Friday, February 24, 2012
ABRAHAM, Following In The Footsteps Of Faith, 2/24/2012
ON THE MOUNTAIN OF ABSOLUTE SURRENDER, Lesson 29
This is one of the great mountain top passages of the Bible. In it, we find one of the clearest pictures of the coming sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. It seems as though God used the life of Abraham as a canvas to pain a portrait of His Own heart as He willingly gave His Own darling Son to die for the sin of man. This is usually how we approach this passage. However, there is another dimension to this text.
I would like to look at this passage from Abraham's perspective. As I read the Bible, I am confronted with the truth that no other man was called upon to give so much. Yet, as Abraham's sacrifice to the Lord is offered, we do not see the heart of a devastated broken man. Instead, we see the heart of a worshiper! I believe there are lessons that we can learn from Abraham today.
As you and I pass through this life, there will be demands made on our lives by God. Often, these demands will call for personal and profound sacrifices on our part. From a human perspective, we may not want to participate in what God calls us to do. However, God's demand from your life and mine is total, absolute and unquestioning obedience to His perfect will, (1 Sam. 15:22; Rom. 12:1-2). Even though we know this, there is still a part of us that wants to rebel against the command of God for our lives. Today, I would like for us to join Abraham as he climbs the lonely Mountain Of Absolute Surrender. There are steps we must take if we will climb that mountain. Let's join this great man of God on this mountain and see what it would take for us to be “On The Mountain Of Absolute Surrender” as well.
V. 1-2 INVOLVES PERCEPTION
We must be in a position to hear God.
This Demands A Relationship - Abraham came to know the Lord back in Genesis chapter 12. The reality of his conversion is revealed in Gen. 15:6. Their relationship had often been rocky, (Lot - 12:4; Egypt - 12:10-20; Hagar - 16:1-4; Gerar - 20:1-18 ). He wasn't perfect, but he knew the Lord. How about you? Have you been saved? If so, then no doubt your relationship has been rocky too. Be that as it may, there is still a relationship. If you have not been saved, you need to bow to His will and be saved!
This Demands A Readiness - As soon as God speaks, Abraham responds! This implies that he had been listening for the voice of His Lord, and he was not disappointed. God is on the lookout for people who want to be in a deep, close relationship with Himself (John 4:23). If you ever get hungry for the Lord, you will not be disappointed!
This Demands A Revelation - God revealed His plan for Abraham's life. This was a necessary part of the process, for no man can know the mind of God until it is revealed to man by God.
1. Notice How God Defines His Commands - "thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest." Abraham's son Ishmael had already been sent away. Now, the command comes that would take Isaac away as well. God was asking for everything Abraham had! All his hopes, his dreams and his plans were bound up in Isaac. God says "give it all to me!" God wants nothing less than everything ( Rom. 12:1; Luke 14:26-27).
2. Notice How God Details His Commands - God was very precise about what Abraham was to do. When God speaks, He may not reveal every detail of His plan, but your next step will always be made clear.
3. Notice How God Darkens His Commands - God does not explain the "why?" to men! Does the "why?" even matter? It shouldn't! Faith knows that the path of God always leads to good for us and to glory for Him ( Rom. 8:28).
V. 3-5 INVOLVES PREPARATIONS
As we observe Abraham doing what the Lord commanded, we see a man who is thoroughly prepared. There are three areas in which Abraham made his preparations.
V. 3 His Hands Were Prepared - Abraham wasted no time, but got himself up and gathered everything he would need to do what God had commanded. He left nothing out, but he took nothing extra! There is an urgency to the commands of God. The moment He calls is the moment you should act ( John 9:4). Procrastination has caused the death on many profound spiritual experiences. We miss them because we hesitate. “Carpe Diem” should be the rallying cry of the church! If anything is worth doing for the Lord, it is worth doing right! May we always refuse to build with cheap materials! (1 Cor. 3:12).
V. 4-5a His Head Was Prepared - Abraham had three days and three nights to think about what was about to happen. To him, it must have made no sense at all, yet he did it without question! All he knew was: 1.) Isaac was the future ( Gen. 17; and 2.) God wanted Isaac back! Even though he couldn't make it add up mentally, by faith he was willing to obey God. This is the key to consistent spiritual victory! We are called to walk by faith, (Rom. 1:17; 2 Cor. 5:7). God help us to come to the place where, even when God's commands make absolutely no sense, we will still obey Him without question or reservation!
V. 5b His Heart Was Prepared - Abraham knew why he was there. He was there to offer his beloved son to God. He was there to give everything that was present in that day and all that was promised for tomorrow. Yet, he looked at it as a service of worship! Worship is ascribing worth to someone! Worship is taking a place of absolute humility before God, thereby leaving Him, alone, in the place of exaltation! Abraham viewed God as being worthy of receiving all he had without question or without reservation. How could he do this? Because Abraham knew that God ALWAYS honors His Word (Heb. 11:17-19). Notice his great statement of faith in Gen. 22:8 - "will come again!" This is the place God would have us all to come to! He wants you and me in a place in life where no one or no thing in our lives is more precious to us than He is! Can you honestly say that God is more important to you than anything else in life? Be careful before you answer! (Matt. 10:35-37). Have you honestly come to the place of total and absolute surrender to God? If you ever do, you will learn that you have no rights, no possessions, no positions, nothing but Him and His will for your life, (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Where are you in regard to this matter of total surrender? Have you come to the place where nothing is more precious to God.
