Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered February 16, 2002 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Abram: Receiving God's Call

Genesis 12:1-8

Today is part two of a sermons series on Abram. And we are beginning now to leave Genesis 11 and Genesis 12. We will cover the first eight verses this morning.

A tourist gazed up at the Rothschild Mansion in London and noticed that the entire end of the fancy cornice was unfinished. And the tourist thought, "Surely a man who was the richest man in the world could afford to have his house finished." The explanation is very simple: Mr. Rothschild was an Orthodox Jew. The house of every pious Jew must have some part unfinished, that will never be finished. This is a witness to the fact that they like Abraham, are just a pilgrim and a stranger on this earth. Isn't that a neat point? So, you ladies, if your husband hasn't finished the house yet, you're just a pilgrim, you're just a stranger here. That's all.

1.- ABRAM ABANDONED HARAN

He had to leave, didn't he. Genesis 12:1 The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." He went out like a mole. He couldn't see where he was going. He didn't know where he was going to go. "Leave your country." We serve a God Who is active in our life. Are you aware that God found Abram. Did Abram find God? God takes the initiative. God will always come to you, and He will find you. And He will call you into something. God wants you so He can bless you and give you eternal success.

Imagine God in brilliant but veiled glory appearing live right before Abram and maybe appearing before you. Can you imagine that and asking you to leave home!

You see, for us to grow into God's purpose He must uproot us from where we are and so He can transplant us into the fertile soil of Jesus Christ where we can flourish. That's what is going on here in Chapter 12. Abram could never become Abraham in UR or in Haran. He was not supposed to make Haran his habitation any more than Noah was supposed to make the ark his permanent home. Noah was supposed to leave the ark. Abram had to leave Ur and Haran. He must Journey on to the land of promise where God directs him. You must distance yourself from evil influences. In Canaan God will bless him, not in Haran.

A pivotal concept here is "Separation." God must separate Abram from Ur, separate him from Lot, separate him from the past. A friend of mine grew up with ungodly parents and ungodly surroundings. He determined that he did not want to be like that. He married and moved 1000 miles away so he could distance himself from his bad background and become something great for God. He left it all. Sometime you have to leave. You have to leave your ungodly influences. And my friend left it all. Jesus may be calling you to separate. Jesus tried to call the rich young ruler to separate the rich young ruler from his riches. Did the rich young ruler comply? No. Imagine what God could have done with that man, and God knew that was one thing he needed to be separated from. Some of the tools of separation are suffering, pain, or even death. Abram did not leave Haran until his daddy, Terah, died. That became an agent of change. Death became a blessing to Abram. Then and only then did Abram leave Haran. Then and only then did he leave the moon worshipers behind.

Death opened the door to a new life. Death broke the link binding Abram to the past, to Haran. Death is a time of change and new beginnings. Because Jesus died, we have an awesome opportunity.

By the way, Abraham set out for Canaan and so did Terah. Abram arrived in Canaan, but Terah never made it. Why not? They both set out for Canaan. Terah never made it. I think Matthew 13:7- 8 gives the answer: Other seed fell among the thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop. Terah was like the seed that fell among thorns. Flourished for a while, maybe, but the thorns choked his growth, and choked him off. Abraham also dwelt among Haran's thorns. But because his heart hungered for God, God uprooted him from among those thorns and God transplanted him into fertile soil of Jesus Christ and Canaan's land.

The same voice that called Abram from Ur also called Amos from Tekoa, and Peter from fishing nets and his boat. His voice called Matthew from the tax booth. It called Martin Luther from his cloister, and called Ellen White from her humble home. That voice also calls you to do something great fro God.

Let's suppose you say yes to God's call, you should just say yes. What do you get out of it? If you answer God and you say, "Okay, I will leave." What do you get out of it? We have already mentioned heaven. You would certainly get that out of it. But, If we are willing to leave all and follow Him we will be rewarded handsomely here in this land. There are rewards to being a Christian. God's fantastic promise to Abram is also made to us. Gen 12:2. Here's what Abram would be blessed with: "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; Now, you can put your name there. God will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing."

