Making The Cut
There is an Amazon Original TV series entitled, “Making the Cut.” It is a “fashion competition series hosted by Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn featuring 10 talented entrepreneurs and designers from around the world, who are ready to take their emerging brands to the next level and become the newest global phenomenon.” [https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8962394/].
The series started in 2020 and they have already completed two seasons. Jonny Cota from Los Angeles, CA was the winner for season 1. Andrea Pitter from Brooklyn, NY was the winner for season 2.
The title of the TV series has a double meaning. The fashion designers are cutting and sewing material together in order to create their designs. If their design does not please the judges, then they do not make the cut to the next round. This process continues until there is one designer remaining, who has “made the cut.”
Fashion is not my thing
Perhaps that is not news to most of you
I’ve never watched any of the episodes of Making the Cut
I played baseball growing up and really enjoyed it!
When I played in the Major League in Shippensburg I was chosen to be part of the mini all-stars one season
That meant that I played with other boys from other teams in Shippensburg against mini all-star teams from other towns
I was also chosen for the all-star team when I played in the Senior Division, but because of vacation plans to Florida I was not able to participate on that all-star team
Both times I made the cut to play on the all-star teams
When I got to high-school at Shippensburg, I tried out for the baseball team, but I didn’t make the cut
I wasn’t too upset, because there were two other things I participate in that my girlfriend also participated in
I ran track and performed in the musical, The Sound of Music, as Curt (one of the children)
Take a moment to think about a time when you either made the cut or didn’t make the cut
What made the difference?
Was there something specific you did?
The Lord asked Abram to walk before Him and be blameless and to uphold His covenant of circumcision to show that Abram’s descendants were set apart and single-hearted. Through Abram’s example, we will learn today that . . .
BIG IDEA – We must live single-hearted lives of integrity.
That is how we will “make the cut” in our relationship with the Lord.
GOD (Genesis 17:1-14)
Command (vv. 1-3a)
The Lord appears to Abram
There is a thirteen year span between Genesis 16:16 and Genesis 17:1
It has been twenty-four years since Abram has migrated to Canaan
Abram is now 99 years old
Perhaps he was living with the belief that Ishmael is the heir that the Lord had promised
“Ishmael, age twelve or thirteen, is entering manhood (cf. 16:16). God must make clear to Abraham that Ishmael is not the blessing carrier.” [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 258]
The time is nearing for God’s miraculous power to be revealed
El-Shaddai (God Almighty)
The Lord is reminding Abram that He is all-powerful, nothing is impossible for Him
“The name which Jehovah thus gave to Himself was to be a pledge, that in spite of ‘his own body now dead,’ and ‘the deadness of Sarah’s womb’ (Rom. 4:19), God could and would give him the promised innumerable posterity.” [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 142]
PRINCIPLE #1 – God is omnipotent (all-powerful)!
God was reassuring Abram that even though, what seemed humanly impossible, he and Sarai having a baby, was not impossible for Him
Is there something you are currently facing that seems humanly impossible?
Do you believe that God is able to do the impossible?
Too often we show our true beliefs about God when difficult situations arise
We become depressed or anxious about our health, an upcoming surgery or doctor’s appointment, a test at school, the restoration of a relationship, an issue at work (vaccination mandates)
We can’t see a way through this difficulty, but God can
The situation we’re currently facing has not come as a surprise to Him
In addition to being all-powerful, God is also all-knowing (omniscient)
The question we need to ask ourselves is whether or not we truly believe God is all-knowing and all-powerful
If we believe that, then we can rest and be at peace, even if we don’t know how everything is going to work out
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Reaffirm my belief in God’s ability to know everything and do anything, by trusting Him with my current situation.
We’ll see Abram’s reaction and what he believed about God in just a moment
Walk before me
This phrase has the idea of a servant faithfully serving and being devoted to a king/superior
From a spiritual perspective it has the idea of living our lives in such a way that shows we are fully committed to the Lord, recognizing that He is always with us
It is living our lives single-heartedly for the Lord
We must never equate being blameless with being sinless
That is not what the Lord is saying here of Abram
“The Hebrew word signifies wholeness of relationship and integrity rather than no sin (see 6:9).” [Waltke, 259]
“. . . the call is for whole-heartedness. For Abram holiness was to be an intrinsic part of his life, as one whom God had called, chosen and justified.” [Baldwin, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Genesis 12-50, 64]
PRINCIPLE #2 – God’s desire is that His people live single-hearted lives of integrity.
We need to be fully devoted to our relationship with the Lord
We need to be pursuing holiness each day
We need to be striving in our ongoing task of sanctification (becoming more like Christ)
We must live single-hearted lives of integrity.
