1954 "Buckle Up! You're Going On An Adventure!" Genesis 12:1-9
I was in Spokanne Washington in the airport flying home about a week ago, and I saw this little advertisement from an airline that says "feel free to actually enjoy what you do." And I looked at that and smiled and I said "Well, thank you. I actually do enjoy what I do." But what caught my attention more than this was the sign by the same airline company, they had a banner on the wall and the banner read "Buckle up you're going on an adventure." They were selling rides from one city to another city. I thought about that in terms of tonight's study. That's why the title is call that. Because that could not be more true of anyone than it was of Abraham. Abraham in following God's plan for his life, found that it's the most exciting adventure anyone could ever hope to go on. I believe a sense of adventure is missing from most Christians' life even though the will of God revealed and followed I believe is indeed the greatest adventure. But that seems to be missing from a lot lives. The whole concept of what's next God? What do you have in store? Peggy Newnan was a speech writer for former president Ronald Regan and she said something that captured my attention. She wrote these words "It is odd that some Christians see themselves just as the media does, as bland guys in grey suits with grey buzz cuts. They ought to see themselves as a young Marlin Bradeau on a Harley for they are the true antiestablishment, the true rebels with a cause." I read that and it resonated, yeah! The Christian life ought to be the most exciting thing in the world. Is it? Is it for you? I want you to think about it this way; your destination is already set, you're going to heaven, why not enjoy the ride? Why not enjoy the scenery? It doesn't mean you're not going to have suffering or trials or heartache. On this road there are hairpin turns, bumps, potholes, it would be boring otherwise but the scenery is outstanding. It is indeed an adventure. Some time ago, the associated press put out a little news article about a 52 year old man who was sleep-walking in Pasadena, California. It's dangerous enough to live in Pasadena, California but to sleep walk is even more dangerous and he was walking around only in his pajamas carrying an alarm clock set to go off at 6 am. Well, the police caught op with him and the article concluded by saying the police beat the clock in waking him. Now does that little cameo of guy sleep walking with an alarm clock in Pasdena sound familiar? That's how a lot of people live their lives -- sleep walking. Even Christians. They don't really know where they're going. There's no sense of purpose. They're going somewhere but they don't know where. A spiritual daze. Last week, we began our series making your mark, we discovered that people who make their mark have a past. Sometimes, it has failure. Sometimes there is death. Often times, disappointment. We come to the table to following our Lord with that past, that baggage. Tonight, we discover another principle about people who make their mark and that is people who make their mark for the Lord respond to God. They respond appropriately to God. There's three movements we're going to look at in our story. Three movements of Abraham's life beginning in verse 1 we're going to go down to about verse 10. And these three movements tell us the adventure that Abram was on. And tell us how he responded to God. Now there's a lot of elements in this story. God is speaking that's how we open up chapter 12. God is talking. Abraham is listening. As he's listening, he believes, faith grows in his heart. And then, beginning in verse 4, he does something about that. He obeys God and then the rest of that area, that paragraph shows the blessings that come out of it. And so this is the pattern that we're going to look at tonight. These three movements. That truth or the word of God leads to faith, number 1. Faith leads to obedience number 2. And obedience leads to blessing and that's an adventure. By the way, just to note, Abram is 75 years young in our story. That's where he begins. So don't ever think that age is an obstacle. Somebody once said, "If wrinkles must be written upon our brows let them not be written on our hearts." He was 75 years old but he died at 175 so he has 100 years of walking with the Lord. That makes me feel better as I get older. Let's look at the first movement that God's word or truth leads to faith. Now the Lord had said to Abram verse 1 "Get out of your country. From your family and from your father's house to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and I will curse him who curses you and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Would you notice how it begins? "Now the Lord said..." That's significant because God hadn't said anything for a long time if we read Genesis correctly. The last time God spoke was to Noah. There's been this eerie silence. You could say "Well, God spoke at the flood..." yes not audibly but in judgment. "God spoke at the tower of Babel..." yes not audibly but in judgment. But now God is speaking once again to this obscure Semitic (sp?) man living in Ur of the Caldes and then in Heron and He tells him to leave. We understand in this paragraph that there are two ways to look at it. First, God gives a command, then God gives several promises that go on after them. Abraham is listening to this. As he listens to it, something happens within him that causes him to act and there's a principle here. And that is God's word leads to faith. The principle is found, it's articulated in Romans chapter 10: "So then, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." Here is God giving his word and faith is welling up inside him. Look at the command. "Get out of your country, from