Today’s Message:  “20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.”  Romans 4:20-22

 

Introduction:

We’re working to wrap up this series, and with two messages left it’s unfortunately taken a lot longer to wrap up this series than 21 days…but I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have.  I’m finding that the more I write the more I’m learning myself.  So…even if you’re not enjoying this series…and I’m writing to myself…at least I’m learning something.

I’m learning that there’s so much more to living a life surrendered to the Lord that I thought or knew…and that I really didn’t know what a surrendered life looks like.  Which means I have a lot of work, and surrendering left to do.  There’s a whole lot of me that still needs to die so that Christ can live through me.

Today’s Message:

You know…the great faith that Abraham had was legendary, and thanks to his faith I’m an heir to the promises that God made him.  However, I believe one of the things that impresses me about the life of Abraham is his level of surrender.  It took a lot of faith AND surrender to walk around all that time with everyone knowing you as Abram…but surrendering his identity…and enduring all the ridicule to walk around introducing himself to people who knew him as Abram…as Abraham “the father of many nations”.  See…while he was walking around saying that…he didn’t even have one child yet.  Ishmael wasn’t even born yet…and here’s this guy walking around calling himself “the father of many nations” because God told him that’s who he was.

Serious Question:  Anyone other than me feel like they may not have been as successful with that as Abraham was?  Seriously.  Year after year went by…NO kids…and eventually the one that I did have was the one that wasn’t ordained by God for me to have.  Day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year goes by.  “Hi.  I’m Abraham the father of many nations”.

Anyone ever wonder how many times he ran into the same people day after day…and year after year….and they knew Abraham didn’t have a child yet?  Again…anyone other than me have serious doubts that we could’ve carried out what Abraham did?

That’s not even the beginning.  Listen…I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many people who were or are as wealthy as Abram was…and have God come and tell them to leave everything you have and know…and just go.  But that’s exactly what God said to Abram.  Get up and start going towards some land that I will tell you about.  Don’t bring anything with you…just get up and go.

Can you imagine the sacrifice and surrender that took?  Serious question here again:  Anyone other than me know that they wouldn’t have been so eager to listen to God?  Heck…I may have even asked God if He was sure that’s what He wanted me to do.

The point being that the level of surrender of Abraham’s life is just as impressive to me as the level of faith he had in what God said to him.  He just took what God said to him…and surrendered his life accordingly.  Here’s an ugly truth about myself I can share…I am no where close to being as full of faith or as surrendered as Abraham…which is why I know that I still have a lot of work to do.

Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90 when Isaac was born. That means, that they conceived, did the deed, they procreated…they had sex…when they were 99 and 89. To say they were old is just being nice. The chances would be high that the “equipment” of a couple that age might not be working properly.

Guess again.

Yet despite all of the odds that were against Abraham, Scripture says HE DID NOT WAVER and was FULLY CONVINCED that God would do what he promised.

Let’s face it.  Today we’re hard pressed as Christians to be fully convinced that once we call upon the name of the Lord we’re saved.  There are so many Christians out there who believe that they can lose their salvation, and so they work as hard as possible to maintain it.  We have a hard enough time being fully convinced that God’s grace is sufficient to cover and forgive all of our sins…and we’re even having more of a hard time believing in the Ministry of Reconciliation.   That being that when we call upon the name of the Lord to be saved, and we become new creations in Christ…and we’re IN Christ…at that point God is no longer counting our sins against us.

See…just taking a moment to look at Abraham’s life…and I’m able to see just how much I still have to learn…how much I still need my faith to grow…and how much more I need to surrender.  I can’t even look at Abraham’s life without seeing that I’ve got such a long way to go…and that’s what keeps me humble and from getting into pride.

I’ve said it a few times…and it bears repeating that if you’re looking for a pastor who is perfect, flawless, and never misses God…then I’m not that guy.  I make mistakes on a daily basis.  I have times where I doubt God.  I have times where I disobey God.  I am always making mistakes.  I’m always missing God…and I have a lot of me that still gets in God’s way.  So…if that disappoints you…I am sorry…but I’m not perfect…and never will claim to be.

Yet despite all of the odds that were against Abraham, Scripture says HE DID NOT WAVER and was FULLY CONVINCED that God would do what he promised.

To waver means that one vacillates irresolutely between choices. Abraham did not do this. He pushed aside the fear and worry and doubt that {must have} crept in to tempt him to believe otherwise.

Again.  There are certainly times in my life that I waiver.  Over the last couple of years I’ve learned to trust God more, but there are times where I am tempted to get into fear and doubt and worry.  I think back to the months that I was without a job with bills mounting, and I was beginning to get into worry and doubt.

God’s done a lot of good work in my life on that side of things.  There was a time when I would be so full of fear and doubt and worry that I’d have this ugly knot in the pit of my stomach.  It eventually caused me to have some serious medical issues…but you know…as God began to deal with me on trusting Him…and I began to learn to trust Him more and more…the knot in my stomach went away…and so too did the medical issues.  Not only did He work to heal and help my unbelief…He also healed a serious medical problem.

