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Hope: The Anchor of the Soul

Hebrews 6:13-20

An anchor was a popular image in the ancient Mediterranean world. Because that economy depended on shipping, the anchor came to symbolize safety and steadiness. The writer of Hebrews used the word to remind believers that God has given a hope that holds firm in any storm.

Hope is a healthy attitude. Anticipating good brings comfort to the mind and heart. In contrast, a state of hopelessness is a terrible condition in which to find oneself. It’s overwhelming and depressing to think that what you’re facing cannot be changed or resolved. For the person who has lost all hope, life looks like a long, dark tunnel going nowhere.

Included in Proverbs is a verse that describes the result of this oppressive feeling: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12). Emotional, physical, and even mental illness haunt a person who feels trapped in a bleak situation. But as long as there is a God, no situation is hopeless. In Him, we have the promise of the second half of that proverb: “Desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Believers have a hope that anchors their soul. Our relationship with Jesus Christ brings us close to the throne of heaven, where we can cast all our burdens before an omnipotent God. Moreover, we can cling to Him through any trial that comes our way. Because of the Lord’s great love, He provides strength for weary bodies, peace for anxious minds, and comfort for grieving hearts. In short, He lights that darkened tunnel and tenderly guides us through trying situations.

ksazma posted:
skeldon_man posted:

So Brother Keith, what is your real job? Are you a minister or a regular run of the mill 8 hour working guy?

We idrine gane. He nah like answering questions.

Morning fellows, do hope you had a wonderful weekend as I did. As mention before weekends are family time for me. I don't spend my time on forum on weekends. I work a regular 8am-4:30pm job and I am not a minister.

Keith posted:
ksazma posted:
skeldon_man posted:

So Brother Keith, what is your real job? Are you a minister or a regular run of the mill 8 hour working guy?

We idrine gane. He nah like answering questions.

Morning fellows, do hope you had a wonderful weekend as I did. As mention before weekends are family time for me. I don't spend my time on forum on weekends. I work a regular 8am-4:30pm job and I am not a minister.

Thanks brother Keith. Family is very important.

A Living Hope

1 Peter 1:3-5

Believers are born into a living hope, whereas people without Christ have no foundation for their expectations and desires. Many non-Christians live with a false sense of security. They assume that what is important in this life is the physical and material. But there is no safety in things (1 Tim. 6:9). Those who pursue wealth and health rather than God find that their dreams either go unfulfilled or fail to satisfy.

Christians anchor their hope in the solid rock of Jesus Christ. His words are always true and His promises are never broken. I’ll sometimes hear a person project his or her unfulfilled desires on God and then argue that He came up short. But believers who make a request and submit to God’s will always get an answer: yes, no, or wait.

The Lord does not disappoint those who seek His will. Don’t misunderstand that statement. We might feel temporarily let down when something we hope for is not in God’s plan. But He doesn’t go back on the biblical promise to give His children what’s best (Isa. 48:17; Isa. 64:4). When one door closes, there is another about to open with something better behind it. And remember, the Lord cannot be outdone. We can’t even wish ourselves as much good as God has in store.

The best choice a Christian can make is to fix his or her hope on the Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome whatever fits His will for your life, and turn away from all that does not. Circumstances may shift and change, but Jesus never does. He is a living hope who never disappoints.

Abraham’s Lesson on Obedience

Genesis 16:1-16

The Old Testament gives us the account of Abraham’s life. While the patriarch had a special relationship with God, his faith was not perfect. Over the years, he came to understand the importance of obedience—and how costly it can be to rebel.

Abraham learned the hard way that manipulating circumstances to gain a desired result can bring heartache. God had promised him and Sarah a child, but they were still waiting for that blessing when they were elderly. Already in her 70s, Sarah suggested that Abraham get an heir by having a child with her servant Hagar. The result was jealousy, family strife, and a bloody conflict that still rages today between the descendants of Hagar’s son Ishmael and Sarah’s son Isaac.

Obedience will bring the Lord’s best, but it requires waiting on Him. Abraham was already an old man when God promised him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky (Gen. 15:5). This would not be fulfilled until he was 100 and Sarah was well past her child-bearing years, which meant that all the glory for Isaac’s miraculous conception and birth went to the Lord (Gen. 21:1-7). Jumping ahead of God had harsh, long-term consequences. But the good news is that the couple’s mistakes could not prevent Him from carrying out His plan.

