(Genesis 16:1-16)



Theologians define synergism as, “to attempt to independently help God accomplish his purpose.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 256]


Synergy has the basic meaning of “working together, teamwork, and harmony.” ​​ The opposite of synergy is “discord, divorce, and separation.”


“Sin comes when we take a perfectly natural desire or longing or ambition and try desperately to fulfill it without God. Not only is it sin, it is a perverse distortion of the image of the Creator in us. All these good things, and all our security, are rightly found only and completely in him.”


Source: Saint Augustine in The Confessions of Saint Augustine. Christianity Today, Vol. 37, no. 12.





  • ME

    • I know that I have tried to “help” God out with His plans, whether in my own life or the life of my children


  • WE

    • How many of us have tried to help God out with His plan and purpose?

        • Perhaps it was something in our own lives

        • Sometimes it’s in our children’s lives

        • Other times it’s in our friend’s or coworker’s lives

        • It could even be in our neighbor’s lives

        • Maybe it’s in the life of a student we’re teaching

    • What was the result?

        • In our own lives, we may have experienced frustration, anxiety, anger, depression, fear, etc.

        • When we try to help others out, we may experience broken relationships, hurt feelings, anger, frustration, fear, and many more things


God has promised Abram that he will be the father of a great nation. ​​ God promised him that an heir would come from his own body. ​​ It has been ten years since the last time God made that promise, and still Abram and Sarai have not been able to have children. ​​ Maybe God needed some help, so Sarai comes up with a plan to “help” God accomplish His promise. ​​ What we will learn today from this passage of Scripture is that . . .


BIG IDEA – God’s plan is best for us. ​​ 


This was true for Abram and Sarai and for Hagar.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 16:1-16)

    • Introduction (v. 1)

        • This verse introduces us to the three people who are part of this narrative

          • Abram

          • Sarai, the wife of Abram

          • Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant of Sarai

        • The titles used are important and significant

          • Sarai is always identified as Abram’s wife

            • “This designation of Sarah emphasizes her rightful standing. ​​ The promised son should come from her.” ​​ [Waltke, 251]

            • That was God’s plan for Abram and Sarai

            • God’s plan was going to be best for them as it is for us

          • Hagar is primarily identified as the maidservant or servant to Sarai

            • The fact that she is identified as an Egyptian is also important

            • She came to be part of Abram’s family either by Abram obtaining her while he was in Egypt or as part of the dowry that Pharaoh had given Abram when he took Sarai as his wife

            • It is likely that Hagar was the personal maidservant to Sarai – she took care of Sarai’s every need

            • She was not a slave, but probably had a very important position within Abram’s family

            • Eliezer was perhaps Abram’s personal manservant, which is why Abram had chosen him as his heir

            • Abram and Sarai would have had close relationships with Eliezer and Hagar

        • This sets the stage for the rest of the narrative

    • Sarai’s plan (vv. 2-6)

        • In verses 2-6 we have a parallel chiastic structure [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 182]

          • We’ll see in verses 2a and 5 that Sarai complains about her state

          • Then in verses 2b and 6a, we’ll see how Abram complies with Sarai’s interests

          • Finally, in verses 3-4 and 6b, we’ll see how Sarai tries to resolve her complaints

        • Barren (vv. 2-4)

          • Sarai complains about the fact that the Lord has kept her from having children (complaint)

            • Sarai and Abram have been in Canaan for 10 years (Sarai is now about 75 years old)

            • She recognizes that God is the Creator of life, but she is probably struggling with the cultural stigma of being barren

              • “That barrenness was grounds for divorce after a ten-year period is a rabbinic explanation for Sarai’s actions (Gen. Rab. 45.3).” ​​ [Mathews, 185]

              • Although, Sarai and Abram have been married for much longer than 10 years, it has been ten years since the Lord reaffirmed His promise that Abram would be a great nation and that an heir would come from his own body

              • Van der Toorn summarizes well what Sarai was probably feeling, “The woman who remained childless not only ran the risk of being disdained, or worse, repudiated by her husband and in-laws, she also incurred the suspicion of indecent behavior. ​​ The gods surely had to have their reasons for withholding children. ​​ Consequently, we may safely assume that newly-wed who, as time elapsed perceived no signs pointing to pregnancy, was overcome by panic. ​​ Her fear undoubtedly doubled her piety.” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 447]

              • Sarai is probably dealing with fear that Abram will divorce her, so she, proactively, offers to have Abram sleep with her maidservant, Hagar

                • This was a common, culturally acceptable, practice in the Ancient Near East

                • In Genesis 30:3-12, we see Rachel and Leah giving their maidservants to Jacob as wives, so that they could build their families through them

                • This practice was also written about in multiple extra-Biblical texts (Code of Hammurabi [ca. 1700 B.C.]; Nuzi text [ca. 1500 B.C.]; Old Assyrian marriage contract [nineteenth century B.C.]; Neo-Assyrian text) ​​ [Waltke, 252]

                • Just because it was culturally acceptable did not make it morally right or according to God’s plan

                  • Mathews reminds us that, “multiple wives were wrong according to God’s will (2:24) and posed a threat to the stability of a family (29:30-31; 30:8; 35:22; Exod 21:7-11; Deut 21:15-17; cf. Deut 17:17; 1 Kgs 11:3-8), which is sadly illustrated by the strife in Abram’s house (16:4, 6; 21:9-10).” ​​ [Mathews, 185]

                  • Genesis 2:24, For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

                  • 1 Timothy 3:2-3, Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

                  • Titus 1:6 says the same thing about being the husband of but one wife

                  • The same is true in our culture today

                  • We have to be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of doing something that is culturally acceptable, but not approved by God

                  • Just because our culture has legalized certain things (abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.) or has made certain practices acceptable (premarital sex, drunkenness, smoking marijuana, etc.) does not make them Biblically and morally acceptable by God

                • Sarai was trying to “help” God out, but it wasn’t according to His plan

                • God’s plan is best for us

              • Just as Sarai was struggling with the cultural stigma of being barren, we sometimes struggle with the cultural stigmas of our day

            • She came up with a plan that she shared with her husband, Abram

          • Abram agrees to her plan (compliance)

            • Notice that Abram did not consult the Lord at this point and neither had Sarai

            • This is reminiscent of Adam passively eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil at Eve’s prompting

            • As head of the household and the spiritual leader, Abram should have consulted the Lord, before blindly agreeing to Sarai’s suggestion and offer

            • God’s plan is always best for us

            • We see the result of not consulting the Lord and His plan

          • Sarai gives Hagar to Abram (conduct)

            • Abram slept with Hagar, and she conceived

            • Hagar’s attitude toward Sarai changed when she realized she was pregnant

              • Sarai and Hagar’s relationship changed

              • What was once a close relationship between the wife of Abram and her maidservant, was now strained

              • Hagar was taking pride in her pregnancy and perhaps throwing it in Sarai’s face

              • We can imagine, with the attitude change, that perhaps Hagar was verbally abusive towards Sarai “Hey, Sarai, I didn’t have any trouble getting pregnant by Abram, so the problem is with you!”

              • A rivalry has replaced relationship

              • Hagar does not realize that her attitude has placed her on thin ice – she is alienated from Abram and Sarai and God’s blessing on them

              • Proverbs 30:21-23, “Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up: a servant who becomes king, a fool who is full of food, an unloved woman who is married, and a maidservant who displaces her mistress.

            • How sad to see what happens when we try to “help” God accomplish His plans

          • Application

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Getting ahead of God and His plan causes problems

              • I want you to think for a moment about a time when you tried to “help” God accomplish His plan

                • How did that work out?

                • What complications happened because of getting ahead of God?

                  • Was there strain on a relationship (spouse, family member, friend, neighbor, coworker, etc.)?

                  • Was there a big mess that had to be cleaned up?

                  • Perhaps you’re still trying to clean up the mess and restore relationships

                  • Are you still waiting for God’s plan to be accomplished in the situation?

                • The great thing about God is that He is gracious, compassionate, forgiving, slow to become angry, loving, and always there for us

                • Nehemiah 9:17b-18, “But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. ​​ Therefore you did not desert them, even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies.”

                • God is able to clean up the mess that we’ve made when we get ahead of Him

                • He’s able to get His plan back on track

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess to the Lord that I have tried to “help” Him accomplish His plan and failed.

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Admit to the Lord that His plan is best for me and patiently wait for His timing.

            • Those two steps will help you get back on track with God’s plan

          • We’ve seen Sarai’s first complaint, but now she has a second complaint, because of the plan she suggested, to solve the first complaint

          • Her plan did not bring the fulfillment and satisfaction that she envisioned – it only brought heartache and strife

        • Begrudging (vv. 5-6)

          • Sarai complains that Abram is responsible for the suffering she is experiencing because of the success of her plan (complaint)

            • “Sarai’s accusation against Abram is that, apparently in his delight at becoming a father, he has neglected the necessary steps that would keep Hagar remembering her appropriate place within the household.” ​​ [Walton, 447]

              • Sarai is upset that Abram is not confronting Hagar about her attitude and how she has been treating Sarai as the primary wife

              • Hagar was to be the surrogate through which Sarai could build a family

              • She was not supposed to replace Sarai as the primary wife

            • Sarai appeals to the highest court available

              • She asks the Lord to be the judge

              • When everything didn’t go as she planned, then she appeals to the Lord

              • That’s true for us also

            • That seems to fall on deaf ears

          • Abram tells Sarai to handle the problem however she thinks best (compliance)

            • Again, Abram is delegating his responsibility as the head of the household to Sarai

            • We have all heard the phrase, “happy wife, happy life.”

            • Abram was not experiencing that reality, because He had not consulted the Lord before following Sarai’s plan

            • Instead of accepting his role as head of the household and confronting Hagar, he once again passively passes the buck

            • Men, we must embrace our God-given responsibility as head of our household

              • We are the spiritual leaders in our household

              • That requires us to seek the Lord’s face when conflict arrives

              • It means that we are the ones who lead by example (praying together, reading God’s Word, attending church, pursuing holiness, resolving conflict in a Biblical way, and so much more)

              • We don’t delegate that responsibility to anyone else

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Embrace my God-given responsibility to lead my family, biblically.

            • When Abram told Sarai to do with Hagar whatever she thought best, he meant to treat her in a way that was good for her

            • We see that Sarai did not follow those instructions

          • Sarai mistreated Hagar, so Hagar fled (conduct)

            • Sarai was wrong for mistreating Hagar

              • Here’s the reality: ​​ hurt people, hurt people

              • Those who are feeling hurt by others will inevitably lash out at others

              • Most times they hurt the ones closest to them – the ones they love

            • As we will see, Hagar was wrong for fleeing

        • “Instead of facing their sins honestly, each of the persons involved took a different course; and this only made things worse.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 85]

          • “Sarah’s solution was to blame her husband and mistreat her servant as she gave vent to her anger.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 85]

          • “Abraham’s solution was to give in to his wife and abdicate spiritual headship in his home.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 85]

          • “Hagar’s solution was to run away from the problem, a tactic we all learned from Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:8).” ​​ [Wiersbe, 85]

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – The first step toward reconciliation with others is getting right with God.

        • We see Hagar’s solution in verses 7-14

    • Hagar’s plan (vv. 7-14)

        • At the end of verse 6, Hagar has fled from Sarai and her abuse

        • Sought (vv. 7-8)

          • The angel of the Lord was looking for Hagar, seeking her out

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is concerned about abused people and unborn children.

              • If you are experiencing abuse right now, please know that God is concerned about you

                • He has not forsaken you

                • He has not forgotten about you

                • He is looking for you, seeking you out

                • He knows all about the abuse

                • He wants to help you through the process of recovery

                • Turn to Him and seek His face, His comfort, His protection, His love, His provision, His healing

              • Maybe you’re currently dealing with a unexpected pregnancy

                • This pregnancy did not come as a surprise to God

                • He is aware of it

                • He knows all the feelings you are having about it (fear, anger, anxiety, depression, etc.)

                • He is concerned about you and your baby

                • He knows the future of that baby and who they will become

              • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Turn to God and trust Him to protect me and/or my unborn child.

            • The angel finds Hagar in the desert

          • If Abram is still camped around Hebron, then Hagar was already 70 miles southwest, which would have taken her about a week’s worth of walking

          • She is near a spring in the desert that is beside the road to Shur (shoor) [show map]

          • The angel’s interaction with Hagar

            • Question

              • The angel addresses Hagar as the servant of Sarai

                • This is pretty important

                • The angel does not call Hagar the wife of Abram

                • “God never accepted Hagar as Abraham’s wife; the Angel of the Lord called her “Sarah’s maid” (16:8). ​​ Later she was called “this bondwoman and her son” (21:10), not “Abraham’s wife and son.” ​​ Why? ​​ Because “whatever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).” ​​ [Wiersbe, 85]

              • The angel of the Lord asks her two questions that he probably already knew the answer to

                • “Where have you come from?” (Canaan)

                • “Where are you going?” (Egypt)

              • We see Hagar’s response to one of the questions

            • Response

              • “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai.”

              • She does not mention where she is going, but it’s most likely that she is returning home to Egypt – that’s the direction she seems to be heading (southwest)

          • The angel of the Lord encourages her to make a 180 degree turn

        • Submit (vv. 9-10)

          • Command with a promise

            • The angel tells her to go back to Sarai and submit to her

              • “Wait, what are your saying? ​​ You want me to go back to an abusive mistress?”

              • That was certainly what the angel of the Lord was telling her to do, but it was going to be different

              • The Lord was going to be with her and protect her and her unborn child

              • We know that to be true, because Ishmael is born and grows up and becomes the father of the Arab nations

              • God’s plan for Hagar and her baby were going to be best

              • That plan included returning to Sarai and Abram’s household

            • The promise for obedience and submission is that Hagar will have so many descendants that they will be too numerous to count

              • While God’s plan was for Abram’s heir to come from he and Sarai, God was promising to bless Hagar’s child also

              • God’s blessing on Abram, because of his faith (which was counted to him as righteousness), was going to be imparted to he and Hagar’s child

              • What a powerful commentary on Abram’s faith

          • The angel of the Lord has some information for Hagar about her child

        • Share (vv. 11-12)

          • Divine ultrasound

            • The angel tells her that she is pregnant

              • That wasn’t news to her

              • Her pregnancy and the abuse that followed were why she was by the spring in the desert

            • The angel tells her the sex of the baby

              • She is going to have son

              • This would be welcome news for Abram – an heir!

            • The angel tells her the name of the baby

              • I don’t remember Judy and I having a hard time choosing baby names

                • For the first two pregnancies we had a boy name and a girl name ready

                • We didn’t want to know the sex of the baby prior to birth

                • With Levi, we found out his sex prior to his birth

              • I know that some couples struggle to come up with a name for their baby

                • They have multiple names they like, but just can’t decide

                • Many times they want to see the baby first, before choosing the name

              • How was it with you and your spouse when it came to naming your children?

                • We have some friends, who decided before they started having children, that depending on the sex, either the father or the mother would name the baby

                • It turned out that their first three children were boys and the father got to name them

                • They finally adopted a little girl and the mother was able to name her

              • Hagar didn’t have to worry about that

                • The angel of the Lord told her what to name her son

                • The name was significant, because it spoke to Hagar’s situation

                • She was to name him Ishmael (yish-maw-ale’)

                • Ishmael means “God hears”

                • God had heard of Hagar’s misery

              • PRINCIPLE #4 – God sees and hears our cries when we hurt.

                • This is a truth that everyone of us can hold on to today

                • No matter what hurt you are currently experiencing, God sees and hears your cries

                • Your hurt may be emotional, physical, or relational

                • It may be in your family, at school or work, in your neighborhood, or at church

                • God is not distant

                • I just want to encourage you to claim, embrace, and acknowledge this truth today

                • He is there for you!

            • The angel of the Lord also tells Hagar about Ishmael’s temperament

          • Divine foreknowledge

            • He will be a free spirit, extremely independent, and quarrelsome

            • How many of us would have welcomed some divine foreknowledge about our child(ren)’s temperament, before they were born?

            • With that kind of knowledge, we would have bought all of the books, watched all the videos, and talked to all of the experts about how to raise a child with that particular temperament

            • Even with that foreknowledge, Hagar and perhaps Abram were not able to change Ishmael’s temperament or future

            • We know that the Arab nations came from Ishmael’s line

            • The modern hostility between Israel and the Arab nations in the Middle East was foretold all the way back in Genesis, during the time when Moses wrote it

            • Imagine for a moment what our modern day would look like, had Abram and Sarai continued to follow God’s plan, instead of trying to “help” Him out

          • As the angel of the Lord finishes sharing with Hagar, she recognizes that she was talking to the Lord

        • Seen (vv. 13-14)

          • From her child’s name, Hagar knows that the Lord has heard her

          • From her name for the Lord, Hagar recognizes that the Lord also sees her

          • She has seen the back of the One who sees her

          • The well was named to commemorate what had happened to Hagar

            • Beer Lahai Roi (be-ayr’ lakh-ah’ee roee’/ba-hair’ lock-high’ row-e’)

            • The name of the well means, “well of the Living One who sees me.

            • The well was between Kadesh (kaw-dashe’) and Bered (beh’red)

              • Kadesh is referring to Kadesh-Barnea

              • Bered is unknown in our modern day

        • We know that Hagar obeys the command of the angel of the Lord through the final two verses

    • Conclusion (vv. 15-16)

        • Hagar had the baby

        • Abram named him Ishmael

        • Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born


  • YOU

    • Do you need to confess to the Lord that you have tried to “help” Him out and failed?

    • Do you need to wait patiently for God’s perfect plan to be fulfilled?

    • Men, do you need to embrace your God-given role as spiritual head of your household?

    • Do you need to turn to God and trust Him to protect you?


