Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stuff Won't Satisfy

I thought the following article form Yahoo news was pretty interesting:

Why this millennial quit his 6-figure job and gave away most of his possessions

It's amazing to the world when folks can't be satisfied with "stuff."  No one really believes that until they've been there.  From the Christian worldview this shouldn't be amazing at all.

What's ironic is the guy's friend is named Nicodemus! You won't find fulfillment in this life unless you are born again.  Contentment in this world is impossible without Christ. Furthermore, it's not that we are "born again" and then are enabled to find contentment in stuff.  Stuff won't satisfy.  We are born again and our contentment is rooted in Christ.  Perfectly? Of course not, but we fight for it.  As Augustine said "Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You."

Read the article.  Perhaps it will come in handy as a sermon illustration sometime.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

6 Themes of Genesis 12, Part 2

A reminder as to why Genesis 12 was originally written (in short): To show the Israelites who this God was that was leading them to the promised land and what He had promised.

In Part 1 we looked at God’s call on Abram’s life. We saw GRACE – BLESSING – GOSPEL as 3 themes of Genesis 12. In Part 2, we are going to look at 3 more themes from this chapter and these themes are going to deal with Abram’s response to God’s call. This covers Genesis 12:1-20 and is only a summary of the message.

1. Obedience – Abram received the effectual call from YHWH and he responded in faith. We cannot separate obedience from faith. Obedience flows out of faith.

Hebrews 11:8 says “By faith Abraham obeyed…”

Obedience apart from faith doesn't work because it’s not really obedience. We have to realize that within ourselves we are bankrupt. There’s nothing we can do of our own accord to secure God’s favor. We must go to Christ in faith believing His promises for the forgiveness of sins through His own righteous life and substitutionary death on behalf of sinners.

Abram could not see all that God had in store for him but he believed by faith alone. But that faith wasn't alone was it? It produce obedience. Abram left and he took everything. Just as God said. From verses 4-9 we learn a few more things about obedience:

A. Part of our obedience is worship and part of our worship is obedience (See 12:7-8)

No, it’s not about “rituals”. It’s what’s on the “inside” that counts, so to speak. But what is “on the inside” is going to show up on the outside. Abram builds an altar as an outflow of a changed heart.

So really, when we are pursuing God by faith that is worship and there are times as we pursue God by faith that we set aside to specifically worship - “build an altar” so to speak.

B. Part of our obedience is understanding our citizenship (see Hebrews 11:10)

Abraham was an alien and sojourner. He was promised the land but he himself would never occupy it. Hebrews tells us that Abraham realized his citizenship was in that city whose designer and builder was God.

C. Part of our Obedience is patience 

Here’s the land that God promised Abram but guess what? IT’S ALREADY OCCUPIED BY SOMEBODY ELSE! Genesis 12:7 is the first recording of God appearing to Abram. The point of God’s appearance is to reassure Abram. Abram is to trust God’s promises and be patient, knowing that God is faithful.

2. Failure (take a look at Genesis 12:10-20)

The Bible is real. The Bible is totally true and trustworthy. The Bible doesn't paint false pictures of the people it tells us about. Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Paul – all had failures. In fact, there is only one who didn't and that’s the point: JESUS.

I want to talk for a moment about “end” and “means”
· End – the goal, what you’re going for, where you’re trying to get
· Means – the way you get there.
What is the “end” in this passage? That Abram would be made into a great nation (Genesis 12:1-3).  Problem? 12:12-13

Kind of selfish right? Most certainly! But I do think Abram has the “end” in mind. In other words “I need to live because God has made me promises and through me all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So then the means Abram uses to accomplish his end are what? Lie. Give his wife to another man and take the gifts Pharaoh gives in silence.

I want to drive home this point: THE END DOES NOT JUSTIFY THE MEANS

What should Abram had done? He should have trusted God’s promises! Don’t we too often impatiently take matters into our own hands because of a lack of faith?

And as one further application: For too long we've used this mantra in the church: “The end justifies the means.” In other words, we can do anything we want as long as people are getting saved, that’s what is important. No doubt we should praise God for salvations! But, God doesn't save people because of unbiblical means. He saves people in spite of them.

God saved Abram in spite his faithlessness. Abram’s failure here is not an excuse for us. It was written down for our instruction. It shows us that we aren't to be dependent on Abraham. We are to be dependent on Jesus. God made a name of Abraham as a plan to make a name for Jesus, who succeeded in every place Abram, and you, and I, failed.

3. Mission

For this theme we need to revert back to Genesis 12:1-3. God is God of the nations. He is revealing to us here how He is going to bring reconciliation between Himself and the Nations. Remember where Genesis 12 falls. Immediately after God disperses the nations. This isn't a “commission” to Abram as much as it is a “communication” of what God is going to do.

So it’s not “Abram, go and tell” it’s Abram, this is what I am going to do through you to bring the hope of salvation to all the families of the earth.” And we do see that throughout the history of Israel other people who weren't Israelites where grafted in, for example Rahab the prostitute, and Ruth.

God’s mission is to redeem for Himself a people from every tribe tongue language and nation. All those who will repent and believe the Gospel and this is a mission that He will accomplish! Does this have anything to do with us? Actually, much. The church is God’s means for accomplishing this end.

Here’s a beautiful and theologically robust thought: The CHURCH does not have a MISSION. The MISSION has a CHURCH! (Not original! But, I’m not sure where I first heard this thought)

So for us it IS more than just a “communication” of what God is going to do, it is also a COMMISSION. We have been commissioned to GO AND TELL. To take the Gospel to the ends of the earth “for the sake of His name.”

If your church only looks like you, why? Is it because everyone in your area is exactly like you or is it because you are not intentionally reaching all tribes, tongues, and nations?

So, there’s Genesis 12! Grace, Blessing, Gospel, Obedience, Failure, Mission

Shouldn't these truths cause us to be glad in God? To forsake all else and trust Him alone? Repent of making less of God than the Scripture does and come to Christ in faith…