Pastor Gene continues the account of Abraham as we see how true faith in God produces obedience.
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if you're new here among us my name is gene and i serve here at c3 church as your lead pastor and i also work from home sometimes sometimes there is a good deal of pastoral work that is invisible nobody sees it like praying you've got to pray a lot we're a church that prays and that means talking to god and listening to god it takes time i was praying a lot yesterday i do that as i get ready for the sermons i want to hear from god i want to listen i want to be obedient sometimes things come to me about you and so i encourage you in the obedience and this all gets worked into the sermon most people only see me on a sunday that's it and then a smaller crowd sees me on a wednesday and then a smaller crowd might see me during the week group meetings like staff meeting but then the rest of my meetings are all one-on-one a lot of counseling meetings so sometimes people want them to be private it will only be me that other person and god that knows we had that meeting then another large portion of pastoral work is office work the fun stuff everybody loves that nobody likes that except my wife she's good at that stuff i'm not you have to answer emails phone calls things like that and then of course there's the sermon coming up on sunday oh by the way you've got to do that too it's interesting now i've learned something that i am much more efficient and effective when i do that work from home if i try to do it here at the church it's a guarantee that i'm going to get interrupted it's going to happen some people come in maybe they think they have an emergency that god can't solve they got to see gene about it maybe it's someone trying to sell me something that's incredibly common he has my wife not yes they want to sell us something but all of the time they're unannounced i feel like sitting here opening up all the doors sitting at my desk waiting and when someone comes in say ah you're right on time i've just been waiting for you that's what i do here now post 2020 there are a lot of people who are also learning this even outside of the pastoral ministry and i've heard that some people can do their entire job from home unlike me so they're doing that and i heard a story of one such guy who was working from home and he learned something that i found out a long time ago if you're gonna work from home the whole day it's a good idea to get out of the house here and there right you go crazy get some fresh air especially here in southwest florida just get out of the house refresh your mind pray good idea and so you can come up with excuses to get out of the house maybe it's checking the mail that's fun right taking the garbage cans in or out that's not fun maybe just taking a walk around the block i think that's fun that's when i pray a lot and so this guy's day started out like this with a cup of coffee drank his coffee checked his emails before he knew it he was two hours deep in work he said oh i want to get out of the house now i'll take the garbage cans in from last night they've been out there so he leaves the house and he goes to take the cans in as he's on the sidewalk he notices out of the corner of his eye this flag in the distance triangle flag attached to it at the bottom is a tricycle with a little boy riding it really fast for a little boy as he gets closer he notices on the boy's face is a look of determination very determined gets closer and closer faster and faster he says you know what i'm going to get off the sidewalk because this kid is not stopping for me so he gets off the sidewalk and the kid zooms right by doesn't think anything of it fine goes back inside starts working again you know how you do this you get working on your computer and you start here and then you end up here you ever do that get really into it notice this his eyes are straining i got to get out check the mail great excuse so if you're new here to southwest florida this is how you check the mail all right you know just go stick your hand in there because you don't know what's going to be in the mailbox lizards spiders all kinds of weird creatures that we have down here all right so he checks the mail he gets the all clear he goes in and takes the mail out sure enough there's flag again tricycle boy moving fast same look of determination on his face right by i guess we're on the same schedule he goes inside works for another couple hours and decides i'm gonna go out and take my walk puts his sneakers on goes outside the house on the sidewalk and sure enough there's the boy again same look of determination on his face going really fast gets off the sidewalk zoom we really are on the same schedule so he goes out for the walk about a half hour around his neighborhood comes back to his block like me he lives on like a circle there's a group of houses with the sidewalk that goes around it and sure enough as he's coming back in the distance he notices the little flag peeking up over the hedge row and sure enough the boy turns the corner okay what's going on here is this boy really just riding around and around and around and around the block all day all right let me see so he waits a few minutes he's across the street sure enough comes back around the block i got to know what's going on so he crosses the street gets in the middle of the sidewalk where the boy predictably is going to be right he comes right at him but the man says stop the boy obeys but he doesn't lose that look of determination the man says what are you doing the boy says i'm running away from home the look of determination falls from his face at that point and the boy says but my mom told me not to cross the street funny picture of obedience two weeks ago we saw that abraham we were in genesis was a man of great faith today we'll see that a part of that faith was his obedience and today we'll see that true faith does require action he was counted as righteous before he got circumcised but he did pick up and move that was the action of his faith hebrews 11 8 it was by faith that abraham obeyed when god called him to leave home and go to another