Sunday, May 01, 2005

Commitment: A Believer's Signature

Intro: This week as I was driving along in the car, I saw a Wegman's tractor-trailer rig in front of me.

  1. On that back door was a small sign. I was so excited that I had Sandra pull out a piece of scrap paper and write down what it said.

  2. It read, “Committed to service and safety.”

  3. Now my mind works a bit strange, as some of you know. And I got wondering. Is that truck really committed to “service and safety.” I doubt it – the truck has no idea what it is doing.

  4. Was it the driver – maybe at some level. But I doubt that he had given that sign second thought.

  5. Well, maybe is was the board of trustees. They probably have nothing against “service and safety”, but committed to it – I doubt it. They meet quarterly to make decisions – but I doubt that “service and safety” are part of their meetings.

Tran. Our faith requires that we make commitments.
Read Genesis 14:13-24

Late one December, an elementary school principal said to his teachers: “Let’s all write our New Year’s Resolutions about how we can be better teachers, and I’ll put them on the staff bulletin board. In that way, we can be mutually supportive in our efforts to keep those resolutions.” The teachers agreed, and when the resolutions were posted, they all crowded around the bulletin board to read them. One of the young teachers in the group suddenly went into a fit of anger. She said, “He didn’t put up my resolution. It was one of the first ones in. He doesn’t care about me. That just shows what it’s like around here.” On and on she ranted and raved. The principal, who overheard this from his office was mortified. He hadn’t meant to exclude her resolution. Quickly rummaging through the papers on his desk, he found it and immediately went to the bulletin board and tacked it up. The resolution read: “I resolve not to let little things upset me anymore.” Resolution, but no commitment!

T.S. Genesis 14 makes it clear that our faith requires a commitment to three things.

  1. First, we need a commitment to our family.

    1. You remember that we left Lot choosing the Jordan river valley and leaving Abram with the mountain range sitting between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean.

    2. But Lot was not done interfering with Abraham's life. He chose the Jordan River valley – and there were a group of four kings that also wanted this rich, frtile land. And they came to get it. Including Lot and all his possessions.

    3. And that is where today's story begins.

    4. It would have been easy for Abram to sit back and do nothing.

(Ill.) Aristotle once said, “Men regard it as their right to return evil for evil—and, if they cannot, feel they have lost their liberty.” It would have very easy to just let Lot go.i

    1. But Abram's commitment was not capable of revenge. He had to do what he could to protect and rescue Lot from his captors. So with 318 “trained” men he sets out to do just that.

    2. And he succeeds – look at verse 16 - “He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.”

(Appl.) Commitment will cost us. It means taking those things that are valuable to us. Abram is willing to risk his people, he is willing to risk his possessions, he is willing to risk himself in order to honor the commitments he has to his family. Commitments cost. We, like Abram need to be willing to pay the cost.

  1. We need a commitment to our principles.

    1. Along with Lot, Abram also recovered the goods and possessions of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah.

    2. And the kings did what seemed like a fair thing. They told Abram to let their people return, but that he could keep all the goods.

    3. Abraham had accomplished what he set out to do. He had no need of Sodom's or Gomorrah's possessions.

    4. Abram had principles that would not allow him to accept their offer.

(Ill.) There is a story told about Grover Cleveland when he was a boy. Their neighbor had a hen that had the nasty habit of laying its eggs outside of the hen house and too often the egg would land on the Cleveland side of the property land. Grover Cleveland insisted upon returning those eggs. He began early in his life to give proof of the honesty that marked him as a man and a future President of the United States. Faithfulness to high principles in such little things leads to honesty in matters of greater importance.ii It was true for Grover Cleveland, it was true for Abram, and it is true for us.

    1. Abram had principles. He lived by those principles. He let those principles guide his life – even when it meant it getting less.

(Appl.) Let me ask you a question. What are the principles that you not be willing to give up whatever the cost? What are the principles that stand at the center of our life? What are the principles that stand at the center of your faith? My guess is that those principles will not be challenged today or tomorrow or even this week. But they will be, someday they will be.

Take time this week to identify those principles that are central to who you are. What parts of your faith cannot be sold? What are the principles that guide you life whatever the cost? If you journal, put it there. If not, take a blank page and after writing down those principles, put into your Bible.

  1. We need a commitment to God

    1. Being committed to your family or being committed to your principles are good things. But they are not enough.

    2. There must also must be a commitment to God.

    3. When Abram returns from rescuing Lot, he meets a very strange character – Melchizedek.

(Ill.) Melchizedek's name means “King of Righteousness.” He is the king of Salem – which means “peace.” So it is safe to say, the “King of Righteousness is the King of peace.” He is also called the “priest of God Most High.”

    1. Melchizedek's name is used 12 times in the Bible – but only twice in the OT. He is a very unique representative from God.

    2. Bu there is something else unique about Melchizedek. For the first time in the history of scripture a man of God is recorded giving tithe to a representative of God.

    3. Abram has shown his commitment to his family. Abram has shown his commitment to his principles.

    4. But it is in his willingness to tithe, the willingness to give a tenth of everything to Melchizedek, the priest of God Most High, that Abram demonstrates his commitment to God.

    5. As believers, we have made our commitment to God. As believers, we recognize that everything we have belongs to God.

Conclusion: As we take communion in a few minutes, we are renewing our commitment to God.

  1. We recognize that God loves us

  2. We recognize that we are broken people who fall short of all that God expects of us

  3. We recognize that God has given His Son so we can be forgiven

  4. And we recognize, that at the moment we believed, we committed our selves to following Jesus Christ.

If you have never done this, why not let today be the day that you acknowledge your faith in Jesus Christ.

iMerriam-Webster, I. (1992). The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Quotations. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster.

iiTan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

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