God Keeps His Promises

God promises us redemption, righteousness, new life, freedom from sin and death, justification, His never-failing presence, adoption as His children, deliverance from the anguish and torment of hell, the Spirit with its gifts and fruits, and a new and better life now and for eternity in a new and better body on a new and better earth.

Four things stand out as we look at our Bible reading today. First, God keeps His promises. Second, God develops patience and trust. Third, God reveals His power. And fourth, God accomplishes His purposes.

  • God Keeps His Promises
    • The promise of a son was at first very general and became more and more specific after Abraham’s call. 
      • In the first three recorded instances, for example, God merely promised Abraham many descendants (Gen 12:2; 12:7; 13:16). In the fourth and following instances, however, the promise becomes far more specific: “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son” (Gen 18:10).
    • The birth of Isaac involved much more than parental joy. 
      • His birth meant the fulfillment of God’s promise. In Scripture, it is recorded that God comforted Abraham and Sarah eight times with the promise of a son.
    • Sarah had borne the burden of childlessness for many years, a heavy burden in that culture and at that time. 
      • People must have smiled when they heard that her husband’s name was Abraham, meaning “father of a multitude.” He was the father of one son, Ishmael, but that was far from a multitude. 
      • As for Sarah herself, she had never given birth. No words can express her feelings of frustration, hopelessness, and helplessness. 
      • Only another childless woman can know what she went through all those years. But now all of her reproaches were ended, and they were rejoicing and laughing at the arrival of their son. 
    • This childless couple must have discussed the promise nearly every night.
      • I suspect hardly a moment passed without them thinking about it. And, I am sure, most nights they dreamed about the promised child.
    • (Ge 21:1) And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
      • The Hebrew word translated as “gracious” can also be translated as “visited.” The Lord visited with Sarah.
      • After years and years of waiting, the Lord visited with Sarah. And He did for Sarah what He promised (Gen 21:1). 
      • To make sure we don’t miss the point of this sentence, Moses tells us Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age (Gen 21:2).
    • Make no mistake about this: the child to be born to them was the child of the promise.
      • All of God’s wondrous covenant promises to Abraham were bound up in this promised child.
  • God Develops Patience and Trust
    • Way back in the Garden of Eden already God promised that the woman’s seed would crush the serpent (Gen 3:15). 
      • At first, with Eve, it is hoped that Cain is the promised seed who would destroy the serpent. 
      • Remember how Eve thought, hoped, and prayed that Cain whom she brought forth was going to crush the serpent’s head and undo the damage done in the Garden? 
      • When Cain killed Abel, it was discovered Eve was flat out wrong in thinking this.
    • In Genesis 12, it is expected the Lord will fulfill His promise through Abraham.
      •  But the suspense only intensifies. The patriarch jeopardizes his family in Egypt (Gen 12:10-20), fathers a son who will not be his heir (Gen 16), and then finally risks having Sarah bear a son with another man (Gen 20).
      • Just like a good book or movie, you start to think; “Lord, are you ever going to keep your promise of the promised seed?”
    • Do you remember how long Abraham and Sarah waited for God’s promise to be fulfilled? 
      • Twenty-five years they waited. Twenty-five years have passed since Abraham was called by God. It has now been twenty-five years since Abraham and Sarah left Haran.
    • Trusting God’s promises not only gives you a blessing at the end, but it gives you a blessing while you are waiting.
      • Just as athletes develop their skills as they practice hard long before the big event, so God’s children grow in godliness and faith as they wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises.
      • Faith is a journey, and none of us know how long is the journey, where the journey will take us, or what difficulties we will face along the way. 
      • God wants to build our patience and trust, SO He gives us promises.
    • We like the promises that I read first.
      • Redemption, righteousness, new life, freedom from sin and death, justification, His never-failing presence, adoption as His children, deliverance from the anguish and torment of hell, and the like.
      • But we tend to neglect the whole counsel of God. We like the Burger King mentality. Have it your way. Listen!
      • (Jn.15:20.) Jesus said:  They persecuted Him, they ARE going to persecute you. Paul said it like this. (2Ti 3:12) Yea and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
      • (Php 1:29) For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; what about Peters words: (1Pe 3:14) But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled.
    • James told why this also is important. 
      • (Jas 1:3-4) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (4) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
    • God loves you like you are. But He loves you too much to leave you that way.
      • God is not making you into churchgoers.
      •  He is fashioning you into THE CHURCH by conforming you to the very image of His Son Jesus THE Christ.
    • If you remember, Abraham had problems with trusting God.
      •  At least, he had problems with trusting God completely. He thought, more than once, that God needed his help.
      •  So, instead of trusting in God’s protection, he lied two times about his relationship with Sarah (Gen 12 & 20). So, instead, of trusting in God’s promise about a son, he tried to make a servant his heir (Gen 15:2) and had a son with another woman (Gen 16).
      •  God had to take him over the same hurdles again and again until he learned that God did not need his help. Abraham’s strategies were always getting him into trouble, but God’s faithfulness dug him out each time.
    • How many times don’t we think and act exactly the same as Abraham?
      •  How many times don’t we try to help the Almighty? 
      • God’s promise is that salvation is by grace and through faith but we think we need to earn salvation. 
      • God’s promise is that He builds the church and the kingdom, but we act like it is completely up to us. 
      • God’s promise is that He hears and answers prayer, but we neglect prayer because we think we can do it on our own.
    • Does God have you on the here we go again plan? 
      • Try trusting Him this time.
  • God Reveals His Power
    • (Ge 18:10-11) And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. (11) Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
      • God didn’t just impregnate a woman but listen: (Heb 11:11-12) Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed and was delivered of a child when she was past age because she judged him faithful who had promised. (12) Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
    • Both Abe and Sarah’s body was not able to produce, carry, and deliver a child. He did the miraculous
      • Remember God’s response to Abraham? (Ge 18:14) Is anything too hard for the LORD? 
  • God Accomplishes His Purposes (Pr 19:21) There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.
    • This crazy messed up, mixed-up time that we are living in has not derailed or dismantled God’s plan.
      • God promised Abraham and Sarah a child
    • He did not do things the way we presumed,
      • but He did it spectacularly 
    • God’s still completing His purposes.
      • He has a plan for New Hope. He has a plan for you.
      • (Pr 24:10) If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small
    • We need to remember: (Ge 18:14) Is anything too hard for the LORD? 