V. 6-14 INVOLVES PARTICIPATION
V. 6 This Participation Is Personal - Abraham personally placed the wood on Isaac. He personally took the fire and the knife and he personally lead the way. For Abraham, this was an event of personal commitment and sacrifice. God has determined that you and I are to be personally and intimately involved in His service and worship (Rom. 12:1). This kind of life was modeled by Caleb (Josh. 14). Jesus Himself is the supreme example (Phil. 2:5-8; Luke 22:42). Are you personally, intimately involved with God and His work? God has a perfect, precious plan for your life. Only your involvement will result in its being accomplished.
V. 7-10 This Participation Is Profound - Abraham willingly and completely obeyed the command of God. He held nothing back! He gave up everything he had longed for, lived for and loved at the simple command of God! What and act of love and worship! Have you come to that place in your life? Do you even want to? How could Abraham do this? Easy! Isaac was already dead! He died in verse 2 when of God asked for him. That was the level of this man's commitment to the Lord! And, that is the secret to arriving at the summit of the mountain of absolute surrender. It's not about the altitude of the body, but it's all about the altitude of the heart! Isaac had already been offered in Abraham's heart, the rest was mere window dressing!
V. 11-14 This Participation Is Powerful - Abraham's participation was powerful because it gave God an opportunity to flex His muscles, and it gave Abraham the opportunity to receive some special blessings that he would have otherwise missed out on.
1. V. 11-14 He Received God's Provision - Abraham gave up Isaac and got him back again because he minded God. Simply put, Abraham's faith honored the Lord and God in turn honored Abraham's faith. Think about it, while Abraham and Isaac climbed one side of the mountain, a ram was coming up the other side of the mountain! God had already gone ahead and made a way! That will still work today! Our God is still Jehovah-Jireh. When we do what He tells us, no matter what the cost, we will see Him bless in a profound way!
2. V. 12 He Received God's Praise - Abraham got to hear the Lord say, "I am pleased with you!" This verse points out the whole purpose behind this episode. This was never about Isaac, it had always been about Abraham! God wanted Abraham in that place of total surrender and love for Him. That's what it's about in our lives as well! When God's commands calls for sacrifice, it has nothing to do with what we are told to give up. It has everything to do with our being willing to give it up at the simply command of God. God doesn't want you Isaac's, He wants you! Is there anything in your life that you have not been willing to give to the Lord?
3. V. 15-19 He Received God's Promise - God renewed His covenant with Abraham. This is merely a reminder that the condition of their relationship was still intact. God knew what Abraham would do! He put him to the test so that Abraham might see what was in his own heart. He was brought to a blessed place of peace, provision and promise, because he put God ahead of everything else in life. If you really want God's best, then put God first, (Matt. 6:33).
Conc: So, is everything you have and are, totally, absolutely and completely surrendered to God? God isn't really interested in your Isaac's, it's you He wants! Does He have all of you there is to have?
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“All To Jesus I Surrender” by J. W. Van Venter (1896)
1. All to Jesus I surrender;
all to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
in his presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all,
all to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
2. All to Jesus I surrender;
humbly at his feet I bow,
worldly pleasures all forsaken;
take me, Jesus, take me now.
3. All to Jesus I surrender;
make me, Savior, wholly thine;
fill me with thy love and power;
truly know that thou art mine.
4. All to Jesus I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to thee;
fill me with thy love and power;
let thy blessing fall on me.
5. All to Jesus I surrender;
now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to his name!
INVITE A FRIEND TO JOIN THE TEAM!
Thursday, February 23, 2012
ABRAHAM, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 2/23/2012
THE LAMB ON MOUNT MORIAH, Lesson 28
There are several places in the Bible that I would describe as holy ground. This chapter is one of those places. In fact, there is too much good stuff here to even hope to get it all proclaimed in one message. Therefore, I want to look into these verses today and try to catch a glimpse of the Lamb.
We saw the Lamb in the story of Cain and Abel. Today, I would like for us to see the Lamb on Mount Moriah. As we move through this great story from the life of Abraham, I hope we will see that there is something far larger in view here. I hope we will see today that there is a clear portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the price He paid for sinners.
As this story unfolds, I ask you to give the Lord your undivided attention. Allow Him to speak to your heart today and let Him have His way in your life.
This is a chapter that is filled with great blessings. Allow me to share a few of them with you as we look at “The Lamb On Mount Moriah“.
I. V. 1 WE ARE TOLD OF A GREAT SAINT
His Name - The man's name is "Abraham". It means "Father of a multitude." When the Lord first called this man to follow Him, his name was "Abram". That name meant "Exalted Father." Yet, at that time, Abram was 75 years old and he was childless. As Abram began to follow the Lord, the Lord changed his name to "Abraham". When he had no children, his name was "Exalted Father". Now, he has one child and God calls him "Father of a Multitude." Imagine the reaction of those around Abram when he announced the name change.
While some surely laughed at this old man and his strange name, that name was, in fact, the promise of God to Abraham. While he only had one son, the Lord promised him that he would have many more, "Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.", (Gen. 17:5).
