Praise the Lord this morning – say with me “hallelujah’, amen! Yes praise the Lord! I was praying with Freddie on Friday morning and I was saying to him that we, as Believer's today, need to learn to praise YHWH. As long as we have breath, we have what it takes to praise Him, amen! Now I know that for many this is not always as easy as it sounds, but hey, nobody said that our walk of faith would be easy! We must learn to praise YHWHand rejoice and even more so when the going gets tough – ok Craig now you’re stretching it – am I? What does James tell us? Let me remind you: James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
We want to be in that place where we lack nothing, right! Well it takes perseverance to get there as our faith is tested through the ‘good times’? No through trials of many kinds – so praise YHWH for trials of many kinds… because it is a great opportunity to grow our faith unto maturity! My message this morning is called “Growing our faith unto maturity”, and so as we walk if you will in the footsteps of faith following our Saviour – or our faith walk in Messiah, we can learn great lessons on maturing our faith from Abraham, or Abram as we look at the text today in Genesis 15 when YHWH makes a Covenant with Abram. Let us first pray!!!
Well I am sure that we all know, or rather have heard what faith is, right? Hebrews 11:1 says what? “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
But what is also interesting to note is that faith is ever changing – or rather it should be as you are maturing in YHWH. So the faith you have sitting here today is greater than the faith you had when you first believed – well I am truly hoping that it is – if it is not then what are you doing? Faith is like a muscle – it needs to be exercised. Now the ability to exercise faith and have the faith to exercise your faith is already been given you – did you know that. Romans 12:3 tells us that we should think more highly of ourselves than we ought to, but rather think of ourselves with sober judgement according to the measure of faith Elohim has given us! YHWH has given us all a measure of faith and that faith needs to be exercised to become stronger and bigger! How does this happen best? Through those trials of many kinds, often as YHWH leads us through those difficult places in our lives – He is in fact leading us to grow our faith to maturity! So let us look at Abraham, for to us who believe are children of Abraham, the man of faith – what a title!!! Do you want to be known as a man or woman of faith? Well it will take some growing, amen! As you know Abram left his family and followed YHWH based upon a promise from YHWH – the promise he would receive land and produce heirs – now this took great faith – yet YHWH had even greater tests in store for Abram’s faith! The passage we are looking at today deals with Abram’s faith and we can see how he too moved forward toward maturing in his faith in YHWH. As we read today let us consider how YHWH wants each of us to grow in the faith He has given us – that we may through trials persevere and move on to maturity, day by day, amen! Let’s read, turn with me to Genesis 15.
It is worth noting in this chapter 7 words or phrases that are used for the first time in the Scriptures, phrases that you see repeated frequently in the Scriptures hereafter, and they are: 1 – The Word of YHWH; 2 – Fear not; 3 – Reward; 4 – Heir and inherit or take possession; 5 – Believe; 6 – counted / credited; 7 – Righteousness. What this chapter shows us is that there is:
1 - No heirship without sonship: Romans 8:16-17 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are YHWH’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of YHWH and co-heirs with Messiah, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
2 – No Righteousness without faith: Romans 4:13 “It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.”
3 – No assurances without promises
4 – No blessings without suffering – “It had to become dark for Abram to see the stars!” As co heirs with Messiah we too share in His sufferings that we may also share in His glory. Amen!
So Abram looks up at the night sky and sees all these stars – millions – just imagine what Abram saw – wow, as he looked up and saw all these stars that I am sure he couldn’t count, it says he believed YHWH and it was credited to him as righteousness. His faith made him right with YHWH and he could see the promise before Him – He took YHWH at His Word. It could even be translated, “And he said AMEN to YHWH!” How do you take YHWH at His Word – do you Believe YHWH’s Word, period, no doubts? Do you believe His promises and assurances that are all yes and amen in Messiah?
YHWH reaffirms His Word by giving Abram a threefold reminder in:
1 – His Person: Who YHWH is!
He is Yahweh, He is YHWH. It is so sad at times how we can so easily forget who is actually in control of the events of our lives. And it do us good to truly remember that we serve YHWH, the YHWH of Hosts is His name – He is all powerful, He is perceptive – He knows all and HE is ever present – never will leave us. This is the One who gives us life and all His promises. This was the very mighty Elohim who was speaking to Abram and telling him what he will do. When YHWH speaks to you do you know who is speaking? HE is the I AM!!!
2 – His Power!
“Who brought you out…” The Lord reminds Abram it was He who brought Him out and that Abram was where he was that day because of the power of Elohim. YHWH’s arm is not too short, amen! By His power He has delivered you from sin and slavery. You did not lead yourself out – the Lord did – it is YHWH who saves, amen! Where we are, what we do and where we are at are all a product of YHWH's work in our lives. 1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of Elohim I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of Elohim that was with me.”
3 – His Plan!
