The Test

Scripture: Genesis 22:1-17

1 Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.” 
2 “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” 
3 The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. 
4 On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 
5 “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.” 
6 So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, 
7 Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” 
8 “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together. 
9 When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 
10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 
11 At that moment the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!” 
12“Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” 
13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 
14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the LORD will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” 
15 Then the angel of the LORD called again to Abraham from heaven. 
16 “This is what the LORD says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. 

Introduction

I was driving to the hosptial and listening to a song that providentially popped up on YouTube and the words of the song sparked the flame of inspiration and I wrote the outlne down on an old receipt that was laying in my truck. What we have here is an old, old story that ends with our Savior getting glory. When I read this story, I see some beautiful pictures. This story is an object lesson that teaches.

I. THE FIRST PICTURE IS THAT OF AUTHENTIC WORSHIP

Of course you have the elements of O.T. worship in the story, the Altar and the Sacrifice but we will come back to those symbols later. Our worship today is not what it should be and I think I know why. On Mount Moriah, Abraham gave God the best that he had. He gave God his most prized treasure, his son Issac. Our worship today is not about our giving to God, we come here to get, not to give. I’m not talking about the offering although that is a central part of worship and another area where we fail–I’m talking about our attitude. We have the idea that we are supposed to get something out of worship and we are so focused on getting a blessing, a fuzzy feeling, inspired, convicted, etc. that we forget that worship is not about us recieving from God but giving to God. Worship is about HIM, not us. We have made it about ourselves and have thus corrupted the entire process. The result is: we come in here and expect someone to do something for us. We don’t enter thinking, what can I do for Christ. What kind of praise can I offer my Savior. We are probably better at giving our money than we are our devotion, attention, praise and adoration. Think about it, how many of you give your absolute best when we stand to praise the LORD?


I wonder if Jesus would say the same thing to us that He said to the Pharisees… You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ ” 


Abraham experienced authentic worship because he was focused on pleasing God, not himself.

II. I SEE A PICTURE OF TOTAL COMMITMENT 

Abraham waited a long time to be a father and in a manner of speaking, Issac was his only son. His only child by his beloved wife Sarah. There is no question that he loved this boy dearly, more than life itself. Abraham’s future was bound up in his son. It is not hard for me to understand what was going on. Abraham was beginning to put more faith in his son that the One who gave him the son. He was allowing Issac to become his idol, the chief object of his love and devotion. This can easily happen to any parent, we begin living for the child instead living for the ONE who gave us the child. Abraham fully believed that God wanted the child and he was willing to make that sacrifice although it was killing him. But God didn’t want the child, He wanted Abraham’s full commitment.


What we have here is a picture of Abraham giving to God his most prized treasure. God knew and so did Abraham, that if he was willing to give his son, there was nothing that he would withhold because the son meant more to him than life.
  • What do you love more today than Jesus? God wants it…
  • What object or person have you put before God? God wants you to lay it down!
  • Who are you living for? Who are you trying to please more than Christ? God wants you to lay it down today.

God wants you to pray the Jame L. Nicholson prayer

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
I want Thee forever to live in my soul;
Break down every idol, cast out every foe
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

God did not want Issac’s physical life…He wanted Abraham total devotion

III. I SEE A PICTURE OF SAVING FAITH

Jesus disciples had a problem, they had a little faith. Matter of fact, Jesus nick named them “Little Faiths.” Do you remember what Jesus said to Peter when he failed to stay above the waves, when Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink in Matthew 14…this is what Jesus did and said, Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”  [Remember, Peter is the only one who had enough faith to get out of the boat but Jesus assessed his faith as “very little.”


Father Abraham had big faith. The writer of Hebrews said… It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead. 


We see this incredible faith not only in what Abraham did but in what he said…[v.4-5] 

On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 

“Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.” 


This leads us right into the next picture…

IV. I SEE A PICTURE OF THE RESURRECTION

First of all, the writer of Hebrews says that Abraham did experience a resurrection in type. I believe that Abraham believed that even if he took the boys life, God would raise him up. Why else would he tell his servants, “We will return to you.” I also believe that Abraham entertained the thought that Issac could possible be the Messiah. Issac is the most Lamb like figure in the Bible other than Jesus. How many 14 year old boys are going to carry the wood for their own sacrifice. When I was 14, I could run like a deer and you can bet your last dollar that had my dad been leading me to the slaughter, I would have broke and run. My daddy was 40 years older than me: he could not outrun me at that age. Abraham was 100 years older than Issac. What I am saying is this…The boy was willing to die just to please his father.


