I Am. Love | God is Here – John 1:19-51

This is an excerpt from a new series I’m preaching through and writing about. It takes us through the Book of John. You can hear the full audio by checking out my podcast: Michael J. Chanley Teachings, available wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to turn in your Bible to John chapter 1, I have three things I’d like you to take away from verses 19-51. Really, it is just one thing, but let’s look at three things, and end with the one thing.

The three things are Look, Come, and Follow.


First off, is the question of John the Baptist. Who is he? He is mentioned earlier in John 1 and is also in all four gospels. Scholars agree he is not the author of the Gospel of John. 

John the Baptist is quite the interesting figure. He is the final prophet of the Old Testament. We miss that sometimes. In all of creation there is a red line that separates the Old and New Covenant. That red line is why we celebrate Easter. It is the death of Jesus Christ. It is the red line of His blood and, in all of human history, there is only the before Jesus and after Jesus.

John the Baptist is born, preaches, and dies in that period before Jesus’ death and, therefore, he dies under the Old Covenenant.

You get the sense John  is laser focused on his mission. He rejects the comforts of this world and lives in the most simple manner as a bold messenger of God.

So, who is he, who is John the Baptist, and why the emphasis on him in all four gospels?

Well, John the Baptist is a type of herald who is sent by God before the Christ. He, like the Old Testament that his preaching represents, points us to Jesus Christ.

In Biblical times, when a person of great import was traveling, heralds would go ahead of them. They would, for example, tell people to get ready, something is about to happen, the king is passing through, look your best, be presentable. This was a way of showing respect and honor to conquering and/or ruling kings; but, it also was a way to help ensure the king thought well of you and your family. In Biblical times, it was not wise to offend those in authority. 

Our tradition of announcing the Bride and Groom at a wedding party is a reflection of this same concept. Someone announces the newlyweds before they enter the reception. As they do, they are telling everyone, “Hey, look here, today is a day for these two happy people, get ready, welcome them, rejoice!” 

Understanding this tradition, although it is a bit foreign to us, is a good starting point to consider as we attempt to answer who is John the Baptist and why is he important?

John the Baptist is the prophesied foreteller of the coming Messiah. His message is clear, “The King is coming… get ready… make straight the path!!”

This is what is going on in John 1:19-28 (NIV). John is interrogated about his identity. He says:

20 … “I am not the Messiah.” 

21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” 

He said, “I am not.” 

“Are you the Prophet?” 

He answered, “No.” 

22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 

To answer them, John goes back to a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah.

23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ”

The exact prophecy, in my opinion, only helps to strengthen our faith if we look it up and read from it. It is written in Isaiah 40:1-5. Keep in mind Isaiah lived about 740 years before Jesus as you read it.

John makes it clear he knows his own identity by deflecting any attention to Christ. This makes him humble. Importantly, it makes him a good herald. He is the proclaimer. He is the one who goes ahead and prepares everyone for the coming King.

This deflection, of course, confounds the stiff-necked religious leaders. They want to know about John’s authority to baptize. He says, 

26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” 

Next, we read this, starting in verse 29.

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” 

32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”  

Again, John the Baptist is pointing everyone’s attention to the coming Christ, to Jesus. This first thing I want you to see is that John the Baptist says, quite simply, “LOOK… this is the Christ!” 

He says, “It is not me you should look at… it is Him!”

And we then see John’s followers begin to follow Jesus.


The second point I want us to take from this bit of text comes from a key verb John, the author, uses repeatedly. 

It is the Greek verb – ἔρχομαι ĕrchŏmai, er´-khom-ahee.

It is a verb that is only used in the present tense and the imperfect. If you’re like me and you grew up hating grammar class, imperfect tense just means an incomplete action that began in the past. For example, “was walking.”

Anyways… the verb ἔρχομαι ĕrchŏmai, er´-khom-ahee; translates to English as I go or I come. 

Ĕrchŏmai conveys motion and action.

If we thread John 1 together, using just this verb, and shorten the message, we’d see this: 

7 He [John the Baptist]] came as a witness…

THAT 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

John the Baptist declares that, in verse 15

… ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.

27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.

Then, we read verse 29-31… 

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

So, therefore, we see in John 1 that Jesus is God and God is here. He has come to the Earth as it has been declared by the prophets of old, including John the Baptist.

The second point is that God came to us and it leads us into the third point.


To understand this final point we have to look at John 1:43-51.

