Skip to content

Category: Sermons

The Sacrifice

There is a song that we sometimes sing in at our kids clubs called “Father Abraham”. If you’ve been a camp kid or if you grew up in the church, chances are good that you’ve heard it before. But if not, it goes like this: “Father Abraham had many sons – many sons had Father Abraham. And I am one of them, and so are you, so let’s just praise the Lord.”

And then there are some ridiculous actions that go along with that have nothing to do with song – but the kids love it – and believe it or not, the theology of the song is actually pretty accurate.

According to Paul in Romans 4:16…

“For Abraham is the father of all who believe.” Romans 4:16

Of course, Abraham is not likely your biological ancestor unless you happen to be Jewish, but Paul says Abraham is our father in a spiritual sense. If we have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ – then Abraham is our Father. We are one of his many sons and daughters – because he is the father of all who believe.

And if you’ve been tracking along with us for these past couple months, I think it’s probably becoming clear why Paul would say that Abraham is the father of all who believe. We’ve spent the last several weeks looking at the life of Abraham – learn from Him as He learned to walk with God.

Today, we are wrapping up that series, but it has been incredible to see the amount of faith Abraham had in God. It’s no wonder we call him the Father of our faith. We read a bit of a summary of Abraham’s life last week from Romans 4:18 – which really emphasized Abraham’s faith in God. It said:

Leave a Comment

The Joy of the Lord

We’re going to pick up our story today in Genesis chapter 21 – hopping over chapters 19 & 20 – but I would certainly encourage you to go back and read those chapters sometime this week – that will help you fill in the blanks of the story yourself.

Now while you’re turning to Genesis 21 in your Bibles, let me give you just a really quick summary of the story so far.

As I’ve pointed out before, the key issue in the whole story of Abraham is the issue of descendants. Namely that Abraham had none. One of the first bits of information that we read about Abraham was that his wife Sarah, had been unable to become pregnant. And of course, this is a big deal for any family, but it was particularly an issue for Abraham’s family because God had specifically promised to Abraham that his descendants would grow to become a great nation and they would inherit the land of Canaan or as we often call it “the Promised Land”. God was going to bless all of Abraham’s descendants and they in turn would be a blessing to every family on the earth.

However, through most of our story, Abraham has been childless. Several times God has appeared and reaffirmed his promise to Abraham – but by the time Abraham was 85, he still had no child on the horizon. So Abraham and Sarah decided to be proactive and help God out a little bit. They decided that Abraham should have a child with Sarah’s servant, Hagar. This was culturally acceptable – but was certainly not what God had in mind. The problems and the discord that this caused in the family became evident almost immediately. As soon as Hagar was pregnant, Hagar treated Sarah with contempt and Sarah treated Hagar so harshly that she ran away even before the child was born. Thankfully, God intervened and Hagar returned to Sarah and Abraham – and in due time, Hagar had her baby – little Ishmael.

Well, for many years, Abraham raised Ishmael as his dearly loved, one and only son – the son that he presumed was God’s promised child. But when Ishmael was 13 years old God appeared to Abraham and again reaffirmed his promise that Abraham would have a son – and that son would be born from Sarah – even though she was now 90 years old. God further clarified that Sarah’s son, Isaac, would be the one whom God would bless and would cause his descendants to grow to be a great nation – they would inherit the promised land, and they would be a blessing to every family on earth.

Of course, this was exactly what God had promised 24 years earlier – God’s plans had not changed even though Abraham and Sarah had not been careful to follow his plan. Despite their lack of faith, God remained faithful and today, we finally get to the part of the story where God finally does exactly what he said he would do for Abraham & Sarah. So in Genesis chapter 21, verse 1 we read:

The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. Genesis 1:1-2

I love how this chapter starts: The Lord kept his word. He did exactly what he had promised. Despite the impossibility of it all – (considering that Abraham and Sarah were well past the age of having children – Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90) – despite the impossibility of them having children, God kept his Word.

Leave a Comment

Getting Personal

A lot has happened to Abraham in the past 24 years as we’ve been looking at his life. And to clarify, those 24 years are not how long we’ve been in this sermon series – we’re actually only at week 7 – but at this point in our story, it’s been 24 years since God first appeared to Abraham and invited him on a journey that would forever change his life.