Of course, God does not approve of Child Sacrifice.  God said through Jeremiah the prophet,  “Such a horrible thing has never entered My mind.” The only Child Sacrifice that God approved was that of His own Son. Thus God stopped Abraham from slaying his own son but it was like a resurrection because Abraham had already went through the agony and grief of giving his son up.

V. FINALY, IT IS A PICTURE OF THE ATONEMENT

God does require a sacrifice but that sacrifice has to be His doing. Adam and Eve learned this lesson the hard way. They tried to cover their sin and shame with a puny fig leaf apron but God would not accept that as a suitable sacrifice because it cost them nothing and it was the work of their own hands. Folks, no one has the ability to save themselves and no one can present a worthy sacrifice for their sins. THE LESSON ON MOUNT MORIAH is….GOD MUST PROVIDE THE SACRIFICE.


This is exactly what God did in Christ…

  • Romans 8:3–God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins
  • Hebrews 10:4-5–It is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 
    That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer
  • I John 2:2–He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world

Like it or not, Jesus love you and He died for you…there is absolutely nothing you can do about it…it is an accomplished fact. Perhaps this does not impress you but it should. The old hymn ROCK OF AGES comes to mind…

  1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
    Let me hide myself in Thee;
    Let the water and the blood,
    From Thy wounded side which flowed,
    Be of sin the double cure,
    Save from wrath and make me pure.
  2. Not the labor of my hands
    Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
    Could my zeal no respite know,
    Could my tears forever flow,
    All for sin could not atone;
    Thou must save, and Thou alone.
  3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
    Simply to Thy cross I cling;
    Naked, come to Thee for dress;
    Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
    Foul, I to the fountain fly;
    Wash me, Savior, or I die.
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Burdens

Scripture: Galatians 6:1-5 and Matthew 11:28-30

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load.

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

INTRODUCTION

I was reading a devotion written by a Pentecostal brother who had taken a verse from Isaiah {9:6}….”The government shall be upon His shoulder.” The one thing that he and I agree on is that this is a prophecy concerning Jesus who will one day rule this earth as King of kings. His point of view had nothing to do with the future reign of Christ. He was implying that Christians need not concern themselves with anything related to government. In his opinion, that is a burden that Christians are not called to bear. He and the reforms are in agreement, both believe that the followers of Christ should stay out of government.

Of course, the man is wrong. What we want to avoid is extremes. I’m not advocating that we make government our primary interest but the bible does not teach that we are to be irresponsible citizens either. There must be a healthy balance so let’s look at what the bible teaches about bearing burdens. Do we have some responsibility in this matter?

…Let’s start with Galatians 6:5…

I. EACH ONE MUST BEAR HIS OWN BURDEN

No where is scripture does the bible teach us to be irresponsible

  • Work–Ephesians 4:28He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. First of all, it is wrong to steal. It is wrong for the government to steal and the greatest motive for stealing is laziness. Our socialist comrades are very subtle: they don’t come to our house and take our possessions, they confiscate them through the government by unjust taxation.  Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 3:10…For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
  • Give–Same verse…but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.
  • Think-I John 4:1 {Message}… My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world. Half of America is not only too lazy to work, we are too lazy to think.
  • Cross bearing–Matthew 16:24… “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

II. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 

  • We do live in a world of need: a fractured, hurting world, still suffering from the pain of the fall. We are going to encounter people with legitimate needs. These are not lazy and irresponsible people. They are people like Job. Life has thrown them a curve and their burden is weighing them down.
  • My next door neighbor had a massive stroke some ten years ago. He is confined to his home and lives between a wheel chair and a hospital bed. He is a good man. A much better man than myself. He does not wait to be dependent on others but he has no choice. The stroke paralyzed his left side which means he has one leg and one arm that works. He cannot walk at all and now he cannot move from his wheel chair to his bed without help. I don’t have to go far to do my daily act of kindness, just across the yard.
  • I guarantee you, there is someone near you that needs your help. The longer I live, the more clearly I understand what Jesus said in Matthew 22:37 and following. Someone came up to Jesus and asked…“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”  Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” 
  • To fulfill the LAW of CHRIST, we must love our neighbor as we do ourselves and this means to help them when they need help. Our word for this is MINISTRY and I believe it is the key to EVANGELISM.

