Abraham: Following In The Footsteps Of Faith – Sermon #2
ABRAM’S COMMITMENT TO A LIFE OF FAITH
Genesis 12:4-9 (NKJV)
4 So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
5 Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan.
6 Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land.
7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
8 And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
9 So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.
I remember as a young boy, that we moved around from place to place quite a lot. We would live in this town for a while and then we would move to another town, or maybe we would just move from one house to another in the same town. We never stayed any place for a long time. In a sense, I was a pilgrim while growing up.
When I got saved, I soon discovered, from reading the Bible, that the Christian life is also a pilgrimage, 1 Pet. 2:11. Everyone of us that is saved by Christ is a pilgrim for the Lord this evening. We are on a journey that began the day we received Jesus into our hearts and that will continue until the day we arrive in Heaven. This pilgrimage is, at times, a wonderful thing. At other times, it is difficult at best. Yet all the time it is a pilgrimage that is to be lived out through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Tonight, I want to spent some time with the first pilgrim. This man named Abraham was the first one to leave everything behind to walk with the Lord by faith. His pilgrimage was not easy, though there were blessings along the way for Abraham. However, in his pilgrimage, Abraham sets the example for you and me this evening. He shows us how to live out our lives in absolute faith in and total commitment to the Lord God Almighty.
Let’s journey along with Abraham this evening as he sets the example for all of God’s children down through the ages. He teaches us a lesson this evening in The Commitment To A Life Of Faith. There are three sides to Abraham’s Commitment To A Life Of Faith that I want to share tonight.
I. V. 4-5 ABRAM’S OBEDIENCE
(Ill. It took a while, but Abraham finally came to the place of total obedience to the Lord. That is the same place He wishes to bring each of His children this evening, Ill. 1 Sam. 15:22-23.)
A. Involved His Separation – The call of God had been for Abraham to separate from his relatives, and to follow God by faith, Gen. 12:1. Abraham was called upon to separate himself from everything that would hinder the progress of the walk of faith!
(Note: The Lord’s call is the same for His children this evening! Anything that prevents us from progressing as He would desire is a weight that must go, Heb. 12:1-2.)
(Note: Most of the time, you will not be called upon to sever ties with your family as was Abraham. However, if you decide to walk by faith, there will be times when they will not be sympathetic to what the Lord is leading you to do in your life, especially if they are lost. In times like those, the will of the Lord must be given the priority! Ill. The words of Jesus in this matter – Matt. 10:32-39.)
B. Involved His Substance – Verse 5 tells us that when Abraham left to follow the Lord, he took “all his substance.” In other words, when the Lord got Abraham, the Lord got everything he had! Abraham didn’t leave anything behind for the world to use, but he took it all and went after God.
(Note: You can gauge the level of a person’s commitment to the Lord by how much of that person’s “stuff” has been dedicated to the Lord! We get hung up on the tithe. And, I believe that a person ought to tithe. But, what you do with the other 90% is just as important to the Lord as what you do with His 10%. You see, God doesn’t just want His part, He wants your part too! He gives us what He does so that we might us it for His glory and for His kingdom’s work. That’s why some folks don’t ever have anything! They peel off a dollar for the Lord and spent the rest of the ten on themselves and the things of the world, God won’t bless that! When He has you and your checkbook, He can bless you in ways you have never imagined. By the way, the way to get is to give, Luke 6:38; Mal. 3:10. That is not the motive for giving to the Lord and in His name, but it is a benefit! How much of your stuff does the Lord have? Or, do you have “your pile” and “God’s pile”? If you do, I’ll guarantee you that your pile is bigger! You had better be careful, He might blow on your pile. If He ever does, there won’t be anything left, Hag. 1:5-11. By the way, if you have a problem with your tithes and offerings, you really don’t have a problem with your tithes and offerings. You have a problem with your heart!
Of course, this thing is bigger than just God wanting our money. He wants all of our stuff to be dedicated to Him. He might want to use your house or your car or your business etc. He just wants you to surrender all to Him so He can do with it what He will!)
C. Involved His Surrender – The Bible tells us that Abraham did “as the Lord had spoken to him.” Abraham learned early on that the secret to pleasing God is simply doing what He says, to the letter! Even though the Lord’s call upon his life would be difficult, it was the only course of action that made sense. You see, faith builds no barriers! It simply does what it is told and trusts God to take care of the rest!