By the time we arrive at today's text, Abraham has two sons. The first, Ishmael, has already left the home, (Gen. 21:9-21), and Isaac, the son of promise, who was born when Abraham was 99, is the only one there. While people may have mocked this man of God, he placed his trust in the Lord even though he only had one son, Abraham looked ahead to a time when the Lord would keep His promises! My friends, this is what saved Abraham's soul. Simple faith in the Word of the Lord, (Gen. 15:5-6), "And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."
Friend, that is how salvation worked then, and it is how salvation works today! You hear the promise of God and you accept it by faith! That is what saves the soul, (Rom. 10:13; Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:17).
His Nature - Notice that as soon as the Lord speaks, Abraham responds. This tells us a lot about this great man of faith. He has his ear tuned to the voice of the Lord. He is literally waiting for orders from headquarters. Here is a man who is literally living by faith, (Rom. 1:17). Here is a man who lives his life for the will of God. What a lesson for those who claim to love the Lord Jesus Christ! Most of us are so busy listening to the call of the world and the flesh that we cannot even hear His voice when He does speak to us!
What are you living for today? Is it wealth? Is it family? Is it job? What has your attention today? Don't you think men should be listening for the voice of the Lord? I think so! After all, He is the only voice in the world today that is speaking the truth. He holds the way of salvation for you if you will listen to Him!
After all these thousands of years, Abraham is still viewed as a great saint of God. He is revered by the Jew, the Muslim and by the Christian. He is called by name 284 times in the Word of God. Why? Because he believed God! What about you? What legacy are you leaving behind? Where is your faith this morning?
V. 1-5 WE ARE TOLD OF A GREAT SACRIFICE
V. 1 The Challenge - The Bible tells us that the Lord "tempted" Abraham. This was not a temptation to do evil. The Lord is never a party to sin, (James 1:13). This is a trial or test of Abraham's faith. There is no doubt that Abraham loved Isaac, (v. 2). There can be no doubt that Abraham loved God. Just look at his life from chapter 12 until this time. He has proven his love over and over again. After all, he left his home, his country, and his family all because God called him to do so. He journeyed as a stranger in a foreign because he loved the Lord. Now, he about to prove the depths of his love for the Lord God. It is one thing to trust God while waiting on a promise to be fulfilled and quiet another thing to trust Him when He asks us to give that thing back to Him. Abraham had waited for 25 years for Isaac to be born. Now, Isaac is somewhere around 15 or even older. He is the fulfillment of all the promises God ever made to Abraham, and yet the Lord asks Abraham to give him back to God. What a test of this man's faith! Abraham has spoken of his faith in the Lord for years. Now, he is given the opportunity to prove his love for the Lord.
On the surface, this may seem like a cruel thing the Lord is doing. However, we know the outcome! God is demonstrating that there are some people who love the Lord more than anything else in this world. Even more than themselves or their families. God is also painting a picture of His love for humanity. This picture will become clearer as we move through these verses. At this point, do not miss this lesson: real faith is always tested! God never tested Lot. Why? Everyone knew what Lot was. He was worldly, selfish and foolish. He could not be trusted in a time of testing. Abraham, on the other hand, could be trusted! When God trusts you, He will test you! Why? Two reasons.
1. To show you that He can take care of you in the test.
2. To show the world that He is worthy of faith. He does it to get glory for His name!
V. 2 The Cost - The cost is almost beyond calculation. God tells Abraham to take, and notice how the cost is kept constantly before Abraham, your son, your only son, the son you love more than life itself, and offer him to Me as a burnt offering! Surely, this must have broken Abraham's heart! After all, Isaac represented all the promises of God for Abraham. In truth, to Abraham, Isaac was life, (Gen. 17:19-20)! If Isaac were dead and gone, then the promises of God would become worthless. If Isaac were to die, then the hopes of Abraham would die as well. Yet we do not find him trying to negotiate with the Lord. As we will see, this father, brokenhearted though he was, was willing to pay the price!
What a portrait this paints of our great God: the Heavenly Father! He also gave up a Son! Notice the similarities between Isaac and the Lord Jesus.
1. Thy son - Isa. 9:6 - "unto us a son is given."
2. Thy only son - John 3:16 - "only begotten son"
3. Whom thou lovest - Matt. 17:5 - "this is My beloved Son."
Yet, when the Lord looked at the plight of humanity, He loved us so much that He willingly allowed His Son, the Lord Jesus, to die in our place on the cross, (Rom. 5:8). Never be guilty of thinking that salvation is a cheap thing to be taken lightly! Your salvation cost the Lord Jesus His life on a Roman cross. The price was pain, agony and death, but He paid it because He loved us , (Isa. 53:3-7).
V. 3-4 The Compliance - Abraham never wavered! He simply gathered together all the things he needed to worship God through a sacrifice and he headed to the place that God told him about. His heart was fixed on doing the thing God had called him to do! What a man of faith! It must have been a difficult journey for Abraham, but he continued until he arrived at the place!
What a picture paints for us of our heavenly Father! It must have broken the heart of God to know that the man He had made in His own image had sinned against Him and had to die. However, God was not deterred! He had already formulated a plan to pay the price for mankind. He knew what had to be done and He set out to do it, (Rev. 13:8). You see, the Lord knew the place to which He was leading Abraham. When He fashioned this world the Lord knew that on that very spot, He would ask Abraham to take the life of his beloved son Isaac. But, God knew something else about that place. He knew that centuries later, Mount Moriah would become known as Mount Calvary. He knew that His Own darling Son, the Lord Jesus Christ would die on a cross there to save humanity. Even though He knew, He still formed the place! Bless His good Name! He fixed it so Jesus would die for me!
