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The Journey from Fear to Faith - Genesis 15:1-6

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8/24/2003
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The Journey from Fear to Faith
Genesis 15:1-6
Skip Heitzig
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Making Your Mark

Are you satisfied with just getting through life or do you want to make a difference? God calls each of us to play an important role during our lifetime, but we often forget to seek His will. Join Pastor Skip Heitzig as he looks at the life of Abraham in this two-volume series. Abraham had both ups and downs when it came to his spiritual journey, but he made a lasting mark deep within the fabric of three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. You may find striking parallels between Abraham's life and your own experiences. Learn how to leave a lasting impression on your world as you study the life of this great father of faith. Don't just live--make a mark with your life!

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Would you turn in your Bibles to Genesis chapter 15.

Brenda was a young woman who wanted to learn how to rock climb. The odd thing is that she had a fear of rock climbing but wanting to conquer her fear she went out with a group of people who were experienced and they promised her that they would teach her the ropes, literally. So there she was, someone was a lead climber up far ahead of her, placed the protection, she was climbing. And she decided because there was a little ledge that she climbed to, to sort of stop and take a breather. When she did the person up on top holding the rope accidentally snapped it, it hit her eye and popped her contact lens out. Now you know how difficult it is to find a contact lens under normal circumstances, say in a bathroom? I know because I do this all the time. But climbing, it's impossible. There she was, blurred vision, miles from home, hoping that maybe it was lodged in her eye and maybe she just didn't feel or see it. So she got up to the top and had one of her buddies look inside, they couldn't find the contact lens, and she looked over this vast landscape where she was climbing in the mountains and a verse came to her. She remembered where the Bible says, "The eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the entire earth." And so she prayed, "You know, Lord, you see every mountain, every rock, every leaf under every rock, you know where my contact lens is, could you find it?" Well time came for them to climb back down and to go into their cars. And as they were going down the trail from where they were climbing, they got to the bottom of the trail and there was another group of climbers on their way up to that same spot. And one of those climbers going up shouted out to the group, "Hey did any of you lose a contact lens?" Now if that isn't strange enough, how he found the lens was stranger. He said he discovered it as he was looking down and saw a little ant crawling across the surface of the rock carrying on its back a contact lens. Now a lot of people would hear that and say, "That's merely coincidence." Others of us know better we would call that nothing short of providence, that there is a caring God who is building up the fearful faith of a young girl. Well, Brenda's dad happened to be a cartoonist and when she came home and told him the story he drew up a story of an ant struggling with this contact lens on its back and saying, "Lord, I don't know why you want me to carry this thing, I can't eat it, it's awfully heavy but if this is what you want me to do I'll carry it for you."

Now Genesis 15 is the story of a journey, not of an ant, not of a rock climber but of a man named Abram and he is journeying from the emotion of fear to the strong platform of faith. He's growing in his faith, he's learning what it means to trust God. And we see his journey here, the paragraph we're going to read opens in fear but God takes him to a place of trust. Let's read the first six verses, follow along with me, "After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision saying, 'Do not be afraid Abram, I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward.' But Abram said, 'Lord God, what will you give me, seeing I go childless and the heir of my house is Eleazar of Damascus.' Then Abram said, 'Look, you have given me no offspring, indeed one born in my house is my heir.' And behold the word of the Lord came to him saying, 'This one shall not be your heir but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.' Then he brought him outside and said, 'Look now toward heaven and count the stars if you're able to number them.' And he said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.' And he believed in the Lord and he accounted it to him for righteousness." That paragraph is such an important paragraph, in fact, it's crucial to understanding the rest of the Bible. You say why? Because this paragraph, that last verse, verse 6 is the prima fascia evidence of how an unrighteous unholy sinful person can be made righteous before a holy God. It is used no less than four times in the New Testament to illustrate righteousness by faith alone in God by an act of his grace.

You know, there are really only two religions in the world. One is the religion of human achievement. The second is the religion of divine accomplishment. And there's a huge difference. One is the religion of, "I'm going to work my way to God," the other is, "You can't do it, I'll do it for you." One is all by effort, the other is all by grace. One is earned and the other is a gift, a free gift. But you know, most people in this country are banking on the first religion, aren't they? They're staking their entire eternal future, their whole journey into eternity on that basis: if they're just good enough, if they think good thoughts and if they go to church and try this and try that that they're going to make it to heaven. Not Abram, he believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. The question we want to ask in reading this is how did this guy Abram who was a Gentile, who had no law of Moses, who had no covenant of circumcision yet, who had none of those things, how did he get righteous before God? Because that prompts a second question: How do we today become righteous before a holy God?

