July 14, 2019

When You Are Anxious for God's Promises

What are some things you may be anxious about right now? Your finances? Are you worried about having enough for the future, or that you don't have enough now? Security concerns like employment, or having security, mainly financial security in retirement years? Planning to move to a new city/state for a new job. Moving to a new home, or that you're trying to find a new home to purchase for your family to settle into. 

That could cause some anxiety a bit, couldn't it?

In Genesis 15:1-6 is the account where God was speaking to Abram and he was being told about the future of his life and how great his family would become. This was being told to a man who was physically beyond the age of engaging in sexual intimacy with a woman, and yet somehow he was going to become a father for the very first time? 
1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.”2 Abram said, “O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” 4 Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” 5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. ~ Genesis 15:1-6
Sure, Abram had a son from his wife's mistress Hagar, but he didn't have a child through his wife Sarai. 

This was a great concern to him because he didn't have a child to rightfully inherit his estate. Isaac could not inherit anything because the child was not born through marriage. Sarai and Abram had become impatient for God's promise to be fulfilled and they had decided to take matters into their own hands, which then resulted in Isaac being born and jealousy between Hagar and Sarai.

Abram had a fear about the future because so much time had passed and he must have realized how impossible this was to become a reality. But with God there are no impossibilities, only miraculous opportunities.

So, in the midst of uncertainties in our life, how can we find ourselves relating to Abram's situation?

A GREAT COMFORT

1. God will address your fear. 

Being anxious is a form of fear and how often can you think of times in the past when you felt anxious about something that it might not happen because of whatever you could think of that wouldn't work out, and the whole thing would end up in a complete mess? 

Ever worried, or felt anxious about something a little too much that it caused you to be afraid?

God addressed Abram’s fear in verses 1-3 of Genesis 12 and Abram had heard from God 3 times since Genesis 12 concerning the promise that was made to him.
  1. Genesis 12:2, God said, “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.”
  2. Genesis 13:15, God promised the land to his offspring
  3. Genesis 13:16, God said that Abram’s offspring would be as numerous as the dust of the earth, too numerous even to count.
Abram was 75 years old when he was called to leave Ur of the Chaldeans (Genesis 12:4) and Sarai was approximately 65 years old too. They had travelled approximately 1,775 miles in their journey from Ur to Haran, to Shechem, then down to Egypt and back to Shechem. When Abram went to rescue Lot when he was captured by King Chedorlaomer, he and his army of 318 men traveled more than 100 miles to defeat them. All of which was by foot and at a very slow pace at times, too.

When we read each chapter in Scripture, we sometimes forget that there is time involved when we read. We can read Genesis 1:1-2:3 and read 34 verses, but these verses in creation occurred over a period of 7 days. Genesis 12:1-15:6 is no different, but how much time are we talking about?

This span of time, from Genesis 12:1-15:6 was approximately 10 years.

What was Abram’s main concern? He had no children. Yes, he had acquired children and family members, taking on Lot and his family and all of their possessions, when they left Ur to go to the land that God was promising Abram.

The chapter begins by saying that God spoke to Abram after he had defeated King Chedorlaomer and was blessed by King Melchizedek, the word of the Lord came to Abram and He said, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” Genesis 15:1

An important aspect to recognize here is that this reveals even more the Omniscience of God in this story. God knows more about us and how the story of our lives will be played out more than we realize. God's sovereign plan will be fulfilled and as much as we might we to know how He has written that story, it's better that we don't know and trust God by faith that He is doing, not just what is best for our lives, but what will bring Him the most glory through us.

God had already spoken to Abram concerning his promise to him, not once, not twice, but three times and He is now going to address Abram’s fear that he still does not have the offspring that God had promised to him, years before.

How many times have you read one or more of God's promises and not really heard what God has said?

Take note of what God said to Abram, just as He would say to you and I today with a concern in our lives - FEAR NOT!

These words are a reminder to Abram, as they are to us that we are not to live in fear, but by faith in God. When we live in/by faith we acknowledge that God is in control, but when we start to have fear about anything, we step into believing that God’s not in control and therefore, we must do something to regain that control, even if it is to regain control for God.

When a person walks in faith with regard to God’s will, there is tremendous peace. (Gideon, The Lord is Peace, Judges 6:24, YHWH SHALOM)

A GREAT PROTECTOR

In addition, God addressed Abram’s fear by reminding him that God was his shield - His protector whenever someone would attempt to assault him, or his family.
  • Psalm 3:3, “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.”
  • Psalm 18:2, The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
  • Proverbs 30:5, Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
When a person walks by faith with God, they have peace and they trust God to protect them during the trials they will experience along the journey. It doesn't mean that they won't go through difficult experiences, but they will have God with them to carry them through those difficult times and not feel alone.

A GREAT REWARD

Thirdly, God addressed Abram’s fear by reminding him that his reward would be very great. God’s promises in the future to us are always better than anything we could ever possess today.

The promise of God to Abram was to bless him with a family that would be greater than the dust of the ground.

If God has made a promise to you, you have to remember that His promise will be fulfilled in His timing and not ours.

When you read verse 2, you see that Abram makes a bit of a desperate confession to God and he believes that he’s going to die without ever experiencing the joy of fatherhood.

His discouragement was probably on behalf of his wife too that now after 10 years, there was no sign of a child in their lives. The territory was there but there was no one to dwell in it, as God said there would be. Even after 3 instances of reminders concerning God’s promise for a family and land there was no sign of it becoming a reality.

