The Candle of Love/Wednesday-December 13

He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”
Genesis 22:2 (NASB95)

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;
18it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
Hebrews 11:17–19 (NASB95)

Love, belief and sacrifice: they go hand in hand. Have you ever wondered how Abraham could make the journey to the Mount of sacrifice with his son, his only son, knowing what God had instructed him to do when he got there? Without the commentary of Hebrews 11, it almost makes Abraham look like he’d lost his mind or at the very least misunderstood God. Why in the world would the God who called him into covenant and promised him descendants through Issac ask him to kill him?

Maybe it sounds unspiritual to ask that question but when you see how God had revealed Himself up to that point in history, it certainly wasn’t in keeping with His character … or was it?

Do you remember Day 1 of this Advent Adventure? Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and sin entered the human race. Death was the penalty BUT GOD temporarily covered their nakedness, both physical and spiritual, with the skins of animals. The sacrificial system was instituted that day. Blood for blood. Because of His great love for us, God has always provided the sacrifice necessary to cover our sin. Our part is, like Abraham, to believe Him.

God covered sin temporarily until Jesus. Love wrapped in swaddling cloths was the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham and he had the faith to believe. Oh, God, give us the faith of Abraham, Your friend.

Living It Out – The Apostle Paul encourages us to examine ourselves to see if our faith is genuine. (2 Corinthians 13:5) Carve out some time today and do that. What better time of year to know for sure that you belong to Jesus!

The Candle of Love/Tuesday-December 12

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
1 John 4:18–20 (ESV)

Perfect love casts out fear. There is no perfect love apart from God’s love. All other love is a cheap imitation, ultimately selfish and self-centered, looking for “what’s-in-it-for-me.” Isn’t it amazing that we can receive and experience God’s love and then pass it along to others? As a matter of fact, our loving others unselfishly and unconditionally is evidence that God’s love abides in us!

What is this fear of which the author of 1 John speaks? It’s the fear of eternal judgement, the fear of death. As a follower of Jesus Christ that fear has been put to flight! Hallelujah! Oh, we often chase it down in the middle of the night and wrap it around our minds like a soft, cuddly blanket but we do have the option of resting in the truth instead of wrestling with lies.

How, you say? Just as light dispels darkness, truth dispels lies. The truth is that every smidgeon of God’s great love was wrapped in the babe we celebrate each Christmas. The manger was never the goal; the cross was. Jesus took our place as He endured the cross, despising the shame of it all, and He finished the work He came to do. If you could put on spiritual glasses, you might even see Him brush His holy hands and look at the Father and whisper emphatically, “It’s DONE!”

The greatest lullaby ever written was spoken on the cross of Calvary and it goes like this: Tetelestai!* It is finished. That, my friend, is the perfect love that casts out fear. Rest in it.

Living It Out – Fear and faith cannot co-exist. Our grassroots fear is camouflaged in so many layers. Determine today that you are going to trust God regardless of what thoughts assault you. The truth of the perfect love of God will cast out your fear. Make resting in His love and provision your goal today.

*Tetelestai is the Greek translation of Jesus final words, “It is finished.”