Monday, December 12, 2011
Abraham: Following In The Footsteps Of Faith, Part 13a, 12/12/2011
GEN 15:1--6, ABRAM'S WORD FROM GOD
Years ago Dr. Seuss published a children's book entitled "Horton Hears A Who". This book is about an elephant named Horton who hears voices coming from a little speck of dust. Horton placed the speck of dust on a clover bloom and did his best to protect the tiny residents inside that speck of dust from the other animals who could not hear the voices rising from the dust particle. Horton learns that the race living inside that speck of dust were the "Who's". They lived in a town called Whoville and needed a protector to prevent them from being blow about by the wind, or destroyed by other means. The other animals in the jungle do not believe Horton and give him a hard time about his belief that a tiny race inhabits a particle of dust. They try to destroy the speck of dust and they even try to tie Horton up. The "Who's" in "Whoville" join their voices and shout in unison so that they might be heard by the animals who have torment Horton about his strange beliefs. They are finally heard when the tiniest "Who" of them all, a tiny, yo-yo throwing tike by the name of "Jo Jo" lifts his voice and says "Yupp". There are two great moral lessons taught in "Horton Hears A Who." The first is that we should be kind to all people, even when others refuse to be. The second is that even the smallest of the small is an important person.
You may wonder what this has to do with our text. The answer lies in the fact that Horton heard a voice one day that forever changed his life. In our text, Abram hears the "word of the LORD" and this word from God changed his life. In Abram's day, he was just one insignificant person among millions of other people, but God had a special plan for his life. To God, Abram was of supreme importance. Abram receives a word from the Lord concerning his Fear, his Future and his Faith. What he heard changed his life forever. He receive a word from the Lord and it revolutionized his life.
Of all the possessions we have in this world, none can compare to the Word of God (The Holy Bible)! To be able to hold in our hands the complete and perfect revelation of God to man is a treasure without equal. God had a word for Abram, but He also has a word for you and me today. Let's listen in on this conversation between the Lord and Abram. Let's hear the words that Abram heard and see what they have to teach us about our own walk with the Lord.
Gen 15:1 A WORD ABOUT ABRAM'S FEAR
Abram has just returned from a great military victory. During the course of the campaign, he made a bitter enemy in king Chedorlaomer. This king was mighty enough to come against Sodom and the cities of the plain, surely Abram felt that he too was in danger of attack from this king from the East. God has a word to comfort him in his fear. Let’s see what they are.
The Peace That Comes From Knowing God - This is the first time the phrase "fear not" is used in the Bible. But, thank God, it will not be the last! Men may encourage us to walk in peace and fear not, but their words are empty and without power. However, when the Lord comes by and speaks peace to your heart, fear takes flight! Example: The Disciples in the ship in John 6:17-21; feared they would perish. He is still the great "I AM". Let him on your vessel and he will calm your storm!
The Protection That Comes From Knowing God - Abram needed not fear the attack of his enemies. The Lord was camped about him and provided perfect protection day and night. Those who are the Lord's are sheltered by Him all the time (Ps. 34:7), "Round about" = "On every side!" (Col. 3:3)
The Prize That Comes From Knowing God - Abram is a man who has left home and family to follow God, but as yet, he has not received even the slightest hint of all that he has been promised. He is also a man who gave up much when he refused the offer of the king of Sodom (Gen 14:21-24). Now, the Lord comes by to remind Abram that if one has the Lord, they possess everything! What earthly treasure can compare with God's love, grace, mercy, salvation, forgiveness, presence, peace, power, heaven, hope, etc? When we have Him, we possess it all, even if we have none of this world's goods! The child of God is not to be pitied today. He is to be envied! When we have Jesus, we have all that is His (Rom. 8:17). The Prodigal received the Father's ring when he returned from the far country (Luke 15:22)but we have the promise of eternal life.
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING:
New International Version (NIV)
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. 4 One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. 5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. 6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Abraham: Following In The Footsteps Of Faith, Part 12b, 12/11/2011
ABRAM: A MAN OF INTEGRITY, (Continued From Yesterday)
Gen 14:18-20, ABRAM'S INTEGRITY IN WORSHIP
The Facilitator Of His Worship - Abram had faith to make war and he encounter a facilitator to help him in his worship of the Lord. Notice some truths about this mysterious man named Melchizedec.