God blesses some that they will become a blessing to others. If you are greatly endowed ask why? Why has God blessed you in the special way that He has? Was it to consume it all upon yourself? No. He says, "I will bless you and you will be a blessing." Why did God bless Abram? So that he might BE a blessing. Isn't that beautiful? God doesn't bless us just so we can pile it on and make it bigger and bigger.

Gen 12:3 "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." In other words, you will be a channel. "I will pour my blessings through you. If you pour water through a pipe, that's a conduit. That's exactly what we are as Christians.

God calls His children to be a conduit, a blessing to others. He also calls His children to be pilgrims and strangers on this earth. That is why Christians have a loose hold on their gold. We have a far off look in our eyes. This is not our home. If we come down with cancer, it is OK, because we did not come here to stay. This is not our home. This is a temporary camping spot. look for a heavenly land. Our home is up there among the stars.

True Christians have the blessing of Abram. God will make you and your family great just like he made Abram great. He will make you a blessing to others. If you really look over verses 2 and 3, how many times does the word "bless" or "blessed" or "blessing" occur? In just two verses, God is telling Abram what He will do, and five times He says, "I will bless you and make you a blessing." The word "Bless" 5 times. Why so much? So Abram can be a blessing to others.

Why has God blessed you? Some of you have more money than you could ever spend. Do your kids really need it all? Give them something but remember where all that money came from...God. Give to God's work on this earth. You were blessed to be a blessing to the cause of God.

Genesis 12:4. So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.

He was old. He was childless. He was already beyond the average age of most Americans. And here he was, setting out. He didn't even know where he was going. When God called Abram he pulled up his tent stakes and off he went. He left his nearest and dearest to follow the Lord wherever the Lord would lead. My parents did that for my Sister and me. My mother and dad, they're members of this church, and I'm thrilled they are, but when my sister and I, the first one of us graduated from eighth grade, my mother and dad put the house up for sale. They couldn't afford the tuition to send us to the academy, and the boarding and the room and all that. So, I was going to be a village student. They sold our little home and we packed up everything we had and moved in one small truck. We left dozens of relatives behind. All of our relative lived right there in town. And we moved to a place where we knew nobody. Why did we do that? Because my parents knew God wanted their children to have a Christian Education. They put God desires first and they left. And that's what Abram did.

2. - ABRAM ARRIVES IN CANAAN

He actually made it! Look at Genesis 12:5. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. They actually made it.

God had said:

Whenever you begin to follow God you are not just heading to another land. You are not just heading to another job. You are not just heading to another address. No. When you set out to follow God you are heading for heaven. Look at Hebrews 11. This is where Abram actually set out for. He didn't set out for Canaan. That's just what the Bible says. It's interpreted over here in Hebrews 11. Here's where he actually set out for. Hebrews 11:10. This says: For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. That's where he was headed. Where was he headed? All the way to heaven. That's where he was going. When you start following God, you're not just headed to McDonald Road, you're not just headed to some new address, you're headed to heaven. Abram's sight were on heaven from the very start, the on-ramp to the freeway that leads to heaven started back there in Ur.

Was Abram in debt of any kind when he left Haran? Was he poor? No, he was rich. Did you see what he left with? When he left Haran, he had a lot of things with him. All the things that he had accumulated, the Bible says. Notice in Genesis 12:5. He left with people. He left with all that he had accumulated in Haran. He left with great wealth. God had said: "Go to Canaan." They did set out from Ur for Canaan, but got bogged down in Haran for many years. But notice that God blessed Abram in spite of his home in heathen Haran. Was Haran where God told him to be? No. So did God cut off His blessing in Haran? No, He did not. That's the point I want you to catch. God is more faithful to us than we are to Him. God blesses you even though you are not completely, not fully doing His will yet, because you've started out. Because He knows you're going to do it. So He blesses you. That's an awesome point. Abram had many servants. He was married to an exceedingly good looking woman. He had become a rich young ruler. One place were will discuss calls him a prince. And he was a young seventy five. When I was a kid, I thought anyone twenty years old was old. But I will tell you that Abram still had a hundred ahead of him. When you have a hundred years ahead of you, you are still young. When I call you "kid" it's true. You have a whole eternity ahead of you. Yes! You're young.

