If you have a bible, turn to Hebrews 11:8-10. The title of my lesson for today is: Ö
I would like to show you through my sermon what I can learn about being tested as a Christian by looking at Abrahamís life!
The three points I want to make today are:
I. We will be called to leave something and it will be a test to see if we love God or the thing more!
For the first point I would like to make about what we can learn about what God is calling me to leave, I want us to look at Godís command for Abraham to leave. Gen.12:1-4
See God told Abraham to, ďGet out of your country, your family, and your fatherís house.Ē Those are pretty strong words. Back in the day (ŗ líťpoch) this wasnít like, for example, leaving Strasbourg to go to Metz. If you leave Strasbourg to go to Metz, things will be different, but still familiar. God was calling Abraham to leave everything he knew. Today, what do we leave? Is God calling us to leave our country in France to go to a place we donít know, where God will lead us? I think yes, but not in the same sense as God was calling Abraham. I believe that our leaving is more spiritual Ė attitudes, character, old habits and an old life the Lord doesnít approve of. I think about where Abraham was when he was leaving Ė the land of Ur. A place dominated by pagan worship. Now we donít know a whole lot from the Bible about what the land of Ur was, but archaeologists tell us that Ur was a very advanced city and it was dominated by pagan worship and they had temple prostitutes, did human sacrifices, and things like that. The key word is pagan Ė Godless. They believed in idols, but not in the one true God. This is what God is calling us to, not necessarily leaving our home France, but in a symbolic, spiritual sense, leaving paganism, disbelief, sorcery. How does that apply today? Anything that takes 1st place in your life is the object of your worship. Itís the placement of trust. People placed their trust in these pagan practices to make their lives better, to bless their lives. What do we see today that we think blesses our lives?
We have to leave our Ur. Youíre probably saying to yourself, ďMe? Leave? Why? Where?Ē or maybe even, like me, ďI already left Ė to come here.Ē But itís not a place that Godís calling you out of Ė even for Abraham, the location wasnít everything. God wanted to get Abraham out of the mindset his situation created. Life in that pagan culture kept him from following God. Joshua 24:2 Iím reminded of a film I saw in which a psychiatric patient is told by his doctor to take a vacation from his problems. The next day, it was his mindset that had changed, it wasnít about his circumstances. Because he took a vacation from his problems. In Abrahamís situation, God took him out of the circumstances to change the mindset. Thatís always possible for all of us, but we are still called to that change of mindset. Romans 12:1,2
So how does our mindset need to change?
We need to leave our one-way path to hell and head towards our one-way path to heaven. We need to leave pride and arrogance, thinking that you know more than others and head towards humility and meekness. Jesus never tried to make anybody feel smaller than him. We need to leave our comfort zones and head towards discomfort. What do I mean by discomfort? Why would Abraham want to leave his home Ė familiarity? Itís hard to go to another country, culture. But what comfort are we talking about? Weíre talking about the kind of comfort that Ė Iím comfortable not doing anything. We gotta stop being comfortable not doing anything. I have to leave who I am Ė weíre all sinners. None of us are perfect, like Christ, and thatís what we have to leave. We have to leave our apathy, man. We have to leave our laziness and strap on courage and conviction. The Lord didnít call us to sit around like a knot on a log. If I ask any of you in here today, ďWhat sin do you struggle with?Ē what would you tell me? If I ask you how you prepare yourselves against that, what would you tell me? Not doing anything when you have to do something. When youíre about ready to go to bed but youíre so tired you donít pray to the Lord, you start becoming complacent and think ďif I just crawl in my bed Iíll be refreshed and ready for him tomorrowĒ. Becoming so complacent you put your trust in the rest of the bed rather than in the Lord. Or when you get angry and tempted to pour your bitterness out on someone instead of containing yourself. You let out the nastiness that isnít Christ-like. Perhaps itís alcohol. You see the whisky or wine shining in its bottle and instead of asking the Lord for help you turn to the bottle. Or if itís having problems with whatever, thatís the mindset we have to leave Ė being comfortable where we are. Weíll never get any better if we donít change what weíre putting our trust into and how we try to deal with our sins. Thatís what weíve gotta leave.
II. We will have to trust when we canít see the path and we will have to put our trust in the Lord.
When the Lord called Abraham, according to our text today Hebrews 11:8 it says Abraham obeyed God not knowing where he was going. If you hear the Lordís voice and heís calling you to leave something Ė and you know heís calling you to leave something, whether an attitude of sin or anything thatís not beneficial Ė you ask yourself ďhow do I leave it?Ē Donít you think Abraham asked himself ďwhere am I going?Ē because he didnít know. Sometimes we donít know where the Lord will lead us, where the decisions we make in following God will lead us, but thatís the test of your faith. Thatís the test to see if you trust in God. Though I canít see where Iím going, I choose to trust in the Lord that wherever heís leading me, whatever heís called me to leave, I trust that heís leading me to somewhere better, to be somebody better, to be more like Christ than I was. For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7. You have to have faith in God. Abraham couldnít see where he was going. Sometimes when the Lord calls us to change today Ė in our attitudes, reactions to people, etc. we have to do it by faith, knowing that wherever he leads you will be better than where you were before. That was Abrahamís faith Ė he didnít know where, but he trusted and believed in the Lord. He believed that wherever the Lord was leading him had to be better than where he was.
III. We will be called to wait and it will be a challenging test of faith.
Waiting will be the hardest thing. I can see that Abraham had to wait if I look at this passage: Ö
Look also at Job. In the waiting, weíre tested. Waiting is trusting that God is going to answer, to be there. The waiting gives room for trust. Itís a test of your faith to see if youíll continue trusting when you see no evidences of God in your life. Will you keep trusting that God is who he is and that heíll help you out? Without a test, there would never be a testimony. And how many times do we hear in the Bible that God will test us. God will test the hearts of men. When I go to school to take a test, the teacher doesnít come help me out, but remains silent. Itís hard dealing with silence, when we feel like weíre waiting and God doesnít answer. Thatís what a test is for Ė to prove whether or not something will stand up under pressure. Testing is a means of evaluating something Ė whether you have a Christ-like character and if youíre following the right path.
Application time, folks!
We need to have faith in Jesus.