  • WE

    • Some of these things we need to do corporately as a body of believers (confess, wait patiently, and trust Him).



“Kevin Martin was a minister at a massive church—but one of those churches where it got too burdensome. The administrative machine ate him up, and his world was blackened with depression. At one point he was so depressed, so crushed, that he hastily wrote a letter to his board, immediately resigning from office, and then wrote a letter to his wife and his children saying he would never see them again.


Kevin got in his Buick and drove up to Newfoundland, Canada, without anybody knowing where he was. He got a job as a logger. It was winter. He lived in a small metal trailer, heated at night by a small metal heater. One night, when it was 20 below, the heater stopped working. In a rage, Kevin went over to the heater, picked it up with both his hands, and chucked it out the window—then realizing that was a stupid thing to do, for it was 20 below.


He throws himself on the ground and starts pounding the floor of this small metal trailer. As he’s pounding on the floor, he is yelling out to heaven, ‘I hate you! I hate you! Get out of my life! I am done with this Christian game. It is over!’ He went into a fetal position.


Kevin writes, I couldn’t even cry. I was too exhausted to cry. As I laid there, I heard crying, and heaving breaths, but they were not coming from me. Instead, in the bright darkness of faith, I heard Christ crying, and heaving away on the Cross. And then I knew, the blood was for me: for the Kevin who was the abandoner, the reckless wanderer, the blasphemer of heaven. And then the words rose up all around me: ‘Kevin, I am with you, and I am for you, and you will get through this. I promise you.’


Kevin rose to his feet, got into his car, sped back home, and reconciled with his family and his church. And then went on to lead that church in a healthy way.”


Source: Ethan Magness, “Lamb DNA – An All Saints Homily – Rev 7,” Grace Anglican Online (11-1-20).





Promise Keeper

I am sure we all have made promises at some time in our lives. How many have been asked for a sign that you would truly keep your promise to them? What did you say or do to convince them that you would keep that promise? There are many ways to show that you are serious about keeping your promises. When a man and a woman are married they promise “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part.” What they are saying is the only way that their marriage can end is when one or the other physically dies. It’s a serious commitment to one another. Other ways that we show the seriousness of keeping promises is raising our right hand or putting our hand over our heart or putting our hand on the Bible. In the Bible, one of the ways they showed the seriousness of their promises was to put their hand under the person’s thigh when making a vow. In Genesis 24, Abraham wanted to make sure that Isaac got his wife from his homeland and not from Canaan. So Abraham had his servant put his hand under his thigh and swear an oath. The thigh was considered the strongest muscle in the body so by swearing an oath in this way it says that the actions of those individuals (represented by the hand) are placed under oath to trust in the strength of YHWH (represented by the thigh of the believer) to play a part in working to fulfill YHWH's promises.

Another way we may try to convince someone that we are serious about keeping our promises is saying, “cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye” or something to that effect. How many have you ever said that? Another way you may have convinced someone that youwere serious about your promises is the “pinky promise.” To make a pinky promise involves the interlocking of the pinkies of two people to signify that a promise has been made. How many have ever done that? If you didn’t know, the idea behind this gesture was to signify that the person who breaks the promise can have their pinky finger broken by the other. If you think that would hurt. The possible origin of the pinky promise may be Japan, where it is known as 'yubikiri.' They believed that if you break a pinky promise, you would have to cut off your pinky finger in return. In fact, the word 'Yubikiri', means “finger cut-off”.

Two weeks ago, Pastor Stuart, taught from the beginning of chapter 15 in which God reiterated the promise to Abram about having a child. God told Abram that he would have his own biological child, and that his offspring would number the stars in the sky. In this morning’s passage, God reiterates the promise to Abram that the land that has been promised to him and his descendants will one day be his. We will see that God’s promises do three things ​​ for Abram. They affirm Abram’s call which stimulates his faith, they assure Abram about the covenant which calms his fears and they anticipate the fulfillment of the promise giving Abram hope for the future. God will convince Abram that he takes his promises very seriously and he can fully believe that what he promises will happen. Today, we also can believe in the promises of God and can fully believe that what he says is true and will happen. Which brings us to our big idea this morning which is “God takes his promises seriously.”

Before we begin our study of the text this morning, let’s pray: Lord God, we ask that you pour out your Holy Spirit on us this morning. Open our hearts and minds to what you want to say to us and to what you want us to share with those we come in contact with this week. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

There are three points this morning. Our first point is Affirmation and is found in Genesis 15:7-8. This is what God’s Word says, 7 “He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” 8 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”

As our scripture this morning begins Abram is still in the vision where the Word of the Lord came to him. We are told for the first time that it was the Lord who brought Abram out of Ur and the reason he did this was to give Abram the land for him to possess it. For the first time in Genesis the Lord calls himself “Yahweh.” This introduction would make it clear that Abram must take the speaker seriously. The Lord reminds Abram what he had done for him in the past and by identifying himself in this way it proved to Abram who God was and affirmed his call on Abram’s life. It is God who called Abram out of his homeland and into a foreign land which was promised to him. By reaffirming his call the Lord was stimulating Abram’s faith. But then we see Abram questioning what God has just said. This is interesting in light of verse 6 which says, “Abram believed the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” What has happened between verse six and verse eight? I believe the difference in Abram’s mind is that the promise of the land was different than the promise of a biological child. There were no major roadblocks for Sarai and him to have a child. She may be barren at this time but Abram could believe that God would open her womb when the time was right.

But as for the land, there were native peoples living there who already possessed it. Abram probably felt helpless to dispossess the native peoples and take over the land for himself. He is probably trying to wrap his head around how he and his descendants would be able to possess and enjoy this land. We notice that Abram calls God, “Sovereign Lord” which signals that what he is about to say is submissive but will also be bold. He trusts in who God is and what he was saying but wanted a sign because he couldn’t understand or see how it was going to happen. This does not mean that Abram didn’t have faith in God’s promise; he was just asking for a sign to confirm it.

We have seen God give signs to other people in the Bible such as Moses, Hezekiah and probably the most famous is Gideon who put out a fleece of wool so he would know it was God’s will to use him to deliver the Israelites from the Midianites. We also saw in our study of the Book of John that Jesus did signs. In fact we see these words in John 20:30-31 which tells us the purpose of John’s Gospel, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Asking for a sign did not constitute a lack of faith on Abram’s part. His call had already been affirmed by God and he was now looking for affirmation of the promise of possessing the land. Abram’s faith was not on shaky ground; instead his faith had been stimulated by God’s promises and was looking for a sign that would further grow his faith in God’s promises.

Faith is an important part of our Christian walk. In this day and age that we live in where people seem to be “losing” their faith left and right, we must allow our faith to be stimulated and to stay alive. One of the ways our faith is stimulated is by meditating on the promises of God and seeing how they are being fulfilled in our daily lives. That brings us to our first next step on the back of your communication card which is to “meditate on the promises of God, seeing how they are being fulfilled in my daily life and allow them to stimulate my faith.”

We will see in the next point that God doesn’t get angry because Abram asked for a sign. In fact God is going to give Abram a sign that assures him that the promise of the land is already a foregone conclusion. The Lord will perform a ritual that shows he is serious about the promises that he makes and Abram will know for sure that God will faithfully fulfill his promise to Abram. The second point is called Assurance and is found in verses 9-11 and 17. This is what God’s Word says, 9 “So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” 10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.” And now moving down to verse 17 “When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.”

God asks Abram to “bring” a three year-old heifer, and three year-old goat, a three year-old ram, a dove and a young pigeon. The words “bring” or “take” are often used to introduce a ritual such as a sacrifice. ​​ These animals are the same ones that God will command the Israelites to use for their sin, fellowship and burnt offerings. We see this in Leviticus 9:2-3 which says, “He (God) said to Aaron, “Take a bull calf for your sin offering and a ram for your burnt offering, both without defect, and present them before the Lord. 3 Then say to the Israelites: ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering, a calf and a lamb—both a year old and without defect—for a burnt offering, and an ox and a ram for a fellowship offering to sacrifice before the Lord . . .” Abram’s actions here are reminiscent of a sacrifice. Abram then prepares the sacrificial animals and places them on the ground according to God’s instructions. Next we see that birds of prey came down and try to drag the carcasses off but Abram drives them away. Abram driving the birds away could be symbolic of God’s future protection of his chosen people on the basis on Abram’s faith. It also seems to foreshadow the obstacles which Abram’s descendants would experience before entering into the Promised Land. Briscoe says, “God’s promises would be fulfilled but not without pain and trial for Abram’s descendants.”

Now I want to jump down to verse 17 where we see how the ritual was played out between the Lord and Abram and then we come back and pick up at verse 12. We notice that the sun had set and it was dark and a smoking pot and a blazing torch appeared and passed through the animal pieces. The smoking pot and the blazing torch represent the presence of God. This reminds us of the cloud by day and the fire by night which was the presence of the Lord protecting and guiding the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness. We notice that the Lord passes through the animal pieces but Abram does not. That is important because it meant that the fulfillment of the promise rested with the Lord alone. It was unconditional in that Abram did not have to do anything for the promise to be fulfilled.

What about this strange ritual? What does it mean? First of all this ritual would have been known in the ancient world and Abram would have certainly understood the meaning of it. Second, this ritual was used to formally seal a solemn agreement or covenant between two equal parties. By passing through the animal pieces you were clearly stating that if you did not keep your promise then you could be cut in two just like the animals had been. Kind of like the pinkie promise. Normally, if the parties were not equals the inferior party was the one who walked through the animal pieces. But here the superior party, the Lord, was declaring that if he did not keep his promise to Abram he could literally be cut in two (if it was possible for that to happen to God). God is showing immense grace to Abram here. Also this act alone would have proven to Abram and to those who heard the story later how serious the Lord was about keeping his promise to Abram. This was the sign that Abram needed that took all his doubt away and calmed all his fears. ​​ Gibson states, “By God’s willingness to go through this let Abraham know nothing could stand in God’s way of the fulfillment of his promises, for his own divine honor was at stake in this matter.”  ​​​​ 

The Lord also gives us many promises in his Word. Those promises should calm our fears and take our doubt away that he will do for us what he says in his Word. But a lot of times we doubt and are fearful about a lot of things. We see our prayers answered or God’s promises fulfilled in our lives over and over again but we still doubt and are afraid. I want to challenge not only myself but you as well to trust and not doubt that God’s promises are trustworthy no matter what. God takes his promises seriously. That brings me to our second next step on the back of your communication card which is to “believe the promises of God and allow them to calm my fears and take all of my doubt away.”

Our third point this morning is Anticipation and is found in verses 12-16 and 18-21. Here Abram finds out for the first time that he will not personally possess the Promised Land and also finds out how and why his descendants come to possess it. There is an anticipation and a hope for the future that Abram has even though he will not see it and the future of his descendants will be full of hardship. Starting with verse 12 this is what God’s Word says, “12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” Moving to verse 18, “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”

Abram falls into a deep sleep as the sun was setting and a thick and dreadful darkness comes over him. “Deep sleep,” “fear” and “darkness” all suggest awe-inspiring divine activity such as when God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep in order to take out one of his ribs to form Eve. Abram’s dread comes because he was in the presence of the Lord. As human beings to be in the presence of an almighty and holy God should cause us to have a holy fear. The presence of the Lord is not something we should take lightly. Abram is told that his descendants would be strangers in a country that was not their own and would be slaves and mistreated for four hundred years. That would be enough to give Abram a sense of dread and bring darkness to his soul.

But God gives Abram hope for the future of his descendants. He says the nation that enslaves them will be punished and that his descendants will come out with great possessions. God doesn’t mention the nation that enslaves Abram’s descendants but we know it is Egypt today. We also know that the people of Israel asked for gold, silver and clothing from the Egyptians before leaving Egypt after the Passover and that the Egyptians were glad to give them those things ​​ and get rid of them. We see these words in Exodus 12:36, “The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.”

God then calms Abrams fears about his own future. He promises him that he will go to his fathers in peace and be buried at a good or “ripe” old age. To go to his fathers in peace was a promise that Abram would live a good quality of life with a sense of contentment and fulfillment. He would also live to a “ripe” old age meaning he would enjoy a long healthy life. He would have a great quality of life until the end and be spared a future of hardship and pain. God’s promises gave Abram hope for his future. They also give us hope for our future as well. That brings us to the third next step on the back of your communication card which is to “believe the promises of God and allow them to give me hope for my future on earth and for heaven.”

Next we are told why the Lord will hand over the Promised Land to him and his descendants and why they have to wait for four hundred years. They are being given the land because of the sin of the Amorites. The Amorites are representative of all the Canaanite peoples. But the nation of Israel has to wait because the sin of those peoples has not yet reached its full measure. Their sin was so perverted that it was even an abomination to the earth. In Leviticus 18 it says that they will be vomited from the land. This really speaks to the patience, the justice and the holiness of God. He doesn’t just give the land to the Israelites without giving the Canaanites an opportunity to repent. If God had done that it would have been unfair and unjust of the Lord. The OT wars between the Israelites and the Canaanites were acts of justice not aggression and their judgment was mercifully delayed. It also shows the patience that God has for them as well. It makes me think of 2 Peter 3:9 which says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” God wants everyone to come to repentance no matter how evil they may be for a time. He is always going to do the right thing even if it means giving the Canaanites four hundred more years to repent and turn to him before giving their land over to his chosen people.

God then makes a covenant with Abram. ​​ This is the first mention of the word “covenant.” Before, these things had been promises to Abram not a formal covenant. Now Abram knows for sure that these things will take place. The Lord also gave specific boundaries of the land that Abram’s descendants would possess. This area was from the northern reaches of the Euphrates to the land of Egypt. The western boundary was the Mediterranean and the eastern boundary was the Jordan River. This area has been calculated by scholars to have been around 300,000 square miles which is an area bigger than the second largest state in the US, Texas, which is 261,797 square miles.

God also names all the nations that were presently living there. We notice that there are ten nations mentioned. We are reminded that the number ten in the bible signifies completeness meaning that that they would completely possess all the land that God has promised them. One more thing we must think about. God had told the Israelites that the land would be theirs as long as they didn’t do the same detestable practices that the Canaanites did. We know that they did not obey God and were also displaced from the land. According to scholars, Israel has never fully possessed the land promised to them by God. They have been close as an empire especially during the reign of King David and later under his son, King Solomon but have never fully possessed it as a homeland. One day when the Lord returns this promise will be realized. This should give us pause. There are some promises of God that will continue on no matter what we do such as he will never leave nor forsake us, but there are others that require obedience from us. I am reminded of our memory verse from Psalm 66:18, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” If we are not obedient to what the Lord commands us to do, then he will not listen to our prayers. The promise of listening to our prayers is conditional on not cherishing sin in our hearts.

God is the ultimate promise keeper. He always keeps his promises and we do not need to worry that he will. In our scripture this morning we have seen that Abram’s faith was stimulated when God affirmed his call. We saw that God calmed his fears by assuring that he would be faithful to his promises. And we have seen that his promises gave Abram hope for the future as he anticipated going to his fathers in peace and that his descendants could anticipate being able to possess the land once they came out of slavery in Egypt and hardship in the wilderness.

In conclusion I want read some verses from God’s Word showing how his promises stimulate our faith, calms our fears and give us hope for the future, today.

First, God’s promises should stimulate our faith. Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3 says, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” We can rely on 100% of God promises to be fulfilled and that should stimulate our faith.

Second, God’s promises should calm our fears. There are so many verses that talk about not being afraid because God is with us. In Isaiah 41:10 it says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Hebrews 13:6 says, “So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” We can rely on 100% of God promises to be fulfilled and that should calm all our fears.

Third, God’s promises should give us hope for our future on this earth. Lamentations 3:21-23 says, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

But God’s promises should also give us hope for our future in heaven. John 14:1-3 says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. Revelation 3:11 says, “I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.” Matthew 24:30-31 says, “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Acts 17:31 says, “Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” We can rely on 100% of God promises to be fulfilled and that should give us hope for our future on earth and hope for our future in heaven.

I pray that the promises of God found in his Word will encourage you this morning. As Gene and Roxey come to lead us in our final song of the day, let’s pray: Awesome God, we thank you for the promises that you have given us in your Word. We know that they are trustworthy and true. We pray that they would stimulate our faith, calm our fears and give us hope for our future here on earth and for our eternity in heaven as well. We give you all honor, glory and praise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.





The Waiting Game

(Genesis 15:1-6)



“Pro baseball player R.A. Dickey was the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner, the highest honor for a pitcher. But Dickey's career almost ended before it started. In 1996, the Texas Rangers made him their #1 draft pick and offered him an $810,000 contract. All he had to do was pass a routine team physical. But unknown to Dickey, the physical revealed that his right elbow was missing its ulnar collateral ligament.


As Dickey, a committed follower of Christ, entered training camp he uttered a prayer of gratitude: ‘Thank you, Lord, for all your blessings and for helping me get this far.’ But shortly after that prayer, his agent pulled him into a meeting with Doug Melvin, the Rangers general manager. Melvin flatly said, ‘We are going to retract our offer. We think there's something wrong with your elbow.’


Dickey writes:


I try to take in those words for a second or two: We are going to retract our offer … I don't feel devastation, or even anger. I feel rage. Complete rage. It feels as if it starts in my toes and blasts upward through my body like a tsunami, into my guts and right up through the top of my head … [I want to tell Melvin] about … how this is the one thing … that I can do right and that makes me somebody … I want to make sure he knows [that] he's matter-of-factly dropped this atomic bomb on my baseball career. On my life.


[But] it's as if there's a strong hand on my shoulder holding me back, giving me pause. In that instant I have a self-control that wasn't there a moment earlier. I hear a voice: ‘Relax, I've got you. Relax, R.A. It's okay … I've got you.’ The voice is the Holy Spirit … I was just talking to God in prayer and now he is talking back, giving me a composure that could not have come from anywhere else. The tsunami passes. I am crushed by Doug Melvin's words but I am not going to do anything stupid … ‘I've got you.’”