V. 5 The Confidence - When they arrived at the place, Abraham instructed the servants to wait while he and Isaac went to worship. He told them that they would worship and that they would return. There are two great truths that must be noted right here.
1. Even though Abraham had come to this place to kill his son, he still viewed what he was about to do as worship! When you love the Lord with all your heart, everything you do is a form of worship before the Lord.
2. Abraham still had faith that even though he was about to kill Isaac, God would keep His promises. God had promised that Isaac would be the father of 12 princes and of a vast multitude, (Gen. 17:20). However, Abraham must have known that a dead man does not father children! How can he believe that God will keep His word? The writer of Hebrews answers that question for us, (Heb. 11:17-19), "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." Simply stated, Abraham knew that even if he killed Isaac, God would bring him back from the dead. He believed God!
So it is with the Lord Jesus! God knew that His Son had to go to the cross, but God already knew the end of that story before the beginning! He knew that when Jesus died on the cross, He would not stay dead. God knew that when Jesus died, He would raise Jesus from the dead after three days, (Ps. 16:10.)
V. 6-10 WE ARE TOLD OF A GREAT SON
V. 6 He Is Working - As they head to the top of the mountain, Abraham lays the wood for the fire on the back of his son Isaac. Isaac is literally bearing the wood upon which he will die. He is carrying the burden of death upon his shoulders. What a picture this paints for us of the Lord Jesus. He too labored under the burden of death. He carried on His shoulders the very wood upon which He was to die, (John 19:17). But, there were greater burdens that Jesus bore that day, (Isa. 53:4-6). He bore our sins, this was the thing upon which He died, (2 Cor. 5:21). I am glad Jesus completed the job that the Father sent Him to do!
V. 7 He Is Wondering - Isaac's question is one that touches the heart! He sees the knife in his father's hand. He feels the weight of the wood upon his own back. He feels the heat of the fire from the torch his father carries. Yet, there is no lamb to offer to the Lord. So, he asks his father, "Where is the Lamb?" Isaac knew that a blood sacrifice was required to allow one to enter God's presence in worship. Abraham's answer surely did little to ease the concern that the boy must have been feeling. But, as he studies the aged and weathered face of his father, he trusted him and he trusted his father's God, and if Abraham said that God would provide a lamb, then surely God would do just that.
People today are still wondering how they can come into the presence of God. They go to church and see the knife, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb? They go into beautiful buildings where men stand and preach sermons, where singers stand and sing songs, where people pray and give money, but they leave unchanged and unmoved. They leave still asking, "Where is the Lamb?" I want you to know that the Lamb is here! His name is Jesus and He has already died for you sins on the cross. He shed His blood for you and if you will come to Him, He will save you by His power. Wonder no more, but come to Jesus and He will bring you into the presence of the Lord.
V.6, 8-9 He Is Willing - Notice the phrase "they went both of them together." There is no rebellion detected in Isaac. Amos the prophet lets us know that men cannot walk together unless they are agreed, (Amos 3:3). Even though Isaac doesn't understand all that is happening, still he follows his father. Even when they arrive at the place of sacrifice, this strong, young man allows his father, a man who is at least 115 years old, tie him up and lay him on an altar to take his life. It seems that Isaac is willing to obey his father, even unto death! Again, what a picture this is of the Lord Jesus! He wasn't forced to go to the cross and die a horrible death. No! He willing gave Himself up to die on that cross! Even when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying, He prayed to the Father to allow Him to live long enough to go to Calvary and die for sin, (Luke 22:42). This is the heart of the One Who died for you!
V. 11-14 WE ARE TOLD OF A GREAT SUBSTITUTE
V. 11-13 It's Provision - Just as Abraham is about to kill Isaac, God stops him! He calls to him again and provides a substitute for Isaac. Did God actually expect Abraham to kill his son? Yes! Would Abraham have killed Isaac had the Lord not intervened? Yes! It all boils down to grace. God provided a substitute for Isaac through His matchless, boundless grace. God moved to provide for the need of Abraham and Isaac!
V. 14 It's Purpose - The whole purpose in that ram being there was for it to take the place of Isaac on that altar. Abraham hadn't noticed the ram, because he wasn't looking for a substitute, but while he and Isaac were coming up one side of the mountain, that ram was coming up the other side. It arrived at the right place at the right time. It was there to take the place of Isaac!
V. 11-14 It's Picture - This ram paints a wonderful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, every sinner, just like Isaac, was doomed to die a terrible death. In fact, all sinners are headed to Hell. However, the Lord Jesus Christ, just like that ram became our substitute on the cross. Put yourself in Isaac's shoes that day as his father untied him and then took that ram, tied it up, placed it in the wood and plunged that knife into it. I can see the tears running down the Isaac's face as he watched that lamb bleed to death. Isaac knew that he was the one who should have died, but he lived because another had taken his place. I am sure his heart was filled with gratitude over what the Lord had provided for him!
