God Will Provide

by Dale Tedder
Selected verses from Genesis 22

Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his son – the son of promise – the dear child that Abraham and Sarah had waited a century to have. It was this very son, Isaac, whom Abraham was to take to the mountaintop and sacrifice – to kill.

Abraham obeyed.

As Abraham and Isaac approached the fateful place, Isaac looked around, saw the fire and wood, but no animal for the offering. “…Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Isaac asked his father.

“Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide…’” And he did. We know this story well. As Abraham prepared to offer his son, the Lord stopped him, and provided a ram to take Isaac’s spot. God provided.

The Lord tested Abraham (verse 1). A test from God is designed to move you forward in faith. The purpose of Satan’s temptations is to trip you up so that you might fall backwards. This was a test. And Abraham passed. He was blessed accordingly (verses 15-18). Why the blessing? Because Abraham obeyed God (verse 18).

This is the nature of covenantal living. If you obey God and the conditions of his covenant, God promises blessings (because he graciously sets the terms of the covenant… not because he has to). If you disobey, he promises curses. What either of those  may look like is not so clear. That God promises to work this way is very clear.

I wonder what blessings God desires to pour out upon us for our obedience today…and for tomorrow. Deeper faith maybe? More influence for the Kingdom perhaps? Greater responsibility? God specifically said that Abraham’s descendents would be blessed through his faithfulness. Might our obedience now impact our children and our children’s children after them (for a thousand generations)? I believe the answer is yes to all of those questions.

If God chooses to bless us in material ways, that’s fine. (And we really ought to point out that he already has and then some.) But shouldn’t the blessings we desire be things like, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven”? And shouldn’t the provisions that we hope God will bestow upon us be along the lines of an ever-increasing knowledge of him (John 17:3), a growing conformity to him, an ever-expanding influence for his Kingdom, a radical extension of his Kingdom into every sphere of life – that everyone in our “territory” would bow before our King in willing and joyful submission?

Abraham was obedient and God blessed him. Will you be obedient too? How? How is God calling you to faithfully follow him today? Abraham was asked to sacrifice the whole world to him – his beloved son. What form of sacrificial living is God calling you to? Will you obey?

Grace and Truth,

Justice and the Gospel, Part 2

I posted the first part of this video back in July when it came out on YouTube. I apparently fell asleep between then and now as I forgot to post the second part when it came out. (and since I was so delinquent with this, I’ve included parts 3 and 4 as well.) But, better late then never… so here it is. Once again, this video features Mark Dever and Jim Wallis being interviewed by Skye Jathani (thanks to Out of Ur for this great interview).

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The Old, Old Story: Part 4

Based on selected Scripture
Adapted from a sermon preached September 5, 2010
Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3

Now, in just a minute, we’re going to celebrate Holy Communion. And as I said at the very beginning, this sacrament reminds us of the old, old story. It tells the story. But it’s more than that. This blessed sacrament invites us to enter into the story – to become a part of it.

In fact, through his Holy Spirit, we actually meet the main character of the old, old story – the Lord Jesus Christ. As we gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ and bow before him, Christ gathers with us in our midst. He’s with us in and through his Spirit as we receive his body and blood that he so lovingly and freely gave on our behalf.

But as I said, you have to enter into this by faith. United Methodists believe that this sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. In other words, we don’t receive this grace simply by going through the motions. Instead, it’s with joyful, thankful, love-filled hearts, that we receive the bread and cup in faith and trust and by which we commune with our Lord.

This is why you’ll always hear Pastor Bruce say, right before he invites you to come forward for Communion, that we’re no longer United Methodists, but Christians. That’s why everyone is invited to come.

But he also says, and our liturgy also reminds us, that we must come in faith and repentance. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 11 that we must participate in a worthy manner. The liturgy that we’ll use this morning says…

Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him,
who earnestly repent of their sin
and seek to live in peace with one another.

A few pages further in the hymnal, another order of Communion says this…

Ye that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins,
and are in love and charity with your neighbors,
and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God,
and walking henceforth in his holy ways:
Draw near with faith, and take this Holy Sacrament to your comfort,
and make your humble confession to almighty God.

Now, does that sound casual to you? Do those words indicate a lax attitude?

Beloved, if you’ve never genuinely and consciously repented of your sin and placed your trust in Christ as your Savior and Lord, I can’t imagine a better time and place for that to happen than today. And I want to encourage all of us, as you read the liturgy this morning, I want you to let it really come from your heart.

And then, when you come forward this morning to receive the bread and cup, do so with humble, joyful, and thankful hearts for what our Lord has done for us.

Thanks be to God.

Grace and Truth,

Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 23

Good Works Before God

59. Question: But what does it help you now that you believe all this?

Answer: In Christ I am righteous before God and heir to life everlasting.[1]

[1] Hab. 2:4; John 3:36; Rom. 1:17; 5:1, 2.

60. Question: How are you righteous before God?

Answer: Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.[1] Although my conscience accuses me that I have grievously sinned against all God’s commandments, have never kept any of them,[2] and am still inclined to all evil,[3] yet God, without any merit of my own,[4] out of mere grace,[5] imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ.[6] He grants these to me as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, and as if I myself had accomplished all the obedience which Christ has rendered for me,[7] if only I accept this gift with a believing heart.[8]

[1] Rom. 3:21-28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 3:8-11. [2] Rom. 3:9, 10. [3] Rom. 7:23. [4] Deut. 9:6; Ezek. 36:22; Tit. 3:4, 5. [5] Rom. 3:24; Eph. 2:8. [6] Rom. 4:3-5; II Cor. 5:17-19; I John 2:1, 2. [7] Rom. 4:24, 25; II Cor. 5:21. [8] John 3:18; Acts 16:30, 31; Rom. 3:22.

