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Taking the Step of Faith

Turning Point / David Jeremiah
The Truth Network Radio
January 4, 2021 12:24 pm

Taking the Step of Faith

Turning Point / David Jeremiah

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Please make your donation today at Accepting Christ as your Saviour takes only a single step of faith, but growing in that relationship takes walking in faith every day. So how does your faith walk? Today on Turning Point, Dr David Jeremiah turns to the Old Testament figure who is the very embodiment of faith, Abraham. To bring faith into focus from the life God blesses, here's David to introduce his message, taking the step of faith. And thank you for joining us.

I am so excited to have you along for this journey. We have begun the new year with a series called The Life God Blesses. You know, that's an interesting story for me because when I came back from cancer years ago, in my mail, the first day home from the hospital was a book written by Gordon McDonald. And the title of that book was The Life God Blesses. And I remember jumping into that book, there was never a more motivated person than I was when I came home because I realized that God was giving me a new opportunity to serve him. And I wanted to find out everything I could find out about the life God blesses.

Gordon was such a blessing to me. And so we've taken that title, although we don't have the same material, and we've put it together with messages we believe will help you find the life God blesses. Today it's taking the step of faith from Genesis chapter 11, and as you heard in the introduction, it's about Abraham. The Bible tells us that one of the major principles that we're to follow as the children of the Heavenly Father is that the just shall live by faith. Most of us understand that we're brought into a relationship with Almighty God through the principle of faith. We know Ephesians 2 8, which tells us that for by grace we have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves.

It's a gift of God, not of works. But what does it really mean to live by faith? When I put my faith in Jesus Christ to forgive my sin and give me eternal life, that's one thing. But it's quite something different to walk by faith. And how many of you know the Bible tells us that the way we came into a relationship with God is the way we're supposed to continue our relationship with God. Our relationship with God is based on grace, and we live in grace. Our relationship with Almighty God is based upon faith, and we're to walk in faith. I don't know about the rest of you, but sometimes I look around at my brothers and sisters and even at my own life, and I wonder how much of our lives are really lived by faith.

Most of us walk by sight, don't we? We study all of the statistics, and then we make our decisions. And there's nothing wrong with an informed decision, but sometimes we need to get back to the core truth of who we are as God's people. We need to learn what it means to live by faith. And what is faith?

It's doing what God tells us to do. And there is a story in the Old Testament that embraces just about every aspect of faith you can imagine. It's the story of a man by the name of Abraham. Some people tell us that Abraham is the most significant man mentioned in the Bible. He was the friend of God.

What a wonderful title to be given to a person. Abraham was the friend of God. You will find that in Isaiah 41, verse 8, where we are told that Abraham was God's friend. In 2 Chronicles chapter 20, in verse 7, where we are told that Abraham was God's friend. And in James chapter 2, 23, where it says that he was the friend of God.

Throughout the Bible, we are face to face with Abraham. He is mentioned many times in the New Testament. You'll find his name mentioned in the book of Romans. He's mentioned in the book of Acts. He's mentioned in Galatians. Every time you turn around, you meet Abraham. And how many of you know that often times in the Old Testament Scriptures, God is referred to as the God of Abraham. Abraham was truly an amazing man.

A man whose life teaches us the lessons of faith. Now his story begins in the 12th chapter of the book of Genesis. Actually, at the end of the 11th chapter, for all intents and purposes, Genesis chapter 12.

What is recorded in the Bible about him is very important. The interesting thing when you run into Abraham in the first book of the Bible is that you've already read 11 chapters in the book. And in those 11 chapters in the book of Genesis, you have covered all of creation, all of the fall, all of the flood, all of the Tower of Babel and the beginning of sin some 2,000 years encompassed in 11 chapters. And then it's almost like after those 11 chapters you come to the main thing, which is the life and story of Abraham and his descendants. For in Abraham, God is going to teach us the importance of his dealing with one man and through one man dealing with all of the world. Abraham is going to become our father in many respects as we learn from the New Testament.