Source: R.A. Dickey with Wayne Coffey, Wherever I Wind Up (Plume, 2013), pp. 97-99.




Dickey had to wait, to see his dream of becoming a professional baseball, fulfilled. ​​ He was part of the Texas Rangers’ minor league system until 2001. ​​ That means he waited five years to make it to the pros. ​​ God’s promise, through the Holy Spirit, was fulfilled. ​​ God did have him and rewarded him with the Cy Young Award in 2012.


  • ME

    • Pastoral ministry

        • Most of you know my story about coming into pastoral ministry

        • I told the Lord “No” to pastoral ministry for 13 years, before saying “Yes”

        • The Lord waited much longer for me than I had to wait for Him

        • It was within several months of saying “Yes” to the Lord, about pastoral ministry, that He provided the senior pastor role here at Idaville

    • Answered prayers

        • Recently, I have been fortunate to see the Lord answer prayers pretty quickly

        • There are still some prayers I am waiting on the Lord for (His answer right now is wait)

        • My Dad shared, when he was here for our revival services, about praying for my brother

          • My parents prayed for many years for my brother

          • There were praying for him to return to the Lord and to surrender his addictions to the Lord

          • It was many years of heartache and pain, before my brother surrendered his life to the Lord again

          • My parents saw the Lord answer their prayers


  • WE

    • Things most of us have waited for in life:

        • Driver’s license

        • First car

        • First job

        • First boyfriend or girlfriend

        • Completing school (high school, college, masters, doctorate)

        • Job in our field

        • Spouse (some are still waiting)

        • Children (some are still waiting)

        • First million dollars (some of us are still waiting for this one)


Abram had just returned from an incredible victory that God had provided. ​​ It was during that time that Abram is feeling afraid about his future. ​​ God is aware of Abram’s fears and comes to him in a vision to encourage and comfort him. ​​ During this vision, Abram questions God about his promised heir and the delay is seeing that fulfilled. ​​ God reaffirms His promise to Abram. ​​ Through this passage, today, we will learn that . . .


BIG IDEA – God’s delays are not denials. ​​ [Baldwin, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Genesis 12-50, 51]


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 15:1-6)

    • Protection (vv. 1)

        • “After this,” is probably referring to what we just learned in Genesis 14

          • Abram just defeated the four eastern kings and sent them packing

          • I’m certain this didn’t sit well with those kings

          • It was possible that these four kings would rest, rebuild, and return with reinforcements to attack Abram [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 80]

          • We’re not told that this happened, but it could have

        • Fears

          • So, Abram could have been fearful about the kings returning

          • It is also possible that Abram is fearful about his future, since he and Sarai have not been able to conceive

        • Encouragement

          • Abram is feeling discouraged

            • It would seem like he should not be discouraged because of the great victory, but he is human

            • How often have we felt discouraged after something incredible has happened

            • It does not make sense to us, but it happens more often than not

            • I know this is true for me

              • I’ve experienced discouragement after something incredible happens at church – I always chalk it up to spiritual warfare

              • I’ve also experienced a heaviness and feeling of being down right before something incredible happens

              • It doesn’t make sense, because I feel like everything is going fine, but I just feel discouraged and down

          • In the middle of Abram’s discouragement and fear, God tells him not to be afraid

            • The Lord uses an “I am” statement as the reason why Abram should not be afraid

            • The Lord is Abram’s shield

              • The Hebrew word is used metaphorically of God as a protector []

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is our protector.

                • God protects us as His children

                • We don’t have anything to fear

                • Psalm 118:6, The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. ​​ What can man do to me?

                • Hebrews 13:5-6, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have; because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” ​​ So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. ​​ What can man do to me?”

                • Threatened layoffs at work. Drugs and weapons in the schools. We have every right to be fearful, right? Maybe not. In Scared to Life (Victor), Douglas Rumford cites a study that explains why we shouldn't allow fear to rule our lives:

                  - 60% of our fears are totally unfounded;
                  - 20% are already behind us;
                  - 10% are so petty they don't make any difference;
                  - 4-5% of the remaining 10% are real, but we can't do anything about them.

                  That means only 5% are real fears that we can do something about.”

                  Source: Marriage Partnership, Vol. 12, no. 2.


                • What fears are you facing today? ​​ (Job related, financial, relationships, physical, spiritual, etc.)

                  • You can trust the Lord to be your shield, your protector through all of those circumstances

                  • He is always with you

                  • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim God’s promise that He is my shield, my protector.

                  • When you claim that promise, you don’t have to fear anymore

                • The Lord is your great reward

                • In these antique words the very loftiest and purest principles of spiritual religion are set forth.
                  He that loves and trusts God possesses God.
                  He that possesses God has enough for earth.
                  He that possesses God has enough for heaven.

                  Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2006), paragraph 305.]

                • “The ‘reward’ is not paid to him as compensation for his heroic deeds of chap. 14, or he would have received payment from the kings; rather, the ‘reward’ looks ahead to the gifts of descendants and land already promised.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 163]

          • So, the Lord encourages Abram not to fear the future, He is in control

        • Abram asks the Lord a question and makes a logical statement, in his mind

    • Provocation (vv. 2-3)

        • Question

          • What can you give me since I remain childless?

          • Abram is really asking the Lord, who will inherit this reward, since I do not have any children? [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 246]

          • “Wages make a future possible, but a childless person has not future.” ​​ [Zimmerli cited by Goldingay, 246]

          • At this point, Abram has been in Canaan for 10 years and still hasn’t seen the fulfillment of God’s promise found in Genesis 12:2, 7

          • Abram is 85 years old at his point and we know that the son of promise (Isaac) would not be born for another 15 years

          • I don’t believe that Abram is doubting God at this point

          • I believe that Abram is probably asking the Lord for the timing of when it will happen

        • Statement

          • A servant will be my heir

          • The Hebrew word for “heir” literally means, “son of acquisition”

            • It was common practice in the Ancient Near East for couples, who remained childless, to adopt a son to take care of them in their old age an inherit their possessions [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 420]

            • Abram and Sarai had already begun to think about this and probably asked Eliezer to be their adopted son

            • If Abram and Sarai were to have a son, then their biological son would retain the title of heir and Eliezer would forfeit that position

          • “His [Abram’s] concern was expressed by a marvelous word play on his household servant’s origin: this Eliezer of Damascus (Dammeseq) is the possessor-heir (ben meseq, lit., ‘son of possession’) of my estate (15:2). ​​ It is as if Abram were stressing to God that ‘the omen is in the nomen’ – a mere servant would become his heir (Ross, 55).” ​​ [Ross cited by Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 135-36]

        • This was not God’s plan for Abram and Sarai, so He reaffirms His promise to Abram

    • Promise (vv. 4-6)

        • Biological son will be your heir

          • God tells Abram that Eliezer will not be his heir

          • The Lord reaffirms His promise that Abram and Sarai will have a son

          • He is reaffirming what He said earlier; I will make you into a great nation . . . “To your offspring I will give this land.” (Gen. 12:2, 7)

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God keeps His promises.

            • Abram was probably starting to wonder if God was going to really give he and Sarai a son

            • It had been 10 years and nothing had happened

            • It’s easy to get discouraged and begin to doubt the Lord

            • God’s delays are not denials

            • God always keeps His promises – we can’t count on that

            • Perhaps you’re struggling today to really embrace and accept that truth

              • Maybe you’re doubting that the Lord will fulfill a promise He has made to you

              • There are some of you who have claimed certain promises from God’s Word, but you haven’t seen that promise fulfilled yet

              • Don’t lose heart, don’t become discouraged, don’t turn away from the Lord

              • He is with you, He knows what you’re going through, and He hasn’t forgotten His promise to you

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess to the Lord that I’m struggling to be patient for the fulfillment of His promise to me.

          • The Lord encouraged Abram by telling him that Eliezer would not be his heir, but a biological son would be his heir

          • God was reaffirming His promise to Abram and then He gave Abram a visual illustration of what the future would look like for his family

        • Visual illustration

          • We learn a couple of things from verse 5

            • Abram was inside his tent during the vision

            • It was night time when he had the vision

          • Comparing Abram’s offspring to the stars

            • The Lord encouraged Abram to count the stars, if he could

              • There are millions of stars, so Abram wasn’t going to be able to count them all

              • This wasn’t the first time that God mentioned an impossible task to illustrate Abram’s offspring

              • I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. (Genesis 13:16)

              • “Whether Abraham looked down at the dust (Gen. 13:16) or up at the stars (Gen. 15:5), he would recall God’s promise and have confidence.” [Wiersbe, 81]

            • Abram’s offspring would be as numerous as the stars

              • God’s promise to Abram came true both in a physical and a spiritual sense

              • There have been millions of people born since Abram’s time, who are his biological offspring

              • “How appropriate, therefore, was the sign; the Lord would give to Abram not only physical descendants, but also the children of faith in every generation and of every nation (Rom. 4:16-17).” ​​ [Baldwin, 51]

              • Romans 4:16-17, Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. ​​ He is the father of us all. ​​ As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” ​​ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed – the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

          • The Lord uses the visual illustration of the innumerable stars to encourage Abram that He will keep His promise

          • God’s delays are not denials.

        • Abram believed

          • That was all Abram needed to hear

          • He believed the Lord

            • This is the first time in the Bible that the verb “believe” is used

            • “The Hebrew construction translated ‘believed’ (heʾĕmin + prep.) means to place trust in someone with confidence (e.g., Exod. 19:9; 1 Sam. 27:12).” ​​ [Mathews, 166]

            • Abram’s belief in the Lord was not a first time experience, here, but rather an ongoing faith from the beginning of their relationship

            • “Abraham considers God true, reliable, and trustworthy.” [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 242]

            • Abram knows that God will be faithful to him and that He will keep His promise

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is pleased when His people believe His promises.

              • Abram had been waiting a long time for the fulfillment of God’s promise for an heir

              • He was going to have to wait another 15 years, but Abram believed God’s promise – he didn’t doubt

              • You may be waiting on God’s promise to be fulfilled for you

              • Don’t doubt, but believe!

              • God will keep His promise to you

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Reaffirm my belief that God keeps His promises.

            • When we take that step of faith, God recognizes it

          • The Lord credited it to him as righteousness

            • “The term ‘credited’ (ḥāšab, NIV, HCSB), also translated ‘reckoned’ (NASB, NRSV, NJB, NJPS) or ‘counted’ (ESB, NLT, JPSV), means ‘to assign . . . value’; in this case the Lord assigns Abram’s faith the value of righteousness.” [Mathews, 167]

            • The Lord and Abram were in a right relationship

            • “Because Abram takes God at his word, God credits him with a legacy on the basis of the ‘rightness’ of his faith. ​​ He accomplishes this by formally establishing the covenant with him. ​​ Recognized righteousness becomes the basis for blessing.” ​​ [Walton, 422]

            • The covenant between the Lord and Abram is what we’ll look at next week

            • Romans 4:11, And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. ​​ So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.

          • Abram understood that God’s delays are not denials

          • The Lord was going to provide a biological son as his heir


  • YOU

    • Do you need to claim the truth that God is your shield, your protector?

    • Are you struggling to patient until the Lord fulfills His promise to you?

    • Do you need to believe, like Abram, that God will keep His promises?


  • WE

    • Let’s encourage one another with these truths, today.



“In a New York Times article, journalist Alex Stone tells the story of how executives at a Houston airport faced and then solved a cascade of passenger complaints about long waits at the baggage claim. They first decided to hire more baggage handlers, reducing wait times to an industry-beating average of eight minutes. But complaints persisted. This made no sense to the executives until they discovered that, on the average, passengers took just one minute to walk to baggage claim, resulting in a hurry-up-and-wait situation. The walk time was not a problem; the remaining seven empty minutes of staring at the baggage carousel was. So, in a burst of innovation, the executives moved the arrival gates farther away from the baggage claim area. Passengers now had to walk much farther but their bags were often waiting for them when they arrived. Problem solved. The complaints dropped.


For the same article Stone interviewed MIT operations researcher Richard Larson, the world's leading expert on waiting in lines to discover the psychology behind our waiting. What happened at the Houston airport makes for a perfect illustration. According to Larson, the length of our wait is not as important as what we're doing while we wait. "Often the psychology of queuing is more important than the statistics of the wait itself," says Larson. Essentially, we tolerate "occupied time" (for example, walking to baggage claim) far better than "unoccupied time" (such as standing at the baggage carousel). Give us something to do while we wait, and the wait becomes endurable.


This is why, so often, waiting on God feels like unoccupied time to us. We wait, but what is really happening behind the scenes of our life? Is God actually doing anything? Waiting on God implies developing a new perspective of what God is doing while we wait on him.


Source: Rick Lawrence, Skin in the Game (Kregel Publishers, 2015), pages 105-107.





Choosing Well

(Genesis 14:17-24)



“Philip Yancey wrote of a friend of his named Susan, a Christian who told Yancey ‘that her husband did not measure up and she was actively looking for other men to meet her needs for intimacy’:


When Susan mentioned that she rose early each day to ‘spend an hour with the Father,’ I asked, ‘In your meetings with the Father, do any moral issues come up that might influence this pending decision about leaving your husband?’


Susan bristled: ‘That sounds like the response of a white Anglo-Saxon male. The Father and I are into relationship, not morality. Relationship means being wholly supportive and standing alongside me, not judging.’”


Source: Jeremy Lott, "American Gnostic," Books and Culture, November/December 2002; p. 37.




She is choosing legality over morality. ​​ She was focusing on her legal right to be able to divorce her husband and find happiness with another man. ​​ She was ignoring the moral standard that the Father set in His Word.



  • ME

    • Car accident

        • We got rear-ended while sitting at a stop light in California

        • My parents were with us and Levi was in his car seat

        • We were going to pick Wade and Seth up from school and were planning to go to a Anaheim Angels baseball game

        • I had been given some free tickets and we got two more tickets for my parents

        • We never made it to the baseball game, because our minivan was totaled

    • Moral vs. Legal

        • Certain lawyers would have told me that I had a legal right to sue the individual who rear-ended me

        • They would help me to get all I was entitled to

        • We didn’t choose that route

        • We did go to see the doctor and had some therapy sessions with a chiropractor and massage therapist

        • We were pleased with how the other individual’s insurance company treated us

        • They worked with us to rent another minivan while my parents were still with us

        • They gave us more than I expected for our minivan

        • God provided for us through this accident

        • I was glad that we trusted in Him instead of a lawyer

        • I believe that we chose well and God was honored through it all


  • WE

    • Morality over legal right

        • Every one of us probably has a time when we’ve had to choose between our moral right and legal right

        • Take a moment to think about what you chose (morality or legality?)

Two kings meet Abram after he returns from defeating Kedorlaomer. ​​ Both of them offer him items. ​​ Abram accepts the items from one king, but not the other. ​​ Abram had the legal right to accept the items from both kings, but he did not have the moral right, as we’ll see. ​​ Abram had to choose well. ​​ We’ll learn from Abram that . . .


BIG IDEA – Morality is more important than legality.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 14:17-24)

    • Background (vv. 17-18a)

        • Abram has defeated Kedorlaomer and his allies

        • He has made the long journey back from Hobah, north of Damascus and is just south or east of Jerusalem in the Valley of Shaveh (shaw-vay’), also known as the King’s Valley

        • Two kings come out to meet him

    • Blessed (vv. 18b-20)

        • Melchizedek (mal-kee-tseh’-dek)

          • Two roles

            • King of Salem (shaw-lame’)

              • Melchizedek’s name means “king of righteousness”

              • Most scholars agree that Salem is referring to Jerusalem

              • Psalm 76:1-2, In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel. ​​ His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion.

              • This would make sense since the Valley of Shaveh (shaw-vay’) is just south or east of Jerusalem

              • Salem means “peace”

            • Priest of God Most High

              • Melchizedek was not only the king of Salem (shaw-lame’), but also a priest of God Most High

              • This is the first time that the word “priest” is used in the Bible

              • It’s probable that Melchizedek is a Canaanite king

                • We don’t know what gods he may been worshiping

                • We’re not given much information about him

                • There was not a Canaanite deity with the name El Elyon (ale el-yone’) [God Most High]

                • We’ll see in the blessing that Melchizedek further identifies God Most High as the Creator of heaven and earth

                • It would seem as though Melchizedek is a priest of the One and only true God, but this is not definitive

            • As king and priest, Melchizedek offers two things

          • Items offered

            • Bread and wine (king)

              • Bread represents more than just bread, but food in general

              • “The expression ‘bread and wine’ refers to daily but luxurious provisions.” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 149]

              • Melchizedek is providing a feast/banquet for the returning soldiers

              • The second item Melchizedek offers Abram is a blessing

            • Blessing (priest)

              • Melchizedek blesses Abram first by God Most High

              • Then he blesses God Most High and recognizes one of His many attributes

                • God is our deliverer

                • Melchizedek understands that God Most High is the one who gave Abram the victory over Kedorlaomer and his allies

                • I mentioned last week that God is the One who gave wisdom to Abram to divide his men after dark in order to defeat the four kings

                • Melchizedek is just acknowledging that fact and highlighting this attribute

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when His people recognize His power to deliver.

                • What has God delivered you from recently?

                  • Financial burden?

                  • Toxic relationship?

                  • Dead-end job?

                  • Educational struggle?

                  • Health issue?

                  • Anxiety/Depression?

                  • Spiritual battle?

                • Have you acknowledged that God is the One who delivered you?

                  • It’s so easy to forget that God is the One who has delivered us

                  • Our first reaction should be to praise/bless the Lord for delivering us

                  • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Acknowledge that God has delivered me from ___________, by His power.