The Lord has given us His Word so we might learn from the saints of old. The story of Abraham’s life teaches us that obedience is essential. When we place our trust in a sovereign God and wait upon His timing, He will always prove faithful.

Whenever a man and woman have sex resulting in the birth of a child, they become father and mother of that child. Nothing complicated about that. Therefore at no point during Ishmael's life was Abraham NOT the father of Ishmael. It is crazy for the Bible to suggest that Isaac was Abraham's ONLY son since Ishmael was already some 14 years at the time of Isaac's birth. The Bible suggesting that God said "take your son, your only son, Isaac" means only one of two things. Either the Bible is confused or God is.

Anyone who questions Abraham's faith needs to have their head examined. For a Christian to do so is ironic given that Abraham's faith in God was greater than Jesus' was. Abraham never asked God why He has forsaken him.

"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46 - King James Version

Abraham did not just bear a child with Hagar. He married her first. Therefore, his child with Hagar was legitimate. There is not another person mentioned in the Bible, including Jesus who can get anywhere near the relationship that Abraham has with God. Who else would migrate his wife and infant child to a desert land because he was directed by God to do so. Who else would be willing to kill his ONLY son Ishmael who he got at the advanced age of 86 when he was 99 years old and Ismael was just 13. (And yes, this event took place the year BEFORE Isaac was born). The person who did those things is Abraham, the true friend of God, the most impressive person mentioned in the Bible.

Abraham’s Test

Genesis 22:1-24

Abraham faced one of the greatest tests of obedience recorded in the Bible: God asked him to slay his son as an offering. It’s hard to imagine the confusion and pain this request must have caused. However, Abraham obeyed the Lord willingly and promptly. His response teaches us some important lessons about yielding to the Lord.

Obedience often collides with reason. After telling Abraham he’d have descendants too numerous to count, God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, who was to be the father of the promised line. Despite the strangeness of the command, Abraham trusted God to keep His word and so set out to obey (Heb. 11:18-19).

Obedience means leaving the consequences to God. Abraham had no idea how the promise could be fulfilled if Isaac was dead. But his words and actions indicate he believed in divine sovereignty. When Abraham took the boy to Mount Moriah, he told his servants, “I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you” (Gen. 22:5). He didn’t say, “I will return” but expressed that both would come back. Abraham went to the holy place as instructed. At the same time, he fully expected that the Lord would somehow restore Isaac in order to keep His pledge. God fulfilled His promise by pro viding a ram in the boy’s place (Gen. 22:13-14).

The Lord already knows how His children will respond to tests of obedience. He challenges people because He wants them to know the truth about how well they submit. A believer’s willingness to obey (or disobey) reveals the state of his or her commitment to God.

If Abraham was going to kill Isaac with God hoping to make him think that he will not have all those descendants, then Abraham outsmarted God because he still had a living son Ishmael who can provide those descendants. Looks like Abraham is smarter than God. Or it is more like the writers of the Bible are confused. To repeat, at no time was Isaac Abraham's ONLY son because Ishmael was alive and about 14 years when Isaac was born.

Service Is Not an Option

Titus 2:11-15

Who is a servant of God? Ask average churchgoers that question, and they will most likely point to their pastor or some Christian celebrity. They almost certainly will not say, “We are God’s servants.” The church has a mixed-up idea that believers are separated into servants—that is, individuals in full-time ministry—and laypeople. The Bible contains no such distinction. Instead, Paul reminds the Ephesians that believers are saved so that they might serve (Ephesians 2:10).

If there were no other reason to serve God besides gratitude for salvation, that would be cause enough. We are rescued from torment and given eternal life with the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence. Our service is but a small acknowledgment of the Father sending His Son to be sacrificed in payment of the sin debt we owed. We have no right to withhold our gifts or time.

Many people, believers included, serve the big “I.” What satisfies and pleases “I”? What is convenient for “I”? What makes “I” happy and prosperous? When a pastor appeals for help, most of his parishioners are sure he is speaking to someone else because “I” has insufficient training or a busy schedule. Here is a harsh reality: If “I” is our master, we are committing “I”-dolatry. Anything given first place over God—including selfish desires—is an idol.

