Lessons from the Life of Abraham (part 3)

LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM

PART 3:  GROWING IN THE FAITH – LEARNING TO FOLLOW  GOD WHOLLY

( Pastor Lee Jackson FFWC)

1)    INTRODUCTION – IN OUR FIRST MESSAGE ON THIS SERIES WE SPOKE ABOUT THE CALL OF ABRAHAM AND WHAT IT MEANS TO CHRISTIANS TODAY: 1) THE CALL OF GOD IS GOD’S SOVEREIGN INITIATIVE, 2) THE CALL OF GOD REQUIRES WE LEAVE OUR PAST BEHIND, 3) THE CALL OF GOD DEMANDS OBEDIENCE, AND 4) RESPONDING TO THE CALL OF GOD BRINGS BLESSING TO US AND OUR FAMILIES AND ALL OUR RELATIONSHIPS.

IN THE SECOND MESSAGE DEALING WITH THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM WE FOUND OUT THE EVEN THOUGHT WE ARE CALLED WE DON’T ALWAYS GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME:  1) WE GET INTO TROUBLE COMES WHEN WE TAKE MATTERS INTO OUR OWN HANDS, 2) MATERIAL BLESSING IS NOT ALWAYS AND INDICATION OF GOD’S APPROVAL AS MUCH AS IT IS A MEASURE OF GOD’S GRACE, AND FINALLY 3) GOD DOESN’T GIVE UP ON US IN SPITE OF OUR FAILURES OR OUR STUPIDITY.

IN GENESIS CHAPTER 13 ABRAM RETURNS TO THE LAND OF CANNON AFTER STRAYING INTO EGYPT. THIS IS A NEW BEGINNING FOR ABRAM BUT IT WAS ESTABLISHED ON AN OLD FOUNDATION, AN OLD ALTAR WHERE HE HAD AN ENCOUNTER WITH GOD IN A PLACE CALLED BETHEL.

(GENESIS CHAPTER 13)

2)    WHEN WE FOLLOW GOD WE LEARN TO BUILD ALTARS.   (VS 1 – 4)

A)   IN THE OLD TESTAMENT THESE MARKERS WERE CALLED ALTARS; A PLACE WHERE A BLOOD SACRIFICE WAS MADE ONTO THE LORD.

B)   THE FIRST THING ABRAM DID WHEN CAME INTO THE LAND OF CANNON AND BEFORE HE STRAYED INTO EGYPT HE BUILT AN ALTAR ONTO THE LORD NEAR A PLACE CALLED BETHEL.

C)    WHEN HE CAME BACK TO THE LAND OF CANNON HE RETURNED TO THAT SAME PLACE WHERE HE HAD BUILT THAT ALTAR AND HE CALLED UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD.

D)   ABRAM CAMPED BETWEEN BETHEL AND AI.  BETHEL MEANS “HOUSE OF GOD”.  AI MEANS “A HEAP OF RUINS”.  AI WAS THE SECOND CITY THAT JOSHUA DESTROYED AFTER CROSSING THE JORDAN AND TAKING THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL INTO THE PROMISED LAND.

E)   THIS SPEAKS TO ME OF OUR CHOICES AND OUR COMMITMENT TO CHANGE.  WE CAN CAMP IN BETHEL “HOUSE OF GOD” OR WE CAN BUILD OUR CAMP IN AI “A HEAP OF RUINS” OR SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN.   WHERE ARE YOU CAMPING?

F)   COVENANT IS LIKE A CONTRACT WITH THIS DIFFERENCE: GOD ALONE SETS THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF OUR COVENANT WITH HIM; WE MUST COME TO GOD ON HIS TERMS, THEN WE CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD AND HE WILL HEAR US.

G)   IN THE NEW TESTAMENT ALTERS ARE SPIRITUAL MARKERS (MEMORIALS) THAT WE CAN COME BACK TO WHEN WE HAVE STRAYED.