your family, from your father's house to a land that I will show you." Notice that God's first words weren't "Hi! My name's God. I know who you are, let's meet each other." The first thing God says was an imperative: "Leave. Get out." Quite an introduction. He's told to leave his country, notice, his family, and his father's house, why? Because those things form his early environment that molded his thinking. He has to make a clean break with the past to enter into the future. In other words, God is saying "I'm going to bless you but I'm not going to tell you that 'til verse 2. I have blessings in store for you. But first you must be wiling to enjoy them to make a break with your past. Why? Because your past, those relationships, that environment can be detrimental to your spiritual growth." It's no different with us. When we come into faith, trusting in Christ, we're told to repent, turn from the past, those things that gripped us. Make a clean break with it. Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow after me." And I think that to the extent that we live, leave the old life. To the extend we leave the old life is the extent to which we will enjoy the new life. I see a lot of Christians who don't have any sense of adventure and joy because the past is gripping them. So that's the command. And look at the promises. Verse 2. First of all he says "...to a land I will show you..." and the end of verse 1 "I will make you a great nation... I will bless you and make your name great and you shall be a blessing... I will bless those who bless you... I will curse him who curses you." Five times I counted "I will", the five I will's of God. Now why? Because God is obviously emphasizing it's Him who's doing this. "Oh yeah, Abram you're going to cooperate with me because I'm going to call on you to obey me but let me just tell you, let me spell it out for you right now, this is holy of me. This is something I'm going to do in my might and my power." Joseph Parker, the preacher who preached at the same time Spurgeon did in London said, "Great lives are trained by great promises." And just look at those promises. God promises what He'll do for him, what He'll do in him and what He'll do through him. If you look at it, this is what He'll do for him. I'll make you a great nation. This is what God will do in him. I'll bless you. This is what God will do through him. In you all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Now Abraham is listening to all this and as he's listening something is happening because God has made a promise to him. Now stop there for a moment. God gives him a command but the promise is 5 times what God says He will do and that to me is significant. Sometimes, people will emphasize that the Christian life is what you ought to do for God. Shame on you because you need to do more for God. That's not where it begins friend. I remember back in the '60's. The famous speech still in my head that John Kennedy was famous for. He's famous for a lot of things but one thing he said is "Ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country." And I'll never forget that as a little boy. And a lot of people think that's how it is with God. Ask not what God can do for you but what you can do for God. Here's the truth; you can't do anything for God 'til you first realize what God promises to do for you. Ours is a response to the promise. I John chapter 4: We love him because he first loved us. Look at verse 2: I will make you a great nation. I can't help but think of God smiling when He says that. Oh, it's to be taken seriously but there's got to be a sense of humor in God he's saying I'm going to make a great nation out of a guy who's wife is infertile. He didn't even have one child yet and God says I'm going to make you a great nation. Now we know what happened. We know that Jews and Arabs can all trace their lineage back to Abraham. That's millions of people today on planet earth that go back in time and trace their lineage to father Abraham. I read something that fascinated me. Studies show that despite the Babylonian captivity which thinned out the ranks of many of the Jews which happened 586 BC. That by the time of the first century Roman empire every one out of ten people in the Roman empire were Jews tracing their lineage back to Abram. You say, Skip so what? I mean what does that have to do with me? Chances are I'm not going to become a nation. Well, what is a nation exactly? A nation is basically one person's life expanded to ultimate proportions. I want you to listen to Ray Steadman I found his commentary very enlightening. He said in the bible every nation begins with a man then there's a family and then as the family grows and expands there is finally a nation. Every nation is but the continued expanded life of a single man. In other words, Abram your influence is going to be monumental. And think about it, we know what happened. Abram had Isaac and Ishmael and Isaac had Jacob and Jacob had a whole bunch of kids, right? Twelve tribes and the nation grew out of that family birthed the Hebrew nation which birthed kings and prophets and scripture and ultimately who? Jesus. And that has to be the meaning here. And in you all the nations of the earth will be blessed. More than just the fact that Israel exists and everybody looks to you because you produce cool stuff. I think the idea is all the nations of the earth will be blessed because the Messiah will come through you. Now here's the point: God wants not only to bless you and he does and he has but God wants to make you a blessing. He wants to make you a blessing. He wants to turn you into a person that will make his or her mark and leave his or her mark on this earth. How do you do that? Well, it begins by hearing, by listening to the promises and