Abraham A Good Start

(Genesis 20: 1-13)

We saw though he had a good start there was still a lot of work to be done in his life. He stepped out in faith simply on God’s word. (A plus)Then when Abram came to this land that God had promised, because he was doing what God had told him to do, he probably didn’t expect to encounter such obstacles as famine or enemies. (A test)What we find with Abraham instead of following God and His plan, he relied on what he learned as a pagan idol worshipper. Do it yourself. (A failure)

Forsaking the path of faith, for whatever reason, always brings its own complications. There is no knowing how low a saint will sink when he is out of touch with God. 

Through the Gospels, you will find example after example where Jesus will put people in a position where they must choose. All of us here are going to make a choice today. Many of you including myself God has been intimately pursuing you. Some are becoming better.  Letting God strip away the things that camouflage themselves as good and Godly. Some seem to become bitter. Holding on with a tenacious spirit the desire to be right instead of righteous. To be heard instead of Holy. To be brash instead of broken. 

Still, we choose which way we want to go.

In our scripture today we find Abraham choosing.

  • The rerun. Unbelief 
    • (V2) don’t know for sure why he journeyed south but did. 
    • No matter how you cut it up, no matter how you justify it, the issue that arises in Abraham’s life still boils down to unbelief. Jesus had some hard words for the sin of unbelief, using what we spoke about last week.
      • (Mt 10:14-15) And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. (15) Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.
      • Unbelief is the foundation that all disobedience is built on.
    • The problem for us is the same as Abraham. We like what we see as the easy way. We don’t really want to trust God and wait and rely on Him.
      • We speculate and figure out all the different ways we can afford to carry on without faith. Here at church, at work, in our homes.
    • How many when it comes to our church finance have already thought; what if we cut this out, don’t have this, and do away with that?
      •  Then how many have done what God has already told us to do. Witness and live in such a way that God brings others in not that we cut things but actually add things?
      • You know why this is not appealing to some? You think we’re doing too much already because it is cutting into your world time, or making you feel guilty.
      • Many of us have been greatly impacted by the less is more movement found in our churches today. What I mean is many self-professing believers only want to invest and spend a minimum amount of time doing things with the church. Mainly because it interferes with their real life.  
    • When we fail to believe God it always brings confusion and despair.
      • (Pr 3:1-2) ¶ My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: (2) For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. 
      • I have used this on several occasions. When we believe God, He adds to us length of days. Time to get done what needs to get done, time to enjoy this life.
      • He also adds to us long life. Time on top of time to enjoy the blessings He gives.
      • But you have to trust Him and His word to get this.
    • In Abe’s life, the fear came from a false sense of righteous discernment, which generated unbelief.
      •  Look in verse (V11). Is this not the pot calling the kettle black? 
      • Here was Abraham lying or worse partial truth, and once again bringing his wife down with him and thinking this king and his subjects were acting ungodly.
      • Religious pride is what kept the leaders in Jesus’s day from seeing and receiving the blessing and it is the same today. 
    • (Pr 3:3-4) Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: (4) So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
      • You can only show mercy if you have received it. You can only share the truth if you know it.
  • The repeat. God’s plan of action.
    • Before God delivered fully on the promise of a son, He brought Abraham back to an issue he faced earlier on in his journeys. 
      • The first time this couple went south so did their testimony. It was the lack of trusting God that sent them and the lack of trusting God that got them in trouble with the Pharaoh.  
      • Now God was allowing him to be back in the same situation. 
      • A time to choose.
    • Seems often like many a believer comes to the point in their life they feel they can coast. They’ve taught, preached, studied, and led. They have sung, served, sacrificed, and suffered. 
      • For the believer, we cannot coast for one minute. We will have all of eternity to rest and relish the victories, but only this short life to work and win them.   
    • There are those here who God has dealt mercifully with you on areas of sin in your life. It might be in the area of pride, selfishness, lust, greed, etc. but you are still being hounded by the same ole thing.
      •  A time to choose.
      • God has so much more in store for you. Not that He hasn’t done and is doing far more than you deserve but like as was recorded of Jesus’ hometown folks. (Mt 13:58) And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Oswald Chambers said “ if we really believed that God meant what He said, just imagine what we would be like! Do I really dare to let God be to me all that He will be?

Are you here with some unfinished business?

  • Many of us have been raised or raised our own young’uns with the gathering of the body, the church is important unless it conflicts with what I want to do mentality.

Covenant

Genesis 15

We have just left off where Abram had rescued his nephew and all the other captives. God had strengthen him with the visit from King Melchizedek, for he knew the temptation that was to come from the king of Sodom.