YHWH reminds Abram that he brought him out in order for him to enter in to a new land – YHWH was going to take a childless old man, a pilgrim and make him a father of nations! Let me tell you something, YHWH has great plans for your life. Abram was around 85 years old here, he had been waiting about 10 years for the heir that was promised and would still wait some more, another 15 years before Isaac was born and he died at around 175 years old – he walked by faith for about a century, walking in YHWH’s plans! We must be careful not to hinder YHWH’s plans for our lives through unbelief which will only bring pain and hardship to ourselves – just look at Ishmael – Abram through unbelief thought he could help YHWH out! YHWH has plans for us and we are to be faithful to His Word at all costs – His plan is a good plan, His plans are always right and perfect.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares YHWH, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Do you realise that YHWH’s plan for you is a good plan? YHWH reassured Abram here of who He is – He is YHWH, His power to save and His plan to prosper and protect. This is the almighty Elohim (El Shaddai) we serve, amen!
Now these plans were a challenge to Abram’s faith, for as we know faith is always tested!!! And so Abram asking how he could know he would take possession of the promise was not a sign of unbelief or a lack of faith, but rather asking YHWH to show him a token of assurance, and to give Abram this assurance YHWH cuts covenant with him. Let me remind you today that whenever we may ask our Elohim for a token of assurance, He points to the cross where our Messiah Himself cut covenant and walked the Blood Path and Himself died for our sins to give us an inheritance and assurance of YHWH’s plans for our lives. And in this process there were certain challenges that would face Abram, let us look at what these were:
1 – Challenge of preparation!
YHWH tells Abram to prepare a sacrifice – this event was how covenants or contracts or treaties were made between two parties. They would cut the animals is half and arrange the pieces several feet apart and the blood would flow between the pieces and form what was known as the ‘blood path’. Both parties would then walk through the pieces together walking in the blood declaring their commitment to the contract or covenant, and in a sense saying to each other as blessings and curses were proclaimed, that if one should break the covenant then may they become like one of the sacrificed animals!
Now Abram had to prepare everything – think about it – slaughtering 3 animals, cutting them in half, and killing a dove and a pigeon arranging everything as was needed – this took a lot of effort and hard work on Abram’s part. You see when YHWH makes a requirement of our lives; it often requires us to commit to hard work on our part. The great things of YHWH do not come easy or cheap and they do not come to the lazy! YHWH’s best is reserved for those who are willing to pay the price of discipleship – those who have counted the cost and forsaken all to follow Him. So what is that price? Prayer, walking in holiness, separation from the world, total obedience! There is a challenge for us who believe – and that is to walk in obedience to YHWH’s Word – no matter what it takes! To become a living sacrifice – this is the challenge of preparation – a challenge for us today – to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice that are holy and pleasing to the Lord.
Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of Elohim’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to ELohim - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Elohim’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
2 – Challenge of protection
After Abram had prepared the animals in the prescribed way, he had to fight off the ‘birds of prey’ who were trying to eat and steal away from the carcases that lay slain on the ground. Abraham had to protect the sacrifice. This is very symbolic for us today as it shows that when YHWH begins to move in your life and you walk in total obedience to His Word, His plans as a living sacrifice, you can be sure that evil vultures will come and try to steal away and devour what YHWH is doing in your life. If you do not protect that call on your life, those birds of prey will come and try to steal away your time, your concentration, your commitment to YHWH and His plans for your life. Abram had prepared what was necessary and laboured to keep the birds away, or keep Satan away. It is interesting that in Yeshua's parable of the seeds, He gives reference to seed that fell along the path as the Sower scattered the seeds and says that the birds came and ate it up. He was speaking clearly here as He describes this as the one who when he hears the message of the Kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. If we are to produce a crop that yields more than what has been sown, then our hearts must be prepared – the preparation – and we are to keep the soil of our hearts good, protecting it from the enemy stealing out that which has been sown. You can’t have great character built up and then go hang out with the wrong crowd – bad company corrupts good character! We must daily guard and protect what YHWH wants us to do in our lives, giving no room for compromise or anything that may hinder us from seeing His plans come to pass. – No compromise and fight the good fight of faith and stand, stand and stand!!!
3 – Challenge of patience!
Picture this, Abram’s all ready – he has been faithful to YHWH’s instructions and now he has to wait. Waiting is one of the greatest hindrances to us walking fully in the great and wonderful plans of Elohim! Here he was ready; protecting the sacrifice and now was waiting. We are to make every effort to present ourselves as workmen approved by YHWH:
2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to Elohim as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
Abram had certainly done this, and it is at these moments in our lives that we are to faithfully wait on YHWH. As the sun was setting Abram fell asleep and it says a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. He waited so long, exhausted no doubt and fell asleep. It is interesting to note that in the parable of the ten virgins – they all fell asleep, only 5 however were prepared. Abraham was prepared and now asleep! He had to patiently wait on YHWH; we too need to learn that YHWH’s timing is not always our timing!!! Waiting on YHWH is a challenge and we will do well to wait on Him!
