- Sermon Notes
What interesting timing that the day we happen to be on Genesis 12, where God says to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you,” is the same day we celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel becoming a nation.
In these verses we meet Abram, one of the most important people in the history of man. Later he will be Abraham and will be called the “father of faith” and “the friend of God.”In fact the scripture says that those who have faith are sons of Abraham. We used to sing a song in children’s ministry that said the same. “Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had father Abraham, and I am one of them and so are you, so let’s just praise the Lord…”
Though Abram is the father of faith, we also see him growing in his faith.He doesn’t start out as a spiritual giant.In fact, it seems that God makes a point of showing us his failures.We can relate.
We are still growing in our faith. We are often like the man who brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus and said, “If you can help him, please have pity on us.” “If you can?” Jesus said, “all things are possible to him who believes.” The man then responded, “I do believe, help my unbelief.”
Abram was living in the city of Ur when God called him. Ur was a large metropolitan city near the mouth of the Euphrates river. It is one of the earliest known civilizations in the world with great wealth and architectural development. There they worshiped the moon god, Nanna. No doubt Abram’s father, Terah, was an idol worshipper of that moon god when Abram was called by God to leave that place.
The name Abram means exalted father. The problem is that Abram is not a father at all. Sarai (means princess), his wife, is barren and in that culture, being barren meant that they were thought to be cursed of God.
We would not have known about Abram, however, if it were not for his faith. His faith stands out against the culture of his time. The people of Ur followed idols, but Abram was different. Abraham believed God, the scripture says, and it was counted to him as righteousness.
I. God Calls Us Also
- There is much to learn from the story of Abraham. God called him to come out of Ur to go to a land that God would give him.
- Ur in many ways is a picture of the world.It was filled with unfaithfulness and materialism, and a people with no heart for God.
- God called Abram him out of Ur and into a land He had not known and gave promises of blessing upon blessing.
- Abram believed God. He took him at His word.He believed God would fulfill what He promised.
Romans 4:20-22, With respect to the promise of God, Abram did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was also able to perform.Therefore, also it was reckoned to him as righteousness.
A. God pursues us as well
- God came to Abram and called him out of Ur to come to a land that God would show him.
- God takes the initiative.
1 John 4:19, We love Him because He first loved us. NKJV
- God reached out to us while we were in the world, otherwise, we would still be in our sins; without God and without hope in this world.
Ephesians 2:12-13, Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
- In Revelation
3:20 Jesus said to the church in Laodicea, “I stand at the door and knock and if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and him with Me.”
- God has many ways of knocking on the door of your life.
Illus – Raul Ries was filled with anger and contempt for everything and everyone. After serving in Vietnam he found himself messed up and so angry he became a street fighter. He ruined everything in his life. He finally came to the place where he was sitting in his living room waiting to kill his family when he turned on the TV and heard Chuck Smith give the good news of Jesus Christ.
B. Don’t be a half-way believer
- God called Abram while he was living in Ur of the Chaldeans to leave it all behind; his country and his father’s relatives and come to the land of
- It’s a picture of the world for us, and we are called to leave everything in the world behind us.
Illus – “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. The cross before me, the world behind me…”
- This is a spiritual application; we have to be careful not to make the mistake of overstepping the bounds of interpretation. God gave literal
promises to Abram that are spiritual principles for us.
- Leaving the city of Ur and going to the land of promise for us is leaving behind the things of the world and believing the promises of forgiveness
of sin, of eternal life, or relationship with God, and that He will never leave us or forsake us. It’s living in the place of blessing that He
has called us to in Christ Jesus.
- In that culture, when you left a city, you truly left it behind. They did not have any methods of communication like we have today; no mail, no phone,
no Internet, no Facebook, and no instant messaging, not even messaging pigeons; you left and you were gone!
Illus – Today I can video call anyone with an Internet connection anywhere in the world.
- But that’s the point, it’s too easy to stay connected with the people of the world and get drawn back into the old things.
2 Corinthians 6:17, Therefore, “Come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
App – Instead of being pulled back into the world, wouldn’t it be better to pull people of the world and invite them to church to meet your Christian friends?
- Haran is a picture of those who make the decision to come out of Ur but stop short of taking God at His word and fully believing God’s promises.
- In other words, there’s no blessing for Abraham in Haran.
App – This is part of growing in faith, doing what God wants us to do.Abram is not quite there because …he stops in Haran.
In fact, he’s 75 years old before he truly leaves Haran and heads for the land of promise.
II. It’s All About Faith
- The promises of God were not found in Haran. Perhaps Haran reminded his father of Ur, or perhaps it was far enough for Terah. Perhaps his father was
too old to go on, but Abram needed to say “yes” to God and trust God completely and go to the land of Canaan before he would see the promises of
God fulfilled in his life.
- Abraham did believe God and it was counted to him as righteousness. He believed God’s promises and then did as God asked.
- What was counted to him as righteousness? The fact that he left Haran or the fact that he believed God? Answer: the fact that he believed God. He left
Haran because of his faith.
- The more you believe, the more you move.
A. God’s promises are found in Jesus
- For Abram, he would only find the promises of God by fully trusting God and leaving Haran.
- One of those promises was that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him.
- He was 75 years old when he left Haran and had no son; this was a promise that would require great faith.
- That promise was fulfilled literally in that Christ Jesus was a son of Abraham and in Him the fullness of God dwells. All the nations are blessed today
because of the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ.
Ephesians 1:3, 7-8, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ… In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which he lavished upon us.
- God’s desire to bless our lives is far more than people can even imagine…
Ephesians 3:14, 18-20, I bow my knees in praying… that you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.Now unto Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.
Illus - That reminds me of the story Tim Irwin wrote about a family trip to Portugal…
B. In Christ is a more excellent way
- God promised to make Abram a great nation. He promises to increase our spiritual capacity.
- The promise to Abram was fulfilled literally in the nation of Israel, in us God promises life lived abundantly in Christ.
John 10:10, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
- God promised to make his name great. This is seen powerfully today as Judaism, Islam and Christianity all honor the name of Abraham.
- But for us this is fulfilled spiritually. We know that a good name is very desirable…
Proverbs 22:1, A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.
- A person who loves God, who cares about others, serves and loves those around him, will have a good name.
App –God’s ways are not our ways…His ways are higher and better.
Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
- God’s ways are more excellent and when we live our life His way, our life is more excellent because of it..
Illus – When Jordi and I were first married, we decided to go crabbing. We caught several and decided to stop at her parents to cook them. The only problem was that I didn’t know what I was doing… what a difference it made when I found out the right way to do it!!
1 Corinthians 12:31, I will show you a still more excellent way. Love is patient, love is kind…
- God’s Word show us the way in which we should live. Without it, life is much more difficult and greatly lacking in peace.
C. Be a blessing
- Not only would Abram receive these blessings from God, he in turn would be a blessing.
- This is actually something God is telling him to do, and then God promises to add powerfully to it.
- This is literally fulfilled in Christ in that through Jesus, every nation on the earth is blessed with the promise of eternal life.
App – there is an important spiritual principle here in that we have been so blessed in Christ, that in turn we have the privilege of blessing others.
- There is a wonderful joy in making a difference in someone else’s life.
2 Corinthians 2:14, But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
- May our lives bring the smell of Christ to those around us.
Genesis 12:1-7 NASB
1 Now the Lord said to Abram,