Now the journey has four stages in it, if you're taking notes, let me give them to you quickly, the four stages are this: the fear of man, fading hope, faithful promises and finally faith in God. Let's look at the first one by looking at the first verse, "After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision saying, 'Do not be afraid Abram, I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward.'" Now by the way that's the first time in all the Bible the term fear not or don't be afraid is used. It's used 63 times but this is the first time we read God saying, "Don't be afraid." The fact that God would say that to Abram indicates there is a reason he said that. God doesn't just walk up to somebody who's not afraid and go, "Don't be afraid." "Thank you, I'm not." It indicates that there was fear going on inside Abram's heart. The question is what was he afraid of? Let me give you a few suggestions. Number one, this could simply be post-battle blues, that's what some people suggest. If you know anything about military activity, there are scores of stories of vets who were brave during a battle and after the battle their emotions caught up with them, post-traumatic stress. They were courageous, they fought the battle. But then they have flashbacks or those nighttime visions of reliving the whole scene. So some people think that's what it was. Other people point to the fear of the vision itself. I don't know if you follow this in the scripture but if you have you've noticed that wenever there is an apparition, a vision, a dream, that is from God or an angel, it scares the people who have these visions half to death. Isaac had a vision from God, the first thing God said is, "Don't be afraid." Jacob had the same, "Don't be afraid." Angel came to Mary to announce that she was going to have Jesus, "Don't be afraid." To Joseph, "Don't be afraid." An angel came to Daniel in Daniel chapter 10 and this is what it says, "My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, I felt very weak, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground, and he said to me, 'Don't be afraid.'" So these apparitions must be scary. Even John when he saw Jesus in Revelation 1, "When I saw him I fell at his feet as dead." So some say, "Well he was afraid of just the vision, the experience of God coming to him." Except we don't read that in some of the other times God came to him, we just read it here. What he's afraid of I believe is man, it's the fear of man. You'll notice that the chapter opens up, "After these things," that's key, after these things God came to him in a vision. After what things? All the things that we read about last week. And if you were here, you remember. Abram went out with 318 of his trained-for-war servants and he launched an attack against four superpowers (back then) led by Ketterleomer and his constituency. He recovered the POWs and spoils of war and brought them back. That was then, it was very courageous. However, maybe he's thinking thoughts like, "Now what do I do? If I remember right, Ketterleomer laid waste to these five cities that retaliated, those were five cities, I'm just one dude with 318 in my army. Okay, we got everything back but what happens if they retaliate? I'm toast." And that is probably what he was afraid of, it's the fear of man and it was then that God said, "I am your shield and your exceeding great reward."

Something else happened after these things, he met the king of Sodom named Berah who offered him a reward and Abram turned it down, "No, not going to take a dime, I'm not going to say anybody made Abram rich." Now taking a reward wasn't just like an honorarium for this guy, it was forming an alliance for the future in case there would be a battle. So he's cutting off all dependence on man but now he's rethinking what he has done. And it's then, during this fear, that God says, "Hey I am your shield and your exceedingly great rward." Very meaningful to him.

Some of you tonight are in Abram's sandals, you're afraid, the fear of man, a coworker, a neighbor, a relative. Somebody is against you and you're afraid of what might happen to you in the next few weeks. Maybe there's a lawsuit leveled against you. You're afraid. You know what it says in Proverbs 29, "The fear of man brings a snare but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be saved." Did you know that fear is one of the most destructive human emotions? It debilitates people, it freezes people. Often our fear is irrational but it keeps us from moving ahead in confidence. A study by University of Wisconsin said, "Forty percent of our fears are unfounded, they're worries about things that will never happen." And we know what it's like to have irrational fear. It happens with kids, it happens with teenagers, it happens with young adults and with older adults. Some of you know the name Shel Silverstein, children's author, wrote that little poem "What If..." It says, "Last night while I lay thinking here, some what-ifs crawled inside my ear, and pranced and partied all night long, and sang their same old what-if song, what if they've closed the swimming pool?, what if I'm dumb in school?, what if I get beat up?, what if there's poison in my cup?, what if I start to cry?, what if I just get sick and die?, what if I flunk the test?, what if green hair grows on my chest?" Those are irrational fears but it's not just kids that have them, sometimes adults have them, even Christian adults have them. You need a shield, that's what you need. You need a shield called God. And that's just the problem with the shields you've trusted in in the past, they have been people or the government or the system and has let you down and they'll let you down again leaving you more fearful. "Abram, I am your shield."