land we'll see another thing today too we saw that abraham was a person of true faith and true faith comes from a changed heart he talked about the circumcised heart we talked about covenants and we saw that in fact god's commands must be written on our hearts we looked at genesis 15 and 17 we talked about covenants we saw a name change went from abraham to abraham the father of the multitude exalted father to the father of many and we see that in the new testament i don't know how many people have caught this when we see the commentary on it it's usually abraham even when they're talking about him when he's abram they're looking back at the story so we're going to use it like that today as well abram abraham tomato tomato so if we start off in chapter 15 at the initiation of the covenant we saw that abraham abram was worried about not having an heir all so that's what he's worried about here he thinks his servant eliezer is going to get his inheritance that's it but the lord corrects that he says this genesis 15 5. then the lord took abram outside and said to him look up into the sky and count the stars if you can that's how many descendants you will have and abram believed the lord and the lord counted him as righteous because of his faith then between the covenants something happens we see this genesis 6 1. now sarai abram's wife had not been able to bear children for him but she had an egyptian servant named hagar so sarah said to abram the lord has prevented me from having children go sleep with my servant perhaps i can have children through her and abram agreed with sarah's proposal so sarai abram's wife took hagar the egyptian servant and gave her to abram as a wife this happened ten years after abram had settled in the land of canaan so abram had sexual relations with hagar and she became pregnant we did see that abraham or abram had faith but he didn't always have patience neither did sarah or sarah hey honey i can't get pregnant fast enough so sleep with my slave sounds like a good plan now before we blame sarah or sarai we must notice that abram did the same thing adam did okay sounds like a great idea doesn't look like patience to me and we'll see that that lack of patience causes problems abram tries to initiate his part of the covenant not with patience here genesis 16 4 so abram had sexual relations with hagar and she became pregnant but when hagar knew she was pregnant she began to treat her mistress sarah with contempt then sarah said to abram this is all your fault i put my servant into your arms but now that she's pregnant she treats me with contempt the lord will show who's wrong you or me then abram calmly looked over the morning paper lowered his glasses and said that's not in there look she is your servant so deal with her as you see fit then sarai treated hagar so harshly that she finally ran away so abram's got a serious domestic problem on his hands here abram tries to fulfill god's promise in a human attempt this is what it says in our new testament commentary in galatians 4 22 the scriptures say that abraham notice had two sons one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife the son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of god's promise but the son of the freeborn wife was born as god's own fulfillment of his promise so if we fast forward a bit isaac is born the son of the promise and then this is what happens genesis 21 8. when isaac grew up and was about to be weaned abraham prepared a huge feast to celebrate the occasion but sarah saw ishmael the son of abraham and her egyptian servant hagar making fun of her i'm sorry fun of her son isaac so she turned to abraham and demanded get rid of that slave woman and her son he is not going to share the inheritance with my son isaac i won't have it this upset abraham very much because ishmael was his son but god told abraham do not be upset over the boy and your servant do whatever sarah tells you for isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted but i will also make a nation of the descendants of hagar's son because he is your son too so abraham got up early the next morning prepared food in a container of water and strapped them on hager's shoulders then he sent her away with their son and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of bereshiba the well of the oath so we see the consequences here of the human attempt and indeed that son ishmael goes on to cause problems when hagar runs away the angel tells her to go back and he says this this son of yours will be a wild man as untamed as a wild donkey he will raise his fist against everyone and everyone will be against him yes he will live in open hostility against his relatives and sure enough genesis 25 18 ishmael's descendants occupied the region from havala to shur which is east of egypt in the direction of asher there they lived in open hostility toward all their relatives and we'll see later when esau has a couple of spite marriages he's mad about his inheritance he marries one of ishmael's descendants joseph will get sold into slavery to ishmaelite slave traders a lot of connections here now if we go back to genesis 15 and 17 we're going to see that abraham and sarah had a lot of disbelief they did not believe in it abraham is told he will have another son through sarah but note how abraham still thinks he did his part in producing an heir in ishmael genesis 17 17 and abraham bowed down to the ground but he laughed to himself in disbelief how could i become a father at the age of 100 he thought and how can sarah have a baby when she is 90 years old so abraham said to god may ishmael live under your special blessing but god replied no sarah your wife will give birth to a son for you you will name him isaac and i will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant and later sarah laughs too you ever eavesdrop on anybody remember those three men i talked about i told you there was more to it two of them go to rescue lot in this family before sodom is destroyed and the lord stays with abraham well if we back up there's a conversation that goes on with these men before sodom they're talking to abraham genesis 18 10 then one of them said i will