My friends, from where you stand today, can you see the One Who died on the cross for your sins? Does it move your heart to know that Jesus loved you so much that He died in your place on the cross? Does it thrill you to know that by simply trusting and obeying Him, you can be forever free from the penalty of sin? Does it fill you with gratitude to know that He died so that you could live? Notice the last phrase in verse 14, "in the mount of the LORD it shall be seen." That was a prophetic statement! Many centuries later, Jesus Christ died on that same mountaintop. He wasn't dying just for Isaac, He was dying for you and me. Just as God provided a ram for Isaac on Moriah, He provided a Lamb for you on Calvary.
Conc: Now, the question that must be asked is this : What are you going to do with Jesus? Isaac and Abraham trusted that lamb to take Isaac's place. They offered it, worshiped before the Lord and then they came back down the mountain together. Have you come to the place today where you are willing to come before the Lord and trust Jesus as your substitute? Are you will to come to Him and trust what He died on the cross to set you free?
Yes, Jesus died a terrible death. Yes, He paid a high price. A price, I might add, that He did not owe! Are you going to allow His death to be in vain as far as you are concerned? Or, will you come to Him right now and be saved by the grace of God? One day, you will reach the end of life. Wouldn't you like to know that you are saved when that day comes? You can, but only if you will come to the Lord Jesus Christ. If you will turn to the Lamb of God and receive Him as your Savior, you can be free today. You can worship and go back down the mountain, alive and free because of the One Who took your place.
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“What Will You Do With Jesus?” By Albert Simpson, 1897.
Jesus is standing in Pilate’s hall,
Friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all;
Hearken! what meaneth the sudden call?
What will you do with Jesus?
What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be;
Some day your heart will be asking,
“What will He do with me?”
Jesus is standing on trial still,
You can be false to Him if you will,
You can be faithful through good or ill:
What will you do with Jesus?
Will you evade him as Pilate tried?
Or will you choose Him, whate’er betide?
Vainly you struggle from Him to hide:
What will you do with Jesus?
Will you, like Peter, your Lord deny?
Or will you scorn from His foes to fly,
Daring for Jesus to live or die?
What will you do with Jesus?
“Jesus, I give Thee my heart today!
Jesus, I’ll follow Thee all the way,
Gladly obeying Thee!” will you say:
“This I will do with Jesus!”
SHARE TODAY’S MESSAGE WITH A FRIEND!
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
ABRAHAM, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 2/22/2012
QUALITIES OF GENUINE WORSHIP, Lesson 27
Principle of “The Law Of First Mention”. For example: Satan, Gen. 3; Egypt, Gen 12, and First mention of the word “worship”, (v. 5), in the Bible. This passage sets the standard for what genuine worship is all about.
The word “worship” means, “reverence or devotion for a deity”. It comes from Anglo-Saxon word “worthscipe”, meaning “worth ship”. Means “ascribing worth to a person or object.” When we “worship” God, we are saying “God is worthy of all my love, my attention and my devotion. He is worthy to receive all that I can give Him.”
The word translated “worship” in verse 5 comes from a Hebrew word that means “to bow down, to prostrate oneself”. In the New Testament, “worship” comes from a word that means “to kiss the hand in a token of reverence”. It was used to refer to “a dog licking his master’s hand”. It is an image of absolute love and complete trust and devotion.
People have some strange ideas about worship…. Something that can only be done in church…. Going to a church and sitting quietly while religious exercises are conducted. A time of singing, preaching, testifying and shouting. “We really worshiped Sunday! Why, our preacher didn’t even get to preach!” Did genuine worship take place? “Our service Sunday was so sublime. The minister’s words were so touching, everyone left the service uplifted and encouraged.” Was that genuine worship?
In these verses, we are allowed to see genuine worship fleshed out. In this terrible time of testing, Abraham shows us what worship truly is. I want to examine these verses about the “Qualities Of Genuine Worship“.
v. 3 GENUINE WORSHIP IS SUBMISSIVE
God’s command was hard, hard and unbelievable. Yet, it was absolutely clear! God said “Go, worship and sacrifice your son.” Abraham did not hesitate; he did as he was commanded! He did not seek excuses, he got up early and he went, (v. 3).
A true heart for God is marked by obedience, (John 14:15, 14:21). We are His and we show our love for Him by doing what He tells us to do, (1 John 3:22-24; 5:2-3).
Worship is not only something a person does; worship is what we are! Every obedient moment of our lives is an act of worship. Attendance, tithing, witnessing, praying, studying the Bible, singing, praise, etc.
v. 2 GENUINE WORSHIP IS STEADFAST
Abraham’s life is marked by worship…. His altars and his worship. In fact, Abraham had just finished a time of worship at Beersheba, (Gen. 21:33). He was enjoying a time of blessing and prosperity and he worshiped God. He worshiped the Lord when times were good. In this passage, things take a turn for the worse. God and His ways are not making sense, but Abraham still worships Him!
Easy to worship God when things are good. Not so easy when hard times come! Genuine worship looks beyond the crisis of the hour and sees a God Who is worthy of worship regardless of how life is going. Genuine worship sees a God Who is in control of all the situations of life and it bends the knee to Him. (Rom. 8:28; Psa. 37:23; 2 Cor. 12:7-11). Far too many people are looking for an excuse not to worship. Genuine worship sees the hand of God in all of life and loves Him through the good and the bad.
v. 5 GENUINE WORSHIP IS SEPARATED
When they arrived at the mountain, Abraham separated himself from every worldly care and went to worship. Abraham came ready to worship and he let others take care of worldly matter.