One thing noteworthy here is this. God never tempts us with evil, but He does try us or put us through trials to strengthen our faith.

Over the last decade or so it has become more prevalent in my eyes the sissifying of our nation. It is difficult to find people with dogmatic grit. It is increasingly hard to locate men or women with a drive and determination not to just do something but give their best. Men and women, who push their children to excel, who push each other to continue to grow, to better themselves. This trend has invaded Christianity.

We feel if we get through one trail then we should be able to coast for a spell. Here is a news flash, God doesn’t follow trends. 

God is interested in making us the best, conforming us to the very image of His Son Jesus. He keeps pushing us, driving us to succeed, by trusting Him, relying on Him, knowing Him.

Look at Abram. A great battle had been won, a lot of fanfare, getting to worship with the King of Salem. Then all goes quiet. It is here that the battle begins. Our mind starts going into overdrive. 

We see Lot after being rescued going right back where he came from. One of the most depressing, heartbreaking, devastating things for a pastor is watching those whom God delivered out of slavery going back into it.

Abrams thinking about all these things, Lot and his family, showing the other tribes his military strength, and we come to the 15th chapter.

  • God’s call. (V1)
    • This is really comforting. Note He did not say hey you, didn’t do some spectacular flash, simply called him by name.
      • Many today speak of God having their number I am here to tell you God has your name.
    • The God of all creation, the God who holds your life in His hands, the God who is and was and is to come knows your name!
      • He is personal. He is intimate. He is interested in you.
    • Listen. Teenagers, so often it is all about being accepted by others having a friend, needing company.
      •  God knows all about it. You can trust Him, He hears your heart, He knows your need, and He cares to give you the best.
      • Quit settling for seconds. Quit compromising to be liked. Quit listening to those who want you to lower your standards because they don’t have the grit to raise theirs.
    • God called him by name and God came to him.
      • From the time of the garden where God came and walked in the cool of the day till now. He still searches us out, pursues us, and calls us.
      • He doesn’t have to, He is not in need of companionship, He wants to, He loves you, He desires to invest in you.
    • Today God is calling you. 
      • You who are in need of a Savior, you who needs to be committed to what you gave to Him. You, who are broken and in need of healing, God is calling you. 
  • Abrams cry. (V2-3) Remembering as we look at Abrams life we see a perfect picture of the life of the believer. Listen to what he says in Verses 2-3.
    • Doesn’t really sound like someone who just had a great victory or does it?
      • How many times have we left our quiet time, a Sunday service, an encounter with our Holy God only to have something from our past or someone close rain on our parade?
    • Abram is just like us, he quickly forgets it is only by God’s grace and mercy we rise up or are sat down.
      • He is not blaming Sari, he’s not blaming God. He is placing the blame on himself. (v2) I go childless.
      • Now in our sinful hard heart, we see this as a good sign of humility.
      •  In truth, just like when we do it is a sure sign of pride. 
    • Most of us think, in spite of all the scripture that points otherwise, believe we earn God’s grace.
      • Proof; The reason good things happen is because of our faithfulness and bad things are because of our wickedness.
      • Don’t want to belabor this so here is one scripture that sums it up : (Lu 17:10) So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
    • If, if, if we have done all we were commanded to do we still haven’t done enough to earn God’s favor.
      •  Pride tells us we aren’t that bad, we have done enough, we deserve more…
      • We don’t serve God, do good works to earn anything we should do it out of gratefulness, hence why we pick and choose what we like and don’t like; was not very grateful.
    • Abram was depressed, distressed, discouraged. 
      • God answered him; this is not going to be your heir, count the stars if you can, so shall your kindred be.
      • Abram asked for a sign, something to hold on to during times of discouragement.
      • God gave him some directives to which he obeyed, “obedience is better than sacrifice”. He set up the sacrifice and waited.
  • God’s covenant.
    • God revealed to Abram what He intended. He let him in on the past, present, future.
      • After telling Abram what He designed, He gave him a picture, a visual to recall.
    • Smoking furnace: cannot help but think of the Nazis during WWII.
      • The suffering and the humiliation the Jewish people endured. And now those who don’t want to acknowledge God neither want to acknowledge this great tragedy.
      • This smoking furnace was a symbol of the affliction the Jews would suffer because of their unbelief, their rebelliousness, their ungratefulness, at the hands of the Egyptians.  
    • The burning lamp was also symbolic:  
      • The burning lamp denotes comfort in this affliction; and this God showed to Abram, at the same time that he showed him the smoking furnace. 
      • Also Light denotes deliverance out of the furnace; their salvation was as a lamp that burneth, (Isa 62:1.) When God came down to deliver them, he appeared in a bush that burned and was not consumed.
    • (18) is a key part of this transaction.
      • The wording is very important. In (v7) God is reminding Abram what he had already promised him earlier. (Ge 15:7) ¶ And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. 
      • (v 18) the wording is changed. “Unto thy seed has I given this land.”
      • It is a done deal.
  • God’s covenant with us. Remember where I told you that today God is calling you. You who are in need of a Savior, you who needs to be committed to what you gave to Him, you who are broken and in need of healing, God is calling you.  Not going all theological though it is a great study. Listen.
    • (Joh 14:23) Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
      • How does He do this?
    • (Joh 14:26-25) But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (27) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
      • God loves you. Really! His is not a false promise, empty words. It is a covenant sign with the blood of Jesus
    • Eternal life does not start after we pass from this life to the next.
      • Our Lord’s half-brother John said. (1Jo 3:14) ¶ We know that we have passed from death unto life…
      • Have passed. Without Jesus, you’re not living your just surviving.
      • He even gives a sure sign that you are living eternal life. … because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
    • God made it simple. John 3:16

A Bunch from Abram

(Genesis 13:5-9)

Last week we took time to discover a fatherly lesson from Lot. A lesson in what not to do. I would like to camp here one more day and look at a bunch of what to do’s from Abram.