Service isn’t an option. God calls us to be servants so we can invest our lives in an eternally valuable purpose: the salvation of unbelievers and their subsequent discipleship for His glory. Our job may seem insignificant or our limitations great, but we are vessels of Christ with a role in the kingdom.

ksazma posted:

If Abraham was going to kill Isaac with God hoping to make him think that he will not have all those descendants, then Abraham outsmarted God because he still had a living son Ishmael who can provide those descendants. Looks like Abraham is smarter than God. Or it is more like the writers of the Bible are confused. To repeat, at no time was Isaac Abraham's ONLY son because Ishmael was alive and about 14 years when Isaac was born.

Answer: Ok, let me address this only ONCE you have repeatedly attack the Bible by saying it was full of contradictions. As I always emphasizes in many of our previous discussion, READ and UNDERSTAND what you are reading.

Let’s look it up, because the way you stated it looks like a contradiction. It is true that Ishmael was Isaac’s older brother [Genesis 16:11], but I would rather see what the Bible actually says.

ksazma hope you are not offended that I didn’t take your word for it. And besides, for the others looking in on this discussion, this is a good lesson in itself. Why trust what someone says God says, when we can easily read God’s Word for ourselves?

Let's look at Genesis 22 and read:

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

The passage didn’t say exactly what you are claiming. Look at the phrase "whom you love" as a qualifier for "your only son." In other words, Isaac was the only son Abraham loved.

I don't see a contradiction here, since the Bible says Abraham had only one son that he loved. Ah, alright, I assume you are thinking I am playing with words right.....lets just go with that assumption for a minute.

Here is where the old meets the new or is it the new align with the old testament books.....Are we awake, pay close attention now. Look at Hebrew 11:17-19:

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called," 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

The passage in Hebrews qualifies the "only son" concept as well. Isaac was the only begotten (i.e., unique, special) son of Abraham. Isaac was indeed unique and special in that he was the promised son through whom Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would come (Genesis 17:19–21).

Similarly, Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), even though others are called the sons of God (e.g., Adam in Luke 3:38 and Christians in Galatians 3:26). Jesus is the only unique and special Son of God, God who became a man.

This brings up another answer to the alleged contradiction. The Hebrew word used for "only" is yachiyd, which means "unique" or "only begotten" (special). So the Hebrew clarifies that Isaac is indeed the special, unique, only begotten son of Abraham. Isaac was the son of promise. So this answers the alleged contradiction.

Sometimes we miss the obvious answer as well. In the previous chapter (Genesis 21), Ishmael was sent away. So in chapter 22, Isaac was Abraham’s only son, for his other had gone away, presumably never to return under Abraham’s household. So this is another plausible solution to the alleged contradiction. Also, once Isaac had grown and Sarah had died, Abraham married Keturah, and they had six sons together (Genesis 25:1–2).

Let’s briefly go back to my initial answer. Did Abraham not love Ishmael? It’s true that he listened to Sarah and sent Ishmael and his mother, Hagar, away. But Abraham was originally distressed by this plan. God told him, "Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called. Yet I will also make a nation of the bondwoman, because he is your seed" (Genesis 21:12–13). This was the second time God had promised Abraham that Ishmael would be blessed. In the first instance, Abraham asked God to make Ishmael the son of promise (Genesis 17:18–20). So it seems very likely that Abraham did love Ishmael and that my initial response was inaccurate.

Conclusion: For my follow Christian brothers & sisters who are reading this post, this answer highlights two important practices in dealing with the alleged contradictions in Scripture. First, make sure you take the time to read the relevant passages to make sure the one making the charge is accurately quoting the Bible. I did that in this instance. Second, remember that you don’t have to answer right away, especially if you haven’t studied the subject before. It is crucial to take the time to explore the Scriptures so you can give an accurate response. There is no contradiction about the number of Abraham’s sons.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. Obey God and leave all consequences to Him.

antabanta posted:

So God incited Abraham to abandon his older son, Ishmael?

I don't think Abraham ever abandoned Ishmael. Much to Keith's disappointment the Bible is not the only source of information. There are references to Abraham spending lots of time with Hager and Ishmael during Ishmael's lifetime including when Ishmael was grown and married. Religious peoples like to talk about miracles they read about in old books. Now while the origin of the zam zam well is written in old books and is open to discussion, if one was to acknowledge that it began as a water source for baby Ishmael, then that miracle is still available and can be seen with the physical eyes some 9000 years later.

Bai Keith, you really did some somersaults around that question. But the part that really got my attention is when you stated that God told Abraham that he, Abraham only loved Isaac. However, by the time you got to the end of your response you admitted that Abraham loved Ishmael too. So how come you know this but God didn't when He told Abraham that he, Abraham didn't love Ishmael.

