Abraham: Receiving God’s Promise

This entry is part 10 of 15 in the series When the Heroes of Faith speak...

Read at beginning of service:

Hebrews 13:5-6 (NIV)

5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

INTRODUCTION

Several weeks ago I began a series entitled “When the Heroes of Faith speak” based on chapter 11 of Hebrews. Looking at the lives of the people listed in God?s hall of faith I?ve sought to answer the question, “What words of wisdom/advice would these individuals speak to us today if the veil of heaven was parted?”

So far I?ve shared about Abel and Enoch, and two weeks ago I talked about Noah, the first sailor in God?s navy. From Noah?s life I gave you three things that I believe he would speak to us today:

Don?t Wait until you understand God to obey Him

Don?t Give up before God finishes His work.

Don?t forget to worship God in gratitude!!

Today, we?re going to look at the life of the man who is looked upon as the founding father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Read text (Hebrews 11:8-19)

His name is Abraham, although when he first met God he was called Abram.

Some of us have heard of Abraham?I remember as a child singing a song dedicated to the covenant that was established between him and God.

SING FATHER ABRAHAM

What would Abram/Abraham say to you and me if he stood before us this morning?

What spiritual successes would he relate to us?

What sins of failure would he warn us about?

As we look at the life of Abraham, there is more spiritual meat in his life than I could preach in a month of Sundays.

However, this morning, we?re going to look at 4 simple statements that I believe Abraham would share with you this morning.

If Abraham could part the veil between earth and eternity, I believe that he would remind us that:

1. God Always Keeps His Promises.

In Genesis 12, God made a promise to Abraham.

Genesis 12:1-3 (NIV)

1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Later, in Genesis 15:5, God told Abraham to:

Genesis 15:5 (NIV)

5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

God promised Abraham that his descendents would be God?s chosen people.

It was through Abraham that God would form the nation of Israel.

It was through Abraham that God would bring the Jewish nation.

It was through Abraham that God would bring Jesus, the Messiah, to die for your sins and mine.

Remember Verse 3? “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”?

Jesus was the Savior that God brought through Abraham?s descendents to bless the entire world with salvation to all who would simply receive Him.

God promised Abraham that He would make a great nation from him.

There was only one problem?.Abraham didn?t have any children.

Well, really there were 2 problems!

Not only was Abraham without any heirs, but he was 75 years old, and his wife Sarah was 65.

They were a little old to be starting a family!

(NAME SOMEONE) how would you like to be having your first child about now?

75 is a little long on the tooth to be dealing with pampers/bottles/kindergarten!

Actually, Isaac wasn?t born until Abraham was 100!

It took 25 years, but God kept His promise.

Genesis 21 tells us of the birth of Isaac, which Abraham had with Sarah, his wife.

From that moment on, you can trace the history of the Jewish people to this day.

They are the most persecuted, most resilient, most persistent people on the face of the earth.

And they number more than the stars!

If Abraham was here today, he?d remind us that God always keeps His promises.

If you are a Christian here this morning you need to know that He?s made some promises to you!

You have a guarantee of salvation.

Ephesians 1:13 (NIV)

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

You have the guarantee of Heaven.


John 14:1-3 (NIV)

1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

You have the guarantee of help in times of trouble.


Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

Christian, you can count on the promises of God.

Abraham would proudly remind you that God always keeps His promises!

But also, I believe that Abraham would shamefully/regretfully advise you:

2. Don?t Try to Accomplish God?s Will for Him.

God made incredible promises to Abraham.

He promised a 75 year old man a son.

He promised that Abraham would be the father of a great nation.

He promised that all the nations of the Earth would be blessed through Abraham.

But Abraham made a mistake.

Abraham made the mistake of not taking God at His word.

Abraham made the mistake of not believing that Holy God is capable to finishing anything He starts!

Years passed, and Sarah hadn?t become pregnant with God?s promise to Abraham.

She became impatient, and Genesis 16 records a shameful mistake that haunts the world to this day.

Turn with me to Genesis 16 and let?s find out how Abraham and Sarah tried to accomplish God?s will for Him.


Genesis 16:1-4 (NIV)

1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.

Sarah convinced Abraham to sleep with Sarah?s maidservant in order to conceive a baby.

This was a common practice for barren women during Abraham?s day.

The baby would be raised in the family, and become the legitimate heir.

Is that what God told Abraham to do?

NO!

When Abraham complained that a servant born in his house was his sole heir, God promised him a son.

By the way, that was another common practice in Abraham?s day.

If there was no blood heir, then a servant born in the house was considered the rightful heir.

Yet, here we find Sarah and Abraham trying to do God?s work for him.

They couldn?t trust that the God who created the universe was capable of making a senior citizen have a child.

So they conspired to have Abraham sleep with Hagar, Sarah?s maidservant, and conceive a child through her.

They were trying to accomplish Heavenly will with human strength.

They were trying to take control of the methods, timing, and outcome of God?s plan.

They were trying to take control of God?s plan away from God.

They must have felt God needed a little help?He must be incapable of handling the situation by Himself.

Does that attitude sound familiar to you?

It should?Too often we try to do the very same thing.