the commands of God which produce faith. Now keep in mind as I already said, Abe's listening to all this stuff and as he's listening he starts believing it. That's where it begins. How do we know that. Because Hebrews 11 says by faith Abraham obeyed. So, exposure to God's word led to faith in God's promises. This principle has not changed in the last 3000 years. It has not. It still holds true today. If you want your faith to grow you must expose yourself to truth. Regularly. You must expose your heart, your mind. Be saturated in God's promises. The word of God. Peter put it this way: as newborn babes desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby. Can I say frankly, get off junk food and get into some real nourishing food. And what I mean by junk food. Food, I'm speaking metaphorically. All the things you hear and see in life that feeds you are. Your world view. Get off junk food and get a steady regular diet of God's truth. USA Today, they do lots of little polls they have in the corner of their newspaper on the front page, they said 1 in 5 Americans, 1 in 5 Americans say they never read the Bible even though 90 percent say they own at least one copy. Boy, that's revealing. Yup, I own a Bible. Look at it, there it is on my table pressing flowers, doing something very important. Housing names of family members. 90 percent own at least 1 copy, 1 in 5 say they never read it. 80 percent say the Bible is the most influential book in human history but only 17 percent read it daily, 21 percent read it weekly. You may just want to take an appraisal. What do you eat? You are what you eat spiritually. I'm not saying you can never look at the news or never read a book but put a little perspective on it. Some books are written for gratification, you read them, you're entertained by them. Other books are read for information; you learn facts as you go through it. The bible is written for transformation; It will change you. Faith will be developed because of it. Martin Luther used to say the bible is alive, it speaks to me, it has hands an feet, it runs after me and lays hold of me. Look at verse 4 and verse 5. Here's the next movement of the passage. This faith that Abram has leads to something. God's word leads to faith, number two faith leads to obedience. So, Abram departed as the Lord and spoken to him. There's obedience. And Lot went with him. We'll get to him later. And Abram was 75 years young. I know it says old but if he was around, he'd probably appreciate the first, when he departed from Heron. And Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother's son and all their possessions that they had gathered and the people whom they had acquired in Heron and the departed to go to the land Cannan so they came to the land of Cannan. Abram departed. That's obedience. He did what God said. Question. Did he know where he was going? No. He didn't know until he arrived. Look at, back at verse 1 says to a land that I will show you. Where I will show you. I'm not going to have you turn to it but listen as I read to you the New Testament account Hebrews 11 "By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out not knowing where he was going." Now, picture Abram out there in front of his tent, the moving camels come up, the moving van comes up, they put all of his furniture on that van all of the tent, all of the animals and then the driver says "Okay, where to?" Imagine how goofy it would sound to go "Well I don't know yet but God will show me." But that's precisely what it was like. He didn't know where he was going. It was all by faith; there was no destination, no GPS, no roadmap, just go I'll guide you and he went. Faith leads to obedience. I found an interesting quote by a 17th century puritan preacher who said, "All of mankind can be divided into 3 classes. Class number 1: the intenders. Class number 2: the endeavorers. And class number 3: the performers. Now think about that, Terra Abraham's father, he was an intender. He may have intended to go to Cannan but he stopped in Heron. That's where he died, never made it to the promised land. Lot was an endeavorer; he got to the promised land but he constantly failed to walk by faith. But Abram and Sarai, they were performers. They listened, they believed and now they acted. It's the way it's gotta be. That's the way it's gotta be. Hearing must always lead to heeding because I'll tell you why, and we'll get to this in just a moment, if you're always hearing truth and never doing the truth, you will become a calloused, dangerous individual. No wonder James admonishes us with those tough words in the second chapter of his book. Brothers and sisters what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions. Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all. It is dead and useless. You know how many verses the Bible has in it? 173,000. No, 31,173 verses. You might think who cares. That's a lot of verses. That's what? 23,000 over that in the Old Testament almost 8,000 in the new. Somebody calculated there are 7,146 promises in all of those verses. 7000 plus promises in that God made to us. Promises of what God said he would do for us. Now there's you ticket to an adventure. 