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Summary: When it comes to God’s promises: 1. We may be discouraged by a delay (vs. 1-5). 2. We will always be blessed by believing (vs. 6). 3. God is devoted unto death (vs. 7-12 & 17-18).

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Old Testament Encounters with Christ

Part 6: God Proves His Promises

Genesis 15:1-18

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Dec. 28, 2011

*Last week in Genesis 14 Abram was a hero. His nephew Lot had been kidnapped by the Kings of the East when they defeated Sodom. But Abram raised a small army and took off to rescue his nephew. Abram didn’t have to do that. He could have played it safe. But he took a bold stand and God gave him the victory.

*Then Abram met with Melchizedek, the King and Priest who surely seems to have been the pre-incarnate Christ. Abram gave Him a tithe of all the goods he had captured from the enemy. At the same time, Abram refused to take even a thread of the goods that belonged to the King of Sodom.

*Abram was a hero. But now in Genesis 15 we find Abram troubled by doubt. Let’s read about it starting in Genesis 15:1-6:

1. After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward."

2. But Abram said, "Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?"

3. Then Abram said, "Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!"

4. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir."

5. Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be."

6. And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

*Abram was going through some doubts. But the Lord showed up to prove His promises. And this Old Testament encounter with God teaches us some vital lessons about our faith.

1. First: When it comes to God’s promises, we may be discouraged by a delay.

*Abram certainly was discouraged in vs. 1: “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’”

*The Lord said that because He knew that Abram was discouraged. And from a human point of view there was certainly room for fear. Abram might have been afraid of a revenge attack from the Kings of the East. After all, Abram had surprise on his side the first time. But he needed to remember that it wasn’t surprise that gave Abram the victory. It was His Savior!

*However, there was a much bigger fear in Abram’s heart here in Genesis 15. Abram was starting to worry that the Lord wasn’t going to keep His promises to him. Remember that back in Genesis 12, God had promised to make Abram a great nation. But now 10 years have passed, and still no children.

*Abram complained to the Lord about this in vs. 2&3:

2. Abram said, "Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?''

3. Then Abram said, "Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!''

*In other words: “Lord God, I thought I count on you, but all this time has gone by, and I still don’t have any children! -- All this time has gone by and You still haven’t answered my prayers!”

*Have you ever felt that way? -- Sometimes we might, but here we find that God’s promise had not been denied. It had only been delayed. And we just have to wait on the Lord.

*This is the way it must be at times, because God always does the right thing at just the right time. The Lord doesn’t operate on our schedule. He works according to His own perfect schedule.

*On top of that, the Bible teaches us that faith must deal with things not seen. So Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” That great chapter on the Old Testament heroes of our faith also tells us that “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)

*God’s promises to you will not be denied, and they cannot be destroyed. But just as we see with Abram, sometimes they will be delayed.

-And when God’s promises are delayed, God will help us in at least 3 ways.

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