Gifts that are given at the wrong time can actually damage the ones who receive them. For this reason, a wise giver will discern and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit on when to give or to withhold a gift.For today's key point, "And when they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lord's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments." ~ Exodus 35:21
From The Pages Of Scripture:To be punctual in giving is to cooperate with the bigger schedule and purpose of God. The gifts which we give according to His timing are like precious jewels in the eyes of those who receive them and those who benefit from them. They reflect a multitude of spiritual truths. One day a man was asked by his friend to give a very precious gift --- the most precious that he possessed. The man recognized that this gift was in harmony with God's larger program and he quickly gave it. This gift took on greater significance than the giver ever imagined. It continues to communicate an important message for us today.
When God prompts us to give a gift, He does so out of His infinite wisdom and foreknowledge. Our response will have far greater significance than the fulfillment of just one need. Who gave a gift that took on historic importance because it fulfilled the guidelines of punctuality?Two young men started out on a very important journey. Their objective was so important that it was later recorded in history. The similarities between these two men are remarkable. Both men were sons of promise. The times and circumstances of their births were miraculously predicted by God. They were brought into the world by godly mothers, who expected mighty accomplishments from them. Each mother was greatly praised in Scripture. These young men lived in the same country and were trained by their fathers in a family business. Both were strong and courageous and greatly loved by their fathers. Both sons began to prepare early in the morning for this special journey. As they walked, the way became more and more difficult. The two men were accompanied by their fathers on this momentous journey. Although others followed along, only the two fathers and one of the sons recognized the true significance of the historic trip. When these two young men neared their destination, they had to leave their companions behind. However, their companions were assured that they would return. Both returned after their journey. The most amazing similarity of all can be seen in the things that took place when they reached their destination. These events should reveal the identity of the two men. Both carried heavy wood up the mountainside. Both men allowed themselves to be bound and laid on the rough wood which they had carried. They were willing to give up their lives, for this was the purpose of their trup. At this agonizing moment both fathers turned their faces away from their sons. God was well pleased with the faithfulness of each young man and they both left the mountain for another three day journey. Time and place are the basic differences between these two memorable journeys. Isaac carried a heavy bundle of sticks up the side of Mount Moriah, and Christ carried His cross kkup the side of nearby Golgotha. Abraham's obedience to God's instructions and his willingness to give his only son provides a marvelous picture of God's gift of His Son. If Abraham had not obeyed God in the timing of the gift of his son, he owuld have destroyed the analogy of God's gift of His Son two thousand years later. [From Genesis 22 and Matthew 27]
Why Did God Ask Abraham To Sacrifice His Beloved Son, Isaac?God had commanded against murder, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man" (Genesis 9:6). He later reiterated this command to the nation of Israel, "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13). In the Law, human sacrifice was regarded as the abomination of Molech worship (see Leviticus 18:21, 20:1-5). When the Israelites and their kings burned their children in misguided worship, they were severely punished. It was an abomination which provoked the Lord to anger. The practitioners were considered slaves of evil (see 2 Kings 16:3; 17:17; 21:6). Why then would God subject Abraham to such a perplexing test? The answer to this dilemma is that it was not Isaac whom God wanted, but Abraham; not the death of Isaac, but the death in Abraham of anything which would divide his affection toward God. There is strong New Testament evidence that God explained to Abraham ahead of time what He was about to do. When Jesus called His disciples friends, He did so because " ... all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you" (John 15:15). Scripture affirms that Abraham was the friend of God (see James 2:23). Furthermore, his faith was based on the belief that God would raise up his son from the dead (see Hebrews 11:19). Thus, in either case he planned to return with Isaac.