            • Melchizedek offered Abram nourishment and blessing

          • Interesting thoughts about Melchizedek

            • No genealogy

              • “Melchizedek appears from nowhere; his parentage is not given, even though Genesis excels in genealogies. ​​ Yet even this omission is deliberate, for, according to the writer of the Hebrews, it signifies an eternal priesthood (Heb. 7:3).” [Baldwin, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Genesis 12-50, 47]

              • Hebrews 7:1-4, This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. ​​ He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. ​​ First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” ​​ Without father or mother without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. ​​ Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!

              • Who is Melchizedek – do we really know?

                • He’s not mentioned with the six groups/kingdoms that Kedorlaomer and his allies defeated on their way to battle the five rebellious kings

                • He’s not mentioned with the five kings of the Dead Sea area, even though Jerusalem is in that area

                • He’s not mentioned as one of Abram’s allies

              • Some scholars believe that Melchizedek is the preincarnate Christ

            • Christophany

              • Gangel and Bramer mention that “many interpreters believe this was another Christophany, a demonstration of the preincarnate Christ.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 133]

              • Psalm 110:4, The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

                • This Psalm was written by David

                • The theme of the Psalm is the credentials for the Messiah. ​​ Jesus is the Messiah

              • Perhaps, Abram has just been nourished and blessed by Christ, Himself

          • If that is true, then Abram’s reaction to the nourishment and blessing are even more powerful!

        • Abram’s reaction

          • He gives Melchizedek a tenth of everything from the plunder

            • If Melchizedek is Christ preincarnate, then Abram is tithing one tenth to the Lord

            • For Abram it would be an acknowledgement that the Lord owns everything and that He graciously allowed Abram to steward His wealth [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 78]

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – When we tithe, God is glorified; because it acknowledges that He owns everything and has the ability to provide for us.

            • This is the first time that tithing is mentioned in the Bible

            • Abram was already tithing before it was mentioned in Jewish law

            • Important thoughts about tithing

              • Tithing is giving the Lord 10% of our income

              • “If the Old Testament Jew under Law could tithe, how much more ought New Testament Christians under grace!” ​​ [godly deacon cited by Wiersbe, 78]

              • The attitude with which we give is important as R.G. LeTourneau states, “If you tithe because it pays—it won’t pay!” ​​ [Wiersbe, 78]

              • “After a morning session at vacation Bible school, my grandson, Macky, complained to a friend that there weren’t enough red crayons to go around and he only got one cookie at snack time. ​​ ‘Well,’ said his friend, who remembered their offering, ‘it really wasn’t too bad for a dime.’”

                Source: Aleene Sanders, Poplar Bluff, MO. ​​ Today’s Christian Woman, “Heart to Heart.”


              • Whom we give to is also important, “We do not give our tithes and offerings to the church, the pastor, or the members of the finance committee. ​​ If our giving is a true act of worship, we will give to the Lord; and, for that reason, we want to give our very best (Mal. 1:6-8).” ​​ [Wiersbe, 79]

            • Application

              • Perhaps the first question we have to ask ourselves is, are we even tithing at all?

                • Some people just take whatever is in their wallet and put it in the offering

                • Does that represent 10% of all that God has given to us?

                • Does that kind of giving acknowledge God’s ownership of everything we have?

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Begin tithing 10% of all that God has given me to steward.

              • Does our tithing glorify God?

              • Does our tithing acknowledge that God owns everything and has the ability to provide for us?

                • Too often we are concerned with not having enough money to pay our bills at the end of the month, that we believe we can’t afford to tithe

                • This simply proves that we don’t truly believe that God has the ability to provide for us

                • In 1987, the largest, single-day stock market crash since 1929 took place. In one day [my wife, Renee] and I lost more than one-third of our life's savings and the money we had put aside for our kids' college education. I was horrified and became like a man obsessed, each night working past midnight, analyzing on spreadsheets all that we had lost, and the next day calling in orders to sell our remaining stocks and mutual funds to prevent further losses. (Of course that turned out to be the absolute worst thing I could have done.)

                  I was consumed with anguish over our lost money—and it showed. One night when I was burning the midnight oil, Renee came and sat beside me. ‘Honey,’ she said, ‘this thing is consuming you in an unhealthy way. It's only money. We have our marriage, our health, our friends, our children, and a good income—so much to be thankful for. You need to let go of this and trust God.’ Don't you hate it when someone crashes your pity party? I didn't want to let go of it. I told her I felt responsible for our family and that she didn't understand. It was my job to worry about things like this.

                  She suggested we pray about it—something that hadn't occurred to me—so we did. At the end of the prayer, to my bewilderment, Renee said, ‘Now I think we need to get out the checkbook and write some big checks to our church and ministries we support. We need to show God that we know this is his money and not ours.’ I was flabbergasted at the audacity of this suggestion, but in my heart I knew she was right. So that night we wrote some sizable checks, put them in envelopes addressed to various ministries, and sealed them. And that's when I felt the wave of relief. We had broken the spell that money had cast over me. It freed me from the worries that had consumed me. I actually felt reckless and giddy—‘God, please catch us, because we just took a crazy leap of faith.’

                  Source: Richard Stearns, The Hole in the Gospel (Thomas Nelson, 2010), p. 213


              • Challenge to tithe more than 10%

                • Perhaps there are those of us here who have faithfully tithed 10% for many years

                • God has continued to provide for us

                • “Tithing is a good place to begin; but as the Lord blesses, we must increase that percentage if we are to practice the kind of ‘grace giving’ that is described in 2 Corinthians 8-9.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 79]

                • Many years ago, when we lived in Missouri our pastor preached a message on giving and challenged those in the congregation to consider giving more than 10%. ​​ Judy and I took that message to heart and began to pray about what percentage God was asking us to give. ​​ When we finally decided on the percentage, the Holy Spirit had placed the same percentage figure in both of our minds, individually. ​​ So, we began giving at that percentage. ​​ Over the years, we have gone back to 10% when we have moved and changed jobs. ​​ A couple of years ago, we were prompted by the Holy Spirit to consider increasing the percentage we give again, which we did.

                • I want to give everyone the same challenge that our Pastor in Missouri gave to us

                • #3 – My/Our Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord what percentage of my/our income I/we should be giving to Him.

          • So, we see that Abram’s reaction to being nourished and blessed was to tithe a tenth to Melchizedek

        • Abram was also offered something from Bera, king of Sodom

        • What would his reaction be to that offer?

    • Bribed (vv. 21-24)

        • Offer

          • It is more of a request or demand than an offer, per se

            • Bera’s audacity and attitude show a lack of humility and gratefulness

            • He has no right to make any request or demand, because the victor is the one sets the stipulations for the dividing of plunder [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 235]

            • Abram was the one who had the legal right to determine how things would be divided and dispersed

          • Bera wants to have the people of Sodom returned to him

            • The Hebrew word for “people” also has the meaning of “soul”

            • From a spiritual perspective, Bera was asking for the souls of the people of Sodom

            • The people of Sodom had been sinning greatly against the Lord (Gen. 13:13)

            • Bera didn’t want to give up the souls of the Sodom sinners

            • We see a contrast between Melchizedek (“king of righteousness”) and Bera (“son of evil”)

            • What we see here is the age old battle between good and evil

            • Abram was having to choose well

            • Every one of us have to choose well when confronted with two options – morality and legality

          • Bera doesn’t care about the goods

            • He is fine with giving the goods to Abram

            • Satan is fine with us keeping the goods of this world as long as he can have our souls

          • We see Abram’s reaction to this “offer”

        • Reaction

          • What we see is Abram’s personal refusal of Bera’s offer

          • Abram refuses for two reasons

            • First, and most important, is his desire to keep the oath he had made to the Lord prior to the battle

              • Abram had raised his hand to Jehovah

                • He had taken an oath

                • Think about being sworn in as a witness in a court of law, where they make you raise your right hand and take an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God

                • I’m also reminded of those who become citizens of the United States and how they raise their right hand and take an oath

                • This kind of oath taking is also found in the military, police force, and the President of the United States when they are all sworn in

              • Abram was not going to break his oath before the Lord, simply because he had the legal right to the goods

                • For Abram, morality was more important than legality.

                • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is honored when we keep our word.

                  • Whether we have taken an oath before the Lord or with other people, God is honored when we keep our word

                  • It may not be easy to keep our word sometimes, because we may have taken an oath or made a promise too quickly, without thinking

                  • Numbers 30:2, When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.

                  • Read Deuteronomy 23:21-23

                  • Matthew and James instruct us in the New Testament not to swear or take an oath, but to say either “Yes” or “No”

                  • Read Matthew 5:33-37

                  • James 5:12, Above all, my brothers, do not swear – not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. ​​ Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.

                  • What oath or promise do you need to keep to the Lord or to another person?

                  • I encourage you to do that this week

                  • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Honor God by keeping my word.

              • Abram uses the same words as Melchizedek in calling Jehovah, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth

              • Abram is affirming that the One true God is God Most High who created everything

            • Second, he wanted the Lord to be glorified and not man

              • Abram wasn’t going to take even the smallest thing (a thread or shoestring) from Bera

              • Abram was relying completely on the Lord to provide for him and bless him

              • If he had taken the goods from Bera, then Bera could have claimed the glory for making Abram rich

              • Abram wasn’t going to let that happen

            • While Abram doesn’t accept any goods for himself, he doesn’t require his soldiers or his allies to adhere to the same conviction – it was a personal conviction and oath that Abram had made

          • Abram’s corporate acceptance

            • He acknowledges that the food they had already eaten, he would accept – that is a foregone conclusion

            • He also encourages Aner, Eshcol and Mamre to accept their share of the goods

        • Abram chose well in accepting the food, drink, and blessing from Melchizedek and refusing the goods from Bera

        • He showed that his moral obligation to keep his word was more important than his legal right to the goods that Bera had offered him


  • YOU

    • Have you recognized God’s power to deliver you and have you thanked Him for doing so?

    • Are you glorifying God through your tithing? ​​ (Does it show that you believe God owns everything and has the ability to provide for you?)

    • Are you honoring God by keeping your word?


  • WE

    • We can thank the Lord publicly for how He has delivered us and provided for us.

    • We can ask others to hold us accountable to an oath or promise we have made.



“The movie Nuremberg, based on the book Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial, by Joseph Persico, is about a series of trials held in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1945-46, in which former Nazi leaders were tried as war criminals by the International Military Tribunal.


In this scene, Nazi defendant Hans Frank (played by Frank Moore) is attempting to explain his actions to Army psychologist Gustav Gilbert (played by Matt Craven).


Frank explains, ‘I turned my diaries over to the Americans voluntarily. You see, they prove that I tried to resign as Governor General of Poland. I did not approve of the persecution of the Jews. Anyone reading my diaries, they will know what was in my heart. They will understand that such things I wrote about Jews, the orders I signed, they were not sincere.’


‘I believe you, Frank,’ says Gilbert. ‘And yet, you did do those things. How do you explain it? I don't mean legally; I'm not a lawyer or a judge. I mean how do you explain it to yourself?’


‘I don't know,’ replies Frank. ‘It's as though I am two people: the Hans Frank you see here, and Hans Frank the Nazi leader. I wonder how the other Frank could do such things. This Frank looks at that Frank and says, ‘You're a terrible man’’


‘And what does that Frank say back?’ asks Gilbert.


Frank, appearing to plead for understanding, replies, ‘He says, ‘I just wanted to keep my job.’’”


Elapsed time: Measured from the Warner Bros. logo, this scene begins at 51:50 and ends at 53:32.


Content: Nuremberg is not rated. It does contain some profanity and graphic scenes from actual concentration camps.


Source: Nuremberg (Cypress Films, 2000), directed by Yves Simoneau.






Selfless Sacrifice

(Genesis 14:1-16)



The movie Hacksaw Ridge is the true story of Desmond Doss who enlists as a combat medic in the army after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. ​​ Because of life circumstances and his religious beliefs, Doss is a conscientious objector. ​​ He refuses to carry a gun and only takes his medic kit and Bible into battle.


“Doss' unit is assigned to the 77th Infantry Division and deployed to the Pacific theater. During the Battle of Okinawa, Doss' unit is informed that they are to relieve the 96th Infantry Division, which was tasked with ascending and securing the Maeda Escarpment ("Hacksaw Ridge"). Both sides suffer heavy losses during the initial fight. Doss saves his squadmate Smitty, earning his respect. As the Americans camp for the night, Doss reveals to Smitty that his aversion to holding a firearm stems from nearly shooting his drunken father, who threatened his mother with a gun. Smitty apologizes for doubting his courage, and the two reconcile.

The next morning, the Japanese launch a massive counterattack and drive the Americans off the escarpment. Smitty is killed, while Howell and several of Doss' squad mates are left injured on the battlefield. Doss hears the cries of dying soldiers and returns to save them, carrying the wounded to the cliff's edge and belaying them down by rope, each time praying to save one more. The arrival of dozens of wounded once presumed dead comes as a shock to the rest of the unit below. When day breaks, Doss rescues Howell and the two escape Hacksaw under enemy fire.


Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman for rescuing 75 soldiers at Hacksaw Ridge.”





  • ME

    • Flooding

        • When we owned our home in MO there was one evening when a severe storm was rolling through our town

        • We lost power, which meant that the sump pump in our basement wouldn’t run, which meant that we would have a swimming pool in our basement

        • I called my best friend and asked him to come over and help me bail water out of the basement

          • He didn’t hesitate to come and help

          • We filled up a large plastic toy bin, carried it up the basement stairs, out through the garage and dumped it down the driveway

          • In between doing this, I was calling different people from the church to see if anyone had a generator I could borrow to run the sump pump

          • Long story short, I was able to borrow a generator and right after connecting the sump pump to it, the power came back on

        • My best friend modeled selfless service and sacrifice


  • WE

    • Examples of selfless service and sacrifice

        • Perhaps every one of us has a story just like that where a family member, best friend, or neighbor helped us out when we were in need

          • They served and sacrificed without thinking about it

          • They were there for us

        • Our own service and sacrifice

          • While we have all been the recipient of selfless sacrifice and service, my guess is that we have all been the ones who has helped others selflessly

          • Maybe it was a family member, friend, or neighbor that needed help and we were there to help them


Lot found himself in a difficult situation, because of where he had chosen to live. ​​ Abram may not have approved of Lot’s dwelling choice, but that didn’t stop him from serving and sacrificing his time and resources to help Lot out. ​​ Abram expressed the love of God to Lot by sacrificing selflessly for him. ​​ What Abram models in this passage is something we should be doing as well. ​​ We’ll learn that . . .


BIG IDEA – Christ’s love is evident through our selfless sacrifice.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 14:1-16)

    • Watcher (vv. 1-12)

        • Kings involved

          • Northeastern kings (4) [show map]

            • They are listed in alphabetical order in verse 1, but as we’ll see, Kedorlaomer (ked-or-law-o’-mer/ke-door-law-o’-mer) is their leader

            • Amraphel (am-raw-fel’) king of Shinar (shin-awr’), also known as Babylonia

            • Arioch (ar-yoke’/air-yoke’) king of Ellasar (el-law-sawr’)

            • Kedorlaomer (ked-or-law-o’-mer/ke-door-law-o’-mer) king of Elam (ay-lawm’)

            • Tidal (tid-awl’) king of Goiim (go’-ee/goy)

          • Southwestern kings (5)

            • Bera (beh’-rah) king of Sodom (sed-ome’/seh-dome’)

            • Birsha (beer-shah’) king of Gomorrah (am-o-raw’)

            • Shinab (shin-awb’/shin-awv’) king of Admah (ad-maw’)

            • Shemeber (shem-ay’-ber/shem-a’-ver) king of Zeboiim (tseb-o-eem’/sev-o-eem’)

            • King of Bela (beh’-lah), which is also known as Zoar (tso’ar/so’-air)

        • Subjected to Kedorlaomer

          • The five kings from the Dead Sea area gathered together in the Valley of Siddim (sid-deem’), which is beside the Salt Sea, also known as the Dead Sea

          • These five kings and their kingdoms have been subject to Kedorlaomer for 12 years

          • Perhaps they spoke to each other and decided that, as a group, they would be able to start and win a rebellion against Kedorlaomer

          • So, in the 13th year that’s what they did

          • They didn’t want to live under the rule of this king anymore

          • They didn’t want to continue to pay their annual tribute to him

          • It’s probable that they thought they would only be battling Kedorlaomer and his soldiers, not realizing that he would bring three other allies with him

        • Stopping the rebellion

          • In the 14th year, Kedorlaomer gathers three other kings and their armies together

          • The four northeastern kings begin their tour of terror on the northeastern side of the Jordan River and head south

          • [Show the map]

            • The route the four kings took is highlighted by the red line and has been referred to as the King’s Highway (Num. 20:17; 21:22)

            • The blue line will be Abram’s route, which we’ll discuss in the second point this morning

          • It appears as though the rebellion may have been larger than Kedorlaomer realized, because we see that the four kings defeat six other kingdoms/groups on their way to battle with the five kings of the Dead Sea area

            • “Perhaps these other peoples have joined in the rebellion, though if so, one might expect Genesis to say so. ​​ Perhaps, then, the kings make their expedition worthwhile by taking over these other places, or perhaps they engage in preemptive strikes to prevent these other peoples from coming to the five kings’ support.” ​​ [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 234]

            • Rephaites (raw-faw’/raf-i-e’) in Ashteroth Karnaim (ash-ter-oth’ kar-nah’-yim/ash-tear-roth’ care-nigh’-im)

            • Zuzites (zoo-zeem’) in Ham (hawm)

            • Emites (ay-meem’) in Shaveh Kiriathaim (shaw-vay’ keer-yaw-thah’-yim)

            • Horites (kho-ree’/whore-ree’) in the hill country of Seir (say-eer’) as far as El Paran (ale paw-rawn’) near the desert (this is as far south as they go before crossing the Jordan River and heading north again)

            • Amalekites (am-aw-lay-kee’) in En Mishpat (ane mish-pawt’), which is, Kadesh (kaw-dashe’)

            • Amorites (em-o-ree’) living in Hazazon Tamar (khats-ets-one’ taw-mahr’/hats-ets-own’ toe-mahr’)

          • Battle with the five kings

            • The four northeastern kings finally arrive at the Valley of Siddim (sid-deem’), the Salt Sea, and find the five kings, from that area, gathered together for battle

            • It’s not surprising that the four kings are able to defeat the five kings

              • They must have been a powerful force to deal with

              • The four kings had already defeated six other kingdoms/groups and are still able to cause these five kings to flee

            • Tar pits

              • We see this side note about the Valley of Siddim being full of tar pits

              • [show the 3 pictures of the tar pits]

              • They play an important role in the battle

            • On the run

              • As the battle rages on the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah flee

              • Two meanings for the verb form for “fall”

                • Fall by accident

                • Voluntary lowering of oneself

              • Who went into the tar pits and for what purpose?