We have been looking at the life of Abram and how it relates to the Christian walk. We have seen how he started out with a handicap to begin with which we will see come back and be a sore spot a little later. 

We were privy to an event in Abrams life where he didn’t trust God with his new life and fell back on his old ways which produced some serious and embarrassing issues. 

Here in the 13th chapter thankfully we see him returning to where he abandoned God’s truth. When it comes to restoring the passion in your life there are some things you must do.

Remember, repent and return. This is where we find Abram today in the process of restoring the passion. It is here we are able to look in and see how the mind of a spiritual man functions.

Remember the sore spot I spoke about, the one Abram thought he had to hang on to? Well it’s beginning to fester.

And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.

And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.

And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.

And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.

Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

Genesis 13:5-9
  • Worrying circumstances.
    • We all have them, sometimes its marriage, sometimes its sickness, financial, family. Most of the time it’s a combination of theses and others. Having issues in life is not always a sign of our failure as it is life.
      • How we go about handling these issues is a different matter.
    • God’s word is full of directives here.

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Matthew 6:25

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

1 Peter 5:7

    • God’s word never contradicts itself.
      •  This is in no way shape or form, saying don’t work or provide but is speaking of trusting God. Don’t place priority on these worldly things. 
      • It is best expressed when He states:  (Mt 6:33) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
    • Here in our scripture we find a good problem but none the less a problem.
      • God had richly blessed these two men and it had become too much for the land to bare.
  • We saw why and what a carnal man decided last week.
    • Because Lot was: Weak in his devotions, Worldly in his desires. He was:
  • Wrong decisions: 
    • A person who is weak in their devotion, worldly in their desires, is going to be wrong in their decisions. 
      • The next thing we see in Lot’s life is he set his tent towards Sodom. Very important to see this. He didn’t start off in Sodom just let it occupy his mind. It won’t be long before he is right in the midst of it.

So today what would one who trusted God do?

  • A divine resolution. A spiritual man’s approach to life.
    • An old cliché’: We most often hear “don’t just stand there do something.” But when it comes to God’s word we most often see “don’t just do something stand there.”
      • Abram had been promised by God that this was going to be his land. He could have stood for his rights and demanded that Lot go find his own land.
      • His reaction to the problem at hand was: wait. He had learned all too well what happens when a child of God takes matters into his own hand. A lesson that will be repeated in his life.
      • When confronted with worrying circumstances that seemed to be crying out for immediate action he waited. He was sure God would soon make his way clear.
    • An old sore. Abram made Lot a problem of his own choosing. God had specifically told hold him to leave his father’s house and kindred.
      • That one thing he held on to that he thought he needed or thought he was being a help to was now starting to demand attention.
      • They always do.  Abram was now learning how to deal with things God’s way. 
      • The first thing we see as a spiritual man Abram surrenders his personal rights.
    • He deals with spiritual directness.
      • Look at the wording in verse 8: between me and thee. He named himself first as though he was the cause of the trouble.
      • He came directly to the point and called the problem what it was strife. He wasn’t giving the devil any room to run.  
      • He wasn’t willing to give God a bad name in front of their wicked neighbors. (V.7)
    • He dealt with spiritual discernment.
      • “We are brethren,” the things that unite us are far more important than the things that divide us.
      • Would to God we as believers could reach that point in our spiritual journey.
    • He dealt with spiritual dignity:
      • Sovereignly he was the stronger. Socially he was the senior. Spiritually he was the securer.
      • Abram put aside his rights and let Lot choose. He took whatever was left. Why do you ask? Because his confidence was not in a land or an economy but God.
  • Whose does your thought pattern resemble? The carnal or the spiritual?
    • As born-again believers, the bible tells us: Ro 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
      • Lot filled his mind with the things of this world. His lifestyle and decisions suffered for it. 
      • God blessed Abram. Where the world would have called him a fool for giving up the good land. God had a better plan.
    • He has a better plan for you if you will trust Him.

A Little About Lot

(Gen.13:1-8)

The only way a man is ever counted righteous by God is by believing.

(Ro 4:3) For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed in God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Abraham wasn’t righteous because of good name, good deed,s or good looks. God counted him righteous because he took Him at His word. He believed Him.

Look here:

(2Pe 2:7-8) ¶ And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

(8) (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

Somewhere along the line Lot trusted God. We are not told about this but never the less it is evident according to scripture.

Let’s be honest, in our estimation of what we know about Lot, righteous would probably be the last adjective we would use to describe him. If it were not the fact that the Holy Spirit notes that Lot was righteous, many of us would list him under fan not follower.

Two questions people have to ask themselves:

    Heaven or hell? Once that is settled the next follows.

    Heaven or earth?

The devil attempts to persuade believers the second question does not matter as long as they are saved they can try everything this world offers.

Lot is the example of the enormous cost of choosing to live for worldly gain.