Why Is Abraham Called The Father Of Faith?It was Abraham who first pictured the nature of saving faith (see Romans 4:16). The New Testament declares, "... Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved ..." (Acts 16:31). (See John 3:26.) But it is not mere intellectual assent that leads to salvation. The demons also believe true facts about God, but to no avail (see James 2:19). Belief which leads to salvation is the type of belief demonstrated by Abraham. "Even as Abraham believed God, it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham" (Galatians 3:6-7). What did Abraham believe? He believed that the Messiah was coming as the descendant of Isaac to conquer sin and death (see Genesis 12:3; 17-19). Today our faith is to be the same as Abraham's, except we believe that Jesus, who was the descendant of Isaac through Mary, is that promised Messiah. We not only believe that God could raise one from the dead, we believe that He did, in fact, raise Jesus from the dead (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Is There Any Significance To The Site Of Abraham's Sacrifice?God chose the site. Abraham was living in Beersheba when God said, "... Get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering..." (Genesis 22:2). Jewish literature and Josephys specify that the Temple was built on Mount Moriah, the location of Abraham's sacrifice. It was near this same place that Jesus was later crucified. The place called "Golgotha" was located "without the gate" of Jerusalem (see Matthew 27:33; Hebrews 13:12). But at this sacrifice, heaven remained silent. No substitute ram replaced the Son of God, for He was the Lamb of God. He was raised again on the third day to demonstrate the victory that has been won for all who believe.
Illustrated In The World Of Nature:The grunion is a member of a family of fish called "silversides." They inhabit the coastal waters of southern California. Other silversides include swordtails, commonly found in tropical aquariums; shiners, often used as fishing bait; skipjacks, and jacksmelt. All are characterized by a silver band running along each side. The grunion possess the unique ability to spawn on land. Grunion fry can feed on small bits of plankton as soon as they hatch, and they actually begin to grow as they are washed off the beach. Maturing in less than a year, they grow to be 5 to 7 inches long.
How Is The Need To Obey God's Timing For Giving Illustrated In The World Of Nature?On a chilley evening in March, a crowd gathered on a southern California beach. They had come to see for themselves one of God's most spectacular demonstrations of precise timing. They sat down and waited patiently as the rising tide broke higher and higher against the beach. The brilliant orange sun disappeared beneath the horizon of the ocean. The last shades of daylight soon vanished. A new moon began to reflect against the shimmering surface of the water. The crowd waited quietly. They observed a definite change in the tide had taken place. Each wave seemed to drain more water from the beach than it left behind. Soon, the ocean surf near the beach sparkled like a sea full of silver coins. Suddenly, several shiny objects tumbled onto the shore. The moonlight lit up their bright bodies as they persistently fought the undertow of the receding waves. A hush came over the crowd as a group of male grunions investigated the conditions alone the beach. More waves hit the beach and when they receded, only wet sand and foam remained. Minutes passed and then it happened. The surf crashed against the shore covering the beach with a mass of squirming fish. Each wave added to their numbers. The female grunions, swollen with eggs, flicked their tails into the wet sand and arched upward. They used their tails like a drill to bury themselves up to their gills. At that moment they deposited their fully developed eggs. The mails then flopped and twisted across the beach. They coiled around the females and fertilized the eggs. With their precious gift of new life placed in the proper depth and level of the beach, the grunions began to wriggle free from the sand and flop toward the receding waters. A shout went up from the waiting crowd. They ran along the beach scooping up the remaining fish and depositing them into plastic buckets. For every grunion they captured, ten other grunions slipped back into the ocean. As those patient fishermen left for home with their catch, they marvled at what they had just witnessed. To insure the survival of their young, the grunions not only chose the right day, but also the right wave before they came to spawn their young. If the parent fish had come a day too soon, the freshly laid eggs would have been washed out to sea with the next night's higher tide. If they would have arrived a day too late, their young would have been stranded on the beach when they hatched. The punctuality of the grunion is a wonder of God's creation.
The Characteristics Of The Grunion In Scripture:Both fishing and precise timing figure prominently in the ministry and message of Christ. At least one-third of the twelve apostles were fishermen by trade, and much of Christ's ministry occurred along the seashore. Christ used the precise timing and location of a school of fish to help Peter recognize His Lordship (see John 21:6-8). He used the exact timing of catching one particular fish to pay a tax (see Matthew 17:27). He multiplied two fish to feed 5,000 (see Matthew 14:19) and prepared a fish breakfast for His discouraged disciples (see John 21:9). In fact, the fish became the symbol of early Christians because its Greek letters formed an acrostic of the phrase, "Jesus Christ is God our Savior". The patient fishermen who discerned the time of the grunions' appearing were in sharp contrast to the nation of Israel, who should have discerned the time of Christ's coming:
"...Ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" ~ Matthew 16:3Just as the tide reached its peak on the shore, so Christ will come again when:
"... the times of the Gentiles be fufilled..." ~ Luke 21:24-28Meanwhile God tells us that is is "... high time to awake ... for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed" (Romans 13:11).