Summary: four steps in the life of Abraham that caused him to walk in spiritual greatness
Intro: my final yearbook average in bowling has been 223 for the last 3 years. Very often people will ask me to help them raise their average. Over the years I have learned one thing, most people want to be great, but very few will pay the price for greatness. When I started bowling back in 1978, I would bowl so many games every night, that my thumb was usually swollen. Many want greatness, but only want to bowl a few games a week. The same is true in our spiritual walk, most of us would love spiritual greatness, a deep walk with God, but very few are willing to pay the price that greatness demands.
Greatness with God
Genesis 12:1-Background: Abraham became great with God, but there were four important steps in Abraham’s life before spiritual greatness took place. Tonight, we will look at these four steps.
I. Genesis 12:1-3-Stepping out with God
When Abram, who became Abraham met God, God made his first step a very difficult one. God told Abram that he would have to step out with God, leave his family behind, so that God could bless his life.
· Greatness with God many times demands a stepping out or a moving on. Years ago I asked Lauri to marry me, little did she know at the time that God would demand us to move away from family, to do ministry for Him. It isn’t that you forsake or desert your family, it means there is a moving on so that God can make you dependent on Him and not them.
· This first step is leaving that which is familiar to head into the unknown. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. God doesn’t tell us the end, He doesn’t show us everything in our destiny, He just asks us to walk and live by faith.
II. Genesis 13:14—Separation From Lot—God would never fully be able to bless Abraham with his attachment to Lot. Lot represents a lot of things, worldly desire, wrong influence, bad association. God caused the situation where separation would be necessary for blessing.
· Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom—from the natural standpoint it looked like a great direction to go. Flesh direction will lead us to destruction, Spirit direction will lead us to blessing.
· For greatness to occur there is many times the need for breaking of associations that will take us in the wrong direction. I have met people who I realize that the step between them and greatness is the breaking of a wrong relationship.
· God blessed Abraham with Lot, but he didn’t become great until this separation took place. Don’t misinterpret blessing and greatness. There are people who are blessed, financially, physically, who have yet to move into the place of spiritual greatness.
III. Genesis 21:12-13 Casting Away Ishmael—this step is a very difficult one toward greatness. Ishmael represents the flesh, dependence in self, and God demands we cast away these things so that we might follow after the promise of God.
· One of the problems for Abraham is he had become attached to Ishmael. So many people cannot let go of the past to step into the future. Some people get saved, but they look back to Sodom, some people give their life to God, but hold on to their Ishmael.
· In all of our lives we can settle for mediocrity. We can say, things aren’t to bad staying where I am comfortable, traveling with Lot isn’t that big of a deal, holding on to Ishmael won’t hurt me down the road. But the road to greatness is marked by places where we leave things behind.
IV. Genesis 22:10-12 Offering our Isaac-now we move from the steps to greatness to the place of greatness. Very few people ever arrive at this place because they have never taken the first three steps that God has demanded. Abraham has been faithful, Abraham has trusted God, but now God asks him to do the one thing that will make him great, to believe God when he didn’t understand the why?
· Trusting God when we don’t understand the why is the place of greatness. He believed God and it was accredited to him as righteousness. The flesh always demands an answer, the carnal mind always says I will believe it if I can see it. Abraham’s greatness was not found in knowing God’s plan, but in knowing and loving God.
· I happen to be the father of one child, my son Bradley. He is 18 years old, for me and Lauri, he means everything to us. We are proud of him, we love him with all of our hearts, and we want the best for him. We actually believe God has a great plan for his life, and we believe for him a great destiny. If God came to me and said, I want to take him, you will have to go on without him, I think that is more than most of us can even imagine, but that is exactly what it took for Abraham to reach spiritual greatness. It is hard for most of us to admit that not only have we not arrived yet at that place, but that we have still got a long way to go.