For the record, the Bible stated that the family rift came about because Sarah became jealous of Hagar. Hard for Sarah to be jealous of Hagar if Abraham didn't think highly of Hagar. There is also a reference to her being upset with Ishmael. Here again it shows God's terrible judgment in blessing Sarah with the coveted covenant in-spite of her horrible disposition.

The reality is that the circumstances are not as described in the Bible. I doubt Abraham had both women living in the same space.

ksazma posted:

Bai Keith, you really did some somersaults around that question. But the part that really got my attention is when you stated that God told Abraham that he, Abraham only loved Isaac. However, by the time you got to the end of your response you admitted that Abraham loved Ishmael too. So how come you know this but God didn't when He told Abraham that he, Abraham didn't love Ishmael.

For the record, the Bible stated that the family rift came about because Sarah became jealous of Hagar. Hard for Sarah to be jealous of Hagar if Abraham didn't think highly of Hagar. There is also a reference to her being upset with Ishmael. Here again it shows God's terrible judgment in blessing Sarah with the coveted covenant in-spite of her horrible disposition.

The reality is that the circumstances are not as described in the Bible. I doubt Abraham had both women living in the same space.

My brother where did I mention what was highlighted above? I have resented the Genesis 22:2 scripture in its entirety, what is your understanding of that same scripture?

Last edited by Keith
Keith posted:
ksazma posted:

Bai Keith, you really did some somersaults around that question. But the part that really got my attention is when you stated that God told Abraham that he, Abraham only loved Isaac. However, by the time you got to the end of your response you admitted that Abraham loved Ishmael too. So how come you know this but God didn't when He told Abraham that he, Abraham didn't love Ishmael.

For the record, the Bible stated that the family rift came about because Sarah became jealous of Hagar. Hard for Sarah to be jealous of Hagar if Abraham didn't think highly of Hagar. There is also a reference to her being upset with Ishmael. Here again it shows God's terrible judgment in blessing Sarah with the coveted covenant in-spite of her horrible disposition.

The reality is that the circumstances are not as described in the Bible. I doubt Abraham had both women living in the same space.

My brother where did I mention what was highlighted above? I have resented the Genesis 22:2 scripture in its entirety, what is your understanding of that same scripture?

This is what you wrote above. Perhaps you don't want to use this argument anymore.  Who was speaking to Abraham in Genesis 22:2?

Let's look at Genesis 22 and read:

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

The passage didn’t say exactly what you are claiming. Look at the phrase "whom you love" as a qualifier for "your only son." In other words, Isaac was the only son Abraham loved.

Keith posted:
 

 

I have resented the Genesis 22:2 scripture in its entirety, what is your understanding of that same scripture?

Either Moses (who wrote Genesis) is confused or God is.

Incidentally, although people generally believe that Moses wrote these five books, Bible scholars have come to accept that parts were written by others, more predominantly, Ezra.

ksazma posted:
antabanta posted:

So God incited Abraham to abandon his older son, Ishmael?

I don't think Abraham ever abandoned Ishmael. Much to Keith's disappointment the Bible is not the only source of information. There are references to Abraham spending lots of time with Hager and Ishmael during Ishmael's lifetime including when Ishmael was grown and married. Religious peoples like to talk about miracles they read about in old books. Now while the origin of the zam zam well is written in old books and is open to discussion, if one was to acknowledge that it began as a water source for baby Ishmael, then that miracle is still available and can be seen with the physical eyes some 9000 years later.

But why would a benevolent god instigate a rift in an innocent man's family?

antabanta posted:
ksazma posted:
antabanta posted:

So God incited Abraham to abandon his older son, Ishmael?

I don't think Abraham ever abandoned Ishmael. Much to Keith's disappointment the Bible is not the only source of information. There are references to Abraham spending lots of time with Hager and Ishmael during Ishmael's lifetime including when Ishmael was grown and married. Religious peoples like to talk about miracles they read about in old books. Now while the origin of the zam zam well is written in old books and is open to discussion, if one was to acknowledge that it began as a water source for baby Ishmael, then that miracle is still available and can be seen with the physical eyes some 9000 years later.

But why would a benevolent god instigate a rift in an innocent man's family?

I don't think that the rift was instigated by God. There is scripture that rhetorically criticizes the Christians for judging Abraham by Moses' laws when those were not the prevailing laws during Abraham's time. Having only one wife was not the prevailing law/custom during Abraham's time so he did nothing wrong when he married Hagar and had his first child.