Too often, we tell God what His will should be.

Then, we tell Him how He should go about accomplishing His will.

Then, we tell God when he should accomplish His will.

And finally, we wonder why He doesn?t bless us like we think He ought to!

Abraham would plead with us this morning to take our hands off the reins of our life.

Abraham would beg us to let God accomplish His will in His way, without out interference.

Do you know what I?ve found as a Pastor?

God has a way of solving my stickiest situations, if I just give Him time to work.

When I don?t give Him time to work, and jump in myself to resolve it, it always becomes a mess!

It became a mess for Abraham too!

It?s a mess that you and I are living with today!

I mentioned earlier that Judaism, Christianity and Islam all claim Abraham as the Father of their faith.

Judaism is straightforward?The Jewish nation is Israel is a direct descendent of Abraham and His son Issac.

Christianity?s also claims Abraham as the father of our faith.

Remember, God never intended Christianity to be a separate religion from Judaism.

The Jews were supposed to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

Christianity was supposed to be the completion/culmination of Judaism, not a separate faith.

It was only because the Jews rejected Jesus and persecuted the early believers that Christianity became a separate faith.

Judaism?s claim to Abraham as the father of their faith is easy to understand.

Christianity?s claim to Abraham as the father of our faith is also easy to understand.

But why does Islam claim Abraham as the father of their faith?

It?s because of Abraham and Sarah?s plan have Abraham sleep with Hagar.

If Abraham had trusted God, and not tried to accomplish God?s will for Him, the Muslim nation would not exist.

Let me explain?

The Jewish nation came through the lineage of Isaac.

The Koran claims that the Muslim nation came through the lineage of Ishmael.

If Abraham had not slept with Hagar, there would be no Muslim religion today.

There would be:

? No Iranian Hostage crisis of 1980.

? No Ayotollah Khomeni

? No September 11th.

? No Palestinian/Israeli violence.

Abraham?s lack of faith in God has caused lasting repercussions to this day.

Thousands of years later, Abraham?s children are still living with the cost of his trying to accomplish God?s will for him.

Friends, we need to realize that trying to force God?s will to be done our way will always hurt us, and those around us.

Abraham would plead with us today.

He?d say, “Don?t try to Accomplish God?s Will for Him.

Before we leave this whole subject, let me take a little aside?

A. Can there ever be a lasting peace in the Middle East?

Scripturally, I don?t believe that there will ever be a lasting peace between Abraham?s 2 sons.

An angel of the Lord is speaking to Hagar, the mother of Ishmael.

Genesis 16:11-12 (NIV)

11 The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. 12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”

I believe that his Scripture not only describes Ishmael, but his descendents as well…The modern day world of Islam.

I do not believe that there will ever be lasting peace between Arabs and Israeli?s.

B. Who?s side should we take in the current Palestinian/Israeli conflict?

Again, let me refer you to God?s Word for some insight.

In Genesis 12, when God made His first promise to Abraham, He said?


Genesis 12:1-3 (NIV)

1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

God is speaking to Abraham about the nation of Israel that would follow.

I believe that His prophecy of blessing also speaks of the Jewish nation that Abraham would father.

Friends, I?m not saying that every move the Israeli?s make is good, wise or prudent.

But I believe that one of the reasons that the United States has enjoyed such blessing from God is because we have stood beside the nation of Israel through thick and thin.

I believe that if we withdraw our support from Israel, God will withdraw His blessing from us!

OK, We?re looking today at the words of wisdom that Abraham would hare with us if he stood in this pulpit today.

I believe that Abraham would remind us that:

God Always Keeps His Promises.

He?d challenge us, saying?

Don?t Try to Accomplish God?s Will for Him.

And last?He?d remind us that:

3. God Wants Us to Be Willing to Give Up Anything for Him.

Turn with me to Genesis 22.

Abraham is a wealthy man.

He has all that a man could desire.

He could offer God wealth.

He could offer God his service.

But God wanted what was most important to Abraham?Isaac.

Abraham loved his son passionately!


Genesis 22:2 (NIV)

2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

Verse 1 tells us that God wanted to test Abraham?s faith.

God wanted Abraham to be willing to sacrifice the very thing that he loved more than any other.

You and I know the story.

Abraham was obedient to God.

He took Issac to Mt. Moriah (Present site of the wailing wall/Dome of the Rock Muslim church)

He laid Isaac upon an altar.

He was all set to sacrifice His own son when God stopped Him.

Why was Abraham a hero of the faith?

Because He was willing to give the most precious gift he owned to God.

If Abraham were here today, He?d remind us that “God Wants Us to Be Willing to Give Up Anything for Him”.

He doesn?t want part of us?He wants all of us.

He doesn?t want some of our loyalty?He wants all of our loyalty.

Friends, you can rest assured, whatever you hold back from Jesus is exactly what He?ll ask you for.

He wants to know how much you love Him.

Do you love Him enough to give up anything/everything you have?

What is God asking you for today?

Abraham would challenge us:

God Always Keeps His Promises.

Don?t Try to Accomplish God?s Will for Him.

God Wants Us to Be Willing to Give Up Anything for Him.

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