HYMN40 Amazing grace
1Amazing grace-how sweet the sound-
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.
2God’s grace has taught my heart to fear,
his grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed!
3Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
God’s grace has brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.
4The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures.
5And, when this heart and flesh shall fail
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
a life of joy and peace.
6When we’ve been there ten thousand years
bright shining as the sun,
we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
than when we first begun.
15 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
‘Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.’
2 But Abram said, ‘Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’ 3 And Abram said, ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’
4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.’ 5 He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’
6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
7 He also said to him, ‘I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.’
8 But Abram said, ‘Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I shall gain possession of it?’
9 So the Lord said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.’
10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and ill-treated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterwards they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.’
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking brazier with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates – 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.’
SERMON God’s Covenant with Abram
The central core of this chapter is the 6th verse.
Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
The theme of this verse became the basis for the New Covenant – the New Testament – the New Promise of God.
But why so important? The answer is fairly straight forward. The big question in the minds of countless millions is just this: How can I be good? How can I get to heaven when I die? What must I do to please God? And Jesus’ resounding answer is that we must believe in Him.
Abram believed God! Abram trusted God. Abram trusted God for the life beyond.
In this chapter God comes to meet with Abram on two occasions. In both of these meetings God makes a promise to Abram.
In verses 1-6, God comes to Moses at night (vs. 5) and speaks to Moses in a vision (vs. 1) and the promise God makes is with regard to Abram’s descendants.
In verses 7-21 God meets Moses at sundown (vs. 12) while Moses is in a deep sleep (vs. 12) and the promise He makes is with regard to the land that Abram’s family are to occupy. Here is God’s clear and unconditional promise that Abram’s family will occupy the land of Canaan.
And this central verse 6 tells us that Abram BELIEVED the Lord and the promises of the Lord.
But God reassures His faithful servant Abram – and us – with the words: I am your shield. We need to know that God protects His warriors in the midst of battle.
We can have confidence in this promise, for the chapter is introduced in this way: “the word of the Lord came …”
These words introduce a revelation given by God to a prophet – and Abram will be called a prophet in 20:7.
Here is the sure Word of the Living God telling us to fear not in the midst of life’s battles, for His protection is ever around us – a strong shield.
But more … God tells Abram that He is Abram’s very great reward. Abram will know that the Lord is his God (Gen 17:8) – as will his family after him.
The issue uppermost in Abram’s mind is childlessness – and so God makes this wonderful promise in verses 4-5 – God will provide a real family for His man. The promise is about Abram’s descendants being as numerous as the stars .
And NOW we come to that great 6th verse. Against all the odds – even in his old age and his wife’s old age – way beyond child-bearing age – Abram believed God – Abram TRUSTED God. And that TRUST was accounted by God as righteousness.
Righteousness or holiness is what we will need to see God and live – to get to heaven and stay in heaven when we die. Trusting God is the centre of it all.
But the basis for all God’s promises is trusting in Him (vs. 6) – and the basis for our lives must not be our health, our wealth or our efforts – but rather what God has done for us in sending Christ to Calvary – there to die and then to rise again – ours is to trust Him!
Hymn 1928 Guide me, O thou great Jehovah
1Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty,
hold me with thy powerful hand:
Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven,
feed me till my want is o’er.
2Open now the crystal fountain
whence the healing stream doth flow;
let the fire and cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through:
strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
be thou still my strength and shield.
3When I tread the verge of Jordan
bid my anxious fears subside!
Death of death, and hell’s destruction,
land me safe on Canaan’s side!
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee.