1. Hello, listening friends.
2. We are delighted that you tuned in again.
3. We have been going through a series of messages from the life of Abraham.
4. And I want to begin by saying that man's natural way of dealing with sin... is to try and cover it up...
5. rather than confessing it and repenting of it.
6. Even the man Abraham who was called God's friend...
7. when he turned to political expediency... ended up not only lying... but trying to cover us his sin.
8. In the last message, we saw Abraham leaving Haran for Canaan in obedience to God’s original command.
9. This happened after six years of a stagnant stage in his life.
11. because of his murky obedience.
12. In Genesis 12:6, we saw him passing through the land as far as the site of Shecheme... to the oak of Moreh.
13. The words Shecheme... and Moreh mean strength... and instruction... and Abraham needed both.
14. At this point, you may be saying... well, at last... perfect compliance with the will of God!
15. Yes and no.
16. Abraham gets into Canaan and he gets a surprise.
17. There was a hotel chain slogan that said:
18. "The best surprise is no surprise."
19. Those of us who have traveled, especially overseas, are extremely leery of surprises.
20. I run into them all the time.
21. In some countries they will sell your hotel room... or your plane seat... to the highest bidder.
22. Most of us don't like the unexpected... and the unpredictable.
23. Most of us don't like what is lurking in the dark.
24. Most of us don't like what we cannot control.
25. When Abraham and company arrived in the land of Canaan...
26. they held a reservation for the land…
27. and that reservation had been confirmed by the highest authority possible...
28. God Himself.
29. But when they got there...
30. at V6 in Genesis 12.
31. There was a surprise.
32. "No vacancy" sign is in big red letters flashing all over Canaan.
33. The Canaanites were there!
34. God had not said anything about the Canaanites.
35. And right at that point Abraham's faith... is about to be tested.
36. Please listen carefully.
37. The fact that you are in the center of the will of God... does not mean that you will never face problems...
38. or difficulties or adverse circumstances.
39. The fact that you are in the very center of the will of God... does not mean that you will not experience temptations.
40. The fact that you are in the very center of the will of God... does not mean that you will not experience persecution.
41. I looked in vain in all four Gospels... I can't find, even one time that Jesus promised... a bed of roses... or a trouble free life.
42. Now, back to Genesis. Right after verse 6 comes verse 7.
43. While Abraham is scratching his head saying: “God…you told me to go to canaan... but you did not tell me about the Canaanites.”
44. "God, you commanded me to come here and leave my family... and I am here."
45. In Genesis 12:7 the Bible said,
46. The Lord appeared to Abraham and said to your offspring I will give this land so he built an alter there to the Lord who had appeared to him.
47. That is the way God works.
48. He reassures us right at the time when we are baffled and confused.
49. He reassures us right in the midst of our uncertainty and doubt.
50. He reassures us right in the midst of our fear and anxiety.
51. He reassures us right in the midst of our puzzlement.
52. He comes in and affirms his promises.
53. At that point of Abraham’s confusion God said to him.
54. To your descendants I will give this land.
55. “Abraham, it is all yours, my friend”
56. But have you ever felt that even the Lord's assurance... is not a real source of comfort?
57. Sometimes, in the midst of your puzzlement... the Lord's assurance does not comfort you?
58. Abraham's puzzlement is now doubled... even by God's assurance.
59. God promised Abraham a son.
60. Not only does he not have a son... but Abraham is very old and Sarah is barren.
61. And now, God tells Abraham that this land of Canaan which is filled with fierce people belongs to Abraham.
62. Listening friends, do you see this point?
63. Sometimes, your problem may be too big for you to handle...
64. even when you are trying to appear strong and resilient.
65. But it is not too big for God and... if you are in His perfect will.
66. What God may be waiting for... is your repentance and surrender.
67. What God may be waiting for is your willingness to give up relying on your own strength.
68. What God may be waiting for is your willingness to let go of the facade.
69. And Abraham does!
70. So Abraham pitched his tent and built an altar.
71. When you study the life of Abraham very carefully... you will notice the following:
72. When Abraham is at the center of the will of God... he always pitched a tent... and built and altar.
73. Abraham's tent is a symbol of his temporary dwelling.
74. The tent is a symbol that he is not consumed with material possessions.
75. The tent is a symbol of the fact that he is on a pilgrimage.
76. The tent is a symbol of his being vulnerable to the Lord's will.
77. The tent is a symbol that he is ready for the master's call.
78. You may ask, "wait a minute, didn't everybody live in a tent in those days?"
79. not at all.
80. Those who were permanently settled... built with rocks and stones.
81. But Abraham's tent indicates the temporary nature of his life.
82. The altar was built of stone... indicating the durability of his fellowship with God.
83. In the Bible there are three purposes for which an altar is built.
85. It is the place of meeting between God and His people.
86. Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua... and many others have built an altar for meeting with God.
88. it is the place of sacrifice.
89. They sacrifice bulls, goats and lambs on altars they built... and later on Abraham was asked to offer his son as a sacrifice.
90. The third purpose for building an altar is to be the place of prayer.
91. In Revelation 8:3,4 tells us that the prayer offered by God's people are symbolized by incense on the altar of God.
92. Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.
93. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand.
(Rev 8:3 4 NIV)
94. Let me ask you a question my listening friend
95. Do you have an altar?
96. Do you have a place where you meet God on a regular basis?
97. Do you have a place where you offer sacrifice of praise and Thanksgiving to the Lord?
98. Do you have a place where you offer intercession before God?
99. verses 9 to the end of Chapter 12 of the book of Genesis...
1. gives us a clear example of how a man of God can get out of the will of God... and start the down hill descend.
2. Verse 9 to the end of chapter 12.
3. Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.
4. Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.
5. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are.
6. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live.
7. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you."
8. When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman.
9. And when Pharaoh's officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace.
10. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.
11. But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram's wife Sarai.
12. So Pharaoh summoned Abram. "What have you done to me?" he said. "Why didn't you tell me she was your wife?
13. Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!"
14. Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.
(Gen 12:9 20 NIV)
15. Someone said the following.
16. “Biblical truth is like the pinnacle of a steep, slippery mountain…
17. one step away and you find yourself on the down-grade.”
18. I believe this with all my heart.
19. I believe it is true for individual Christians.
20. And I believe it is true for churches.
21. Abraham only took one step away from the will of God... and the rest is history.
22. Abraham did not go to Egypt right away.
24. He went into the Negave first.
25. The Negave was only half way to Egypt.
26. He probably thought to himself... I can always get back to Canaan.
27. But it wasn't long before he turned his back on his altar...
28. and folded his tent...
29. and packed his bags...
30. and left the place which God had chosen for him.
31. In verse 10 it says, “… there was famine in the land…"
32. Abraham was hungry...
33. after all a man needs to eat.
34. Please listen to me carefully.
35. God did not tell him to go to Canaan... so he could die.
36. “I will give you the land to you and your descendants.”
37. In other words, Abraham's food and Abraham's welfare are God's problem.
38. Please listen carefully.
39. You see: Egypt in the Scripture is the place to go to... when you are running away from the will of God.
40. Egypt was the symbol of the flesh.
41. Egypt was a symbol that when you stop trusting in the Lord... and you trust in man.
42. Egypt was a symbol of leaning upon your worldly wisdom... instead of the Lord's wisdom.
43. Egypt is a symbol of the chains and shackles of Satan and his bondage.
44. So for Abraham, So, going to Egypt symbolized moving out of the will of God... into "do it yourself"... kind of obedience.
45. What happens when you get out of the will of God.
46. You will find that continuing in sin becomes a easy.
47. I will tell you something else that accompanies getting out of the will of God...
49. When Abraham was in the will of God…
50. he came to Canaan and saw those mean and fierce Canaanites...
51. but that didn't frazzle him one bit...
52. but he built an altar and pitched his tent.
53. But now that he is out of the will of God...
54. he was fearful.
55. All he could think of was his own safety!
56. Well... in those days it was the prerogative of Pharaoh to take any woman he wanted into his house.
57. If the woman is married... the ruler would order the death of her husband... so he could keep her himself.
58. And Abraham did not like this part about the killing of the husband.
59. Sarah must have been a beautiful woman,
60. even at the age of 65,
61. and Abraham knew it.
62. So, he asked her to join him in the big lie.
63. “Say that you are my sister…”
64. which is half true... because she was his half sister.
65. My listening friend, please listen to me very carefully
66. It is all the intention of the heart...
67. and the intention of Abraham was to deceive for self-protection.
68. Some 1800 years after Abraham,
69. a husband and wife named Annias and Saphira agreed to lie to the Apostles,
70. and they were stuck dead on the spot.
71. Well, the immediate fruit of sin may not be visible,
72. the Bible says that sin is pleasurable for a season.
73. Immediately Abraham was rewarded with wealth and cattle and Pharaoh lavished gifts upon him.
74. But when God intervened... no doubt Abraham reaped shame... and embarrassment.
75. Despite Abraham's lack of trust... God preserved him anyway.
76. In verse 17 it tells us, “… a great plague fell on Pharaoh's household.”
77. Sarah's honor was preserved...
78. despite of the selfish action of her husband.
79. In Egypt, Abraham sank to the bottom of the quick sand pit.
80. and he was rebuked by a pagan Pharaoh!
81. Talk about life's most embarrassing moment... this was one of them.
82. The friend of God... is being rebuked by a pagan.
83. What did this say about Abraham's testimony?
84. Listening friend,
85. Christians who are the most vulnerable to sin are those who think that because they have been justified in the sight of God can live any way they want.
86. They think that because they are righteous in the sight of God, they don’t need to guard against sin.
87. Some of you are more dependent on your religious affiliation... than the Gospel of genuine repentance.
88. Some of you are more tied into the Gospel of religious ritual... than the Gospel of surrender.
89. Some of you are more concerned about your image in the community... than purity in life.
90. And what God is saying to us today through the failure of Abraham is this:
91. Put your whole trust in me... and I will direct your path.
92. You don't need to run into Egypt.
93. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it,”
94. “But whoever loses his life for me will find it”
95. It is my prayer that you would say yes to Jesus
96. And until we meet again, I wish you God’s richest blessings.