Genuine worship shuts the world out and separates itself unto the Lord. Too often our worship is contaminated and controlled by the world. Genuine worship should be the first priority of our lives. We should do nothing else until we have worshiped Him! (Jesus in Mark 1:35; 6:46; John 6:15) and (David in Ps. 5:3) We are never too busy not to pray!
Worldly concerns contaminate our public worship too. Church is not the place to catch up on gossip; do your nails; figure your checkbook; show off your clothes; fix your hair; talk to your neighbor; look for fault; cause trouble, etc. When we enter this place we should come for the sole purpose of worship!
v. 5-10 GENUINE WORSHIP IS SACRIFICIAL
This worship was going to cost Abraham very dearly. He was called to give up the Son of Promise, Isaac. Notice how God makes the demand, (v. 2). Abraham’s response – He never waivers! He gathers what he needs and he goes to do what the Lord has asked of him. He is willing to sacrifice everything he has and everything he has been promised at the command of God. He holds nothing back!
Genuine worship is costly because it requires us to make sacrifices. Would Sarah have understood? Things like time, plans, pride, pleasures, secret sins, etc. will all have to be taken to the mountain and placed on the altar. That is why so few genuinely worship. It is not cheap! All that some will give is the cheap variety. They get what they pay for!
Genuine worship requires that everything of value be placed on the altar and given to God, (John 4:23-24; Rom. 12:1-2).
v. 5 GENUINE WORSHIP IS SECURE
Abraham did not know all that was going to happen, but he went up that mountain expecting a miracle, and that is just what he received. (Heb. 11:17-19). He knew that his worship would not be in vain!
Genuine worship does not understand all of life. It is not pleased with every twist in the road. Genuine worship gives itself unreservedly to God, in spite of the things it cannot comprehend, and it bows before Him in the face of everything. Genuine worship knows that its earthly expression is merely practice for what will be perfected in Heaven.
Genuine worship bows before God because it realizes Who God is, what God has done and where the road of faith will end up. Genuine worship knows that the real miracle is that it is allowed to worship in the first place!
Conc: What made all this possible was Abraham’s availability, (v. 1). He was in his place, listening for the voice of the Lord and he was ready for worship. God is seeking genuine worshipers, (John 4:23). Is your worship genuine; or does it need work?
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING!
New International Version (NIV)
1 Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. 3 For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Following In The Footsteps Of Faith, 2/21/2012
HOW TO ENJOY THE REST AREAS OF LIFE, Lesson 26
There are times in life that are simply difficult to tolerate! There are battles to fight, valleys to cross, long nights of the soul to endure and storms that must be weathered. All you have to do is read the story of Job, or just live in this world for any length of time and you will know what I am saying is true. These times are not sent because the Lord wishes to cause us trouble. He is in the business of conforming His people into His image, (Rom. 8:29, 2 Cor. 4:17). The trials of life are the tools that shape us into His likeness. Therefore, even though they are difficult, they are a blessing in disguise.
Despite how we feel sometimes, life isn't all bad. We would all have to admit that there are times when the Lord inserts times of peace into our lives. He allows us to pass by some "still waters" and He causes us the "lie down in green pastures." I thank God for those times in my life and I know you do too! Just as surely as the troubles of life are sent into our lives to grow, mature and strengthen us, the rest periods of life are sent for their purpose as well.
This chapter is all about a rest area in the journey of Abraham's life from the ups and downs that lead to this point. I would like to point a few uses for these rest areas of life. When the times of rest come, knowing how to use them properly allows us to extract from them all the blessing that God wants us to get. Let’s look for a few minutes on “How To Use The Rest Areas Of Life).
V. 33 FOR INHABITING THE BEST PLACES
The middle part of this passage has to do with a transaction between Abraham and Abimelech, (v. 22-31). This transaction saw seven sheep change hands. These seven sheep we a testimony that the well belonged to Abraham. The well became known as "Beersheba", which means "The well of the seven-fold oath." Wells were of vast importance to men like Abraham. They needed them to ensure the lives of their flocks, herds and families. It was by this well of sweet water that Abraham settled down and enjoyed this rest area of life.
When the fur is flying in your life, it is harder to concentrate on your walk with the Lord. But, we should take advantage of the calm times of life to enhance our relationship with Him. If we can learn to love Him during the lulls of life, then we won't have to work nearly as hard to find Him during the storms!
What I am advocating is a life that zeros in on God through prayer, worship and the study of His Word. A life that doesn't wait until everything falls apart to confess its sins and seek His face. But, a life that is lived in a place of closeness day by day, even when things are good. A life that finds a place of consistent growth in the things of the Lord is a life that He can use for His glory! A good example of this truth is the life of Job. He called on the Lord when things went wrong,( Job 1:20-22). He was able to do it quickly because he had spent time in the Lord's presence when things were going well, (Job 1:1, 5, 8).
If we can ever learn to settle down in the best places of His blessings during the good, restful times of life, we will not be so easily blown off course when the adverse winds of trials and afflictions begin to blow against us!