We must remember that God’s promises are fulfilled in His timing and not ours and that as we continue to walk by faith, encouraging ourselves in the Word, praying and seeking God’s continued presence in our lives, as each day of anticipation for the fulfillment of God’s promise comes and goes, we must be reassured that God will fulfill every promise of His that He has made.
“Prove the faithfulness of God by carrying every want to Him.” George Müeller
2. God will address your future (v. 4-5)
Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Genesis 15:4-5
And so, God speaks again to Abram, stating to him that Eliezer would not be his heir, but that he and Sarai would experience the birth of a son.

I find it amazing that while reading these verses, we’ll acknowledge that God makes a promise to them that their would be an heir to their family, but we may miss the awesomeness of this display of the Omniscience of God in this too!

God knows the past of Abram’s life. He knows the present of Abram’s life and He knows the future of Abram’s life too!

But you and I are no different that Abram concerning the fulfillment of this promise, especially when the circumstances of his and Sarai’s life were not very favorable for them to have children either.

Abram is in his mid 80’s and Sarai is in her mid 70’s. He probably doesn’t have the energy and she, likely can’t have children because of her age. It seems like there’s no possibility at all for this to even happen.

But aren’t we reminded in Scripture, in Luke 18:27, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

F. B. Meyer said in his book, Patriarchs of the Faith and speaking of God to Abram, “I fill heaven and earth; cannot I fill one lonely soul?” (Patriarchs of the Faith, p. 71)

While you and I might look for something in the natural realm concerning the promise that God has made, He takes Abram outside and invites him to look toward heaven and number the stars in the sky, if he could.

God is the one who placed the stars in the sky, in the first place (Genesis 1:16-19), on the fourth day of creation.

The highest degree of impracticability of becoming a father seemed so distant to Abram at this point, but God shows a real picture to him of the nighttime sky and all of its beauty, to show him that his future family will be as numerous and as beautiful too.

It’s just as the psalmist wrote in Psalm 121:1-2, “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

God was showing Abram, and even us too today, that for every fear we may have we are to trust God and that for every promise that God has made to us, we are to trust God.


Have you looked toward heaven lately?

3. God will acknowledge your faith (v. 6)
Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6
This is a great demonstration for us of Abram's trust in God’s promise to him without ever having to do anything except believing what God has said.
The action here by Abram is threefold and our faith in the promises of God should be no different today.

First, Abram believe the Lord, he trusted, believed, he had the assurance of God concerning God’s promise to him and what his family would look like. Spurgeon said, “The moment a man truly trusts his God he is justified.”

Second, it is also a demonstration of the type of faith we are to exhibit when it comes to the promises of God for ourselves too. Faith not works.

Third, it is the example of what it means to be justified by faith, which is a biblical doctrine that is directly associated with salvation.

We have the privilege today of believing as much of what we hear personally from God through Scripture. What have you read recently in Scripture that causes you to trust Him even more?

Abram’s righteousness that God declared was so because of his faith in what God had said to him. He believed and trusted in the promises of God. 

Do you trust in God's promises from Scripture, or do you doubt that He can do what He says He can do?

Abraham was a man of faith! He had failed God before and he had obeyed God before, but now he was trusting in Him completely with regard to the promise that was being made to him, in a way that Abram couldn’t fulfill, but only God could!

Abram’s faith in God was the means that God declared him righteous - justified by faith and this is the same type of faith that a person needs to have demonstrated from themselves concerning the means of salvation. 

A person is not justified, or declared righteous before God by their own works. No adherence to the law in its perfection could ever be the means to justify a person’s salvation. No, being declared righteous by God had to be accomplished through God’s work that was done for us and not our own.


Naturally speaking, Abram and Sarai were old people and God was saying they were going to become a great nation and his name would be great too. Their descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Could you imagine both of them and their bewilderment concerning how would they survive that many conceptions and births of children?  

God’s ways are far different than ours and much better too.

I’d like you to read these closing words by Charles Spurgeon from his sermon, Justification by Faith - Illustrated by Abraham’s Righteousness, Dec. 1868.
“Dear friends, this last word, and I send you home. Have you believed in God? Have you trusted Christ? O that you would do so today! To believe that God speaks truth ought not to be hard; and if we were not very wicked this would never need to be urged upon us, we should do it naturally. To believe that Christ is able to save us seems to me to be easy enough, and it would be if our hearts were not so hard. Believe thy God, man, and think it no little thing to do so. May the Holy Ghost lead thee to a true trust. This is the work of God, that ye believe on Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. Believe that the Son of God can save, and confide thyself alone in him, and he will save thee. He asks nothing but faith, and even this he gives thee; and if thou hast it, all thy doubts and sins, thy trials and troubles put together, shall not shut thee out of heaven. God shall fulfil his promise, and surely bring thee in to possess the land which floweth with milk and honey.”
As you read the promises of God that He has stated in Scripture, even if it is something in the future that He wishes to see become a reality in your life, know that it is part of His will to be fulfilled, have faith trust to God and be patient for it to become realized. 

His delays are not his denials.

Application reminders:
  • Trust in the Divine assurance that God gives through His Word.
  • Trust in the timing of God’s promises.
  • Study the passages of Scripture that recalls people who demonstrated faith.
  • Read stories about those who lived a life of great faith like George Müeller.

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