                • Some believe that it was the two kings of Sodom and Gomorrah that went into the tar pits, while others believe it was some of their soldiers

                • If it was the two kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, then it is likely that they voluntarily lowered themselves into the tar pits to hide, because we see the king of Sodom greeting Abram after he returns from defeating the four northeastern kings (Gen. 14:17)

              • The “others,” that fled to the hills, is probably referring to the other three kings and their soldiers

            • Spoils

              • All the goods and food in Sodom and Gomorrah become the property of the four kings

              • They also took people as part of the spoils

                • Lot and his possessions were part of the spoils

                • Women and other people were also included (Gen. 14:16)

                • Lot was being taken into captivity, because he was living in Sodom

                  • Pastor Marc mentioned last week that Lot pitched his tents near Sodom (Gen. 13:12)

                  • Now we’re told that Lot was living in Sodom

                  • He had transitioned from living outside the city to living within the city

                  • Last week we saw that the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord (Gen. 13:13)

                  • Lot had to be aware of the spiritual condition of the men in Sodom, and yet, he chose to live in the city and surround himself and his family with this sin

              • Application

                • PRINCIPLE #1 – If you identify with the world, then expect to suffer what the world suffers.

                  • For Lot that meant being taken into captivity by the four northeastern kings

                  • For you and me it means being held captive by our sin – it controls us and drives every decision we make

                  • If the sin we’re held captive to is sexual in nature (pornography, sex, etc.) then that sin controls our thoughts and actions, it drives almost every decision – we have to satisfy our desires

                  • If the sin we’re held captive to is substance based (drugs, alcohol, etc.) then our thoughts and actions are dictated by the desire to get the next fix

                  • If the sin we’re held captive to is idol based (vehicle, person, possessions, etc.), then everything we do will drive us to fulfill our desire for those things

                  • If the sin we’re held captive to is emotional, financial, physical, etc. then our thoughts and actions will be driven by that sin

                  • 2 Timothy 2:22, Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

                  • 1 Corinthians 6:18a, Flee from sexual immorality.

                  • 1 Corinthians 10:14, Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

                  • James 1:13-14, When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” ​​ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

                  • How do we handle being held captive by our desires and sin?

                  • Galatians 5:16, So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

                  • Romans 13:14, Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

                  • 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

                  • As followers of Jesus Christ, we don’t have to suffer what the world suffers – we can show them a better way

                  • We’re not of this world, we’re only passing through, but we need to be a positive influence for the Gospel with those in this world

                  • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Break the chains of the sin(s) that are holding me captive, through living by the Spirit and clothing myself with Jesus every day.

                • Lot had allowed himself and his family to identify with the world by living in a city that was sinning greatly against the Lord

                • When we surround ourselves with those who are sinning greatly against the Lord, we can’t help but be influenced by them

                • The consequences can be severe

        • This battle, by the Salt Sea (Dead Sea) would have been pretty close to where Abram was staying, so he could have observed it from a distance (he was a watcher)

        • He doesn’t get involved until he receives a specific report (then he becomes a warrior)

    • Warrior (vv. 13-16)

        • Report

          • One of the soldiers, who had escaped to the hills, came to Abram at the great tree of Mamre (mam-ray’) and told him that Lot had been taken captive

          • We’re told here that Abram had a great relationship with Mamre and his brothers Eshcol (esh-kole’) and Aner (aw-nare’/ah-nare’) – they were allies, they had each other’s back

          • Identifiers

            • Abram is identified as a Hebrew

            • Mamre and his brothers are identified as Amorites

            • These were just ethnic identifiers

          • Once Abram received the report, he jumped into action

        • Rally

          • He called on the 318 men, in his household, that he had trained for battle

            • At this point, Sarai is still barren – she and Abram have not had any children

            • So, who are these 318 men that were born in his household?

            • “Here yālîḏ (yaw-leed’) [born] does not refer to physical descent; rather, it designates membership in a group by a means other than birth. ​​ Here in particular the term is applied to a slave or servant whose major function is to provide military assistance.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 406]

            • It’s also likely that Mamre, Eshcol, and Aner are joining Abram as he rallies the troops

            • They set out in pursuit as far as Dan [show the map]

          • Application

            • Abram and Lot

              • Many believe that when Abram and Lot separated, there was some kind of hard feelings between them

              • Abram was probably aware of how wicked and sinful the men of Sodom were and perhaps he didn’t approve of Lot living in the city

              • And yet, when Lot was taken into captivity, we don’t seem to see any hesitancy from Abram in rallying the troops and going after him

              • He was willing to selflessly sacrifice his time and resources to show Lot how much he loved him and cared for him

              • This shows what incredible character Abram had

            • You and me

              • You and I should pursue the same kind of character as Abram

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – Sacrificial service is one way of showing the love of Christ to others.

                • It’s so easy to justify not helping someone in need, because they have chosen to live a life of sin

                • Unfortunately, as Christians, we judge others (both Christian and non-Christian) based on what they do, how they live, or what they believe

                • We create division instead of selflessly serving

                • Now, we have to use wisdom to know when to help someone and when not to help – there are times when helping can actually hurt, because it is enabling an incorrect behavior

                • We have to pray and trust the Lord to guide us concerning when to serve

                • Perhaps we’ve all struggled, at times, with showing the love of Christ to those in need

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess to the Lord that I’m struggling with showing His love to someone, who is in need.

                • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Show the love of Christ to someone by sacrificially serving them this week.

              • Christ’s love is evident through our selfless sacrifice.

            • Abram modeled this for us in such an incredible way

          • After he rallied the troops and caught up with the four northeastern kings, he planned his attack

        • Route

          • Abram used the darkness of night to his advantage

          • He divided his men

            • We’re not told how he divided them

            • We’re not told his strategy for dividing them

            • Perhaps the best example would be Gideon and his small band of men who defeated the Midianites by surrounding the camp and blowing trumpets and breaking their jars to reveal the torches (Judges 7:19-21)

            • However it happened, we’re told that Abram and his men routed the four kings

            • He pursued them as far as Hobah (kho-baw’/kho-vaw’), north of Damascus [show map]

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – Victory comes when we trust God and obey His orders.

            • While it’s not directly stated in the text, we know that God was fighting for and with Abram

            • God was fulfilling his promises to Abram – He was going to bless him

            • This four-king fighting force that defeated six other groups, before winning the battle against the five kings, is now routed by Abram and his men

          • After the battle is over, Abram is able to recover everything

        • Recovery

          • Abram recovers the goods and the people

            • It was probably more than just Lot’s possessions and his family members and servants

            • It was also the other inhabitants and goods from Sodom

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God does not abandon His children.

            • Lot was blessed because of being related to Abram

              • Although Lot was living in a wicked city, God had not abandoned him

              • Even when Lot is taken captive, God did not abandon him

            • The same is true for us

              • When we’re living a life focused on ourselves and sin, God does not abandon us

              • When we’re held captive by our sin, God will not abandon us

              • 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

              • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim God’s promise that He will not abandon me by confessing my sins to Him.

        • We saw Abram as a watcher and warrior this week

        • Next week we will see Abram as a worshiper


  • YOU

    • I want to encourage you today to clothe yourself with Christ and live by the Spirit each day

    • Do you need to confess your struggle to love those in need?

    • Are you ready to show the love of Christ to someone by sacrificially serving him or her this week?

    • Claim God’s promise that He will never abandon you, even when you sin.

  • WE

    • As a body of believers, here at Idaville Church, we have the great privilege of showing others Christ’s love through our selfless sacrifice and service.



“In his recent book (2017) (Re)union, Bruxy Cavey writes:


The Victoria Cross is Canada's highest military honor, similar to the Medal of Honor in the United States. These medals are awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. Of the thousands awarded to date, more citations have been bestowed for falling on grenades to save comrades than any other single act.

The first Victoria Cross of World War II was awarded to Company Sergeant-Major John Robert Osborn. The sergeant-major and his men were cut off from their battalion and under heavy attack. When the enemy came close enough, the Canadian soldiers were subjected to a concentrated barrage of grenades. Several times Osborn protected his men by picking up live grenades and throwing them back, but eventually one fell in just the wrong position to pick up in time. With only a split second to decide, Osborn shouted a warning and threw himself on top of the grenade. It exploded, killing him instantly. The rest of his company survived that battle because of Osborn's selfless other-centeredness.


I love stories of this kind of bravery and self-sacrifice. They give me hope for humanity and offer us all a glimpse of God's goodness reflected in his image-bearers. But no matter how beautiful that heroic act may be, through Jesus we see an even greater love at the heart of God. You see, soldiers who fall on grenades do so out of love for their friends while they are on the battlefield trying to kill their enemies. Jesus died for his friends, and his enemies, and for everyone in between.”


Source: Bruxy Cavey, (Re)union (Herald Press, 2017), pages 87-88.





A Pilgrim’s Progress

The book “The Pilgrim's Progress from This World, to That Which Is to Come” is a 1678 Christian allegory written by John Bunyan. The entire book is presented as a dream sequence told by an omniscient narrator. The allegory's protagonist, Christian, is an everyman character, and the plot centers on his journey from his hometown, the "City of Destruction" ("this world"), to the “Celestial City" or “Heaven” ("that which is to come") atop Mount Zion. Christian is weighed down by a great burden, which is the knowledge of his sin that comes from reading the Bible. This burden, which would cause him to sink into Hell, is so unbearable that he seeks deliverance. The book is the journey Christian takes to be delivered from his burden of sin. Along his journey he meets a lot of different people from Evangelist who points him to the “shining light” for deliverance, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Mr. Legality and his son, Civility, who try to deliver him from his burden by trusting in his own good deeds to remove it. Later Christian is directed forward by Goodwill, who is shown to be Jesus, to "the place of deliverance.” Christian finally reaches the "place of deliverance" (allegorically, the cross of Calvary and the open sepulchre of Christ), where the "straps" that bound Christian's burden to him break, and it rolls away into the open sepulchre.

After being relieved of his burden of sin Christian continues on his pilgrimage meeting people such as Sloth and Hypocrisy. He spends three days in the House of the Palace Beautiful, which is a place built by God to refresh pilgrims and godly travelers, and he leaves there clothed with the Armour of God. Christian meets Faithful in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, who ends up being burned at the stake as a martyr. He goes to a place called Lucre, where he is offered all the silver in the mine. He gets captured by Despair and taken to the Doubting Castle, where he is imprisoned, beaten and starved. Christian uses the key called Promise to unlock the castle and escape. Christian meets some shepherds who warn him about the Flatterer but is soon deceived and gets stuck in his net. ​​ He meets an Atheist, who tells him that Heaven and God do not exist. Along the way he meets up with Hopeful who shares the journey with Christian. He meets Ignorance, who believes that he will be allowed into the Celestial City through his own good deeds rather than as a gift of God's grace. Finally, Christian, even though he has a rough time because of past sins wearing him down, is welcomed into the Celestial City with the help of his friend Hopeful.

As I thought about this story, it made me think about my own story. When I was saved at age seven I don’t remember feeling weighed down by a burden of sin as Christian was, but I understood that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. Maybe some of you, this morning, can identify more with the first part of Christian’s story and have had the feeling of being weighed down by the burden of your sin and then being relieved from that burden when you gave your life over to Christ.

The second part of Christian’s story, from after he was relieved from his burden until he entered the Celestial City, is one that every Christian can identify with. Think about your pilgrimage of faith and some of the people you have met along the way. You’ve probably heard stories of faithful saints who have died for the cause of Christ. You have probably met hypocritical people. Maybe you have been captured by despair and had to use the key of the promises of God to get free. Maybe you have met an atheist who made you question your faith in the existence of God. Maybe you have met ignorant people who think that God will just let them into Heaven based on their good works. Maybe you have had friends who helped you along the way of your pilgrim’s progress.

I use this word, pilgrim, to define those who are on a journey of faith in a foreign land. We know that the Pilgrims came over to the New World from England to find religious freedom. They were strangers in a strange land and they traveled a long to be able to worship the way they saw fit. We are also strangers in a strange land and Jesus has called us as Christians to be in this world but not be of it. This means that as we make the pilgrimage from “This World” to “That Which Is to Come” we are to live in this world but not live the same way that the world lives. This is where the pursuit of holiness comes in. In our pursuit of holiness we progress from the “milk of the word” which is the basic, elemental teachings of Christianity first learned by new believers, to the “meat of the word” which is the deeper, more complete teachings of God’s Word. We also progress from the old way of talking, doing and thinking to a new way of talking, doing and thinking and Jesus is the model for our pursuit of holiness.

This morning we continue the story of another pilgrim traveling in a strange land. Pastor Stuart has already recounted to us the beginning of the story of Abram and how he was called out from his country, from his people and from his father’s household. Along the way he seemed to resist God’s call for twenty-five years until his father passed away and then he continued on to the land of Canaan where he built altars to the Lord. Last week, Pastor Stuart showed us Abram’s pilgrimage to Egypt because of famine in Canaan. Abram asked Sarah to tell a half-truth so the Egyptians wouldn’t kill him but he didn’t seem to worry about Sarah being taken into Pharaoh’s harem. But God was faithful even though Abram was faithless and delivered Sarah from being defiled. In fact God delivered Abram, his wife and everything he had from Pharoah and from Egypt. This included all the material possessions, cattle, donkeys, male and female servants, and camels, given to Abram while he was there.

In our scripture this morning we are going to see that Abram is making progress in the spiritual journey he is on. We have seen him make some bad choices the past couple of weeks but this week we will see him making good choices not only in the way he deals with his nephew Lot but also in his relationship with God. He is growing spiritually, progressing in his faith and pursuing holiness, and it can be seen in the choices he makes. That brings us to our big idea this morning that our pursuit of holiness is seen in the choices we make. Every day we are confronted with the choice to follow God and his Word or to follow the world, to follow the “straight and narrow path” to the “Celestial City” or to follow the “wide road” of the “City of Destruction.” We will, just like Abram, have our ups and downs, we are going to make good choices and bad choices, but it is important to our spiritual growth that we daily choose to pursue holiness. The pursuit of holiness is vital in our Christian walk as we strive to be transformed into the likeness of Christ.

Before we study our scripture this morning, let’s pray: Lord, we pray for your Holy Spirit to come upon us as we open your Word this morning. Show us the truth of your Word and let it guide us in our daily walk with you. Help us to make the right choices as we strive to be more like your son, Jesus, and pursue holiness daily.

There are three points to the message this morning, Rededication, Resolution and Revelation. The first point is Rededication and is found in chapter 13, verses 1-4. This is what God’s Word says, “So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him. Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold. He went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.

We saw at the end of last week’s sermon that Abram was essentially escorted out of Egypt with everything he had including his wife, cattle, donkeys, male and female servants, and camels. We notice this also includes his nephew Lot. Lot has not been mentioned since Abram left Harran to go to Canaan and he is not mentioned in the episode in Egypt. He is now brought to our attention again because he will play a major role in this episode as Sarai did in the last one. We notice that Abram and his entourage leave Egypt and go up to the Negev which was going back the way he had come to Canaan, to the land promised him by God. We also notice that Abram is a rich man as he has accumulated livestock and silver and gold, some of it probably coming from his time in Egypt. God had been faithful to Abram even when Abram had been faithless and even though Abram made some bad choices in Egypt God still blessed him. We see Abram’s pilgrimage continue as he goes from the Negev to between Bethel and Ai, to a place where he had built an altar before and called on the name of the Lord. The altar was still there, perhaps implying that the promises still stand too. It is interesting that the whole time he was in Egypt we aren’t told that he built an altar or that he called on the name of the Lord.

He seems to be repenting of his faithlessness in Egypt and again worshipping the God who called him out of paganism into the Promised Land. He has progressed spiritually from half-truths and relying on his own strength to again calling on the name of the Lord. He has made a good first choice to return to where he last met with God. This choice shows that he is pursuing holiness and doing what is right. He is rededicating his life to God. We can learn an important lesson here about returning to God and rededicating ourselves to him. Maybe you are at the same point in your life this morning that Abram finds himself in. Maybe you have strayed from God and made some bad choices in your life lately. Maybe you recognize the fact that you have not been pursuing holiness daily or at all in recent times. If so, this first next step may be for you: Rededicate myself to God in making right choices and daily pursuing holiness again. ​​ 

Our second point this morning is Resolution and is found in verses 5-13. This is what God’s Word says, “Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling in the land. So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.” Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar, this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord.”

