Archive for April 15th, 2013

Faith of Our Fathers

April 15, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 4/14/13.

Introduction:  One of my earliest memories of church is standing alongside my father as the congregation sang Holy, Holy, Holy, .  When we think of the faith of our fathers, it doesn’t mean literally, the faith of our biological fathers, but rather our predecessors in the faith.  Our lineage in the faith stretches back through the years, all the way to Abraham and beyond.

I. Rule Over Sin: Genesis 4:3-8

And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

I have heard it preached that Abel’s sacrifice was accepted because it was a blood sacrifice.  I do not believe that was the problem.  Elsewhere in scripture all different types of offerings were presented to, and accepted by, even commanded by, God.  It tells us in Hebrews that “by faith” Able offered a better sacrifice than Cain.  Obviously, Cain believed in the existence of God, so it wasn’t that type of faith.  I believe that it was an attitude of the heart.  God knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts and I believe that Cain was not right in his heart towards God.   Our first priority to should be to incline our hearts towards God.

Cain is warned that sin is “at the door”.  There is always the opportunity to sin.  Sin brings consequences.  We should seek to avoid sin like the plague that it is.

Cain is urged to “rule over sin”.  Some versions say to “master it” .  In order to do this we must first be able to recognize sin.  We need to know what is, and what is not, pleasing to God.  The second step is to resist sin.  This requires an active choice on our part.  It is one thing to know what is right, it is another thing to actually do it.  We are called to “rule over” sin, that is, to conquer it.  We do this by developing our relationship with God.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to recognize, resist and rule over sin.

II.  Children of Abraham:  Genesis 15:1

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

We may not be descendents of Abraham in a physical sense, but we are his children in the faith.  This event takes place before God has changed Abram’s name to Abraham.

God is our shield.  I really appreciate that God is able to protect us from the attacks of the enemy.  I do sometimes wonder why He allows some things to happen, while preventing other things.  I recognize first of all, that a shield does not protect us from our own careless, or flat-out wrong actions.  A shield protects us from attack from the outside, not our own mistakes.  Second, God allows a certain amount of tests and trials into our lives to develop our faith and our trust in Him.

God is our reward.  This is one of the most profound statements of scripture.  Our relationship with God is greater than anything that this world can possibly offer.  As believers we are able to be in the very presence of God.  There is no greater reward than our relationship with God.  I suspect that many of us have not come to truly appreciate what that means.

III.  God Will Provide:  Genesis 22:7-8

But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”

And he said, “Here I am, my son.”

Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.

This quote comes from the episode in which God has told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar.  Abraham is going to obey God and is on his way to follow through with this command when this exchange takes place.   Every time that I read this I am struck with the saying that “God will provide for Himself the lamb”.  Of course, this is a type, or a forecast, of the sacrifice that God would make of His son Jesus.  Jesus is called ‘the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.  God did indeed provide the lamb, His Son, for the sins of the world.

After God had stopped Abraham from killing his son, a ram is found in the thicket and offered to God as a sacrifice.  Abraham called the place “the Lord will provide”.  As believers we have continued to believe in a God who will provide what is needed in our lives.

Conclusion:  We can learn from those who have gone before us in the faith.  We should develop our relationship with God.  We should learn to rule over sin.  We should trust that God will provide.