LOVE searched the earth for someone who could receive LOVE’s blessing, then in turn bless others with LOVE. LOVE found Abram and promised him he’d become the father of many nations, “Abraham”. Entering in to a covenant relationship with LOVE is serious business involving the heart, soul, mind and body. As a bodily sign of the promise and to ensure absolute commitment at the place (for men, at least) of greatest temptation, Abraham endured circumcision. He never regretted it, although it must have been very sore for a week or two afterwards.
What’s the depth of our commitment to LOVE? How serious are we about receiving LOVE’s blessing and passing it on? Aged 99, would you or I be prepared to offer LOVE everything we had, even our own bodies, to start all over again, building a new nation one baby at a time? It sounds laughably foolish to us, just as it did to Abraham. But LOVE sees things very differently. Nothing is impossible for LOVE and if we’re serious about our relationship with Jesus, we should be prepared for some surprises along the way.
As we pray today, let’s be ready for LOVE to answer our prayers in surprising ways – perhaps surprising us more than anyone else. Let’s also again dedicate our bodies to LOVE as an offering to bring about a future for Bournemouth that is full of blessing. Let’s pray for the older generations in Bournemouth. They have a critical role to play in parenting the future generations. LOVE never retires anyone. Think of someone older than you today who you can encourage and learn from, receiving their blessing and passing it on.
“…all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3)
Abram embraced the task of fathering a new nation with relish. Unfortunately, he forgot that faith is always a necessary component in pursuing God’s plans and instead tried to engineer it all himself. It didn’t work out well. It never does. But this was no joke: an abused and jilted slave girl and her child were unjustly treated and left simmering with resentment – beginning a terrible legacy that still dominates global politics today. The Lord went out to Hagar, found her, restored her and blessed her. The whole episode put a terrible wound in Abraham and Sarah’s marriage. Their first son, Isaac, wasn’t born until Abraham was 100 years old.
This is a difficult and chastening passage in the Bible that we should not shy away from. It serves us as a very strong warning that godly ends do not justify ungodly means. We can’t achieve the kingdom of God using the means of man. God’s goals require God’s ways. How we treat people is always critical to our mission. Tragedy always follows when these laws are broken. Many episodes in the history of God’s people, right up to the present day, are deeply shameful. LOVE demands love in all that occurs.
Today, let’s pray, “Lead us not in to temptation”. As we pray and work for LOVE’s kingdom in Bournemouth let’s devote ourselves to only employ LOVE’s methods to achieve it. There is no other way. These methods aren’t just about our outer actions but also our inner motivations. We must have purity and integrity. We all fail in this. But LOVE can forgive us and get us back on track. In our prayers today, let’s ask LOVE to reveal to us any ways that we have fallen short of LOVE’s pure ways in our relationships, family, workplaces and friendship groups.
“I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13)
“Some time later God tested Abraham.” (Genesis 22:1)
A terrifying day arrived. LOVE asked Abraham to trust his good character even if everything screamed against it. Was Abraham now put obedience in LOVE in whom he trusted above all else? Surely LOVE would not want the horrific death of Abraham’s son Isaac. But it seemed so, right until the very last moment. Yet throughout Abraham (and, let’s not forget Isaac too) trusted in LOVE’s provision. Sure enough, LOVE provided a stray sheep to die as a substitute instead of Isaac, saving both father and son from the horror they faced. Ultimately, we can trust LOVE to always provide. Where Abraham was saved, years later LOVE would not be so. LOVE would die instead of every sheep that had gone astray – us.
First fruits of success always need to be offered back to LOVE. Hopefully, none of us will be pushed to such extreme limits of faith as Abraham and Isaac experienced. But we still need to be ready to trust LOVE even if it feels like there’s little reason to do so. Abraham must have been very thankful that he kept listening to LOVE and stayed open to hearing further instructions. We can thank LOVE for not failing the test to surrender everything for our sakes – LOVE even sacrificing his own life in order to save ours.
As we pray, let’s ask LOVE for the gift of faith – the ability to believe and trust in him. Let’s pray that when our faith is tested we might remain faithful and emerge stronger. Let’s ask that LOVE would enable us to walk by faith and not by sight. Let’s pray for the gift of faith for the whole Bournemouth area – nearly half a million people in need of receiving the salvation that LOVE has already provided.
“Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide.” (Genesis 22:14)