7000 promises God says he'll do for us. I ask you, what do you do with the promises of God? If you say, I underline them. That's the wrong answer. If you say, I memorize them. Again, it's the wrong answer. You should say I live by them. I bank on them. I stand on them. I trust them implicitly, totally. It's God's word, it must be acted upon. When our country was being settled, there's an interesting story of a man who was trying to cross the Mississippi river early winter around nightfall. It was iced over. He saw it. He wasn't sure how thick the ice was and there was no bridge at that time so he decided to get on all fours and crawl over to spread his weight lest he would fall down. He was half way out on the river and he hears singing behind him, noise. He turns back and it's a guy riding in a carriage drawn by horses with a load going across the ice and he's singing? Enjoying himself as he goes. Now imagine how the guy stretched out on all fours feels at that moment. Like, I'm like an idiot doing this. Obviously it's thick enough I can stand up and he does. Remember that old hymn standing on the promises of God my savior? Standing on the promises of God. A lot of us would, if we were honest have to sing creeping on the promises of God my savior. Creeping on the promises of God. Or others may be forced to say if they were honest I'm sitting on the premises rather than even creeping on the promises. George Mueller. You've heard of him. He's a man of great faith and action in Bristle, England over 100 years ago - ran an orphanage for kids -- said 90 percent of the difficulties we face are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord's will whatever it may be. Lord whatever. I'll do whatever. I'm going to obey. Well that's Abram's life so far. He hears God's word, it produces faith. His faith leads to obedience. The third movement is the last few verses. Obedience leads to blessing. Verse 6. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shekem. This is the town in the promised land. Up in this area of Samaria. As far as the Terabin's tree of Morei. I have no idea where that is but back then it must have been important. And the Caananites were then in the land. Those are enemies. They'll pose a problem. And the Lord appeared to Abram and said "to your descendants I will give this land." And there he built an altar to the Lord who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountains east of Bethel, you'll discover Bethel is a name that means the house of God -- and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord so Abram journeyed going still toward the south. Now watch this. Notice what is happening. As soon as this guy after having heard the command and the promises gets up and obeys. As soon as he obeys God's there to meet him. As soon as he obeys two things happen. God's there; he shows up and he gives him a new sense of his presence and a new promise. Did you see verse 7? Then the Lord appeared to Abram. That should catch your attention. It's the first time we read about it. Verse 1, God isn't appearing, God is just speaking he hears a voice he didn't see anything. Here's an apparition, a theophany. Some incredible display right in front of him. And to me that is very, very significant. That the revelation of God gets clearer and greater with each step of obedience. Now let me ask you this, is that a scriptural principle? Is it a scriptural principle that with every step of obedience that you make toward God, God reveals himself more to you? Oh yes it is. The bible tells us in James 4 draw near to God and he will draw near to you. It's as if God is waiting for your move. Move! Move in obedience and you'll find that I'm there to reveal greater secrets to you of who I am. A new sense of God's presence. Hebrews 11 tells us God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Here's Abram diligently seeking God and here's God rewarding Abram with the sense of his presence and promise. Now I want to just stop there and I want to ask you to make a comparison with me I'm going to compare two ways to approach life that we get from here, two ways, compare two different things. You make the choice which is the best one. Let's go back and look at the way of the world. Okay? And all you gotta do is go back to chapter 11 just turn the page and go back to the first section of it. It's the tower of Babel you know probably the story. They built this huge ziggurat this huge outcropping temple, tower unto God. And look at something in verse 4 they said, and they said this is man trying to live without God and they said, come let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top is in the heavens and let us make a name for ourselves lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth. Okay, you go that part. That's the way of the world. That's over by the way in Mesopotamia where this guy Abram came from. Whatever happened to that one brother of Abram that we just stopped reading about? We know that Heron died and we know that Terah and Abram and Sarai and Lot all came to Heron. But what about that other guy? What about that other brother? In fact let's look at him, his name was Nahor wasn't it? Turn over to Genesis 24 for a moment. Just one verse. You would probably read it in passing but I'm not going to let you. Genesis 24 verse 10 then the servant took 10 of his master's camels and departed for all his master's camels and departed, I already read that - that's what happens when you get my age; you read things twice - for all his master's goods were in his hand and he arose and went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor. Hmmm, well this guy's been successful. He's built a city and he named it after himself and were you to ask anybody living in the land of Caldea, "Hey tell me about Nahor. Ever heard of him? Nahor? What a successful guy! Fortune 500 guy. He's got his own city. Very successful. What ever happened to that Abram guy - his brother - that he used to hang out with? Oh that guy. He left a long time ago following God. God told him to go someplace so he followed God." That's the way of the world. Now compare what we just read with what we read at the very beginning look again in Genesis 12. God says "I will bless you and I will make your name great." You see the contrast? Back in Babel, they go "We're going to make a name for ourselves." Abram says "Forget