23rd January 2023
Read - Hebrews 11:8-10 and Genesis 12:1-20
Message Alan Burke
How’s the diary looking this weather? I remember the days when I had a physical diary, I even have a mate who still uses one and he went all out and got what I thought was a novelty oversized diary to make a point. Although I learnt that it was purchased online and it was simply a mistake. I’m not wanting to start by taking about mistakes but we all like in a sense to know what is ahead, a diary is a useful took in helping you plan yet we all know that our plans often don’t work out the way we intended. How could you cope though if you were told to throw the diary away, to leave everything you were doing, most of those whom you knew and loved, leave most of what you had behind and not even be told to go and not eve told where you were going? I’d say that most of us would reject it outright, after all who’s going to feed the dog, what about the electric bill and the lawn.
The faith of Abraham is remarkable, he was one who was called by God and by faith he obeyed. He was one that lived without any certainties about what tomorrow would bring yet he didn’t live his life preoccupied with the now and the future of this life he was far more concerned with something far better. He could see through faith of something far better for all those who believe in Christ.
Today I want us to think of how ‘faith is seen in obedience’. For that is the first thing that we are told about Abraham here in Hebrews 11, he obeyed, he went out not knowing where he was going. For Abraham obeyed when he was called by God, he heard and responding to the word of God. In this we are reminded of what the nature of faith is, it is not just trusting in God, trusting that He will keep His word, it is seen in how someone responds to the word of God, what they do with the word of God. Faith is seen in obedience. Hearing and obeying the word of God.
Now that isn’t that surprising, or it shouldn’t be that surprising, that faith means obedience, living in response to the word of God. That is how we are to live, to be those who hear and respond, those who hear and obey. Not only in those things that are easy for us but in the things that are hard. For those who have faith, those who trust in God act on the word of God. Abraham was commanded to go and he had no idea where he was going other than it was where God told him to go so he went.
Now the reason why I keep mentioning how the message of Hebrews 11 which is often known as the heroes of the faith is not “be like” rather it is to “trust in the promises of God” is because, well if you know anything of the account of Abraham you’ll know that immediately after he was called by God, that yes Abraham went, but when the rubber hit the road and Abraham’s faith was tested for the very first time instead of turning to God he tried some DIY, to do it himself. He went to Egypt because of the famine in Canaan (Gen 12:12-20). There was seeking the Lord in the decision and then when he gets there he passes of Sarah his wife as his sister and says nothing about it.
In that whole affair the issue is that Abraham did it his way, in his own strength, without God. In the end while God promised Abram that he would be a blessing to the nations, Abraham own decision saw Pharaoh and his house greatly afflicted because of Abraham. Rather than a blessing Abraham becomes a curse to the nation of Egypt. In the situation he found himself he took the easy way out, rather than turning to God, Abraham trusts in his own wisdom and knowledge, thinking up a plan where he will be alright. And the good news is Abraham learnt from all of this and he didn’t do it again, actually he did the same thing all over again with Abimelech (Genesis 20). In spite of it thought, there is the wonderful assurance that God still keeps His promises, that is not an excuse to live as we see fit but the knowledge that God’s plans are fulfilled in spite of human failures and disobedience, God is faithful when we are faithless. This is a recurring theme throughout scripture, but what we are called to is obedience, to faithfulness and our faithfulness matters not only to us but to all people.
Q57 Which is the fourth commandment?
The fourth commandment is, Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it. (Exod. 20:8–11)