Practice what you preach

I learned something today. Or, maybe re-learned is a better way to put it…let me just tell you what happened.

It started in my new Sunday School class. I’m teaching the youth now at church. We’re talking about having assurance in our Christian life, and today was about assurance of victory over temptation.

I was prepared, and they were participating. We had a good discussion. It started with the memory verse from 1 Corinthians 10:13.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

We talked about how all believers are tempted, because Satan will do anything to weaken our faith in the Lord, to hurt our witness for him, and to make us ineffective Christians.

Last week we were talking about prayer, and I mentioned that Satan uses “unanswered” prayer as a way to tempt us into believing God is not listening or answering or caring. In our “fast-food” world, we want everything now.

It was a short, but meaningful study. Then I went into worship.

Even though I many times get caught up in my “duties” behind the sound board and computer, along with translation, I was still encouraged by slides the pastor showed of how our church was helping three specific ministries in Egypt (besides many others) that were reaching people no one else was reaching with the gospel. This was something we could be proud of as a church. The message from Psalm 92, was also an encouragement.

Then I went home. I don’t know what happened between church and home, but by the time I got there I was down in the dumps. I kept thinking to myself, “Will our church ever grow, have people to share responsibilities, or will a few always be doing the work of the many?”

I ate lunch and took a nap. By the time I returned to church for the evening service, I was completely given over to the idea that maybe we need to think about other solutions.

But there is always something about being in the Word of God that gets me back on track. I LOVE our Sunday evening Bible studies. We’ve been studying Abraham and will continue on through all of Genesis in the weeks to come. We read a bit and then discuss it together. They are beautiful times.

Tonight we were in Genesis 22…God asks Abraham to offer his son, his only son, the son that he loves, Isaac, as a sacrifice.

And early the next morning, Abraham obeyed. He didn’t hesitate, he didn’t argue, he didn’t question God. He obeyed. And when he had lifted his hand to kill his son, the angel of the Lord stopped him and said, “Now I know that you fear God.”

We talked about all kinds of things in relation to this chapter, and when our dear new-brother-in-Christ from Morocco asked a deep question, we were all in awe of his thought process and how God was teaching us all through him and through the answer. I loved it.

I thought to myself, “this is what it’s all about. Why do I doubt, you, Lord?” Abraham is such a powerful example of faith. I thought about my struggles that day, and found myself asking God, “haven’t I sacrificed enough? What more do you want?” Then I see Abraham, willing to give his only son, the son he loved…just like God did for us.

Oh, me of little faith.

Then something happened. Micah got up suddenly during our discussion and went to the door. I hadn’t seen it, because my back was to the door, but apparently there was a stranger in the church. Then, the pastor got up and followed him.

It was an Egyptian family…they had seen our sign and wanted to see what kind of church we were. They were evangelical and were looking for a place to worship.

I almost cried. I didn’t deserve that. I felt so weak. And then I remembered our Sunday School lesson.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Here I was, teaching these young guys about being alert, because Satan is really out to get them, and I was the one who fell short. I let him get me down, doubt God’s call, doubt God.

Abraham didn’t doubt. He got up early that next morning, took the wood, the knife and the fire…and his son. Why? That was our dear brother’s question: Knowing that Isaac was the son of the covenant, why would God ask him to sacrifice him?

It’s funny (not really) that the Holy Spirit gave me the answer tonight that came straight from Hebrews 11:19.

Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

He believed, he obeyed, he was willing to offer his son, his only son, because he knew that even though he was the son of the covenant, God could raise him from the dead. His job was to obey.

When I look at my church, I cannot look at it as the world does — a small, insignificant, struggling mish-mash of people. I have to see it with God’s eyes: we are the five loaves and two fish that God will use to impact the world. I got a glimpse of it today, and still doubted.

Oh, me of little faith. Get behind me, Satan! I’ve got Jesus on my side. He’s built this church, and the gates of hell cannot stand against it!

So, I say: “Forgive me, Lord. Increase my faith.” May he increase yours as well and help you to watch out for that prowling lion, the Devil, because he’s out to get you!

Grace and Peace

 

 


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