V. 22-32 FOR INSULATING YOURSELF WITH HIS PROMISES
These verses tell of the covenant made between Abraham and Abimelech concerning their mutual interests. Abimelech was concerned about his safety, Abraham was concerned about his well. At the end of this summit, Abraham could dwell with safety within the borders of Abimelech's land because he had the promises of this covenant, (v. 23).
Use the rest areas of life as times to meditate on the great promises of the Lord! Let these truths feed your soul. Then, when the troublesome times do come, you will find that you are steadied by His Word and by His great promises.
For instance, we believe in eternal security, and that is His promise to His children, but under the right kind of pressure, you might begin to feel that you are lost again. John the Baptist, in Matt. 11:3, found himself in a position of doubt that he probably never thought he would see! The promise of His presence is another one that comes under attack. What about His power and ability? What about His Sovereignty? What about His ability to meet your needs? However, I believe that you will immerse yourself in His promises, they will be a help and a comfort as you fight the battles of life. The whole point is this, so fill your heart and life with His truth during the lulls in the storm, that when the winds begin to howl again, you are insulated by His promises. You will find that it is a tactic that works wonders!
V. 33 FOR INVOLVING YOURSELF WITH HIS WORSHIP
Abraham used this calm period of life to call on the name of the Lord. He used this time to deepen his relationship with God. This certainly equipped him for the battles that still lay ahead.
Why is it that so many people wait until the bottom falls out to call on the Lord? The best time to worship Him is all the time! It says far more about your character when you are consistent in worship than it does for you to wait until you are in trouble to call on Him. Many people treat Him like He was a spare tire! Pull Him out when life goes flat, and put Him away again when the crisis has passed.
Don't wait until some calamity comes to run to Him, be in the business of seeking His face day by day. Then, when trials do come, you are already close to Him. That is why church, Bible reading and prayer are so vitally important.
V. 33 FOR INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
This verse tells us that Abraham planted a "grove". This simply means that he planted a tree. He is making an investment for the future. At his age, he might never cool himself under its shade, but Isaac will, and his grandchildren will. He is looking beyond himself to those who will follow and is making a difference for them while he can.
Use the rest areas of life as times to make an investment in the future of the Lord's work in the kingdom. Is there a young person you can mentor? Is there a life you can impact for the glory of God? Is there someone's life that you can be a blessing to for the glory of the Lord? This is what the Lord intends His people to be doing (Titus 2:2-5).
There will come a time when your life will be wracked by the winds of adversity. When those times time, your focus will be so inward that you will not be able to make a difference for others. The time to reach out is when things are going smoothly. Sadly, too many believers live their lives for self, with no concern for anyone else.
V. 1-8 FOR INVENTORYING HIS BLESSINGS
As those peaceful days unfolded for Abraham, he was able to spend the time listening to the laughter of Isaac and Sarah. He was able to contemplate all that the Lord had done for him and how God had blessed his life. It was a time for him to inventory the blessings of the Lord.
Being thankful for the blessings of the Lord in the days when life is good is a great way to prepare for those times when it is less than pleasant! Living in the constant awareness of the Lord's goodness and blessings in your life is a hedge against doubt, fear and uncertainty when the hard days of trials come. God would have us to be a thankful people, (1 Thes. 5:18; Phil. 4:6).
Friends, don't take the easy days of life for granted! They will not last forever, but while they are here, use them as times to rejoice in the blessings of the Lord and to prepare for the days that are coming when it may seem that the blessings are few and far in between!
Conc: At this point in his life, Abraham was well aware of all that he had already been through. He knew what the storm felt like! He knew how dark the valley could be and he knew how long the night could last. But, he did not know what lay just ahead! If he had been able to see the future, he might not have ever chosen to face it. God in His wisdom, used this rest area time in Abraham's life to prepare him for the trial that was just ahead.
You know, you and I cannot see tomorrow either! We do not know what is ahead. I am just glad that God, in His wisdom, plans a few rest areas along the way for us to enjoy. He gives us the times of refreshment and peace to help us to recover from our past battles and to prepare ourselves for the trials that lie ahead.
Friends, are you using the rest areas of life to their full advantage? If you are in one of life's lulls, thank God for it, and ask Him to help you to use it for His glory. If you are in the storm this evening, why not come before Him and thank Him for the battle you are fighting and thank Him that somewhere out there, there is a rest area with your name on it!
TODAY’’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING!
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.
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Monday, February 20, 2012
ABRAHAM, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 2/20/2012
WHAT AILETH THEE? Lesson 25
Abraham may have been the father of the faithful, but His family life was a shambles! The context of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael. According to Gen. 16, this arrangement of Sarah and Hagar did nothing but cause trouble for Abraham. Sarah was jealous of Hagar and her baby; Hagar was jealous of Sarah and her relationship with Abraham; poor Abraham is caught in the middle trying to please two women. In our text, things have come to head. There is all out civil war in Abraham’s tent. As a result, Hagar finds herself in a desperate situation. In the midst of that terrible time, she has a powerful, personal encounter with Almighty God. Out of Hagar’s pain comes a ray of hope for all those who find themselves in the hard, harsh places of life.