  • Lot’s choice
    • Lot must have been captivated by Uncle Abe’s dynamic faith. His sold-out, all-in commitment to God.
      • He had traveled many miles with God directing each step.
    • God had allowed both to prosper.
      • All was grits and gravy then the dispute.
  • The dispute(V7)
    • Seems to be one of Satan’s favorite ploy. 
      • Distract, divide, destroy.
    • Distracted by materialism.
      • What they had, their possession was not the problem.
        • How they handled them was.
        • They took their eye off God. Fell back to their way of handling things.
    • Division.
      • Now no longer unity with one vision but two.
    • You can almost hear the talk around the campfire.
      • Not sure Abe had their best interest at heart.
      • Been listening far too long to people trying to make them something they’re not.
    • Destruction: look close at (V7)again
      • … and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.
      • Two believers living amid a crooked and perverse generation and their testimony for God was being destroyed.
    • We all have “Ites” in our lives.
      • Friends, family, coworkers watching (yes they are watching) to see what now…
    • Abe being a man of integrity did right. 
      • Still, there was a scar.
  • The decision. God had deeded all the land over to Abram. Abram gave Lot the choice. He would take what was leftover. Why did Lot choose the land he did? Here is my thought on it.
    • He was weak in his devotion.
      • (V4)You see where the Holy Spirit recorded that Abram built an altar to God. A place where he came and worshipped.
      • You never see or even catch a drift that Lot desired to build an altar or think of a place to worship.
        • You simply gather that went through life day to day without any personal time with God.
        • You will never make Godly choices if you never learn what God will choose.
      • It’s not a wonder that Lot’s life and the life of the family he leads was a mess.
        • None of us can live the way God desires, demands without spending quality time with Him daily
        • We just continue to race across the sea of life running aground, trying to dodge shipwrecks until we become one.
    • He was worldly in his desires.
      • Lot was heaven-born and heaven-bound but had bought into the world.
      • When Abram spoke to Lot about separation that should have thrown up flags.
        • How many times we miss the flags.
    • He had a religious reason and a real reason for choosing
      • Look at (V10) look like the Garden of Eden.
        • It is so easy to spiritualize things.
      • Reality. It reminded him of sin-soaked Egypt
    • He was wrong in his decisions. 
      • He thought he was stronger in his faith than he was.
        • (1Co 10:12) Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
        • An unguarded strength is a double weakness.
      • Notice that the Holy Spirit added a significant comment to Lot’s choice.
        • (V13)But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
      • God had already marked Sodom for judgment.
        • It was the last place Lot should have been.
        • But because he had NO spiritual anchor. NO real discernment. He was drawn into the shallows of Sodom. 
      • Listen! If you are being good and respectful only because of your parents. They won’t always be around.
        • If the only thing keeping you from throwing in the towel is your name in the community, your position, you’re standing. All of these will fade.
        • If you have no spiritual anchor son or later your life will wind up wrecked upon the rocks.
  • Lot’s chains. Lot wanted the world. God let him have it.
    • Lot moved his family to Sodom.
      • His children grew up with the popular Sodomites instead of saints.
      • His wife became influenced by the Sodomites’ customs instead of serving the Savior.
    • Anyone who moves out of the will of God WILL reap what they sow.
      • (Pr 21:16) ¶ The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
      • Lot was no exception.
    • War broke out, Sodom was defeated. Lot and his whole family were taken captive. Marched off to the slave market.
      • This is where we find many church members today.
    • Lot’s chains were a direct result of his choice.
      • How do you think his children felt as they were pushed podded and poked and there was nothing he could do. 
      • His wife was treated as an object at a yard sale.
    • Sadly, some here even, letting the hero attitude kick in. “ better hope I don’t get lose.”
      • But we do little to keep them from being enslaved now.
    • Many of us men enslave them to our shallow attempt of being religious.
      • Showing them God is only important when we need Him.
    • As they say: sin takes you farther than you want to go. Keeps you longer than you want to stay and costs you more than you want to pay.
      • Lot’s choices impacted his whole family. So does yours.
    • Lot’s choice provided chains, but God provided another chance.
  • Lot’s chance.
    • Abram was told the story. He armed himself, his people and went and taught the outlaws how to lose.
      • Lot’s chains were removed. His family was restored. His life renewed.
      • Imagine if Lot admitted his sin. Believe God had better for him. Confessed before all those wicked people what God had allowed and done. 
      • What could have been the outcome?
    • Lot chose to go back. To take Sodom instead of the Savior.
      • You don’t have to.

Even if your choices have placed your heart in chains. God wants to provide you another chance. 

Come to him.

Abram: Picture of the Believer

                                                                       Genesis 12:6-

Remembering who God has chosen to use for His work. 

(1Co 1:25-29) Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (26) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:(27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence.

Abram was an inhabitant of Ur, an important center of moon worship on the Great Euphrates. He is from the Godly line of Shem but most probable like his neighbors he is an idolatrous pagan. Though most of his ancestry has been forgotten, God has not forgotten.

What we see in the life of Abram is a picture of the life of the believer.  We have spoken of the statement of faith. The statement of faith, or call of salvation, is always followed by the call of separation. In the life of Abram God told him to leave his, country, his kindred, and his father’s house.

Separation is a lesson in faith and a lesson in obedience.

We will continue and look at the step of faith, the path of faith, the fight of faith.