God first appeared to Abraham when he was 75 years old and God made a promise to Abraham that he would have all kinds of descendants, that those descendants would become a great nation, God would bless them, and that they would be a blessing to every family on earth!

And those promises are not unlike the promises we received when we first met Christ. When we first came to Christ (at whatever age that was for each one of us), we receive very similar promises. First of all, we would have a huge family.  God promised to adopt us into his family (a family that is spread across the planet and across time – we would instantly have millions of brothers and sisters in Christ). These people that you’re sitting here with today are part of God’s promise to you. 

Also, God has promised to bless us with all kinds of blessings – not necessarily physical blessings, but blessings of life, joy, and peace, hope for the future – which are certainly worth more than any amount of wealth or possessions. And in receiving those blessings, God has enabled us to be a blessing to the people around us. We have the opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus with friends and family, neighbors and co-workers – whoever happens to be in our circle of influence.

We really are privileged to have received all these promises from God. And that’s perhaps where we’re a little different from Abraham at this point in our story. At this point, Abraham has not received the fulfillment of any of God’s promises. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, is now 90 years old and is still childless – God has promised them a son, but so far, they have no descendants. And while they are now living in the Promised Land, they are still foreigners in that land – the land does not yet belong to them. They are still waiting for God – 24 years later – to come through on his promises.

But in that wait, God has not been silent – nor has God been absent. In fact, God has used those 24 years to grow their faith, to help them learn to trust Him, and to teach them who He is and what He’s like.

And in our passage today, although God is still waiting to fulfill his promises, we see God once again taking the opportunity to reveal more about Himself to Abraham and Sarah. So let’s take a look. We’re in Genesis chapter 18 this morning – and we will start at verse 1.

The Lord appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. 2 He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground.

3 “My lord,” he said, “if it pleases you, stop here for a while. 4 Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet. 5 And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey.”

“All right,” they said. “Do as you have said.”

6 So Abraham ran back to the tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry! Get three large measures of your best flour, knead it into dough, and bake some bread.” 7 Then Abraham ran out to the herd and chose a tender calf and gave it to his servant, who quickly prepared it. 8 When the food was ready, Abraham took some yogurt and milk and the roasted meat, and he served it to the men. As they ate, Abraham waited on them in the shade of the trees. Genesis 18:1-8

Now there are just a few things that I’ll briefly mention here before we keep reading.

Leave a Comment

New Names – New Promises

Last week was a big week for Abram. As most of you know, we’ve been going through the life of Abram over these past few weeks – learning from him as he learned to walk with God. And the focal point of pretty much the entire story of Abram revolves around God’s promise to give him a son.

Abram and his wife Sarai had been unable to have children together – even though God had specifically told Abram that his family would become a great nation. In fact, God had promised that Abram’s descendants would inherit a huge chunk of land which we’ve come to know as “The Promised Land” and they would be as numerous as the stars!

Well, last week Abram & Sarai found themselves, at the ages of 85 & 75 respectively, to still be without child. And so they came up with an idea of how to finally get a son for Abram. Sarai gave her servant Hagar to Abram as a wife in hopes that she could have a child with Abram. Of course, having a child through a servant back then was fairly common practice and was certainly social acceptable, but as we pointed out, it didn’t seem to line up with God’s established design for families – that being one man and one woman. 

Well anyways, their plan worked…. Sorta…. Hagar did indeed become pregnant and have a son. But this whole scheme was not what God had in mind when He told Abram that he would have son, and so instead of this pregnancy being this great blessing from God that would bring joy & delight to this family, their scheme instead brought conflict and hostility and resentment. And that really shouldn’t come as a surprise, because anytime we act outside of God’s design and God’s will for our lives, there are always negative consequences.

However, as we pointed out last week, this in no way derailed God’s good plans for Abram and his family. God would take this mess and he would use it for good and as a showcase of his love & mercy.

And so that’s where we pick things up today. We’re in Genesis chapter 17 this morning, and we will begin at verse 1.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. 2 I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” Genesis 17:1-2

And let’s just stop here for a minute. These two verses are the setup for the rest of the chapter, so I just want to point out a couple things that you’ll want to remember as we go forward.

Leave a Comment

Hagar and the God Who Sees

If you grew up going to Sunday school, no doubt you’ve heard many stories about Abraham and his family. You’d be hard pressed to find a Sunday school curriculum that goes through the stories of the Old Testament that doesn’t include the stories of Abraham, his wife Sarah, and his son Issac. They are such a central family in the Bible, it would be very odd to leave them out. 