Melchizedec's Position - He is called a "king". He is a ruler, a man of great influence, wealth and power.
Melchizedec's Place - He is the "King of Salem". The word "Salem" means "peace". It is an ancient name for the city of Jerusalem. His name means "King of Righteousness".
Melchizedec's Provisions - When he comes, he brings bread and wine. Both are products of the area and are given to the weary patriarch to help him after the battle.
Melchizedec's Priesthood - He is also a priest of God. Abram wasn't the only man around who knew who the Lord was. He prays for Abram and pronounces a blessing on him and his life.
Melchizedec's Portrait - This mysterious man is one of the earliest and clearest pictures of the Lord Jesus in the Bible. For the sake of reference, let's look at another passage that deals with Melchizedec in detail.
Heb. 7:1-4; 15-17. Who was Melchizadec? There have been many ideas concerning his identity down through the centuries. The most popular are that he was Job, Shem, Enoch returned to earth, and angel or Jesus Himself. He was not Shem - his father was known (Heb. 7:3). Although he was still alive at this time. He died some 40 years afterAbraham. Not an angel called a man (Heb. 7:4). Not Jesus, based on (Heb. 7:3; 15.) Most likely, Melchizedec was just a godly man who knew the true and living God. He was a man. He was born and he died like a man, but the Old Testament is silent concerning the details of his life. Why? So that he might be seen as a more clear type of “Jesus Christ“. The picture he paints is of Jesus: An eternal priest (Heb. 7:3; Heb. 7:25); No beginning or end; Presenting bread and wine. These picture the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, Who said that the bread represented His body and the wine His shed blood, (Luke 22:19-20). He was a king… Jesus is a king. He was a priest…Jesus is our High Priest. He was name king of Righteousness…. Jesus is absolutely righteous. He was king of peace…. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, (Isa. 9:6).
The Fruit Of His Worship - He was blessed for his faithfulness to the Lord. Note the phrase "Abram of the most high God." Abram is known for his relationship to the Lord and is blessed as a result. There is no greater commentary on your life or mine than for someone to say, "They are a Christian!" When we give our lives to Him in obedience and worship, He is honored, we are blessed and the world is given His light. Such is the fruit of a life of consistent obedience and worship before the Lord.
The Faithfulness Of His Worship - Abram demonstrated the Lord's grace in his life by tithing back to the work of the Lord. You will notice that Abram tithed while he was still a Gentile. He had not yet been circumcised and was not yet a Jew. The tithe is a means of honoring God for His blessings upon your life. Tithing is an expression of Worship, (2 Cor. 9:7), a test of obedience (1 Cor. 16:2; Mal. 3:8-9), and an opportunity for the Lord to bless your life further (Luke 6:38; Mal. 3:10; 2 Cor. 9:6). Abram honored the Lord in all things. That is all He asks of us today! Your integrity in the arena of the worship and acknowledgment of the Lord says much about the condition of your heart and life. Those who love Him will worship Him with their time, their tithe and their talents. What are you doing to worship and honor the Lord God?
Gen 14:17, 21-24 ABRAM'S INTEGRITY IN WEALTH
When Abram won this great military victory, he also took possession of the spoils of all the defeated cities. This would have represented a tremendous amount of wealth. Let's observe how Abram deals with the money.
The Temptation He Endured - The king of Sodom offers to allow Abram to keep all the goods he has won. Surely this must have been a great temptation. I believe we humans are more tempted in the area of money than we are in any other area. We all search for ways to be sure that we come out on top when all the coins are counted. Some cheat on taxes. Others cut corners everywhere they can. We will drive ten miles to save 2 cents on a gallon of gas. We “raise the devil” if we are short-changed, but keep it quiet when we are overpaid. In fact, if you will let me have a look at your checkbook register, I will tell you what is number one in your life! Your stewardship of your money says much about each of us!
