Abraham - Compelling Leadership
Page 1 of 13
Abraham: Compelling Leadership
3 billion. 250 million! Big number.
If you were to take that many 1 dollar bills and place them end to end, you could circle the earth more than 15 times. Big number.
Did you know that there are 86,400 seconds in a day? But if you were to go back in time 3 billion, 250 million seconds, it would take you back to the time of the Civil War. That many minutes ago would take you back over 6000 years. Big number.
And that's the number of people who
To one degree or another consider Father Abraham to be
Did you know that? (Betcha didn't)
Did you know that all three of the great monotheistic religions of the world, Jews, Christians and Muslims, consider Abraham to be their father figure? A great leader of God's people.
At this point, some of the more astute among you will be asking, So what?
• What can I learn from an old dead guy?
• What does his life have to say to me today? After
all. in the words of Toby Keith, "I wanta talk about
• What can several hundred students, faculty and
staff who are beginning a new semester learn from
the leadership of Abraham?
Page 2 of 13
Actually,, quite a lot.
The first thins that I learn from his story is this:
Page 6 of 13
Leave your friends and family for strangers
Leave your homeland for a foreign land
Leave your job for the unknown
Leave your 500 channel remote and live remotely
Leave your Taco Bell for possible starvation
Leave your freeways for paths through the desert
Leave your internet connection for nothingness
Leave your mega-malls and shopping centers for wilderness living
Leave your hot showers and hot tubs for the woods
Leave your king size bed and electric blanket. . .your golf clubs and
your buddies. . . your supper dates with Sarai at Pizza Hut.
Leave your ATM, and Cell phone, and head for the hills
Leave all you have known for the past 75 years
Leave the luxury of Ur with its big harbors and go 1000 miles to
Canaan's drv sticks.
Page 3 of 13
I. When Giod says go, you go. Obedience. A. Examples from the fife of Abraham
1. From Ur to Canaan (an act of faith)
a) Not all is clear—we don't have a lot of info
b) But what we do know seems to indicate that Ur
was a VERY nice place to live. They were prosperous
and sophisticated and located on a major river.
c) And what does God say to Abraham? GO! Go
where? Go to a place that I will show you! Talk about
d) So where does he end up? In Canaan—by all
accounts a much rougher place to be than Ur.
e) But when God says Go! The man of faith goes.
2. Sending Hagar and Ishmael away (an act of faith)
a) Problems at home. Sarah is not getting along with
Hagar and Ishmael. She wants to send them away.
b) Abraham cannot do that. Why? Because Ishmael
is, after all, his son! And the whole idea is wrong,
c) But then God steps in and tells Abraham, "Do as
Sarah has asked. Send them away. I will not only take
care of them, I will make Ishmael into a great nation
too because he is your son."
d) What does Abraham do? He sends them away.
Why? Because God said to. And when God says Go,
3. Sacrifice of Isaac (an act of faith)
a) Perhaps the most amazing instance of all. God savs. Go sacrifice vour son. You know, the onlv one
Page 4 of 13
you have. The one I promised to make a great nation. The one through whom all my promises to you will be Fulfilled.
Page 5 of 13
b) I know that the story is likely highly condensed, but the impression you get from the text is that Abraham did not hesitate to do what God said to do.
B. What about you? Has God ever spoken to you? Have YOU ever had an Abraham experience?
1. To one degree or another, the answer is yes. God has
spoken to you—each one of you.
2. He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does
the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love
kindness. And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
There are 3 pretty good things that God has told you to
do. And what does the man of faith do when God tells him
to go? He goes.
3. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all
your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your
strength.' This is the first commandment. The second is
like this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There
is no other commandment greater than these." Mark
4. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have
You see ... Abraham is not the only one who has been told to Go!
And it is entirely possible that some of you might well
hear the voice of God even right here this morning—in
your own home church, in_______ .
Let me remind you, when that happens, when God says Go, the man of faith goes.
That can be difficult. We dropped our own daughter off at Iowa School for the Deaf. I know how difficult it can be to leave family. But when God says Go, the man of faith goes.
Donald J. Gettvs httn://mcdonald.southern.edu/sermons/02/0216.htm
Page 7 of 13
When Problems Arise, Adapt
A. From the life of Abraham
1. Famine arises in the land to which God has brought
him! What does a man of faith do? Move. When problems
2. Lot's herds and herdsmen just aren't getting along
with yours! What does the man of faith do? To borrow
from Paul, he does all that lies within his power to live at
peace with ail men. When problems arise, adapt.
3. Sarah dies! What does a man of faith do? He mourns
and he grieves and he keeps on being a man of faith.
When problems arise, adapt.
4. Isaac needs a wife and there aren't any good women
around! What does a man of faith do? Send off for a
hometown girt! When problems arise, adapt.
B. What about you? Ever had any problems?
1. Oh, no! It's time to do my taxes and I suddenly find out
that I have to pay - a lot. What am I going to do?
2. I have to drive to work every day and drive my kids
around, but my car is dying.