(Note: As we progress on our own pilgrimage, the sooner we learn that lesson the better! The only way to enjoy the Christian life to the full is to come to the place of total surrender, where your everything is on the altar of God, Rom. 12:1-2. You might think, as you read the life of Abraham, that God wanted Abraham’s stuff. Friends, God didn’t need Abraham’s stuff and He isn’t interested in your stuff either! All God ever wanted from Abraham was Abraham! That’s what it all was all about. Everything this man endured was about getting him on the altar. That’s where the Lord wants us too!)
II. V. 4-6 ABRAM’S OPPOSITION
(Ill. Abram wasn’t going to find everything “smooth sailing”. There would be difficulties in his pilgrimage, just as there will be in ours. Let’s notice a few obstacles that Abraham faced as he journeyed.)
A. v. 4 The Days Opposed Him – Verse 4 says that Abram was 75 years old when he left on his pilgrimage. That’s about the age when some people begin to seriously think about slowing down. Not this man! He set out at that age to follow the Lord. I’ll guarantee you some of his kinfolks thought he had lost his mind. I can almost hear them as they try to talk some sense into old Abram, but, he is determined to follow the Lord in spite if his age.
(Note: May I just remind you that there will never come a day when you can turn in your traveling shoes and your walking staff for a rocking chair? There may come a day when you can’t teach anymore. There may come a time when you can’t preach anymore. There may come a day when you won’t even be able to attend church anymore. But, until we go home to glory, there will never be a day when we will have the liberty to sit down on the Lord and quit! Don’t let your age, whether you are young or old, stop you from serving the Lord, Titus 2:2-3; 1 Tim. 4:12.)
B. V. 6 The Darkness Opposed Him – This verse says, “And the Canaanite was then in the land.” That statement reveals much about the country that Abram was moving into. The Canaanites were a godless people, trapped in a system of religion that involved the worship of many gods. They practiced human sacrifice, various fertility rites, and had no regard for morality and decency. Abram was headed into hostile territory, where no one would be sympathetic to his lifestyle or to his God. Yet, he was determined to follow God regardless of the opposition from darkness that he faced!
(Note: Nothing has changed since Abraham’s day! Those who determine that they will live a life of total dedication to the Lord soon discover that “the Canaanite is still in the land.” The world, the flesh and the devil have no sympathy whatsoever with our desire to live for the Lord. If you choose to live a life of total dedication, you might as well know up front that there will be opposition, 2 Tim. 3:12. Of course, if the Lord Jesus faced opposition and difficulty when He walked in this world, why should we expect any better treatment? Ill. Matt. 10:16-23; John 15:20.
In spite of the fact that the world is against the child of God (believer in Jesus Christ), we should still determine in our hearts that as long as there is breath in our bodies, we will live for the Lord, regardless of the personal cost. Who cares if we are opposed, mocked, hated or ridiculed? Who cares if persecution comes our way? A life of total commitment demands that we stand faithfully in the face of all opposition, 1 Cor. 15:58; Eph. 6:10-18 – Stand!)
C. V. 5-6 The Distance Opposed Him – From Haran to Beersheba, in the south of Canaan was about 500 miles. That isn’t too great a distance today with modern travels, but then with flocks, herds, servants, household goods and all the other things they had with them, this was quite a long journey. It surely would have been tempting for Abram to stop short of going all the way. But these verses tell us that he didn’t stop. In fact, he just kept on going until he had seen everything there was to see in Canaan land, v. 9. God had promised it to him and he wanted to see it all!)
(Note: What a lesson for the child of God this evening. How often are we tempted to unhook and drop out of the race? How often do the loads of life get heavy and the ways of life get rough? Isn’t there a tendency for us to get weary and want to quit? Let me just encourage you my friends: stay in the race! It will be worth it all when we get home. Right now, the way gets hard and harder. When it does, you can count on the fact that God is just trying to grow you. Determine in your heart that you will never stop, never pull up your socks and never quit until you have seen everything that God has for you in your Canaanland! Just keep going on with the Lord. One day we will reach the end of the journey and step out of Canaan into glory, but until then, just keep on keeping on for the glory of the Lord!)
D. V. 5 The Duties Opposed Him – Abram was a man with many responsibilities. He had his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot to look after. He had servants, flocks, herds and all that came along with the to look after. If he was like most men, then he would have believed that it was his responsibility to feed that whole crowd and to provide for the needs that arose. It took great faith for him to place the unseen ahead of the seen and trust God to take care of all the needs of life. Yet, that is just what he did!
(Note: That is the place God wants us to reach as well. He wants us to arrive at that place where we willingly abandon the seen for the unseen at the command of the Lord. He wants us to come to the place where we know that we have what He has promised us, even when we cannot see it, Heb. 11:1. He wants us to come to the place where all of our tomorrows, all of our needs, all of our fears, cares, worries and problems are left at His feet, Matt. 6:25-34. When you get right down to it, you and I only have one requirement as pilgrims for the Lord: trust Him and leave all the details to God!)