When we live that way we will experience the Lord’s blessing just like Abram did
Abram experienced two outcomes as a result of living a single-hearted life of integrity
The Lord confirmed His covenant with Abram
The Lord once again promised to make him into a great nation
There is only one reaction or response to having the Lord appear to us and confirm His covenant with us
Abram fell facedown before the Lord
PRINCIPLE #3 – “The secret of a perfect walk before God is a personal worship of God.” [Warren Wiersbe]
A perfect walk is not one without flaws, but rather a sincere, wholly devoted commitment to God
A life-style that reflects a daily, ongoing submission to the Lordship of Christ
When the Lord speaks to us through His Word, through prayer, through other believers, our response should be to fall facedown before the Lord in genuine and sincere worship
Are you living a lifestyle that reflects a daily, ongoing submission to Jesus Christ?
Are you wholly devoted to the Lord?
When is the last time you have fallen face down in worship of the Lord?
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Literally fall facedown before the Lord in worship when He speaks to me through His Word, prayer, and others.
Abram models well for us how we should respond to a supernatural encounter with the Lord
Perhaps Abram is still prostrated before the Lord while the Lord shares the two-part covenant with him
Covenant (vv. 3b-14)
God’s Part (3b-8)
Five promises from God [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 150-51]
I will make you very fruitful
God’s promise is that Abram and Sarai will have a child together
Through Ishmael and Isaac and their offspring, Abram’s descendants will grow
I will make nations of you
Notice that nations is plural here and not singular
While Ishmael was not God’s covenant offspring, He still promised to bless Ishmael and his descendants because of Abram
As a way of making this promise more personal for Abram, the Lord changes his name
Abram means “Exalted Father” – ʾāb (“father”) and rām (“to be high”)
Abraham sounds like “father of a multitude” – ʾāb (“father”) and hām (hāmôn, “crowd”)
The Lord changes Abram’s name to reflect the fact that the promise is already accomplished
In the Lord’s mind and His reality, Isaac is already born and he and Ishmael have had multiple offspring and descendants
For I have made you a father of many nations
The verb “made” in verse 5 is in the perfect tense which simply means that an act is completed (in English it means past time)
The fact that Abraham will be the father of many nations is a completed act for the Lord
The Lord is all-knowing and all-powerful!
“Jay Walker, founder and vice-chairman of Priceline.com, says:
You have to believe. In the Internet world, people like to talk, but very few truly believe. If, for example, you really believe that you're going to double your business every year, then you've got to hire ahead of the curve. That's why, last year, when we were doing maybe $400,000 worth of business each week, we recruited Rick Braddock, the former president of Citicorp and a top-tier leader. Today we're doing 10 times as much business as we were then. Hiring Rick for a $20 million business may be overkill right now but we're going to need him to run a business that will be doing $500 million or $1 billion a year. If you wait until you're actually doing that much business to hire the necessary talent, then you'll be too late.
That's the way faith works in the business world. You live today as though your beliefs about the future really will be fulfilled. That's also the way faith works in the spiritual world.”
Source: Jay Walker, founder and vice-chairman of Priceline.com; Polly LaBarre, "Leaders.com," Fast Company (June 1999), p. 95.
That is the way I think about ministry and the growth of the church
When we talk about getting ready for company, it’s the idea of already thinking and acting like more people are coming
We have the attitude and faith that God has already accomplished this
We are simply acting in faith
The GROW capital campaign is a project and vision that embraces faith in the Lord’s ability to build His church
If we waited until we had two services that were full, before we started a capital campaign, we would be too late and it wouldn’t take faith on our part
I want to encourage us to think and act like God has already built Idaville Church to the point where we need a nearly 300 seat sanctuary
Abraham is going to be fruitful and have innumerable descendants and some of those descendants will be kings!
Kings will come from you
We know that kings did come from Abraham’s line
The ones we are most familiar with are David and Solomon
There are many more kings listed in the Old Testament
This again, was not necessarily God’s plan for the Israelites
The Israelites wanted a king like all the other nations around them
Samuel was displeased with this request, but prayed to the Lord for His wisdom and guidance
And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. (1 Samuel 8:7)
It’s amazing to see God’s omniscience (all-knowing) at work prior to actual events happening – He is foretelling the future
The covenant that the Lord is making with Abraham is an everlasting covenant both for descendants and land
I will establish my covenant with you (everlasting covenant)
God is promising to be Abraham’s God forever
He is also promising to be the God of Abraham’s descendants forever
We should be overjoyed by this everlasting covenant
Do we realize what this means for us?
God is our God!
