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;
INVITE A FRIEND TO THE TEAM!
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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Sunday, February 19, 2012
Following In The Footsteps Of Faith, 2/19/2012
SIN AND THE SAINT OF GOD, Lesson 24
These verses portray a horrible failure in the life of one of God's choice servants. If you remember Abraham's journey down in to Egypt in Genesis 12:10-20, you will notice some similarities between this event and that one.
It is never pleasant to see failure repeated in the life of one of God's children. But, I am thankful that God did not sweep Abraham's sin under the rub. I am grateful that He saw fit to record the event in the pages of Scripture. I am grateful because, like Abraham, I struggle with sin. Sometimes, I struggle with the same sins over and over, as I am sure you do too. What we need in the midst of our struggle is some encouragement! What we need is the blessed assurance that we have hope in the midst of our failures!
This passage offers that hope to our hearts! It may seem like a passage of darkness, gloom and failure, but in reality, it is a passage filled with hope and help for you and me. I want to point out a few principles that are contained here that speak to your need and mine. Let’s look in on “Sin And The Saint Of God“.
SIN DOESN'T HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE
Remember that Abraham is 100 years old when this event occurs. When he did this same thing in Genesis 12, he was just beginning his walk with the Lord. Here, he should be at the height of his maturity as a believer. Notice also that this is a sin he has carried with him for many decades, (v. 13). For us the point is clear: there will never be a time when we will be beyond falling! Therefore, we need to avoid some of the mistakes that Abraham made.
Never stop trusting God to take care of you - Why was Abraham there in the first place? Well in Gen. 12, he went because of a famine, not believing that God would take care of him. This time, we are not told why he went, but my opinion is that he was getting away from Sodom and Gomorrah. He probably thought that all the area would be burned up. When we come to the place where we no longer trust the Lord to meet our needs and to get us through the trials of life, we are headed for disaster!
Never put yourself in the place of temptation - Abraham had a fear that some man would kill him so that he could have Sarah. When he felt this fear, he was inclined to lie to save his hide, not believing that God would be able to take care of him. Only a fool subjects himself to temptation's lure and believes that he will walk away unharmed! If you know that you have a problem in a given area, you are foolish to place yourself in a position to be tempted! When temptation comes, you and I need to be like Joseph: Run! - (Gen. 39)
Friends, we must never let down our guard! May we never come to think that we have arrived at a place where we cannot sin, or where we are free from the temptation to commit a particular sin. As sure as you let down your guard, you are headed for trouble, (1 Cor. 10:12)! As long as you live in this flesh, you will never be safe!
SIN CANNOT OVERCOME GRACE
Even though Abraham is clearly out of God's will at this time in his life, he is still enjoying the Lord's blessings! That may mess up our theology, but it is still true! You see, even when Abraham is in a place of his own choosing and is not doing what God asked him to do, he is still being blessed by the Lord. Notice the blessings that came his way:
1. He Forgave Him Of His Sins - Implied in verse 17
2. He Protected Him From Harm - v. 2-9, 18
3. He Blessed Him Financially - v. 14-16
4. He Used Him For His Glory - v. 17
This same principle is witnessed in the life of Elijah - (1 Kings 19.)
What does this teach us? Simply the truth that who we are in Jesus cannot be invalidated by our sin! We all know that God chastens His children - (Rev. 3:19; Heb. 12:6-12). However, how many of us could testify to the truth that there have been times when we were miles away from the Lord and He still blessed our lives! What is this? Nothing less than God’s grace! This just serves to remind us that God deals with us on the basis of who we are rather than on the basis of what we do! This does not give us a license to sin! After all, the redeemed sinner is going to want to serve the Lord and will not rest until things are right between them and the Lord. It is also true that after a while God will deal directly and completely with the sin that resides within His children's hearts. Thank God, even our sin is unable to separate us from the love we have in Jesus Christ - (Rom. 8:38-39)! But our sins can separate us from our God (Is 59:2).
