Fix Your Faith and Follow On

2023 June  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  45:20
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From the Empty Tomb to the Upper Room

Be Sure of the Resurrected Lord

From the Message to the Mission

Be Sure of the Holy Spirit’s Work In You

From What Was to What Will Be

Fix Your Faith and Follow On

The Example of Abraham

We first read of Abram (whose name means “Father” or implies “Head of the Clan”) in Genesis chapter 11.
“His father Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. “
There’s parts of that story that we don’t have. We know that Abram, Nahor and Haran were born in the same year to their father, probably why he gave Abram the name that would fix his leadership position among his brothers.
We know that Abram’s brother Haran gave birth to Lot, but he died after that, young for his day, with his Father Terah witnessing the death of his son in the land of Ur of the Chaldeans. The Bible doesn’t tell us how he died. With the grief of the loss of his son Haran, Terah brought his Son Abram and Sarai his wife, along with his grandson Lot and his wife on a journey that was planned to go all the way to the land of Canaan.
Abram’s brother Nahor stayed behind, and his offspring became the source of Abram’s daughter-in-law, after Sarah’s death—but that’s another story. Today we are talking about Abram’s faith and actions.
They came to a place that Abram’s father Terah named after his deceased son. It was only half-way to Canaan, but it was a good land. And there Terah would live out the rest of his days, never getting to the land of Canaan.

God Promises Abram Greatness

Gen 12:1-3 “1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.””
Gen 12:4-6 “4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.”
Gen 12:7-9 “7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.”
Now, a lot happens to Abram in the next few chapters. He goes down to Egypt because of a famine in Canaan, and he and Lot prosper while there but Pharaoh’s house suffers because Pharaoh had his eyes on Sarai, who Abram said was his sister instead of his wife—which was almost true, since Sarai was a first cousin of Abram.
When Abram and Lot left Egypt, they were so rich in livestock that they chose to split the territory so there would not be fighting among the herdsmen about grazing lands.
There was an uprising of some city-states in Canaan, and 5 came together to attack an ally of Abram, so Abram put together his own army from his household of indentured and hired servants, and led them to a victory over the Axis powers against him. The defeated kings paid a bounty to Abram, who shared it with his Allies, and received their blessing.

Abram’s Faith Needed a Fix

But by then Abram was sensing his own mortality and worried about how God would fulfil the promise that his offspring would inherit the land of the Negeb, the promised land of Canaan. So when God spoke to him about how proud He was of Abram in his actions toward an ally and against the aggressors, Abram challenged God with his situation: It had been another 10 or 12 years, and Sarai was still barren. Is this how God fulfils a promise that involves his offspring?
That’s when God visited Abram with a vision of what his children would become—that family from Abram which was yet to be born.
Gen 15:5-6 “5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”
It was after that that God changed Abram’s name to Abraham: From leader of the family tribe to head of a great nation he did not yet see physically, but believed by faith would be the fulfillment of God’s promise.

Faith’s Role in Our Success

This story is the background to what Paul the Apostle shares in Romans about why Faith outdoes Obedience when we choose to trust in God.
There’s an important reason for that. If we receive every blessing because of our obedience to law, faith is beside the point. We start to believe we are in control of the blessings of God based on our obedience to the law. We become the masters of God’s blessings, and trust in God gets replaced by trust in our ability to follow God’s commands. God becomes the lawmaker, and judge of our actions, but is required to bless us

Abraham’s Promise Was Not Bound by Law

Romans 4:13–15 ESV
13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
The law of Moses came 500 years after Abraham’s death. So God’s promises to him were not based on or bound by obedience. Essentially, it was the inherent righteousness of Abraham’s faith that made the difference. If God makes a promise to you, that promise is based on whether or not we believe that God tells us the truth.
Law makes us all sinners, for if we are ever imperfect in anythings, we have broken the holy code of God’s law. That makes us guilty, and subject to law’s punishments.

“Did you or didn’t you do it?”

is the question the law asks.

“Did you trust my promise to be true?”

is the question that God asks.
The caveat for us is always balancing what we want from God’s promises that we read in scripture with what God wants from us in faith and behavior to accomplish God’s goals, not our own.

Believe God Like Abraham Did

Romans 4:16–17 ESV
16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
It is the character of God that our faith either recognizes or puts on trial.
Do we believe God or believe in what we want from God?
Those are different categories.
Verse 17 restates the results of Abram’s name change to Abraham: God says, “I have made you the father of many nations” and so gave Abraham his name based on his promise of what would be.
God visited Abraham and Sarah before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, in the disguise of white-robed angels, to reassert his promise that Sarah and Abraham would together be parents of the Promised Child.
Abraham called himself “as good as dead” because of his age, and Sarah was WAAAY past child-bearing age.
But God “gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.”

Believing God Even When Hope is Weak

Romans 4:18–19 ESV
18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.

Fixing Faith Upon God’s Faithfulness

Romans 4:20–22 ESV
20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”

Fix Your Faith and Follow On

Romans 4:23–25 ESV
23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
The story of Abram’s faith is given for us to have a Father in Faith: Abraham’s Faith believed God could do what Abraham couldn’t see happening. Abraham’s role was to keep following God to receive God’s promises. Promises for a land, promises for a child, promises for a nation based on faith.

Abraham believed God for what God promised.

Never mind the was as good as dead. He would keep believing anyway. Never mind that he was a transient rancher who lived in a tent. God would build a nation. And God did, and Abraham’s faith in God superceded any law that Moses would scratch in stone or write on vellum or papyrus.

Abraham is Our Example for Faith

His Kind of Faith Needs to be Our Kind of Faith

Our Faith Requires Belief in the Impossible

That God raised Jesus from the dead

Our Faith Requires Belief in the Improbable

That Jesus’ Death is for Our Forgiveness

That Jesus’ Resurrection is for Our Life

That’s the personal side of faith.
There is also a Church Family side of Faith.

Our Faith Requires We Follow On

We are facing some changes that are going to challenge us.
We will be challenged through death to life as a church.
You will learn with us what it means when we say “Dying to Restart”
which is about Choosing a Strategic Death for a Resurrected Life as a Church
We will be challenged to hope against hope.
We will be challenged to trust God
We will be challenged to stay on mission
This Summer will see a change in who we are as Inter-Community Church.
We will enter into a time of trial that we believe will bring us new life.
Join us in prayer as seek the Lord’s guidance.
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