Faithlife Sermons

Abraham: Learning to trust

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The Call

All of us have received a call from God, in one form or another. Our bible hero of the day did also, but when he first received it he was a different person at least by his name.
Abraham was originally known as Abram,
Genesis 12:1-
Genesis 12:1–3 ESV
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
So the journey began. Abram took his wife Sarai, and their nephew Lot with him, and the Bible tells us that he was 75 years old at the time. I’m not going to tell you the entire story, because I do want to get to a place where we can focus on our hero’s story and what he would have to say to us.
They journey together through Egypt, and eventually Lot and Abram separate and go and settle in different lands.
We read this in chapter 15:
Genesis 15:5 ESV
And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Gen 15:5
Abram has this promise that he is going to be the father of nations, that through his descendants the world is going to be blessed. But there’s a problem, he and his wife Sarai have not yet been able to have a child together.
Genesis 15:1–6 ESV
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Abram has this promise that he is going to be the father of nations, that through his descendants the world is going to be blessed. But there’s a problem, he and his wife Sarai have not yet been able to have a child together.
This is what I consider Abram’s beginning of his real growth in faith. Yes, he’d travelled with his family to the land of Canaan and been there 10 years (so he’s now 85) and still no apparent heir to carry on his lineage.
So, he and Sarai take God’s promise into their own hands...
Genesis 16:3 ESV
So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife.
So Abram is 86 when Ishmael is born. But that’s not the way God is going to fulfill the promise. God renews his covenant with Abram and changes his name to Abraham, and changes Sarai’s name to Sarah assuring Abraham that he and Sarah will be the ones from whom nations will be born.
Eventually, God’s promise is fulfilled.
Genesis 21:1–3 ESV
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac.
Genesis 21:1-3
Abraham is 100 years old when Isaac is born! 25 years after the original promise that God had made.
God is true to his word
One of the most well known stories of Abraham happens in chapter 22.
Genesis 22:1–2 ESV
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
Genesis 22:1-3That is where God tested Abraham and asks him to sacrifice his only son, his lineage, his fulfillment of the promise - recognize what it is that God is asking Abraham.
That is where God tested Abraham and asks him to sacrifice his only son, his lineage, God’s fulfillment of his promise to him - recognize what it is that God is asking Abraham.
Thus far in our story, Abraham has been promised his offspring will be as many as the stars in the sky, or the sand on the shore. The key word here being “offspring”.
Now, in this part of our story he’s being asked to sacrifice his one and seemingly only chance at this eventuality by the One who has made the promise and he thought fulfilled it.
Genesis 22:3 ESV
So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
Is he crazy?
Is he delusional?
Are we missing something?
Yes, we are missing something. We’re missing the journey and the trust that Abraham developed during those 30 + years from God’s call to this point.
The key phrase in all of this is:
Genesis 15:6 ESV
And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
He believed the Lord.
Abraham believed the Lord -
Now in the beginning we see his protests:
I don’t have any kids
I’m old
My wife is well beyond child bearing age
As he grows we see him literally arguing with God.
He barters with God about destroying Sodom because his nephew Lot is living there.
Have you ever bartered with God? Most of us don’t barter, but we’ve tried to make deals with God.
Oh God, if you’ll just do this one thing then I will...
And we always fail in holding up our part of the bargain.
That’s not how Abraham bartered, he asked God to be faithful to who he knew God to be.

What would Abraham say to us?

Faith doesn’t mean answers happen overnight
God’s timing is not our timing
Just because the answer doesn’t appear right away does not mean that God is not answering your prayers.
Faith is a lot of small steps in the same direction.
When God makes a promise, God will keep that promise.
even when it seems absurd
even when it takes a long time in our view of things
even when we don’t understand
God is truly sovereign
God is in control, not us
that’s a good thing
Lastly, as Abraham is finishing his lap with us he reminds us of two things:
You don’t have to be perfect for God to begin working in your life.
You don’t earn God’s love and/or blessings.
None of us have done anything to deserve to live in a land as prosperous as we do. It’s a gift.
None of us have done anything to deserve to have the descendants we do. They are gifts too.
Everything is God’s - the Lord gives and the Lord can take away,it’s all his anyway.
Your life is a gift, treat it that way. Be grateful, and no matter what happens, trust God.
Genesis 15:6 ESV
And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
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