God Makes A Promise
The Gospel Project • Sermon • Submitted
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I want to tell you a story about a man, a man named Theodore Geisel
He was an author, but honestly…not a very good one.
In fact, he wrote one book, took it to a publisher, and was told it would never be published. So he wrote another book, took it to a publisher, and was told the same thing. In fact, he did this 27 different times, and every. single. time. he was told, “Nope, your book is terrible, we’re never going to publish your work.”
Until one day, an editor agreed, finally, on the 28th attempt, to publish one of his books.
That book was titled, “And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street”, written by a Dr. Seuss, aka, Theodore Geisel
Or this story, about a man named Michael, who was kind of short and was actually cut by his basketball coach his sophomore year
That man’s last name was Jordan, who went on to become the GOAT
Or one more, this guy couldn’t even put two sentences together at age 9…causing many to think he struggled to have a “normal” mental capacity.
In fact, he was expelled from school and refused admittance into a polytechnic school
However, this same guy went on to win the Nobel Prize, and goes by the name Albert Einstein…one of the greatest minds we have seen
There’s just something about these stories isn’t there?
Something about them that draw us in, because we feel like we can relate, bc most of us view ourselves as ordinary
And if they overcame the odds and came out victorious, maybe we can too!
Ordinary people doing extraordinary things!
And we think, if we just work hard enough, or if we catch that lucky break, we too can do something amazing
But…what if I tell you that we weren’t designed to operate that way?
Yes, we were designed to do amazing things…but what if the way we do that is completely irrelevant to US.
What if it isn’t dependent on ourselves, what if it’s outside of ourselves?
Several generation have passed since the Flood, and last week we looked at Job, and today the story moves to
The final 38 chapters of Genesis revolve completely around 4 generations of a single family....around four people, sometimes referred to as patriarchs:
Abram, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph
Familiar names to you, no doubt
Which should tell us right off the bat that there is something special about this family, something extraordinary
And do you want to know what it is?
Look at verses 1-4
Those four verses we just read are what we refer to as the Abrahamic Covenant
A covenant, a promise, made between God and a man
A man who was a worshiper of pagan gods (, 3)
But we see God making a covenant with Abram, this normal, ordinary, man
And God started the whole covenant, the whole conversation with a command for Abram:
To leave three things:
His fathers house
Now, some of you are thinking: “Leave my parents house, go out on my own, and explore new places? Sign me up! Get me out of here!”
But, don’t miss the reality of this, especially in Abram’s day
He was leaving everything
Families stayed together, worked together, inheritances were passed on, everything they knew was the family business......it was all very intimately woven together
Their lives were the three things God called Abram to leave
There was no entrepreneurial businesses..you didn’t blaze your own trail
But God called Abram to do just that, to leave it all behind
Are there things that God has called you to leave behind?
Now, don’t go home and pack up and move out claiming I told you to do so!!!
But sometimes God will call us to leave friends behind, to leave lifestyles behind, to leave certain things behind in order to follow Him
Now, as we continue, notice, God’s command didn’t come without some promises.
God promised him three things:
A New Land
Make him into a great nation
There is a word that is repeated in these verse 2-3 8 times
Notice what’s accompanying it, God saying “I WILL”
That’s important for us to see. God was commanding Abram to leave, God was promising things, it was all being done by God’s will
This was a unilateral covenant, meaning....the covenant, the promise and the blessings, were all dependent on God, not on Abram.
He was the one doing all the action
This was God’s project, not Abram’s.
This was an act of grace towards Abram……and Abram had to act in faith. (Again…God is the same)
He was inviting Abram to leave:
The sure for the unsure
The known for the uknown
What he had for what God promised
And in that very moment, Abram had a decision to make
Was he going to trust this God whom he had just met?
And, he does trust him, he does act in faith, and he leaves it all behind and looks forward to God’s promise
Were there difficult moment for Abram and his wife? You betcha
Was it hard to leave everything behind? Absolutely
Did Abram truly believe and trust God? We’ll see that in a minute
But at this point in the story, they did it because they were looking forward to what God had promised!!!
How can God’s future promises help you walk faithfully through current difficulties?