The Testimony He Exhibited - Abram's response is classic! He refuses to take a dime from the king of Sodom. He would rather trust the Lord to take care of him that to feel like he owed any man anything. He did not want this king to get his kooks into him! There are some folks who will do anything for a dollar! May we determine that we will not succumb to the temptation to make a dishonest dollar? If we will exercise integrity in our handling of our resources, we can rest assured that the Lord will look after the needs we may have in this life (Phil. 4:14-19). The Philippians had contributed to the work of the Apostle and could rest in the assurance that God would take care of them should a need arise! Verse 19 is not a blanket promise!
Conc: The three areas of life that we have examined this today are all vitally important! Can you say with a clear heart that you are walking in absolute integrity in the areas of you Warfare, your Worship and your Wealth. God help us to search our hearts and deal with any problems we may find there.
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING
New International Version (NIV)
12 Who, then, are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. 13 They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land. 14 The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. 15 My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare. 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. 17 Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. 18 Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. 19 See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me! 20 Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. 21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Abraham: Following In The Footsteps Of Faith, Part 12a, 12/10/2011
ABRAM: A MAN OF INTEGRITY
There is a word in the English language that we hear used from time to time. Yet, this is a word that we rarely see modeled in our day. That word is "Integrity." It means the following: "possession of firm principles: the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standards".
When a person is said to have integrity, we mean that they have high moral standards. We mean that they operate in a way that causes them to seek the right way first. This is the behavior that God would have all His children exhibit all the time. One of the greatest things that can be said about your life is that you are a person of integrity.
This is the behavior that is modeled by Abram in this passage. Genesis 14 is a glimpse inside the life of this great man of God. There are three areas of his life that are dealt with in this passage. In each of these, Abram demonstrates the fact that he is a man of integrity. Let's examine these areas today so that we too may become people of integrity for the glory of the Lord.
Gen 14:1-16 ABRAM'S INTEGRITY IN WARFARE
The Setting For His Warfare - This chapter tells us about a brutal invasion by a confederation of powerful kings who occupied the region that corresponds to Iraq and Iran in our day.
Involved A Vicious Retaliation - Evidently, Sodom had been a tributary of king Chedorlaomer for some 12 years (verse 4). After 12 years, they refused to pay their tribute money and revolted. Chedorlaomer, along with his confederates, invaded Canaan to deal with these rebellious people. This invasion resulted in the sacking of Sodom and the capturing of Lot, along with all his possessions. There is always some evil tyrant like Chedorlaomer who wants to put you in bondage. If you leave the things of the Lord like Lot did and walk off into the world, you can count on forming evil habit and lusts that are difficult to break (1 Cor. 10:23; 1 Cor. 6:12). In fact, like Lot, you won't get free unless the Lord intervenes!
Involved A Valid Reason - When Abram heard that Lot was in trouble, he went to war. Abram is a man of peace, and this is the only time we see him at war in his life. However, when there was a need, he went to battle! I just want to remind you that we are all engaged in warfare today (Eph. 6:12; 2 Cor. 10:3-5). Our battle is spiritual in nature.
The Success Of His Warfare - These verses tell us that Abram waged war and won a decisive victory.
Involved His Preparations For The Enemy - Abram armed his men and prepared for the battle. God's children need to be ready at all times for spiritual battle (Eph. 6:10-18). Our success in the spiritual battles of life hinges on how well we prepare ourselves for the battles we face.
Involved His Pursuit Of The Enemy - We are at war all the time, but there are times when we need to take the fight to the enemy: When it is time to stand against evil; When it is time to defend or rescue a brother; When it is time to stand in the gap for another; Let us fight the good fight (2 Tim. 4:7). May we always demonstrate great integrity in the battles we fight. We do so by facing the enemy with faith in the Lord and His power. We do so by always being found on the side of right. We do so by not shrinking from the battle for fear of the enemy. We do so by standing when others run away!
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING:
New International Version (NIV)
1 Vindicate me, LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD
and have not faltered. 2 Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; 3 for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness. 4 I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites. 5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. 6 I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, LORD, 7 proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds. 8 LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. 9 Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty, 10 in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes. 11 I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me. 12 My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the LORD.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Friday, December 09, 2011
Abraham: Following In The Footsteps Of Faith, Part 11b, 12/9/2011
GOD'S PROMISE TO ABRAM RENEWED (Continued From Yesterday)
Gen 13:17 THE COMMAND TO GOD'S WORKER
After the promise has been given, a call to obedience is issued. This is always the way it works with the Lord. His promised are nearly always coupled with His commands. This is good and right! If we want His best, then we should be willing to follow Him.
