Sermon Outline January 21 & 28, 2018

01/21/18

Pastor Leonard W. DeWitt

“Faith Triumphs Over Fear”

Genesis 15:1-6

Introduction

If you are a city-dweller in the 21st century, and you are outside looking up at the night sky, what do you see? Probably a starless gray dome.

You know that in fact: There are myriads of stars up there but you can’t see them because of smog and air pollution.

That was not a problem in Abraham’s day. Scientists tell us that there are at least 250 billion stars up there. God used the imagery of the stars to impress upon Abraham a promise. He was making to him about future descendants that would come from him.

Observe Four Key Phrases:

In the opening paragraph of this chapter we have what Bible scholars call the law of first occurrence.

This principle states that the first time a word or phrase is used in the Bible, that usage establishes its basic meaning throughout scripture. As we shall see, four such phrases appear for the first time in these verses.

These four phrases will be repeated many times throughout the Bible.Let’s look at Genesis 15:1-6 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield,[a] your very great reward.[b]”

2 But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit[c] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”

3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”

5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[d] be.”

6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
1st Phrase – “the word of the LORD came”
2nd phrase – “Do not be afraid” or “Fear not”
3rd phrase – “I am your shield”
4th phrase – “Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”

This last phrase is the earliest statement found in the Bible that gives us the essence of the gospel: that Salvation is by grace through faith. We cannot earn favor with God. We receive His favor as a free gift when we place our trust in Him. The moment we place our faith in the LORD, He credits our faith to us as righteousness.
A. God loves to communicate with us — “The Word of the Lord came.”
B. Abram’s Fear

1. God appeared to Abram in a vision and said — “Do not be afraid Abram”. Genesis 15:1

These words indicate that this great man of faith was probably fearful – but of what? He had earlier experienced a great victory. So why was he afraid?

a. He may have felt he insulted the King of Sodom and that the king might be vengeful.
Oh, why wasn’t I more diplomatic? Did I have to speak so shyly or bluntly to the king?

b. Maybe he was fearful of Kedorlaomer, the king of the east, whom he defeated in battle. That king was a proud monarch and he may be planning a return visit.

c. He may have been fearful that he had misunderstood the promises of God.
• Ten years earlier, God told Abram – Genesis 13:15-16 “All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring[a] forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.”

• Proverbs 13:12 tells us, “Hope deferred make the heart sick.” Ten years and that promise had not come to pass. That sickness was probably weighing on his soul.

• He probably wondered how he could have a multitude of descendants when he had no children.
While he was thrashing around in his troubled sleep he became aware that he was not alone. There was a Presence with him.

God’s message came to him — “Do not be afraid, Abram for I am your shield, your very great reward.” Genesis 15:1

Folks —
1. God still speaks to us.
Isaiah 43:1-7 But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.

4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.

5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.

6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—

7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Isaiah 43:10-12 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.

11 I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.

12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God.

2. He doesn’t want us to be afraid.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

3. He is our shield – Before Joyce and I started going with each other.

4. He promises to never leave us. Genesis 13:5b-6 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together.

5. He is our great reward.
C. The LORD is our shield. We need to trust Him.
• Have you learned to trust Him who is invisible?
When Jesus stood before Pilate and the Governor told Him that he had authority over the LORD – Jesus replied: “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above …” John 19:11a

• Our LORD trusted the Father explicitly.

1. Consider the example of the three young Hebrew men.

Daniel 3:13-18 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So, these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?

15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.

17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] from Your Majesty’s hand.

18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

2. Peter and John brought before the Sanhedrin and were forbidden to speak further about Jesus. Acts 4:18-20 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!

20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Quote:
“Christians are immortal until their work is done. Nothing can touch us or hurt us, except by permission of our God, who is our living shield.”
3. Jesus said to His disciples caught in a storm – Matthew 14:26-27 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

D. God is our great reward.
Abraham had one nagging concern — the longing for descendants.
• The promise God made him years before had not been fulfilled. Genesis 15:2-6 But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit[a] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”

3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”

5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[b] be.”

6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

1. While Abram was asleep, God spoke to him and dismissed that fear. Genesis 15:12-21 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.

13 Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.

14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.

15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age.

16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.

18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[a] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—

19 the land of the Kenites,Kenizzites, Kadmonites,

20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites,

21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
a. Earlier God told him that his descendants would be like the dust of the earth.
b. Now God tells him they will be like the stars of the heavens.

2. These two metaphors indicate that Abraham would have two distinct lines of descendants.
a. One would be an earthly line of descent—
▪ The nation Israel descended through Isaac.
▪ The Arab people descended through Ishmael.
b. He would also have a spiritual line of descent through Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:29 “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Galatians 3:5-6 So again, I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[c]

We are his spiritual descendants.
Note:
We have no further record of Abraham ever being troubled by fear.
All he had to do was step out of his tent at night and look up at the stars and he was reassured God was in control.

Folks: God IS OUR GREAT REWARD. Genesis 15:6 “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

Conclusion:
1. We may be inadequate but God is more than adequate. Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

2. We may be weak, but His is strong. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

3. He is the eternal PROMISE KEEPER. 2 Corinthians 1:20 “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

4. From cover to cover the Bible teaches that there is only one way of salvation – the way of faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

a. Abraham walked and lived by faith. Hebrews 11:8-9a “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.”

5. We don’t have to be afraid. 2 Timothy 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,

39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

6. We need to totally trust our LORD. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Prayer

Father, thank you for giving us Your inspired word, your incarnate Word.

Teach us how to abandon ourselves to you in faith.
We love you LORD. We believe in you Jesus. We surrender our lives to you. Take us, use us, be glorified in and through us – forever.

Amen