You know, he left Haran rich. And, when we Americans get rich we tend to lean on our money instead of leaning on our Lord. Our affluence almost destroys our influence. Today, we here in Collegedale can hardly pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." Why not?

He blessed him immensely.

Genesis 12:6 says: Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. By now they were in the heart of the Promised Land. They had reached their destination. The trip was over. Abram had obeyed God. Notice what God did then for Abram. Only then did God "appear" again to him.

3. - ABRAM ABIDING IN CANAAN

For the next 100 years Father Abram followed God. Where did he live? He lived in a tent! Can you imagine living in a tent for a hundred years? Would you enjoy that? You have seen the dark Bedouin camel hair tents. Abram left his fine home in Haran (some of them even had bathrooms) for Tent living. How would you like to live in a tent for 100 years? Does it get cold in Palestine? It snows in Jerusalem. Tents have no foundations. His had no zipper or Velcro. No air mattress. Abram died in a tent. No wonder this tent dweller looked for a city that had big foundations. That would be important to Abram.

As God's children we are not to feel too attached to this world. The building of our foundation is up in heaven. Will folk believe us when we talk about the soon coming of Jesus when we live with undue attachment to material things? So, we need to be careful.

We need to relax our grip on the things of this world. That will enable us to cling to the Savior. You are no fool if you give up what you can't keep anyway to gain that which you can't lose in a whole eternity.

Abram was a good witness there in Canaan. Christians ought to be a good witness. I was out here driving on I-75 one day and a car went flying around me. On the back of the car was a bumper sticker "Jesus Saves." There goes a Christian!? Tow or three miles down the road, the police had him. I thought, "Now, there's a witness." Not a good witness! When Christians pay their bills that is a good witness. Christians ought to obey the law.

4. - ABRAM ACHIEVING IN CANAAN

Abram actually achieved in Canaan. Genesis 12:7 "The Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the Lord, Who had appeared to him."

Genesis 12:8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.

Now we begin to see real growth in our great patriarch. Abram did not build an Altar in Ur. He did not build an altar in Haran. Only in Canaan. This tells me that real fellowship with God will never happen until there is real separation from the world and sin.

Have you ever built an Altar? You need to have an altar in your house: family worship, a place where you can pray, a place where you worship God with your family. Read the Bible there. Kneel there in that spot. I've never built one out of stones or concrete. What does it mean to build an altar today? The Altar is where we worship God. Family and personal worship. Altars mean sacrifice, and self surrender. Far too many Christian homes are Altar-less. Erect an altar in your family. Read the Bible in that hallowed spot. Kneel there in prayer.

Abram pitched his tent in each spot. But he never pitched an altar. He "built" the altar; he pitched the tent. In other words, the church was more important, his worship was more important than his home. Every time he moved, the tent was pulled down but the altar was left standing there. What you do for God is all that will last.

Are you heading to Canaan's land today? You are if you are following God like Abram did. I used to pastor a church in Lenoir, NC., in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. One day an old country gentleman invited me come to his home for a visit. I asked, "How do I get to your house?" He said, "Go above the church till you come to an old barn. Then go down hill a ways till you see a fork. Take the upper side and go till you see some hogs in the road, then turn left. Our house is on the right just past the stone fence post." "Okay, I come and visit you." So I did and, you know, he was actually my road map. That's what it was. All I had to do to reach the old man's house was to listen and to follow what he told me. Believe it or not, I was able to find his house with those directions. He was the way. Jesus said: "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life," John 14:6. Jesus is your road map to heaven. Jesus was Abram's road map to eternal life. And if you want to get to the house of the old man you will need to follow his directions.

Are you willing to follow Jesus? Are you willing to go wherever He wants you to go? I pray that you are.

Bulletin

Hymn of Praise: #11, The God of Abraham Praise
Scripture: Genesis 12:1-3
Hymn of Response: #573, I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go

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