It is a powerful passage and will be worth our time to read it afresh as we think about what is happening here anew.

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 

44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 

46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 

48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 

49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” 

50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

The message of Jesus, God in the flesh, the light of the world, the destroyer of darkness, is simple, it is FOLLOW ME. 

Jesus says, paraphrasing here, “I see you for who you are… yet, I beckon to you, FOLLOW ME.”

Follow me is an invitation from God for us to be changed and to become more like Him.

Look. Come. Follow. Is the message that begins John’s gospel story.

And, that brings us to the final point. This is really the ONE Point I wanted to make today.


JESUS – is the one thing. His message is “I am here… for you… for all.” So, “Follow me.”

Our social media obsessed world loves this “follow me” language. Self-included, I abuse it too. I think of it every time I listen to a podcast or read a blog… “like, follow, subscribe” … it is the language of our era.

Our online obsessed world uses “follow me” to imply a passive engagement or connection.

Yet, the message of Jesus Christ is not passive. It is active. It is that God has come to us, for us; and, He wants us to follow Him and be transformed. He wants to change us to become more like Him.

In everything we do, we say, “Look, there is Jesus.”

We, as His followers, echo to the world, “Come and see.”

And then, in the still moments when we experience Christ, when we truly connect with God, we still hear His voice say, “Follow me.”

Jesus calls to us and says, simply, “I see you. I know you. I love you… Follow Me.” 

His disciples leave everything. They follow Him.

May we ever do the same.

I Am. Love | Word of God – John 1:1-18

This is an excerpt from a new series I’m preaching through and writing about. It takes us through the Book of John. You can hear the full audio by checking out my podcast: Michael J. Chanley Teachings, available wherever you get your podcasts.

What we learn from these opening 18 verses of John’s good news about Jesus (John 1:1-18) has the power to completely change our entire understanding of the world, of ourselves, and of everything we have ever learned.

We learn from John’s opening chapter that:

  • The Word of God has always existed
  • That Jesus is God in the Flesh, as a human being
  • We discover the hope and grace and truth of God came to us as the man Jesus Christ and, although the world is full of darkness, Jesus, the light and hope of God, overcame the darkness.
  • In verse 17, we realize the law, the legalistic constricting obsession of many, was in fact not the complete purpose of God… for that Law only pointed us to the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.
  • AND… finally… we learn that Jesus has made God the Father known to all the world.

The final verse of John’s opening prologue, John 1:18 says this:

18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and f is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Please don’t miss the importance of John’s introductory message. He begins his accounting of Jesus’ life by explaining Jesus is God. 

There is one God. 

He appeared to us in the flesh as Jesus Christ; and, this is pivotal to understanding Christianity.

To understand this final sentiment in vs. 18, let’s look at a Greek word used here. The final part of verse 18 says: “… the one and only son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”

Where the English translates “is in closest relationship with the Father” the Greek word used there is Kolpos. 

Kolpos literally means “bosom.” In other words, “closest relationship with the Father” means internally a part of the Father. You get the visual picture here of a mother carrying a child in her womb, although womb is not used as the word… it is deeper… it is bosom… therefore, it is not a separate thing that is delivered… it is not a child that exists separately from the parent… it is the heart of God… the internal deepest part of God. 

Jesus, the bosom of God, has exposed God’s intent to us. He is God’s heart.

If then, we believe Jesus Christ is God, if we believe John’s testimony concerning Christ, what then shall we do? 

How should we act? 

What does it say about us?

Well, we should become God’s children by accepting Christ.

We should act in the way He has modeled for us, becoming love in action.

Understanding Jesus’ identity means we are heirs to a message that is sacred. And, if God’s love is for all the world, how can we not share it with others!?

Am I Your Neighbor?

Just sit with this for a moment and meditate on it.

“You should not ask, you should act. The question Who is my neighbor? is the final question of despair or hubris, in which disobedience justifies itself. The answer is: You yourself are the neighbor. Go and be obedient in acts of love. Being a neighbor is not a qualification of someone else; it is their claim on me, nothing else.”

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship (pg. 76)

This is a fresh perspective for me, although it is nearly a century old.

Bonhoeffer, if you are unfamiliar with his works, is well known as a modern day martyr of the Christian faith. He stood against the tide of nationalism that carried the Nazi powers into ruling Germany. He opposed the very ideals of the movement that ushered in the second world war. Ultimately, Bonhoeffer paid the highest possible price for his opposition to the extremism of his day.