God will be the God of our descendants forever
God also promised to give the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants as an everlasting possession
The whole land of Canaan will be an everlasting possession
Abraham would not realize that in his lifetime – he would remain an alien in Canaan
It wouldn’t be until after the Exodus from Egypt that God would fulfill this promise to Abraham’s descendants
“This land is a battleground today and always will be until the Lord returns to reign. But as far as God’s covenant is concerned, the land belongs to Israel.” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy 88]
This is why we must stand with Israel, today
God kept His promises to Abraham
He was fruitful, God made nations from him, kings came from him, God is still the God of his descendants, and Canaan is still the land where Abraham’s descendants live
PRINCIPLE #4 – We can trust God to keep His promises to us.
This should give us hope, joy, and peace
God outlined His part in the covenant He was making, but He also outlined Abraham and his descendant’s part
Abram’s Part (9-14)
The covenant act that God was requiring for Abraham and his descendants was to continue from generation to generation (vv. 9, 10, 12)
It was to be an everlasting covenant (v. 13b)
We know that this covenant act is not required today, so how does that work?
“The implications of the terminology is that these agreements are not temporary, not stopgap, nor are they on a trial basis. They are permanent in the sense that no other alternative arrangement to serve that purpose is envisioned. This does not mean that the purpose it serves will never be obsolete. Circumcision, for example, became obsolete even though it is designated here as a covenant ʿolam. Likewise the Aaronic covenant for priesthood became obsolete even though it was designated a priesthood ʿolam (Num. 25:13).” [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 450]
The covenant that the Lord was requiring of Abraham and his descendants was circumcision
It was a covenant in the flesh
It is the cutting of the foreskin from around the male reproductive organ
Circumcision was being practiced in the Ancient Near East, especially in Canaan where Abraham was now living
It was used as a rite of passage into manhood (puberty)
It was also used as a rite of passage into marriage (becoming part of the wife’s family)
It was unheard of in Mesopotamia, where Abraham was called from
So, Abraham had never seen it practiced, but was probably aware of its use by those who lived around him in Canaan
Who was included in this circumcision covenant?
It was every male in Abraham’s household
Those born in his household
Those bought with money from a foreigner
From this point on, every male child born in his household, whether slave or free, would need to be circumcised on the eighth day
There were consequences for not following this covenant
Any male who was not circumcised would be cut off from his people
There is a play on words here
If a male had not undergone circumcision (cutting with a knife), they would be cut off from God’s people
“Here is the choice: be cut or be cut off.” [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 473]
Any male who refused to be circumcised would be ostracized and separated from the community, which was just like dying
“God will sever the disloyal descendant from the covenant community and from its benefits of blessing and life.” [Waltke, 261]
Exodus 4:24-26, At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)
In this example, Moses was going to be killed for not obeying the everlasting covenant of circumcision
How does this everlasting covenant apply to us today?
Circumcision of the flesh
Aren’t you glad that circumcision of the flesh is no longer required to be in a covenant relationship with God?
God transformed the circumcision covenant through Jesus Christ
Circumcision of the heart
Colossians 2:9-12, For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
Romans 2:28-29, A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
Deuteronomy 30:6, The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.
Two new covenant signs
The Lord’s supper (holy communion)
PRINCIPLE #5 – God is pleased when we are completely devoted to Him in a covenant relationship.
We must live single-hearted lives of integrity before the Lord
This shows that we have made the cut, that we have had our hearts circumcised
Where are you today with being completely devoted to the Lord in a covenant relationship?
Have you been straying from the Lord?
Have you been choosing the things of this world over Him?
Have you been choosing human relationships over a divine relationship with the Lord?
Have you been choosing money, possessions, etc. over God?
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Choose to be completely devoted to the Lord by living a single-hearted life of integrity.
Perhaps you are here today and you have never been in a covenant relationship with the Lord
All have sinned (Rom. 3:23)
Punishment for sin (Rom. 6:23)
God’s love for us (Rom. 5:8)
God’s plan to save us (Rom. 10:9-10)
#4 – My Next Step Today Is To: Confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead and be saved.
Do you need to reaffirm your belief in God’s power to know everything and do anything?
Are you ready to fall face down before the Lord in worship when He speaks to you?
Do you recognize that you need to be completely devoted to the Lord by living a single-hearted life of integrity?
Are you ready to be saved today?
Even within the church we can struggle to believe in God’s power to know everything and do anything – we need to trust Him today to do the miraculous
We need to fall face down before the Lord in worship when He speaks to us – perhaps He has spoken to you today and you need to come forward and fall facedown (I encourage you to do that as the worship team leads us the closing song)