December 18th, 2016
ICA Sunday Pulpit Message
The Family that Held onto the Covenant of Canaan (Gen 12:1-10)
It’s good to see you. Greet those around you. Have you had a good week? Today’s title is, “The Family that Held onto the Covenant of Canaan”. We started worship with praise. My mother was patting me on the back. It gave me flashbacks. What happened you may ask? When I was in elementary school in Korea, my father gave presents to me and my younger sister. When I look at my sister, her present looked better. I saw that and felt discouraged. I did receive a lot of love from my father. The next morning, we were brushing our teeth. After using toothpaste, I threw it. I was frustrated with my dad. He didn’t say anything. My dad got mad and hit me. If you become too stubborn, you will be slapped. I realized that if I kept being stubborn, I was going to get hurt. There is something else I remembered. I learned tae-kwon-do as an elementary school. I was small. In a class about 75, I was one of the shortest. No matter how good I was, because I was small I would lose. In Korea, winter vacations are longer. In spring, school began and I got taller. I was taller than most people now. I would win matches. I should’ve been humble, but I was arrogant. That was the felt a sense of winning. I was used to getting beaten up, but I enjoy winning. I would call on someone and pretend I would beat them up. There was this master, who was also my homeroom teacher. He was my homeroom teacher in 4-5th grade. His name is Mr. Ko. He saw me and called me. He told me that I wasn’t myself. I didn’t understand. He punished me in front of everyone. If you are stubborn, you will be hurt. When you forget about your old self and pretend, then you will be hurt. I thought of my old days. Today is about the family who held onto the family of Canaan. It talks about the family of Abraham. We all go to church and are believers. As we attend church, we get to know other saints. Some are forced to come. Some have a sense of obligation. Others receive grace. Some receive answer to pray. Some intend to fulfill God’s intention. Lay leaders like those people. Those people who knew God’s intention will be liked by the pastor and God. There are people who receive the grace and gain something, then go to church. There are people who are forced to come. Lay leaders don’t talk about it, they don’t like those people. God still likes and guides them. He has the power to change everyone. It doesn’t matter what your background is.
1. Do not absolutely make any excuses
(1) Origin and background (Gen 11:28, Js 24:15)
(2) Nature of unbelief (Gen 11:31-32, Acts 7:2-3)
(3) Environment and Situations (Gen 12:10, 11-13)
You may feel discouraged because of your background. Is there anyone who grew up in an elite family. A lot of people aren’t from elite families. Majority of families are from idol worship and grew up poor. However, don’t make this your excuse. What was Abraham’s background? He was from Chaldea, Ur. It was the area of idol worship. He is the descendant of Seth. He is a man of God. He didn’t obey God because he would make idols for money. God pulled him from that land, and raised him up. What was his nature like? In Acts 7, “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran.” And God said to Abram to leave his country, people and his father’s household and go to the land. However, Abraham brought Lot with him. He didn’t obey God and then his father and brother die. He barely comes out. Abraham was in that kind of state, but God still changed him. Once he came out, he faced a famine. God ordered him to stay there. “That is the heavenly mandate, commission and calling. When I starve, I will die.” He needed to have that faith, but he didn’t have it. He was afraid of starving to death. He was looking for food. Do not be afraid. If you are afraid, then you will be the one who’s eaten. God changed him. You might wonder why nothing is working out for you. There aren’t that many people who can continue. We can make that as an excuse. God will change you. What about your environment and situations? There was a famine when Abraham came. Suppose that people criticize our organization and make excuses. That is how people give up and get discouraged. God changed Abraham to become the ancestor of faith. It works the same with us. God started it, so there’ll be an end. God makes the impossible, possible. He created the universe. He mobilizes the universe. He changed Abraham and made him the Father of faith. He will change us so that we can receive the same blessings.