What is remarkable, when you read his works, is you see he protested out of love for his neighbor. The cost of love compelled him to take a perspective that rejected the question of “Who is my neighbor?” By contrast, he asserts the true question is, “Who considers me to be their neighbor?”

The one who looks to us as a neighbor is due our acts of love.

Today, like in all times, when we consider the words of Jesus and truly take into account the Greatest Commandment, it transforms us. It moves us to action on behalf of those who are less-than. We are compelled to act in love for the outsiders.

Read anew this passage from Matthew.

37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ i 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ j 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

– The New International Version. (2011). (Mt 22:37–40). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Then, consider this, who looks at you and considers you to be their neighbor?

If they, your neighbor, were to make a decision for Christ – based solely on how you treat them – what conclusions might they make?

How then should we live our lives?

Forward By Faith – Moses’ Example

This month, we are using this definition for faith: 

Biblical faith is confidence in God’s character and assurance about what we do not see.

We have learned that faith has a by-product of affecting how we choose to live our lives. Because it determines what we consider to be right or wrong, faith also leads us to live with righteousness. 

We then, as a local church of believers, as a family-focused on God… we encourage one another to move forward with faith and in the pursuit of righteousness. 

Our outward actions are affected by our inner decision to put our faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, the writer of James reminds us, in James 2:24

24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

Faith, plainly put, means we move forward and act although we do not know the outcomes. We have confidence in God’s character and assurance about what we do not see… and it changes, or it should change, the way we live our lives.

As we have been reading through the examples of faith listed in Hebrews 11, we’ve touched on some of the biggest names in the Old Testament. 

Today, we will look at Moses.

Moses looms large over all of the Bible. 

  • It is through Moses the people of Israel are set free of their captivity under Egypt. 
  • It is through Moses they become a nation in search of the promised land. 
  • It is through Moses that the Law is given.

In fact, the first five books of the Bible are attributed to Moses. 

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy… they are known as the Torah or the Pentateuch. 

Moses is not just found in the Old Testament writings. He is referenced often in the New Testament. Moses is mentioned often in connection with the Law and his name is sometimes evoked as a substitute for the Old Testament legality that existed during Jesus’ ministry on Earth. You get the sense that his name is evoked synonomously with what is right and legal for the Jewish people.

Now, if you don’t know the full story of Moses, that’s ok. We have a pretty concise summary in our text today.

Turn with me to Hebrews 11:23… here we read a summary of Moses… 

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. 

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. 

Of course, if you want the full story of Moses, you’ll have to read the Book of Exodus.

For today, I want us to consider this question: 

How is Moses an example of faith for us today?

Well, one way we could answer that is to imagine Moses’ answers to these three questions that we’ve been wrestling with all month long:

  • What are you doing to grow in your faith this year?
  • How will you serve our community?
  • What will (might) God do through you?

Depending on when you asked him, Moses could answer these questions in different ways. 

He could have said anything from:

– trying to survive, 

– protesting before the Pharoah, 

– or leading these stubborn people towards the Promised Land… 

– trying to keep the people fed, keep the watered… 

– teach them to live… 

– show them God’s goodness… 

– help them be set apart from this world… 

– discover God… 

– resist evil.

In fact, if we consider these questions seriously, we may likely answer them for Moses easier than for ourselves… because we have hindsight and a written record of what happened. 

But… keep in mind… For Moses, when he was alive, the question “What might God do through you?” was still unknown as he was living his life. 

How our lives will turn out is unknown too. The future is unknown and that is why we wrestle with it by faith… and with hope.

What do we learn about faith by studying Moses’ example?

Well, there are at least three things I’d like to point you to today.

Three ways Moses is an example of moving forward by faith…

  • Moses moves forward…
    • By faith… despite his doubts

In the Exodus story, when God first calls Moses to lead the people, Moses doubts his own ability to be a representative of God. However, he moves forward and finds that God gives him the words he needs at the right time.

We can take comfort in this knowing our doubts do not negate our ability to be used by God.

  • Moses moves forward…
    • By faith… regardless of risks

Moses, as I pointed out at the beginning, stands before a person who considers himself to be a god-king, the Pharoah. Moses had every reason to expect nothing less than a death sentence for his bold proclamations from the Lord. However, Moses moves forward by faith and he does it despite the risks.

