Introduction: God met Abraham a fourth time, and each time God added to the promises He made.
Emptying Promise: The first meeting was in Genesis 12:1-3, when God told Abram to move out to a country God would show him, and that God would make Abram a blessing to all nations.
Defined Promise: The second meeting was recorded in 12:7 when God told Abram that he would receive all the land he could see for his descendants.
Extended Promise: Another meeting was recorded in 13:14, after Abraham rescued lot and gave tithes to Melchisedek. God promised Abraham the land allotment would be forever his for his family.
Specified Promise: This fourth meeting between God and Abraham was the record of a vision, where God made an additional promise: Your household will have great reward. Abram asks “How?” God replies, “Your seed will be many, and come from YOU!”
God met Abraham to respond to his fear of constant conflict and limited reward (15:1). Encouragement Principle: God recognizes our need to be encouraged when the rewards are distant, and offers His Word to lift us!
Abraham wanted to make sure he was doing what he could to realize the promise, so he checked with God on his plan to have heirs (15:2-3). Inspection Principle: Mature believers pass all their plans before God for the “how” of the fulfillment of His promises. God’s work must be done God’s way.
God responded to Abraham’s query with a “No!” God told Abraham that He was going to meet the need in His own way (15:4-5). Passive Principle: Because Abraham asked – he got God’s direction. Believers need not fumble through life, we can ask God for even a specific word of direction. God delights in our asking!
Abraham accepted at face value God’s promise, simply offering an “Amen!” to the plan. God accepted the simplicity of faith and set up the most intimate covenant with him, a covenant of blood (15:6-7). Affirmation Principle: God’s gifts come by His grace through the vehicle of our faith (simple acceptance and acting on them as though they were already true!).
Abraham asked, “With what covenant symbol will you make this promise?” (15:8). Model Principle: God loves models! He shows us earthly things to mirror heavenly truths!
To close our story, note: God replied, “With blood!” (15:9-21). The covenant included new prophetic details:
Your seed will be kept from the land, but return after four hundred years (13).
They will be enslaved, but then set free by God (14).
It will happen after your lifetime (15).
God had a reason for this lapse (16).
Note that God made this covenant while Abraham slept; Abraham already offered consent by obediently killing the animals. God’s most intimate promises are given in blood covenant. He made one with Abraham, but He also made one with us!
Last time we saw how God blessed Abraham’s generosity. Today we will see his heart in action and how God used it for a testimony!
The Problem: The uninformed choice Lot made for a home was based on beauty – but was a choice that led him to step into the conflict of the region, and it cost him his freedom (14:1-12).
1. The generous heart saw the need of another as more important than any plan he had already! Abraham heard about the troubles and immediately mobilized his assets to help (14:13-14).
2. The generous heart used every bit of creativity to help where help was needed! Abraham outsmarted the opposing army by doing the unexpected (14:15).
3. The generous heart was always focused on PEOPLE and their needs! Abraham was careful to bring everyone home (14:16-17).
4. The generous heart recognized the blessing of God when it came! Abraham offered a tithe of all he had in recognition to God’s goodness (14:18-20).
5. The generous heart was able to be a testimony by giving with no misunderstanding about his open intention to help without strings (14:21-24). Abraham offered everything back to the kings!
Are you prepared to see others needs, be creative, keep your focus on the people you desire to minister to, identify the blessing of God in your life and be careful to build a “stringless” testimony? God will use your generous heart!
Introduction: Abraham learned to receive God’s blessings, and he learned how to “turn off the valve” of the blessings. Had he learned the secret to blessing others?
Secret #1: Know the Source of Generosity (13:2-4)
Abraham’s generous heart was rooted in the knowledge of his undeserved blessing from God. Coming from a defeat in his life, God cleansed his heart, and God’s grace marked Abraham’s relationships. Principle: A right relationship with God nurtures a generous heart, and curbs a critical and judgmental heart.
Secret #2: Understand the Problem (13:5-7)
Generosity and other person-centered living is not the norm in our world. People are self interested, which causes constant strife (James 4:1). Principle: When my heart is truly generous toward others, there will be those who cannot understand what I am doing!
Secret #3: See Problems as Opportunities to be Generous (13:8-9)
Generosity is “acts that are based on a deliberate intention to help another gain what they need to become what God intends them to be (to reach their potential for God).” When Abraham saw the tensions, he used the opportunity to better Lot’s fortunes! Principle: Opportunities are either viewed as obstacles (and chafed at) or as opportunities (and carefully responded to).
Secret #4: Delight in the Progress of the Other (13:10-11)
Abraham was energized by the progress of his nephew, Lot. He was not resistant, but reinforcing and encouraging. Principle: Nothing kills a generous heart more than the venom of jealousy.
Secret #5: See God’s Promises to YOU as the continued source of Happiness and Security (13:12-18) Abraham got a Divine endorsement of blessing in light of his generous heart. You cannot out give God, and He will care for those whose heart is truly generous toward others.
Principle: We are never so tall as when we stoop to help others! Is your heart generous?
Introduction: God’s desire was that Abraham, as a believer in a lost world, would spread blessing to lost men (cp. 12:3). His sojourn into Egypt was NOT a blessing to the lost – it was a curse. How did Abraham kill the spread of God’s blessing? What could he do about a lost testimony?
Sliding Downward Into Failure in five easy steps!
Step One: Discontentment. The discontentment with the “place” God put Abram in sent him packing to a “better” place. It also led him into the heart of a series of perils (12:9-10). Principle: Where God places us is the best place to be. When we kick against His revealed will, we may feel we are getting more of our own way, but we are heading for long-term disaster.
Step Two: Fear. The problems brought on by Abram’s choice to walk away from God’s revealed place for him led him into problems. In the midst of the peril, fear set in. He found himself frustrated and vulnerable (12:11-12). Principle: Without the assurance that we are in the center of God’s place for us, we are vulnerable to sweeping fear and frustration!
Step Three: Deception. The fear and vulnerability led to Abram trying his best to “cover himself”. He did not turn to God for aid, he solved the problems in the realm of the flesh. In the end, he found it easier to lie, and the poison of deception thwarted his testimony to both his wife and the world. His misplaced trust is a notable tip-off to the problem (i.e. “of thee” in12:13). Principle: The “father of lies” will do his work in us when we have left our “place” and are walking in a way that opens us to deception. We will be deceived into believing WE can solve our problems, and then DECEIVE others as the lies spread. We cannot be an uncompromising testimony to truths we don’t believe enough to consistently live!
Step Four: Hypocrisy. The encounter Abram had with the world was met amid deception and a total departure from his walk with God. He killed his testimony by reaching out in deception rather than in a genuine walk of integrity (12:14-16). Principle: We cannot give out what we don’t possess. We cannot urge others to trust a God we do not!
Step Five: The Rotten Fruit encounter with Abram left Pharaoh in worse shape than he was before this “man of God” came to him! In the end, instead of bringing the blessing that should come when a believer enters the scene, Abram brought pain! Pharaoh loathed the God of Abraham (12:17-20)! Principle: A believer walking in defiance will bring pain and heartache to the people he should bring blessing to!
What could Abraham do when he destroyed his testimony? Abraham left the scene (13:1-4) and returned back to the place God put Him. When he came back to his “place” he turned his heart back to God and bowed before Him!