7. Living by the Word in Our Families (Genesis 15:1-21)
Everything that God wants of us can be reduced to one word.
If we are willing to do the one thing described by this one word we'll please God in every way.
Now the call presented by this one word is a challenging call, an overwhelming call, a call that goes against everything within us. It is a call that demands great risk, the greatest risk possible. It is a call that means giving up everything. When I say this, I'm not talking about material things, as we often think, although material things will certainly be affected by taking this risk.. When I say this, I'm not talking about career, as we often think, although career will certainly be affected by taking this risk. When I say this, I'm not talking about lifestyle, as we often think, although lifestyle will certainly be affected by taking this risk.
To understand what I'm saying, you need to understand what the one word is.
The one word is TRUST.
The one thing God wants from us is TRUST.
God wants us to TRUST Him in everything we do and for everything we have.
And when I say this means giving up everything, I am saying this means giving up ALL control.
You cannot trust someone and strive to control that person.
This is certainly the point of all the team building exercises the experts have developed.
When you go through a team building exercise, what is it they are seeking to get you to do? They are seeking to get you to work together by trusting one another. But as long as you are seeking to be in control of the situation and those involved in it you are not trusting them. You say, "None of you can do it as well as I can. I only trust myself to get things done. Therefore, I will do everything I can to be in control of what is happening here." And when you say this, you destroy any opportunity for those involved to become a team.
Now God is exactly the same way.
As long as we have to be in control of our lives, we cannot be trusting God. So God does exactly what the team building experts do: He brings us into life situations in which we must trust Him or fail--or die. He brings us into life situations in which we cannot maintain control over what is happening around us because life becomes so much bigger than we are.
Now God does not do this maliciously; He doesn't have to. Life is bigger than we are. All God has to do is let us go our own way under our own control and life will catch up with us. It is inevitable.
There are three primary areas in which God wants us to trust Him: finances, family, and life.
We see this in the life of Abraham. He was called to leave all that could give him financial security: his roots, his network, his history, everything that could guarantee him wealth. He was also called to leave his family except for his wife. And all of this affected his life and well-being, and, eventually the place and way in which he would die.
God expects us to TRUST Him in three areas:
FINANCES, FAMILY, AND LIFE
and often in that order.
Certainly that is the order for Abraham.
Now let me summarize what I have been saying as we move toward LIVING BY THE WORD IN OUR FAMILIES.
GOD WANTS US TO TAKE THE RISK OF TRUSTING HIM BY LIVING ACCORDING TO HIS WORD WITH OUR FINANCES, OUR FAMILIES, AND OUR VERY LIFE.
Come with me to Genesis 15 where we see this principle being developed in relation to Abraham's family.
God Promises to Protect and Provide
A. ABRAHAM RISKED HIS PERSONAL SECURITY FOR GOD.
After These Things . . .
- After Abraham rescued his nephew who had been taken prisoner of war . . .
- After Abraham had chosen between the King of Sodom and the King of Righteousness . . .
- After Abraham had chosen to risk his financial well-being by trusting God for all wealth . . .
- After Abraham had given up all control of his career and his financial security . . .
After these things . . .
The Word of the Lord Came to Abraham.
1. He determined to trust God.
a. But the alien kings could turn on him.
b. The King of Sodom could turn on him in a perverse meanness because Abraham refused to become his ally.
c. Abraham risked his personal security when he chose to trust God.
d. Abraham had some real reasons to be afraid.
2. But now God promises to be His shield.
a. You have made the right choice, Abraham.
b. You have taken great risk, but you have taken the right risk.
c. In all of life we must take the risk of trusting someone.
d. It is not possible for us to live life without trusting someone.
e. Anyone who cannot trust others is regarded as mentally sick.
f. The key is to make sure we trust the right person.
g. God is the right person.
h. Do not fear!
i. This is the first time these words appear in the Bible.
Do Not Fear Abraham When You Risk Trusting Me Because I Will Protect You.
But Abraham did more than risk his personal security by choosing to trust God.
B. Abraham Risked His Financial Security for God.
1. He determined to trust God for wealth.
2. He determined that He would only pursue wealth on God's terms.
Now all of this has great implications for us. This means we must risk our personal security by risking our financial security. We do this when we must take an ethical stance that offends others. We do this when we use only God's means to gain financial security.
- We tell the truth at all times.
- We let only the finest quality mark what we do, even when quality cuts into our profit.
- We pursue the greatest efficiency possible even when this means conflict with those who want to do things the easy way.
- We act with utter, desperate dependence on God alone and give up all control of our own future by risking trust in Him.
Now let me just say that this means we will have to have some kind of human control to do this. But our values will conflict with the values of others, and this will lead to moments when we need God's shield and God's reward.
Do Not Fear, Abraham, When You Risk Trusting Me Because I Will Provide For You.
