Because You Have Done This

So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
(Genesis 22:14-18)

“Because you have done this” – That statement could be in between a bad choice leading to a awful consequence, but for Abraham it was quite the opposite. Abraham made a choice to obey God even when it would cost him his son Isaac. Because Abraham made this choice to obey God even through extreme sacrifice of what he held most dear, God would richly bless him and his family for generations to come.

We studied this chapter last night in a Bible study at someone’s home, and it really caused us to reflect upon the faith and trust that Abraham had in God’s promises. That trust in God’s promises led him to the conclusion that if he killed Isaac, then God would raise him from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). He knew that God would provide, even if Abraham gave up the very things God promised him.

What a great example for leaders of homes, and what an encouragement to know that if we make the commitment to follow God fully, God will be there in our homes blessing us and providing us with wisdom and strength. Abraham said, “The Lord will provide,” and that is just as true for us today as it was for Abraham. Our job is to fully obey His voice. The calling for us is the same as it was for Abraham; don’t withhold anything from God. Don’t let anything be so valuable to us that we would not give it over to Jesus.

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”–and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
(James 2:19-24)

The Lord is able to give you much more than this

Then Amaziah assembled the men of Judah and set them by fathers’ houses under commanders of thousands and of hundreds for all Judah and Benjamin. He mustered those twenty years old and upward, and found that they were 300,000 choice men, fit for war, able to handle spear and shield. He hired also 100,000 mighty men of valor from Israel for 100 talents of silver. But a man of God came to him and said, “O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the LORD is not with Israel, with all these Ephraimites. But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy? For God has power to help or to cast down.” And Amaziah said to the man of God, “But what shall we do about the hundred talents that I have given to the army of Israel?” The man of God answered, “The LORD is able to give you much more than this.” Then Amaziah discharged the army that had come to him from Ephraim to go home again. And they became very angry with Judah and returned home in fierce anger.
(2 Chronicles 25:5-10)

King Amaziah is said by the Scripture to have done “what was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a loyal heart” (2 Chronicles 25:2).

As we see in the above passage, Amaziah tried to hire 100,000 soldiers from their evil neighbors to the north, the nation of Israel. God sent a prophet (a man of God) to tell him, “Don’t do that!”

An interesting exchange happened between King Amaziah and the man of God. The King asked, “But what about the money I’ve just invested?” What is the response of God through the prophet?

“The Lord is able to give you much more than this!”

What a powerful statement. Amaziah was concerned about money and what he would lose. God is concerned with obedience and trust in His provision.

King Amaziah had invested cash in soldiers from a wicked nation. Clearly he had not asked God’s advice on this prior to taking this action. So, now he has a choice, doesn’t he?

Do I follow my current course because I do not want to lose out on my investment? What will happen when I tell those Israelite soldiers to go back home? Will they get angry?

Or do I trust that if I follow God, He will more than provide for anything I have lost in investing in the ways of sin?

This is not to say that if we walk away from our sinful path that God is going to send piles of cash and prosperity our way as a reward. But He has certainly promised to provide for us abundantly if we forsake the ways of the world to follow Him. That provision most likely will have little to do with material wealth, but God’s provision (in whatever form that takes) is of infinitely better value than any temporary payoff here on earth (Hebrews 11:24-26).

So, what happens if:

  • We as a congregation have invested lots of time, money and energy into a program, course of action, or “ministry” that we later find out through study has no Biblical authority? Walk away from it, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this!”
  • We as individuals have devoted our lives and resources into a pathway that has taken us away from God? What about the things we will lose when we walk away? “The Lord is able to give you much more than this!”

Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
(Luke 18:28-30)

And stretching out His hand toward His disciples

While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50).

And stretching out His hand toward His disciples

Jesus’ mother and brothers were waiting outside to speak to Jesus. It is clear that at this point the brothers of Jesus did not believe Him (John 7:5). In fact, read Mark’s parallel account to the one you just read in Matthew 12. Mark points out that some of Jesus’ family thought He was out of His mind (Mark 3:21). They were trying to do an intervention! Jesus has gone looney and they needed to rescue Him from Himself.

In the midst of this scene, someone told Jesus that His mother and brothers were outside waiting to talk to Him. Note that Jesus stretched out His hand toward His disciples and called them His mother and brothers.

Disciples. The followers and students of Jesus are the ones who are the family of Jesus.

Here is more insight into what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. As Jesus was still pointing to His “disciples” He said,

“For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

So how do you know who are Jesus’ disciples today in 2016? Notice that the family of Jesus is one and the same as the disciples of Jesus. How do you know who is related to Jesus? We all have heard of or seen clips of those ridiculous train wreck talk shows where somebody gets DNA results back to determine who is the father of which kid. Well, our spiritual DNA test comes down to one simple question. Who does what God says? Men, it really isn’t any more complicated that that. If you and I are both doing what God says, then we are family and we are the disciples of the Lord.