So that's the first stage, fear of man. The second stage is fading hope. Look at verse 2, "But," okay what a great promise, oh what a wonderful promise I'm your shield, "But Abram said, 'Lord God what will you give me, seeing I go childless and the heir of my house is Eleazar of Damascus?" Now follow the journey, Abram begins in fear, God answers his fear with a promise. Abram responds to the promise with a rebuttal. "But," he said, "shat are you going to give me?" The rebuttal reveals Abram's fading hope in the promise of God. Now let me read this verse to you but I'm going to read it to you in The New Living translation, it captures more emotion. "Oh sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don't even have a son." You can hear the emotion in those words. You remember that God has made several promises to Abram so far, right, several times. Can I just refresh your memory? Would you go back a page or two to chapter 12 and look at what God says? Verse 2, "I will make you a great nation." Okay, you've got to have kids for that, he doesn't have any. Look at verse 7 of the same chapter, "The Lord appeared to Abram and said, 'To your descendants I will give this land.'" (Okay, you've got to have kids for that to happen). Go over to chapter 13, look at verse 14, "And the Lord said to Abram after Lot had separated from him, 'Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are, north, south, east and west. For all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. (Great, neat, cool promise, got to have kids for that) And I will make your descendants (he continues, got to have kids to continue) as the dust of the earth, that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants could be numbered." Now those are wonderful promises, there's only one problem: no kids. No kids, and Abram's getting really old. The clock is ticking, the biological clock is ticking, h e is old and his wife is not a spring chicken either.

Remember how old Abram was? Back in chapter 12 when he left Haran? Seventy-five. Do you know how old he is in chapter 16? The Ishmael incident which we're going to read at another time? Eighty-six. So in this chapter, it has been at least five, probably closer to ten years that this guy has waited for God to fulfill his promise and he's just getting older. Ten years is a long time to wait when God says, "you're going to have a lot of kids and you're going to have all this land." "Great Lord, those are great promises. I just don't have any kids yet. I've got this guy named Eleazar and he's going to inherit it all." Now let me give you a little background. Eleazar of Damascus, who was he? Some thing that he was just a servant that Abe adopted. But Damascus was the financial center during that time in history of that part of the world and there are a lot of scholars that think that not only was Sleazar a guy that hung around with Abram but that he was a financial institution, that it was the title of a banking house. So to sa y, "Eleazar of Damascus," was like saying "Bank of the West," "Albuquerque Savings and Loan." Now if that's true you can imagine this guy's fading hope, "Lord those are cool promises but I don't have any kids and what good is all of the wealth and all of the land if when I die it's all going to the bank anyway?" That's his contention.

Abe is old and therefore honest with God. He's not defiant, he's not shaking his fist at God, he's just honest, "God, help me to understand, I'm learning here. I don't get how this is all going to work. I guess you mean Eleazar is going to inherit it all, is that what you mean?"

Now before we move on, there's a lesson. What do you do personally when your hope is fading? Hope in whatever it is you're anticipating? When your hope is fading and the promises of God that you read are losing their luster, what do you do? Well, if you're like a lot of people, you do everything but what you should do first and that is talk to God, like he does here, Abram talks to God, he prays about it. You know, we'll talk to everybody else about it, right? And God is the last resort. We'll talk to the bank, we'll talk to our relatives, talk to our buddies. And God's going, "Psst, hey over here, talk to me." "Don't need to talk to you yet God, it's not that bad yet." You see, a lot of view prayer like those little red boxes in buildings "For Emergency Use Only." "Well I don't have to pray yet, it's not that bad." Make it your first resort, then it won't have to be your last resort. Jesus said to his disciples, "Men ought always to pray and not to faint." Why is it that our philosophy is, "I'd rather faint first." Men ought always to pray. Let me just give you this insight based on what we read: number one, be honest with God when you talk to him. Don't try to butter him up, don't use words you don't mean. Yes honor him, yes bless him, yes praise him; but can I tell you something? God isn't impressed with your language and prayer. So be honest, God's been around, heard all the prayers of history for a long time, I think he can handle your honesty. C. H. Spurgeon said, "There is no secret of my heart that I would not pour into his ear."