I Will Be Your Shield and Your Reward.
Abraham has not heard from God in quite a while.
The last time Abraham had heard from God was in Ur of the Chaldees, a long time ago. But God had spoken to Abraham in His silence, and Abraham learned the point of his sojourn into Egypt. Abraham chose to trust himself for his security. In fact, this has been the primary test which Abraham has faced up until now. He has been tested in the area of financial and physical security, a burning issue to a homeless man. He had been tested in his ambition and his anxiety, but now God is going to move from finances to family.
From this we learn that
Family Is as Much Faith as Finances.
We all know that finances are a matter of faith.
What we are now learning is that family is also a matter of faith.
The point of it all is this:
When you are married, all you do centers on your marriage.
All you do, whether it be good or bad, impacts your marriage.
But there is a very natural question that comes at this point in time.
How can I know I can trust God with my finances and my family?
Abraham has already settled the first issue as a result of the bitter lessons he has learned in life.
Now he enters into new territory and raises new questions.
What is my reward? Where is the family you promised me?
God responds to his question.
God Cuts A Covenant to Confirm His Commitment to Abraham's Family
A. Abraham Raises the Issue of His Family (Genesis 15:2-3).
1. Abraham asks for the reward he really wants, and it is not financial.
a. In Abraham's culture, a childless couple could select an heir to receive their goods and give them a burial if they have no son.
b. But Abraham doesn't want his servant to be his heir, especially since God had made a promise of a son.
c. It's interesting how utterly unconcerned Abraham is with his own physical and financial well-being.
d. His question rises out of faith: God has said He would protect him, and that is a settled issue.
e. Obviously, Abraham is focused on the original promise.
f. This is what got him to give up everything in the first place, and this is what has been keeping him going ever since then.
2. No matter how successful we are in our careers, there comes a time when our families mean the most to us.
a. We don't start out thinking this way.
b. We start out focused on our careers, our financial security and personal success.
c. But there comes a time when all of us would gladly sacrifice anything to have children who choose to walk with God.
d. This demands far more faith, far more trust, and far more risk than financial and career issues.
e. Money we can control; children we can't, whether it comes to having them or raising them.
This, by the way, is the first time the title Lord GOD is used in the Bible.
This title focuses on two things:
God is Lord, master, in control.
When you see LORD in upper case, you see God's proper name, Yahweh, the name that focuses on His complete and utter self-reliance, His independence from all except Himself, His total lack of need for anything or anyone. Lord in lower case speaks of God's ownership and mastery of all, of the fact that He is sovereign over all that happens.
GOD, on the other hand, is Yahweh when used with Adonai.
Abraham combines two of God's greatest names to say to Him,
You who control all things and who has the capacity to do all things,
You who can do all of this,
Where is my reward?
B. The Lord Promises to Give Abraham a Family (Genesis 15:4-6)
1. This man will not be your heir (Genesis 15:4).
2. One born from you will be your heir (Genesis 15:4).
This promise leads Abraham into his next great test.
Now he knows that he will father a son himself. Now comes the issue of whether or not Abraham will take the risk with God to trust Him to have that son through Sarah.
3. God promises to multiply Abraham (Genesis 15:5).
And all of this demonstrates Abraham's faith in God.
4. Abraham takes God at His Word.
Now the fact of the matter is this is not the first time Abraham has trusted God.
This statement is designed to show Abraham's response of faith to be one that marked him at the essential center of his being. Hebrews tells us that Abraham was a believer when he left Ur of the Chaldees several years before. Stephen tells us that the God of glory appeared to Abraham, and he responded by trusting him and obeying him. We have, at times, been critical of Abraham, and rightfully so. But Abraham is a man of great faith who falters and fails at times in his pilgrimage of risk and trust in God. Yet, at the core of his being, he continues to believe and trust God for His promise, and his hope in life is based entirely on God's word. Abraham is a man who chose to risk his life on God word, and his questions here show that. Thus, Abraham's question is an expression of his underlying faith. We realize that a man of faith can take control of his life and put his wife at great risk, but he is still a man of faith, struggling to trust God in the overwhelming currents and tides of life.
It is on the basis of this faith that Abraham is declared righteous. It is not because he does righteous things all the time, because he doesn't. It is because he has chosen to take the risk to trust God for life and death. What Abraham is doing now is working out the implications of that choice and that risk. And this is exactly the same thing we are doing in our lives.
There is one thing God wants us to do with our lives:
Take the Risk and Trust Him for Finances, Family, and Life.
Ultimately, this is the test of our faith.
Those Who Trust God for Eternal Life
Learn to Trust Him for Temporal Life.
We may struggle with our egos, with our fears, with our anger, with our bitterness, but those who trust God for eternal life learn to trust Him for temporal life. This is the working out of the righteousness God has implanted within them.