Archives from September 2021

God Tests Me: Will I Be Obedient?

Sunday Sermon Series God Acts: How Will I Respond?

Genesis 22:1-19

Two kinds of tests: 

  1. God allows trouble or hardships (Deuteronimy 8:2) 

  2. God gives strange instructions (Exodus 16:4) 

The test Abraham faces is of the second type. God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. This is the promised son, the son of Abraham and Sarah. God tells Abraham to sacrifice him as a burnt offering. (22:3)

Abraham obeyed. He also had faith that both, he and Isaac, would be returning alive. Hebrews 11:9 confirms that. So Abraham took Isaac and built an altar, and tied his son to it. But just before he could bring the knife down, an angel stopped him. A ram was provided. (22:3-14)

Abraham was blessed for his faithfulness and obedience. God reaffirmed the Covenant He had made with Abraham. Abraham and his offspring would be blessed. (22:15-19) 

Some people think this story never happened. They think that Abraham made it up. They think it's impossible that God would ask this of anybody. However, we shouldn't be rewriting the Bible. We submit to the Bible and what it says. God won't tell you to sacrifice your children or commit murder today. How do we know this? Since this event happened, God revealed the ten commandments among others. In those, He says not to kill. Later He even says that His people should not sacrifice children. He won't ask us to do something that goes against that. 

Saving faith always results in obedience. Paul says we're saved by faith. James says we're saved by works. Both refer to the story of Abraham. Do these views contradict each other? No. They are two perspectives of one truth. Saving faith produces acts of obedience. Paul emphasizes the cause. James emphasizes the result. Together, they reveal the truth. 

God will ask us to do unusual and difficult things. He even asked His Son to do something difficult. He asked Jesus to die on a cross for our redemption. Just like when He provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of Isaac, He provided Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. 

God Destroys: Will I Accept His Offer of Refuge?

Sunday Sermon Series God Acts: How Will I Respond?

Genesis 19:1-29

One reason our pastor likes to go through entire books or the full lives of Biblical characters is that we see both good and bad. We see God's grace and mercy, but we also see His wrath. Sometimes pastors get stuck in the trend of preaching about only the positive things or only doing hell and brimstone sermons. But going through a series like this tends to reveal both. Today we see some of God's wrath. 

God destroys: God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin (19:1-13, 23-29).... Lot had been living in Sodom for a while at this point and his own morals had taken a bit of a fall, as we see when he offers his virgin daughters to the men of Sodom in place of the angels that were visiting him. There are some trends in society that we can embrace, like fashion or haircuts, but our values should always remain grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Whenever we have a feeling or desire that runs counter to the Bible, such as unrighteous anger or, as in the case of Sodom, homosexuality, then one of two things will happen: 1) we submit our feelings to the Bible or 2) we submit the Bible to our feelings. If we choose option 1, we remain faithful to God, but option 2 puts our feelings above God, which is idolatry. 

God offers a place of refuge from his destruction: God rescued Lot and his family and provided them a place of safety (19:14-22).... God offered Lot a way to survive this judgment and Lot tried to get his sons-in-law to come with him and his family, but they laughed. Lot's wife went but then looked back and turned to salt. Lot and his daughters kept going and survived. 

Throughout the Bible, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is an example and a warning of God’s judgment:

  • Babylon (Isaiah 13:19), Moab (Zephaniah 2:9), and Israel (Isaiah 3:9) are warned of such destruction.

  • The destruction of Sodom is a preview of hell (Jude 1:7).

  • Jesus said Capernaum would face worse judgment than Sodom (Matthew 11:23-24).

  • The return of Jesus will be as unexpected and sudden as the destruction of Sodom (Luke 17:26-32).

This passage and these other verses show us that people respond to the offer of salvation in three ways. Some will never accept salvation, just laughing at the idea of it. Others will entertain the idea of it but ultimately won't persevere and will turn back (whether they were saved and lost that salvation or were never saved to begin with is another discussion). Only those who accept salvation and continue to obey God's commands will persevere. 

God Reveals His Plan to Me: Will I Pray?

Sunday Sermon Series God Acts: How Will I Respond?

Genesis 18:16-33

God revealed to Abraham his plan to destroy the city of Sodom (18:16-22). God opened the door for Abraham to intercede for the city. We can learn some lessons about intercessory prayer from the example of Abraham:

  1. Intercessory prayer is based on the knowledge that people are headed for destruction (18:23).... God revealed to Abraham that these people were about to be destroyed. We also know that the unsaved people are headed for destruction. We should be praying for them. 

  2. Intercessory prayer rises from a concern for other people (18:23).... Abraham wasn't going to be personally affected by this judgment, but he was concerned for Lot and others. 

  3. Intercessory prayer must align with the character of God (18:24-25).... Abraham appealed to the character of God in his request. 

  4. Intercessory prayer approaches God with boldness and humility (18:27-28).... There's boldness in Abraham's prayer, but also humility. He makes bold requests, but in a humble way. 

  5. Intercessory prayer is cloaked in mystery (18:29-33)... There's some stuff we have trouble explaining. God would have already known how many righteous people He would find and still let Abraham go through this. Why? God wants us to participate in His plan. He wants us to pray for others, for those who might not be praying for themselves. 

God has revealed his plans to us. Will you pray?

  1. Pray for groups of people to be spared from judgment…. Pray for America. This country is far from righteous and needs prayer. Our church has adopted an unreached people group to pray for, the Wolof people; pray for them and that Christianity will spread. 

  2. Pray for specific individuals to be spared from judgment…. Pray for your family and friends who aren't saved. Pray they will come to know Christ as Savior. Don't give up on that prayer, no matter how long it takes or how far the person strays. Continue praying for them. 

God Makes Promises to Me: Will I Laugh?

Sunday Sermon Series God Acts: How Will I Respond?

Genesis 17:1-18:15; 21:1-6

God appeared to Abram again when he was 99 years old. He repeated and sealed the covenant he had made with Abram. He changed Abram’s name to Abraham (17:1-5) and Sarai’s name to Sarah (17:15).... Abram means exalted father. Abraham means father of many nations. His only child right now is Ishmael, the son of Sarah's slave. Not much of a father of many nations. 

God said Sarah would give birth to a baby boy within a year. Abraham laughed (17:16-17). God said to name the boy Isaac, which means He laughed (17:19)... Sarah is 90, well past the age of childbearing. You can see how Abraham could find humor in this. But Abraham still obeyed God despite his doubts. That's part of what faith is. We might have our doubts, but we still must obey God. 

God later came to visit them and told Sarah the same promise (18:1-2, 10). Sarah laughed (18:11-15)... Sarah overhead angels telling Abraham 

It happened exactly as God had said (21:1-6).... God's promise was kept. 

God makes the laughable possible . He turns the laughter of doubt into the laughter of joy…. 42 generations later, another laughable promise of a birth happened. Mary was that she, a virgin, would have a son. That son was Jesus, the Savior of the world. Matthew 9 tells a story of when a crowd laughed at Jesus for saying that a girl was not dead, but asleep. He took her by the hand and she awakened. Even today we see laughable transformations as stout atheists have become devout Christians, even become preachers and outspoken activists against what they used to be an activist for, such as abortion. 

What are some promises God has made to us? Hebrews 13:5-6; Revelation 22:12… God will not forsake us. Jesus will return. These are just two promises we see in scripture that we know we can rely on. 

How will you respond to these promises?