that, I'm going to follow God. He told me to go." And God says, "I gonna make your name great." Here's my point: don't build for this world. If you're gonna leave your mark, make sure it's eternal. It's forever because one day this life will all be over and you'll be face to face with God and have forever in front of you and that's where the building counts. Now back to our premise where we started. I mentioned something. I said people who make their mark are people who respond to God. And that's Abram. He listened. He obeyed and he was blessed because of it. Well, it all goes back then to the word. If we're blessed because of our obedience, if we're obedient because we have faith, if we have faith because we expose our self to the word -- the promises and the commands -- well then it all goes back to the scripture. That's the catalyst of the story. So let me ask you a question. How are you hearing? Oh my hearing's just fine Skip. No, that's not what I asked. How are you listening? What do you mean how am I listening? I am here in church right? Yeah but you know there's a lot of ways to hear the same message? Jesus so often said, "Whoever has ears, let him hear." Don't you think people thought, "What is he talking about? I got two of 'em." That's not what he was meaning, right? He said in another place, "Take care how you hear." You see some people can listen very actively and you see them every time truth is mentioned, every time the bible is open they're note takers, they're zeroed in, they never look around, they're into it. Other people listen differently. Some listen self-righteously like "He mispronounced a word." But I think most people listen passively. Mechanically. Mechanically. President Theodore Roosevelt, excuse me, Franklin Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt got tired of all of these dinner meetings at the white house he just wasn't into the formality of it because he thought he'd speak and nobody really listened they just wanted to meet the president. So he thought he'd try something one night. After his little speech at the white house after dinner formed a line and people came up to meet him and he said something to them to see if they were listening. They would shake his hand and he would smile and he would say, "I murdered my grandmother this morning." And he said everyone said things like, "How lovely mister President." or "Keep up the good work mister president." Nobody was really listening except one foreign diplomat and the president said, "I murdered my grandmother this morning." And he bent close and said, "She probably deserved it mister president." Well, we can listen to the bible like that. Mechanically. We're not resisting it but we just watch and we hear just like we do television. We want to be entertained so we'll turn on the television and we'll listen and we'll watch but our hearts are in neutral. At least our brains are there, in neutral. We can do that with scripture and that's dangerous. That is dangerous. G. Campbell Morgan one of my most loved authors said, "I now affirm that it is impossible to read this book without being aware that it makes an appeal to our conscience and will. Whenever it does that, whenever it captures our conviction the student must respond by obedience or inevitably this becomes a sealed book." I personally believe the reason why so many have lost their love for the bible is they have failed to recognize the necessity for obedience to it's moral claims. Well if that's the case, then maybe we ought to put a big sign that says -- in church -- that says "Warning. This could be the most dangerous book in the world." That's right. If you listen without an aim to obey a callous will form upon your heart so much so that you'll be able to listen time and time again and the best response you'll ever get out of yourself is "That was, that was okay. That was a good message. On a scale of 1 to 10 I'll give it a 4. Nice beat. Easy to dance to but too long." It demands obedience. If we don't get there to listening developing faith, acting on the faith and obedience we're not going to discover the blessing. We're gonna be like spiritural zombies. No wonder then, no wonder the writer of Hebrews said "We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that we have heard lest at any time we drift away from them." Are you drifting? Maybe for some of you, you've hear the Gospel time and time again, you go to church, you've heard it. You know what I'm going to say next. But you haven't responded to Christ. You are in the most dangerous, precarious situation. As Jonathan Edwards says, "You are perched over the fires of hell on an icy plank." It's time to respond. Our Lord, we come and we bow not only our heads - but in reverence and in obedience - our hearts because we have just heard the word of the Lord given from God to Abram and from that era to ours. From his experience to our experience and so you're speaking to us tonight. We've seen an example of how exposure to truth develops faith, how faith can lead to obedience and how obedience brings a blessing. May that be the story of our adventure, our lives. But we can't help but think there's a lot of people standing on the outside looking in or really for our purposes they're on the inside looking out. We're out on the road enjoying the adventure. Lord I pray that many more would join your path of obedience and trust. Lord for those of us that know you tonight, we've been reminded of some very fundamental truths maybe the most important - hard to say -- but perhaps Lord that whole idea is that we recognize your promises that enables us to then act on your commands. You have acted, You have worked, You have promised therefore we respond by loving You and obeying. I pray that'd be the case. In Jesus name, Amen.