The Lord Gives His Promise

(Genesis 15:1-6, 12-18; 12/11/11)

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that God comforts Abram with His promises. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to accept the comfort of God’s promises.

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Read Genesis 15:1-6
I. Promise Restated.
In this section of the Sunday School material the word of the Lord came to Abram. God reassured Abram that He is his shield and reward – protection and prosperity.

Abram expresses concern about his heir. God reassured him that an heir would come from his own body, not his servant. There would be countless descendents. Abram was credited with righteousness because of his faith.

Applications –
- Encouraged by the promises of God.
Notice in vs. 1 of the Sunday School material that God’s response to Abram’s apparent fear is to remind him that God is his shield of protection and reward of prosperity.

The same should help us with our fears. When God protects us, we don’t have to fear those who threaten harm. When God is our promised reward, we don’t have to fear the apparent shortage of supply.

Let’s encourage one another with the promises of God. Of course, we need to make sure we are saved. We need to be in relationship with people who are saved.

And we need to be in relationships that include mutual encouragement. The importance of a loving church that prioritizes evangelism and edification should be obvious.

- Sharing our concerns with God. Notice in vss. 2-4 of the Sunday School material that Abram talked with God about his concerns. It is good to know that we can talk with God about what concerns us.

Some are concerned about bills or retirement. Others are concerned about their children, spouse, or lack thereof. And some are concerned about their health.

Thank God, we can talk to God about our concerns, and He has a way of listening and responding in ways that are best for us. Let’s work on sharing our concerns with God.

- Faith. Notice in vss. 5-6 of the Sunday School material that Abram believed the promises of God. When we finish with all of our studies, worship services, and prayers, every believer must come to a point of believing in the promises of God.

When we can see how God is going to do what He said He will do, we are walking by sight and not faith. Faith accepts the promise, even though the procedure and plan are unclear. On one hand, it feels so vulnerable to trust the promises of God.

But on the other hand, God is so much more reliable than the promises of this world and surely our own promises to ourselves.

Let’s work on developing the faith needed to be right with God. Real faith leads to our obeying God, as was the case with Abram leaving his country and people.

Read Genesis 15:12-16
II. Enslavement Predicted.
God talked to Abram, while Abram was in a deep sleep. Abram’s descendents were to be in slavery for 400 years. And then God would chastise those who mistreated His people.

Abram would live long and die in peace. God gives a note about His timetable.

Applications –
- Listening to God, in whatever way He decides to speak.
Notice in vss. 12-13 of the Sunday School material that God works in mysterious ways to get us to understand Him and His will.

The deep sleep and darkness used with Abram may or may not be the way God deals with you. God does what is best for His people, even when we don’t understand how His methods are best for us.

One of the things that God is trying to get us to see is that even thought trouble is up the road, we can trust Him to work it out for the good of His people. Let’s work on being open to how God communicates with us about Himself and His will.

The best thing that we have is the Bible. Therefore, we should prayerfully study the Bible with a mind to trust God, no matter how things look in our lives.

- Faith for the pain. Notice in vss. 14-16 of the Sunday School material that the prophesied pain has a purpose. Yes, there will be 400 years of enslavement. Yes, it will take four generations for God to move the slave owners out.

But it all has a purpose. After 400 years, the enslaved will become owners of great wealth. The four generations is for the sake of giving the people enough time to either trust God or abandon Him as such a high level that His punishment is warranted.

Let’s work on developing the faith that is needed to endure our pains with confidence that God has a plan and purpose for His people.

Think about how it is the overcoming of pain by athletes, warriors, business owners, and even actors that inspire us to keep going.

Notice that God’s people were enslaved, as opposed to simply being slaves. The difference is that the former is what people do to you. The latter is a reference to who you are.

Let’s work on seeing ourselves as people of God, not in terms of how people mistreat us. For example, we can have very little money, as opposed to be poor people.

We can live in a ghetto, without being “ghetto or trailer park trash.” We are who God says that we are, not necessarily who people say we are.

Read Genesis 15:17-18
III. Covenant Made.
God continues His talk with Abram. He uses a firepot and animal ritual, which Abram would have been familiar with. The essence of the ritual was that God was committing Himself to blessing Abram’s descendents with land.

Applications –
- Covenant keeping.
Notice in vss. 17-18 of the Sunday School material that God is a covenant keeper. Consider these comments.

First, it is comforting to know that God keeps His promises of blessing those who obey His word. Second, we should be so fearful of His promises to punish our sins that we stop sinning.

Third, as people of God who are in covenant with one another (i.e., “Church Covenant” and marriage covenants/vows) we should strive to be covenant keepers like the God we represent.

Often the emphasis on studying, serving, and giving is because of “mass covenant breaking.” If more people did what they entered into covenant to do then there would not be a need to tell them to do it.

Let’s live like we believe that God is a covenant keeper. This means obeying like He will bless our obedience and punish our disobedience. This means our being covenant keepers.

Conclusion: Let’s work on accepting the comfort of God’s promises. God has much for those who obey His will.

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