For us, though we do not anticipate facing the same risks as Moses, we can know God will protect us when we are being His witnesses… there is nothing on this Earth that can ever separate us from God’s eternal love, grace, and mercy… and that emboldens us to speak His truth in love when given an opportunity.

Now, it doesn’t mean  you get to blast people with snarky, gossip-laced comments on social media… but, it does mean you can have assurance to stand up for Jesus without fear. There are far worse things that can happen to us than to be canceled by our culture for sharing a Bible verse. 

Moses faces a greater risk and we see, by faith, God equips him with the courage he needs.

  • Moses moves forward…
    • By faith… future unknown

Moses leads the people through the plaques as they are unleashed on Egypt. 

Each one of these God delivered disasters is progressively worse.

Each plaque shows the Egyptian gods to be inferior and false. 

As Moses leads through these omens, and eventually guides the entire nation into the wilderness, he does it with one thing for certain… that God is faithful and that His hope is in God alone.

He leads forward even though his future is unknown. 

Then, what do we see at the end? Does Moses lead to a future bright shiny house on the hill or a golden castle in a land flowing with milk and honey? 


In fact, Moses never even gets to cross into the Promised Land. He never sees the promised future of his nation rooted in the land God has given them. Moses dies before they cross the Jordan River. He goes home just as the nation of Israel is to step into their homeland… because he moved forward with faith regardless of what his circumstances were.

Moses, therefore, shows us that faith moves forward and that people of faith set an example of following God even when it doesn’t make sense on paper. Even when it might cost us everything. Even when the end result of our faith is only to help someone else or to push forward the next generation to experience the God of all creation.

Moses moving forward by faith reminds us that faith is not about us… it is about God… and experiencing Him until we see His glory!

Forward By Faith – Abraham’s Sacrifice

Abraham as a model of faith.

If you were here in December, when we were talking about hope, you may well recall how we used Abraham as an example of hope. Abraham’s story is at the beginning of the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. Specifically, we looked at Abraham to see how he believed in a future he would never see and acted in a manner that showed he believed God would continue to provide and continue to be faithful. In God, Abraham put all of his future hopes.

Yet, Abraham was imperfect. At one point he despairs and tries to take things into his own hands. Despite this, even in his very old age, God fulfills His promise to Abraham and his wife Sarah, God gives them a child named Isaac. 

Then, through Abraham and his family, God faithfully establishes a covenant that eventually brings the message of salvation to all of the world. The hopeful message of Christ stems from the original promise God made to Abraham.

Ultimately, God is faithful and God’s promises to Abraham are fulfilled.

I point all of this out to say…

Here in Hebrews 11:8-19, we are looking at the same Abraham.

Turn with me now as we read.

8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 

Abraham “obeyed and went…” he acted before he knew how things would turn out.

9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, [Abraham’s son and grandson] who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he [Abraham] was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. 

Abraham is an example of faith because he acted in a way that showed he trusted God. He doesn’t just say, “yes I believe.” No. He acts and it affects his entire household. In fact, what the writer of Hebrews is helping us to connect here is that the family of Abraham is built on faith before even the foundations of a home have been laid. They “lived in tents.”

Verse 13… 

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 

Here again, we see that acting in faith does not necessarily mean we will ever receive a specific gift from God. Faith is not tit for tat contract with God. Faith means we act and trust God and it means we may not see the end results of our actions. 

This is so important for us to understand, especially when it comes to being a family. How many families have struggled to deal with a wayward child? Or a huge challenge? 

What do you do with a person who tests every boundary placed before them?

How do you survive when the world around you is falling apart?

Well, you love them and model faith… you trust God to ensure His long term plan will be fulfilled… and accepting in faith that we may not ever see the end result of our work… at least not in this life.

Verse 14 continues by making the point that Abraham was not just looking for a better place to live. No, he was in fact pursuing God eternally. It says…

14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. 

In faith, Abraham and his family are looking forward to God’s future, promised city. If they just wanted comfort, they could have returned to Mesopotamia from where they had come from. 

Now, before we move on… just take note of this “city” God is to prepare for them, it is mentioned here in verse 16. I’m going to come back to this after we look at these next few verses. Verse 17…

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”  

Now, if you are unfamiliar with the story of Abraham and Isaac, you can read about it in Genesis 22… the shortened version of it is this, Abraham is told by God to take his son, Isaac, to Mt. Moriah and sacrifice him.

The opening lines of Genesis 22 set the scene for us. It says, 

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” 

“Here I am,” he replied. 