  • The step of faith.(V4)
    • Abram took a step of faith.
      • Credit is given where credit is due. He left everything that he was accustom to. He went out on faith. He was being led by God to a place unknown to him.
    • He did two things. He pitched his tent, he built an altar.
      • Canaan was home to the descendants of the cursed son of Ham. These were a nasty barbaric people. By Abram’s actions he was showing them he planned on staying and he planned on worshipping.
    • Often folks start off well, but like a shooting star burn brightly one minute and fizzle out the next.
      • Abram had great intentions on living well for the Lord, but once in the land he was hit with a double blow. He discovered the land was inhabited by the foe, the Canaanite was there and there was a famine.
    • Many a new believer has found disappointment at the start of their new journey.
      • Things might have started good. Peace, friends, able to see blessing that has been around.
      • Then somebody lets you down, (somebody close). Persecution arises, you see Christians have faults, begin to realize the old nature is still very much alive and wanting control.
    • When Abram came to this land, because he was doing what God had told him to do, probably didn’t expect to encounter such obstacles.
      • In the gospel of Mark we have an account of the disciples in a mess. (Mr 4:37) And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. But just a little before that we have the 35th verse .(Mr 4:35) ¶ And the same day, when the even was come, he (Jesus)saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
      • Jesus was the one who put them there. He knew what was ahead but yet went on why?
      • Just like Abram, they were learning that where the child of God finds their blessing is where they also find their battles.
    • But Abram looked for a different solution. Escape.
      • Something of utmost importance here. We never see God telling him to leave. Fact of the matter we see God telling him “I give this land to you.”
      • Far too often, we find ourselves doing the same thing. Instead of seeing God’s blessing, we feel this can’t be right because it’s hard so we leave.
    • Forsaking the path of faith, for whatever reason, always brings its own complications. A whole series of events now followed Abram. Each one stemmed from his lack of trust in God.
  • Shift in faith.
    • There is no knowing how low a saint will sink when he is out of touch with God.
      • Sin makes the brave, cowards, makes the smart, stupid, and makes the cautious, carless.
    • (In V.11-13) we see one of the most treacherous, cowardly acts, seen in the pages of the bible.
      • It is performed by one whom you would not think is capable of plunging so low. But because of his reluctance to trust God he is on a downward path.
      • Sad thing about our choices they affect everyone we come in contact with.
    • Abram asked his wife to lie. Put her in danger of committing sin against God, put her in danger of defiling herself, because he was concerned with his own welfare.
      • So much for being a hero.
    • What we see is instead of Abram following God and His plan, he relied on what he learned as a pagan idol worshipper. Do it yourself.
      • So Abrams choice first had a negative impact on his wife but it doesn’t stop there.
    • The very thing that Abram was trying to avoid burst upon him like a storm.
      • Remember now; Abram was escaping what he thought was a mistake and he was making it better, he was fixing it. The good life was in Egypt that has to be where God wants me.
    • Pharaoh took Sarai and prepared her to be in his Harem. God took Pharaoh and prepared him to teach Abram a lesson.
      • God plagued the house of Pharaoh. It doesn’t say how but Pharaoh put two and two together and it equaled Abram.
        • So Abram choice affected his wife and Pharaoh and all Pharaoh’s house.
  • A smear on faith.
    • (v2-3) God had intended Abram to be a blessing to others, but because he rejected God’s way and substituted his own way, everything he touched seemed to turn bitter.
      • Abram in his holier than thou attitude was found to be the one the Egyptians needed to worry about not the other way around.
      • Pharaoh was more honorable then Abram.
    • It started with not trusting God. Then blind direction, then lying, belittling others, till the shame fell back on him.
      • You could almost hear the Pharaoh, “if that’s a believer I hope I never meet another one.”
    • Many a believer has left a bitter taste in the mouth of this lost world, all because we fail to trust God.
  • It was a hard and painful lesson but God brought Abram back to the beginning back to the path that was laid out.
    • A lot of folks keep going in circles. God has a big beautiful plan for you but we keep trusting ourselves to fix it. Make it right.
      • (Pr 21:16) ¶ The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
      • Today quit wandering. Come back, or come home.            

God Wants My Time

By: Stephanie Sanchez

Please hear my heart even if the words don’t make much sense and possibly come across as a bit abrasive. 

Some of you know my story. Most of you think you know it and have me figured out. Some of you know just bits and pieces along with what the gossips tell you. All of you only know what I want you to know along with a tid bit or two that leaked during a moment of vulnerability. Well, I am feeling a bit vulnerable and a bit fed up. So, let me share what’s on my heart. Maybe then you will understand.

I tell the story of “becoming a Christian” with a bit of humor and a lot of sarcasm. At 4 years old I was fully aware of what I was asking for when I muttered a few words while kneeling next to my bed with my eyes closed… a few extra minutes not having to go to bed. It was a stall tactic and I got what I wanted that night.

It wasn’t until several years later, in my early 20s, when God finally got a hold of my heart. I always joke saying I came back kicking and screaming. Well, that’s not entirely true, at least not how you probably pictured it in your mind as you shook your head and walked away. Oh, I was kicking and screaming and crying and pitching a fit. Not at God, but at myself. My world was literally falling apart. I knew the thoughts I had had in my teen years along with the things I did. And yes, there was a significant amount of shame associated with pretty much all of it. 

Well, at the point where I finally turned to God I was married with a toddler and baby. My marriage was on the verge of divorce. I couldn’t afford to work (childcare costs and lack of training/schooling). It was one emotional roller coaster after another. And (in my mind) nobody understood me. I was falling apart from the inside out and seemed like the devil himself was digging my grave while laughing hysterically. 

