Vs. 1, “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.” This is the tests of all tests! Most of us in life do not enjoy taking tests. Question: Why? I believe it is because they reveal what we don’t know. Tests in the school of life are like trials. James in the New Testament reminds us about how we should deal with trials (James 1:2-4). Indeed, Abraham was justified by faith, not by works. Yet, we also are reminded that faith without action is dead (James 2:17). They say 2 billion people watched Usain Bolt triumph in retaining the status of the world’s fastest man! It was the most distinguished competition to date, yet he passed this test with flying colors. Abraham’s test from God was for the whole world to see! Billions of people over the ages have been reminded of this test Abraham passed! I cannot begin to imagine the feelings and emotions Abraham must have felt traveling with his beloved son and knowing the fate that was ahead. Father Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. Sound familiar? Our Father in Heaven was not only willing, but did sacrifice His only son so that our sins could be forgiven. Abraham was reassured of God’s covenant and came back with a renewed sense of hope (vs. 16-18)
Regarding application…Will You Sacrifice? Vs. 2, “Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” There’s the saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.” “Put up or shut up.” Abraham was a man of faith. This was a time for God the Father to be glorified. Abraham proved to all of us why God chose him. There are many Christians who claim to have faith in the Lord Jesus, but are not willing to sacrifice. Last Sunday, my big application for the sermon was “Draw the Line.” Let us be willing to live out our faith and be doers of God’s Word. As we can see, the life of a person who trusts in the Lord is not easy. God will ask us to do things that seem crazy! But, we must still trust and obey for there’s no other way!
Vs. 15, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Paul is writing back to defend the truth of what lies in the Gospel. He reminds the Colossians that God had appointed him an Apostle with authority to share the truth (vs. 1). Paul then goes to his customary thanksgiving and appreciation for the Colossian church (vs. 3-13). Bear in mind, not everyone believed these heresies. Paul reminds us how important it is to encourage even in the midst of tough admonishment. Part of this Colossian heresy was the denial of the deity of Jesus Christ (vs. 15-23). The heresy of mixing in Eastern religion and Jewish legalism was literally rocking the faith of the young Colossian Christians. The enemies of the cross were probably pointing out to the Colossians that Paul was in prison and defeated. But Paul refutes such negative thoughts (vs. 24-29) as he rejoices!
Regarding application…Christ is Supreme! Vs. 18, “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” Don’t even think about it! That’s what Paul was basically saying. Jesus is supreme, numero uno, ichiban, #1 period! A couple of days ago, the Olympic Basketball team for 2012 began to trash talk (Kobe Bryant) how their team could have beaten the 1992 true Dream Team. Charles Barkley and most notably, Michael Jordan begged to differ. Which team would have won? While there certainly can be healthy debate (though the 1992 Dream Team would have demolished any team), regarding who is supreme. There is no debate whatsoever when it comes to our esteem of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior! Question: Is Christ Supreme in your life?
Vs. 2, “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” What the Pharisee’s didn’t realize is that they were the “sinners”. Jesus goes on to share with us three very powerful parables about the lost. People have different views on how God approaches His relationship with His creation. In the examples of the sheep and coin, we see God making the assertive effort to find the lost. In the prodigal son, we see the son making the effort to turn back to the Father. It is important to note that in all three: sheep, coin, son…we understand how valuable they are to God. Each of us have high value when it comes to how God sees us!
Regarding application…When God Ran. Vs. 20, “So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Phillips, Craig & Dean wrote and sang this very powerful song called “When God Ran”! This story of the prodigal son cuts deep into my heart. In a time where families all over the world struggle with relationships and absent Fathers, we are poignantly reminded of the Father’s love. There are lessons to be learned in the response of the younger son and the older son, but the parable really is about the Father. Question: Are you lost? Do you feel like you have been playing hide & seek with God? As we round the last corner of 2011, let us be found by God and let Him use us powerfully as the New Year begins.