2. There are things that can kill and things to save within you.
Your own stubbornness can’t be fixed (Gen 12:18, 20:13)
Firm role model of worship (Gen 12:7-8, 13:4, 22:9)
Relying the pity of others can make you struggle (Gen 13:9, 21:14)
Volunteer to devote materials (Gen 12:20)
Internal idols that are hard to give up (Gen 22:10)
Firm Establishment of disciples (Gen 14:14, 15:2)
Abraham went through that process. 3 things to eliminate and 3 things to save! There is one thing that Abraham had even though he was weak so that he could please God. Even though Abraham would have unbelief, he would still give worship everywhere. In Gen 12, he built an altar at Shechem. And, in Gen 13, he also built an altar between Bethel and Ai. In Gen 22, He built an alter before sacrificing his son, Isaac. Altar means blood sacrifice. It is the time when we hold onto the covenant of blood given by God. Abraham never forgot the covenant of blood and succeed a worship. Everyone knows the name of Christ. Even though the weather is cold, we came to worship here today. Abraham was a person who was able to volunteer his materials. Where can you find that scripture? In Genesis 14, it talks about the first war. Abraham was involved and had victory. He received the spoils of war. So, he had extra assets and wealth. At that time, Abraham met Melchizedek, king of Salem and gave him a 10th of everything. I would look at the list and there are people who don’t give tithe, so I would pray to God for guidance. He told me to not do anything. You have made a decision about the covenant. Abraham had a character of devotion. Abraham was efficient at establishing disciples. In Genesis 14, he raised 318 people. in chapter 15:2, he raises Elazar. Everyone here attends this church. You have realized the need for disciples. You have the spirit of disciple care. If you are able to make a decision of the covenant, to volunteer to devote materials, and frim establishment of disciples then you are finished. We are all in this flow. Just like Abraham, God chose and called us for these things. There are also things that we should eliminate. There are certain things that are incomprehensible. In Genesis 12, Abraham lied about his wife, saying that she was his sister. He wanted to live so he sold her off. God intervenes and he manages to save them. He does the same thing in chapter 20. Maybe his wife Sarah was pretty. However, the husband should still protect his wife. Even though he will be sent to prison, he should’ve protected her. What kind of nature is this of Abraham? It is stubbornness that can’t be fixed. Because he is in a foreign land, he wanted to survive. It is that he had stubbornness of trying to live. God was molding Abraham to eliminate his stubbornness. You must take a look at yourself and realize what your stubbornness is. If it doesn’t get fixed, then you will suffer. Why did Napoleon fail? He tried to attack Russia during the winter. His advisors told him not to. Napoleon didn’t listen their advice and most of his men died. Thomas Edison is a brilliant scientist with countless inventions. In his last days, he was holding onto something that doesn’t take place. He experiences great loss and dies in a pathetic way. Being stubborn means that you are stiff-necked. According to Proverbs 28:18, “Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.” God needs to destroy the Pharaoh of Egypt. That’s how the Israelites can escape Egypt. There is an interesting expression. “I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them.” His heart became hardened. When the Israelites were away from God, they would face disasters and diseases. We are about to appoint the church officers. The pastors and ministers must remember in Titus 1:7, it says, “Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless--not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.” After Abraham’s wife, Sarah, died, then he got his stubbornness fixed. He was able to fix his stubbornness after his wife passes away. He tries to rely on the pity of others. Abraham’s brother, Haran, passed away in Ur of the Chaldeans. So, Abraham’s niece left. Because Abraham felt sorry and was moved with pity, he brought Lot even though God said to leave his father’s household. They end up fighting each other and realizes that they must go separate ways. It isn’t wise to rely on the pity of others. Before giving birth to Isaac, he had Ismael through Hagar. They wanted to live together, but God told him to send them off. He was no longer easily swayed by pity. He was able to obey God’s word and send them off because Ismael was not the descendent of covenant. He was able to break the character of being moved with compassion to others. If you have private emotions, then it will bring trouble. It is good to have a sense of sympathy. Your personal feelings or thoughts should not take