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.”

I was talking to a friend of mine this week who has been preaching for a very long time. He heard me say I was preaching about Abraham being told to kill his son Isaac and he pointed something out to me.

Abraham is not being told to kill his son. He is, in fact,  being told to sacrifice him.

Now, sounds like splitting hairs. I know. 

We miss the difference in simply killing someone and preparing a sacrificial burnt offering because it is not something we experience on this side of Jesus’ sacrifice. 

It is, in fact, alien to us to prepare a sacrifice.

To help you understand what it is that Abraham is being told to do, let’s just read from the Book of Leviticus chapter one. It provides some insight to the idea of preparing a burnt offering.

Keep in mind, as I’m reading this, Abraham is taking his son Isaac, acting in faith… up the mountain for the purpose of a burnt offering.

Isaac is carrying the wood for the fire. 

Abraham is carrying the knife… and the secret intent of obeying God in faith to make a burnt offering of his one and only promised son.

This is Leviticus 1, starting in verse 3, … it is instructions, or a how-to, on burnt offerings…

3 “ ‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord. 4 You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. 5 You are to slaughter the young bull before the Lord, 

Then, for this next part, let me just read the bullet points:

  • the priests shall bring the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 
  • 6 You are to skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces. 
  • 7 … the priest are to put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. 
  • 8 …the priests shall arrange the pieces, including the head and the fat, on the wood that is burning on the altar. 
  • 9 You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar.

This explanation of how to properly prepare a burnt offering then says,  

It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.

Yeah… Pleasing aroma if you are sacrificing a bull for a holy bbq… but let’s be honest…

This is gruesome.

It is horrific.

Yet, this is the intent Abraham has, in faith, as he goes up Mount Moriah to faithfully obey God.

He is not moving forward with the promise of prosperity as much as he is hoping God will be faithful… and merciful. Abraham is putting his faith in God without knowing how the story will turn out. 

His actions, his deeds, his works exude faith.

Abraham is moving forward with faith. 

He goes up the mountain.

He builds the altar.

He lays out the wood.

He ties up his son and places him on top of the wood.

Let me just read now from Genesis 22:10-14 

10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” 

“Here I am,” he replied. 

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” 

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Now, back to Hebrews 11… The writer of Hebrews summarizes this story in verse 19 by explaining the faith behind Abraham’s actions:

19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

You see..

  • Abraham moves forward with faith even when it doesn’t make sense to him.
  • Abraham moves forward with faith even when he can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Abraham moves forward with faith even when it looks like it will cost him all he knows and loves.

That is faith! Faith moves forward with action… and it acts without knowing the end result.

Well, how do we connect all of this to how we live? 


I think, from Abraham, we see that faith requires a sacrifice, it requires us to move and act. Faith is evident, we learn from the Book of James, by our good works.

Listen to James 2:14-24

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” 

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 

NOW… listen to this, this is what I read during communion, as we see Abraham come back into the story here…

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham [same Abraham we have been discussing] considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” a and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

Let me read that once more… 

24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

So… back to us… back to the present… back to Tunnel Hill… 

What will you do to grow your faith today? This week? This year?

What will you do to move forward with God in faith?

What might God do through you?

Look, let’s just connect the dots here.

Earlier, I said I’d come back and mention the “city” mentioned in Hebrews 11:16… it says,

16 Instead, they [Abraham and his faithful family] were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. 

And what city did God prepare for them?

It is the city of Jerusalem… and, what we often miss is that Jerusalem was built on a hill. In fact, Mount Moriah, where Abraham took his son Isaac to sacrifice him… that place still exists. 

It is where the City of Jerusalem is built. 

Today, we call that place, Mount Moriah by a different name. We call it the Temple Mount. It is the site of where the Jewish Temples in the Old Testament were built.

Why does that matter you ask?

Well the Jewish temples, constructed on Mount Moriah, where Abraham was tested in faith…  is the site where Jesus was taken to fulfill the prophecies of a promised Messiah.

Jerusalem, sits on the very mountain that Abraham went up to be tested, where Abraham summited to sacrifice his one and only son.

It is the place in Genesis 22:14 where we read, 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

And what did He provide? What did God provide?

Look… and don’t leave here without understanding this… God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. He provided a sacrifice for Abraham and demonstrated faithful mercy.

