Summary: This sermon is about getting used to second best instead of the best that God has for us. See God for who He really is! God, the God of resurrection.
THE STEPS TO A FRESH EXPERIENCE WITH GOD
The time lapse between chapters 16 and 17 of Genesis involve a period of approximately 13yrs. The central figure in these chapters is Abraham and his journey with God. Much had happened in his life, but the promised son Isaac had not yet arrived and it seems Abraham had become at ease, complacent and lethargic in his acceptance of the substitute to the promise, Ishmael. In chapter 16 Abram was still capable of begetting offspring. It was a period marked by activity of the flesh and its attendant ruin. In chapter 17 he is ninety-nine and his body “dead,” and he sits in the midst of the ruin his folly has wrought, powerless to effect a remedy. This is where man must be in order for God to draw near and act on his behalf. Man must first see the failure of his own efforts must realize his own helplessness, before God will reveal Himself and undo man’s ruin.
Abraham didn’t yet realize that with his hope exhausted, and his ability to produce a son of promise naturally having died, it became an opportunity for God to work and bring forth what had been promised long ago. Abram’s age, 99, is further confirmation that resurrection is the theme of this section, for 3 is the prominent factor of 99, and 3 is the Biblical number of resurrection.
How about you? Making do with a substitute, given up hope? Here are eight steps to aroused faith in God.
• Receive a Fresh Revelation of God
Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.
Abram needed God to rouse, stir, quicken, and awaken his faith – to look beyond the present, the physical to the possible. To look at the impossible and believe: Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” So God appears as Almighty God, El Shaddei = to display power. See God for who He really is! God, the God of resurrection. God began the work of recovery by bidding Abram to look, not at self, but at Him. That is where all recovery must begin; the eye must be turned to God.
• Make a commitment to walk before God and be blameless
Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless (perfect).
To walk means to live before God in a spirit of devotion, worship and fellowship to understand He can see us and to recognize He looks after us – Perfect means: to be sound complete, of single mind, it is not the perfection of sinlessness, but rather that perfection of heart that will have perfect faith in God, trusting Him implicitly “to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” Eph 3:20. In other words if we live our lives in light of God and who He is we will find that He is our Peace in every situation. When we have God in view how can we not be changed?
Ephesians 5:15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,
Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
• Humble yourself before God and listen to Him
Genesis 17:3-5 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.
Abram fell on his face, he got as low as he could, God gives grace to the humble – Abram begins to hear God’s voice again:
a. God renews Abram’s call and promise – “Father of multitudes”
b. God breathes His Spirit – “Ah” into Abram’s name and he becomes Abraham - Abraham represents faith, and Sarah, grace
Zechariah 4:6 ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts.
Is this not the key to Christian living that it is only with faith and grace that we can accomplish those things He has desired for us?
• Hear and believe God’s covenant promises
Genesis 17:6-8 “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. “Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”