Summary: I saw two boxers standing face to face before a big fight talking big words but its what happens in the ring that counts.
Part 1 - Genesis 15:1-6 - THERE'S MUSCLE POWER BEHIND HIS WORDS
I saw two boxers standing face to face before a big fight talking big words but its what happens in the ring that counts.
When my grandson runs to me as I get home in the afternoons, he often says, "Hey Pa, do you want to play with me?" I say "Yes of course I want to play with you but I will need to do a few things first, like get a cup of coffee and relax for a little while." He says, "THEN will you play with me?" and I say, "Yes". For him it seems like an eternity to wait, but he trusts in my promise to play with him. He believes in me because I am a person who has the AUTHORITY TO MAKE SUCH A PROMISE AND ALSO THE POWER TO FULFILL IT. Multiply this power and authority to keep a promise by ten thousand and you would not even be close to the power God has to keep His promises.
Look at Abram in Genesis 15:1 (NLT) "the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision (or "the Word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision"-NASB) This is the first vision mentioned in the Bible. It is also the first time the Word of the Lord is mentioned. It says the Lord said, "Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you (or "I am Your shield" - NASB), and your reward will be great."
Great promise - PROTECTION AND REWARD. Every need taken care of. And the Lord actually calls Abram by His name. This is a very PERSONAL CONVERSATION. Abram was obviously afraid. When you are afraid and someone says, "DON'T BE AFRAID", I want it to be someone who has muscles and authority before I am going to feel a little more secure. And God has the muscles to do it. When God says "Don't be afraid!", then I don't need to be afraid!
Every preacher of course loves to mention that there are 365 times in the Bible where God says "Do not be afraid!", one for each day of the year. 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) says "Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you." Isaiah 41:10 (NLT) "Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand."
When Paul speaks of armour in the Ephesians 6, he speaks about the shield of faith. Each piece of armour is Jesus Christ Himself protecting us. Psalms 18:1-2 (NLT) says it this way "I love you, Lord; You are my strength. The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Saviour; my God is my Rock, in whom I find protection. He is MY SHIELD, the power that saves me, and my place of safety." Proverbs 30:5 (NLT) "Every word of God proves true. He is A SHIELD to all who come to Him for protection." How good is that? To be SHIELDED BY GOD HIMSELF. Lord, protect and bless me indeed.
Now with that kind of assurance, you'd think Abram would content to say, "Yes Lord, anything you say." but instead he says "...SOVEREIGN LORD, what good are all your blessings when I don't even have a son?" Abraham must have a great relationship with God to speak with Him like this, but that's the way it is with God. He welcomes our questions.
Abram asks God a lot of questions. I like this. He also sees God as SOVEREIGN. God can do anything He wants to do, and Abram wants to co-operate with His purposes. As I get to know God as being my sovereign Lord, then I want to submit myself more to Him. Lord, I want to co-operate with Your sovereign purposes in my life today.
In Genesis 15:5 (NLT) "the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, "Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That's how many descendants you will have!"
One of those descendents was Jesus Himself. When Abram believed that God would give him descendants, he was believing that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Genesis 15:6 is an amazing verse "Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith."
There it is again - FAITH. This is the first time the word "BELIEVE" is used in the Bible. From the beginning there is only one way to get right with God - believing in Him, a wholehearted trust in Him and in His promises.
When it says it was "COUNTED to Abram as righteousness", the word "COUNTED" is a banking term. When Abram deposited his faith in the vaults of God by believing in Him with his whole heart, God credited righteousness to his account. God counted him as righteous. For me this transaction took place when I believed in Christ alone for my salvation. I EXCHANGED MY SIN FOR HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
God bless you Church as you believe and trust in the One who has power and authority to keep the promises He makes to you each day in His word.