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Archive for the ‘Lessons from the Life of Abraham’ Category

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”       Genesis 22:2


It shouldn’t have been a total shock.  After all, many of the gods of the peoples around him routinely asked their followers to sacrifice one of their own children as an act of consecration.   But Abraham knew his God was different.  He was the Almighty God.

Maybe he hadn’t really heard God’s voice.  With the mountain now looming in the distance, a battle began to rage in Abraham’s heart.

Deep inside, though the command was unthinkable, he knew that he had really heard God.  Therefore, he had no choice but to continue his macabre journey into the uncertainty of this terrifying test.

Would he really sacrifice his son?  Yes, if God did not provide a substitute, he would kill the son of promise, knowing that God was able to raise him from the dead.

Now with his knife raised over his beloved son’s bare chest, with no substitute in sight, resurrection was his last hope.

“Abraham.”  The voice of his beloved Friend immediately silenced the war that was raging through the corridors of his heart.  “Do not lay a hand on the boy.  Do not do anything to him.  Now I know that you fear me.”

What does this grim ordeal have to do with your life today?   In my experience, sooner or later every believer will face a similar test.  Although God would never ask you to sacrifice one of your children, he may well require you to put your home, career, or savings on the altar in order to follow him.

Even worse are those times when the decision is taken out of your hands, and you find yourself battling to maintain possession of the promise you received by faith.

Today, some of you may be facing the loss of the very home or job that God supernaturally provided for you.  Others of you may feel that God is calling you to give up something very precious in order to follow Him.  No matter what it is you are facing, take heart.

Whether God spares you from this potential loss at the last moment, or resurrects it after it is seemingly gone, His promises to you will not fail.

As you ponder these words, let the message of Romans 4:17b-19b burn in your heart.  “He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead.”

© Copyright 2005 by Jim Laffoon

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When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes.  Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob.

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.  Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”  Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.       Genesis 21:15-19

The pain was more than she could bear.  First, she had been rejected by her family, and now her precious son was slowly dying before her very eyes.  Although she loved him more than life, she did not know how much longer she could bear the sound of his plaintive cries — cries that she had neither the strength nor the resources to answer.

Finally, when she could bear his cries no longer, she left him under a sparse desert bush to die.

“Oh God, forgive me!  I cannot take it anymore,” she whispered.   With that said, Hagar continued to stagger through the desert until the sound of Ishmael’s whimpers faded away.  Later, as she sat weeping, she heard a voice that she had never expected to hear again.

It was the gentle voice of the Almighty God.  Drawn to the death cries of young Ishmael, He had come to the rescue.  “Go back to your child and take him by the hand,” God said to Hagar.

As she opened her eyes to obey Him, she saw the miracle well. With tears of thanksgiving streaming down her cheeks, she led her precious son to the well’s cool water.

Do you see it now?  God has been drawing near to the very cries that have been driving you away.  In my own experience, I have found that people often run from the very people and places they love the most, because they can no longer bear the pain of living in a situation they cannot solve or facing a problem they cannot fix.

Whether it is because of horrible pain in your family, a terrible gash in the depths of your soul, or a period of crushing pressure at school or work, your pattern of running away must end today.

Never forget that in the middle of your personal hell, God has hidden your miracle well.

Today, if you will turn around and face your responsibility for the very person or place you have been running from, you will discover the well of provision and strength that has always been there.

Whether it is through a new measure of His presence, a fresh revelation from the Bible, or the encouragement of a Christian friend, God will give you the strength you need today.

© Copyright 2005 by Jim Laffoon

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Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”  And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?  Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”       Genesis 21:6-7

She wept, she cried, she laughed.  By this time, the midwives were also laughing hilariously.  As Sarah had peered into the eyes of her precious child, twenty-five years of pain and frustration had been washed away in a moment.

Despite the intensity of her struggles with unbelief and resentment, God had given her a son.

It was as if her laughter was contagious.  The laughter had quickly spread from the birth tent throughout the whole camp. When Abraham held his son for the first time, even he could not contain the gales of laughter that rocked his soul.

Later that night, as Sarah cradled the infant in her arms, her soul was flooded with joy and thankfulness.  “God has brought me laughter,” she said, “and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”

How about you? Have you, like Sarah, been in an agonizing battle to believe?  If you have, this is no time to give up. Whether you have been waiting for days, months, or even years, God wants to give you the last laugh.

That’s right — no matter whom or what has been laughing at you, when God brings your promise to pass, you will have the last laugh.

As you begin to laugh, healing and deliverance will break out in your soul. In John 16:21, Jesus likens this process to a woman having a baby.  “A woman giving birth to a child has pain, because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.

So it is with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

Do you see it now?  Although many of you are in your time of pain today, when your promise comes, the accompanying joy will wipe away all the pain of waiting.  Therefore, no matter where you are, or what you are facing, be strong in faith.

Your God intends to give you the last laugh.

© Copyright 2005 by Jim Laffoon

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As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it — it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.) By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land.

Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah — from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities — and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.       Genesis 19:17-26

Lot had been overjoyed when the angels had first entered Sodom earlier that evening. Although he had retained his righteousness, it had been years since he had experienced the deep presence of God, or even that of an angel. As the night progressed, however, Lot had become increasingly frightened. It was not until the angels had blinded the mob of lust-crazed men surrounding his home, however, that Lot fully realized the source of his deep apprehension.

The angels had not come to visit him; they had come to rescue him.

When he had had begged his sons-in-law to flee the city, they had treated his pleas as a wild joke. Finally, when he and his family had continued to hesitate, the angels took them by the hands and forcibly dragged them from the city. Even worse was the fact that he had pleaded with the angels to let his family take refuge in Zoar, a small city on the edge of Jordan’s plains.

When his wife cast one last glance at the city she loved, she too was killed. Yes, he had been almost as blind as the men the angels had blinded — blind to the fate of his city, blind to the spiritual condition of his family, and blind to the sad reality of his own anemic, innocuous faith.

Now, a drafty cave on a mountain was his home. He had lost everything but his daughters, and they were no comfort to him. As he ambled back into his cave, he sighed and faced the question that had tormented him for days — Where did I go wrong? How did this happen?

Where did Lot go wrong? The Bible says that Lot was a righteous man, who was tormented in his soul by the darkness and perversion around him (2 Peter 2:7-8). Yet neither his wife nor his daughters had any real spiritual life, and he had made no significant impact on the city in which he was a leader for years.

Although there are many reasons for Lot’s failure, three stand out as being the most critical.

First, Lot had no pastor. When Lot left Abraham, he left the man who had been called by God to disciple and mentor him. Second, he had no people. Without spiritual family or godly friends, it was a daunting task to penetrate the deep darkness of Sodom and Gomorrah. Third, Lot had no power.

Unlike Abraham, who had passed his tests and remained in the land of Canaan, Lot had left the center of God’s will for his life years before. Although he had maintained his righteousness, he had lost the sense of strength and authority that could have been his if only he had stayed in the Promised Land.

Where are you today? Have you paid the cost to develop real spiritual authority? Or are you like Lot, tormented by what you see around you, but powerless to do anything about it? Could it be that you need more discipleship and mentoring?

Maybe it’s time for you to make a more serious commitment to the spiritual family of which God has called you to be a part. Whatever the case is, it’s not too late for you to come into the place of influence in which God has called you to operate.

© Copyright 2005 by Jim Laffoon

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When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way.  Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” …  Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
Genesis 18:16-17, 20-21

Abraham was on a road few humans ever traveled — a road that would take him far beyond his own needs.  Even the angels were beginning to wonder why he was still walking with God.  After all, every one of his needs had been dramatically met.

What more could he want?  Could it be that they had finally discovered a human who loved his Creator and Master for who He was, instead of merely loving Him for what He could do for him?

When the Almighty God stopped and turned toward Abraham, it was as if the whole creation was watching in anticipation.  Would God bring a human into the very council of the Godhead?

“Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” the Lord said. With Abraham waiting before Him, the Lord continued, “Abraham, the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin is so grievous, that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached Me.”

As the angels continued their journey toward Sodom, Abraham approached the Lord.  There was no doubt in his heart that God would judge Sodom and Gomorrah.  The perversion emanating from those cities was rapidly turning the plains of the Jordan into a moral sinkhole.

“What about Lot and his family?” he groaned to himself.  Although he had given up on Lot ever returning home long ago, he had never ceased to love him.

“What will it take for you to spare these cities, my Lord?  If there are fifty righteous people will you spare these cities? I know you would never destroy the righteous with the wicked.”

“For fifty I will spare them,” the Lord replied.  On and on they went, one lone human standing between God and the destruction of thousands of lives.

“If there are ten righteous people will you spare these cities, my Lord?” Abraham entreated.

“For ten righteous people, I will spare them.”  As the Lord turned to leave, Abraham knew he could go no farther. His nephew had been there for many years.  Surely his righteous example had influenced at least nine others.  If not, thousands of people were doomed.

Yes, Abraham was on a road rarely traveled by most human beings.  It is the road to relationship and influence with God.

For those who travel this road, their needs are secondary and the needs of the Kingdom of God are primary.  They walk with God because they cherish His person, not merely because they are desperate for His promises.  Although those who walk this road have needs, they are rarely an issue.  Often, as they spend time in the presence of God, their needs seem to be met before they can even articulate them.

As their relationship with God grows, these Christians can experience levels of influence with God and man that are beyond comprehension.

Where are you today?  Are you only spending enough time with God to get your needs met?  If you are, it’s time for you to grow beyond your needs-based relationship with God and into the place of intimacy and influence that awaits you.

Why do I say intimacy and influence?   I say these words in conjunction with one another because in the Kingdom of God, intimacy is influence.  Those who know their God the best influence Him the most.

Won’t you tarry in His presence just a little longer?  If you do, you, too, will begin to walk the road that Abraham walked — a road to intimacy and influence with God that is beyond anything you ever dreamed was possible.

© Copyright 2005 by Jim Laffoon

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“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said. Then the Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.  Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.  Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.