priority before God’s will and plan. In Old Testament, there was this pastor, Eli. He had two sons. They were bad. He just leaves them be. That family failed. Moved with compassion for others made Abraham struggle, so God made him let it go. Lastly, God gave answers to Abraham. He gave him Isaac. However, later God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. If we were Abraham, we would be shocked and upset. However, Abraham didn’t get hesitant and obeyed God’s command. He had victory with his faith. He confirmed the promise of the blessings of God. We must see that God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. He could’ve said that he would rather sacrifice a lot of lambs. God knew Abraham. Isaac was Abraham’s pride and desire. God is asking him to let him go. That was a trial from God. That was a hidden idol that Abraham had. We all love our children. We have a passion to raise them. When we pray, we get answers and blessings. They will succeed. If you tell them to become a pastor or a pastor’s wife, they wouldn’t want to. Those are the hidden idols you have. Everyone has it. You must find it. There are things that you cannot yield. When someone touches that, there are people who don’t care about God nor anything else. You have to be cautious and look at your internal idols. You have to take that as an opportunity for eternal blessing. I bless that you can succeed. There are people who can’t take the words to the pastor. It is a deep and firm part of Satan within you. Abraham had that, but passed through it.
3. Find what God has prepared for you
(1) Father of faith (Gen 12:2)
(2) Descendant of the Covenant (Gen 21:1-8)
(3) Role model of blessing (Gen 24:1, 25:1-8)
Abraham went through those trials and had imprints, roots and nature within the Gospel. That’s why God gave me great blessings. “I will make you into a great nation” He became the father of faith. He had Isaac who was a son of faith. He had the descendant of the covenant. If you look at Abraham carefully, he was more prosperous as he become older. When people get older, they don’t want to do anything. It was the opposite for Abraham. When you get older, you lose your will. It was the opposite for Abraham because had a lot of children when he was 100. Abraham received strength, spirit and soul from God. He was prosperous more and more, but he was able to distribute his possession. He became a model for the blessings of God. He was a role model for a believer. He is the person who held onto the covenant of Canaan. It is the land where Christ will come. He was holding onto the shadow of Christ. Abraham held onto it and God blessed him. God changed him. If you think that you aren’t perfect, then hold onto something small inside of the Gospel. Try to concentrate and memorize firmly, then you will receive blessings just like Abraham did. Your family will be the Gospel noble family. There are biblical figures who had victory. in the Bible, it states how they also had failure. It isn’t a biography. Biographies describe the individual’s success. However, the Bible is written by their descendants. They know their dark side. So, they would relay it. They were able to reveal that to the point where they could have forum. That is how you can pray for that and report it to God. Once you seek and pray, then you can repent. You have to do that. If there is something that it doesn’t work well, pray and look for the topic of prayer. In 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” You have to reveal that stubbornness so you can repent before God. Was Satan able to repent? He never repented. He was stubborn. Once you reveal your stubbornness and receive grace from God, then you will be humble. Then, you won’t be arrogant. I know my past self. The people close to me know my weaknesses. Once you realize that, then you will be able to be humble to others. Satan was also the son of God. Satan received so much glory, but he failed. He doesn’t repent. He completely fails. God created His new son, who is Christ. Within that, we received a calling from God. We know that we have a past, but humble yourself. Not to be stubborn, but change that. May you pass through this stage. That is the mission. There are things you must eliminate. You must remember your past self. If you continue to be stubborn, you will get hurt. If I didn’t remember that I was short and small, I would be rebuked by my teacher. You have to go through this stage, then you will be qualified to be able to be used by God. You will humble yourself before God. You will be able to confess salvation through God’s grace.
Dear Almighty God. May your mercy on me. May we find and pass a mission like Abraham. Bless us be the ancestor of faith. Make my descendants prosperous. Allow them to become role models to glorify God. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray, Amen.