Faithlife Sermons

Genesis #12: The Promise - Faith in Conflict

Pastor Gary
The Promise  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:53
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ME:
I don’t know about you, but these last weeks have been exhausting.
I didn’t realize it until I got home the other day and I was wiped out…
We are tired of defending my opinions… even if I only did that at home or in my own head.
Tired of all the fighting
Tired of being tired
It was as though the election and this Covid 19 had taken something out of me.
YOU:
Then I realized it was Veterans day this week coming and I was struck how many of our veterans or their spouses will say things like “a part of them never came home” or “he left something over there”. While I’m not sure exactly what they mean… because I have never felt that way, I do believe that it has something to do with how we invest ourselves in conflict.
Conflict is a reality in our lives. We talked about this last week. Some we can choose not to be involved in, like last week because our calling isn’t in this fight. But sometimes we can’t avoid conflict because our calling takes us right through it.
So how do we keep from losing our faith in conflict… actually how do we fight faithfully?
At work, with a spouse, with a neighbor.
Many of us feel like we are in a battle these days… whether its politics or culture… our world is on edge these days.
How to be faithful in times of conflict?
GOD:
Genesis began by telling us all about God the creator of the universe.
How things were made good… and we were made to be his emissary here on earth, caring for creation
But instead of representing him, we choose instead to pursue our own interests… hence the fall of Adam.
And in came the problem of sin… a problem we have fought against since.
Adam and Eve’s son Cain was overcome with sin to the point that he killed his own brother… this was the first death of sin, but not the last
The world grew more and more led by sin until God brought judgement on the whole earth through the flood, only to save a remnant through the Moses and his family.
But sin continued.
People having experienced the power of God, thought they could control God by building a tower… They wanted to be saved from his destructive power… but their plan failed.
God though did have a plan to rescue humanity though.
God’s plan was going to look a bit different.
God you see was going to take a man from nowhere and his wife from nowhere, A couple with no heirs, and make them into the people of God.
God called Abram to go and occupy the land that he was giving him, he promised him that he would make his name great and that God would bless him… bless him so that the whole world would be blessed because of him.
Abram having nothing believed… but just in case, he took all his stuff with him.
His regard for stuff had led to nothing but trouble.
His trouble though drove him to the altar of God… where his faith was renewed, where his allegiance to God was confirmed.
And he began to live into God’s Promise.
It all changed then
And just in time, because he was about to enter the greatest battle of man.
Look with me if you would.
Now as you are turning there, I have to admit.... today’s text is one of those that stops many people from reading ht bible. A lot of hard to pronounce names and places we have never heard of leave us to wonder “why is all this in here?”

Genesis 14:1-11

Here’s the point.
These are various City-states… basically tribes under the control of a greater City State... but after 12 years, they get tired of it, the people of 5 city states rise up and rebel.
King Kedorlaomer… the king of Elam… He was from the mountains of Modern day Iran… near the Persian Gulf… they were ancestors of Shem…
So here we have the first war… actually a civil war I suppose… and it takes place in modern day Iran and Iraq.
Kedorlaomer and the men of his ally kings go out to war and when they come back, they are met in the valley of Siddim by the 5 rebel kings.
They route the rebels; the survivors scatter, leaving King Kedorlaomer and his allies to plunder the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Admah and Zeboyim, and Bela… that was bad, but then in vs 12:
Genesis 14:12 NIV
They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.

Faithful - Rightly Motivated

Dramatic Music...
You see what King K didn’t know who Lot was. He thought Lot was just another guy who had come and settled in his land… he didn’t know that Lots family was Abram’s family, and they were different. King K didn’t know that God had blessed Abram, Lot’s uncle, and that who ever curses him will be cursed and that through him all the people of the earth would be blessed.
He didn’t know who he was messing with.
But Abram knew… he knew that he was called to live out God’s promise to the world. He knew that it was no longer about him and his… but everything he did was to be a blessing to others.
God’s promise had become Abram’s purpose, his motivation, the driving force in all he did. He had developed a simple faith, simple in the sense of having a singular purpose, to glorify God. He trusted that God would actually keep the promise bless him and he would bless others.
He had already been blessed. He could look around and see how his wealth had grown, how he now had a huge following of people who traveled with him, either working for him or trading with him.
Abram was beginning to see how God’s blessing on him would affect others.
The apostle Paul teaches us this same idea in his letter to the church in Philippi:
Philippians 2:3–4 NIV
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

The faithful fight for others.