A Command To Rise - Abram is called upon to get up and to go with God. He is being challenged to deepen his walk with the Lord. God is looking for people who will simply walk with Him (Micah 6:8). Sadly, many believers are just sitting around and are not walking with Him by faith. Romans 13:11-14 has the word: THE TIME TO WALK WITH GOD IS NOW!
A Command To Review - Abram is commanded to get up and walk up and down, all over the land he has been given. He is to try and see it all! As believers, we need to take the time to review all that we have in Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:17-19; Phil. 3:10; Eph. 1:3). That is a tall order, but it is one that is worthy of our time. No doubt, there are many believers who are less than they could be simply because they do not know who they are and what they have in Jesus Christ, those precious spiritual possessions we have!
A Command To Receive - As Abram journeyed, he was to live as though he carried the title deed to the land in his hand. Even if, at the moment, it belonged to someone else, Abram was to accept by faith the fact that this land was his land! So it is in our spiritual journey. We have much in Jesus, but we have to claim it by faith. For instance, what about victory? Jesus says that we have it (1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 8:37). Let's face it, there are days when you just have to take that by faith! What about Romans 8:28? Or what about Romans 8:18? Or what about 2 Cor. 4:17? Or what about Hebrews 13:5? Those are all great promises and they are true whether we believe them or not! Abram could have set still and the land would still have been his. We have all those things we have mentioned and more, but they do us no good until we reach out and take them by faith!
Gen 13:18 THE CONSECRATION TO GOD'S WILL
Seen In Abram's Adaptation - When the Lord spoke, Abram responded in action and obedience! As this old man traveled around that country, he was looking at more than the mountains, valleys, rivers, streams and lakes. He was looking for a place to settle down forever. Hebrew 11:8-10 tells us that Abram had his sites set just a little higher than Canaan. He was looking for Heaven at the end of the way. So he just kept going, moving around the country enjoying all God had given him until the day came when he would go home to God. His is an example that we should all readily follow! Like Abram, we are pilgrims in this world. As we journey through our lives, we are to do so in dependence upon and obedience to the Lord God. Always knowing that this world is not our home. One day we will leave this world for a better land. But, until then, let us move at the command of the Lord, for nothing honors God like obedience to His commands (1 Sam. 15:22; John 14:15) and God holds us accountable.
Seen In Abram's Association - The Bible tells us that Abram moved to Mamre which is in Hebron. Those two names are filled with meaning! Mamre means "Fatness" and Hebron means "Fellowship". The idea is that Abram has settled down in a place of blessing and closeness to the Lord. He is living a life of close fellowship. That is what the Lord wants from your life and mine! He wants us in the place of "fellowship" and "fatness". He wants what was said about Enoch to be true about you and me (Gen. 5:24), "And Enoch walked with God..." Can that be said concerning your life?
Seen In Abram's Adoration - Abram does again that which has become his trademark: he builds an altar for the worship of the Lord. A life that is lived in communion with God is a life that God can bless! He desires that every one of us be in a place where we love Him more than anything else in this world. He wants us to acknowledge Him. He wants us to exalt Him. He desires our worship (John 4:23-24)! God is absolutely self-sufficient (Ps. 50:10-15). He needs nothing! He does not need us. But, He wants us! That is precious and we should all determine that we will live our lives for His glory, considering the fact that He gave His life for our salvation.
Conc: Where are you in your relationship and walk with God today? Are you as close as you should be? Are you growing deeper each day in the things of the Lord? When He speaks, do you move? Are you concerned with strengthening your fellowship with Him day by day? Make His worship the number one priority in your life? Those are hard questions to hear and face, but they reveal a lot about the condition of our relationship with the Lord Jesus. May we determine that, like Abram, our life will be characterized by our altars and by our obedience to the voice of God.