We don’t identify God’s family and Jesus’ disciples by a sign on a building, but by the behavior of the people claiming to be followers of Jesus. Does their behavior match the claim? If so, they are family, and they are disciples.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31).

Why Should I Obey God?

The following is a brief outline of a sermon that Nathan Booth preached for us Sunday on the topic, “Why Should I Obey God?”

He began the sermon with a funny story about how his sons were debating with their mother about who was going to put which dishes away while unloading the dishwasher. It came down to one son refusing to put 3 bowls away because they were another son’s responsibility. Nathan recounted that he began to reason with this son that, “It’s only 3 bowls.” He then quickly began to think, “Wait a minute, is that the reason my son should obey his mother…because it is only 3 bowls? What am I teaching my son?” Nathan concluded the story with the point that his son should obey his mother because she is his mother, not because there were only 3 bowls. It doesn’t matter, Nathan pointed out, if there were 300 bowls or only one fork!

This led into a thought process which became the sermon on Why Should I Obey God? Below is the rough outline of that sermon for your consideration. If you want to listen to the sermon, as well as get the full outline for the sermon, click here.

Why Should I Obey God?

Are there incorrect reasons for obeying God?
  1. To earn salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10).
  2. Thinking God will make my life miserable if I don’t obey (Matthew 5:44-45; Psalm 73:11-12). Even wicked people have God’s blessings rained down on them at times.
What are VALID reasons for obeying God?
  • Faith – He is the Lord (Leviticus 22:31-33; Exodus 34:6-7; Luke 6:46-48). The Lord, Jesus, also came and gave us an example of obeying His Father’s will (Philippians 2:5-11; John 15:10). Nathan used the account of Jesus turning water into wine to make a point about Jesus’ relationship with his mother. Mary’s statement in John 2:5, Nathan stated, is “the confident expectation of a mother who is used to being obeyed” (see also Luke 2:51).
  • Love – We are thankful for, and will not mistreat God’s gift of grace. He purchased us with His own blood (Acts 20:28)! We love Christ for what He did for us (John 14:21).
  • Hope – There are eternal rewards for following Jesus (Luke 6:35; Matthew 5:8; 16:27; 25:19-21; John 14:23). You will just have to listen to the sermon to hear about Ice Cream Universe!

Again, please refer to the link for Nathan’s full outline. Thanks, Nathan, for this wonderful sermon!

Your Will Be Done

“Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.’  And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”  Mt. 26:38-39

“He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”  Mt. 26:42

Jesus made it very clear throughout His ministry that His purpose was to do the will of His Father.  One example is in John 4:34, after He had spoken to the woman at the well He said “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”  It was always the intention of Jesus to do the will of His Father, He always wanted to do what the Father wanted Him to do.  However, just because He always wanted to do His Father’s will doesn’t mean His will was always consistent with His Father’s will.  In the garden we have one illustration when Jesus’ will was different than the will of His Father.  We see from the text that this conflict deeply grieved Him and caused Him great stress.  In  Matthew 26:37 “…and began to be grieved and distressed”, verse 38, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death”, verse 39, “…and He fell on His face”.  Coming face to face with the horror and reality of cross moved our Lord to admit His earthly will.  He really wanted, if there was any possible way, He wanted a way out.  At this moment His will was not His Father’s and it is in this moment that the real test came.

And then we have this passage in Hebrews 5:7-9:

“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.  Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.  And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation…”.  

It was the fact that Jesus yielded His obedience to His Father in the face of suffering that He learned obedience and in this, He was made perfect or complete.  The point is that before this experience, as obedient as He was, his obedience was not complete.  In order for His obedience to reach its completed end He had to face the will of God, in contrast to His own will, and yet still obey.  In this experience Jesus teaches the lesson of true obedience.  Obedience to the Father does not come when it is easy or when we agree with the Father or when His will is our will.  True obedience is when our will, our flesh is in contrast to God’s will and we submit anyway.

I believe most of us would say that we want to do the will of the Father.  Like Jesus, it is our intent, our desire to do His will.  But what happens when it is hard or uncomfortable to obey?  How often do I rationalize a way out?  How often do I convince myself that an “easier” route is OK?  Do I obey God up to a point?  As long as it “makes sense” or as long as my flesh doesn’t want to violently rebel or as long as I don’t have to sacrifice too much, I’ll obey.  Am I finding a way to avoid obedience?  True obedience that leads to salvation is that which faces the difficulties, the challenges, the hardships and continues to do the will of the Father.  Jesus asks us to learn obedience as He did.  I pray that I learn such obedience.