The Lord’s Covenant With Abram
15 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
2 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit[c] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[d] be.”
6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
The Answer is a Person
Abraham is beginning to express some fear.
Why is Abraham expressing fear?
Back in Genesis 12 God made a covenant with Him:
The Call of Abram
12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household 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.[a]
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.”[b]
Now three chapters later Abraham and Sarah they are not getting any younger. They are getting up there in age and there is no son.
How can you make a great nation when you have no heir?
Look how God answers Abraham, not in an argument or a formula.
“Fear not. I am your shield.”
God himself is the final answer to every fear of the human heart.
Focus on giants – you stumble.
Focus on God – your giants tumble.
In Exodus 3 remember when Moses ask God at the burning bush his name.
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.[c] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
Think about this for a moment: God is the essence of whatever you need at the moment.
“I am your strength.” “I am your courage.”
“I am your health.” “I am your hope.”
“I am your supply.” “I am your defender.”
“I am your deliverer.” “I am your forgiveness.”
“I am your joy.” “I am your future.”
In short, God is saying to you and me, “I am whatever you need whenever you need it.” He is the all-sufficient God for every crisis.
This morning I want to give you four steps to how to move from
Fear to Faith
- Looking forward, not backwards
Think of Abraham. His only hope lay in the promises of God for the future. Whoever heard of having a child at the age of 80 and 90 years old.
As long as he looked back, he would never have faith to believe God.
Abraham’s only hope was to step out into the future, trusting that somehow, some way God would keep his promises.
After the Civil War, in an incident recounted by Charles Flood in Lee: The Last Years, Robert E. Lee visited a woman who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her home. There she cried bitterly that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Union artillery fire. She waited for Lee to condemn the North or at least sympathize with her loss. But Lee—who knew the horrors of war and had suffered the pain of defeat—said, “Cut it down, my dear madam, and then forget it.”
We have to believe that God is not a God who wants us to be stuck in the past. Life is a process of always moving forward towards God.
What would happen if a child never goes to school because he is afraid?
A child never leaves home to start his own life.
Young man afraid to ask a woman out on a date?
Whenever there is growth there is an eliminate of fear.
Just like a parent telling Johnny on the first day of school, Trust me Johnny, it will be okay.
God is saying to us today, Do you trust me? All things work out according to my plain and purpose.
- Faith means trusting in God’s timing–not your own.
So many of our struggles with fear start right here.
Deep down, we fear that God has somehow made a mistake in his dealings with us.
Like Abraham, we have waited and waited—sometimes for years on end. Even though we may have seen many remarkable answers to prayer, the one thing that means the most to us has not been granted.
Where is God? Why doesn’t he answer the fervent, heart-felt prayers of his people?
Of the many answers that might be given to that question, one answer must be that God’s timing and ours are often quite different.
Sometimes we are living in Eastern STANDARD Time and God works on ETERNAL STANDARD TIME.
Edward Dobson offers a helpful word at this point:
The issue is this: Is God in control, or is he not in control?
- If God is in control, he is never early; he is never late. He is always right on time… God always operates on schedule. He on-time arrival schedule is perfect. Never early. Never late. He never forgets and is always on time.
Content with God’s Timing
The autobiography, Buck O’Neill tells of being a black man who played professional baseball before African-Americans were allowed to play in the all-white major leagues.
By the time the color barrier was broken in 1947, O’Neill was considered too old to play in the big leagues, as were most of his teammates. Many of his friends grew bitter about their missed opportunities. O’Neill writes:
At a reunion of Negro league players in Ashland, Kentucky, a reporter from Sports Illustrated asked me if I had any regrets, coming along as I did before Jackie Robinson integrated the major leagues. And this is what I told him then: “Waste no tears for me. I didn’t come along too early—I was right on time . . . I don’t have a bitter story. I truly believe I have been blessed.”
The title of O’Neill’s book reflects his cheerful optimism and his belief in the sovereignty of God. Despite missing fame and fortune, O’Neill chose to title his autobiography I Was Right on Time.
- Faith grows by believing God in spite of your circumstances.
Sometimes our circumstances make it easy to believe in God;
other times we have to struggle.
No matter what happens we are trusting in the Lord.” That’s biblical faith rising above its circumstances to lay hold of the eternal promises of God.
You have to settle that question right now in your mind. No matter what happens to me, even the worse of the worse
And I still willing to put my full trust in God believing that he is working out the best for me? When you are in the midst of crises that is NOT the time to be asking yourself, Do I really trust God?
Abraham made up his mind early on, that he was going to trust God period. If Abraham had waited regarding his decision to trust God.
- Faith is obeying God, one step at a time.
Abraham has a choice, he can either begin to doubt, or take a step of obedience. Abraham doesn’t have a clue and God doesn’t tell him a thing. But Abraham now has a choice. He can choose to obey God or begin to doubt the goodness of God. He can argue with God or decide to take matters in his own hands.
How often we stumble over this. We slight the near in favor of the far, shirking the duties of day because we are dreaming about some distant tomorrow.
But until we have done what God has called us to do today we will never be prepared for what he wants us to do tomorrow.
In the end 99% of life turns out to be humdrum, ordinary routine. It’s the same old thing day after day. Yet out of the humdrum God is weaving an unseen pattern that will one day lead us in a new direction.
Faith means taking the next step—whatever it is—and walking with God wherever he leads us. Sometimes it will make sense, other times it won’t. But we still have take that step if we are going to do God’s will.
What’s the number one fear in your life today?
You might not have an answer, what is one step that you can take in a positive direction.
Can You Trust God?
Here is the question you have to settle in your mind?
Can you, no matter what your circumstances is, can you trust God that he is working out the best in your life?
Everything I’ve been trying to say in this message comes down to one simple question: Can you trust God? Or better, Can God be trusted? More and more I am convinced that this is the fundamental question of life: “Is God good and can he be trusted to do what is right?” If the answer is yes, then we can face the worst that life has to offer.
If the answer is no, then we’re no better off than the people who have no faith at all. In fact, if the answer is no or if we’re not sure, then we really don’t have any faith anyway.
ILL. Many of you recognize the name of J. Hudson Taylor, who founded the China Inland Mission one hundred years ago. During the terrible days of the Boxer Rebellion, when missionaries were being killed and captured, he went through such an agony of soul that he could not pray. Writing in his journal, he summarized his spiritual condition this way:
“I can’t read. I can’t think. I can’t pray. But I can trust.”
There will be times when we
- can’t read the Bible.
- Sometimes we won’t be able to focus our thoughts on God at all.
- Often we will not even be able to pray.
But in those moments when we can’t do anything else, we can still trust in the loving purposes of our heavenly Father.
God Always Watches
An old lady in England had stood the bombings with amazing grit during WWII. When asked the secret of her fortitude amidst such frightful danger, she replied “Well, every night I say my prayers and then I remember what the pastor told us, God is always watching. With that thought, I go to sleep. After all, there’s no need for two of us to lie awake.”—The Christian Century.
Fear not, FEAR NOT.
No one knows what a day may bring. Who knows if we will all make it through this week?
- But our God is faithful to keep every one of his promises.
- Nothing can happen to us except it first passes through the hands of God. If your way is dark, keep on believing.
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he cares for you.
May 20, 2017
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