As Abram pilgrimaged from the Negev to Bethel and Ai, Lot continues to go with him. It may be that Lot was considered to be Abram’s heir and so he traveled and stayed with Abram and Sarai. Lot has prospered probably as a result of being a relative of Abram and part of his entourage in the previous episode in Egypt. Earlier we are told that Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold and here we are told that Lot had flocks and herds and tents. They were both wealthy in livestock but where Abram was wealthier overall with silver and gold, Lot had wealth in “tents” probably meaning servants and possibly other family units.

Next we see that a problem arises because Abram’s and Lot’s possessions were so great. The problem came as a result of the livestock, flocks and herds they had accumulated. It is ironic that the blessings that the Lord bestowed upon Abram and Lot, which came as a result of the bad choices that Abram made in Egypt, has become the source of strife between their herdsmen. They both had accumulated so many possessions that we are told twice that they couldn’t remain together because the land could not support the two of them in the same place. Their herds had become so huge that there wasn’t enough good grazing land for both of them. The strife came as a result of Abram’s and Lot’s herdsmen each looking out for their own employer’s interest. We are also told that the Canaanites and Perizzites were dwelling in the land which alerts us to a couple things. First, this was not Abram’s and Lot’s land to begin with. There were other indigenous peoples already living there and this would have already stretched the grazing land pretty thin as it was. Second, if these peoples saw that the foreigners were not united, they may have taken this opportunity to take by force what Abram and Lot had. Third, the strife between their herdsmen would hurt Abram’s and Lot’s witness. Remember Abram had put up an altar and called upon the name of the Lord in this land. This probably did not go unnoticed to the pagan peoples living there.

Abram may have had his witness in mind as he makes another good choice that shows us he is growing in his character, relying on God and pursuing holiness. Abram refers to himself and Lot as “brothers” appealing to the relationship between kin that should make forgiveness and restoration easier. Abram doesn’t want strife with his “brother” and puts forth a resolution to the problem they find themselves in. He proposes that they separate and he asked Lot to look to the right and to the left and take the first choice of the land. Whatever was leftover Abram would take. Abram was speaking in faith believing that the land was his to give away. This is an interesting choice on Abram’s part. First, if Lot decides to leave it would effectively leave Abram without an heir. Second, Lot could have selected the Promised Land, which would have negated at least some of the Lord’s promise to Abram. Maybe Abram thought that Lot would want to stay with Abram and live together peaceably or maybe Abram thought Lot would turn him down and allow Abram to make the first choice which would have been his right as the elder statesman of the family. Abram’s choice shows a wise, generous, and peace-making heart. Abram is trusting in God, leaving it in his hands knowing that he is in control of all things.

Next we see the choice that Lot makes and it tells us a lot about where his spiritual growth and his pursuit of holiness was at this time. At first glance we may think he made a good choice. He looked at the Jordan Valley and saw that it was well-watered which would have been good for his flocks and herds. This valley reminded him of the Garden of Eden and of Egypt that he had just left. He is probably thinking if he chooses that land he won’t have to worry about famine again. But we soon learn as the first hearers did that the choice Lot makes was not a good one. We can see that Lot reminds us of Eve in that he looked and saw that the land was good just as Eve looked at the forbidden fruit and saw that it was good for food and pleasing to the eye. A lot of times when we make bad choices that get us into trouble it is with our eyes. We live in an age in which the ways of the world are increasingly entering our minds through our eyes. Especially with TV and the Internet, our eyes are flooded with images of things that oppose God and contradict His teachings and purpose for our lives. We must remain ever diligent in guarding our eyes from what the world has to offer.

We also see that the author gives us insight about the land that Lot chose. He chose the land of Sodom and Gomorrah because it looked good on the outside but that would change after it was destroyed by God. Afterwards, it would not be so appealing. God destroyed that land so well that even to this day archaeologists can’t find the remains of Sodom and Gomorrah. Next, to look to the right and to the left was essentially to look north and south but we find out that Lot actually looked east, chose that land for himself and journeyed east toward Sodom. We have seen throughout Genesis that the direction of “east” means going away from the presence of God. Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden eastward. Cain after killing Abel went eastward. And the builders of Babel went east to the plain of Shinar, where they built the Tower of Babel, rebelling against God.

We notice that Lot even pitched his tent near Sodom and later on we will find out that he was actually living in Sodom as one of their own. At the very end of this section we are given a hint why God destroyed Sodom. It says the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord. This reminds us of people before the flood and indicates that they deserve the same fate. Mathews says ‘“Great sinners’ is a uniquely Hebrew phrase meaning “one of a kind” sinners. They are sinners that are a corrupting influence on society whose sins are a violation against humanity and are opponents to God.

Phillips helps us understand Lot’s spiritual condition at this point in his life: He “was weak in his devotions, worldly in his desires, and wrong in his decisions.” Lot may not have known in the beginning what the people of Sodom were like but he should have realized it as he pitched his tent near Sodom and it would have been unmistakable after he moved into the city. We know from later stories that Lot chose to continue to live in Sodom with those evil and wicked people, up until its destruction. What can we learn from Lot and the choices that he made to pitch his tent toward Sodom? Lot chose the physical over the spiritual. He chose the easy and comfortable life. He didn’t make his decision through the eyes of faith and didn’t consider the moral and eternal costs of his decisions. This story should move us to ask ourselves some hard questions this morning. Are we making choices based on what we see, hear, feel, and enjoy? Are we making decisions pressured by our circumstances? Are we choosing the things of this world or the things of God? Are we seeking to be in control of our own lives or submitting our lives to the will of God? Are we willing to submit our speech, our thoughts and our actions to being more like Christ than the world? Our pursuit of holiness is seen in the choices we make. This brings us to our second next step this morning which is to “not ‘pitch my tent’ near Sodom but claim the Promised Land that God freely gives me.”

We then see that Abram lived in the land of Canaan. Interestingly enough, Lot going to Sodom took him outside of the Promised Land meaning that God’s promise of the land to Abram was still intact. ​​ Abram had made the right choices, pursued holy living and now God was going to give him a fuller revelation of his promise to him. Our third point this morning is revelation and is found in verses 14-18. This is what God’s Word says, “The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.”

As soon as Lot makes his choice and separates from Abram, God comes to Abram and reiterates his promise to him again, showing that God approved of Abram’s treatment of Lot. God then rewards Abram’s choices with a fuller revelation of his promise to him. Last week we saw that even when we are faithless God is faithful and this week we see that when we are faithful God is faithful. God then “fleshes” out the promise that he has made to Abram. First, the land is more precisely defined. God is not going to just give his descendants some land, God is going to give his descendants all the land that he can see in every direction. In the Hebrew, we notice that the Lord asks Abram to “please” look to the north, south, east and west. Only four times in the entire OT does God use the word “please” in addressing a human being and in each instance God is asking someone to do something that transcends human comprehension. We see this when God asks Abram to believe that his wife Sarai will have a son at her age, when God asks Abram to sacrifice his only son, when God asks the Israelites to ask their masters in Egypt for gifts of silver, gold and clothing as they were leaving and here.

Also, God not only promises the land to his descendants as before but to Abram as well and that this land will be theirs forever. This reminds us of the promise of the rainbow that God gave Noah. It was for all people and for all time. God also expands the promise of descendants. Abram would not just have an heir and some offspring but his descendants would number the dust of the earth which won’t be able to be counted. Lastly God gives Abram the land and to take possession of it by walking through it. This process would have been the equivalent of measuring the land. In ancient times, taking the measure of something was a sign of ownership. Abraham has neither the land nor the descendants to give it to at this time yet he continues to wait on and trust in the Lord.

Lastly, we see that Abram moved his tent by the oaks of Mamre in Hebron. Hebron would become the patriarch’s center of operations for many years to come. The cave of Machpelah, near Hebron, will be the first piece of real estate purchased by Abram and will be where all the patriarchs are buried. The religious significance of this place is emphasized by the fact that he builds an altar there. This episode began with Abram making the right choice to rededicate himself to the Lord by worshipping at the altar he previously built. It ends the same way as he chooses again to worship the Lord by building an altar in Hebron.

As we conclude this morning I want to talk about two words that truly describe Abram. The first word is “tents.” Abraham was a literal pilgrim as he traveled from Ur to Canaan as a stranger in a strange land. He was also the prototypical spiritual pilgrim in that this earth was not his home. Along the way he learned obedience and patience and had extraordinary experiences with the one true God. He trusted in God and went where God told him to go and did what God told him to do. He may have had a lot of questions along the way but he didn’t seem to ask them and God didn’t answer them. God promised; Abram believed. God commanded; Abram obeyed.

The second word is altar. It’s not the stones that matter but the intent of the heart. An altar is a sacred place where we meet with God. But it’s not just another place where we meet with another person who is our equal. It is where we meet with the omnipotent, eternal and Most High God. It is a place where we must approach God with total respect and honor because there is no one like our God. We don’t worship Him because he needs it but because we are moved by who he is and what he has done for us. The altar is also a place of sacrifice. In 2 Samuel 24:24, King David says, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” We must sacrifice all that we have and all we have is ourselves, our hearts. We must submit all of ourselves to him and to his service. The fire doesn’t fall on an empty altar. The fire falls on a sacrificial life offered to God. The altar is also a place of revelation. God revealed Himself to the patriarchs and prophets and established covenants there when they sought Him. If we want God to do the supernatural and reveal himself to us we need to have regular meetings with God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” The altar is lastly a place of fellowship and intercession. Abram built altars to call on the name of the Lord, to fellowship with God, and to pray. Abraham had such a close relationship with God that he was called “the Friend of God” by God Himself. If we want God to call us his “friend” we need to set aside a place and time to meet with him every day, not a hurried 5 minutes to check off our “to-do” list, but a sweet, unhurried, time to wait on God & bask in His glory.

That brings us to the last two next steps this morning. The first is to “live as a spiritual pilgrim in this world trusting and obeying God along the way” and the second is to “build altars to the Lord and meet with him and sacrifice myself daily to him.”

As Gene and Roxey come to lead us in our final hymn, let’s pray: Heavenly Father, I pray that we would take this opportunity to rededicate ourselves to you. Help us to purpose in our hearts to make right choices and pursue holiness daily. Help us to pitch our tents in the Promised Land and not in Sodom. Help us to live as pilgrims in this world trusting and obeying you and help us to build an altar where we can regularly meet with you and be willing to sacrifice all of ourselves to you daily. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Tests After Triumphs

(Genesis 12:10-20)



Text messages from Pastor X to Jennie Allen concerning Afghanistan.


“Jennie, as you know we reach and raise up locals that carry the work in the countries we serve.


Things drastically shifted for our teams in Afghanistan overnight.


Believers are scattered and literally running for the hills. ​​ Hiding in the mountains and caves with just the clothes on their back. ​​ Winter will be approaching and we are working on getting aid and relief to these teams ASAP.


Taliban is taking girls 15 years and younger from their families and raping then trafficking them. ​​ Also killing husbands with young wives and doing the same. ​​ Taliban has a ‘list’ of Christians and churches. ​​ Believers are being hunted.


Most of our leaders there are indigenous so they are Afghan. ​​ Which means they can’t leave unless they flee as refugees but unfortunately the surrounding countries are closing the borders.”




The Afghan Christians’ faith is being tested like never before. ​​ There is real fear of death for young husbands and fear of being violated by young wives and girls.


  • ME

    • Doubts and fears

        • You’ve been learning a lot over the past several weeks about our faith journey in to full-time pastoral ministry

        • You’ve heard that we moved a lot during our 30 years of marriage

        • I’ve shared that we had to take steps of faith during some of those moves

        • Obviously we had fears and doubts and our faith was weak sometimes

        • Our dog, socks

          • When we were getting ready to move from OH to MO, we had to decide what to do with our dog, Socks

          • We were certain that we were going to have to rent either an apartment or house when we got to MO and we didn’t want to have to figure that out with a dog

          • We were trying to find a new home for him, because we didn’t want to take him to the pound

          • During the time that we were trying to figure this all out, Socks didn’t listen to Judy’s verbal command to stop and he was hit by a minivan and killed

          • While this was not the hoped for outcome for our dog, the decision about what to do with him had been made

          • That obstacle to our move had been removed

        • When I look back on that situation now, I can see that our faith was weak

    • God’s plan

        • When we got to MO, we realized that there were very few apartment complexes where we were going to live and there weren’t many houses for rent

        • We were able to buy a home

        • We could have kept Socks, since we purchased our own home, but we didn’t realize that at the time

        • Had we trusted God by faith, things may have been different

        • Ultimately, God is in control and will accomplish His plan, even if that plan may bring us or others heartache


  • WE

    • Every one of us can probably recall a time when we knew that God was faithful to us, through a difficult time

    • Our faith may have wavered during that time, because we couldn’t see how God was going to pull us through – how God was going to provide

    • We’re not alone in our doubts, fears, and weakened faith


Abram was about the face some difficult situations in his life. ​​ Would he trust God by faith to take care of him and his family or would he try to work it out in his own strength? ​​ Abram was going to learn a very important lesson about God’s faithfulness. ​​ It’s a lesson we have to learn as well. ​​ That lesson is . . .


BIG IDEA – ​​ When we’re faithless, God is faithful.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 12:10-20)

    • Deception (vv. 10-13)

        • Famine

          • There was a famine in Canaan while Abram was traveling through the land

            • We’re told that is was severe

              • It was a heavy, grievous, burdensome famine

              • It wasn’t a minor famine that would pass quickly

            • It would not have been uncommon for famines to hit Canaan, because the climate depended on rainfall to sustain any kind of productivity [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 395]

            • Egypt was different, because it depended on the Nile River to sustain its productivity, and the Nile River flooded every year [Walton, 395]

          • Abram decides that he will travel down to Egypt to live there for a while since the famine was so heavy

        • Sister-wife

          • Fear

            • When I first read the update from Afghanistan about how the Taliban is killing husbands with young wives, it made me think of what Abram was feeling and experiencing

            • He knew how beautiful Sarai was and he told her

              • Guys, make sure to tell your wives how beautiful they are – trust me they will be encouraged to hear it

              • Sarai was 65 years old at this point, which would have been midlife for her since she lived to be 127 years’ old

              • In our culture we think about 65 year olds (men and women) as being grandparents and retirement age

              • The old adage, “beauty is more than skin deep,” probably applies here

              • There were other aspects, including her physical beauty, that would have been attractive, such as her dignity, bearing, countenance, the way she carried herself, etc. [Walton, 397]

              • One commentary states, “The phrase used here is also used to describe a fine specimen of cow (Gen. 41:2).” ​​ [Walton, 397]

                • I know that livestock were an indicator of wealth in the Ancient Near East

                • I’m not sure if comparing a beautiful woman to a fine cow was a compliment during that time or not

                • I’m warning husbands today that comparing your wife to a fine cow is not considered a compliment in our day and age

              • Abram is fearing for his life – he’s afraid that as Sarai’s husband he will be killed and she will be taken as some Egyptian’s wife

            • “Abraham’s fear demonstrates a lack of trust in God’s recent promises.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 213]

            • Has Abram forgotten the Lord’s promises?

              • The Lord promised to make him into a great nation

              • The Lord promised to make his name great

              • The Lord promised to treat others the same way they treated Abram

            • Fear can cause us to not think clearly

          • Self-preservation

            • Abram was only thinking about himself at this point

            • Tell them you are my sister, so that . . .

              • They will treat me well

              • My life will be spared

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Human wisdom is flawed.

              • Human wisdom

                • Proverbs 14:12, There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

                • Proverbs 21:2, All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.

                • Read Proverbs 16:2-25

              • God’s wisdom

                • Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. ​​ “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

                • James 1:5-8, If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. ​​ But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. ​​ That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

              • Application

                • If we’re truly honest with ourselves, we would admit that we often try to use our own wisdom and strength to resolve the difficulties we’re facing

                • Calling on the Lord seems to be our final step instead of our first step

                • Most of the time it’s true that with age and life circumstances come wisdom

                • The older we get, the more we turn to the Lord first instead of last

                • The Lord’s wisdom is far greater than ours

                • He is all-knowing and all-powerful, so He knows what’s best for us

                • When we seek His face and His wisdom, He promises to guide our steps

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Seek the Lord’s wisdom first in every difficulty I face.

                  • Perhaps you’re in the middle of a difficult situation right now and you haven’t sought the Lord’s wisdom yet

                  • It’s not too late, do it right now!

            • Abram’s wisdom was flawed – he was only thinking about himself

          • He was allowing fear to guide him, instead of faith

        • Focusing only on himself, meant that he was not thinking about Sarai and how his human wisdom and plan would affect her

        • That’s where the complication comes in

    • Complication (vv. 14-16)

        • Pharaoh’s wife

          • Abram knew how blessed he was to have Sarai as his wife

          • What he didn’t count on was who would be taken with Sarai’s beauty

          • The Egyptians saw how beautiful she was and the officials praised her when they told Pharaoh

          • Pharaoh obviously agreed with their assessment and took her into his palace, meaning she became part of his harem – she was another one of his wives

            • Powerful leaders in the Ancient Near East, like Pharaoh, would have had multiple wives as a status symbol [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 219-20]

            • “Rulers did not see marriage as a means of fulfilling their lust for woman (though that may occasionally be the case), but often as a means of fulfilling their lust for power. ​​ Their harems were filled with those whom they had married to cement political alliances.” ​​ [Walton, 397]

            • Marriage between ruling families of various nations was a common practice, to solidify peace and treaties

          • A bride price was always paid to the father or in this case, “brother”

        • Pharaoh’s price

          • Pharaoh treated Abram well as the “brother/guardian” of Sarai

          • “Wealth in the ancient Middle East was not measured in gold but in animals, slaves, and land.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 122]

          • Abram received animals and slaves

            • He received flocks (sheep and goats), herds (oxen, bulls, and cows), donkeys (both male and female), and camels [Goldingay, 220]

              • Male donkeys were used to carry things

              • Female donkeys were used to carry people

              • Camels were used to carry both things and people

              • Camels were also a sign of wealth, because they were rare during this time

            • He received servants

              • Both male and female

              • Keep this in mind as we continue the narrative on Abram, especially as it pertains to Hagar and Ishmael

          • Even though Abram doesn’t plan for the complication of Sarai becoming a part of Pharaoh’s harem, he benefits greatly from this half-truth about her

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is faithful even when we’re faithless.