Number two, can I just say, be specific. Abram is very specific. In two verses he spells out his concern then he spells it out again in verse 3. He tells him exactly what's going on, his entire predicament. Now it's not that God needs the information, it's not like God is up in heaven going, "Oh that's interesting Abe, I didn't know that. Well what else?" But I think the point is this, the more specific you are in your prayer, the more specific are the results.

Often we are vague when we talk to God. I've heard prayers like, "Lord, you know every need, spoken and unspoken." God doesn't need you to tell him that. "you know every issue revealed and unrevealed so just bless everyone everywhere with everything. Amen." What is that? Would you walk into a restaurant and say, "I have a food need in general, bless me." You would order off the menu and be very specific. Abram was, very honest, very specific.

Let's move to the third phase: faithful promises. And behold the word of the Lord came to him saying, "This one shall not be your heir but the one who shall come from your own body shall be your heir." And he brought him outside, I like this, "Abe, let's take a walk." And he said, "Look now toward heaven and count the stars if you're able to number them." And he said to him, "So shall your descendants be." Now I want you to follow this, it is to me the most interesting thing. Abram begins his journey in fear, the fear of man, he's afraid. God comes to him and answers his fear with a promise, "I'm your shield, your great reward." Abram responds to God's promise with a rebuttal, "Yeah but I don't have any kids." So God now answers his rebuttal with what? An explanation? No. Reason for why it's taking him so long? No. A promise again. Another promise. God doesn't give him an explanation but a promise. Why is it that so many of us think that God owes us an explanation for what he's doing or not doing? As if that would help us. Can I tell you something? You don't live off explanations, you live off promises. My son fell off a wall years ago and he cut his tongue with his upper teeth, so much so that you could see all the way through it. He almost bit his tongue in two. So I took him to the hospital and the doctor worked on him. And the doctor didn't come in and give us a bunch of explanations of what happened. He didn't say, "Well you know the anterior dorsal part of the tongue has been incised by the upper teeth which caused trauma to the lingual nerve and that's why there is this persistent paresthesia or thingling in the tongue." We could care less. You know what he said to us? "Stitches will be out in two weeks, your boy will be fine, he'll be able to taste normally, he'll be able to feel again." I can live on that. I can live on that. God gives him a promise. Notice that God repeats the same promise to him, nothing's really new, it's the same promise he said, "You're going to have descendants, a lot of them." Do you know what I love about God, is that God stoops or often condescends to our low level of unbelief. Abram had heard this promise but God didn't say, "You idiot, are you deaf? I'm not going to tell you again what I said, go back and read it in that chapter." No, he comes and repeats the promise all over again. Have you ever had God stoop and repeat something. You know, you knew the truth, you'd read the verse but the way you live you'd forgotten it. I remember in college needing money, running out of money, living off peanut butter sandwiches. The jelly ran out so it was peanut butter sandwiches without the jelly. The bread ran out so it was peanut butter on a spoon. Now I'd been reading my Bible and knowing that I'll get paid eventually but it's really tight and it could be a week without anything but peanut butter. I read the promises of God, I didn't get all that excited about them, yeah okay cool. And wringing my hands. One day an IRS check came in, my tax money came back. I opened it up and I jumped for joy, "They're going to pay me this much, this is great!" And I felt gently the Holy Spirit tapping my heart saying, "How do you know the government is good for it?" "I've got a check, they promised." "But I've been promising you all week long that I'd provide, you weren't all that excited. Now you're excited because I answered your prayer using their check and you're excited because they're going to pay you." Oh. But the Lord stooped to that level and repeated the same promise. Notice something else: he not only repeats the same promise but he clarifies it, he says, "No not Eleazar but this is how it works Abram, you're going to have a son out of your own body. Abram come here, let me explain the birds and the bees to you, this is how it works, when I say you're going to have a son, I don't mean you're going to adopt anybody or the money's going to the bank and this guy's going to use it and that's going to be your heir. It's going to come from you, buddy." He clarifies it.