I don't accept the Bible's depiction of a jealous and vindictive Sarah. I think that is the Biblical writers or the historians of that time who sought to create a division between Abraham's first two sons so they can solidify their own history. I think it is much simpler. Abraham initially had two wives, Sarah who lived in Canaan and Hagar who lived in Mecca. There was no rift as men back then had many wives and the women accepted that condition.

That said, our actions are a product of our emotions, not God's actions. Even today, we have people who were once madly in love that later end up angrily killing each other. One day, we love our job and another day, we are bored or unhappy with it. Human emotions are constantly changing. I don't think that is a product of God.

 

Btw, I love hos the Bible referred to his third wife, kethura as wife and concubine in the same sentence. I think the writing pattern of the Bible give the impression of the end justifying the means.

Preparation Through Prayer

Acts 1:9-14

The book of Acts is an amazing record of how God worked in and through the early church, and one of their most important activities was prayer. While Jesus was with His disciples, little was recorded of them praying because they could talk directly to Christ. But after His ascension, they immediately gathered in the upper room and “devot[ed] themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14).

Talking to God was their means of preparing for the work He had for them. Jesus had told them the Father would give the Holy Spirit to those who ask (Luke 11:13). Then after the resurrection, He instructed them to stay in Jerusalem until they were “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Without the Spirit, they were not adequate for the Great Commission even though they’d spent time with Jesus. And if they needed the Spirit’s power, so do we.

To the degree we’re willing to admit our absolute helplessness to do God’s work, the Holy Spirit will empower us as we pray. When we are devoted to prayer, the Lord begins to work in our heart, preparing us for service. He gives us the Spirit’s boldness to speak God’s Word (Acts 4:31) and the courage to face any persecutions that might result (Acts 4:29).

God is looking for believers who understand the importance of prayer and realize the only way to fulfill His calling for the church is through His supernatural power. Christ’s church is not grown through programs, seminars, and conferences, but through the humble prayers of saints who gather together in utter dependence upon Him. That’s when God’s power is released and His will is accomplished.

ksazma posted:
 

This is what you wrote above. Perhaps you don't want to use this argument anymore.  Who was speaking to Abraham in Genesis 22:2?

Let's look at Genesis 22 and read:

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

The passage didn’t say exactly what you are claiming. Look at the phrase "whom you love" as a qualifier for "your only son." In other words, Isaac was the only son Abraham loved.

 What is your understanding of Genesis 22:2 scripture? Still waiting?
Incase you missed it

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

The passage didn’t say exactly what you are claiming. Look at the phrase "whom you love" as a qualifier for "your only son." In other words, Isaac was the only son Abraham loved.

Do you recalled a man name Jacob, how many sons he has and which one he loved the most?

antabanta posted:

Ksaz... thank you for responding. I was hoping to get some lively debate with this Keith character but looks like my questions are below his level of intelligence.

Anta, of recent I have begun looking at scriptures (including the Qur'an) as documents as opposed to words of God. I find that to be very beneficial.

Keith posted:
ksazma posted:
 

This is what you wrote above. Perhaps you don't want to use this argument anymore.  Who was speaking to Abraham in Genesis 22:2?

Let's look at Genesis 22 and read:

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

The passage didn’t say exactly what you are claiming. Look at the phrase "whom you love" as a qualifier for "your only son." In other words, Isaac was the only son Abraham loved.

 What is your understanding of Genesis 22:2 scripture? Still waiting?
Incase you missed it

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

The passage didn’t say exactly what you are claiming. Look at the phrase "whom you love" as a qualifier for "your only son." In other words, Isaac was the only son Abraham loved.

Do you recalled a man name Jacob, how many sons he has and which one he loved the most?

Dude, your reference above is supporting my argument. Did you think it was supporting yours.

Your problem Keith is that you get lost in those lengthy pieces that you post. You would be better off taking one item at a time. So let us revisit the issue of Abraham's first two sons. At the time of Abraham's attempted sacrifice, was Isaac Abraham's only son or was Ishmael Abraham's only son. Try a yes or no answer. You might just be amazed at how emancipated you will feel. Try it.

antabanta posted:

Ksaz... thank you for responding. I was hoping to get some lively debate with this Keith character but looks like my questions are below his level of intelligence.

You are absolutely right, I couldn't say any better, instead of wasting my time on your questions I could get my son, who's fit to answer your questions as you put it, 'way below my intellect'