And in the 12th chapter, as we meet him, as we come to understand something about his life, we discover how important he is to our own personal faith. His name Abram is interesting because the word means exalted father. And as you know, Abraham had no heir of his own until he was a very old man. Later on, God changed his name from Abram to Abraham, which means father of a multitude, and he still didn't have any children. And I often wonder how Abraham dealt with the abuse he must have taken when people would ask, what is your name? And he would say, Abram, well, tell me about your family.

Well, I don't really have any. And then one day they came and saw that the name had been changed on his office door from Abram to Abraham. Now he's the exalted father, but he's now the father of a multitude, and he still doesn't have any children. You have to know this guy lived by faith.

He believed God. According to the record, here in the book of Genesis, Abraham lived in a town called Ur. And when God appeared to Abraham for the first time and he began his relationship with God, he was living in this pagan city, Ur of the Chaldees. From what we can learn in studying the time, it was a busy commercial center located in the country of Mesopotamia.

It was on the Persian Gulf by the Euphrates River. Like the rest of the world at the time of Abraham, Ur was a polytheistic city, and that means they worshiped many gods. In fact, in the center of the city of Ur, there was a temple called a ziggurat. And in this, the people worshiped their chief god, which was a Moongold called Nanna. One writer who has studied the period of time of Abraham says that Abraham's father, a man by the name of Terah, most probably was an idol maker. And so, Abram grew up, and for the 60 years of his life, before God touched him in a special way, he lived in a polytheistic and idolatrous nation, probably in a family of idolaters. And then one day, God appeared to him. And one day, God spoke to him. And one day, God called him. And one day, God spoke his name.

And from that day, Abram was never the same. And we read what happened in our Bibles as we notice, first of all, the call of faith upon Abraham. In chapter 11 of the book of Genesis, we read just a little bit of the history. This is the genealogy, verse 27, of Terah. Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Haran begot Lot. And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land in Ur of the Chaldeans. And Abraham and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram's wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor's wife Milcah, the daughter of Haran and the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah. But Sarai was barren.

She had no child. And Terah took his son Abram, exalted father, and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram's wife. And they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan. And they came to Haran and dwelt there.

So the days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah, Abram's father, died in Haran. There's a little commentary about this in the book of Joshua, and we'll get through this introductory stuff in just a moment, but I want you to have the foundation. In Joshua 24, 1 and 2, then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and called for the elders of Israel for their heads and their judges and their officers, and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, thus says the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers, including Terah, now who is that? That's Abram's father, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the river in old times, now watch this, and they served other gods. So Abram came not from what we would call a godly environment.

Abram came out of a polytheistic, idolatrous involvement, and in that moment, God reached down and called him, and God called him out of that involvement and called him to himself, and we'll see that in a moment. He called him from idolatry. Most of us today would not consider ourselves to be touched by idolatry or know anything about idolatrous relationships, but you know, idols are not just wood and stone, my friends. Idols are anything that we place in front of God in our relationship, and we can be idolaters in our culture just as well, and I could go through the list of all of the things that take the place of God in our lives, but you can do that on your own. You know the things you struggle with, the things that can get in between you and Almighty God.

Those can become idols in your life and in mine. God needed to separate Abram from his idols in order that he might use him and bring him to a place of usefulness. But not only needed he to be separated from idolatry, we notice that he also had to be separated from security. Abraham lived in a very secure environment.

The fact that it was idolatrous did not touch the security that he knew. In Genesis 12, 1 we read, The Lord said to Abraham, Get out of your country and from your family and from your father's house to a land that I will show you. Archaeologists who have done work in Ur of the Chaldees have told us that it was one of the most wealthy cities of its time, that it was like Babylon in its time, and when Abram lived there it was the wealthiest of wealthy cities. Abraham was no doubt from a very wealthy family. In fact, when he left he brought with him great riches and wealth. And in order for God to begin to deal with him, God had to separate him not only from the idolatry of his family, but he had to move him away from the place of security that he so strongly was related to. So he told him that he was to leave that place and leave his father and leave his family.