There was a time in Abram’s life when he was all about himself, that other people existed in order to serve him.... but because his faith is growing, he is beginning to live into the reality that everyone actually lives for God’s plan.
It’s not about Abram any more. He is here to bring glory to God, and that means standing up for others, that the whole world would be blessed through Abram… especially those he loved.
Nothing gets you ready for a fight like something happening to a loved one
When our kids were involved in sports… crazy dad
Sometimes my son was getting roughed up… but he usually didn’t need me to intervene.
It was different for Lot, he was being taken away to become a slave.
Fortunately for him, Uncle Abram was faithful… and that means he was prepared to help those in need.
Genesis 14:13–16 NIV
A man who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshkol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

Faithful - Prepared for action

You remember how all this began right?
God blessed Abram, saying you will be a blessing to the world.
Abram believed that… but more than that, he trusted it.
He reoriented his life around it, to the point that he had trained up 318 fighting men born in his household. Now he didn’t have kids, so these were his servants I suppose, but still 318 trained me.
Abram was prepared for action.
His preparation led him to develop a strategy to rescue his nephew.
Scripture tells us he would attack at night… the others were off around the fire bragging about how the people had fled and fallen into the tar pits… and when they were all relaxed, probably had too much wine, when they were good and tired, in that moment Abram’s divided forces would attack from all directions.
Had a plan for battle, Attack at night… divide and conquer
He didn’t know when the fight would come, but Abram was ready.
I don’t know where you are in life right now. Some of you may be in what seems like a battle, some of us might have one around the corner, but the reality is, life is a struggle, a battle.
Ephesians 6:12 NIV
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Yes, we may struggle with our neighbor or our spouse, or our kids from time to time, but the real struggle is a spiritual one. A struggle to hold on to our faith no matter what comes. The apostle Paul warns the faithful to prepare this way:

Eph 6:13-17

Ephesians 6:13–17 NIV
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
We are to prepare for battle… because we know it’s not coming one day, but Paul tells us it is here.
Your struggle with who wins and who loses the election is a spiritual battle, maybe why we struggle trusting what we can’t yet see.
Your struggle with your spouse not respecting you is a spiritual battle, maybe why you deserve respect or how you seek to earn it.
Your struggle over temptation, is a spiritual battle over who controls my heart.
That’s the key… every spiritual battle ultimately comes down to who’s in charge of my life… Who’s my lord?

The faithful plan and prepare for conflict.

Christians are called to prepare for battle...
1 Tim 4:7-8 “...train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
Preparation looks like:
Prayer… study… connecting with other Christians… planning for the fight…
Abram knew his calling and was ready for the task when the time came… he was faithful.
---
Now, here is what I think is the greatest part of this story. For we are going to see that Abram was faithful before, during, and even after.
Look with me.