Then, instead, God Himself came in the form of a man, when the time was right, and allowed Himself to be sacrificed in the city of Jerusalem… on that same holy hill… God came in the form of the man, Jesus Christ, and died for all… a perfect and holy sacrifice that was offered as an everlasting testament of our loving God’s faithfulness.

Look… God did not provide simply a ram for sacrifice, He laid Himself on the altar for you. 

For me. 

For everyone who has ever lived!

God is faithful and so, therefore, when we move forward with faith in God, it determines who we will become.

And, what we see is that we have the same hope, stemming from our faith in God’s love, that we too will inherit a city that we do not see. We choose faith… and…

faith is confidence in God’s character and assurance about what we do not see.

Ultimately, though Abraham never saw it with his own eyes… on Mount Moriah where Abraham’s faith is tested, the city of Jerusalem is built… it becomes the place where our savior is sacrificed for the sins of the world… and… in faith, as we look forward, we see it is the same eternal city He has prepared for us. … it is what we also look forward to in hope.

We get a glimpse of this faith filled hope in the Book of Revelation… listen, this is John bearing witness to our future in Revelation 21:10-11

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

The city Abraham and his family looked forward to in faith was an eternal city… the same eternal city promised to you and I.

Their faith helped them see what they could not imagine… the same thing we look forward to by faith… the Second and Final coming of Jesus Christ!

Revelation 22:12 then records these words from Jesus…

12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 

14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.

May we ever be washed clean and ready to enter His perfect city!

King David – Hope in the Battle

This is an excerpt from my sermon series on Hope.

If you have gone to church anytime at all, you have certainly heard of King David. You may remember the story of Uriah too.

Let’s look at both to connect the dots here on how we learn about hope from David.

David is the shepherd boy who is foretold to become the King of Israel.

1st & 2nd Samuel tell David’s story… as do 1st & 2nd Chronicles. Over 50 of the Psalms are attributed to David.His son Solomon, also mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy, is credited with the Proverbs and the Song of Solomon.

Let’s just briefly look at David’s story… very much in summary…

David is a key figure in the history of Jesus and, therefore in our history. His story is our story.

David, again, starts out in life as a humble shepherd boy. He is foretold to become the King of Israel and, when given the opportunity, takes a stand against a giant named Goliath of the Philistine camp.

David armed with hope… a sling and a stone. Kills the giant. He becomes a hero.

David is called into the service of the King, King Saul. Saul eventually becomes very jealous of David. At one point, he chucks a spear at him. David lives on the run. Saul pursues him for years.

After waiting over two decades, David becomes King of Israel.

He has an affair with a woman named Bathsheba. She gets pregnant and, to try and cover up his sin, he plots to have her husband, Uriah. He succeeds by having Uriah put in the front lines of the battle where the fighting is worst… then, orders the other warriors to pull back and leave Uriah to perish.

Eventually, David’s act of sin is found out. From Bathsheba, David births a son, Solomon.

Most of us don’t realize that King Solomon, the wise, is born from this act of deceit… adultery and murderous plot… we completely forget that this story is also a part of the lineage of Christ.

Again, hard to say “God could never forgive me for what I’ve done…” when we realize that the great great great great… however many generations… great grandfather of Jesus Christ was guilty of adultery and a murderous plot against an innocent man… a plot to seduce his wife and cover it up.

In that, we find truth for all… we see integrity in the story… and it gives us, all of us sinners a hope in the future.

David’s sins get found out. And he pays a heavy price for it. Partially at the lost of moral authority in his family, he finds himself on the run again. His son Absalom plots to kill him and David finds himself on the run for another half a decade or so.

Look… David’s life is marked by war and battle and sin and deceit and despair… so much going on… yet… also victory and righteousness and faithfulness and despite the battles and turmoil and ups and downs… we know David had hope.

We know because, of the Psalms which David wrote, several are in direct response to the challenges he faces.

Rather than say he is an example of hope, I think we can learn a lot about his hope and his perspective when we let him speak for himself. So, let’s just look at some of the Psalms David wrote in this new context… understanding what he was enduring while writing.

Open your Bible and read the following Psalms in light of this story. As you do, try to put yourself in David’s shoes.

  • Psalm 57 – written while on run from King Saul
  • Psalm 51 – written in response to his adultery with Bathsheba
  • Psalm 3 – written when he fled from his son Absalom
  • Psalm 23 – written despite all of this chaos

Is the message of hope not clear here? It permeates David’s writings.

Likewise, it challenges us to see that we can have hope despite the battles we face in life.

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