There’s a much more peaceful…and restful feeling in my life today.  Not because of anything other than the fact that I’ve begun to be convinced that God really does have my back, and that He really is in charge.  Again…I’m not perfect…but I am more convinced today that God’s got me in the palm of His hand than I was a couple of years ago…and I know that I’m only going to get better…because I’m God’s workmanship…and I know like the song says…”He’s Not Finished With Me Yet”.

To be convinced means one is brought to belief. Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness (Galatians 3:6; Romans 4:3). He was absolutely certain that God would do as He said He would.

And He did.

Abraham believed God…and it was accounted to him as righteousness.  Oh…Lord…that I would get to the place in my life that no matter what comes my way…I am absolutely certain that You will see me through whatever situations may come.  I know…usually at this point there’s always this question:

“What about Hagar and Ishmael?” you might ask. Good question. I don’t know for sure. All I know is that the Scripture says he did not waver. Was that before or after Ishmael’s birth? I think after. Ishmael was 13 or 14 when Isaac was born. You know that had to be excruciating waiting for the promise of God.

But he did.

Are you catching this?  Ishmael was a teenager before Isaac was born.  Thirteen or fourteen years passed between the birth of Ishmael and the birth of Isaac.  I don’t know about you, but he continued to believe God even though he made the wrong choice by trying to help God out with Hagar and the birth of Ishmael.

Let’s get to one more extremely amazing illustration of Abraham’s willingness to completely surrender EVERYTHING to God.  This son…Isaac…that he believed and waited upon God for so long…including the thirteen or fourteen more years between the birth of Ishmael and Isaac…he still was willing to surrender everything…including the son that he waited on God for so long to receive.  He was willing to sacrifice Isaac.  He was willing to surrender the very son he was promised.

Serious Question:  Anyone other than me question whether or not you could do what Abraham did?  I mean walk around for years calling yourself the father of many nations knowing that you don’t have even have one child…and knowing that the people you’re telling that to know you don’t have a child either.  You try to help God out by doing things your own way (this is the Hagar Ishmael part of the story) and even after that you still have another fourteen years to wait for the thing that God promised you, and then God comes to you and asks you to surrender to Him the very thing you’ve been believing Him for all that time?  I know that I need to grow because I am not so certain that I’d be able to trust God that much…and that’s what this series is all about…it’s about getting us to look at OUR lives…and see that we’re not as holy and spotless as we think we are.

Friends, without faith, it is absolutely, without a doubt, impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6)

Friends…I long to have the kind of faith it takes to be fully convinced that God’s always going to cause everything to work out for good.  I certainly want my life to be more surrendered to the Lord than it is…there are two things I can take away from the life of Abraham.  I need my faith in God to be strengthened…and I need to die more to myself.

Anyone else look at Abraham’s life and see that or is it just me?

Points for Pondering:

  • Where are you lacking faith?
  • Where is God calling you to step out in faith and trust Him even when, especially when you don’t see?

Be A Doer Not Just A Reader:

  • Today, tell God that you trust Him with your situation.
  • Tell God that you trust Him with your spouse or children.
  • Tell God that you trust Him to bring glory through your pain even though it’s severe.

Conclusion & Prayer:

I don’t really have a whole lot to say in closing out this message today.  This has really been a good series.  As I’ve said already it’s given me cause to take a serious look at where I’m at…and come to some honest conclusions.  Conclusions like I really need my faith to be stronger and I really need to surrender more of my life and sacrifice more of myself.  Conclusions like there’s a whole lot more within me that God needs to work out of me than I realize…and that’s what this series is about…it’s about getting us to take a realistic look at our lives…and try to learn what the surrendered life is and looks like so that we can in return ask God to help us to display those things more in our lives.

I don’t know about you…but I am hoping for just a slight measure of the faith and surrender and sacrifice that Abraham had…and I know that I am failing way short of having even the slight measure that I wish I had…but the good news is that God’s always working within me, on me, and through me to get me closer and closer to being a clearer image of His Son…and that’s my ultimate goal…to display more of Christ and less of me…and the ONLY way to do that is to continue to surrender more of my life to Him in the fully convinced way that Abraham did.

Lord God…I guess I don’t really have a “situation” right now…but I do trust You with all my heart.  I may not always display that trust, and I may some times find myself having doubts…but the truth is You’ve come through in my life time and again.  I most definitely trust You with my family.  I trust You with my parents, I trust You with my in-laws, and I trust You with all of my loved ones…and most of all I trust that You will always work things together for good in my life…because it’s done to bring YOU glory.  Lord…I want more and more of my life to bring YOU glory…to bring YOU honor…and to bring YOU worship…for YOU alone are worthy…and NOTHING and NO ONE compares to You.  Help me…Lord God…to surrender more of myself to You…help me to sacrifice more of the things that keep me further from You than I want to be…and most of all help my unbelief to become fully convinced faith…thank You for always challenging my heart…and for showing me things to keep me humble, grounded, and knowing that the only thing in my life that’s worth any glory at all is You.  I love You so much…and give You all the glory…all the honor…and all the praise.  In Jesus’ name…Amen & Amen.