Summary: Four essential attitudes for fulfilling your God-given dream. First sermon in four-part series, "Dreaming Big for God".
William Carrey, considered by many to be the human catalyst behind the modern missions movement, used to say, "Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God."
This month we’re going to talk about people in God’s Word who lived this very way of life; people who dreamed big for God. By pondering these biblical examples I hope each of us will become big dreamers for God. If you once dreamed big for God but have become discouraged about whether or not those dreams can still be realized, these scriptural models should help you dream again.
We’re going to cover some very encouraging ground these next four Sundays by talking about "God’s Big Dreams For You."
Our text verse is unique because it contains the first mention in the Bible of two very important words: "vision" and "reward". During these next four weeks we’re going to be emphasizing how being a person of vision leads to a very rewarding life!
Genesis 15:1 (NLT) "Afterward the LORD spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, ’Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.’"
This verse contains FOUR ESSENTIAL ATTITUDES FOR FULFILLING YOUR GOD-GIVEN DREAM:
1. Realize that your dream will need to be tested.
The first word of our text verse deserves further investigation. "Afterward". After what? What had been happening in the life of Abram up to this point? Let’s quickly review the three preceding chapters of scripture.
In Genesis chapter twelve God calls Abram to leave his home at age 75. So he sets out, not even knowing the precise location of the Promised Land to which God is sending him. Shortly thereafter Abram finds himself in the midst of a famine. He’s forced to take his family, servants, flocks and herds into Egypt. While he’s there he lies about his wife being his sister so that Pharaoh won’t kill him. Pharaoh takes Sarai into his harem but God protects her in spite of Abram’s deception and she is returned to Abram untouched.
This character flaw of Abram’s is not covered up in Scripture. One of the many reasons we know the Bible is true and therefore trustworthy is that it "tells it like it is".
Abram was weak. He lied. There’s no excuse for his lying. One can claim, as Abram did, that Sarai was his sister, the daughter of his father but not his mother. (Gen. 20:12) But when she became his wife, this was the relationship by which they were to be known. There’s no excuse for his lying. Yet Abram did not stop his journey to obey God because of his own sinful failure.
So we see in Genesis twelve that Abram’s dream was tested by FAMINE and FAILURE.
In Genesis chapter thirteen, Abram separates from his nephew Lot because of a range war that erupts between their herdsmen. There wasn’t enough grazing land for both their sets of herds and flocks. So Abram lets Lot take his pick of land on which to graze and Lot chooses foolishly. Sure, he picked the lush land, but it was also connected to the wicked city of Sodom. Eventually, Lot inches his way into the city. His family life is devastated because he chose the wrong priorities in life.
Abram could have taken first pick due to seniority. Instead he was selfless.
Don’t be so sure that just because you can do something that you should do the thing.
So in Genesis thirteen we see that Abram’s vision was tested by CONFLICT.
In Genesis chapter fourteen Abram rescues Lot from being taken captive. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, where Lot and his family had been living, lost their battle to a group of Babylonian kings. As a consequence Lot and his family were among the people taken hostage - probably to become slaves.
Uncle Abram puts together an army of his servants and rescues Lot and his family and all the other people and goods claimed by the heathen kings.
After the battle Abram meets Melchizedek, king of Salem. (v.18) King Mechizedek possessed a couple of very unique qualites.
Number one, he was also a priest. The only other priest-king in the Bible is Jesus.
Secondly, no one could trace his human origin. (Hebrews 7:3) That’s why Hebrews 5:6 (Quoting Psalms 110:4), emphasizes that Jesus was a priest after the "order of Melchizedek". He wasn’t from the normal high-priestly line of Aaron. Jesus was a priest-king of Supernatural origin. He was the only priest without human sin - which is the only way Jesus could be our Savior.
So what does Abram do when he meets this Christ-like figure? He pays him tithes. (v.20) In fact, this is the first mention of someone giving ten percent as an act of worship in the Bible. It occurs 400 years before the law of Moses established tithing. So you see, tithing is not under the law. It actually pre-dates the law.