return to you about this time next year and your wife sarah will have a son sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent abraham and sarah were both very old by this time and sarah was long past the age of having children so she laughed silently to herself and said how could a worn out old woman like me enjoy such pleasure especially when my master my husband is so old but god heard her then the lord said to abraham why did sarah laugh why did she say can an old woman like me have a baby is anything too hard for the lord i will return about this time next year and sarah will have a son well sarah not only eve drops laughs at the lord but then she lies 1815 sarah was so afraid she denied it saying i didn't laugh but the lord said you did laugh so that's why god says you'll name him isaac because isaac means he laughs genesis 21 1 the lord kept his word and did for sarah exactly what he had promised she became pregnant and she gave birth to a son for abraham in his old age this happened at just the time god said it would and abraham named their son isaac eight days after isaac was born abraham circumcised him as god commanded abraham was 100 years old when isaac was born and sarah declared god has brought me laughter all who hear about this will laugh with me now we get to a story that many of you probably know this is a story about complete obedience at this point in the story here's where all the doubt the negotiating the impatience the laughter all goes away a story a beloved story about complete obedience you see the lord decides to test abraham he says abraham abraham says here i am i want you to sacrifice your only son the son that you love as a whole burnt offering go to moriah to a mountain i'll tell you about and sacrifice him there the next morning abraham gets up early saddles a donkey grabs two of his servants of course his son isaac he chops some wood for the burnt offering he sets out three-day journey he sees the mountain he tells the servants wait here with the donkey the boy and i we're going to go and worship and we'll be back so he puts the wood on isaac's back he grabs a knife and fire he's going to sacrifice him and then it's a burnt offering and burn him they head out now isaac must be an observant young fellow because he says father abraham says here i am we have the wood and the knife but where's the for the offering abraham says god will provide the sheep or literally god will see they go to the mountain abraham sets up the altar finds isaac puts him on the altar gets the knife and he's about to slaughter his son an angel of the lord calls out abraham abraham here i am don't lay a hand on him don't kill your son for now i know you truly fear the lord because you were willing to give up your son abraham looks up sees a ram caught in the thicket in the bushes he sacrifices that instead of his son name's the place the lord will provide or the lord will see indeed the lord saw abraham's obedience a picture of absolute obedience genesis 22 15 then the angel of the lord called again to abraham from heaven this is what the lord says because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son your only son i swear by my own name i will certainly bless you i will multiply your descendants seed beyond number like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies and through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed all because you have obeyed me because you obeyed me we cannot have faith apart from obedience obedience is a part of faith we continue reading we see that as all humans do sarah dies to dust you will return ripe old age of 127 she's buried in a cave at mekpila there's an interesting account a little side story almost of abraham's integrity it's pretty interesting the hittites own the cave and they view him as an exalted father a prince of the land so they just want to give it to him but abraham says nope i'm paying for it getting exchanged back and forth until a guy named ephron says okay fine it's worth 400 shekels of silver you can have it so abraham buys the cave what a lot of people don't know is abraham has another wife at least her name is katura he has at least six children with her he does an interesting thing he sends them away like he sends away ishmael genesis 25 5 abraham gave everything he owned to his son isaac but before he died he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them off to a land in the east away from isaac you see isaac was the seed who would inherit the land genesis 12 7 if we go back there we see this and the lord appeared to abram and said i will give this land to your descendants the word there in both hebrew and greek is seed i will give this land to your seed singular and abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the lord who had appeared to him so it's pretty remarkable that abram abraham would kill this seed and many point to a moral dilemma seemingly created by that sacrifice account how could god ask someone to kill their son and how could abraham do it well there are many who have different opinions about this a lot of opinions many many commentaries have been written about this account and knowing the word of the lord i'll say it was an exercise in futility because the commentary was right under their nose the whole time they just needed to take the time to keep on reading all the way to hebrews here's what the best commentary we have on the old testament says hebrews 11 17 it was by faith that abraham offered isaac as a sacrifice when god was testing him abraham who received god's promises was ready to sacrifice his only son isaac even though god had told him isaac is the son through whom your seed will be counted the answer abraham reasoned that if isaac died god was able to bring him back to life again and in a sense abraham did receive his son back from the dead moral dilemma solved imagine that the bible has the answers in it amazing you see he knew god could raise his son from the dead that's the kind of faith he had we'll be back he says to his servants another answer right there well god did indeed raise his seed back from the dead we see a little more commentary when we read galatians we're going