And then third, God expands the promise. He says in verse 5, "Look at the stars." You'll remember what we just read, at one time God said, "Look down," right? "Look at the dust, look at the sand, you can't count the dust or the sand, so shall your descendants be." Now he says, "Look up, look at the stars, so shall your descendants be." He takes the same promise, clarifies it, expands on it by having him now compare his future descendants to the stars in the sky. Do you know what? The next time you are in a jam and you think, "It's too late, God has gone way past the deadline, he should have acted by now." When you're faltering, go outside, this is a great state to do it in, get out of the city a little bit, it doesn't take long to get out of the city, come out to the east side of the mountains where I'm at, I'm not inviting you for dinner or anything but just come out on that side. Come out when it's dark and look up and the stars out there dance for you. They shout to you and they shout to you of the promises of God. How big is your God? I'll tell you what, when you are in a jam and you are all worried, your God's about that big in your mind, so get a bigger view of him. The Bible says in Isaiah 40, "Who else has held the oceans in his hand and measured off the heavens with his fingers?" I did it again last night, took a little walk, looked up and I always like to calculate in my mind where I'm at. I do realize the universe, the Milky Way is ten thousand light years by a hundred thousand light years long. Which means, if I could travel the speed of light I could go around my earth that I'm living on seven and a half times in one second. Past the moon in one and a half seconds, past Venus in two minutes, eighteen seconds; past Mercury in four and a half minutes, past the sun in seven and a half minutes. But I'd have to travel at 186,000 miles per second for 100,000 years to make it from the front yard to the back yard of the Milky Way galaxy. And if I did that after a hundred thousand years, I just got started because there's billions of other galaxies beyond that. And I start realizing how little I am and how big God is and that I can dump everything on him and I start thinking of his promises and I go, "Yeah. He's trustworthy, he can handle this."

Let's look at the final stage and then we'll close and have communion: faith in God. Verse 6, "And he believed in the Lord and he accounted it to him for ritheousness." You know what the word believe is here? In Hebrew it's amain, or Amen. "Abe, look at those stars, that's how many kids you're going to have when I'm done with you making you a nation." And Abram said, "Amen. Right on. Sobeit." But the word amen here or believed is more than just an acknowledgement, it's not like, "Yeah right, whatever, okay." The word means to lean on here. In Hebrew it means to nourish, nurse, or support. And the idea is that God said it and Abram leaned fully on that and would be nourished with that promise, that's what it means to have faith. He leaned on God's promise. And what was the result? God did something. He counted that as righteousness. In other words, that little act of faith was enough to make this guy right before God. It doesn't say, "Abram believed God and God said, 'Great, now you do these thirty-six things, get baptized, join a church, keep the law and then we'll see.' He said, 'You're righteous. You are right before me because you've trusted me.'

I want you to close with Romans 4, there are four verses you must look at to understand what I said at the beginning of our message, that it is a hinged paragraph and the rest of scripture depends on it. It's mentioned in Romans 4, Galatians 3, Hebrews and James but let's just look at this one passage. Romans 4, it will answer the question how was Abram right before God, how can we be? "What then shall we say that Abram our father has found according to the flesh?" (verse 1) For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about but not before God. For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Now to him who works the wages are counted not as grace but as debt." Look over at verse 10. "How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised but while uncircumcised. And he received a sign of circumcision as the seal of the righteousness of faith which he had while still uncircumcised that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also." A lot of people think that you get to heaven sort of like the frog who was thrown into a bucket of milk and he couldn't get out because the sides were so high and so he just paddled and paddled and paddled and paddled and because he paddled so much he created butter that firmed up and it gave him a launching pad to give himself freedom. So they say the moral of the story is try hard and paddle, paddle, paddle; you'll get to heaven. No you won't, the answer is there's only one way to be right before God and that is by faith. Not by circumcision, not by baptism, not by joining a church, not by the law but by faith. Look at that word again, this time in the New Testament, in verse 3, "He believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness, logidzimi is the Greek equivalent. It's a banking term, it means to apply something to your credit. Picture a ledger, you have a debit side and a credit side. And here's Abram. Abram is spiritually bankrupt before God, he comes from Paganville, God calls him for his own purposes. He has nothing to be right before God. So on the debit side of Abram's ledger, it's packed. Nothing is on his credit side. The moment he says, "I believe you God, Amen." God changes the books and puts a credit side saying, "Righteous before God."

