Series - Abraham

Following in the Footsteps of Faith: Waiting on the Lord while walking in Faithfulness

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Abraham has waited thirteen years. He has watched Ishmael grow. But Ishmael is wild, and as he grows, friction in the family grows with him. But maybe, just maybe, Ishmael is the promised child. And for thirteen years the domestic gloom and growing darkness about God’s promise build. God has made a promise, but Abraham’s faith has faltered. In Genesis 17, God breaks back into the scene and confirms His covenant with Abraham while also calling him to a life of faith and holiness.

God guarantees His promises to His people (Gen. 17:1-8).

We mess up. We fail. I sometimes say I am going to do something then forget or don’t follow through. God doesn’t. His success rate is 100%.

Two things to note in light of God’s promises:

1. God calls His people to be faithful (Gen. 17:1-3).

Just as we can’t take the fulfillment of God’s promises into our own hands, we also can’t allow ourselves to grow complacent in awaiting God’s action. In verse 1, Yahweh reveals Himself to Abraham as “El-Shaddai” or “God Almighty.” This is a name of God that emphasizes God’s power and sovereignty. Nothing can stay His hand or thwart His plan.

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Following in the Footsteps of faith: Learning to Actually Trust a Trustworthy God

Abraham, Sarah & Hagar. Unknown artist, 1897

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Ever hear one of these guys on the radio (usually on ESPN Saturday mornings) giving you the betting lines on games and “guaranteeing” that his picks will make you money? I am not suggesting that anyone should gamble money on football games. But I want to point out the terminology.

It seems like everything today is a guarantee. “I guarantee it” is one of the most overused slogans in our country (I guarantee it!). But the question I always want to ask is, “What if you’re wrong?” Because they are—lots of times. Do they lose their job? Do they get a pay cut? Nope, they just start taping next week’s “guaranteed, locked-in, easy money” choices and the cycle starts all over again.

But God isn’t like that. We saw in Genesis 15 that Yahweh makes promises and He guarantees them with His very life (try that, prognosticators!). The only area of doubt when God makes a promise lies on our end—the end that is fallen, sinful, and prone to wander into bad thinking about just about everything.

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Following in the Footsteps of Faith: Can We Trust God?

Outside of the day I accepted Christ and the day I said “I do” to my wife, the two most significant and precious days of my life have been the births of my two kids. Watching those helpless babies emerge and holding them in your arms is a truly incredible feeling. I got to watch my wife, who had just endured intense pain in labor, break out in a beautiful and exhausted smile as she got to hold our child. On those days, my joy in the Lord and gratefulness for His love and blessings came easily. I could rejoice in Him as my guide and stay.

But there are other days. Sitting with my wife, both of us weeping while going through two miscarriages. Trying to explain to our five year old why people who profess to be Christians can be mean and nasty. Watching young people walk away from the faith. Having a dear friend see cancer progress steadily. All of these, and many others put us in a place where Satan begins to whisper, “Can you really trust God? Maybe you need to take matters into your own hands—surely you can do better than this!”

Here’s a thought I want to flesh out from Genesis chapter 15, as Abram deals with this very tough question. Your level of trust in the promises of God will largely determine the depth of your walk with Him. Abram gets to learn some very valuable lessons in God’s classroom.

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Following in the Footsteps of Faith Part 6: The Life-Long Process of “Faith Refinement”

Meeting of Abraham & Melchizedek, Dieric Bouts the Elder, 1464–67

Read the series so far.

Listen sometime to an NFL or college football coach after they have just won a Super Bowl or national championship. Almost inevitably you will get some excitement about this achievement in their lives and how much it means to the players, etc. But that interview always seems to come back to this theme: “that was great, but it means that the coaches who didn’t make the playoffs have had this much time to get a head start on next season.” It’s a never-ending process.

On a much smaller scale I go through this each week with sermon prep. I study, pray, meditate, study some more, and form a message (hopefully from God) from the text for the week. I stand up Sunday and deliver a word from the Lord, then go home exhausted. Sunday night we do it again. Monday is a day of rest, and the cycle begins again on Tuesday.

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Following in the Footsteps of Faith: God is Faithful Even When We Are Not!

Alright, so Abram has left everything in order to serve the one true God. He has been shown the Promised Land, and experienced God’s promise of an heir. He has “called on the name of the Lord.” But now his faith is going to be tested (Gen. 12:10-20).

Isn’t that how faith is though? You feel the tug of the gospel—the conviction of the Holy Spirit. You fall on your face before Holy God, acknowledging your sinfulness in comparison with His perfection. You place your trust completely in the finished work of Christ. You are riding a spiritual high. But then comes the first major hurdle. Maybe it’s a health issue, death in the family, loss of a job, or just an emotional downturn. Whatever it is, you find yourself in the crucible, with extreme pressure being exerted on your young faith.

One of the greatest truths we can learn as Christians is that God’s faithfulness to us does not hinge on our faithfulness to Him. Let’s see how it played out in Abram’s life.

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Following in the Footsteps of Faith: The Obedience & Proclamation of Faith

Read Part 1.

The God of the universe has told Abram to do the unusual. Leave everything. Leave country, home, family, culture. Pack it all up, leave, worship Me, and I will show you where I want you to go. How would you respond? What would you do? When God puts your faith into the tempest of trial and obedience, what emerges?

In Genesis 12:4 we read a very simple statement: “So Abram went, as the LORD had told him…” Obedience. Complete, total, no reservation, no guarantees, no back up plan (Abram is 75 years old—he doesn’t have time for a back-up plan). No, Abram simply packs up everything, brings his family and nephew with him, and starts in total obedience to God’s calling.

One day I want to ask Abram about that trip. I want to ask him about the faith that moved him to obey the call of God on his life. Until then I want to emulate this: total obedience rooted in total faith and reliance on God and His infallible Word. Three things I see here that are applicable to the lives of all believers:

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Following in the Footsteps of Faith: A Study of Abraham

The Bible’s account of Abraham begins in Genesis chapter 12. However, before entering that text, we need to get our bearings. God has scattered the people from the Tower of Babel (chapter 11). As these clans and tribes spread out, they carry with them the paganism that finds its roots in their now famous building project. Oh, there are some exceptions (Job, Melchizedek to name a few), but by and large the nations are losing sight of the one true God.

Five generations pass, life spans shorten, and spiritual darkness is everywhere. But see, that is one of the amazing things about God. You and I (and all of our relatives both near and far) are fickle, unreliable, and prone to forget the One who gave us life. But God never breaks a promise, and His line will never fail. And so the promise made in Genesis 3:15 echoes through the centuries as God slowly works in human history to bring about His redemptive plan.

And as the curtain rises in Genesis 12, that redemptive plan zooms in on one man. But something is not right. We don’t find some oasis of redemptive truth, some bastion of Yahweh worship. Instead we go to Ur of the Chaldeans, into a pagan land full of pagan people. And God’s light shines on one particular man.

What does God want? What’s the requirement? Faithful obedience to the forsaking of all others.

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