SIN CANNOT DERAIL GOD'S PLAN
When Abraham left the promised land to enter Gerar, he placed the plan of God in jeopardy. You see, God had promised to send the promised seed within a year, (Gen. 18:10-14). Abraham showed very poor judgment! If Abimelech had been allowed to sleep with Sarah, it could have short-circuited God's plan. Of course, the Scriptures tell us that God prevented anything like that from taking place!
Another problem is the fact that Abraham is the sole representative of God Almighty, (v. 7). He has been commissioned to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Instead of being a blessing and a witness for God, Abraham's life could have been a hindrance to prevent Abimelech from coming to God. However, in spite of Abraham's sin, God spoke to Abimelech and dealt with him anyway, (v. 6-7).
Regardless of what we do, God's plan will be accomplished! For too long, preachers have tried to keep the people of God in line by using fear tactics against them. the saints have been told to live right or God can't bless, He can't work and He can't save souls. Many have been told that they have sent others to Hell by the lifestyles they live. Well, I just want to set the record straight this evening! You cannot hinder God from doing His work! You might miss out on the blessing of being a part of what He is doing, but God will accomplish His will in the church and in the world whether we cooperate or not!
And, another thing, you cannot "send anyone to Hell". Men go to hell when they refuse to receive Christ as their Savior and nothing you or I do can cause them to do that or prevent them from doing that! That may not be what you have heard all your life, but it is still the truth! Our job is to warn them and to live right before them, but the decision they make in the end in theirs and theirs alone, (Eze. 3:18)!
Did you know that Abraham's sin should have shamed Abraham? But there is no indication that he ever acknowledged it or repented of it! Much like many in our world today! But, think about this: Abraham's sin was used as testimony to the greatness of God. Abimelech would have never known that God was a God of mercy, grace, forgiveness and restoration if that old saint had never fallen into sin! But, because he did, God was able to demonstrate His power through forgiving and restoring Abraham by grace. This is not an excuse for sinning! It is just a reminder that our sin will not stop God from saving folks. People need to know that our God is a God Who saves and keeps us through His grace not our works!
SIN WEARS THE EMPERORS CLOTHES
The story of "The Emperor's New Suit". Sin is just like that. It attempts to camouflage itself, but it never realizes that its camouflage is flimsy and transparent. In fact, everyone can see through it, except the sinner.
When Abraham is confronted by his sin, he does not repent, but instead he offers up excuses. Here they are. They aren't much, but they are the same ones people still use today.
1. He Claimed That He Had Acted Out Of Fear - v. 11 - It wasn't fear that caused this terrible event, it was a lack of faith!
2. He Twisted The Facts - v. 12 - Sarah was his sister, but she was more than that, she was his wife!
3. He Hid Behind His Past Failures - v. 13 - He tells the king that this is the way we have always done it. Abraham's response to being confronted is to attempt to hide behind some very flimsy excuses. Like the Emperor, Abraham did not even realize that he was fully exposed.
When we sin and are found out, we always try to make excuses for our behavior. We will either blame someone else, or we will blame the devil. We may try to pretend that we didn't do anything wrong. We may plead ignorance. We may act like we see no wrong in our actions. There are a thousand ways we can handle sin, but only one way will bring cleansing, restoration and the blessing of God. Sin must be confessed! It must be dragged out kicking and screaming into the open and it must be exposed for what it is: black, dirty and wicked! This is God's way - (Pro. 28:13; 1 John 1:9).
What excuses are you hiding your behavior behind this evening? Whether you know it or not, everyone already sees it for what it is! You will never get past it until you can see it for yourself and deal with it God's way!
Conc: We all battle sin! Some more than others, but we all fight it nonetheless. The question is, who is winning the battle, you or your sins? If you want to be free you can be! If you want to be a light to the world you can be. If you want your life to be blessed and to be a blessing, you can have it! All it takes is you doing what Abraham refused to do: get before the Lord and face your sins for what they are! If you do, the Lord will forgive you and bless you, He will restore you and use you for His glory. Does that sound good to you? If you need that kind of help, it is available in Jesus. You come to Him and watch Him work on your sin problem!
TODAY”S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING!
New International Version (NIV)
1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us— 2 so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. 3 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. 4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth. 5 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. 6 The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us. 7 May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.
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