H)   FOR THE CHRISTIAN THE ALTAR IS A PLACE IN TIME AND SPACE WHERE WE HAVE HAD AND AN ENCOUNTER WITH GOD:

a)    THE 1ST ALTAR (MARKER) IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS THE TIME AND PLACE WHERE WE ACCEPTED JESUS CHRIST AS OUR SAVIOR AND OUR LORD; WHERE WE CONFESSED OUR SINS AND FAILURES AND ASKED AND RECEIVED HIS FORGIVENESS AND ACCEPTANCE.

b)    THE 2ND ALTAR (MARKER) MIGHT BE WHEN WE WERE BAPTIZED AND GAVE PUBLIC TESTIMONY OF OUR DECISION TO GIVE UP OUR OLD LIFE AND FOLLOW JESUS CHRIST.

c)    THE 3RD MARKER MIGHT BE WHEN WE RECEIVED THE INFILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT; WHEN GOD GAVE US POWER TO BE HIS WITNESSES GAVE US A NEW PRAYER LANGUAGE.

d)    THERE WILL BE MANY ALTERS (MARKERS) AS WE PROGRESS IN THIS JOURNEY CALLED THE CHRISTIAN LIFE WHERE WE HAVE A SPECIAL ENCOUNTER WITH GOD THAT WE NEVER WILL FORGET.

3)    WHEN WE FOLLOW GOD WE LET GOD CHOSE OUR PARTNERS FOR THE JOURNEY. (VS 5 – 9)

A)   LOT AND ABRAM WERE BOTH WEALTHY WHEN THEY RETURNED FROM EGYPT.  THEIR SERVANTS BEGAN TO QUARREL OVER THE BEST PASTURELAND.

B)   IT SEEMS TO ME THAT WHEN GOD CALLED ABRAM OUT FROM HIS COUNTRY AND HIS PEOPLE THAT HE SHOULD HAVE LEFT LOT BEHIND.

C)   SOMETIMES WHEN GOD CALLS US WE TRY BRING FAMILY MEMBERS OR FRIENDS ALONG AND THAT IS GREAT IF GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO WORK TOGETHER.   IF HE HAS NOT CALLED YOU TO WORK TOGETHER YOU CANNOT FORCE IT.

D)   WE ARE NOT TO BE UNEQUALLY YOKED WITH UNBELIEVERS.  I ALSO BELIEVE THAT WE SHOULD NOT BE YOKED WITH THE WRONG BELIEVERS:  THIS GOES FOR OUR FRIENDS INCLUDING OUR GIRL FRIENDS AND BOY FRIENDS, OUR MARRIAGE PARTNER, OUR BUSINESS PARTNERS, EVEN OUR MINISTRY PARTNERS.

E)   ON THE OTHER HAND, THE BIBLE SAYS WHOM GOD HATH JOINED TOGETHER LET NO MAN CAST ASUNDER…

 4)    WHEN WE FOLLOW GOD WE GIVE UP OUR RIGHTS.  (14 – 18)

A)   ABRAM WAS AN AMAZING GUY.  GOD HAD CALLED HIM OUT OF HIS HOMELAND INTO THIS LAND OF CANNON AND PROMISED HIM THAT HE WOULD BE THE FATHER OF MANY NATIONS AND THAT THIS LAND WAS HIS LAND.

B)   ABRAM HAD EVERY RIGHT TO TELL LOT TO TAKE HIS SERVANTS AND HIS HERDS AND LEAVE, BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT HE DID.

C)   ABRAM NOT ONLY ALLOWED LOT TO STAY BUT HE GAVE HIM FIRST CHOICE OF THE LAND.   HE TOLD LOT TO SURVEY THE LAND AND CHOSE.   ABRAM

D)   NO ONE CAN TAKE AWAY THE MINISTRY THAT GOD HAS GIVEN US IF TRUST GOD AND KEEP A RIGHT ATTITUDE.

E)   WE MUST NOT BE TERRITORIAL ABOUT OUR MINISTRY OF SERVICE TO GOD.

 5)      CONCLUSION:  FOLKS, THIS IS SO, SO NOT ABOUT US. WE NEED TO TAKE OURSELVES A LOT LESS SERIOUSLY AND TAKE GOD VERY SERIOUSLY.   IT IS A GOD THING. WE ARE ABLE TO COME TO GOD BECAUSE OF HIS GRACE AND MERCY AND FORGIVENESS AND HIS PROVISION.  WE ARE ABLE TO FOLLOW HIM BECAUSE OF HIS GRACE AND MERCY AND CONTINUING FORGIVENESS AND HIS CONTINUING PROVISION. WHEN ABRAM LEFT BETHEL HE MOVED AND LIVED AMONG THE OAKS OF MAMRE.  THE HEBREW WORD NAME MEANS STRENGTH OR FATNESS, BUT ABRAM HAD LEARNED A LESSON.  HE BUILT ANOTHER ALTER TO THE LORD GOD THERE TO CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD BECAUSE HE HAD LEARNED THAT HIS STRENGTH CAME FROM THE LORD. 2Co 12:9  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefor will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

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