Sunday, August 06, 2006

Count the stars in the sky

counting stars
By Joao Cruzue

I was in vacation with my family, on the second fortnight of last July, and we made a very blessed trip to "Minas Gerais" the brazilian Estate, where I was born. We crossed the South of Minas, where we bought lots of strawberries. Who said that "mineiros" only like cheeses? Besides strawberries, cheeses, pure air, the Mantiqueira Mountains, the Backbone Mountains, the best coffee in the world, we spent some days in my mother's farm.

When I was 13 , my father bought a small farm, in the Caratinga River Valley, tributary of Sweet River. I was 18, when I went to Sao Paul
o City, in another State, searching for a job and to course accountancy in a College. I was more blessed than I could imagine. I became a believer in Christ, as soon as, I saw myself far from my family. My parents, at that time very catholics, became extremely disppleased. Times then, I mean 14 years, they also accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. First, mom, then my father, two years after. Today, he is already with Lord.

Whenever I can, in vacation, I leave Sao Paulo City to go there, where I have my special moments of prayer with God. In the evening or at night, at the times of new moon, while I am praying, I can look up to a sky full of stars. It makes 30 years, that I still have the opportunity todo that.

Inclusively, the penultimate week of July, when, as I said above, we got there, again. It was waning moom, nights without brightness, the sky showed for us all its stars, including his clouds of light, that we know a
s The Milky Way. Then, I could invite my daughters, my wife, and other relatives, to go up til the terrace to contemplate the beauty of that sky, which is not known in the cities for the excess of brightness.

This message, I am writing, I want to share something else: what my spirit felt from the Spirit of God, at that place. And, the subject is about one of the process, which God used to ripen the faith of Abraham.

If you examine, by near, the life of Abrahan, you are going to see that the Lord, the highiest God, talked to him for eitht times. I identify myself with Abraham, because we both had to leave our land, our parent's house and our relatives to be safe and prosperous in the Lord. When I have the opportunity to look at a starry sky, in all its plenitude, I always remember myself about the opportunity in which " Jehova " told Abraham to look up, to the starry sky, to count the stars.

Apparently, The first time God spoke to Abraham, was in Genesis 12:1. " Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you". The verb is in the imperative form, "get out", so it was an order. The destiny would be a land, which he only would know in the future if he moved. The advantages would be: power, fame and prosperity for him and for all families in the world. Abraham left with some interest in these things. Together with him, a nephew, named Lot. At the time he had decided to leave, his father had already died.

The second time the Lord appeared to him, was to tell him that the Land of Canaan was his Promised Land. Abraham was a man that had a deep frustration in his life, and God knew well that. God said: " To your seed, Abraham, I will give this Land. Provoking his feelings. After that day, a serious hunger came to Canaan. Therefore, Abraham went down to the land of Egypt. Lot, his nephew, went together. Like "good" businessman of the Orient, now and then Abraham lied .One lie here, other one there... and due to a serious lie, they were expelled from Egypt by Pharaoh. They went out to Canaan very rich in cattle, gold, silver, servants and slaves.

There was cattle of more and land of less. This was the reason of disputes among the shepherds of the uncle and the nephew. So, finally, Abrão reached the last point of the God's demand: to be separeted from his relatives.

Separation of Lot and Abraham

For the third time, the Lord appeared when Abrão was lonely, without relatives. Abraham had almost everything: gold, silver, cattle, more than 300 men of war, around 1,000 persons were serving him. His family, actually, were composed by to old persons: He an his wife, Sara. A little glance at the families of his serfs, he could notice that they had children. Include his cattle. All his gold, silver, cattle, slaves were not the enough do make a couple of elders to have one son . Knowing his frustration - and God knows anything within our hearts - HE appeared this time and said: Abraham! lift up, now, your eyes and see all this Land, for the North, for the South, for the Orient and for the West - all this land what you are seeing , it will be given by me to you and to your seed, forever.

And, God did not remain only in these words, it kept on provoking: " Your seed will be like the powder of this land. Get up and goes through this land, in its length and in its width, because I will give it to you ". From this point, the heart of Abraham was not anymore on his possessions. God had begun to wake in him a new dream. Yes! The wish of a heir began to trouble his thoughts. Impossible!

Then, God appeared him by the fourth time. It was after his return of the war. He participate to rescue family of his nephew. He armed 318 men from his servants to recover everything. In the turn, it gave the tithe of everything that was recovered. Now, he was sure that the strong arm of God was behind his prosperity . The war made Abrão shudder. And, God said to him:" Do not fear Abraham , I am your shield (security in the war) and your exceedingly great reward.

Now Abrão tore his heart: " Lord one thing is lacking in my life. I have not one child. And my heir is going to be the butler, the foreigner Eliezer. And the word of the Lord came to the spirit of Abrão: " This butler shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir."
Milky Way

And, The Lord ordered him (imperative) look up, now, to the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them; and the Lord ended: " So, it will be your seed ". To count stars, here, means to relight your dreams. To blow again the ashes.There is still a small hot coal lighted, there. I learnt that, because I was unemployment for 11 years. My opportunity came when I was already "old" of 48 years. How much frustration. But God never do not leave any son of Him ashamed. Abraham got his precious heir; I had been working for three years at a big Hospital; you, like us, will also be blessed.