          • Abram wasn’t trusting the Lord to provide for him in Canaan and to protect him in Egypt

            • Yet, God still blessed Abram in spite of his faithlessness

            • God kept His promise to Abram to bless him

            • This narrative is more about God’s faithfulness than Abram’s failures

            • It highlights God’s attribute of faithfulness

          • It’s so reassuring to know that God’s faithfulness to us is not based on our faithfulness to him

            • He is still faithful when we fail Him, when we doubt Him, when we allow fear to control our thoughts and actions

            • He still blesses us in spite of our failures

            • This is something we can and should worship and praise the Lord for

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Thank the Lord for His faithfulness and blessing even when I fail Him.

            • We should never neglect to confess to the Lord that we have failed Him and allowed our doubts and fears to control our thoughts and actions

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess to the Lord my failures, doubts, and fears.

        • While Abram’s faithlessness created a complication, God was in control and had a resolution ready

    • Resolution (vv. 17-20)

        • God’s protection (v. 17)

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is in control!

            • Even when Abram was driven by survival to make decisions on his own (going to Egypt and telling a half-truth), God’s plan for he and Sarai would not be thwarted

            • God would keep His promise of providing a great nation through Abram and Sarai, not Pharaoh and Sarai

            • The Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household

              • We’re not told what the serious diseases were

              • “‘Diseases’ translates the Hebrew for ‘plagues,’ which is the same word describing the ten plagues against Pharaoh (Exod 11:1). ​​ The term refers to skin disease in Mosaic legislation (Lev 13), and the verbal form describes the leprous judgement by the Lord against Uzziah (2 Kings 15:5).” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 129]

              • Perhaps the diseases were sexual in nature, which enabled Sarai to be preserved from dishonor and for God’s plan to remain intact

            • Application

              • God is in control of your circumstances

              • Even if you have been driven by survival to make decisions on your own, God’s plan for you cannot be thwarted

              • He has a resolution ready

              • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize that God is in control and trust Him to accomplish His plan for my life.

          • God protected Abram and Sarai even in their failures

          • “Abram’s sin brought God’s judgment on Pharaoh’s house. ​​ But in a true demonstration of biblical grace, God overcame Abram’s sin, forgave his lie, and sent him back to the land.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 122]

        • Pharaoh’s rebuke (vv. 18-20)

          • Abram’s fear caused him to doubt and question the ethics of the Egyptian people

          • He thought he knew and understood their ethics, but in reality he was not aware of their ethic of absolute truthfulness

          • He learned two pivotal spiritual lessons – truth and trust

            • He learned that he could trust the Lord to take care of him, no matter what

            • He also learned that truthfulness is important, but, as we’ll see later, he struggled with truthfulness one other time in the future

          • When Pharaoh learned the cause of the serious diseases that he and his household were experiencing, he confronted Abram

            • We’re not told how Pharaoh found out

            • Perhaps the Lord spoke to him

            • Maybe Sarai came clean and explained that she and Abram were actually husband and wife

            • However it happened, he immediately summoned Abram

          • Two questions

            • What have you done to me?

            • Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? ​​ Why did you say, “She is my sister,” so that I took her to be my wife?

          • Here’s your wife, leave, and take your stuff with you!

            • Pharaoh restores Sarai to Abram

            • He then tells Abram to take her and go

            • Pharaoh didn’t take any chances that Abram would remain in Egypt

            • Instead he instructed his men to make sure that Abram left the country (Abram’s own personal escort)

            • Notice that Pharaoh did not demand that Abram return the flocks, herds, donkeys, camels, and servants

              • God was blessing Abram even through his failures

              • When we’re faithless, God is faithful.

        • We can trust that God has a resolution to our problem and that He will protect us and provide for us

  • YOU

    • Seek the Lord’s wisdom first when confronted with any difficulty.

    • Thank the Lord for His faithfulness even when I fail Him.

    • Confess to the Lord my failures, doubts, and fears.

    • Recognize that God is in control and trust Him to accomplish His plan for my life.


  • WE

    • We need to encourage one another to seek the Lord’s wisdom, to express our gratitude for His faithfulness, to confess our failures, and to trust God to sovereignly control our lives.



The Count of Monte Cristo tells the story of Dantes (James Caviezel) who is unjustly accused and sentenced to life in France's most dreaded prison. After 13 years he escapes, becomes wealthy, and then seeks revenge on those who ruined his life. Throughout the movie Dantes struggles deeply with his belief in God, moving from a simple faith to a loss of faith, and finally to a mature faith.


During his years in prison, Dantes' makes friends with a wonderful priest, whose godly influence has a huge impact on Dantes' spiritual understanding. Together they dig a tunnel to escape, but just before it's completed, a cave-in injures the priest. As he lies dying on the stone floor of his cell, the priest gives Dantes a treasure map that he'd hidden all his years in prison, which ends up making Dantes wealthy. But it's the priest's final words that stick with Dantes forever.


‘When they asked me about the treasure of Sparta, I lied,’ the priest confesses.


‘You lied?’ Dantes asks.


‘I'm a priest, not a saint.’ [Then he tells Dantes how to use the map to find the treasure.]


‘When you escape,’ the priest continues, ‘use the treasure for good. Only for good.’


‘No,’ Dantes says angrily. ‘I will surely use it for my revenge.’


‘This is your final lesson. Do not commit the crime—[the priest struggles for a breath] Do not commit the crime for which you now serve the sentence. God said, ‘Vengeance is mine.’’


Dantes says, ‘But I don't believe in God.’


‘It doesn't matter,’ the priest responds with a smile. ‘He believes in you.’


Moments later the priest dies, and Dantes escapes. Not only do the priest's words help Dantes discover the treasure—by the end of the movie they help Dantes rediscover the God who is faithful even when we are faithless. God believes in the worth of fallen humanity. As Romans 8:31 says, ‘God is for us.’”


Content: Rated PG-13 for some violence and sensuality


Elapsed time: 00:52:56 to 00:54:07 (DVD scene 13)


Source: The Count of Monte Cristo (Touchstone Pictures, 2002); story by Alexandre Dumas, screenplay by Jay Wolpert, directed by Kevin Reynolds






Faithful Follower

(Genesis 12:1-9)



“In his 1999 novel, Testament, John Grisham tells the story of a billionaire’s inheritance that is left to an illegitimate daughter, Rachel Lane, whom he has never really known. ​​ When the law firm tries to find her, they discover that she has become a missionary in the remote jungle villages of Brazil. ​​ Rachel has left everything in pursuit of her missionary commitment. ​​ One of the suspense lines running through the novel is the question of how firmly her resolve will hold when matchless wealth seeks to draw her back. ​​ Her calm resistance leaves the lawyer, Nate O’Riley, baffled. ​​ He cannot imagine someone being that unaffected when so much wealth is within her grasp.


This positive picture of a faith resolve finds its polar opposite in the 1998 novel, The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. ​​ Nathan Price is an evangelical Baptist missionary to the Belgian Congo, with his wife and four daughters. ​​ Seen through the eyes of the women, Price is a jumble of contradictions. ​​ He has pursued his ‘call’ without the endorsement of the mission board of his denomination and without raising any financial or spiritual support. ​​ This is his idea of faith. ​​ His ‘faith resolve’ is so colored by selfishness, personal foibles, theological shallowness, and cultural superiority and imperialism that he has lost any right to claim God’s leading and has left his family and all those around him confused about his motives. ​​ As Nathan Price illustrates, leaving all to serve God can easily be a self-serving delusion. ​​ When it is not, as Rachel Lane illustrates, that which is left behind has a way of catching up to us and pressing its claims anew.”


[Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 405]



  • ME

    • Sacrifices

        • I mentioned last week that Judy and I moved around a lot throughout our 30 years of marriage

        • Some of those moves required that we sacrifice living around family (FL, MO, & CA)

        • It even required that we sacrifice what was familiar and secure

    • Steps of faith

        • Some of those moves required steps of faith on our part

        • The greatest step of faith that we took was being obedient to God’s calling on my life to be a Pastor

        • I had resisted that call for 13 years before telling the Lord that I would pursue pastoring

        • The blessings that have resulted have been far beyond what I could have imagined

        • There are times when I wish I would have been obedient sooner, but the life lessons I learned have been invaluable as I pastor


  • WE

    • Every one of us can probably share stories of what we have had to sacrifice in order to be obedient to the Lord

    • Take time to think about the things that were sacrificed and how the Lord blessed as a result of being obedient


I really connect with Genesis 12:1-9, because it is very close to what I’ve experienced in my own life. ​​ Abram had to make some sacrifices, but God promised him some pretty incredible blessings. ​​ The author of Genesis wants us to understand from this passage that . . .


BIG IDEA – ​​ Embracing the claims of God requires leaving some things behind.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 12:1-9)

    • Call (v. 1a)

        • When did the Lord call Abram?

          • If we follow what was just said in Genesis 11:27-32, it would seem like the Lord called Abram after Terah’s death in Haran

          • Looking at the original Hebrew the past perfect tense is used for “had said” [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 204]

          • So, this leads us to believe that it happened at an earlier time, but when?

          • Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin, found in the book of Acts is extremely helpful here

          • Acts 7:2-4, To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! ​​ The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. ​​ ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’ ​​ “So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. ​​ After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living.”

          • So, we see that Abraham was still in Ur of the Chaldeans when the Lord called him

          • Abram would have been 50 years old when he received this call from the Lord

          • We see in verse 4 that Abraham was 75 years old when he was finally able to leave and complete the calling on his life

        • The Lord commanded Abram to do two things, but He also gave Abram a three-fold promise with the commands

    • Covenant (vv. 1b-3)

        • Two commands (v. 1b)

          • Leave

            • Abram was commanded to leave three specific things, which encompassed who he was – from the broad to narrow/specific

              • His country

                • He was to leave his country, Ur of the Chaldeans

                • This was no simple task

                • “Babylonian civilization at a time when it was at one of its peaks of cultural and political splendor. . . . Abraham came out of an area which for a long period of time—for four, five, or six hundred years—had had a high level of civilization with writing, with fine cities, with highly developed arts, beautiful gems and carvings and very well-established law codes and legal systems; all of these things were his, plus a highly developed religious system (LaSor, 16-17).” [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 119]

                • This helps us understand that Abram was making an incredible sacrifice in order to follow the Lord’s command

                • He was giving up everything that he knew

              • His people

                • This was his kinsmen

                • People he grew up with

                • For us it would represent extended family, friends, and coworkers

                • Many people are born, raised, and live their entire lives in the same area

                • If that’s you, then you understand the significance of what the Lord was asking Abram to leave, to sacrifice

              • His father’s household

                • This was his closest family unit, which included his parents, siblings, and their families

                • Perhaps this would be the most difficult separation of all

                • How many of us would be willing to leave the familiarity of our “land,” friend-base, and family to be obedient to God’s calling?

              • Embracing the claims of God requires leaving some things behind.

                • “He [Abram] must decide whether to abandon his land in favor of the land Yahweh offers. ​​ He must decide whether to abandon what family he still has in favor of the family Yahweh promises (against all logic, given Sarai’s infertility). ​​ He must decide whether to set aside his blessing, his inheritance, for the inheritance Yahweh describes. ​​ The initiative offers much, but its cost is significant. ​​ Abram must trust Yahweh to deliver what he has offered in order to give up so much that Abram already has to gain.” ​​ [Walton, 392]

                • We’ll see Abram’s choice when we get to verse 4

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – To become disciples we must be willing to leave anything we are asked to leave.

              • Each person/family may be asked to leave different things, because we’re all individuals, we’re all different, we don’t all value the same things

              • Too often we can become complacent where we are and ineffective as God’s ambassadors of the Gospel

                • The Lord may require us to leave our “creature comforts” in order to bring us to a place where we can be effective again, where He can use us for His glory

                • Matthew 10:37-39, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. ​​ Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

                  • I’m reminded of a missionary who struggled with the reality that the place God was calling he and his family to serve, was hostile towards Christians and there was real danger that his family could be persecuted and harmed. ​​ This father had to spend time alone with God in the woods surrendering his children to the Lord. ​​ He had to be willing to sacrifice his own family in order to be a disciple of Jesus.

                • Mark 10:29-30, “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – and with them persecutions) and in the age to come eternal life.”

                  • This is what my parents did 34 years ago when they left everything they knew in PA and moved to AL to begin church planting (both of my parents were born and raised in south central PA and most of their siblings and their families live here)

                  • Judy and I have experienced the same thing and I’m certain that we were willing to follow the Lord’s leading because of the example of my parents

                • Jim Elliot wrote in his journal, these words: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

              • Application

                • What has God called you to?

                • Have you been obedient to that calling, or are you still waiting?

                  • Abram waited 25 years

                  • I waited 13 years

                  • “‘Lord, why aren’t You directing me?’ we cry. ​​ ‘I already did,’ He answers. ​​ ‘Twenty-five years ago, I told you what to do. ​​ And I won’t give you more to do until you do what I’ve already told you.’” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: Genesis-Job, 59]

                  • It’s never too late to be obedient

                  • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Be obedient to the call God has placed on my life and not wait any longer.

                  • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Be willing to leave anything that God is asking me to leave in order to be obedient to His calling.

            • God’s first command to Abram was to leave and His second command was to go

          • Go

            • It had been 25 years since God called Abram to leave Ur, but he hadn’t completed the journey yet, because he’d gotten sidetracked in Haran

            • God had told Abram, while he was in Ur, to go to the land He would show him

            • Abram hadn’t forgotten this command

              • Perhaps he was honoring his father by remaining in Haran until he died

              • The patriarchal system in the Ancient Near East was very strong

            • We’re not told if Abram is given any specifics about where to go while he was living in Ur

              • My guess is that the Lord told him to head west

              • The Lord would have had to give him some kind of direction, even if He didn’t give him the specific name of the region or land

              • That information is shared in verse 5

          • The Lord was not asking Abram to give up anything He was not going to replace in the future [Walton, 399]

          • As we’ll see in verses 2-3, God promises to take Abram to a new land, provide a family that will become a great nation, and provide care, protection, and an inheritance for him

        • Three-fold promise and blessing (vv. 2-3)

          • I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you

            • Promise

              • “A nation is generally characterized as a political unit with common land, language, and government.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 112]

              • The promise then, is to provide a land that Abram will be able to call his country, since he was asked to leave his country

              • The promise also includes replacing his people – Abram’s offspring will become a great nation

            • Blessing

              • The Lord tells Abram that He will bless him

              • What will the blessing look like – what will it encompass?

              • Mathews tells us that it includes two things: descendants and material possessions [Mathews, 113]

              • In a broad sense, Abram will be cared for and protected by the Lord [Walton, 399]

              • Since, the Lord had already promised Abram numerous offspring (great nation), it is probable that the blessing mentioned here is material wealth

              • “Wealth was measured by numerous and robust livestock, precious metals, such as gold and silver, and human labor, slave and alien.” ​​ [Mathews 113]

              • This holds true when we see what Abram takes with him when he leaves Haran (that’s coming in verse 5)

              • Keil & Delitzsch include spiritual prosperity in this blessing also [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 123], which will be evident throughout the rest of the Abrahamic narrative in Genesis

            • The Lord not only promises Abram land and family, but also a great name

          • I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing

            • Promise

              • The Lord was promising to elevate Abram to a position of honor and glory [Keil & Delitzsch, 123]

              • He was also promising to show the nations the incredible character that Abram had [Waltke, 205]

              • As a result of Abram’s character and faith, he would be a blessing to others – he would have great influence for many generations

              • Just think about how he is referenced throughout the rest of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments – the God of Abraham – that phrase is repeated continually

            • Blessing

              • This second blessing means that Abram would protect and care for those connected to him, who were in good standing with him

              • God didn’t bless Abram so he would hold on to that blessing for himself

              • God blessed Abram so he could be a blessing bearer that would bless others

            • There is one final part to the Lord’s three-fold promise and blessing

          • I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you

            • Promise

              • How individuals treated Abram would be how the Lord would treat them

              • If they blessed Abram, the Lord would bless them

              • If they cursed Abram, the Lord would curse them

              • I wonder if this promise is not upheld by the Lord today as it pertains to Israel as a nation

            • Blessing

              • Abram and his descendants would be a conduit through which the Lord would bless all the people of the earth

              • We have experienced this blessing, because Jesus came through the line of Abraham and as followers of Jesus Christ we have received a blessing from Abraham and his faith

              • God is revealed through Abram’s family (Law, Prophets, Scriptures, Jesus) [Walton, 402]

          • Application

            • How has the Lord blessed you with family and material wealth?

              • Take a moment to think about the blessings the Lord has given you (family and possessions)

              • When is the last time you’ve thanked Him for those blessings?

              • Prayer Prompt: “Lord, thank You for blessing me with . . .”

            • Have you used the Lord’s blessing in your life to be a blessing to others?

              • Who have you protected and cared for as a result of being blessed by the Lord?

              • When is the last time you’ve protected or cared for someone?

              • Prayer Prompt: “Father, please forgive me for not using Your blessing to protect and care for . . .”

            • Are you grateful for the blessing of salvation through Jesus Christ as a result of Abraham’s faithfulness?

              • Have you thanked the Lord for that blessing?

              • Prayer Prompt: “Savior, thank You for saving me from . . .”

              • Have you shared that blessing with others?