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING:
New International Version (NIV)
9 Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love. 10 Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with righteousness. 11 Mount Zion rejoices, the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments. 12 Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, 13 consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation. 14 For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Abraham: Following In The Footsteps Of Faith, Part 11a, 12/8/2011
GOD'S PROMISE TO ABRAM RENEWED
Abram is a man walking with God. His misadventure in Egypt is behind him and he is back in the place of blessing walking by faith. This is seen in the fact that when a dispute arose between himself and his nephew Lot, Abram willingly took second place. He place the needs of Lot ahead of those in his own life and left himself in the gracious care of God. By the way, that is how you can know when you are growing as you should be. When you can willingly turn loose of your rights and privileges for the good of others, you are on your way!
After the incident with Lot, Abram is left alone with his wife, his servants and his possessions. It must have been a difficult thing to see his own flesh and blood separate from him under such harsh conditions. Yet, for Abram, that difficult time would turn into a time of grace and blessing. For it is this time that the Lord chooses to renew His promises to Abram. Let's listen as the Lord renews His promises to His servant Abram. While these are Abram's promises, there are spiritual applications that we can glean from these words.
Gen 13:14-16 THE CONFIRMATION OF GOD'S WORD
When you look at the events of verses 7-11, you may believe that Abram got the short end of the stick. You see, verses 10 and 14 tell us that both Lot and Abram "lifted up their eyes". But, what they saw with those eyes was vastly different. Lot saw the world; Abram saw the promised land. Lot looked in self-sufficiency; Abram looked in perfect trust. Lot looked with a heart driven by greed and lust; Abram looked with a heart driven by a sacrificial love of unity. Lot looked through eyes connected to a worldly, uncommitted heart; Abram looked through eyes that were connected to a committed, spiritual heart.
Lot may have taken the best of the land, but Abram was about to get all the land! Friend, those who walk with their faith in God and their heart centered in His will need never fear that they will lose anything! God honors the faith of His people, because the faith of His people honors Him!
What The Promise Communicated - God's promise to Abram was full of blessings!
A Promised Land - Lot chose the best; Abram got that and the rest to boot. The land was the prize for his faith. Heaven is for us (Rev. 21-22; John 14:1-3).
A Promised Legacy - God's promise is farther enhanced by the promise of a multitude of offspring from Abram. No doubt his lack of children was a sore spot with Abram. To the people of that era, many children were an indication of the blessings of the Lord (Ps. 127:3-5). Even his name was a mockery to him. Abram means "Exalted Father". However, God's promise is that Abram will have a legacy in children. So many will descend from him that their number will be beyond comprehension. That has literally come to pass! God wants to do the same for us! He wants to multiply our faith and use us to reach others for His glory. We too can leave a legacy of spiritual children behind for the glory of the Lord (Dan. 12:3).
A Promised Length - God's promise to Abram is one that will never be repealed. Notice that there are no strings attached! God is going to do this thing for His own reasons. It is an eternal promise! That land they are fighting over today in Israel and in the Middle East belongs to Abraham's descendants! The redeemed are also partakers of the eternal promises (Heaven). Our salvation, our heavenly home, our Father's love are just a few of the many eternal promises that belong to those saved by the grace of God.
When The Promise Came - God's promise came to Abram after he was separated from Lot. Lot represented worldliness and lack of commitment to the things of God. When that distraction was removed, Abram heard from the Lord. Separation from people, institutions, etc., is never easy. However, if we ever expect the Lord to bless us to the level that He can bless us, we are going to have to separate from anyone or anything that hinders our being right with Him (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1). God can and will bless a separated life!
Did you notice that this promise merely amplified promises that had been given to Abram earlier? Gen. 12:2, 7 are the first of the promises concerning the seed and the land. Now, those promises are amplified, expounded and enlarged. This is how the Lord always works with His people. The walk of faith is a walk of progressive revelation. As we walk in obedience to what He has already revealed, He will show us more and more as time goes by. That is how the Lord works; line upon line, precept upon precept (Isa. 28:10). That is how His Word works (Ps. 119:105). We want to know it all up front, but God reveals Himself as we are ready to receive Him (John 16:12).
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING:
New International Version (NIV)
1 Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain. 2 Beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth, like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. 3 God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress. 4 When the kings joined forces, when they advanced together, 5 they saw her and were astounded; they fled in terror. 6 Trembling seized them there, pain like that of a woman in labor. 7 You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish shattered by an east wind. 8 As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of the LORD Almighty, in the city of our God: God makes her secure forever.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
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