It was at the moment when I was at my absolute lowest with all my shortcomings and failings flashing like neon signs before my eyes that I truly felt God lift me out of that pit. I knew from that moment on that I was His and whatever He wanted from me I would gladly give. You know what he asked of me? Time. He wanted my time. How it would be used, He would show me later. But, He asked me to give Him my time.

Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com

I grew up in church. It’s a fact that I come from a very, very long line of Bible believing Christians. I did an ancestry search/study several years ago and found out this actually dates back to the 1600’s. (This won’t save you, by the way. Ask me about that later and I will gladly explain.) So, to say that I knew what was expected of me is a pretty obvious statement. I knew everything I was supposed to “do.” Well then, why was God only asking for only my time?

It took several weeks to find the congregation God wanted me to be apart of. All the while my Mom is a crying, blubbering, excited mess. The power of a fervently praying parent is nothing to shake a stick at. 

When I did discover where God wanted me, it was almost immediately that I found where God wanted to use my time, EVERYWHERE. So, that’s what I did. If there was a need I filled it, usually subbing in the nursery or Sunday School when they were short handed. 

It was a rare Sunday when everyone showed up ready to serve and I could rest. But, I never grieved anyone over it. It was a joy to serve and give God my time, just like he asked. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would become a model for later in life. I thoroughly enjoy working in the school system as a substitute teacher. Even on the rough days.

Sure there are ages and stages that I prefer over others, but if it is asked of me I go. That is really all God has asked of His children. You see, time is key. Time in His word. Time praying and talking with Him. Time serving His church. Time loving the lost. The thing is, none of His work can be completed if His children don’t give their time. 

Your time is precious to God. Do you trust Him enough to let go of your time and allow God to use your time in the best way possible? Even if it means giving your time to tasks you don’t like or enjoy? 

Are you willing to give God your time?

Abraham

Sermon Date: 6/6/21

Genesis 12

We have gone through 11 chapters of the book of Genesis. During this time you might have noticed some interesting things in how the beginning took shape.

We started with a conniving couple, fatal farmer, plastered preacher and a hero hunter. Seems like God don’t always use and do with the same ones we would choose to accomplish things with.

Has it ever dawned on you  we have a different evaluation of people then God does.

Seriously look at the way God chose to accomplish His plan, would we have done any of it that way?

Sometime I think we out holied the Holiest One, out righteoused the Righteous One. It gives us a false pretense of our self- worth. Don’t confuse what I am saying. God thought we were priceless, He made us in His image, breathed His breath in us, and paid our sinful debt with the blood of His precious Son. Too often the way we look at His creation we feel we are better than them. Take God out of a person then they aint worth a dime.

With this thought in mind it is no surprise who God uses to create His nation. In God’s eyes he is a pretty important character, for He devotes 25% to him in this book. He is an inhabitant of Ur, an important center of moon worship on the Great Euphrates. He is from the Godly line of Shem but most probable like his neighbors he is an idolatrous pagan. Though most of his ancestry has been forgotten, God has not forgotten.

What we see in the life of Abram is a picture of the life of the believer. The statement of faith, the step of faith, the path of faith, the fight of faith.

  • The statement of Faith. (1-3)
    • As is the norm with the God of creation; He initiates the contact.
      • God came down to walk with Adam, God ask Cain about his brother, God called out Noah, and here God is calling out Abram.
      • He still works the same today. We don’t wake up one day and begin seeking God. The bible says :(Joh 6:44) No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
    • He starts with the statement of faith. You trust me and this is what will happen.
      • (V2-3)God gives clear and precise directives and what Abram can expect in return.
      • He did the same for us and even wrote it down in case we forgot.
    • The bible is God clear and precise directives for redeeming His creation and what it means to be redeemed.
    • Abram was in the land of Ur when God came to Him and called him to move away. The call of salvation is always followed by the call of separation.
      • God is serious about the sanctification of His people. The setting apart for His use. It always starts with separation.
      • Separation is setting apart from something, sanctification is a setting apart for something
    • What Jesus is recorded saying in the gospel of Luke is not request but a command.      (Lu 14:26) If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.  (27) And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
      • We understand that hate is not used the way we use it, but means loves less. If our decisions, our actions, our directions are based on family or self-promotion, anything other than our commitment to Him, we are a hypocrite.
    • I am very aware in today’s watered downed, tolerant adapted sermonettes that is heard across the globe today this is not a popular view.
      • I’m not here to be popular but truthful. I want you to know this uncommitted, uncaring, unrepentant Christianity light that is being promoted and accepted today is not the same as what Jesus Himself spoke of.
    • This is very important. God told Abram three things he wanted him to leave. His country, his kindred and his father’s house.
      • (V4-5) tells us he left his country.
      • He is no longer in Ur. He left Haran, the place of his birth and the place where he was established.
      • He left his father’s house. The comfort and security of familiarity.
      • But we see he took some kindred.  Lot will be a subject of discussion a few times in Abrams life.
    • So often like Abram we obey part of God’s invitation only to hold on to something we believe either is not important or we can’t do without.
      • Here is a worthy note: if God brings to your attention it is important!
      • These things we hold on to always come back and becomes a source of competition in our walk with God.
  • There are two reasons for God’s demand for Abrams separation.
    • God had Abram turn his back on all things of familiarity.
      • We are creatures of habit. When we get in a bind we will turn to what we know.
      • This is a lesson in faith. He no longer has what he is comfortable with. He no longer has what he use to trust. He burnt his bridges so there was no way back
        • We need some bridge burning in our lives.
      • I am no way telling you God is wanting you to move to an obscure place to survive, but one of the greatest detriments to faith is not diving in, holding back.
    • Oswald Chambers speaks of total abandonment. In the opening page of his devotional Utmost for His Highest he states “My determination is to be my utmost for His highest. To get there is a determination of the will, not of debate nor of reasoning, but a surrender of the will” …  
      • Jesus in His parable of the hidden treasure, in the13th chapter of Matthew; spoke of a man who purchased a field. He sold all he had with joy because he knew what he was getting was better than what he had.
      • He purposely gave up what he had to obtain what he could get. He was sold out, he bought in. he believed so much in what he was doing it affected every part of his life. 
      •   What are you investing in? That is where your faith is. That is where your heart is.
    • The other reason for his separation was obedience.
      • Obedience activates faith. It is here that what you said you believe in, what you said you trust in, what you said has authority over your life, it is through obedience you give proof of genuine, saving conversion.
        • When we step out and obey it is then God gives us the confidence the security of knowing we can trust Him.       
      • Where obedience activates faith, disobedience deactivates it. We fall back into that dark foreboding worry of how are we gonna make it, what can I do, should we do this?
    • There are those here today who started out well, but are having difficulty in their walk because of disobedience. The only way to get back into the relationship is to jump in.
      • Repent, then dive.
  • There are those here today who need to burn some bridges.
    • You continue to hold on to something incase God don’t pan out. You will never experience His freedom, His power, His peace, until you decide rather He is worth selling all for.
  • There are those here today who like Abram feel the Holy-Spirit of God calling them out.
    • It sounds scary leaving all behind but in truth its gaining more than you ever let go.

