that occur without warning. It seems that surprises come in multiples—one thing after another and usually on top of what is already weighing you down.

Jesus told us that we could trust Him to take us through life’s toughest trials. In Matthew 11:28-30, He said,
“Come to Me, all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

When life hits you and pins you down and when you think the very life is being crushed out of you, look to Jesus Christ and trust Him for the strength to come through victorious! He’s already been crushed and bruised beyond what we will ever have to experience.

Jim Beaird

Roots of the Fallen Nature

In his classic writing, The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer relates how it is the propensity of fallen man to always want to possess things. He states, "There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It coverts "things" with a deep and fierce passion."

In the biblical narrative about Abraham and his promised heir, Isaac, God had to deal with a heart attitude Abraham had developed toward his son. He had actually allowed a root of possessiveness to go deep into his heart and choke out the intimate relationship once held with God. This could not be. God needed to help Abraham realign his affections to where they once were--before Isaac's presence dominated his dad's love.

You know the story. A directive to sacrifice the love of his life--his son, the rightful heir to all he possessed. We may never really understand the turmoil Abraham went through that night just before the trip with Isaac to do what God had commanded. 
Only a loving parent can understand the depth of anguish he experienced. But he was obedient and you know the rest of the story. God blessed his obedience because Abraham realigned his priorital love toward God--the giver of all things and of life itself.

Roy Hicks Jr. once said, "What you give to God, He'll give back with power." I wonder how many of us have not experienced God's power because we hold to the things in which we are confident and experienced. Have we developed, as Tozer put it, "a tough fibrous root" in our hearts that keeps us from the kind of blessing God intended for us all along?

Whatever you embrace will shape you. It will determine your priorities and establish your value system. If you refuse to let go, you will discover that a tough root has grown in your heart and it has control over you. It keeps you from becoming the individual God intends you to be. Its end is death.

However, if you submit to God's design, you will need to do some root-removal. The pain of the process will produce a product pleasing to God--an uncluttered heart capable of receiving His richest blessing!

Dr. Jim Beaird