61. Question: Why do you say that you are righteous only by faith?

Answer: Not that I am acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith, for only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ is my righteousness before God.[1] I can receive this righteousness and make it mine in no other way than by faith alone.[2]

[1] I Cor. 1:30, 31; 2:2. [2] Rom. 10:10; I John 5:10-12.

Tozer Tuesday

I just found the following over at Twitter and am delighted to have discovered this new series at Out of Ur. I’ve written on Tozer before as someone whose writings move me like few others can do. I include him in groups of people who have influenced me, such as the Fellowship of the Burning Heart as well as the Brethren of the Deeper Life. These are groups of folks that God has used to help me better understand and pursue my deeper longings for God that very few authors seem to be able to do.

Ken Boa has a great series (in both audio and written) on Tozer. I heartily encourage you to check out what he’s written on Tozer and his thought (click here and scroll to the very bottom of the page).

Here’s an excerpt from the piece by Margaret Feinberg at Our of Ur…

This spring I’ve decided to shake things up and throw a Tuesday with Tozer party every week. I hope to offer short snippets from this wonderful writer and lover of God who penned classics including: The Pursuit of God and Knowledge of the Holy.

Tozer wasn’t a man of means. While on his way home from work at a tire company, a street preacher cried out, “If you don’t know how to be saved…just call on God.” When Tozer arrived home, he followed the street preacher’s advice and his life changed forever. Tozer’s story, like many others, reminds us not to mock to those whose approach to sharing the good news of God is different than our own.

Click here to read the whole post.

Now, for goodness sakes, go out and get a Tozer book immediately. Of course, reading it will help.


A Birthday Prayer

I wrote the following on my birthday this past December, when I turned the ripe old age of 44. As Psalm 90 exhorts us, it’s a good thing to number and take stock of our days, so that we might gain a heart of wisdom. May the Lord bless you with wisdom as you grow in his grace, knowledge, and eternal perspective.

The Lord bless you,

Lord, I thank you for the gift of life. I praise you for how you have directed my steps. And while my sins and mistakes and foibles were all mine, I do thank you for how you have led me these 44 years.

I thank you for Mom, Dad, and Nancy-Hart. It wasn’t always a perfect home, but I praise you that all four of us have come to know, love, and follow you. Much was good. Some was not. But you were faithful throughout it all and we are blessed beyond what we deserve. Thank you.

Father, I give you praise, worship, joyful thanks and adoration for Suzanne, Natalie, Dylan, Jake and Grant. They have brought me more joy and happiness than I ever thought possible. I know I am far from deserving them, but I thank you for each one of them. I know I am a better man because of each one of them being in my life.

Thank you Lord for, of course, not only redeeming me from sin, hell, and your wrath, but for your call in my life to be a pastor. When I look back and remember my aimlessness, laziness, etc., I become stunned in amazement that you have brought me so very far from where I once was. I have purpose, identity, meaning, joy, self-discipline, goals, focus, a calling larger than myself, opportunities, etc., – all in you, by you, for you, and through you. Thank you.

My life, my family, my calling as a pastor, and all the rest give me such a reason to get up in the morning – every morning – that I just can’t believe it’s real. I am so truly thankful to you Lord. Thank you for pouring out your amazing love and grace on me, one who is so undeserving. I’ll take it.

I don’t know how many more years you will give me, but I do pray that you will enable me to redeem every single second you give me. Please help me do more for you, your name, and your Kingdom than I have ever done in the past.

Help me Lord to be more intentional, consistent, motivated, focused, etc., in all I do. Help me prioritize what is most important and significant and not chase after things that aren’t pleasing to you. Please, please, please direct my steps, fill me with your Holy Spirit, give me greater revelation of your particular purposes and callings for me. Empower me, consecrate me, and sanctify me for your glory and purposes so that I may honor and please you with my life and bear as much good and lasting fruit as I can while I’m here.

Thank you Father for your faithfulness, your Word, your love, and your promises. Thank you for the Comforter and Counselor. Thank you for my Savior, Lord, King, and Friend. I give you all praise, worship, thanks, and adoration. In Christ I pray, Amen.

An Attitude of Gratitude

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1)

Gratitude ought to be one of our most important postures as Christians. Indeed it is a defining characteristic. It goes hand-in-hand with humility. We should remain grateful continually but our thankfulness ought to especially be evident when we contemplate all that we have so undeservedly received from our God and Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Where, then, is there room for boasting?

I believe we must vigilantly teach our children the attitude of gratitude. As I learn more and more about the new generations, I keep running into the word…entitlement. It seems to keep popping up with greater emphasis in every description of the emerging generations.

For the Christian, there can be no such attitude. Entitlement flies in the face of grace. Grace by definition is voluntary. It is unmerited. And while we shouldn’t be surprised by God’s grace (because of who God is), we ought to indeed be amazed to our core. We must pass this on to our children. Gratitude is a legacy that glorifies God and edifies his children.

Below are some articles that are worth reading, contemplating, and teaching to your children.