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04-29-07Gen17 Friend of God part 8

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Friend of God series, part 8
Genesis 17
Title:  Radical change brings a new name
Key words:  Covenant; faithful; promise; changed heart; son; Abraham; Sarah; circumcise
© Pastor Jerry Branch, 2007

Let’s start by reading this chapter this morning.

READ: Gen 17

As we look at this passage, it really helps knowing
          how the passage is laid out and the progressions in Abram’s life.

So, let’s go to the NEW Testament
          and hear the words of the Apostle Paul
in Romans 4:1-25,
Ok…let’s start to pull this together.

What do we see? 
We see that,
          this covenant which Abram receives from God
                   was not what saved Abram, was it?
Instead it was Abram’s FAITH that accounted him righteous. 

God didn’t say ‘this covenant I make with you accounts you righteousness.’

That means that Abram’s salvation did not come from
          anything thing he did…
          his salvation had nothing to do with an outward sign
                    it had nothing to do with some outward work
That means that even Abram’s OBEDIENT act of Circumcision
                   did not save him…
Paul tells us in Romans 4:10-11
          that Abram was already accounted righteous
                   while he was still UNCIRCUMSIZED (as seen in Rom 4:11). 

The Biblical truth then that applies to people to day then is:
          It’s NOT a church ordinance that saves us. 
          It’s not taking communion that saves,
          it’s not being the member of the ‘right church’ that saves,
          it’s not speaking in tongues that saves or is a sign of salvation,
          it’s NOT how many people you lead to Jesus,
          it’s NOT being christened that saves us,
          nor is it being baptized after confessing Christ that saves…

Just like Abraham, you and I are saved by faith in
          Jesus Christ and faith in Him only. 
We have salvation ONLY in the Name of Jesus Christ
                    Who shed His Blood for our sin. 
          Faith in Christ saves.
          I didn’t say, ‘belief’ in Jesus saves, because even the Devil believes         in Jesus.  It’s is FAITH.  There is a big difference.

Now, let’s look at the key passages :

First, Abram is 99 years old…
          he’s been in the land now 24 years,
          and it was also 13 years since the birth of Ishmael. 
          Abram was still in ‘wait’ mode…
                   wait mode for over 24 years,
                    even with his and Sarai’s attempt to help God out in the plan…
                   apparently, though, Abram was now really learning to trust.

Because looking back in time, it has also been 24 years
          since he had first been told by the Lord
                   that the Lord would make a great nation of him…
                             and Abram’s not getting any younger.

So the Lord comes to him, and identifies Himself to Abram,

          He says, “I am “El Shaddai”’

El Shaddai, one of the Names of God…
          it means, El…God,  
          and  Shaddai…Almighty….
          El Shaddai, the very Name itself conveys
                   the context of POWER and MAJESTY.

God then says, to Abram, “Walk before Me, and Be Blameless”,
          the result then will be that God would establish,
          or God will confirm His covenant,
                   AND He will greatly increase Abram’s number.

Do you recall that back in Genesis 12, that God told Abram to get up
          and leave his country, and in doing so,
          he would receive a blessing (weheyeh beraka)…Abram responded.  Well, NOW, he receives more of this blessing.

So you see the connection and what is happening?

The covenant that God gave Abram,
          was in fact received in progression…
                    and what we’re reading about here in Chap 17
                             is still all part of the same covenant…

Now, a couple of things come out of this for our own application…

First, just because God tells you He’s going to do something,
          doesn’t necessarily mean His timing is for right this moment. 
          We saw that last week and how impatience got Abram into trouble.

Listen, folks…You and I have just got to learn to accept the fact
          that God is God, and we’re NOT. 

We’ve got to accept the fact,
          that ‘it’s all about God’ and NOT about me or you.

We’ve got to accept the Fact,
          that God has His plan and His timetable,
                   and sometimes, that is just not be the same as
                             fast food delivery.

Abram waited 24 years.

Here’s how to check out how strong our trust is…

It’s a real question to ponder…
                    If God tells you He’s going to do something,
                              will you wait 24 years on Him? 
Would we ‘whine and complain?’

Read Phil 2:14

Would we be more ‘concerned about ‘us’ and neglect that it’s not about us,       but all about God?

Would we be willing to wait a lifetime, and keep trusting?

Abram was learning to wait and TRUST God,
          and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. 

Saving faith is trusting faith.  And that’s what God is looking for…

"And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6, NASB95)

Again, look in v. 1…we read that God gives Abram two obligations…
          he says to him, ‘walk before me, and be blameless.’

Again, just like Abram, that has application to you and me today.

