The Nameless Servant and the Waiting Donkey
Genesis 22: 1-18 NIV
In the previous lessons we are called to do the great and small jobs unto the Lord. Untying the Donkey is about being willing to be obedient in the big and small jobs that God deals us. The Bible asks us to do our work unto the Lord. God calls us to deep trust and faith in Him and His plan. So what do we do if God asks us to do something that is too big or painful? Though it may be difficult and/or painful, what is the incentive for obedience?
In this story we recognize the big characters of Abraham and Isaac....but what about the servants that were told to sit tight and wait for Abraham’s return? What were they thinking? What conversations do you imagine they had while holding onto the donkeys at the base of the mountain? Was it, “how’s the wife and kids?” or did they discuss the great faith of Abraham and the way God had blessed them? Do you think they could see God’s plan into the future and imagine Jesus crucified for the world’s sins? I wonder how they would have responded if they realized that the dirt under their feet would one day support the disciples feet as they watched Jesus die on the cross? These servants and disciples witnessed the finest in obedience.
We may be called to the small jobs, but what if we are called to be a nameless servant and in charge of the donkey while great things happen elsewhere? Abraham gets the miracle of a son in his old age, he gets to hear a direct calling from God, and is given the circumstance of being remembered through all generations for his faith!...And the rest of us think “gee, I am just an average person from Clark County!”
Tested? Saddle up the Donkey
Genesis 22 : 1-18 NIV
Read this scripture and imagine the people involved. How would each of the people involved felt as they witnessed this journey? What would they have seen? What spiritual lesson would each of them have learned: Abraham? Sarah? Isaac? The Servants? God?
Can you imagine being in Abraham’s sandals? He was gifted a child even while he and his wife were in their 90’s. Abraham and Sarah are blessed with joy and laughter because of God’s timing...but their world is now turned upside down through this request, from God, to sacrifice this precious boy. Talk about a trial and test from God! What would you have done? What would you do if God called you to the ultimate sacrifice? Would your faith hold up? Would your obedience hold up? Abraham knew, with clarity, what he was supposed to do....so, what things held his faith through this trial?
The amazing part about this story is that Abraham answers God with, “Here I am” and then responds the next day “He got up early the next day and saddled his donkey”. When God calls you to something difficult do you say, “Sure thing, Lord! I will leave first thing in the morning and get on that ASAP!” How do you answer Him? Were you quick to saddle up your donkey and hit the trail?
As a follower of Jesus we think of all of the sacrifices made in obedience. We think of those Christians murdered on the beach this year by ISIS and we think, “I may never know that level of persecution and I may never be pressed to show that level of faith...but if I lived for Christ in the most faithful way, what would I look like? How would I appear to my friends and family? How can I be Christ in the skin and soul that I have been given?”
We know there is a cost to following Jesus.. But what is the reward?
To know that we are doing what is right is a great reward. The satisfaction of obedience is like a strong wind in your sails! We have the great reward of knowing that God will one day say to us, “well done, good and faithful servant.” Can you imagine the way you might feel when Jesus approves of your faithfulness to Him and His name? Also, let us identify the reward of the many blessings of God (Maybe both spiritual and physical) being poured on you through your obedience! And lastly, the greatest reward is God himself! With Him forever. Surrounded by a vast love that carries us and protects us. God will forever fill that spiritual hole in our heart!
Abraham answered God in obedience because he loved God. He trusted God’s plan. He trusted God while not understanding the details. His faith was strong because he wanted to live as he was created to do! And the beauty of the story is that while Abraham was obedient on Mt Moriah, God sent his only Son, Jesus, to die on a cross to pay the penalty of sin for all who would accept him as the Redeemer of the world. It was on the same location that God did not withhold His son (2 Chronicles 3:1)! Can you see the big picture of Abraham’s testing? God had a plan to send Jesus!
Many of our teens leave today to serve on a mission trip at the Church of the Nazarene in Culver, OR. There, they will be promoting and running a 3 day VBS, working on a variety of service projects in the area as well as spending a day on a party boat on Lake Billy Chinook.
While they are away, we invite you to participate in their daily devotionals! The theme this year is "Untie the Donkey" and focuses on obedience. You can check back each day for an update and we encourage you to further participate by sending in your answers to the same questions that the teens will be discussing!
You will obey someone or something...
who will it be?
What does it mean to obey? The Hebrew word for obey is also the same word for “hear” and more specifically “to listen with focus”. This is the word “Shama”. It is a word we will be focusing on as it pertains to our faith in God.
And so, the questions for the week are:
Am I obedient to God?
Am I obedient to myself?
Do I obey my parents?
Am I willing to be obedient in both the small and large tasks that God leads me through?
Why should I obey?
What is the incentive?
What happens if I don't obey?
And, can I find joy in obedience?
Mark 11:1-10 NIV
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”
4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our Father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Obedient in the Little Things:
"Untie the Donkey"
Two kinds of events characterized Christ’s life: 1) the glorious, the historic, and the revolutionary; and 2) the mundane, down-to-earth, and apparently insignificant. He brought both sides together and united them. Jesus’ apparently insignificant command to bring a stranger’s donkey to him led to the memorable event we call the Triumphal Entry.
Too often, perhaps, we search for the glorious. We want the profound and dramatic. We think of ourselves jumping into a swift river to save a drowning kid—maybe with cameras rolling. Or maybe some dramatic event will permit us to demonstrate our Christian character. And while that might happen someday, it’s no excuse for failing to respond to everyday opportunities.
Mark, the writer of this scripture, is telling us, “Don’t wait for a dramatic event. Do the little things NOW!” So if we find ourselves alongside a stranger and God gives you an opportunity and divine appointment...How will you respond? God gives us constant opportunities to approach life in obedience and love. Will you answer both the glorious and mundane moments with obedience and love?
The first of our Fab Five Family Fun Nights was this last Wednesday. Bowling at Hazel Dell Lanes!
Our next event is on July 15th...Field Game Night! Go here to see the full list of Fab Five events or to sign up to let us know you'll be there. You do not have to sign up ahead of time, it just helps us know how many people to expect.
Another fun week of VBS is over but we know that our kids are now ready to conquer challenges with God's mighty power! HUGE thanks to all the volunteers who made it such an awesome VBS!
This year we learned that:
God has the power to provide (2 Corinthians 9:8)
God has the power to comfort (2 Corinthians 1:4)
God has the power to heal (Psalm 147:3)
God has the power to forgive (Nehemiah 9:17)
God has the power to love us forever! (John 3:15)
Below, you can watch our final highlights video (seen during the celebration service).
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