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Genesis 15:1-18

Growing in Faith

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • May 12, 2018

In Genesis 15, Abram has just come from the battle and must now be on guard. Would these kings mount an attack in retaliation? That is common in the Middle East, even today, which is why we are seeing an escalation of the conflict between Israel and Iran.

God comes to Abram in a vision and once again gives him promises on which Abram must learn to stand. In these verses, we see Abram growing in faith and increasing in blessing as he does.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture
Growing in Faith

Genesis 15:1-18

In Genesis 12, God called Abram out of the city of Ur of the Chaldees, near the mouth of the Euphrates River, to go to the land God would show him; the land of Canaan, later known as the land of Israel.

Abram arrived in the land of Canaan when he was 75 years old.His nephew, Lot, was with him.In the course of time, their livestock and herds grew significantly, and a conflict arose between the herdsmen of Abram and the herdsmen of Lot.

Not wanting a conflict between them, Abram offered that Lot could choose whichever land he wanted, and Abram would take what remained.Lot chose the Jordan River Valley and settled in the city of Sodom.

Lot soon found himself in trouble, however, when an alliance of Kings from Mesopotamia led by a man named, Chedorlaomer, attacked Sodom and the surrounding cities.Lot and his family were taken captive.

A fugitive escaped and alerted Abram that his nephew, Lot was in trouble.Abram had more than 300 servants and he led them out in pursuit.He overtook them in an area far to the north and Abram and his men rescued his nephew, Lot.

In Genesis 15, Abram has just come from the battle and must now be on guard.Would these kings mount an attack in retaliation?That is common in the Middle East, even today, which is why we are seeing an escalation of the conflict between Israel and Iran.

God comes to Abram in a vision and once again gives him promises on which Abram must learn to stand.In these verses, we see Abram growing in faith and increasing in blessing as he does.

There is practical application for us in these verses because we all need to grow in our faith. Abraham is called the father of our faith and given as an example of a man who takes God at his word and believes what God says, but at the same time, he doesn’t start out as a pillar of faith, he grows in his faith.

I. Faith Conquers Fear

  • Verse 1 – “Do not fear, Abram…”.
  • Chedarloamer had been the power in that area for some time and Abram and his men had just brought a defeat.
  • You might think that Chedarloamer is a cheesy name, but he was no one to trifle with.
  • Fear is something people can relate to because it’s part of the human condition.But it was never God’s will for men to be afraid. Fear is the opposite of faith and hinders the growing of faith.

2 Timothy 1:7, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.

  • Even great men of the Bible had times of fear and doubt.After a great victory over the priests of Baal, Elijah ran out of fear for that wicked woman, Jezebel.Gideon was hiding in a cave when God called him to lead Israel.Jeremiah was afraid because he thought he was too young to speak God’s word.After Jesus was arrested, the disciples fled in fear.

A. It is God who says, “Do not fear.”

  • After these things… God said…”do not fear.”
  • The point is that God is the One who makes this promise and therefore Abram has confidence that what God says he will do. 

Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

  • This is the first time the phrase, “do not fear” is used in the bible, but it is used many times from this point throughout the bible. That exact phrase is used 57 more times in the bible and statements similar, more than 300 times!
  • The underlying power behind this word is the fact that God is the One saying it.

Isaiah 43:1-3, Thus says the Lord, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.For I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your Savior.”

B. God is a shield about you

  • “I am a shield to you,” God promised Abraham.
  • It’s the reason Abram was not to fear.
  • Psalm 3 is a powerful example of trusting in God to be our protector in times of trouble.

Psalm 3:1-8He is a shield about me

  • God was asking Abram to trust His promises – to stand on His promises with his life.
  • That’s the key to conquering fear with faith, standing on the promises of God because you know that He who promised is faithful…

Hebrews 10:22-24, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;

Illus – What would it take to drive a car on a frozen river? It would take faith that the ice is strong enough to hold you.I remember seeing a picture of a car parked on the frozen Willamette River in downtown Portland with a group of men standing around it.

It reminds me of a story I read many years ago of a man who needed to cross the Missouri River when it was frozen. Not knowing if it could hold his weight, he gently crossed the ice crawling on his belly so as to evenly distribute his weight. Just as he was nearing the other side, a four-horse sled loaded with coal came speeding across the river driven by a man singing at the top his lungs!