But on that same token, there are some members of Abram’s family that we do tend to leave out. Abram’s second wife and his oldest son don’t get the same limelight as Sarah and Isaac, but they are very much part of Abram’s family and they are key elements of the Biblical account of Abram’s story. And as you might have now guessed, they will also be the focus of this next chapter in our study of the life of Abraham.

Now before we jump into this today, I want to remind you of three key facts. If you’ve missed a couple messages over these past several weeks, here’s what you need to know about Abram in order to really understand this chapter today.

#1.When we first met Abram in back Genesis chapter 12, God promised Abram that his descendants would become a great nation. In fact, over the past couple chapters, God has reaffirmed that promise several times – stating that Abram’s descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky – they would be like dust – so much that you could never count them all! That’s the first key fact to remember.

#2. Abram was currently childless. His wife Sarai had been unable to become pregnant, and so to-date, they had no children. That’s fact #2. 

#3. Abram was getting pretty old. We’ll see at the end of this chapter that Abram was now 86 years old. And I know that people lived longer back then, but still – Abram is no spring chicken anymore.

So these three facts set the stage for today’s chapter. God had promised Abram a son, Abram currently had no son, and Abram is starting to get old. With that in mind, let’s turn to Genesis chapter 16, verse 1.

Leave a Comment

Firepot Promises

Learning to walk is certainly not an easy task. We probably don’t remember our own first steps as we learned to walk for the first time, but many of us have witnessed the great tumbles and falls as we’ve watched our own children try to take their first steps. It can be a bit painful to watch sometimes to see them fail, but at the same time its so exciting when they get it right! There’s always cheers and celebrations as your babies take those first steps. It’s such a milestone in their lives – being able to walk changes everything – life will never be the same again!

I think the same could be said about learning to walk with God. Certainly, we all have our share of stumbles and falls as we try to keep in step with God – learning to trust Him and to walk in his ways. We’ve experienced the bumps and bruises when we fail to trust and to follow God like we should. But most of us have also experienced the thrill of those first successful steps. Certainly, as a church we celebrate when people take those first steps of faith – because their lives will never be the same again! Learning to walk with God changes everything!

And so that’s why, for the past several weeks, every Sunday morning we’ve been learning to walk. Not physically of course, but learning to walk with God. We’ve been taking a look at the example of Abram as he learned to walk with God some 4000 years ago. And it seems that the process of learning to walk with God hasn’t changed all that much over the years.

There is so much in Abram’s life that we can relate to today – and I think that will be all the more evident as we look at our passage this morning.

Today we’re going to pick up our story of Abram in Genesis chapter 15. Now if you missed last week’s message, let me give you a quick recap. Last Sunday Greg told us about this great battle between 9 different kings – which included the King of Sodom. Now of course, Sodom (you’ll remember) was the city where Abram’s nephew Lot lived. Well, long story short – the King of Sodom lost the battle and as a result, all the people and goods of Sodom were carried away – including Lot and his family.

When Abram heard about this, he rallied his allies and chased after the army that had carried Lot away, defeated them, and recovered all that had been taken.

After winning the victory, Abram was on his way back when he was met by this guy named Melchizedek – the King of Salem and a priest of God most High. He shows up and he blesses Abram. And Abram in return, gives Melchizedek one tenth of all he owned.

And this interaction between Abram and Melchizedek is all kinda strange because as far as story goes, Melchizedek wasn’t even involved in any of these battles – this is the first time he’s ever mentioned, so what’s he got to do with any of this this? And why is Abram giving him 10% of his stuff?

And then as a further twist to the story, the King of Sodom – who was directly involved – tries to give Abram all the goods that Abram had recovered, but Abram won’t accept any of it – He doesn’t want to become rich at the hand of the King of Sodom. 

So instead of receiving payment or reward for his heroic rescue, Abram instead gives 10% of all his stuff to this guy Melchizedek who doesn’t even seem to be involved… So it’s all a little unusual and mysterious – but the bottom line at the end of the story is that God is pleased with Abram – and Abram is determined to walk with God.

And so that brings us now to chapter 15 – and we’re going to start at verse 1. Let’s read it together:

Leave a Comment