So it is with us, on our debit side is sin, your sin and my sin, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. On our credit side, some people want to put works, religion, church, baptism, certain rituals, etcetera. But I'm sorry that won't work. And do you know why it won't work? Because the credit of all of those things isn't enough to match the debit, that's why. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death. The soul that sins, it shall surely die. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins and other scriptures we could share. But the point is somebody has to die and God made Jesus die for us. So it's as if God calculated the total number of sins individually that you would ever commit and corporately the world would ever commit and he decided that the shed blood of his Son was adequate payment for all of them. So that if you believe, not in your works but his finished work; righteous. That's what this communion's all about, that's what we're acknowledging. You see if it were by works, you could brag. Abram could have said, "Yeah, of course I'm right before God, look what I did, I left Ur of the Chaldees. I struggled across the desert sands, I came all this way. I built altars to the Lord." But it wasn't, he was made righteous because he believed in God.

Sometimes I hear people try this, they start telling me about what they gave up to follow Christ. Oh, please! What did you give up? Peter tried that, "Lord we have forsaken all to follow you." But Jesus said, "You'll get it back. Anythjing you've left, you'll get it back a hundredfold, in this life and in the next." "I've given up so much to follow Jesus." Let's see, meaninglessness, hell, yeah I've really sacrificed, haven't I? You know what that's sort of like? It's sort of like a guy being suddenly given a huge inheritance, he has a new house, a huge bank account, a couple Mercedes and he's bemoaning the fact that he had to give up his van down by the river and his beat up old Chevy. "Well this is a nice place." Yeah but you don't know what I had to give up." What? You know how boring heaven would be if we got there by our works? We'd have to listen to everybody brag forever. You'd have to listen to all their war stories every single day. Have you ever heard somebody who was saved from a drowning incident ever brag? I never have because he didn't do anything. The lifeguard saved him, he trusted the lifeguard. "Yeah, well, when the lifeguard came, you should have seen what I did." You didn't do anything.

Horatio Spafford, you've heard his name, I've shared it before, he wrote that song "It Is Well With My Soul," and you know how he lost his children, his wife in a boating accident, a ship went down at sea. And he wrote that song "It Is Well With My Soul," but so often we forget the second verse. "My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I see it no more. Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, oh my soul."

We're celebrating something tonight that is an acknowledgement, "I am saved by the finished work of Jesus Christ and I trust that, I trust him, I love him, I trust him, I believe him." And when you do that, God says, "You're in. You're in. You're my child. I'll receive you. I will justify you, I will declare you righteous." It doesn't mean you act it all the time but he has made a declaration. Sovereign God has declared that sinful man is right before him. That's his decision and I'm glad he made it.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the blood of your son, your one and only son that saves us from all sin. We believe you, we place our faith and trust in you. As we take these elements tonight, as we hold in our hands the token of your bruised body and a token of your shed blood. And as we take them and place them on our lips and take them together, we are together making the testimony that it's by your work, your agony, your suffering, your death; that we can have total confidence that we are your children and are bound for heaven. Some would consider this dangerous doctrine, Lord. They'd say, "Yeah, what about works?" We know what your word says, "Without works, faith is dead." And if it's true faith it's going to produce good works but we're not saved by them. Those works are produced because of our faith.

And I pray Father for anybody who might be here tonight who doesn't personally know Christ by personally placing, leaning on, their whole being on Jesus only. They'd realize that they're bankrupt, nothing they could ever do could guarantee them a spot in your heaven. But you've made a way and it's the only way they can come. For that Savior said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by me." So we pray more would come tonight. In Jesus' name.

We're going to pass out these elements and we're going to take them all together and then the service will be done. If you don't know Christ, you have one of two options. AS we pass these out you ask him to forgive you of your sins, you take him as our Lord and Savior, by just that act of faith and prayer and say, "Forgive me, I believe that your Son died for me. Come into my life and reign." Or pass the elements on to the next person, don't take communion if you are refusing the Savior because the Bible says you are only testifying of damnation. I say take the first option, it's a lot better than the second. It's a free gift but you must receive it. As we pass these elements out, you have a talk with God and you ask Jesus into your heart, and you take these elements with us.

