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,
Dale

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,
Dale