This past Sunday I preached on Abraham. You can download the sermon or listen to it here. I will share some brief notes with you here.
51:1 “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. 2 Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him. For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.”
We should obey this passage and consider Abraham – we have much to learn from him.
In Genesis 12:1 The Lord said to Abraham, go and leave your fathers house and family to the land I will show you and I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you and I will bless those who bless you and those who dishonour you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. And Abraham went…
These verses tell us that we can be in the blessing of God.
We might make a big event involving the media etc, but God starts a mission in other ways. He went to one man and said, ‘GO!’
We can feel like an alien, being the only christian in our context. Abraham had to leave all that was familiar.
Summary of God’s mission: ‘Go, be blessed, be a blessing to others!’
Israel was characterised by being blessed and being persecuted.
God has put us on a mission….its His mission: To start a people.
GOD takes one man to bless the world contrast with what came before. Different nations initially a punishment but throughout the rest of scriptures were seen as a positive thing – multi-coloured wisdom of God.
God always chooses one person to bless the many. The summary of God’s mission is this – GO, I will BLESS and then make YOU a blessing! Are we a blessing at school? Workplace? Family?
We will look at most of the words of Abraham since there are few better ways of getting to know someone than examining their words
1. THERE IS A TIME NOT TO SPEAK
He doesn’t speak in first half response to God “so Abraham went”
“So he built” SOMETIMES ITS BEST NOT TO SAY ANYTHING JUST OBEY
Don’t give up the habit of meeting together, for example. When the bible says do something, we should do it, and when the bible says don’t do something, we shouldn’t do it.
2.THERE IS A TIME TO SPEAK MORE OPENLY
The first time Abraham is recorded to have spoken he makes a mistake. In verse 11 he tells his wife to say she is his sister, ie. lies by telling a half-truth. Being economical with the truth is not appropriate!
When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.” Gen 12:11-13
When caught the first time he was perhaps wise to keep quiet and slip off…
Like us sometimes he didn’t learn from his first mistake!
Genesis 20:2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.
Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, He is my brother.’”
He was a man of no tact!
3. THERE IS A TIME TO LAY DOWN OUR RIGHTS
He was meek, despite God having given him the whole land. He did not stand up for his rights.
Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen.  Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.”
But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand  to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.” Gen 14:22-24
Meekness should be the characteristic of all christians.
4. THERE IS A TIME TO BE ‘REAL’ WITH GOD
He was honest with God BUT TRUSTED HIM
FAITH- trust but we can be honest “Oh Lord I believe help my unbelief”
Genesis 15:2-3 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue  childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”
He is not ‘making a faith declaration’, but is being honest with God. God, you promised, but what is going on here? Abraham faced the facts, yet believed God. Do we face the facts?
….v6 And he believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness.
FAITH=TRUST and it is THE critical thing to our salvation and our ongoing walk with God.
We have all done things we are ashamed of, but we can still trust in God, like Abraham.
Romans 4:3-5, 16-25 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in  him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…
That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”
23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24
but for ours also. It will be counted to us
who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
….v8 But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?”
5. THERE IS A TIME NOT TO LISTEN TO OTHERS! or THERE IS A TIME TO NOT RUSH AHEAD OF GOD
Gen 16:2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children
 by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
Gen 16:6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.
6. THERE IS A TIME TO BE BOLD WITH GOD
There is a fine balance – sometimes we need to hold back and be patient, other times we need to boldly press in – knowing which takes wisdom.
Genesis 18:23-25, 27
Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”…
Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?”…….
There is a contrast between when we need to be patient, take a step back and wait for God, and times when we need to press in and be bold. Other wise Christians can help you make that distinction. It is important to make that distinction.
7.THERE IS A TIME TO TAKE MASSIVE RISKS AND MAKE MASSIVE SACRIFICES
Jesus said, that if we will not lay down everything for Him, we are not worthy to be called his disciples.
Remember, we do not have such an accurate route of communication with God. God WILL NOT ask you to copy Abraham by killing your son, but he might ask you to kill your dream. GOD MAY BE BRINGING SOME DREAMS BACK TO LIFE BUT MAY BE ASKING YOU TO LAY DOWN OTHERS.
Sometimes God might ask you to kill a bad relationship, for example, or to kill a good dream. You can sometimes lay down a dream with the faith that it will come back. Later God may say, ‘let the dream live again!’
Issac represents the PROMISE OF GOD. Looking at the words of Abraham throughout this story is revealing….
Genesis 22:1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.”
Genesis 22:5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy  will go over there and worship and come again to you.”
Genesis 22:7-8 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a
burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a
burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
Genesis 22:11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.”
Genesis 22:14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
ABRAHAM UNWITTINGLY PROVIDES POSSIBLY THE RICHEST PICTURE OF WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT THE CROSS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT. THERE IS NO ANGEL TO STAY GODS HAND WHEN HE KILLS HIS SON. THERE IS NO LAMB TO TAKE JESUS PLACE, BECAUSE HE IS THE LAMB WHO TOOK OUR PLACE.
Isacc carried the wood up the mountain, as Jesus carried his own cross, both willingly. We can get caught up with blaming God for not looking after us properly but the truth is the only thing he “should” do is wipe us out the moment we first sinned. Jesus was the lamb who took our place, who took the wrath we deserve. God is more angry with sin than we think He is. It is only because of Jesus that His wrath can be turned away. That love that Abraham felt for his son, God feels for us.
The way Abraham trusted God should inspire us to serve the GOD who sacrificed so much for us and who has made us a part of the people of Abraham and hence caught up on the same mission Abraham was.
God wants us to go from being a consumer, to being a producer, in the context you are in. Have a part to play, however small. It is still a crucial part.