Holding these elements and taking them signifies that you believe in Jesus as your payment. Because you believe, it is counted to you as righteousness, because you realize you're bankrupt but he has put on your side of the ledger righteousness. So take them not in fear but in confidence that he's received you as his child because Jesus is in your heart and lord of your life.

Thank you Fahter for these, thank you for the cross. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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7/20/2003
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The Past: Guidepost Or Hitching Post?
Genesis 11:27-32
Skip Heitzig
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Today we embark on a new journey, studying the life of Abraham. I'm calling it, Making Your Mark. Abraham made his mark deep within the fabric of the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. More than that, Scripture exonerates him as being an example of faith. But what about his past? How did he begin his journey of faith? You may find striking parallels to your own spiritual experience as we see five experiences that shaped Abraham's earlier life. Let’s learn the first steps in how to leave our mark of influence in our own culture.
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7/27/2003
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Buckle Up! You're Going on an Adventure!
Genesis 12:1-9
Skip Heitzig
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Have you ever thought of life as an adventure? Most people don't. Daily life becomes the daily grind as many just survive: eking out a tasteless and meaningless existence hoping something better comes along in the future. There's one factor that can make all the difference—it's called God's will! To live life according to God's promises and commands, even though difficult at times, will be the most exciting way to make your journey through this life. In this second study on Abraham, Making Your Mark, let's see three principles that brought this sense of adventure.
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8/3/2003
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Warning: Doubt Can Be Hazardous To Your Health!
Genesis 12:10-20
Skip Heitzig
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Doubting God's promises is often the foundational reason we don't experience His blessing. The children of Israel wandered for forty years before entering the Land. Why? "They were not allowed to enter his rest because of their unbelief" (Hebrews 11:19). Their legacy was often to doubt, for the Psalmist says that they, "limited the Holy One of Israel" (Ps. 78:41). Now, even Abraham, the father of faith, struggles with trusting the most trustworthy Being that ever was!
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8/8/2003
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Two Men Under One Microscope
Genesis 13
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8/17/2003
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The Glimmer of the Godly in a Cauldron of Crisis
Genesis 14
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8/31/2003
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A Dark Night; A Bright Future
Genesis 15:7-21
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9/14/2003
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Taking the Long Way Around
Genesis 16
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9/21/2003
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A New Start for an Old Soldier
Genesis 17:1-8
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9/28/2003
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When God Makes His Mark
Genesis 17:9-27
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10/5/2003
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How To Be God's Friend
Genesis 18:1-15
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10/12/2003
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Have I Got Plans For You!
Genesis 18:16-33
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10/19/2003
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Shock and Awe!
Genesis 19:23-29
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10/26/2003
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Re-run of a Star's Worst Episode
Genesis 20
Skip Heitzig
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The basic idea: Even after years have gone by, years of growth for Abraham, he relapsed into old behavior patterns. The sin principle is always a problem, even for the Christian. If the "old ways" are not sufficiently dealt with, they will grow and threaten to undo us. We look at four scenes in this rerun episode of Abraham, revealing how seriously this battle between the flesh and the spirit really is.
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11/9/2003
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The Gift of Laughter for Senior Citizens
Genesis 21:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Abraham is old here (age 100—a centenarian). His wife Sarah delivers the child promised by God (Isaac) and the result is joy and laughter. We learn five things about the nature of God in this passage.
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11/16/2003
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Faith... For Better or For Worse
Genesis 22:1-19
Skip Heitzig
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Skip speaks about the greatest test of Abraham's life and how he responded to it.
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11/23/2003
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Funeral for a Princess
Genesis 23
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This message highlights the death of Sarah and her husband's response.
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12/7/2003
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Passing the Baton
Genesis 24
Skip Heitzig
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Abraham was the recipient of God's promises and blessing for many years. Now it's time to make sure that his son Isaac will also make his mark and inherit the promises of God. Abraham wants to pass the mantle of patriarch and the baton of blessing to his son by ensuring he marries the right person and continues the family line so that "all the nations of the earth will be blessed," as God had promised. What are the key principles for such an endeavor?
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12/14/2003
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A Senior Saint's Sunset Years
Genesis 25:1-11
Skip Heitzig
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Skip looks at Abraham's obituary as given in Genesis 25. After following his life from his call to leave his homeland, we now come to his last breath and subsequent burial. Encouragement and instruction for facing our own mortality will be considered.
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There are 18 additional messages in this series.