Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Tonight's study

teaching outline from this evening:

Seeking God's City -- Abraham and Sarah's example
Faith Principle: Biblical faith sets us free to seek the city of God.

Our roots
God's redemptive plan - His covenant
Gen. 12:1-3
1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and
your father's household and go to the land I will show you.
2 "I will
make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name
great, and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless
you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be
blessed through you."
Gal. 3:29 "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs
according to the promise."

Abraham was a pagan when God called him to be the father of many nations.
And we are God's children, children of the covenant -- just like Abraham -- regardless of our earthly heritage ...

Now what does that mean?

Being unshackled from our love affair with this world
is realizing, believing and trusting in God's love affair with us!

Abraham and Sarah (just like all of us) learn the hard way. Sometimes we learn through disobedience, because of our lack of trust in God.

Abraham's descent into Egypt against God's will. Taking his family and belongings into the land that God was leading him to, even though he was told not to. (Read Gen. 12:1-10)
Why did Abraham disobey? Trying to help God? Taking matters into his own hands (not trusting that God was good enough, great enough to meet his needs?

Abraham's lies upon lies to try to 'help' God and to save his own skin, meanwhile risking Sarah's safety. (Read Gen. 12:11-20)
Why does Abraham lie? Protecting his own skin? Not trusting God's promises?

The "Rollercoaster faith" of the Abraham, Sarah, Hagar triangle. (Read Gen. 16 and Gal 4:21-31) How does seeing God make good out of repeated disobedience affect you? Does it lead us to repeated sin, presumption of God's grace to forgive and overrule the outcome of our sin? Or does it cause us to worship Him because of His greatness and our unworthiness?

We need to remember that God's love is FOR us! And that He made the covenant with Abraham and with us. He is the covenant fulfiller, not us. We could never, ever keep it. But he does, perfectly. He alone is worthy. Does that cause us to worship Him rather than the gods of this world?
Heb 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what
you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never
will I forsake you

Maturing in faith
Finally, because of God's grace, His patience, His lovingkindness through all of the above(!) to Abraham and Sarah (over those many years of their lacking faith), Abraham's faith, when put to the most severe test of all, was proved geniune.
Heb 11: 17 "By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a
sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and
only son, 18 even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your
offspring will be reckoned."19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead,
and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death."

Our living hope
And we do have One, the One given to suffer the most cruel death on the cross to die for our sin and to be raised again to life, to the right hand of the Most High God in Heaven. He is our living hope of eternal life in the new Jerusalem - the "better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called (our) God, for he has prepared a city for (us)." Heb 11:16

All of trials, tests, and circumstance of life in this world work together to prove our faith geniune, to us and to unbelievers.

1 Pet. 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In
his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can
never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are
shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be
revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a
little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These
have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even
though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and
honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love
him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled
with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your
faith, the salvation of your souls."

Praise God for his neverending love for us.

For prayer and application:
So, what is the one thing or the one situation that I know God promises, but which I must surrender to Him completely, place it on the altar and trust Him to give it life? What plan or job or relationship or ministry or whatever... do I need to turn over to His divine purposes and trust Him with the outcome?

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