Get out of your country and from your family, he said. Notice the three things that Abraham had to do. He had to get away from idolatry, away from security, and away from family.

That's what God asked him to do. Now most of us today can't understand how awesome that must have been to Abraham at that time. Someone has suggested a conversation between Abram and his father that went something like this.

This is Abram speaking. Dad, you're not going to believe this. You better sit down. Oh, really, son?

What happened? Are you sure you can handle this, Dad? Handle what? Make some sense, son.

What's on your mind? Well, Dad, you know I've been telling you that worshipping gods is a waste of time. Well, it's primitive. Remember that I told you that there just has to be someone, someone greater than all the gods that are worshipped in Ur. Well, I know now that there is someone. Well, you what?

I know there's a god greater than the idols and all of the gods that we have worshipped. I have seen him and he has talked with me. I told you to stay out of the wine cellar. Dad, I haven't been drinking. It's true. I've seen him and I've heard him.

You're really serious, aren't you? You say you've seen and heard him. Yes, Dad, I saw him in a glorious manifestation.

I could just make out an outline of his person, but I heard his voice clearly, just as clearly as I'm hearing yours right now. Well, what did he say, son? Well, it may sound strange to you, but he told me to pack up and leave.

To do what? To leave Ur and the whole land and what, Abraham? And to leave you too, Dad. To leave you and my brothers and my cousins and all my relatives.

Son, you have been drinking. No, Dad, it's true and it's real and it was no dream and I've got to go. Go where? Well, I'm not really sure, to a land that he's going to show me. To a land he's going to show you. You mean he didn't tell you where you're going? Oh, no, no, he didn't tell me where we're going. He said, well, you may not be drunk, but son, you're sick. Didn't he give you any clue as to where in the world he wanted you to go?

Well, he said it was a land called Canaan somewhere in the west and what's more, God promised that he would make me a great nation and eventually through me all the families of the earth would be blessed. And you can just imagine that conversation between Abram and Terah. Abram's trying to tell his father, his human father, what his heavenly father has told him to do and it doesn't make any sense. By the way, has God ever told you to do something that doesn't make any sense? Have you ever tried to talk to people who don't know God and explain to them your walk with God? Have you ever tried to help them understand why you do what you do because you're a Christian?

They won't comprehend. If you're in a relationship with Almighty God, that will put you out of a relationship with a lot of people in terms of explanation. The call to Abraham. Now, the call of faith is followed in the text of Genesis chapter 12 by a covenant. In fact, the covenant of faith is one of the most famous covenants of all time.

It's called the Abrahamic covenant. And notice in your Bibles what it says in chapter 12 verses 1 and 2. Get out of your country and from your family and from your father's house to a land I will show you and I will make you a great nation and I will bless you and I will make your name great and you shall be a blessing and I will bless those who bless you and I will curse him who curses you and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. That's what God told Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees. In his idolatrous family, God said this is what I'm going to do for you. I want you to get out of here and go to Canaan and I'm going to put my hand of blessing upon you. Notice He told him four things. I will show you a land. I'll make you a great nation.

I will bless you and I will bless those that bless you and curse those that curse you and you will be the blessing for all the families of the earth. Could Abraham possibly have known what God would do through him because he would be obedient to that one call? Could he have known how God would have preserved his seed throughout all of the atrocities that have been perpetrated against the Jewish people from the very beginning of time so that even today there is a nation called Israel almost every day in the news because of the conflicts that they have around them? Could Abraham have possibly have dreamed that because he obeyed God on that particular day God would do for him what he did and that through his lineage would come the Savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ?

What an incredible moment. But I need to add to this story the reality of it all because lest we think Abraham was some sort of plaster saint that you could not measure up to, I need to tell you that Abraham compromised his faith. He didn't just immediately do everything God told him to do.

