"God's Approach to You"
Pastor Kenny Lee
Before we begin the message, I wanted to share what has been on my heart. A lot of times when I talk with people and hear what they are saying, their logic is right. Our thoughts are often right. I think a lot of the times where we go wrong is with our assumptions of ourselves. If I say that you’re not perfect, I know that you will agree it is not true. We are so quick to point out other people’s flaws. In Christianity, we are called to look at ourselves in the light of Christ. In that light we are not that great. We are all sinners in this world. There should be some kind of joy when we see one another because God loves us so much that God would redeem us.
With that said, the sermon is called “God’s Approach to Us.” The more I thought about it, I wanted to make it personal and call it “God’s Approach to You.” Most of us would think “My Approach to God” sounds good, but I feel like that is theologically incorrect, and I will explain why.
How does God approach you? What should be our response to God’s approach?
The last time God spoke to Abraham his name was Abram. What had happened was that Abraham went through this guerilla tactic warfare, because his nephew Lot was taken hostage by these kings. Abram gathered 318 of his men and joined armies and freed his nephew. Lot, stubborn as can be, wanted to go back to Sodom. The problem is Abram doesn’t have a son. He doesn’t have an heir. Abram was hoping that Lot would be the heir. Lot was not, so Abram was very distraught. God reassures Abram that his offspring would actually come from him. Sometime passes, and last week we talked about the whole fiasco with Sarai, Hagar, and Abram. Where Sarai, who also wants a child, tells Abram that the offspring would actually come from him and not her. Of course Abram listened to the voice of Sarai, and out comes Ishmael. From that time till now, thirteen years has passed. Ishmael is about to be a man, coming on his thirteenth birthday. God intervenes in Sarah and Abraham’s life. We see that God says, as a sign of the covenant I want you and all the men of your household to be circumcised, as a sign that you are set apart by me. God is saying this a sign that your are mine.
GOD FIRST COMES TO US
Some time passes, and in Chapter 18 we see that God visits Abraham. We get to see an interaction with Abraham, with Sarah, and with God. We get a unique glimpse where God interacts with a human being. We see them having a full on conversation. We are going to study the anatomy of that conversation. What is God’s approach to us? How does God approach the world? How are we are to interact with God? If you are like me, you assume that you can go to God. You assume that you can pray to God and He will be there. If you are like me, you grew up in church thinking that you know who God is and what church is all about. Those of you who grew up in the United States, in a democratic free world, you think you know what politics is all about. That is why you don’t bring up two things when you meet a stranger, politics and religion, because everyone has a hard line opinion about it. We have an assumption that we know something about God, that we know something about religion. One thing that I know is that the more I study Scripture, the more I try to get to know God, I just don’t know God. I just don’t know what religion is and I don’t know what church is about. The more I approach God, the more I realize I don’t know what God is all about. There are things that I do know. When I study this passage and when I study the entire Bible there is one thing that is clear: man does not search for God. Man does not go to God. If you look anywhere in Scripture, it is never man that goes to God. It is always God coming to us. Never do we search for God. I guess you can say that Abraham goes to God because when he lifted up his eyes he saw God and he approached him. If you study it correctly, in the first verse of Chapter 18, “And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day”, it is God who approached Abraham. Later in verse 15 when God talks to Sarah, when she says, “ ‘I did not laugh, for she was afraid. He said, ‘No, but you did laugh.” God is the one who questions and asks why Sarah laughed. It is God who approaches man. Man does not approach God. Sixty-six books of the Bible written by different authors says the same thing about God, that you cannot approach God and that He approaches you. The reason why I say that is because I’ve talked with so many people who say, “Pastor you may be right that God is the way the truth and the life that and no one comes through the Father except through Him. But I like my life. I like the way I live. I like being independent and free.” They say things like, “Maybe I will live 50/60 years free, and then when I’m older I will give my life to Jesus.” Sorry it just doesn’t work. It is God who comes to you, not you who comes to God.
GOD KNOWS WHO WE ARE
Another thing I noticed, I look in my life as I am growing up in Christianity is that I am not very real with God. When I see Abraham, he has a real relationship with God. There is something genuine about Abraham and God. Do you see that? When I read the following verses, there is something so genuine about Abraham. He wants to be in the presence of God so much. It is not an obligation. It is not a duty. It is not something he has to do. It’s not that at all. There’s an actual joy. It reminds me of my dog. His name is Gronk. He is a sheepadoodle, half sheep dog, half poodle. This past weekend I went to New York to see my parents. I wasn’t able to see my dog for a couple of days. I come back and I swear for thirty minutes he is jumping out of his skin and wagging his giant tail everyone. He is jumping all over me. There is something genuine about that dog. There is something so genuine about Abraham. Look in verse two,
“He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, 3and said, ‘O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. 4Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 6while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on- since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.”
Notice it says, “while a bring a morself of bread.” A morsel is a whole calf.
“6And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.’ 7And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.”
There is something so genuine about Abraham’s relationship with God. How’s your relationship with God? Do you just jump out of your skin to spend time with God? Or is it really formal? Do you have any relationships like that? Where you would jump out of your skin. How can Abraham be so real? It has to do with fear. A lot of times we don’t have real relationships is because we are afraid. We are afraid to be known. We are afraid to be judged. We fear we are not loved and we are not cared for. We fear that we are not respected. Look at this whole interaction while God is eating and Abraham is right there. Sarah is in the background in a tent eaves dropping. Listen.
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