III. THERE ARE SOME BURDENS WE CANNOT BEAR

  • Jesus is our great, our infinite BURDEN BEARER…Wow! What a Savior! 
  • Listen to Him speak…28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
  • Isaiah 55:22– Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.  
  • Psalm 38:4– David said…My guilt overwhelms me— it is a burden too heavy to bear.
  • Beautiful story of redemption in the book of Ruth. Boaz is Naomi’s kinsmen redeemer {ga’al}. As such he has the legal right to redeem her estate, to essentially buy back her freedom and life but two requirements must be met: [1] It is legal but not binding, therefore, he must be WILLING. [2] Not only must he be willing but he must be ABLE.
  • JESUS is our Ga’al, our Kinsmen Redeemer: He was both willing and able.
  • Isaiah said, 800 years before the fact–He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. 
  • No one is all of creation is equipped to deal with your sin other than Jesus.
  • No one is willing or able to take your sin other than Jesus.

The Celebration of Life

Scripture: John 11 {Selected}

INTRODUCTIONS

Those of you who have attended COLS that I am involved in know that John 11 is my favorite chapter and I use it a lot at Celebration of Life Services but I have always had a desire to share it with the Sunday morning crowd…so here goes.

I. A COMMON PROBLEM

1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 
2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 
3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” 

II. A STARTLING PROPHECY–“Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death.”

 4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 

III. AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE–“Lazarus has fallen asleep.”

11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” 
12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 
13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. 
14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 

15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” 


We humans have a problem: we view everything through the lens of time… We even project time into our thoughts of heaven but there is no time in eternity…if there was, there would be a starting time and finishing time. Jesus had His feet on earth but His head was in heaven: He could see both worlds. He could see the future as well as the past. Think of it as a continium…At present [Lazarus is sick]…then Lazarus dies…Future, Lazarus is alive and well. Death is a barrier for us–we can’t see beyond it–but it was not barrier for Jesus. What appears to be death to us is simple sleep to Jesus…a temporary state of repose…everyone dies but we do not stay dead. Yes, from our perspective, death seems and appears to be final but not from God’s.

IV. AN INFINITE POWER–“I AM the resurrection and the life.”

Notice the focus of Mary, Martha, the disciples and the mourners. They are focused on circumstances, problems, grief, sickness, mystery of unanswered prayer, dates, promises, prophecies about the future. There is nothing sinful about focusing on the great resurrection day in the future unless we are more focused on the date than we are the person of Christ.

Look with me if you would at these verses…

  • Verses 2-27–Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” 
  • Verse 33–When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. [NASB,  He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled] The first of these two words [anger in NLT] means to snort with anger, to groan with displeasure or to sigh with chargrin. The second word means to be agitated, stirred up, troubled or distressed. To my knowlege, used only here in reference to Jesus.
  • Verse 38 —Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 

Over the years, hundreds have tried to discount Jesus emotional state at the tomb: some have even said that it was due to his grief that Lazarus was dead and others believe that he felt emphathy for Mary and Martha but this is clearly not the case. JESUS IS RIGHTEOUSLY INDIGNATED over the unbelief of the entire bunch. No one there believes a thing He has said…He told Martha plainly, “Your brother will rise again.” He told His disciples plainly, “This sickness will not end in death.” And yet no one believes. Martha did not believe…When Jesus told them to roll the stone aways…she protested…”By now he stinks.”

What does this tell us? Unbelief is offensive to God. Hebrews 3:12–Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heartof unbelief in departing from the living God.

  • It was unbelief that kept Israel from the land of promise.
  • It was unbelief that caused the Jewish Religious Leaders to call for the crufixion of Christ.
  • It is offensive to God when we mistrust His word or even doubt it.

CONCLUSION

Let me tell you what I love about this story….No one in the cemetery that evening believed that they would be eating supper with Lazarus that night: no one but Jesus. Not even Mary or Martha believed that Jesus was the Resurrection and the Life. When Jesus commanded them to roll the stone aside, Martha protested….”By now there is a stink.”


It doesn’t matter what you think or what you believe about any given situation. The Jewish mourners believed that Jesus had failed his friends. The disciples believed that Jesus was committing suicide by returning to Jerusalem. Not one soul in this story believed that Jesus was going to raise Lazarus by the power of His spoken word. Practically all believed that Jesus was a healer but even Mary and Martha believed that He had showed up too late.


Here is what is important: God had a sovereign plan and Jesus carried that plan out. God intended to get glory this day and He did…in spite of the unbelief.

ARE YOU NOT GLAD THAT OUR IMPOTENCE AND FAILURE PUTS NO RESTRAINT OR RESTRICTIONS ON GOD’S OMNIPOTENCE.

Hallelujah, HIS Kingdom is going to come and His will is going to be done because it has been spoken and in spite of man’s sin, wickedness and unbelief—it will happen.