III. V. 7-9 ABRAM’S OPPORTUNITIES
(Note: While this man was called on to walk by faith to an “unseen” place, he was given opportunities that others knew nothing about.)
A. v. 7 To Experience God’s Promises – This man could travel as a pilgrim in Canaan knowing in his heart that every square inch of ground was his and his children’s forever! They are fighting over that patch of ground this evening, but I’ve got news for you, that ground belongs to the Jews! As he traveled, Abraham enjoyed the future, though it still remained unseen!
(Note: what an example he sets for the children of the Lord! Even as we continue on our pilgrimage toward glory, we can see the future by faith, as though it were a reality today! Friends, keep traveling for Jesus Christ, you are as sure for Heaven as if you were already there if you are saved this evening, Eph. 2:6!)
B. V. 7-8 To Enjoy God’s Presence – As he journeyed, Abraham had a companion that excelled all others. God walked with him every step of the way!
1. In His Worship – It seems that whenever Abraham pitched his tent he also built an altar. He took the time to worship as he journeyed. His altars give loud testimony to the condition of this man’s heart. The fact that he built them in the center of Canaan, where all around the people were enveloped in the gross darkness of idolatry, says much about his love and faith for the Lord.
(Note: God’s people should be known for their altars! Not just in church, but everywhere our path takes us. We should mark our days with prayer and with time spent in His presence. We must make worship a priority in our lives, John 4:23-24. When we build our altars and are not ashamed of the God we serve, it stands as a powerful witness to those around us! There is nothing wrong with telling people about the Lord, and we should all be vocal witnesses. But, when you get right down to it, if you have to tell someone that you are different, that you are a Christian. Our devotion to Him should make us stand out from the world around us!)
2. In His Wanderings – Notice that as he journeyed, Abraham and God enjoyed sweet communion and fellowship. God spoke to him and he worshiped the Lord. It seems that Abraham was determined to include God in his pilgrimage.
(Note: Far too many people attempt to leave God out of their journey. That is a recipe for disaster! Whether you acknowledge Him or not, God is always there with you as you travel, Heb. 13:5. If you include Him in your life by listening to Him when He speaks and by worshiping Him as you travel, it makes the miles shorter and the trials easier to bear.)
3. In His Ways – Verse 8 tells us that Abraham pitched his tent between Bethel and Hai. The word Bethel means “House of God.” It was at Bethel that the patriarch Jacob would later meet God one lonely night, Gen. 28. The name “Hai or Ai” means “A Heap of Ruins”. It was here that Israel would later learn a valuable lesson about faith, obedience and the destructive power of sin. I find it interesting that as Abraham journeyed, he seems to be moving away from “A Heap of Ruins” toward the “House of God”. This symbolizes the fact that Abraham was moving away from what he used to be, toward that which God desired for him to be! That’s what happens when a person sets out to walk with the Lord!
(Note: When we determine that we will walk in the paths of the Lord, He will begin the process of transforming this “Heap of Ruins” that is our life before Him, and He will transform us into a “House of God” for His glory, 1 Cor. 6:19. That’s why He says, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels”, 2 Cor. 4:7. He takes us from where we are and He changes us into His image, 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Cor. 15:49!)
C. To Enter God’s Place – This passage closes with Abraham journeying on with the Lord. He was headed somewhere. He may have pitched his tent at many addresses in Canaan, but in his heart, Abraham was already living in a far away country. He had already looked away by sight and had entered a land called Heaven, Heb. 11:8-16!
Friends, that is why the life of Abraham is a study in successful living. Why? Because He lived on a higher plane than other men. He lived in Heaven while his feet walked on the earth! He had plenty of things, but his things didn’t have him. He held this world with a loose grip, trusting God to give and take as He saw fit. That is how you make successfully through this life!
(Note: May the Lord help us to get our eyes and our hands off this world! When we begin to live on a higher plane, we will see the things of this world become less and less important. When we determine that we will be heavenly minded, it will transform our walk down here, Col. 3:1-3. It will take us away from thinking that we have this or that. We will be satisfied with Jesus! When that happens, we are on the path to certain victory in our spiritual journey.)
Abraham sets the example of a man who was totally committed to a life of faith. Can you say the same thing about your journey?
In which country are you more firmly planted, earth or Heaven?
God is still looking for those He can call to a life of faith and use them to astound the world. Are you willing? Are you that one God can use at this time to touch the world for His glory?
If there are needs, open your heart to Jesus and seek His face!