So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’  Is anything too hard for the Lord ? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.”  Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”       Genesis 18:9-15

“Abraham, where is your wife Sarah?” At the mention of her name, her ears perked up.  “After all of these years, what good thing could He have to say about me?” she wondered.

Easing her way to the entrance of the tent, she was astonished by what she heard.

“About this time next year, Sarah, your wife, will have a son.” Although something in the depths of her spirit wanted to respond, her faith had become so emaciated that she found herself cackling as she was overwhelmed by waves of unbelief.

“Is this another cruel joke?  How could a worn out, old, barren woman like me ever have a child with a husband who is ninety-nine years old?” Sarah thought to herself.

“Why is Sarah laughing?”

“Oh no, He heard me,” Sarah thought.  The Lord quietly spoke again.  “Why did Sarah say, ‘Will I really have a child now that I am old?’”  At that moment her cackling laughter ceased, and her mouth gaped open in astonishment.  “The Lord really does know me.  He has discerned the deepest needs of my heart.  He’s right, I am so very afraid.”

Yet, even though her heart was softening, the old defense mechanisms were still in place.  “Lord, I didn’t laugh.”  Hearing the pain in her voice, the Lord gently replied, “Yes, you did laugh.”  Despite the pain and turmoil in her heart, the Lord would overcome her unbelief, and she would bear a son.

Although it is easy to see from this story where Sarah was, the real question still remains unanswered.  Where are you?  Have you ever wondered why the Lord did not address Sarah directly until the end of the conversation?

Could it be that she had never taken the time to develop her relationship with Him?  Maybe all of her life she had been living off the faith and revelation that were present in Abraham’s life.  If this was the case, it is no wonder that she was so destitute of faith at this critical moment in her life.

How about you?  Have you been living on someone else’s faith, instead of cultivating your own?  Whether it is the faith of your parents, spouse, best friend, or pastor, sooner or later any faith other than your own will not suffice.

If you do not develop your own dynamic relationship with God, you will never have the faith to overcome challenges and move mountains that you will face in your walk with God.

Are you bound with unbelief, yet too afraid to admit it? Maybe, like Sarah, you have been lying to God, yourself, and those who love you the most, about the true condition of your faith.

No matter where you are today, God is coming in His love to confront you.  Be honest! Face the true condition of your heart, for God Himself has come to heal your barrenness, and bring you into the reality of His promises.

© Copyright 2005 by Jim Laffoon

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God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.  I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her.  I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”  Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?  Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”  And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”       Genesis 17:15-18

As Abraham fell on his face, the familiar presence of the Almighty God began to rush through his soul.  Once again, the voice of his beloved Friend began to repeat the very promises that had become the foundation stones of his life.  Abraham truly believed that God would make him into a great nation, and that one day his family would possess Canaan.

Now that he had Ishmael, it wasn’t even hard to believe any more.

Rising to his feet, he could still feel the presence of God lingering around him.  What could he want?  “Abraham, I will give you a son.”

“I thought I already had one,” he thought to himself.

“No, your wife Sarah will bear you a son.”  No matter how hard he tried, Abraham could not stop laughing.  Even when he locked his hands over his mouth, he continued to laugh uncontrollably.

“What kind of joke is this?” he wondered.  “Who’s ever heard of a ninety-year-old barren woman getting pregnant with the help of her ninety-nine-year-old husband?”

When God spoke again, all of Abraham’s laughter ceased.  “Yes Abraham, your wife will bear a son, and all of My promises to you will be fulfilled through him.”  At that moment, in a flash of insight, he saw his own duplicity.

Although he had overtly waited on God for the promise, covertly in the depths of his heart, he had harbored deep roots of unbelief. Yes, somehow he had always known that God had desired to heal Sarah’s barrenness.

His love for Ishmael, however, combined with his desire to find an easier way to fulfill God’s promises, had blinded him to the fact that he had forsaken the supernatural way of faith.  As his laughter turned to tears, he could feel the tentacles of unbelief beginning to loosen their grip on his soul.

Yes, Sarah would bear the child of promise.

Where are you today? Are you, like Abraham, going through all the motions of a person that has real faith, even though faith has long since died in your heart?

Maybe you’re still praying for your spouse to be saved, or a wayward child to return to the Lord, even though you stopped really believing months, or even years, ago. Worse yet is the fact that some of you have even begun to accuse God of being uncaring and even unfair because of the length of time you have been waiting.

Could it be that the unbelief in your own heart has lengthened the process?  Sadly, in some cases that may be what has happened.

Wherever you are, however, it’s time for you to be honest with yourself and with God.

If you will only face the reality of your heart’s true condition, God will uproot the unbelief from your heart, so you can begin the process of planting fresh seeds of faith in the soil of your heart. It’s time for you to begin to apply the Word of God to your specific area of need.

As you plant these seeds of faith in your heart through meditating on the Word and verbally confessing it, fresh dynamic faith will begin to grow in your spirit.

This powerful infusion of faith will give you the power you need to fully possess the promises of God.

© Copyright 2005 by Jim Laffoon

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