to dig in a little deeper bible study but check this out galatians 3 16 god gave the promises to abraham and his seed it says in greek and notice that the scripture doesn't say to his children plural as if it meant many descendants rather it says to his child his seed and that of course means christ we have the rest of this sacrifice story here there are parallels to christ there is certainly a foreshadowing of the burial and the resurrection of jesus and the three-day journey the fact that isaac is removed the fact that god provides a lamb or iran just a male sheep he provides the lamb of god but more stunning is the foreshadowing of the lord carrying the cross in isaac as he carries the wood he's about to be sacrificed on we have another amazing foreshadowing if you dig deep 2 000 years apart on some say that very same mountain mount moriah where isaac was spared but this time god provides a different sacrifice his own son abraham is the first to sacrifice on this mountain and through his seed that is christ jesus would be the last required sacrifice on that mountain as the ram lamb was the substitute for isaac the lamb of god is the substitute for us god did what abraham would not have to john 3 16 for this is how god loved the world he gave his one and only son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life everyone who believes everyone who has faith in jesus christ than by the grace of god we are saved we saw in romans paul's making the point that abraham is counted as righteous by his faith we see it in galatians 2 galatians 3 5. i ask you again does god give you the holy spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law of course not it is because you believe the message you heard about christ in the same way abraham believed god and god counted him as righteous because of his faith at first glance it seems as if there's nothing we need to do if we select passages just pick the parts we want but if we look at the full council of god's word we see both sides of the coin here regarding faith james 2 gives us the other side of that coin specifically regarding abraham's faith and we do see something here james 2 21 don't you remember that our ancestor abraham was shown to be right with god by his actions huh read it again don't you remember that our ancestor abraham was shown to be right with god by his actions when he offered his son isaac on the altar you see this faith and his actions work together his actions made his faith complete and so it happened just the scriptures say abraham believed god and god counted him as righteous because of his faith he was even called a friend of god so you see we are shown to be right with god by what we do not faith alone now before you're like what that's god's words not mine remember that not by faith alone now some have said that early christians were doing something that we do too today they were picking their favorite verses right and they're like we could do whatever we want right just got to believe and of course i can just sin sin sin paul addresses it should we sin so that god's grace may abound absolutely not no some say that james is almost countering paul here paul's not wrong he's right it's the word of god but it needs completion people are running with it this greasy grace that we even do today james uses the example of abraham to give the early believers and us the other side of the coin yes we're saved grace faith in jesus christ but it should produce actions don't you think yes his faith and his actions worked together if we're going around saying we have faith i have faith then we must have obedience james 2 17 so you see faith by itself isn't enough unless it produces good deeds it is dead and useless now someone might argue some people have faith others have good deeds but i say how can you show me your faith if you don't have good deeds i will show you my faith by my good deeds again the word of god tells us just saying we have faith is not enough we have to be doers of the word there's obedience required unless we show it by our obedience to the word we are saved by god's grace through faith in jesus christ if it is genuine if we really mean it and true and genuine genuine faith will cause acts of obedience jesus says the following in case you didn't believe his brother james john 14 21 those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me and because they love me my father will love them and i will love them and reveal myself to each one of them jesus requires genuine faith like knowing that sarah is eavesdropping he knows what's in our hearts true faith produces obedience we saw that we must have god's commands written on our hearts and it is a faithful heart that beats in obedience jesus walked in obedience when he endured the cross hebrews says this hebrews 5 7 while jesus was here on earth he offered prayers and pleadings with a loud cry in tears to the one who could rescue him from death and god heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for god even though jesus was god's son he learned obedience from the things he suffered in this way god qualified him as a perfect high priest and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him the author will move on to talk about people of faith like abraham sarah and others then he says this hebrews 12 1 therefore since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith let us strip off every weight that slows us down especially the sin that so easily trips us up and let us run with endurance the race that god has set before us you may ask how we do this by keeping our eyes on jesus the champion who initiates and perfects our faith because of the joy awaiting him he endured the cross disregarding its shame now he is seated in the place of honor beside god's throne think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people then you won't become weary and give up let me pray for you lord i pray for this church may you fill us with passion for jesus and compassion for those for whom he died help us to walk in obedience this week to your word we ask these things in jesus name may the grace and peace of god the father and our lord jesus christ be with your spirit amen