So Abram had three challenges here – prepare, protect and patiently wait – we can learn from this – too many today are waiting on YHWH, yet they have not prepared themselves to be living sacrifices and protected YHWH’s Word in their hearts with their all – prepare, protect, wait – then you are ready!!! Are you with me this morning?
It was now that YHWH would come and confirm Abram’s maturing faith in the darkness, where he would reveal the details of His plans and do the necessary requirements in cutting covenant to seal the promise.
Abram was in a deep sleep, and YHWH appeared to him and spoke to him in the darkness. Abraham had done all and now as the sun went down, being tired and weary thinking of what lay ahead fell into a deep sleep where fear had gripped him. How many times have you been in a place where you have been faithful and there comes a point where you begin to be overcome by doubt and darkness, where, how, when, what – starts filling your mind, questioning your faith? Abram did all to stand and YHWH spoke to him in a vision – HE had been brought to a dark time in order to mature his faith. It is in those dark moments where we can learn to trust YHWH more! YHWH allows our faith to be matured in the darkness! Guys like the disciples, Daniel, Noah, Joseph and many others all had to face their darkness to learn that YHWH could handle their situation. We who are saved should not fear the darkness – “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff comfort me”. In those dark moments in our lives YHWH is working out His plan, His perfect will and growing us into maturity! Nobody said that this walk of faith would be easy, but it sure is beneficial, amen!
What is so amazing here is that Abram did not walk through the ‘blood path’ of the covenant, only YHWH did – he came down in fire and passed through alone – and here we see that this covenant was a covenant of grace - a covenant of salvation by grace through faith and not of works of man, which depended solely upon YHWH, who keeps His Word. So just like Adam was asleep when YHWH took a rib from his side to make eve, Abram was asleep and could do noting to ‘help’ YHWH. When we are helpless it is then that YHWH is able to do great things for us, amen!
Abram waited by faith and YHWH was faithful to His promise. Waiting is not simply doing nothing, being lazy! Waiting is the endurance of sacrificial living and fighting the good fight!
Hebrews 6:12 “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”
Waiting is allowing YHWH to do what He will do without us trying to do it for Him! Faith is living without scheming. In this chapter Abram listened to YHWH and exercised faith, in chapter 16 he listened to his wife and exercised unbelief! Wow how is that for marriage counselling! He ceased to walk in the Spirit and began to walk in the flesh. We are to be very careful not to outrun YHWH, or run ahead of ourselves if you will – boy does the ‘flesh’ just love to ‘help’ YHWH, but true faith is shown in patience and endurance, amen! This is the wonderful picture of Messiah Yeshua – the wonderful sacrifice that He made for us on the cross where He walked the “blood path’ of the covenant of slavation by grace He has made with us. YHWH kept His Word – we broke covenant by sinning and He came and was the sacrificial Lamb – He shed His own Blood for us, sealing His promises in His Blood!
With YHWH coming down and passing through the sacrifice, walking the ‘blood path’ gave Abram a sure promise to hold on to – YHWH’s Word was confirmed! This is also symbolic of our Messiah coming down and walking the ‘blood path’ becoming a sacrifice for our sins, sealing and confirming for us a covenant relationship with YHWH YESHUA for those who believe in Him, bringing the assurance of eternity, assurance of an eternal inheritance and dwelling, amen!
Where are you at today? Where is you faith at? Is it perhaps somewhat limited or is your faith being exercised unto maturity?
Maybe you have done all in preparing your life as a daily living sacrifice – dying daily to the world, you have been fighting the good fight of faith – keeping out those birds – and yet you find yourself at a place of seeming darkness – what now Lord! Know this - YHWH is maturing you and you need to consider it pure joy my friends. YHWH has sealed His promises in the sacrifice of our Messiah Yeshua; we have an inheritance in Him. What plans and promises have you been holding on to – perhaps for years, yet you are still waiting? Stay prepared, stay faithful, stay watchful, YHWH’s promises are yes and amen in Messiah.
When Abram was concerned about himself, YHWH said, “I AM”
When Abram was concerned about his heirs (what was promised), YHWH said, “I Will”
When Abram was concerned about the land, YHWH said, “I have given”
And so too today as we sit here, YHWH gives us these same assurances in Messiah to us His children today.
Abram believed YHWH – do you believe YHWH? Believe it has all been given by the I AM and all His plans will come to pass therefore be at peace and praise YHWH, can you say “Hallelujah” with me…HALLELUJAH! Have you got breath? Yes you do, you are here right now – by the grace of Elohim – then praise Him, amen!!!
Will you by faith look up and see YHWH’s promises…. Now prepare yourselves for action – by becoming a living sacrifice, fight off the attacks of the enemy and rest in ELohim as you endure every circumstance with great expectation in His mighty hand moving in your life equipping your faith to walk boldly in His plans for you. Maturing you – growing your faith unto maturity. Believe afresh today, amen!