              • Prayer Prompt: “God, help me to share the blessing of Your salvation with . . .”

        • We’ve looked at Abram’s call and the covenant that the Lord promised him, but what was his response?

    • Commitment (vv. 4-9)

        • Abram’s travelers and treasures (vv. 4-5)

          • Abram’s obedience

            • He left, as the Lord told him

            • [show map, Haran to Canaan]

            • Abram obeyed when he did not know: [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 68]

              • WhereBy faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8)

              • HowBy faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. ​​ And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. (Hebrews 11:11-12)

              • When – Hebrews 11:13-16

              • Why – Hebrews 11:17-19

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – Obey God even when I don’t understand why He asks what He does

            • Faith

              • What incredible faith Abram had, as he left Haran

              • “Faith is not believing in spite of evidence; it is obeying in spite of consequence.” ​​ [G.A. Studdert Kennedy cited by Wiersbe, 71]

              • What step of faith do you need to take in order to be obedient to God’s calling in your life?

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Take the step of faith, to be obedient to God’s calling on my life, in spite of the consequences.

            • There were others who followed Abram in his step of faith

          • Travelers

            • His wife, Sarai

            • His nephew Lot and probably his family

            • The people he and Lot had acquired in Haran (slaves and aliens)

          • Treasures

            • All the possessions they had accumulated

            • This would probably had included livestock and precious metals (gold and silver)

          • We’re told that they arrived in Canaan (that was the name of the land that God had promised to give to Abram)

        • Abram’s trek (vv. 6-9)

          • We see that Abram is traveling throughout the land

            • He doesn’t set up permanent dwellings at this point, because the Canaanites were still living there

            • He does stop at two locations for a period of time

          • Locations

            • [show map of Canaan]

            • Shechem (shek-em’)

              • He visits the great tree of Moreh in Shechem

              • It would have been a place where teachers would have taught their students

              • It was a familiar and recognizable place

              • It may have also been used for idol worship

            • Hills between Bethel (bayth-ale’) and Ai (ah-ee’/eye/a-yah’)

          • Loyalty

            • Do you remember what the astronauts did when they landed on the moon? ​​ (they placed an American Flag there – they marked the moon)

            • Abram was leaving the mark of the Lord on the land promised to him

              • While staying at Shechem, he was visited by the Lord

                • If you remember in verse 1, the Lord spoke to Abram while he was in Ur

                • Now He appears to Abram in Canaan and reaffirms his covenant with him concerning the land (Abram’s offspring will live there)

                • Abram builds an altar at Shechem to remember his encounter with and covenant reminder from the Lord

              • While staying in the hills between Bethel and Ai, Abram again builds an altar and calls on the name of the Lord

            • Abram is expressing his loyalty and commitment to the Lord who has called him and made a covenant with him

          • Finally, we see Abram leaving the hill country and heading toward the Negev (neh’-gheb/neh’-ghev)

        • Abram arrived in the land that the Lord had promised him, over 25 years ago, but he doesn’t remain in the land, but that narrative is for next week


  • YOU

    • Are you ready to be obedient to the call God has placed on your life?

    • Are you ready to leave anything that God calls you to leave in order to be obedient?

    • Are you ready to take the step of faith to be obedient to God’s call on your life?


  • WE

    • As a body of believers, we can support one another, through prayer, wisdom, and giving, as individuals obediently follow God’s calling for their lives.


“The movie Pearl Harbor tells of the events leading up to and immediately following the Japanese attack on the U.S. on December 7, 1941. The film follows the fictional lives of two fighter pilots, Raph and Danny, who have been inseparable friends since childhood and are stationed at the same base in Hawaii.


Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Raph (Ben Affleck) and Danny (Josh Hartnett) are called into Colonel Jimmy Doolittle's office. They have succeeded in downing seven Japanese planes.


Doolittle (Alec Baldwin) stands behind his desk and addresses the cocky pilots somberly.


‘You've both been awarded the silver star. You're just about the only pilots with combat experience. I need you for a mission I've been ordered to put together.’


Raph and Danny look nervously pleased. Doolittle looks them over carefully.


‘Do you know what 'top secret' is?’ he asks.


Raph responds with a wry smile. ‘Yes, sir! It's the kind of mission when you get medals, but they send them to your relatives.’


Ignoring the remark, Doolittle continues, ‘Top secret means you train for something never done before in aviation history—and you go without knowing where you're going. You do it on that basis or not at all.’


Honored to be asked, yet unsure of what they are committing to, both men agree to go.


In many ways, God recruits us to follow him in the same way that Doolittle recruited these pilots for this mission. God trains us in ways unique to us to fulfill unique purposes, and we know little or nothing about where we are going. We go on that basis, or we don't go at all.”

[The mission, called Doolittle's Raid, was to attack Japan by air. It was successful and affected the course of the war. In the movie, the two pilots live through the attack, but both are forced to crash-land their planes in China. At this point, Danny is ambushed and killed by Japanese soldiers who have invaded that part of China. Raph survives.]


Elapsed time: Measured from the beginning of the opening credit, this scene begins at 2:19:35 and last approximately 45 seconds.


Content: Pearl Harbor is rated PG-13 for profanity, violence, and sexuality.


Source: Pearl Harbor (Touchstone, 2001), rated PG-13, written by Randall Wallace, directed by Michael Bay.






On The Move

(Genesis 11:27-32)



“If miracles are impossible, then the resurrection of Jesus could not have occurred, and we must look for some natural explanation of the events. But if miracles are at least possible, then we can be open to following the evidence without bias.


In other words, whenever we hear of an event that seems contrary to the laws of nature, we naturally raise our guard. But we also shouldn't prejudge the evidence by ruling out the possibility of miracles just because they don't fit our categories. It’s unscientific to decide the outcome of an investigation before examining the facts.


Consider the following true story. Near the end of the eighteenth century the Western world first encountered the duck-billed platypus. The platypus, which is indigenous to Australia, has fur over its entire body, is the size of a rabbit, and has webbed feet. Yet since it lays eggs, it reproduces like a reptile! When the skin of a platypus was first brought to Europe, it was greeted with complete amazement. Was it a mammal or a reptile? The platypus seemed so bizarre that—despite the physical evidence of the skin and the testimony of the witnesses—many Londoners dismissed it as a sham.


Not until a pregnant platypus was shot and brought to London for observers to see with their own eyes did people begin to believe. Until this happened, some of the greatest thinkers refused to accept the existence of the platypus. The initial problem was that it did not fit some people's view of how the world operated. So they rejected it and then reached a verdict even though the weight of the evidence said otherwise.”


Adapted from Josh and Sean McDowell, The Resurrection and You, (Baker Books, 2017) pgs. 24-25.





  • ME

    • Moving around

        • Most of you know that Judy and I met in college, married after our Junior year, and move to south Florida after we graduated

        • After living in FL for 3 years, we moved back to OH to the town where Judy grew up and live there for 6 years

        • We then moved to MO and lived there for 4 years before moving to southern CA where we spent about 3 years

        • We moved to PA from CA have lived here for almost 12 years

        • You could say that we were on the move, but we’re so grateful to have settled down here

    • Deep friendships

        • With moving around so much, it would seem like it would be impossible to establish any lasting relationships

        • Through God’s grace, we were able to establish some pretty incredible relationships that have stood the test of time

        • While we may not talk with those individuals on a regular basis, when we do talk with them or get together, it’s like we have never been apart

        • That’s the incredible grace of God at work

        • His grace is able to accomplish what seems humanly impossible


  • WE

    • How have we all experienced the incredible grace of God doing the impossible?

    • Perhaps it has been through relationships or the physical world. ​​ Maybe it has been spiritual or emotional


In Genesis 11:27-32 we see the introduction to a long section that will highlight the origins or account of Abraham. ​​ We’ll see that Abraham’s family, including his father and brothers, were on the move. ​​ We’ll also see that what seemed humanly impossible, God was able to accomplish through His grace. ​​ My prayer is that when you all leave here today you will understand that . . .


BIG IDEA – ​​ God’s grace accomplishes what seems humanly impossible.


Let’s pray

  • GOD (Genesis 11:27-32)

    • Toledot (v. 27a)

        • As I mentioned last week, this toledot (the history of/the generations of/the account of/the origins of . . .) is the sixth of ten found in Genesis

        • This account of Abraham will continue through Genesis 25:11

        • What we see is the account of Abraham’s father, Terah (teh’-rakh/teh’-rack)

    • Genealogy (vv. 27b, 29-30)

        • Terah’s sons

          • We were already introduced to Terah’s sons in v. 26

          • They are mentioned again here, (ab-rawm’/ab-raw-hawm’), Nahor (naw-khore’), and Haran (haw-rawn’)

        • Haran’s children

          • Haran is the father of Lot (lote)

          • He is also the father of Milcah (mil-kaw’) and Iscah (yis-kaw’) as we see in the second half of verse 29

          • Milcah’s name means “queen”

          • Iscah’s name means “one who looks forth or looks out”

        • Abram and Nahor both married

          • Endogamy

            • We need to address one thing before we talk about Abram and Nahor’s wives

            • Endogamy is “marriage within a family group” [Mathews, The New American Commentary Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 101]

            • Waltke points out that there were no laws against this kind incest in patriarchal times [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 200]

            • This is important as we look at who the wives of Abram and Nahor are

          • Abram’s wife

            • Abram married Sarai (saw-rah’-ee/saw-rye’) which means “princess”

            • Her father was Terah, Abram’s father, but her mother was not the same woman as Abram’s mother

            • Genesis 20:11-13, Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ ​​ Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. ​​ And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: ​​ Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”

            • One other thing we learn about Abram’s wife Sarai is that she is barren

              • We’ve talked all along, through the various genealogies, that God is fulfilling His plan of redemption by choosing certain men and their lines to accomplish His purpose of sending a Savior

              • Yet, here we read that Sarai, the wife of God’s chosen man, is barren

              • How will God’s plan, of sending a Savior, be fulfilled through a couple who can’t have children?

              • God’s grace accomplishes what seems humanly impossible!

                • We’re obviously getting ahead of the narrative

                • Because we have the Bible, we know that eventually Abraham and Sarah are able to conceive and have Isaac, through whom the chosen line will continue

                • Two examples

                  • A young couple that attended church at Prince Street while my father was the pastor and a couple that Judy and I went to college with, experienced the same scenario

                  • Both couples tried for many years to conceive a child, but were unsuccessful

                  • After wrestling with their grief and disappoint, and leaving it all in the Lord’s hands, both couples embraced adoption and invited a child into their lives

                  • It was a short time after the adoption that both couples conceived and were able to have a biological child, as well

                  • I don’t understand God’s timing or His purposes, but I do know that God’s grace accomplishes what seems humanly impossible

                  • Perhaps every one of us has an example of how we have experienced God’s grace, accomplishing the impossible – take a moment to reflect on a time when you experienced that (physical, emotional, relational, spiritual)

                  • I’m reminded of how God’s grace accomplished what seemed humanly impossible when I was working on my Master’s degree – God supernaturally gave me enough time to spend with my family, prepare messages, minister to individuals, and get some sleep – I was always amazed at how I was able to get everything done on time

                  • #1 - My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Glorify the Lord for accomplishing what seems humanly impossible, by His grace.

                • Perhaps there are those of us here today who are still waiting to experience God’s grace, accomplishing what seems humanly impossible

                  • As I mentioned last week, some of us may be waiting for God to accomplish the supernatural transformation of a loved one (we’ve been praying for their salvation and continuing to wait)

                  • Perhaps there is a couple here or listening online who has been trying to conceive a child without success (don’t lose heart, don’t doubt God’s grace and His timing for you, don’t marginalize or discount other options that God may be guiding you towards)

                  • There may be some here today who are struggling with anxiety and depression and have lost hope, but be encouraged and don’t doubt that God can and will accomplish what seems humanly impossible (He is there for you and with you in the deepest, darkest valleys)

                  • Maybe some of us are struggling spiritually, financially, educationally, occupationally, etc. (don’t lose heart, hold on, God can and will accomplish what is humanly impossible by His grace and power)

                  • #2 - My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim the promise and truth that God’s grace can accomplish what seems humanly impossible.

                  • He is all-powerful, He is all-knowing, He is never late, and He is never early, He is right on time

            • We’ve learned about Abram’s wife, but we’re also given information about Nahor’s wife

          • Nahor’s wife

            • His wife’s name is Milcah, which means “queen”

            • Nahor married his niece, since she was the daughter of Haran

            • We’re not given any more information about Milcah in this passage, but in Genesis 22 we learn more about her and Nahor’s children

            • Genesis 22:20-23, Some time later Abraham was told, “Milcah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor: ​​ Uz (oots) the firstborn, Buz (booz) his brother, Kemuel (kem-oo-ale’) (the father of Aram), Kesed (keh’-sed), Hazo (khaz-o’), Pildash (pil-dawsh’), Jidlaph (yid-lawf’) and Bethuel (beth-oo-ale’).” ​​ Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. ​​ Milcah bore these eight sons to Abraham’s brother Nahor.

        • This completes the genealogical part of this passage, but now we see that some of them are on the move

    • Going (v. 31)

        • Those on the journey

          • Terah

          • Abram and Sarai

          • Lot (lote)

        • Locations on the journey

          • Ur of the Chaldeans

            • Scholars are split on the location of Ur of the Chaldeans

            • Some believe it is in northern Mesopotamia, close to Haran

            • Others believe it was in southern Mesopotamia along the Euphrates River

            • Take a moment and look at the maps in the back of your Bible today (perhaps the first map is The World of the Patriarchs and they usually have Ur in southern Mesopotamia as the potential starting place of Abraham’s journey to the Promised Land)

            • [show map]

            • It would be 220 miles southeast of Baghdad in the southern part of modern Iraq

          • Canaan

            • They were on their way to Canaan

            • We don’t know why Terah was going there, but next week we’ll see the call of Abraham to leave Haran and continue to Canaan

          • Haran (kaw-rawn’)

            • It would be “located on the bank of the Balikh River, 550 miles northwest of Ur and close to the present-day Syrian-Turkish border.” [Waltke, 201]

            • It would have taken them about two months to make the trip from Ur to Haran if they traveled ten miles per day [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Pentateuch, Genesis, 205]

            • The place Haran should not be confused with Terah’s son’s name Haran

              • They are two different Hebrew words

                • Personal name – Haran (haw-rawn’) [הָרָן]

                • Place name – Haran (kaw-rawn’) [חָרָן]

              • They never made it to Canaan, because they settled in Haran

            • There is one important note about two of these locations that we need to look at

          • Important notes

            • Both Ur and Haran were centers of pagan idolatry

              • The people of those cities worshiped the moon god

              • We know that Abraham’s family participated in this kind of idol worship

              • Joshua 24:2-3a, Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods. ​​ But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the River and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants.”

            • In the Ancient Near East and even into the 1st Century it was commonplace for the family members in a household to follow the religious beliefs and practices of the father

              • So, it would have been tradition for Abram to continue to worship the moon god even after traveling to Canaan, but something incredible happened

              • God’s grace accomplishes what seems humanly impossible.

                • When God calls Abram, as we’ll see next week, He calls him out of idolatry and pagan worship

                • He sets him apart and chooses him to be the line through which the Savior of the world will come

                • God is all-powerful and is able to accomplish what seems humanly impossible

                • He transforms Abram from a pagan to a patriarch, whose faith is highlighted by the writer of Hebrews

                • God is still transforming pagans to patriarchs today – we may think that a certain family member, friend, or coworker is too far gone, but nothing is impossible for God

                • Gospel

                  • Born sinners (Romans 3:23) [Ten Commandments]

                  • Loved by God (John 3:16)

                  • Saved by Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

                  • Heading to the “Promised Land” (Ephesians 2:8-9, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.)

                  • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim God’s gift of salvation by grace through faith.

              • God’s grace is amazing and transforms anyone who turns to Him with their whole heart

              • We also know that God is sovereign

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s sovereignty brings hope.

              • This introduction to the narrative about Abraham can appear pretty grim

                • Terah is caught up in pagan worship

                • As we’ll see in a moment, Terah loses a son

                • His other son is married to a woman who is infertile

                • All of this seems pretty hopeless, but God is sovereign and His sovereignty brings hope

              • Perhaps our current situation seems just as hopeless, but be encouraged, God is sovereign and in control

              • We can claim the hope that comes from God, for ourselves

              • I encourage anyone who is feeling hopeless to turn to God and find hope

        • In verses 28 and 32 we see that two of the characters of this narrative are gone

    • Gone (vv. 28, 32)

        • Haran

          • He dies in the place of his birth, Ur of the Chaldeans

          • He dies before his father, Terah

        • Terah

          • He lives to 205 years’ old

          • He died in Haran


  • YOU

    • Do you need to glorify God for accomplishing the impossible?

    • Do you need to claim the promise and truth that God can and will accomplish what is humanly impossible in your situation?

    • Are you ready to claim God’s gift of salvation by grace through faith?

    • Do you need to find hope in God through your hopeless situation?


  • WE

    • We can model glorifying God and claiming His promises so that others will see our faith in a God who accomplishes what seems humanly impossible.



How many of us would consider planting a garden during the winter months? ​​ I’m not talking about starting plants in a greenhouse. ​​ I’m talking about planting plants in the frozen ground. ​​ Most of us wouldn’t do that, because we would say it is impossible. ​​ Tim Meyers didn’t allow the impossible to stop him.


“Tim Meyers is a farmer in Alaska, where the soil is rich, but frozen. Conventional wisdom says that farming where the ground never fully thaws is impossible—or at least impractical. But through savvy practices and hard work, Tim has become a permafrost farmer, growing organic food on his 17 acres of land, proving that even the most barren frozen land can be fruitful.”


Source: Euganie Freichs, “Permafrost Farming: It’s Possible!” Modern Farmer (1-7-14)