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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

The First Sunday In Lent-B

Option A:

"The Lenten Stretch"
(Mark 1:12-15)

1. An Alternate Route

a. To the spiritually and culturally challenged and/or rejected ("Galilee" [v.14]--a more ripe field than was Jerusalem [Pharisees et al])

b. "There are no such things as strangers; there are just friends I haven't met yet" (Will Rogers)

2. A Rigorous Routine

a. "At once" (V12), "40 days" (V13)--no or little room for breathing spells, full of testing

b. "The time [opportune moment...kairos vs. chronos] has come...the kingdom of God [Christ's reign in our hearts!] is near" (V15)

3. A Surprising Result

a. Angels and the Word of God empower victory and ministry

b. "Repent [to think differently] and believe [have faith in, trust] the good news [forgiveness]!" (V15)--ultimately, changed hearts and, then, changed--though not perfect--lives

Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.


Option B:

"When God Doesn't Make Sense"
Genesis 22:1-18

1) You walk with Him anyway

A. As Abram & Sarah did in Gen. 12

B. As explained in Heb. 12:8-10

2) You trust that He knows what He is doing

A. As exemplified by the faith Abraham had in believing that God would give him an heir. Cf. Gen. 17:15-21

B. His faith is listed in the Hall of Fame in Heb. 11:11-12

3) You trust God to strengthen your faith, as he did with Abraham.

A. In demanding the sacrifice of Isaac

B. In providing the substitute

Transition: In the same way the Lord tests our faith in the fires of affliction. He does so only to strengthen our faith, much as a coach exercises his players to improve their conditioning.

When we see the sacrifice of Jesus, as we will in this Lenten Season, we will see that He is our Substitute. "Moriah" means "on the mountain of the Lord it will be provided." The Lord provided the sacrifice of His own Son on Mt. Calvary. Now God’s people can...

4) Look ahead to the reward God promises by His grace

A. As shown in Gen. 22:15-18

B. God kept his promise to give Abraham as many descendants as there are stars in the sky and sand on the seashore.

C. You are one of those descendants by sharing the faith of Abraham, as Paul writes in Rom. 4:16, et. al.

D. You can now serve him in faith, not in fear.

Matthew Henry writes an eloquent summary to this text:

"There are high declarations of God’s favor to Abraham in this confirmation of the covenant with him, exceeding any he had yet been blessed with. Those that are willing to part with any thing for God, shall have it made up to them with unspeakable advantage. The promise, vs. 18, doubtless points at the Messiah, and the grace of the gospel. 

Hereby we know the loving-kindness of God our Savior towards sinful man, in that he hath not withheld his Son, his only Son, from us. Hereby we perceive the love of Christ, in that he gave himself a sacrifice for our sins. Yet he lives, and calls to sinners to come to him, and partake of his blood-bought salvation. He calls to his redeemed people to rejoice in him, and to glorify him. 

What then shall we render for all his benefits? Let his love constrain us to live not to ourselves, but to Him who died for us, and rose again. Admiring and adoring His grace, let us devote our all to his service, who laid down his life for our salvation. Whatever is dearest to us upon earth is our Isaac. And the only way for us to find comfort in an earthly thing, is to give it by faith into the hands of God. 

Yet remember that Abraham was not justified by his readiness to obey, but by the infinitely more noble obedience of Jesus Christ; his faith receiving this, relying on this, rejoicing in this, disposed and made him able for such wonderful self-denial and duty."

Wayne Dobratz

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:32 PM