- Sermon Notes
God’s Cure for a Divided Heart
November 7, 2021
ILLUS – Marriage and God’s will
1. Have you ever tried to live with a divided heart?
2. If so, then you know how vulnerable and un-settling life feels when your heart is divided.
3. In many ways, living with a divided heart is a miserable way to live life.
4. So, what is the cure for a divided heart?
5. Tonight, we will uncover valuable insights from Genesis 11-12 and discover God’s cure for a divided heart.
1. Chapter 11 is a major transition point in the book of Genesis.
2. The first eleven chapters of Genesis focus on Four Major Events:
b. The Fall
c. The Flood
d. The Tower of Babel
3. Then the remaining chapters of Genesis focus on Four Main Characters:
4. Tonight, we are going to study the first of the four main characters, Abraham.
a. Almost one-fourth of Genesis focuses on Abraham.
b. And there are seventy-five references to Abraham in the New Testament.
5. Abraham has been rightly called the “Father of our faith.”
6. But it is important to note that Abraham did not possess a mature faith instantly.
7. In fact, there were times when his heart was divided.
Transition – As we will see with Abraham, God’s cure for a divided heart begins with a proper understanding of God and His heart for us.
• The first insight the Bible reveals which should encourage and motivate us to have undivided hearts for God is that. . .
I. God Has an Undivided Heart for Us
A. God loves us when we are unlovable (11:28)
1. Abraham lived in a land filled with idolatry.
a. Ur of the Chaldeans was an ancient city of the early Sumerian kingdom.
b. It was located 125 miles from the present mouth of the Euphrates River, 100 miles southeast of Babylon.
c. Ur was the capital city of Sumer.
2. In Abraham’s day it was a thriving commercial city.
a. Ur had unusually high cultural standards.
b. Ur possessed skilled craftsmanship.
c. Ur was advanced in technology and science.
3. But Ur was also the center of idolatry.
a. They worshipped the moon god, Sin, in ornate temples.
b. The name of Abraham’s wife, Sarai, means princess which may have been linked to Ur’s moon goddess.
4. Even Abraham’s father, Terah, was immersed in the idolatry of Ur.
Joshua 24:2, And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods.’”
5. To make matters worse, Abraham’s wife, Sarai, was barren.
6. In that day, barren women were labeled as being cursed by God because it was commonly held that parents lived on through their children after death.
a. In essence, it was believed a childless couple was doomed to extinction.
b. So, rumors would spread, and people would gossip and mock.
7. Despite this, God reached out to Abraham.
a. When Sarah was 65 and Abraham was 75, God reached out to them.
b. Even though they lived in a land filled with idolatry.
c. Even though they were considered cursed by God with barrenness.
APPL – God reached out to this despised couple. And God still does because what the world does not value, God values.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29, For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.
APPL – You see, if God only loves the lovable, then we are in big trouble.
• And if God has a divided heart towards us, then we are helpless and hopeless.
• But God’s heart is not divided towards us.
• And God loves us even though we are unworthy of His love.
ILLUS – John Newton, former slave trader turned abolitionist and preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, wrote the most famous hymn of all-time.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, t’was blind but now I see.
B. God calls us to a better home (12:1)
1. God commanded Abraham to leave three things behind:
a. His country
b. His relatives, and
c. His father’s house. Why?
2. Because that place and those people would hold Abraham back from following God with an undivided heart.
3. Years later, God gave Israel a similar command, to be set apart for the Lord.
Leviticus 20:24, 26, Hence I have said to you, “You are to possess their land, and I Myself will give it to you to possess it, a land flowing with milk and honey. I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples. . . Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.”
APPL – As it was for Abraham and Israel, the challenge for us is to remain set apart to God.
• We live in an idolatrous world, but we must never let idolatry divide our hearts.
• We must leave “Ur of the Chaldeans” and be set apart for the Lord.
1 John 5:21, Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
4. God commanded Abraham to go to the land that He will show him.
a. God did not tell Abraham where he was going.
b. God told him to go and gave him promises to stand on as he traveled.
Warren Wiersbe, “Living by faith means living by promises and not by explanations.”
Transition – But a strange thing happened on the way to the Promised Land.
• It is not immediately obvious after a quick reading of Genesis 11-12.
• But when we dig deeper, we discover another important insight about God’s heart for us which should encourage us to have undivided hearts for God. . .
II. God Will Finish What He Started in Us
A. God revealed His glory to Abraham in Ur
1. To rightly understand Genesis 11-12, we must read the words of Stephen in Acts 7:2-4.
Acts 7:2-4, And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Depart from your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’ Then he departed from the land of the Chaldeans, and settled in Haran. And from there, after his father died, God removed him into this country in which you are now living.”
2. God revealed Himself to Abraham.
3. Abraham witnessed the glory of the living God, not some lifeless, useless idol of the Chaldeans.
a. But contrary to God’s first command, Abraham took his father, Terah, along.
b. Then, to make matters worse, Abraham listened to the voice of his father and stopped in Haran. Why?
c. Because Haran was very similar to Ur.
o Haran was a commercial center.
o They worshipped the moon god.
o And by the way, Haran was the name of Terah’s deceased son.
4. KEY: Haran was located half-way between Ur and the Promised Land.
APPL – Half-way is not all the way.
• Nor does half-hearted equal wholehearted.
• Living with a divided heart is a miserable way to live. I know. . .
ILLUS – Overcoming a divided heart.
APPL – We must purpose in our hearts to never let someone or something divide our devotion to God.
• We must leave Ur of the Chaldeans, the land of idolatry.
• And we must not hesitate or stop in Haran, the land of half-hearted devotion to God.
Philippians 3:13-14, Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
APPL – Living with a divided heart is costly.
• Abraham’s delay cost him valuable time.
• Abraham’s delay also cost him all the blessings that come from following God with an undivided heart.
Transition – But there is hope because. . .
B. God called Abraham again in Haran
1. Genesis 12:1, “Now the Lord had said to Abram.”
2. God did not give up on Abraham.
3. What God started in Abraham; God would finish in Abraham.
Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Transition – But as Abraham discovered in Haran, God’s promises are not realized until we walk by faith and obey God’s command.
III. You Will Never Know Until You Go
A. God blesses an undivided heart
1. God gave Abraham 3 promises:
a. Land, though he was homeless,
b. Nation, though he was childless,
c. Great Name, though he was an alien.
2. God also gave Abraham two commands:
a. Go, and
b. Be a blessing. (2-3)
3. Abraham’s obedience set off a chain reaction of blessings.
B. We are blessed through Abraham’s seed
1. Jesus Christ is Abraham’s seed.
Galatians 3:16, Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seed,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.
2. We enter God’s blessing through faith in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.
Galatians 3:7-9, Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations shall be blessed in you.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
APPL – God’s heart is undivided towards us.
• Through faith in Jesus Christ, we become children of God.
• Through faith in Jesus Christ, we inherit God’s blessings, the forgiveness of sin, and the gift of eternal life.
APPL – What is the condition of your heart?
• In Ur, the land of idolatry?
• In Haran, the land of half-hearted devotion?
• Let’s make having an undivided heart our prayer request to the One whose heart is undivided for us. . .
Psalm 86:11, Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
Genesis 11:27 – 12:4 NASB
27 Now these are the records of the generations of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran; and Haran became the father of Lot. 28 Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29 Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 Sarai was barren; she had no child.