If you are going to be a follower of Jesus Christ,
          then you’ve got to not just ‘try’ to live up to
                   some higher code of ethics
                   or try to live by a bunch of religious or church rules.

If you’re going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ,
          then you’ve got to BE one
          discipleship, or Christ-followship, requires a LIFE Change…
          it is a ‘being’ thing, not a ‘doing’ thing…
          it isn’t something we can just ‘try to do’ or work at. 
          Being a Christ-follower means that Jesus must ‘live’ in you,

          and through you, and out of you. 

Abram was a follower of God, and he had learned to walk with the Lord.  And God doesn’t hesitate to tell him that his obligations are…
          you must keep blameless,
                   which by the way, means to be ‘complete’,
                   or ‘perfect’ or ‘have integrity’ in your walk and talk’…
in other words
          what Abram “said he was,”         had to be ‘what he was’
                   a follower and Friend of God. 

Same applies to us today.

We Walk with Jesus…and we’re complete,
          that means we must live with integrity in our walk and talk…
          we MUST BE ‘what’ we really are,
                   so that all the world may know that we are followers of Jesus.

Then, God says to Abram, IF you do so, I will do this….
          literally, the Hebrew reads,
I will confirm my covenant so that I will greatly increase your number.

Next, we see Abram’s response to being in the presence of the Lord…
          Abram fell ‘on his face’

What’s that?
          It’s worship!!!
          Anyone who says that worship isn’t important
                   hasn’t read his or her Bible recently.
Abram worships…he has submitted himself before God…
          he is showing complete, humility and respect to God,
          and Abram is 99 years old, and down on his face before God.  
          Ok, so he was probably in decent shape being a rancher.

But all the same…
When was the last time you were down on your face before God?

When was the last time you put your head down
          on your desk or table before the Lord?

When was the last time you went stretched out before God?

I’m not talking about going through some ‘look holy’ motions,
          and trying to impress God with your humility,
          but because you recognized that you were in the presence of
                             El Shaddai…God Almighty.

I personally much rather go facedown before the Lord, today,
          as one of His followers, as I honor Him,
          as I bow in His Holy Presence, as I worship Him
                   with Honor and Respect, and AWE,
          THAN to wait in pride and stubbornness and rebellion all my life,                         to only go down ONCE before Him on Judgment Day,
                   when every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that                              Jesus Christ is Lord,
                             and then NEVER see Him again for all eternity.

God then proceeded to spell out the covenant in detail…
          Abram would be the father of many nations…
          and for that reason, God changed Abram’s name to ‘Abraham’
                   which means father of a multitude.

God then said in verse 6, “I will make nations of you,
          and kings will come from you.”

Think of the profound awesomeness of that…

          Many people would come from Abraham, but also many kings. 
          Think of the Great kings…Saul, David, Solomon,
                   and all the others…
                   but think about this…the greatest King of all, the King of Kings                                      Himself, would come from this simple man’s line…
                             Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah,
                             God Incarnate, Himself
                             would come from the House of David
                                      whose own lineage came from Abraham.

That was not just a future blessing for Abraham,
          but also a Blessing sent from God Himself for you and me today.

I’ve got to shout, Hallelujah!!!

          I’m one of those blessed by Abraham.

Now, just think about the significance of the name change.

God now changed Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s name to Sarah.

          Why?  It was because Abram in 24 years
                   had undergone a radical change. 
                   He had learned to walk in faith. 
          He was now completely following God in absolute trust,
                   and had become the friend of El Shaddai, Himself. 

          And a few years later, Abraham would even offer up this son,
                   as a sacrifice because he trusted God so completely.

An interesting Biblical note, is that we see that whenever a person’s
          heart is completely changed, God changes that person’s name.

When I repented of my sin, and asked Jesus
          to save me and be my savior and Lord, I got a new name…
          I became a ‘friend of Jesus’…I became a Christian. 
                   The same happens with you when you got saved.

And if it hasn’t happened to any of you who are here this morning,
          this is the day to get your name change. 

And then God announces to Abraham that his heir won’t be Ishmael,
          but will be Isaac.

And then here is a real important aspect of this passage…
          Abram doesn’t dawdle, or procrastinate…
          God told him what the sign of the covenant would be…
                   that being circumcision…
so Abraham that very day, has entire household, including himself,           circumcised in faith, and in obedience. 
This prompt action of faith, signaled a faith that believed
          what God promised…the son would be born.

For the believer today, baptism is our sign of our new birth.

We are baptized by immersion, AFTER we are saved by faith,
          because we want to TESTIFY to what God has done,
          in obedient love to Jesus Christ.

Walk before me and be blameless…
Abram receive the New Name, Abraham because He was walking in faith.

He was LIVING as one who had faith in God.

Are You?

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