Sermon Titled “Cutting a Covenant – God’s Beautiful Bargain” (Genesis 15) – June 23rd, 2013
In this second part of the post series on Genesis 15, I’ll share three small lessons – three lessons gleaned from Abram’s life experiences and able to be applied to our own.
If you’ll recall, in the very first verse of Genesis 15, God speaks to Abram in a vision and the first thing He says is:
- Genesis 15:1 “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
If God started out by telling Abram to “not be afraid,” we have to assume that Abram was struggling with certain fears, perhaps because he and his men had just defeated several kings in the region and now had enemies to contend with. Or, maybe it was because his faith in God invited major opposition from neighboring pagans. While we don’t know for sure what troubles plagued Abram, we do know that in spite of them, he continued to put his hope and trust in God. And that brings me to the first lesson:
1.When fear starts to get the better of us, we’d best keep our eyes on Jesus! Read the following passage from Luke 8:22-25:
Jesus Calms the Storm
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out.23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. 24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master,we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.”
Herein lies an example of what happens when we take our eyes off Christ, and focus instead on the looming threat, or the thing that is causing us to be fearful or anxious. Our faith subsides and we begin to “sink.” God says to us in Isaiah 7:9, that if we do not stand firm in our faith, we will not stand at all. Abram seems to have understood that his faith in God was the key to staying strong and encouraged during the most trying of times.
In my experience, people tend to be more favorable towards those who believe in any other religion besides Christianity. Buddhism, Hinduism, and Native American religions for example, all seem to be more readily accepted by those who have no religious affiliations. In a world then, where the simple act of professing a love of Christ can provoke negative feelings among non-believers (and even persecution in some places), it’s easy to sometimes lose hope and feel discouraged. But that’s when we need to look to God, by reading His word, and reminding ourselves of the many promises made and kept to many throughout the bible who sought His refuge and received it.
The second lesson pertains to Genesis 15:7-8:
2. When God says He will do something, we should do as Abram did and simply believe!
In Genesis 15:7-8, God tells Abram that He will hand over the land of Canaan to him. Abram doesn’t doubt that God will do for him what He has promised to do, but he does wonder how God will make it happen. There have been a few occasions in my own life, where I too have been on the receiving end of what I believe have been fairly bold promises from God. And like Abram, I wondered how those promises would be accomplished but I chose to believe anyway (and besides, to doubt would have just lead to constant fretting and stress, both of which I could do without).
I also remember a time many years ago, when my mother shared that a woman once prophesied over her in church and told her that one of her three children would one day become a committed and faithful Christian. A few years later, that “prophecy” came to pass when I was baptized in 1996. Given the lifestyle that my siblings and I were living at that time (well, perhaps with the exception of my brother, who was a little less wayward), my mother could easily have chosen to disbelieve what had been foretold about one of her children, but she trusted that God would keep His word and He did.
Finally, the last lesson has to do with waiting. Let’s face it, most of us are not good at waiting for things that we are hoping for, and whenever possible we try to manipulate circumstances to speed things up. But God calls us to wait on Him, and to let Him work things for our good (Abram waited faithfully and God delivered). In Pastor Warren Weirsbe’s bible commentary of the Old Testament, he says that one of the fundamental lessons for us to learn on faith, is that “God’s will must be fulfilled in God’s way in God’s time,” and that I believe, is a major, but often difficult lesson for us to learn.
3. When waiting restlessly for something that we hope for, we should resist the temptation to try and do God’s job for Him.
Both my husband and I have experienced various disappointments throughout our lifetimes, and it’s been tempting in those moments to blame other people and circumstances for causing them. We forget though, that God’s plans are always better than ours, and rather than dwell on what we think are lost opportunities, I believe we need to remember Weirsbe’s words above.
So there you have it – three lessons to learn from Abram:
- Keep your eyes on Jesus
- Keep believing
- Keep waiting on God