I’m just going to put this whole thing here: this is my lesson plan for today. I don’t normally write it all out, but today I did.
As I taught today I was blown away that I, I have the privilege of speaking such beautiful truth to these students. I am altogether aware of my own broken state. Last night as I was reading over Romans 4 I cried and cried and cried because of God’s grace to me. To ME! Oh, He truly is good, and the fact that I got to declare His goodness is only proof of that.
May your heart be as stirred with affection for Jesus as mine was.
[Promises in Gen 12: People, Land, Nation, Blessing]
Read Genesis 15.
God is telling Abram – “Abram, I will give you all the things I said, starting with a son. I HAVE chosen you and your family out of ALL the nations on earth to be mine. You will live in this land, you will have a nation, this is it! I love you! I am for you! I will give you these promises! I will be in relationship with you!”
Abram takes the animals, cuts them open, and sits. You see, in the ANE, agreements [land treaties, political treaties, business relationships, etc] often were made as covenants. They were particularly binding. The animals would be cut in half and arranged in two rows so that as the people walked through they would see “May THIS – being cut open in two – happen to me if I fail to keep my word in this agreement.”
[Imagine if, instead of walking down an aisle lined with flowers, you walked down an aisle lined with animal carcasses?]
You students are under some of the greatest pressure you’ve ever felt. Every day you hear from your coach – “If you’re really serious you’ll do this on your own time” or your director – “You need to practice this at home!”, then your parents “You need to clean your room and do community service and be nicer to your brother!”. Then you get to school and the teacher yells at you because you’re falling asleep and just piles on test after test and it’s overwhelming. You are under constant pressure to work, work, work and perform, perform, perform and if you do all these things you’ll be rewarded.
Practice hard and a starring role could be yours!
Do conditioning at home and a starting position could be yours!
Get those grades and you’ll get a scholarship!
Clean your room and do community service and we’ll be proud!
Complete your homework thoroughly and get a “Good job! A+!”
And without realizing it, the drumbeat of your life becomes – “I do and I’m accepted.” “I perform and people are proud.” “I work and I’m loved for it.”
And then [sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally] we hear this message:
“Do good Christian things and God will be happy with you.”
“You need to stop sinning, or God isn’t going to be pleased.”
I perform and I’m loved, I work and I’m accepted, and isn’t that how God works too? Avoid the bad list, do enough of the good list, and you’ve got this. Yes, Jesus died for you, but what it’s really about is you. And see, there’s truth to this!
Read Genesis 17.1-2
In chapter 17 God says in vs 1-2 that what is necessary to be accepted, to be in covenant, to be righteous and loved is to be blameless. Because our knowledge of performance and acceptance isn’t just something we learn from life – it’s something we know inside. In order to be loved by a perfect and holy God, I need to be blameless.
Read Genesis 15:17 – how many people passed through the pots?
God is taking this entire covenant on himself.
God does not look at you and say “Come on. When are you getting your act together so I can finally be pleased with you? When are you going to be blameless so I can count you as righteous?”
Instead he looks at you and me and says “Watch this. Look at this.”
And then he goes to the cross. And he is ripped in two – not because He broke the covenant, but because we did.
Jesus, in his life, is the ONLY one who is perfectly blameless. And he builds up righteousness. Then on the cross He is ripped in two in our place.
Read Romans 4:1-5
You do not have to work for God’s love and acceptance.
You do not have to perform to be righteous.
Jesus already did that.
All you have to do is trust. Look to Jesus and believe!
[Genesis 15:8 – How do I know God is for me? How do I know I will receive only good from His hands?]
Look at the cross.
Application for two groups of people:
Have you been trying to be good enough on your own? Are you a good little church kid who thinks that it’s about you following rules and you’ll be accepted? God says – “BE BLAMELESS” – and you can’t. If this is a crushing weight on you, look to Jesus and be freed! And if you are trying to work and earn your acceptance – to receive righteousness as a due [Romans 4.4], stop trying to compete with Jesus. His work is sufficient. Accept grace! Look to Jesus!
Are you a rebel and think to yourself – “God can’t accept me. He doesn’t look at me with love and delight? I’ve screwed up too much – he doesn’t have good for me. Ms. N, you don’t know what I’ve done!” Do you think that sin is just too much for God, too much for anyone? Are you filled with guilt and shame?
Come in your disorder. I mean, come to your heavenly Father in all your sin and sinfulness. Come to Jesus just as you are: leprous, filthy, naked, neither fit to live nor fit to die. Come, you that are the very sweepings of creation; come, though you hardly dare to hope for anything but death. Come, though despair is brooding over you, pressing upon your bosom like a horrible nightmare. Come and ask the Lord to justify another ungodly one. Why should He not? Come, for this great mercy of God is meant for such as you. I put in it in the language of the text, and I cannot put it more strongly: the Lord God Himself takes to Himself the gracious title, “Him that justifieth the ungodly.” He makes just, and causes to be treated as just, those who by nature are ungodly. Is not that a wonderful word for you? Do not delay till you have considered this matter well.
LOOK to Jesus! Believe! Trust that the only thing that can give you righteousness, that can give you right relationship with God is JESUS.