I want you to see that God can take your hopeless situation and turn it around for His glory. I want to focus in on the question the Lord asks Hagar in verse 17, “What alieth thee?” If you have an ailment, regardless of what it may be, God has a word of hope for you in these verses.
v. 9-14 IT WAS A TIME OF HARSH REJECTION
Things had been tense in Abraham’s tent for many years. In this passage, Isaac is about three and Ishmael is about seventeen. They are celebrating as Isaac matures from a baby to a little boy. Things come to a head during this feast and Hagar faces a terrible time of rejection.
v. 9-10 The Reasons For This Rejection – Ishmael was mocking and making fun of Isaac and the festivities. The word “mocking” is a strong form of the word “Isaac”, which means “laughter”. Ishmael saw all his hopes of inheritance dashed in Isaac. He knew that Isaac was the son of promise and that he was just the son of a slave. So he is jealous of Isaac and he acts it out during the feast. Sarah sees this and blows her stack and demands that Hagar and Isaac be sent away!
v. 11-14 The Realities Of This Rejection – Abraham is reluctant, but God tells him that this is part of His plan for Isaac and for Ishmael. For Abraham, this is as real as it gets! He is forced to send away his oldest son and that son’s mother. It broke Abraham’s heart to have to send them away. It was a hard morning for Abraham, a worse coming because “Grievous” = “to tremble or quiver”. We all know that life can be just like that at times. We are enjoying ourselves one moment and the next; we are on the bottom, looking up, wondering how we got down here. This life is filled with hard realities and heartbreaking moments. Sickness comes; people die; relationships fall apart; depression rears its head; difficulties arise; troubles dog our steps. That is the reality of life! Other examples can be found in Job 14:1; 5:7; John 16:33; Gen. 3:17-19. Some of us have been there; some are there and some are going to be there.
v. 15-16 IT WAS A TIME OF HOPELESS REALITIES
v. 15 There Were Problems – The water ran out, the sun beat down and Hagar gave up! Life is like that at times (2 Cor. 1:8 ). Sometimes, the burdens are more than we can bear! But, they are never more than the Lord can bear (1 Cor. 1:9-10). Matt. 11:28-30 tells us He is in the yoke with you!
v. 16 There Was Pain – Hagar’s heart is broken. She is sure Ishmael is going to die. She was a “bowshot” ( Probably about 1000 feet.). She does not want to witness the death of her son, so she leaves him under a bush and goes off to weep. She found herself in a situation she could not fix and from which she could not escape. Have you ever been there? David was (Ps. 55:1-8).) Most of us like to be in control of our lives, when we can’t control it or fix it, we get desperate! Have you ever been there?
v. 16-17 There Was Prayer – Hagar may have prayed: Ishmael certainly did. God heard him and moved to help him. “Ishmael” = “God Hears”) Prayer is an ever-present resource for the believer. We can run to Him anytime, anywhere, for any purpose and He has promised to hear us and help us, (Matt. 7:7-8; Jer. 33:3; Phil. 4:6-7). Prayer should be our first priority, not the final straw! Here’s the truth: Problems are going to come in our lives. When they do, they will come unwanted and unannounced. When they come, they will hurt us deeply at times. When they come, we must not delay, but we must run to the Lord. He will hear us and He will help us. He may change the situation, more often; He will change us in the situation, (2 Cor. 12:7-11).
v. 17-21 IT WAS A TIME OF HIDDEN RESOURCES
While Hagar went through this time of terrible tragedy, she was enveloped by some very precious hidden resources. She didn’t realize it, but God was there and He had just what she needed to see her through. She was so overcome by her grief that she could not see the resources that were right there before her eyes. Have you ever been there?
v. 12-13 God’s Providence – God had a plan in all of this. Ishmael represented the efforts of the flesh and he had to go, so the son of faith, Isaac, might obtain his rightful place. The pain and suffering was part of God’s plan. The same is true in your life and mine. God has a plan and sometimes it involves us walking through some hard places. He knows what He is doing. Until you walk through the valley, you cannot appreciate the mountain top. Some other examples are Elijah, Widow of Zarephath; Three Hebrews; Daniel; Disciples on boat; 5,000 plus hungry folks; Mary and Martha; etc. God’s plan is seen in Isa. 55:8-9; Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:17. Thank God He is behind the scenes pulling all the strings of life, Ps. 37:23.
v. 17a God’s Presence – She didn’t know it, but God had been there the whole time. He won’t leave you either ( Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20, Deut. 31:8; 1 Sam. 12:22; Isa. 41:10; 43:2).
v. 17b God’s Peace – She was called by name; He was concerned about her problem and spoke peace. God knows ( Job 23:10). God cares ( Heb. 4:15-16). God can speak peace to your heart (John 14:27; Phil. 4:7). Do you remember the Disciples in the storm and “I AM” (John 6:19-21).
v. 18 God’s Promise – He may not make you a great nation, but He will take care of you (Matt. 6:25-34; Phil. 4:19; Ps. 37:25).
v. 19 God’s Provision – He opened her eyes and showed her what had been right in front of her all along! We are blinded to His provisions by our problems. He can open our eyes and show us that He has everything we could ever need. He has what you need, if you will come to Him, you can have that provision, the miracles and power of our God. He has more and can do more than you can imagine ( Eph. 3:20)!
Conc: What aileth thee? Bring it to the Father today!
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING!
New International Version (NIV)
1 Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled. 2 You who answer prayer, to you all people will come. 3 When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions. 4 Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.
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