Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Abraham: Following In The Footsteps Of Faith , Part 14a, 12/14/2011
Genesis 15:7-23 MOVING TOWARD MATURITY
Hopefully, we all know what faith is. According to the Bible? "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1). But, did you know that faith is something that is ever changing? If you are maturing in the Lord as you should be, then the faith you have this evening is far greater than the faith you had this morning. Of course, the ability to exercise faith, as well as the faith to exercise, are already in you. You may not see it, you may not believe it, but it is there nonetheless. You see, faith is like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the larger and stronger it becomes. That is why the Lord leads us through difficult places in our lives. He is helping us to grow in our faith.
In this passage, we are still following the life of Abraham. If you will remember, he is a man who left his home, his family and the country of his birth to follow God. By faith he has journeyed and by faith he has lived. He followed God based on a simple promise. That promise was that he would receive a land and that he would produce heirs.He has exercised great faith. However, in God's eyes, this has been spiritual kindergarten. The Lord has some even greater tests in store for Abram's faith.
The passage we are looking at today deals with the matter of Abram's faith. Here, we see him Moving Toward Maturity. As we consider what the Lord is doing in the life of Abram in this passage, let us consider that the Lord wants to grow us too. He wants to move us toward maturity, day by day.
Gen 15:7-8 THE CONCERN OF ABRAM'S FAITH
God's Reminder - God opens this section with a reminder of who He is and what He is doing. His reminder is three-fold.
Of His Person - God refers to Himself as "Jehovah", "The Self-Existent One." God is merely reminding Abram Who he is dealing with. We have a tendency to forget just who is in control of the events of life. It would do us good to remember that we serve "Jehovah God". He was here before anything and He will be here after everything. He controls all things that happen in between. He is a powerful God (Job 42:2; Luke 1:37). He is an “ever present” God (Heb. 13:5; Matt. 20:28). He is a perceptive God (Heb. 4:13; Pro. 15:3). He is in control of all of life. If we could ever get our souls around that truth, it would revolutionize our lives as well!
Of His Power - God reminds Abram that Abram is where he is today because of the power of God. Abram did nothing to get where he was, it was all God. May we also remember that what we have, what we are and where we are, are all a product of the Lord's work in our lives (1 Cor. 15:10). You name the area of your life and you can count on the fact that it is all God and not you! Praise God!
Of His Plan - God reminds Abram that He brought him out so that He might give Abram a new land. God's purpose was to take this childless pilgrim and transform him into father of a great nation. God has a wonderful plan for your life also (Rom. 8:28). You and I need to be careful lest we hinder that plan and bring pain and hardship upon ourselves. God's plan is always a good plan, it is always the best plan, it is always the right and perfect plan! Therefore, find God's plan for your life and walk in it!
Abram's Response - Some have taken this question by Abram to be an expression of doubt. His question is not doubt but curiosity. He is merely asking the Lord for more information. God doesn't mind His people asking for more information. It is doubt that bothers Him (James 1:5-8). The contrast is clearly seen in the two responses given by Zacharias (Luke 1:18) ; and Mary (Luke 1:34). When you hear from the Lord, do you respond by asking for more information, or do you immediately begin to question the truth of what you have heard?
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING:
New International Version (NIV)
1 Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero? Why do you boast all day long, you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God? 2 You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor. 3 You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth. 4 You love every harmful word, you deceitful tongue! 5 Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. 6 The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at you, saying, 7 “Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!” 8 But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. 9 For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Abraham: Following In The Footsteps Of Faith, Part 13b, 12/13/2011
GEN 15:1--6, ABRAM'S WORD FROM GOD, Continued From Yesterday!
Gen 15:2-5 A WORD ABOUT ABRAM'S FUTURE
Abram is concerned and burdened about all the promises he has received. His are not questions of doubt, but they are honest questions, which, by the way, God doesn't mind at all! Abram knew where to take his burden and, as a result, he received the answers he sought! There is a lesson in that for you and me today (Phil. 4:6-7). God's answer brought hope to the old man's heart once again.
