Category Archives: I.O.U.
Messages focusing on our 2011-2012 school year theme. Inward (holiness), Outward (witness) and Upward (worship).
This is Part 3 of the IOU series in ID Student Ministries. The first two weeks we talked about Holiness (inward) and witnessing (outward). Week 3 covers Upward (worship).
STOP! Before reading the rest of this pick up your Bible and read Genesis 22:1-14.
I have read this passage countless times. The story of Abraham and Isaac is taught from an early age in sunday schools all over America. But often we don’t get the whole picture. We are taught mostly that God will always provide for us. Which is true. But do we ever stop and think about how Abraham got this point where he was willing to do whatever God asked?
What we see in this passage is a story of a worship service and we get to that point based on how Abraham lived his life to that point. Abraham was a true worshipper of God. By looking at this testing of his faith, we can gain some insight on how our lives can be living worship to God.
God’s tests always have a purpose, we see often in the Bible how God tests His people (Deuteronomy 8:2). Abraham had been tested from the beginning of his walk with God. He was tested with his family, a famine, fatherhood, and even a fight. Each us will face a test in our daily lives. God may test you using your family, your friends, even your faith. These tests are unique to the individual and its impossible to list them all. Each test is tailor made to bring out the best in your lives and bring glory to God. Job 23:10 says:
“But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
God tests us so that we may be refined and that we may grow. And don’t forget what James said about trials in our lives. Count them as joy!
Abraham’s worship was going to cost him. A burnt offering to God signified a total and complete sacrifice to God. And although the command was to sacrifice Isaac as an offering, the real cost was Abraham’s sacrifice of himself. He had waited 25 years for the fulfillment of God’s promise of Isaac. Now he had to sacrifice that promise. A true worshipper of God is willing to pay the price with joy because they know it’s God who provides all the good things in our lives. Check out Psalm 84:7,
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
God always provides for those who are true worshippers. But the last four words of that verse are essential to that statement, “those who walk uprightly.”. That means living a holy life which brings glory to God.
Living a life of worship requires us to live radically according to God’s words. Abraham took God at His word. God asked Abraham to do something far more difficult than anything He has ever asked me to do. But Abraham would not let go of the promises that God spoke to him that were yet to be fulfilled. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please God. My definition of faith is this:
faith = belief + action
Abraham believed God! He was able to take that belief and add his actions and have faith that God would never deny the promises He made to him. God told Abraham that his descendants would come from Isaac. Abraham believed that promise from God so much, that he was willing to sacrifice that future, knowing that God’s power was sufficient to fulfill the promise He made to Abraham, even with the death of his son. Hebrews 11:17-19 reads;
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.”
This whole series of blogs and messages ties together at this point. Living a holy life, letting that life be a witness with our deeds and words, and worshipping God with our daily lives. IOU. Its not just a them for this year, its the theme of our lives. Its what we owe to God. Jesus sacrifice on the cross for our sins demands this. We cannot earn our salvation and we no longer owe a debt for our sins. But we do owe it to God to spread the good news, live a holy life and to worship Him in our everyday actions. IOU is what we owe Him.
Ever stop and think about how common items effect our everyday lives? How easily salt flavors our food, yet you can barely even see it. And it doesn’t take much either. And even the smallest light can push out the darkness in a room. But without light we don’t feel safe.
Our lives are exactly the same. Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16).
When you hear that we don’t always know what to make of it. Salt of the earth? Light of the world? It really has a simple and powerful explanation.
Salt does it’s job with out even being seen. You put a little salt on your food, or in a recipe and it disappears and goes right to work, flavoring and seasoning whatever it touches. It can be likened to our attitudes and behavior in everyday life, or our influence with people.
So when Jesus talks about us being salt He is talking about how our everyday actions can affect those around us. In other words, we rub off on them. Its our silent witness. But salt is no good if it never leaves the salt shaker either!
When we stay inside our Christian “bubble” and have no meaningful relationships outside of our church, we deny the function of the salt. And to deny the function of the salt is to deny the principles of the Kingdom of God. Don’t forget, Jesus never called us to be separate from sinners, just to be separate from sin. If the salt of the earth doesn’t rub off on those who are perishing, who will?
Light is described as a form of energy that is always moving. In fact when it ceases to move it is no longer light. So what is the true source of our light?
In John 8:12 it reads,
“Then Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.”
People in this world are living in fear. Fear of war, fear of financial disaster, fear of everyday struggles. When people don’t have light, they are afraid. We have the opportunity as Christians to shine that light into their lives.
But our light does not come from ourselves, it comes from Jesus. We serve as mirrors reflecting the light of Jesus and exposing the darkness in peoples lives. And all darkness must flee in the light of Jesus.
Light also serves as a guide to people. Planes using lighted runways to land, cars have headlights to drive at night, and even ships have lighted buoys and lighthouses to avoid reefs and rocks. We are the guides to people living in darkness.
Light can always be seen, there is no such thing as a secret Christian. And our light shines not so that they see our light, but that they see Jesus’ light and love for them. The light is there so people can see where they are and where they are going. And when we openly share our faith through our testimonies of what God is doing in our lives, that light shines bright and unquenchable.
The time has come for all of us to be the salt of the earth. To use our attitudes, our behavior and everyday actions to silently witness to our friends and world.
But the time has also come for us to be the light of the world. To shine with the glory of God’s love. And when people see how bright and hot the light of God is in our lives, it will spread like wildfire.
There is a lost and dying world waiting to feel the love of God, and see the light of Salvation. So sprinkle a little salt, and light a candle for the world to see. What are you waiting for?