3. Someone I love very much has hurt me very badly,
(parents, friends, children)
.When God blesses, give. A. Abraham
1. After Abraham defeats several kings and saves Lot,
what does he do? He gives 10% to Melchizadek.
2. We don't know all the details, but we do know that this
is part of a biblical pattern. God's people are generous...
to . . God.
Page 8 of 13
3. God gives us everything we need and more. He gives us some of what he gives just so that we can be generous like he is.
B. What about you?
i. In a US Census report from 2002, the government reported that
•'over an adult's working life, high school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor's degree, $2.1 million; and people with a master's degree, $2.5 million."
"In 1999, average annual earnings ranged from $18,900 for high school dropouts to $25,900 for high school graduates, $45,400 for college graduates."
Every single one of us who will work full-time for most of his or her life will be a millionaire— probably several times over.
In addition, we live in the world's richest country and we live at the richest time in history.
So what does all that mean? It means that there is no excuse for any of us to NOT be generous with our money.
Unfortunately, when a preacher stands in front of US and talks about US, the person in the pew doesn't always hear ME. So let me just be clear, you, whoever you are, have SOME income and money. And if you are not giving some of it to others, giving some of it to help enlarge the kingdom, you are not following Father Abraham. More seriously, you are not following Christ—at
Page 9 of 13
least not on this matter. "Where your money is, there will your heart be also."
IV. When you moss up, repent and learn from the mistake.
Frankly, it is not easy to find something to criticize in the life of Abraham. Some might think that taking Hagar as a concubine to have a son represents a lack of faith. I am not entirely convinced that that is clear from the account.
The 2 instances most would point to involve ...
A. Abraham's deception of Pharaoh and Abimelech.
It does seem that Abraham should have known by the time he got to Egypt that God would take care of him and that he did not need to tell a half-truth to save his hide.
CERTAINLY, it would seem that by the time of Abimelech, Abraham had plenty reason to trust God to take care of him. But instead he deceived in both instances. Maybe he thought that this was the WAY God would take care of him. I don't know,, But I do know that our minds can play real tricks on us sometimes to help us rationalize our behavior.
I also know this: by the time you get much further into the story of Abraham, he has learned to trust God rather fully.
Page 10 of 13
B. What about you? Have YOU ever had any failures of
1. Have you ever been less than completely honest when
someone calls you on the phone and puts you on the
2. Do you sometimes find it easier to lie just a little rather
than tell the truth?
3. Have you ever spent your money on something foolish
and as a result been unable to help someone in need?
4. Have you ever allowed the cares of the world to grow
up around you and choke the word of God in your life so
that your cliscipleship was stunted?
C. OiF course you have had failures of faith. There are two
extremes to avoid when your faith fails:
1. Becoming so frustrated and depressed that you give
up the faith entirely.
2. Becoming so hardened and callous that you no longer
care when you fail.
What God wants you to do is follow him. When you fail, repent and learn from the mistake AND GO ON! And on. And on.
Page 11 of 13
When God makes promises, believe. A. Abraham
1. God's promises
a) I will give you a son and make you a great nation
b) I will give you all the land of Canaan
c) I will make you a blessing to all the Gentiles and
make you heir of the whole world
2. Abraham may not have been perfect, but he did
believe. In fact, Paul says that he NEVER WAVERED in
8. So one last time, what about you?
I. Has God made any promises to you?
a) How many of you memorized that verse in
Hebrews that talks about how "without faith it is
impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to
him must believe that he exists and that he rewards
those who earnestly seek him"'?
That may be one of the simplest descriptions we have as to what God really wants from us. He wants us to confidently believe that He "rewards those who earnestly seek him."
Do you? Do you believe that? Are you earnestly seeking him?
b) Beyond that do you believe that he has dealt with
your sin problem? Or given you the gift of the Holy
Spirit? Or made you a new person in Jesus?
All of these things are seen only with the eyes of faith.
c) Do you believe that God protects you from
temptations that would otherwise overwhelm you? He
Page 12 of 13
promises he will. Do you believe that he protects you from the evil one?
d) Do you believe that God knows what's best for you and how you should act? He does and he promises to reward those who trust him.
As I have studied the life of Abraham, I have found that there are a lot of unanswered questions. 14 chapters or so devoted to Abraham, but we find ourselves wanting to know more.
1. Hey, Abraham, what'd you do for the first 75 years of your
2. Hey, Abraham, how'd you come to be a monotheist? How'd
you learn about the one true God?
3. Hey, Abraham, why did God choose you????
But the really important question about Abraham has been answered. About this there can be no doubt.
What makes Abraham such an important leader—one that Jews, Christians and Muslims and everyone else would all do well to emulate?
He was a man of faith, conviction, confidence and trust. Now, what about you?
1. When God says to go, do you go?
2. When problems arise, do you adapt?
3. When God blesses, do you give?
4. When you mess up, do you repent and learn from the
5. When God makes promises, do you believe?
3 billion. 250 million people in the world today claim to be descendants of Abraham.
Page 13 of 12
But.. . they're not... Not realy. Not most of them. And neither are you
UNLESS you are following the faith of Abraham. So, are you?