- Sermon Notes
When we left Abram last week, God had just promised him a son.The problem, however, was that Abram was 85 and his wife, Sarai, was 75 years old and barren.
The story takes a tragic turn when Sarai decides to help God out by providing a son through her handmaiden, Hagar.Abram listens to his wife, goes into Hagar, and she becomes pregnant.That’s when the drama begins, which is predictable.They didn’t follow God’s plan, they took matters into their own hands and the result was trouble upon trouble.
Hagar starts acting all superior to Sarai. Sarai then blames Abram for the whole thing, he wants nothing to do with it, so he tells his wife, Sarai, to do what she wants.Sarai then treats Hagar harshly.Hagar can’t stand being treated that way, so she runs away, presumably headed back home to Egypt.
That’s when God intervenes.He finds Hagar by a spring of water in the wilderness and told her to go back home to Sarai and to submit to her authority.In other words, she needs to stop being part of the problem.Her son, Ishmael is born the next year, but he is a wild donkey of a man and difficult to raise.
Abram then doesn’t hear from God for 13 years.Finally, after 13 years of living with the consequences of not trusting God and facing all the drama of raising a contentious wild donkey of a boy, God appears to Abram and says, “I am El Shaddai, the all-sufficient One, walk before Me and be blameless.”
This is the first time we’ve heard this name of God and it is filled with great promise.
I. God is All-Sufficient
- Sarai and Abram were not yet strong enough in faith to believe that God would fulfill His promise of a son. They didn’t yet believe in the sufficiency
of God, so God comes to him 13 years after they took matters into their own hands and had suffered the consequences.
- The first thing God says after 13 years of silence is, “I am El Shaddai;” I am the all sufficient one.
- This is an aspect of God we need to understand as well because we have many things we need to trust God for every day.
Illus – This last winter Luis Palau was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. This week he spoke to pastors and leaders in what could well be one of his last opportunities to speak publicly. In his message he spoke of his heart for his wife, as he has only a few months to live…but God spoke to his heart, “I am able to take care of your wife and you will see her again in heaven…”
- In Genesis 17 God comes to Abram after 13 years and speaks again of his covenant of promise, but now God is calling Abram to a changed life.
A. God doesn’t need your help
- Abram is 99 years old. God has given him the promises of a multitude of descendents that would come from his own body. Perhaps they thought this was a problem that was too difficult for God, and so they came up with their own solution.
- They tried their way and it only created troubles, but God’s plan and God’s way was better in every way.
- Have you ever come up with your own plan, have it fail miserably and then God reveal that His plan is so much better?
Illus – When I realized God wanted me to go to bible college and become a pastor, I came up with my own creative solution, but God had something far greater in mind.
- Abram and Sarai’s solution brought Ishmael- Israel’s thorn the flesh to this very day.
- At this point in the story Ishmael is 13 years old and we can well imagine the bitterness, rebellion, and contempt that would have been in their home.
Genesis 16: 11-12, The angel of the Lord said to her further, “Behold, you are with child, and you will bear a son; and you shall call his name Ishmael… He will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him;”
App – Maybe you have your own story of when you decided to do things your own way, maybe even knowing that it wasn’t the right thing to do. If so, you then know that the results are most unpleasant - trouble and difficulty and much more struggle than you ever would have had if you just would have listened to God in the first place!
Psalm 106:13, 15, They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel…they tested God in the desert…And He gave them their request but sent leanness into their soul.NKJV
- God allowed Abram to see the consequences of his solution for 13 long years, but then God comes to Abram and presents a new name… El Shaddai
– God Almighty; the all-sufficient one, (the God who knows what He is doing and how to do it.).
B. Be blameless before God
- God is able to demonstrate that He is perfectly capable of doing everything He desires to do.
- If we could only discover and know this truth for our own lives right now before we do something dumb!!
- He begins by calling Abram to “walk before Me and be blameless.” It literally means to be wholehearted in blamelessness.
Psalm 51:6, Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
- We know it is impossible to be completely blameless before God on our own; we are fleshly in nature and have a tendency to sin.
- If a man were to try to obtain blamelessness by his own efforts, he would find that he is the “insufficient one.”
- But here again, that which is impossible with us is possible by God Almighty – the one who is able.
