Summary: Faith in God’s promises conquers the fear of my prospects
Have you ever made some kind of bold decision or taken a strong stand on some issue and then at some point began to wonder if you really did the right thing after all? I know that I certainly have.
When Mary and I had kids, we made the commitment that Mary would stay home with the kids and not work outside the home while they were young. At the time, that decision really wasn’t all that difficult for us because I had a job where I was making very good money. But when Pete was about 3 years old, the company I worked for went bankrupt and all of a sudden we were in a position where I had no income at all so I think it was kind of natural for us to begin to question the commitment we had made because it sure would have been nice if Mary was working and bringing in some money.
Something similar happened when I decided to go into vocational ministry. After a short unpaid position with one church I was hired as a part time pastor of a small church here in town. But after about a year in that position it became very apparent that church was not a good fit for me or for my family so I resigned.
Shortly after that I began to work on a volunteer basis with a local church planter who was planting a new church in the Oro Valley area. A few months later he moved to Florida and the church plant was thrown into my lap. The next few years were a real roller coaster. We’d grow for a while and then it seemed like every time we reached something of a critical mass, we’d have one or two key families move out of town. We finally decided to just meet at our home over the summer and seek God’s direction. And for me personally I began to seriously question whether my decision to go into vocational ministry in the first place was really the right one after all.
I would be really surprised if all of us here this morning haven’t gone through similar situations in our lives. In fact, there is no doubt in my mind that some of you are in a situation like that right now.
So how do we survive, and even thrive, when we begin to wonder if we’ve really done the right thing? We’re going to let a man named Abram, help us answer that question this morning.
Last week we left off with God’s covenant with Noah in Genesis 9. Noah lived another 350 years after the flood and died at the age of 950 years old. His three sons – Ham, Shem and Japheth, began to have their own families and repopulate the earth, just as God had commanded. Those descendants and their families began to gather into nations.
It wasn’t long until the people had forgotten the flood and they gathered in the land of Shinar and decided to build a tower and try to become like God. But God thwarted their efforts by confusing their language and dispersing the people over the face of the earth.
About 360 years after the flood, just a few years after Noah dies, Abram, whose name means “exalted father” is born to his father Terah, who was a descendant of Noah’s son Shem.
When Abram was 75 years old, God came to him and told him to leave his home in Haran and go the place God would show him. God also promised Abram that he would make he and his descendants into a great nation and that his people would be a blessing to “all the families of the earth” (Genesis 12:4)
Abram immediately took his family, including his nephew Lot, and left his home and set out for the land of Canaan, where God promised that He would one day give that land to his offspring. And Abram responds in worship by building an altar and calling on the name of the Lord.
But then a famine came to the land so Abram tool his family and settled in Egypt for a period of time. They eventually left Egypt and after allowing Lot to pick the choice land, Abram settled in Canaan, where God once again repeated His promise to give Abram’s descendants all the land that Abram could see. And once again Abram built an altar to the Lord.
But his wayward nephew Lot is taken captive by four kings from the east. So Abram leads 318 of his trained men against these kings and stages a surprise attack in which he defeats those kings and their men and recovers all of his people and their possessions.
Abraham meets the king of Sodom and Melchizedek, the king of Salem in the Valley of Shaveh, which is in the area that will eventually become the city of Jerusalem. As we learn later in Hebrews, Melchizedek, who is also identified as the priest of God Most High in Genesis, is a picture of our great High Priest, Jesus. Abram gives him a tenth of all that he had recovered in that battle. But he refused to take the goods offered to him by the king of Sodom, lest anyone could say that he, rather than God, had made Abram rich. In essence, Abram gave up great wealth because he was trusting that God, who had promised to bless him, would meet his needs.