Turn to with me
In between 12 and 15, Abram’s calling led him into the Negev, and eventually into Egypt during a famine
Here, we see Abram’s trust in God’s promises waivering
Abram was worried the Egyptians would kill him and take his wife because she was so beautiful, so he lies that she’s his sister to save his own skin
See it…him trying to do it all on his own?
So Pharaoh sends them away…but we see a small picture of Abram trying to take things into his own hands there
God had promised him but he didn’t fully believe him, he was doubting.
Other things happen, Abram and Lot, his nephew who came with them, separate. Abram then has to rescue his nephew
Which brings us to , let’s read it
We see the covenant unfolding here even further and God acting on what He promised Him in chapter 12
And God says, Don’t be afraid Abram, I am your shield, I will reward you
Basically, my promises will come true:
I will give you a new land, make you a great nation, and bless you
And look at Abram’s response…it’s much like how you guys respond to your parents when they promise you something
It’s laced with doubt…let’s paraphrase it:
“A great reward God, really? Okay, let’s talk about that....you promised to make me a great nation. And last i checked God, I would need a son to be able to make that happen. Which you should know, you created everything to work that way! Right now, my servant Eliezer will be receiving all of my inheritance!!!
Again, we see Abram trying to think through it on his own and figure things out on his own
He was going to or had designated Eliezer as his heir…because he was still doubting God’s promises would come true
Have you ever tried to help God out? How’d that go for you?
Me trying to buy a house in Kearneysville
See guys, we all do exactly what Abram was doing.
Sometimes we read these stories and we’re like, “c’mon Abram…He promised you! Just read ahead! you’ll see what’s gonna happen!”
But then we’re doing the same things in our lives..trying to write our own success stories instead of waiting and relying on God
So many times, we mistake God’s apparent “inactivity” for his “inability”
If God’s not working on our timeline we just assume He isn’t working at all!
And if we’re not careful, it can lead to just outright rebellion or rejection of Him, or just a ton of anxiety.... b/c we convince ourselves that He isn’t faithful and that He doesn’t care
Ever been there? Which one best describes you, anxiety or rejection? Do you see how both responses result from a failure to trust God?
But we are so impatient sometimes that it can lead to anxiety or rejction
Remember last week....God is immanent, He’s personable and relatable and He does care and He will work and He is ALWAYS FAITHFUL!
Well, let’s close with this
And look at this, I want you to see this.....God responds to Abram with mercy and grace
Has God ever been gracious to you during your own moments of doubt?
GO OUTSIDE, CIRCLE UP, AND LOOK UP
GO OUTSIDE, CIRCLE UP, AND LOOK UP
God had and has every right to reject Abram for not believing and trusting Him…but He doesn’t…He keeps bringing him along....wanting Him to fully trust Him
So he takes Abram outside, and tells him to look up at the stars
And He says, Abram, go ahead and count them....if you can. Go ahead Abram
So Abram starts counting…probably gets to 50 before he can’t remember if he already counted that one, and then realizes he had only looked at a tiny bit of them at that point
So here’s Abram…staring up at the stars, staring into God’s creation…seeing and remembering what God was capable of.....
And verse 6 says, “And. he. believed. the. Lord”
Have you believed the Lord, truly believed?
BOOM. Right there! Abram was justified. Abram became a believer. Abram was declared righteous
Verse 6 tells us that God counted it to him as righteousness
This was Abram’s moment of salvation!!!!!!
How about you? Have you really stopped and placed everything in His hands? Have you confessed your sin of trying to do things on your own and have you put all of your trust in Him?
Paul and James talk about this in , , and
Had Abram obeyed God in chapter 12, yes, he had…but we saw that he had doubts, he didn’t fully trust Him.
It was obedience, not saving faith…there is a difference. Will faith lead to obedience? Sure
Will obedience lead to faith? Not necesarily
You can do the right things, you can come to church, you can read your Bible, you can do all the things a Christian is supposed to do, but if you don’t fully trust Him with everything....it’s not faith
See, for Abraham, this night was different
As he stared up, he finally understood that God Himself, the creator and sustainer of life, had made him a promise, and He took hold of that promise and believed in it with everything he had
He went from doubting to trusting
From questioning to believing
From sort of tracking along to wham all in
Notice this…there was no action on his part, it was just simply belief
What about you guys
Do you have saving faith?