As we look around at the shape our world is in, we see many signs. These aren’t meant to worry, us scare us, but to turn our attention back to Him. God is still at the helm, still in control, His plan is still being enacted. He wants you to be a part of it.

Sunday School

Outline for June 28, 2020

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

Luke18:1-8

  • And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
  • Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
  • And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
  • And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
  • Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
  • And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
  • And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
  • I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

To this end…..(in light of what He had been talking about in the last chapter – the coming kingdom)

Men ought always to pray and not to faint

  • Prayer and persistence
  • Be thinking about your personal prayer life.  How would you describe it to someone and would God agree with that description. (ouch!) What would be an acronym that describes your personal prayer life?   For example ACTS….or would it be SSSS?  Are you persistent or are you a “one and done” kind of pray-er?
  • The most basic definition of prayer is “talking to God.” Prayer is not meditation or passive reflection; it is direct address to God. It is the communication of the human soul with the Lord who created the soul. Prayer is the primary way for the believer in Jesus Christ to communicate his emotions and desires with God and to fellowship with God. – GotQuestions.org
  • Prayer is the Christian’s way of communicating with God. We pray to praise God and thank Him and tell Him how much we love Him. We pray to enjoy His presence and tell Him what is going on in our lives. We pray to make requests and seek guidance and ask for wisdom. God loves this exchange with His children, just as we love the exchange we have with our children. Fellowship with God is the heart of prayer. Too often we lose sight of how simple prayer is really supposed to be. – GodQuestions.org
  • Psalm 19:14 – wonderful verse to pray each morning
  • Philippians 4:6-7 – worry about nothing, pray about everything
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – pray without ceasing

Unjust judge – hmmmm

  • did not fear God
  • did not regard man

Widow

  • Prevailing and persistent prayer

God will avenge his own elect

  • AMPC – And will not (our just) God defend and protect and avenge His elect (His chosen ones), who cry to Him day and night?  Will He defer them and delay help on their behalf?
  • NIV – And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?

Shall He find faith?

  • AMP – However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find (this kind of persistent) faith on the earth?
  • EASY – I the Son of Man, will return to earth, but will I find many people that still believe in me then, or not?

Will we finish well?

Sunday School 5/31/2020

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

Luke 17:11-19

  • And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
  • And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
  • And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
  • And when he saw them, he said unto them, go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
  • And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
  • And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
  • And Jesus answering said, were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?
  • There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
  • And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Outline

Samaria/Galilee

  • Right next to one another but couldn’t stand each other – hmmmm

Leprosy

            Social Distancing (way worse than what we have just been through)

            Outcasts

            Laws

Crying Out to Jesus

            When was the last time you cried out to Jesus?

Rituals vs Worship

All ten were willing to do a religious ceremony; that is go to the priest. Only one was filled with true praise and thanksgiving. “External religious exercises are easy enough, and common enough; but the internal matter, the drawing out of the heart in thankful love, how scarce a thing it is! Nine obey ritual where only one praises the Lord.” (Spurgeon)

  • Naaman (2 Kings 5)

Ungrateful – Where are the nine?

  • Ungrateful:  not feeling or showing gratitude

Synonyms:  Unappreciative; unthankful, thankless, ungracious

  • We live in such an ungrateful society today.  It is the norm not the exception.
  • How often does anyone even say thank you? 
  • Age of entitlement

True Worship

  • Do we even know what that means?
  • Worship:  the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.
  • Synonyms:  reverence, adoration, adoring, devotion, praise, thanksgiving, praising, glorifying, exaltation, extolling, homage, respect, honor, esteem, magnification
  • Adoration:  deep love and respect

“O Come let us adore Him”

Thy faith hath made thee whole

This man alone out of the ten who were miraculously healed received the second miracle of salvation from sin.  His trust, gratitude, humility, commitment, love, praise, and worship mark his faith in Jesus as the faith that saves. – MacArthur

Have you been made whole?