  • There is an old hymn that captures this powerfully… “Standing on the promises of Christ My King,” vs 2… standing on the promises that cannot fail, when the howling storms of doubt and fear prevail, by the Living Word of God I shall prevail, standing on the promises of God.

Illus – When Nicole was 9 or 10 years old, we were at the marina at Yaquina Bay in Newport.Suddenly I heard her calling out for me.I ran to where she was and couldn’t help but laugh; she had leaned on a boat while looking into the water and soon found herself in trouble…

  • The problem is that many people don’t know what promises God has given to stand on.
  • We’re fickle, but God never wavers… 
2 Timothy 2:13, If we are faithless, He remains faithful…

C. He is your exceedingly great reward

  • The King James has it right here when it reads, “Your exceedingly great reward.”
  • Abram refused to take any of the spoils of the war which the king of Sodom offered (14:22-23).Why?Whatever success he had, he wanted God to give it to him.
  • God is saying to Abram that God Himself will be with him and that will mean exceedingly great things in his life.
  • …Which should immediately remind us of the verse we read last week with the same promise.

Ephesians 3:17-20, I am praying that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height -- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, NKJV

  • God is our treasure. He is the One who will truly satisfy the soul.

App –You could have an abundance of anything on this earth and it will not satisfy the soul. Only in Christ will our soul be satisfied…

Matthew 16:25-26, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.For what would a profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Illus -A University of Rochester study found that people who make obtaining money a top goal in life are at greater risk for depression, anxiety, and behavioral and relationship problems… and they take less pleasure in routine events like a friend telling a joke. In other words, like loses its meaning.

II. Believe God More

  • Verse 6 is the key verse in this chapter and one of the key verses in the entire bible, “Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”
  • Notice it says that Abram believed in the Lord. He didn’t believe in the promises, he believed in the Lord who gave the promises!

A. Trust God with the burdens of your heart

  • After God gave Abram the promises of verse 1, Abram decided to tell God the deepest burden of his heart.
  • “I am childless,” Abram said. This was a deep desire and seemed an impossible request. Perhaps he had misunderstood God and his lead servant would be heir to the promise.
  • “One from your body will be heir.” Then God took him outside and had him look at the stars in the sky… “So shall your descendents be.” You want a son, I will give you more than you can count!!
  • We are also counted in that number!

Galatians 3:7-9, Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
  • What is wonderful to see here is the intimacy between them as Abram reveals the deepest desire of his heart.
  • There is friendship here that points to our relationship with God in Christ.

James 2:23, And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.

  • God desires a relationship where we trust God with our deepest burdens and the desires of our heart and that we would trust Him with those burdens to answer our deepest need.

Psalm 37:4-5, 7, Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and he will do it… Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.

B. God’s covenant is unconditional

  • Verse 8, “how shall I know I will possess it?” Abram asked God.
  • God then asked for a heifer, and other animals in which to hold a rite of covenant promise.
  • In that culture, this was the way of making a covenant. The message was clear, if you break this covenant this is what will happen to you.
  • In our culture, we use lawyers to make contracts with provisions of what will happen if one party doesn’t do their part.
  • But what we discover is that a contract, even a covenant between people, is only as good as the person making it.

App – We’re not perfect, we let people down. I have told people I will do this or that and then get distracted or sidetracked by something and don’t do what I said.

Not so with God. With Him, the promises of God are yes and amen…

2 Corinthians 1:20, For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore, also, through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.

  • God walked through the animal parts alone, a powerful declaration that God alone would stand by this covenant.

App – This is a prophetic look at the cross, a fulfillment of the covenant made with Abraham. God took our failures upon Himself when Christ died on the cross.

2 Corinthians 5:21, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

  • I’m so glad that God’s blessings to me in Christ are not dependent on my perfection, because I fall far short.
  • But God takes my sins upon Himself. He has made a way for everyone who is away from God to be found in Him... and there is rejoicing in heaven because of it.

Luke 15:10, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Genesis 15:1-18         NASB

 

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
 
6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. 9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
 
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'" 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. 

 

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