Summary: Like Father Abraham we walk in God’s promises
“Father Abraham had many sons.” How many of the young people here this morning know that song? The song “Father Abraham” is one our children love to sing. I am sure we will sing it once or twice this week during vacation Bible school. In addition to singing about Father Abraham there are some actions that go along with the song. Can one of the younger members of our congregation tell me some of the actions that go along with the song “Father Abraham”? That’s right. When we sing it we also say, “Right arm, left arm, right foot, left foot, chin up, turn around...” As we sing about each of those actions we do them.
In addition to being fun to sing “Father Abraham” reminds us of two important things. The Bible says that all who receive God’s promises and believe in them like Abraham are considered to be children of Abraham. So the song is a good reminder for us to hold on to God’s promises by faith. But did you ever think that the actions that we do in the song may also have a message for us? When we move our arms and legs and bodies as the song tells us to we are reflecting the way Abraham did what God told him to do. God called Abraham to leave his home and go to a new country. Abraham did that. God also asked Abraham to obey him in the way he lived--in the things he said and did. Throughout his life Abraham followed where the LORD led him and he gladly obeyed God’s commands. So when we do what the song “Father Abraham” tells us to do we can also remember how Abraham did what God told him to do.
If we are looking for an example from the Bible of a person who experienced the fact that God keeps his promises Abraham is one that naturally comes to mind. Many times God appeared to Abraham and made promises to him. Abraham believed them and God kept his promises.
For our sermon let’s look at one of those times when God repeated his promises to Abraham. From Genesis 17:1-9 we will see how Abraham received God’s promises by faith and how he responded to those promises in faith. In these verses we learn how to be the spiritual children of father Abraham. May the Holy Spirit lead us to:
WALK IN GOD’S PROMISES
I. Receive His promises by faith
II. Respond to His promises in faith
Twenty-four years before the events in these verses from Genesis 17 Father Abraham had received a similar set of promises from God. He received them by faith. In other words, he accepted what God promised as something that was true and would happen. Abraham then responded to God’s promises by the way he lived.
Although we live at a different time and in a different culture we share certain things in common with Abraham. We live in a faith relationship with God. In love God has made some amazing and awesome promises to us. Through those promises he has enabled us to put our faith in them and live our lives according to his will. Both the faith we have in God’s promises and the actions that are produced by our faith in God’s promises are God’s work in us. That is why we walk in God’s promises.
One of the keys to understanding why the Bible calls believers children of Abraham is understanding the fact that Abraham didn’t do anything to cause God to make promises to him. The LORD simply chose him. In undeserved love God came to Abraham to make a covenant--a binding agreement. Abramham wasn’t looking for the true God. He wasn’t an extra nice guy who caught God’s attention. No, God decided to shower his love on Abraham and give him blessing after blessing.
The kind of covenant that God made with Abraham was almost unheard of in the ancient world. People made covenants with other people. Kings and nations made covenants. But they were typically two-sided agreements. The stronger person, or stronger king, or stronger nation demanded things from their weaker counterparts. Among those on more equal terms who entered into a covenant both sides promised to share equally in responsibility for keeping the agreement. If either party failed to live up to the covenant then the agreement was canceled.
In the case of God’s covenant with Abraham the One who was obviously superior made all the promises. The LORD outlined his covenant. He said, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.” Although Abraham and his wife Sarah didn’t have any children God promised that many nations would come from his family tree. To remind him of this promise the LORD changed Abraham’s name. “No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.” Abram meant “exalted father.” Abraham meant “father of many nations.’ The LORD went on to tell Abraham, “I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” Driven by love God poured out promises upon Abraham. He even promised a permanent home for Abraham’s descendants. “The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” Given the fact that he had wandered from place to place for almost one hundred years that promise must have been especially exciting. In love God stacked one promise upon another.