Sometimes when you hear this story you don't hear this part of it and I want to show this to you in the text. He was a human being and he failed to leave idolatry. Abraham was told to leave Ur and go to Canaan. But when we open our Bibles to the 12th chapter we discover that he's not in Canaan.

He's in a place called Haran. He stopped on the way. He didn't get all the way to the place God called him to. He stopped in another city and guess what? Haran was a city of idolatry just like the city he left. He made a few steps and a few starts and he got part of the way but he stopped in Haran. How many of you have discovered in your life that sometimes it's easy to take the initial step of faith but after you walk for a little bit it gets a little tough and you start reconsidering if you're not careful.

You settle down not too far away from where you were called. That's what happened to Abraham. He didn't really leave idolatry. And remember God had called him not only to leave idolatry but to leave his family. And you read in the text that he didn't leave his family. In fact who went with him? His father who obviously didn't understand what God had told him to do said well if you're going I'm going too.

How many of you fathers know that you'd be tempted to do that if your son was going off on what you considered a pipe dream you're going along to protect him so he doesn't make any other stupid mistakes. So the Bible says Terah went with him and he took Lot his brother's son because he had promised his brother before he died that he would take care of this boy. So he's got Lot with him, his nephew.

How many of you know this is going to be trouble for Abraham before this story is over. He didn't leave his family. Now he sort of obeyed. He did leave and he didn't take all of his family but just a few. And he didn't get clear to Canaan as I mentioned he stopped along the way. In fact if you go to Acts chapter 7 you will see what happened. And the God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia before he dwelt in Haran and said to him get out of your country and from your relatives and come to a land I will show you and he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and he dwelt in Haran. That wasn't what God told him to do. And from there when his father was dead he moved him to this land in which you now dwell. You know what? Abraham didn't leave his relatives so God started getting his relatives to leave him.

That's pretty scary isn't it? And it wasn't until his father died that he was ultimately able to get on to the place where God had called him to be. Isn't it interesting that we always think of Abraham as the great man of faith but we never hear about this part of his journey. And friends before we're finished with this man we're going to see him warts and all. Abraham was not a perfect person.

And we'll talk about that some more in a few moments. Let's go on to the compliance of his faith in verses 4 and 5. These are wonderful words of obedience for we read Abraham departed as the Lord had spoken to him. Why did he leave? Because God told him so. And Lot went with him and Abraham was 75 years old when he departed from Haran. By the way, do you know how long he stayed in this in-between city?

For 15 years. That's a long time to not be in the perfect will of God but that's where he was. And Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother's son and all the possessions that they had gathered and the people whom they had acquired in Haran and they departed to go to the land of Canaan and they came to the land of Canaan. Finally, 15 years after God spoke to him in Ur of the Chaldees Abraham gets to the place where God called him to be. You say, why did it take him so long?

But be careful. Be careful before you say that because if you look back on your life as I have in mine there have been times when I have known that God wanted me to do something and I haven't always been quick to do it. I've always told people that the time between what God tells you to do and when you do it doesn't belong to you, it belongs to the enemy because during that time he's trying to talk you out of it and Abraham put himself in jeopardy but he ultimately got to the place God wanted him to be. Thanks for listening. For more information on Dr Jeremiah's current series The Life God Blesses, please visit our website where you'll also find two free ways to help you stay connected our monthly magazine Turning Points and our daily email devotional. Sign up today at forward slash radio that's forward slash radio and when you do, please ask for your copy of Jack Countryman's new book, God's Blessings, David Jeremiah God's Blessings, just for you. It features 100 inspirational readings and reflections and it's yours for a gift of any amount. And if you still haven't requested David's new daily devotional for 2021 called Strength for Today there are still copies available. It's a great way to get a dose of biblical truth every day. Ask for your copy when you visit us at forward slash radio. I'm Gary Hoogfleet. Join us tomorrow as we continue the series The Life God Blesses. We are on Turning Point with Dr David Jeremiah.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-08 00:01:06 / 2024-01-08 00:10:39 / 10

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