My neighbor, Andrea, and his Husband prayed during 17 years for a child. Certain day, she was humiliated by another heighbor woman, who said so: " Where is is your God? I have two children and you none! " Can you imagine what happened? When she completed 18 years of married, her first son came. One year later, a daughter too. A couple, inheritance of our God. God trod in the language of the devil. Now, we will back to the history of Abraão.

At that time, Abrão already had more intimacy with the Lord. Meantime, the haste put almost everything losing. Hearing the councils of his wife, Abraham had a relapse in his faith. It accepted to have a son with a slave of his wife. Agar conceived and gave the first son of Abrão, Ismael. He would have no right to inheritance. It was the result that always happens, when we exchange the God's voice for human advices.

When God speaks, if we are loyal, our spirit feels a peace uncommonly. When the voice is not from Him, our heart keeps in doubts. If we decide with doubts we can throw away our true blessings. Abraham lost 14 years of his time due to a wrong decision. He heard the voice of the reason. The God's voice can seem a madness for the ears of anyone but if He speaks to you, you will feel a sweet calm to decide correctly. A old pastor of mine always said: The God's peace shall be the arbiter of your heart.

In Genesis 17, God appeared by the fifth time to Abraham. His age, it was 99 years. Sara, his wife had to be 89 years old. A couple of senile like it said, today. In this opportunity, God require sanctity: " I am the Almighty God; walk, Abraham, in my presence and be blameless ". Next, HE changed their names. Now, he was Abraham and Sarah! insteade Abram and Sarai. The promise of a son, at that age, was cause of laughters from the part of the couple. Laughters of simple incredulity. They were still not believing completely. It was here which God gave name to the dream of Abraão: ISAAC!

Dear reader, we are going to have a pause. Before knowing completely the God's power, we use to carry within a "trunk" several frustrações. Mountains of impossibilities. One question: in Genesis 18:14 " Is There anything difficult to our Lord ? And the answer in Lucas 1:37 " For to our God nothing is impossible! " These two verses, by itselves, are enough to clean any doubt.

In the sixth time, The Lord appeared him personally, with two angels in the visitors' form. Genesis 18. Sarah still had doubts. God came to confirm that after nine months, from that visit on, ISAAC would come in. God Also warned the about the destruction of Sodoma and Gomorra. In the chapter 21, Isaac was born. Isaac means laughter. Laughter, because if someone knew of his history, he certainly would laugh. And the boy grew up and Abraão did a great banquet in the day Isaque was weaned. Laughters of the true joy invaded that home. The sadness was changed, in the tent of that old couple, to a radiant and noisy joy.

This kind of madness only God can do. Child to a old couple

Isaac became the prince of that home. Abraham, now, had no a more frustration. He was well satisfied. Isaac was all he wanted . But his faith would be put in a trial. God wondered till the point Abraham was sincere

And for the seventh time, the Lord appeared to Abraham, to a trial.

Stop! Abraham. From Rembrandt

- Abraham, said God, take, now, your only son, Isaac, to whom you love so much, and go to land of Moriah, and sacrifice it, and it offers it in holocaust to Me. Then, Abraham got up and went to execute the God's order. He only did not it, for God, Hinself, sent an angel to impede.

In those three days, which they walked to the Hill of Moriá, Abraham had the oportunity to think deeply in the gravity of his compromise. He would obey to God's order. A hard and cruel order. Within his heart he had one thing: peace with God. That calm to decide. The same God who gave a child to a senile couple, would provide a solution for that case. So, Abraham reached to a conclusion that God was more important as Isaac. He would give Him the first place and Isaac was now in the second plan. Such an attitude heat JEHOVAH'S heart. The faith of Abraham had reached the complete maturity. No more blameless. He would exchange everything to please and to do the will of God.

Abraham already loved The Lord wholeheartedly.

For the eighth time, God send to him a angel. the Angel of the Lord, apeared to say "Abraham, Abraham. And he said, Here am I. And the Lord said, Lay not your hand upon the lad, neither do you any thing to him: for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.

For the sake of the faith of Abraham, all the families of the world are blessed. Isaac symbolize Jesus Christ, the only son of the Lively God, the Eternal God, of the Almighty God. Jesus descends from Abraham. His blood in the sacrifice of the cross at the Mount Calvary was, is and will be sufficiently necessary to guarantee the reconciliation with God.

And, once reconciled by Christ, we can trust his love. If you present to Him, in prayer, your frustrações, your wounds, your limitations, your falls, be sure that Christ can exchange all of them for dreams and new visions. Then, what are you still awaiting? Lift up your eyes, at night, far from the city, in those days without moon, to count the stars of the sky.

I write to the glory of the Lord!

Author: Joao Cruzue
Translation from portuguese of " Conte as Estrelas do Céu "
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