Luke 18:25-27, “For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with men are possible with God.”
- Because of what Christ has done in our behalf, He has made it possible to walk with God with all our hearts!! That’s the key.
- God told Abram to walk with Him and be blameless. You can’t be blameless unless you walk with Him, but the closer you walk with Him, the more you are transformed by His presence.
- Walking with God suggests agreement, that you want to walk with Him, that you want His word and His wisdom directing your life…
Amos 3:3, How can two walk together unless they be agreed?
Illus – It’s like a teen that respects his parents and wants that relationship because he knows there are blessings and wisdom that come from walking together.
C. God’s blessings are undeserved
- God then tells Abram that He will confirm His covenant with him and that He would multiply Abram exceedingly.
- He then speaks to the measure of God’s blessings by giving Abram a new name, Abraham, which means, “father of a multitude.”
- Sarai’s name (contentious) is also changed to Sarah (princess).
Illus – Our name represents who we are. When people hear our name, they think of something about who we are.
- God wants Abraham to walk before Him with a wholeheartedly blameless heart; this is going to require a change in Abraham’s life.
- There are exceedingly great blessings that God desires to pour out on our lives as well that are completely undeserved.
- If God gave us what we deserved, we would actually be in great trouble!!
Psalm 103:8, 10, The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.He has not dealt with us according to our sins nor has he rewarded us according to our iniquities.
- Abraham’s response is a wonderful example; He falls on his face to worship God.
- There, on his face, Abraham receives blessings he could never accomplish on His own.
App – See the contrast – when we do our own thing our own way, we mess things up and end up making life much more difficult than we ever imagined…but if we trust God to be El Shaddai in our lives, He accomplishes blessings we could never accomplish on our own.
Psalm 81:13-14,16, “Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!I would quickly subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their adversaries… I would feed you with the finest of wheat and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
II. Be Circumcised in Heart
- This is not a topic that most pastors would choose to teach on, and I’m sure for Abraham this would become a sore subject for him as well!
- But God is taking Abraham to the point of change and He wants Abraham to have a mark in his life that would speak of the change in his heart.
A. Cut away the world
- When God makes it clear that Sarah herself will have a son, he falls on his face and laughs.
App – this is probably why God doesn’t tell us in advance what He is going to do, we would probably laugh as well because it’s so difficult to imagine God’s miraculous hand on our lives.
Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was 90 years old and this seemed beyond comprehension.
- Abraham has failed in faith several times and here we see it again. He even brings up Ishmael again as a solution!! (verse 18)
- God’s answer was direct and to the point, “No, Sarah will have a son and his name will be Isaac.”
- When God tells Abraham the boy’s name, that is enough, Abraham immediately does what God asked him to do, and he circumcises all the men in his household.
- We understand now that there is a spiritual significance to circumcision; it represents the cutting away of the sin nature and having a relationship
Deuteronomy 30:6, “Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live.”
- The purpose of the symbol to Abraham was to represent that they belonged to God, that they were a people set apart, but what is the point of the outward
symbol of there is no reality behind it?
- Symbols without the heart behind them is just religion and of no value to the soul.
B. Live by a heart that is changed
- We are called to salvation, yes, but also so much more, we are called to have a changed heart.
- “Walk before me,” God said to Abraham. That represents the change God is calling him to.
- It could be understood by comparing the difference between living by pressure or principle.
- To live by pressure is to do things because if you don’t, you’ll get in trouble and you don’t want trouble, so you are careful.
- To live by principle is to have a heart that is given to the Lord and you do things because your heart wants to walk before
God and to honor Him by walking according to the principles of His Word.
Galatians 5:6, For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
App – God is doing a new work. Some people are stuck in a rut in their lives and they’re still live the same way they did for the last 20 years!
But God is doing a new work in our lives if we would decide to walk before Him with hearts that truly believe that He is El-Shaddai, the all-sufficient One, who is able to accomplish what concerns you.
Psalm 138:7-8, Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me… And Your right hand will save me.The Lord will accomplish what concerns me today; your loving kindness, O Lord, is everlasting.
Genesis 17:1-19 NASB
1 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.2 "I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly."3 Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, 4 "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you will be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 "No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.
6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. 7 I will establish My covenant between Me and
you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. 8
I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will
be their God."