The Upper Room Devotion for Friday, September 8, 2023, was written by Shantha Rosa of Sri Lanka.
1 After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take 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 that I shall show you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” 6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. 7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together. 9 When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” 15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.” 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham lived at Beer-sheba.
Genesis 22:1-19 NRSV
Several years ago, I was employed in a school administration office. One day I had only enough money for my commute to the office. Because I had no money to buy breakfast, I continued working at my desk rather than joining the others who left for the canteen. Suddenly, I heard a voice behind me, and I turned to see a friend of mine who was a pastor. I was surprised to see him at school. He invited me to join him for breakfast in the canteen where he paid for my meal, gave me some extra money, and offered me a pair of shoes. I could not believe it! My shoes had holes in them. When I asked him what prompted him to extend all these kind gestures, he said that he felt called to do so.
This incident occurred seven years ago, and it led me to have complete trust in God for all my needs. Presently, I am a student at a theological college, and I believe my friend's generosity was the beginning of God's calling upon me to serve in ministry full-time. God can provide for our needs in surprising ways.
Pastor Anthony's Thoughts
What small acts of kindness has God asked you to extend to someone around you? Acts of kindness create pathways for God's love, compassion, and grace to enter offering hope and encouragement. We can all offer a smile, an encouraging word, or a cup of coffee to a stranger as a gesture of compassion. The gesture itself is not as important as the gift of compassion it conveys. Shantha's reflection highlights the impact our acts of kindness can have on the lives of others. God has chosen to partner with us to transform the world and calls us to do so one small act of kindness at a time.
Dear God, you see our needs and provide for us in unexpected ways. Thank you. Amen.