The Story Week 2 - God Builds a Nation

Posted by Joseph Lutz on OP1er @ 1:45 PM

(Originally posted September 18th)

The story of Abraham and Sarah reminds us of their faith and obedience. God told them to leave their extended family and go to a new land that they had never seen before. There was tremendous danger in being an alien in ancient days, but they obeyed God and moved to the land of Canaan. Later in their old age, God promised Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son. That was a little harder for them to believe, but ultimately they were obedient and God did as He promised.

I think many Christians today find it easy to talk about faith and consider themselves obedient. But are we obedient? God has challenged us to tithe as a measure of our faith. Will we give 10% or more of our income to God, trusting that God will meet our needs and bless us as the Bible promises (Malachi 3:6-12). If we have faith we will do as God commands us and tithe. Yet study after study shows that only 10-15% of Christians actually tithe. We can’t claim to have faith and be obedient if we don’t tithe.

God also calls us as Christians, if we have faith, to identify our spiritual gifts and use them to serve God. And yet many Christians are unemployed or underemployed when it comes to the kingdom. The reason 20% of the people do 80% of the work in the church is because 80% of the people are not fully invested in using their gifts and serving the Lord.

It’s not easy to have faith and it’s not easy to be obedient. Abraham and Sarah risked danger, loss, ridicule and hardship in doing what God asked them to do. If we think it’s easy to have faith, then we probably have a faulty definition of what faith is (and probably haven’t read the Bible). Faith is hard. Faith requires sacrifice. Faith demands the total commitment of our lives to Christ. So evaluate your faith. Is your faith like that of Abraham and Sarah? Are you willing to go wherever God wants you to go? Are you willing to do whatever God wants you to do? Jesus says discipleship means to take up your cross daily and risk your life for the sake of the gospel. Is that our definition of faith and discipleship?

Lets’ follow the example of Abraham and Sarah, two people who were not perfect, who made some mistakes along the way, but ultimately they were faithful, they were obedient, and God was able to use them in an amazing way. If we practice faith and obedience like Abraham and Sarah, God can use us in great ways as well.


Posted by Joseph Lutz on OP1er @ 1:41 PM

(Originally posted September 12th)

This Sunday we begin The Story, a 31-week journey through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. This Sunday’s focus is on “The Beginnings” in Genesis 1-9. We see the wonder of God in creation, the beauty and majesty of all he made. The goal of creation is to provide a place for God to be with the people he created as his children, where we could live forever in relationship with Him.

But God gave the people he created free choice. God would not force them to love him. They could eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But once they rebelled against God and tasted evil, their relationship with God was broken. They could no longer dwell in his presence. They were cast out of the garden and forced to live by the sweat of their brow.

Evil continued to grow in the world. Cain killed Abel. Each generation became more evil than the one before until there was only one man left on earth who was deemed righteous by God, and that was Noah. God decided to destroy those who had chosen the way of evil and only Noah’s family and the animals on the ark survived. With Noah God gave humankind a chance for a “do over” but nothing changed. Noah and his descendants sinned as had every person before him.

The human condition is such that all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. As a result we’re separated from God. Because of our sins we cannot have a Father/child relationship with God. We will not be able to live with Him in His heaven. Our only hope is that God will intervene to provide a way of salvation for his people. We know that way is Jesus.

The beginnings in Genesis 1-9 show us God’s purpose in creation and the human condition that’s the result of the fall. It reminds us that we need a Savior. Praise God because He has provided our Savior in Jesus Christ His Son.

The Beginning of The Story

Posted by Joseph Lutz on OP1er @ 1:39 PM

This fall our church family at First Baptist Riverside will embark on a 31-week journey through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Very few people actually read and study the Bible from beginning to end. We tend to focus on familiar passages that inspire us and comfort us. However, if we really want to understand what God is up to in the world, we need to be aware of the full sweep of what God has done throughout history – the whole record of Scripture.

For our journey through the Bible our guide will be “The Story” (edited by Randy Frazee and Max Lucado). In 31 chapters, virtually all written using the words of Scripture, we’ll follow the narrative history of the Bible. In the course of our study we read a chapter a week from “The Story.” On Sunday’s I’ll preach on the chapter you read the week before. All of our classes and small groups will be studying the same passage. “The Story” is for the whole family with editions for children, youth and adults, so it’s a perfect resource for family devotions with our spouse and children around the dining room table.

What we’ll discover as we read “the Story” is how in the past we’ve focused on the lower story of the Bible, stories about individual characters and historical events. What we’ll find by reading the whole “Story” is that there is a upper story that runs through all of Scripture describing God plan for this world and our place in God’s plan. We tend to focus on the lower story, studying the Bible as a collection of paintings telling a series of disjointed stories, when in fact the Bible is a mural telling the story of how God has been at work throughout history redeeming His people.

I hope that you’ll join us at First Baptist Riverside as we study “The Story.” It will be a life transforming journey. If you can’t be with us every Sunday, order the book and listen to the weekly sermons online at This study will be a great opportunity for you to find your place in God’s Story.

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