Do We Believe and Trust in God?
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
24 February 2013
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
A lot of people say they believe in God, but relatively few truly live like they really believe and trust in God. Most people seem to have one foot in the world and try to plant the other foot with God, and it never works. Even Abram (Abraham) had this problem as we can see in Genesis 15:1-21.
1. After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying,
“Do not fear, Abram,
I am a shield to you;
Your reward shall be very great.”
2. And Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what wilt Thou give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”
3. And Abram said, “Since Thou hast given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.”
Do you sense that Abram is partially blaming God for his lack of children, which is a sign of his lack of trust? But God understands his frustration and gives him a promise.
4. Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who shall come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.”
5. And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
6. Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
7. And He said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.”
Because Abram believed in God, He forgave him without sacrifice or the shedding of blood, and considered him to be righteous. However, according to Abram’s Chaldean tradition, the gods had to be appeased with a blood sacrifice.
Even though Abram believed in the Lord, this obviously caused a conflict in his mind and soul. Note how his doubt quickly steps in.
8. And he said, “O Lord GOD, how may I know that I shall possess it?”
So, God seems to reluctantly allow Abram to make a blood offering.
9. So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
10. Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds.
11. And the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.
This is obviously a Chaldean tradition, for it differs considerably from any of the other types of offerings described in the Bible.
12. Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.
This terror and great darkness is a sign that God is not pleased with these offerings. God was completely satisfied that Abram believed Him. Nothing else was needed for complete forgiveness.
So now the promise brings with it a type of curse, which we believe would never have happened this way if Abram completely trusted in the Lord.
13. And God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.
14. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions.
And even in His curses, God still brings a blessing.
15. And as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.
16. Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”
17. And it came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces.
18. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying,
“To your descendants I have given this land,
From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:
19. the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite
20. and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim
21. and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”
This is the judgment of the nations for their ungodly way of life. However, if they had come to the Lord, none of this would have happened, and God would have found a way to bless both them and Abram.
In Philippians 3:17-4:1, Paul writes about being a living example of our faith and trust in God so that others might believe and reject the evil ways of the world around us.
17. Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
18. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ,
19. whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
We also see people who crave eating flesh, or say that they could never give up eating meat, and who are totally indifferent to the suffering of the animals they eat, as being those whose god is their appetite.
20. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
We may be in this evil world, but we are not to live like the world. We are citizens of heaven, and as such we are to be ambassadors of God and His representatives to bring His heavenly will to earth as it is in heaven.
21. who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
4:1. Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
It’s not always easy to be an ambassador of Christ in this corrupt and violent world, but this is exactly what we are to do. We are to reject the evil ways of the world.
In Luke 13:31-35, we are told about an encounter between Jesus and some Pharisees that expresses these same thoughts.
31. Just at that time some Pharisees came up, saying to Him, “Go away and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.”
We often wonder whether these particular Pharisees were actually trying to warn Jesus for his own protection, or whether, like so many of the other Pharisees, they wanted Him to depart for their own selfish reasons.
32. And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.’
33. “Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.
Then Jesus speaks about His love for Jerusalem and the people, but He also places a curse upon them for their hardness of heart, and lack of faith and trust.
34. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!
Jesus uses the example of a mother hen to express God’s love for the people, for that is the way that He created chickens to be.
To us, this is also a condemnation of those who raise chickens in the horror of factory farms, where they even prevent chickens from having this basic of freedoms that God created them to have, which shows how ungodly farming animals really is.
And anyone who supports these ungodly acts with their money and forks, becomes a part of their evil crimes. They are all like the people of Jerusalem whom Jesus speaks about, and perhaps they are even worse. Thus Jesus lays on the curse.
35. “Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'”
As we approach Resurrection Day, let’s keep in mind the ungodly way society has made eggs a part of Easter, but they have no place in the celebration.
The only possible connection between Easter eggs, and the chickens that laid them, is the suffering of Jesus upon the cross, but the crucifixion happened 2,000 years ago, and ended three days later with His resurrection.
But human beings have carried this horrible treatment of chickens forward to this very day, and there is no place for such inhumanity in the kingdom of God.
God wants us to end all such worldly ways and live in peace with the whole of creation
Jesus called us to be peacemaking children of God, not violent tyrants of the world.
Instead of focusing on Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, and candy, we should be focusing upon the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ who brings us, and the world, hope and life eternal in the kingdom of heaven.
Believe and trust in the Lord our God, and as we do, we move closer to having real peace on earth.