Genesis 14:17-24

Genesis 14:17 NIV
After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
Abram comes back with all the plunder he has taken from King Kerdorloamer and friends and he is met by two kings, first the king of Sodom… who had been defeated, who had been plundered, who’s people had been defeated. Now as a defeated king, you would expect that he would come “hat in hand” humbled as it were, but that would be out of character for a king who rules over a city known best for it’s sinfulness.
The other king is Melchizedek.
Genesis 14:18 NIV
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,
There is a lot to King Melchizedek, which I am going to encourage you to get out your study bible or go to blueletterbible.org and dig into Genesis 14 and Hebrews 7 where King Melchizedek is explained a bit more. I’ll be putting some resources on today’s sermon notes on our website, because he is a fascinating character.
He hasn’t been mentioned before, and won’t be again. This is his only appearance in scripture… but what does he do?
Real quick, notice a couple of things, first notice where he is from. Salem, scholars believe this is the origin of Jerusalem, the city of peace. and his name Melchizedek, King fo Righteousness.... and what does he come with… but he brings bread and wine.
Any one else you know would be from the city of peace, a king of righteousness, and comes to us with bread and wine?
HMMMMMMM
I tell you this is a fascinating story. Right here in Genesis 14 we have a power picture of Jesus, coming out of nowhere and walking into the story of Abram.
Genesis 14:19–20 NIV
and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
And what does he do?
He doesnt’ say, wow Abram, you sure have a lot of stuff. How bout you let me take some of that off your hands, I’ll trade you some land for it
No he comes to give Abram even more… a blessing
He comes to give, not get. I would say that is the same way Christ comes into our lives, to give, to invest in us, not take from us.
Look back at the other king now.
Genesis 14:21 NIV
The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”
The king of Salem came to give, and the king of Sodom came to get.
That should be expected from the king of a land like Sodom right he was used to taking from people. That is the way of the world, take take take… where the ways of God are give, give, give.
Genesis 14:22 NIV
But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth,
Abram finishes just as he began.

Faithful - Finish like you started

Trusting God’s promise… trusting that God was his deliverer, his strength, his victor.
Abram had seen God at work… blessing him in amazing ways, he was confident that God would see him through this as well.

The faithful bear witness in conflict.

I don’t think there is a more difficult time to be faithful than in victory.
People telling you how great of a job you did… you begin to actually believe that you are that great.
The reality is that I’m not… it’s only because of Christ at work in me that I’m able to do anything significantly helpful.
Christians need to see that victory isn’t a time to say… look what I did but what Christ is doing in me.
Also in defeat, we need to avoid the finger pointing, the blame shifting.
It doesn’t matter what side you are on… the winning side, the losing side, it’s not about you… we live for one who sits on a throne higher than we could ever reach.
We serve a king who has already won.
Last night I was watching a football game and it looked like we had it well in hand so I didn’t mind changing the channel
Had it dvr’d so I could watch it again and again… I could turn it off in the 3rd quarter knowing that we had won already.
We are in the 3rd quarter of a game that has already been won.
Christians should stop losing their minds over every broken play … you know who wins the game. Don’t lose your mind over every turnover… you know who wins the game.
And don’t lose your witness when you score touchdowns because you aren’t the one who wins… you get the benefit of the win, but it is God who wins..
We serve a king who has already won… Abram believed that.. he believed the promise God had given him.
Abram testified to God by telling the king of Sodom...
Genesis 14:23 NIV
that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’
He’s saying he doesn’t want anyone to question what God is doing in and through him.
This is probably the toughest battle of Christians… ourselves. We want credit.
and there is no quicker way to ruin your witness in the world than to be a poor winner.
Look at Vs 24, He says, I don’t want anything from you, you can have my share… but the men who fought for me, they can keep what they want.
Abram wasn’t holding others to his standard. What a powerful witness.
I’m doing this, but they can do what they feel is right.
Christians we need to hear this today. We need to hold to righteousness, and diet the world do what it chooses.
But we can not be swayed by the temptations of the world… for power, for wealth, for personality.
We need to fight like Abram
WE:

Have faith for the Battle

Grow our faith...
Invest in Prayer
connect with other Christians
Study God’s word
Help those in need
Serve those who don’t deserve it
Imagine what it would look like if we were a church who fought like we knew who wins...
IF we knew the lives that God could change, what would we be willing to do?
If we knew the marriages that God would restore, how would we help them?
If we knew the business that God would turn around,
IF we knew the lives that kids would live if they had Christ in them, how would we get involved?
YOU:
At one time, all of us were a lot like Lot… desperate and in need.
Most all of us know what it is like to be rescued. We had an Abram to save from a temporal problem…
How many of us have had Jesus saves from an eternal problem
Becomes our king who is Good and faithful
The priest who dies for us and our king who lives for us
Are you prepared to fight for your king?
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