150222 Genesis 22:1-18

Last Updated on Monday, 23 February 2015 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Genesis 22:1 – 18
Theme: Don't Be Afraid to Give the LORD Your Best!

As we begin this morning, I would like to introduce myself to you. My name is Abraham. You can read all about my life in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. As you may know from reading through Genesis, when I was 100 years old and my wife Sarah was 90 years old, we finally had our first child: a son, whom we named Isaac.

Now I would like you to put yourself in my shoes for a moment. What would your reaction have been if you were me? After waiting so many years for this gift from the Lord, then the Lord comes to you and tells you, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." If you were me at that moment, maybe you would have been quick to ask questions like, "Why, Lord?" You can't really mean that Lord!" "Isn't there something else that I can do for you?" If you were me, maybe you would have even tried to run away from the Lord, like Jonah did when the Lord wanted to send him to the city of Nineveh to preach. But, a few moments ago, Pastor Pagels read for you my reaction to this instruction from the Lord, "Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey." And the journey to the place where God wanted me to go was not a short trip! Again, from God's Word we are told that "on the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance."

Throughout that 3-day journey I showed the Lord that I wasn't afraid to give him my best. After building an altar, I continued to show that I wasn't afraid to give the Lord my best as we read that I "bound [his son] Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son." At this point the gracious Lord stopped me. "Abraham! Abraham!", he called out. "Here I am," [ I ] replied. 'Do not lay a hand on the boy,' he said. 'Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.'" My gracious Lord had placed in my heart such a strong love, respect, honor and faith in my Savior-God that I was willing to give the Lord my best, even if that meant giving him my only son: Isaac!

This past Wednesday we began the season of Lent. This is the time in the Church year that we remember that our Savior-God was willing to give you and me his best. God the Father loves you and me so much that he was willing to offer his one and only Son as the sacrifice for all sins. Wanting to give you and me the best, God the Father placed his Son on the altar of the cross. It is there that Jesus suffered hell in your place and mine. It is on the cross that Jesus gave up his body and shed his blood so that you and I enjoy the forgiveness of all of our sins. As we read in 1 John chapter 4, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." Because our Father in heaven gave us his best, you and I are at-one with him, we are at peace with him, and look forward to our place at his side in heaven.

In his explanation to the 1st Commandment, Dr. Martin Luther writes in his Small Catechism that you and I should, "fear, love and trust in God above all things." The 1st Commandment teaches you and me that we should "fear" God, that is we are to have such a high respect for the one and only true God, you and I are to have such great love for him, that we gladly and willing trust in him more than anything in this world.

But as you take an honest look into your own heart, as you take an honest look at how you have lived your life, you will have to confess this morning that there are times when you are afraid to give God your best. One way that this shows itself is how you use the gift of the money the Lord God has given to you. You also show that you are afraid to give God your best when you don't use the time and talents he has given to you in carrying out the ministry he has given to you to do. Before the Service today, Pastor Schmidt shared with me that your congregation's weekly offerings don't fully support the ministry of your congregation! Why? He also shared with me that it is difficult to find volunteers to help in carrying out certain tasks that the Lord of the Church has given you to do as a congregation; that it is simply the same people time after time! Again I ask you: why? The answer? It is because you are guilty of being afraid to give God your best!

Now, I will be the first to confess to you that I have not always been so willing to give God my best. It is all right there in the book of Genesis for you to read for yourself. As you and I come humbly confessing the sin that we are, at times, afraid to give God our best, the gracious Savior-God reminds you and me that he has given his best to you and to me. Just as the Lord provided Isaac and me with a ram to sacrifice on the mountain that day, so on the Mount of Calvary God the Father offered The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, because Jesus was willing to have God the Father place him on the altar of the cross, you and I can be sure that he forgives us for all those times we are afraid to give the Lord our best.

It is the love of God the Father that fills you and me with the comfort of being part of his heavenly family. It is the love of Jesus that gives you and me the peace of our forgiveness. It is the love of God the Holy Spirit that empowers you and me to live a life of service in thankfulness for all that our Savior-God has done for you and me. It is the love of our Triune God that motivates you and me to gladly and willingly give the Lord our best. And just as the Lord greatly blessed my family and me, so you have the promise that as you give the Lord your best, in his great undeserved love for you, he will bless you as well.

I would like to thank Pastor Pagels and Pastor Schmidt for giving me this opportunity to encourage each one of you this morning. My dear friends, don't be afraid to give the Lord your best! The Second Lesson from God's Word that we heard read earlier gives you and me the reason why when we read, "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, trust all the promises your Lord makes to you. Don't be afraid to give the Lord your best! Amen.

 

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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