Gen 15:4 The Simplicity Of God's Promise - God's promise is stated in the simplest and clearest of terms. Abram is assured, again, that he will have a son and that this son will be his heir. All of God's promises are made in the same manner. He speaks very clearly in His Word. Oh, that we would learn to take Him at His Word and believe all that He tells us without question. He is looking for childlike faith (Luke 18:17).
Gen 15:4-5 The Sovereignty Of God's Promise - God's promise said something about God's power. Abram is an old man, well past the days when most people think of fathering children. God's promise is designed to overcome the "laws of nature" and do what men say cannot be done. It would do the people of the Lord to learn that our God is an "able" God (Eph. 3:20). We need to remember that He is a God Who operates in the realm of all-power (Matt. 28:18; Luke 1:37). We need to remember that we do not serve the God of the "can do"; we serve the God of the "has done"! Before we ever exercise our little faith, His plan is already in motion and He is working out His will through His Sovereign power.
Gen 15:5 The Size Of God's Promise - Abram was concerned about a single heir to his fortune. God was concerned with giving him more heirs than he could count. God wanted Abram to know that he was about to receive a blessing so big that it would blow his mind! We serve the God of "abundance" (John 10:10). He wants to do more in our lives than we can even imagine (Eph. 3:20). If we could ever get hold of that today, it would revolutionize our praying and our faith. God is not just "enough" today, He is "more than enough" always. He's not interested in doing the ordinary and the run of the mill. He wants to leave us scratching our heads in amazement at His power. He's not all we need! He's all we have and He is more than enough for any situation!
Gen 15:6 A WORD ABOUT ABRAM'S FAITH
This is one of the simplest, yet greatest verses in all the Bible. It tells us all about Abram's faith. What it teaches us about his faith should be true about our own faith as well.
The Direction Of His Faith - The little word "in" tells the tale. Abram has move beyond hearing the Word of the Lord and believing the promises of God into the realm of casting himself totally in faith upon the Lord Himself. He doesn't just believe the Word anymore, he believes God. He is like Job in Job 13:15. His faith is in the Lord. Has your faith made that transition today? It is one thing to believe what the Bible says about God and His promises. It is another thing altogether to move from the intellectual acceptance of the facts to the absolute trust in His person. One believe leads to Hell, the other to Heaven. Which is yours today?
The Depth Of His Faith - Abram believed in spite of the obstacles. No doubt others around him thought he was a fool when he started talking about what the Lord had promised him. But, he still believed God! What a challenge to you and me today. Our faith in Him should be unassailable and unwavering. Men may mock us because we believe in Heaven. They may think we are fools when we speak of "being saved" and "knowing the Lord". If you are saved, then let no trial, no naysayer, and no devil cause you to waiver in your faith!
C. The Dividend Of His Faith - Faith in God always pays off big and Abram's was no exception. When Abram believed God, God erased Abram's sin and applied His own perfect righteous to Abram's account. God looked at Abram as being a just and righteous man. Salvation has always been a work of faith. This lesson from Abram's life is applied to our own lives in Romans 4:13-25. Abram was not saved by "keeping the Law", for it had not yet been given. He was not saved by being "circumcised", for it had not yet been commanded. He was saved by simple, childlike faith in God. What was the message that Abram believed? A message about a promised son! That is the same message that saves the sinner today (John 3:16).
Conc: You will probably live you whole life and never hear voices coming from a speck of dust. At least I hope that is the case. However, I know that God has a word for your life. Abram heard a Word from the Lord, he believed that Word and it forever changed his life. I wonder, has the Lord spoken to some need in your life today? Is there some battle you need peace about? Is there some storm you need calmed? Is there some area of your life where you need a Sovereign God to move? Has your sin been dealt with biblically? Are you saved? Are you walking in the perfect will of the Lord? Have you received the dividend of faith in Christ: perfect righteousness? May He speak to your heart for His altar is open for you to come to Him by faith.
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE and BLESSING:
New International Version (NIV)
11 Teach me your way, LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. 12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. 13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
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!
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