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In 1979 Dr. Larry Reynolds moved to Denton, Texas, to become the founding pastor of Southmont Baptist Church. During his twenty-eight year ministry at Southmont, the church grew to a membership of more than 1800. The church, which began in a small storefront, now meets on a campus that includes three educational buildings, a fellowship hall, an activities center, and sanctuary. After retiring as the Senior Pastor of Southmont in December, 2006, Pastor Reynolds has remained active in the Denton area conducting weddings, funerals, and leading Bible studies. He and his wife, Carol, have traveled extensively. In addition to five trips to Israel, they have visited Jordan, Greece, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Peru, Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Abraham

ABRAHAM
(Genesis 12-25)

1.      As we continue looking at some of the key characters in the Bible, we are going to focus on the life of Abraham.  If you were to ask me to make a list of the most important people in the Bible, Abraham would be toward the very top of the list.  To this day the three main religions of our world – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--trace their roots back to Abraham.  In the middle east where people are bitterly divided over religious convictions, will find that Abraham is the one person highly revered by all the religious group
2.      Even if you knew nothing about biblical history, even a cursory reading of the Bible would indicate that Abraham is a very important character.  His name appears on the pages of Scripture approximately 230 times.  And it may surprise you to know that he is mentioned in all four gospels, Acts, Romans, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Hebrews, James, and 2 Peter.
3.      In the New Testament he is portrayed as:
·      The father of the way of faith.  Paul said of him in Galatians 3:6-7 – “‘Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’  Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are the sons of Abraham.”
·      A model of obedience.  Hebrews 11:8 says of him, “By faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed…”
4.      In the Old Testament, Abraham’s story is told between Genesis 11:26 where his birth is mentioned and Genesis 25:8 where his death is mentioned.  Obviously we cannot cover those 14 chapters in one session.  What I want to do in this session is look at some of the key events in Abraham’s life and since the New Testament points to Abraham as a model of obedience, draw from those events some lessons about obedience to God.

Genesis 12:1-4 – The call to go to the land God promised (see map)

Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-7 – Sordid events in Abraham’s life, pretending that his wife, Sarah, was his sister.  In chapter 12 they were in Egypt and Pharaoh actually made Sarah his wife.  In chapter 20 they were in Gerar, and King Abimelech discovered the treachery before taking Sarah as his wife.

Genesis 22:1-17 – Story of Abraham and Isaac and the sacrifice on Mt. Moriah

Genesis 25:8 – Abraham’s death

Abraham is known as the father of faith.  And one thing we can learn from him is that faith always involves obedience.  I want to point out a few things we can learn about obedience from the example of Abraham.

I. OBEDIENCE TO GOD IS NOT ALWAYS EASY
1.   When God first called Abraham in Genesis 12 He promised if faithful Abraham would be faithful that God would make great nation of his descendants...as time went by and Abraham and wife had no children, began doubt promise...in Genesis 15 God came to Abraham and promised son...finally when Abraham was 100, he and Sarah had Isaac...birth recorded Genesis 21...
2.   But then comes Genesis 22...there God gave Abraham a very difficult command...told Abraham take Isaac to certain mountain and offer him as sacrifice to God...no doubt that command broke Abraham's heart...Isaac was the son for whom had  waited many years...hope of future for nation...boy whose life Abraham loved more than own...and now God saying, "Take boy and offer as burnt offering to me."

1.   Must confess don't understand why God ask Abraham do that...know some say merely testing to see how faithful...know certainly preview of great sacrifice God actually made on our behalf in his son...however, still hard understand why God put Abraham through such emotionally wrenching experience...
2.   However, while don't understand it, can learn from it...one thing can learn is that obedience sometimes difficult...could not have been more difficult thing all world for Abraham to do... as if picked hardest and said, "Abraham, prove faithfulness and obedience to me.."
3.   Need dispel the myth that the easiest all lives is life obedience to God...neither Bible nor life of Christ nor history of church supports that kind thinking...doubt that‑‑
‑‑12 disciples, all whom martyred except Judas and John...
--Apostle Paul who was imprisoned, beaten, and eventually killed for preaching Christ…
‑‑Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, burned at stake for refusing deny Christ...
‑‑William Tyndale, who constantly persecuted for efforts translate Scripture language people..
‑‑John Bunyan, who was cast in prison preaching without license…
      would say that obedience to God easy...
4.   Abraham's experience should remind us that being obedient to God is not always easy...as matter of fact, more often than not being obedient to God is difficult....

II. OBEDIENCE TO GOD IS ALWAYS BEST
1.   In Genesis 25 where Abraham's death recorded, a beautiful thing said about him...25:8 says, "And Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life..."...suggest died satisfied with life because lived life of obedience to God...
2.   Point is God calls to obedience because wants us have good life...knows what's best for us...knows what should avoid and seek after...commands gives us in Scripture and direction give for our lives not for purpose of restricting us or making our lives miserable...designed free us get most out of life...

1.   When I was child parents required me do some things didn't particular want to do...
--sometimes made me stay in and do my homework when I wanted be out playing with friends...
--made me go church on Wednesday nights and Sunday nights, when many friends at school out doing other things...
2.   At time didn't understand why require some of those things of me...but looking back from perspective of today, realize life much better because of those values they instilled in me...
3.   Way is with obedience to God...may not realize it at time, but obedience always makes life better...

III. NO‑ONE IS OBEDIENT ALL THE TIME
1.   May sound like rather strange and dangerous thing to say...want you to understand the spirit in which say it...don't say to encourage disobedience...but want know when make mistake and fail do what God wants, not end of world and God doesn't write us off and forget about us...
2.   Clearly seen life Abraham...here is man recognized as one of outstanding religious leaders in history of world...however, also man not always obedient to God...
3.   As read story in Genesis, several occasions portrayed as weak, fearful, deceptive man...last part Genesis 12 read about famine sweeping across land Canaan...and because Abraham refused trust God provide for him, against God's will took family to Egypt...while in Egypt Abraham deceived Pharaoh into thinking Sarah actually his sister rather than wife...

1.   Point is no‑one is perfect...no‑one always as obedient as should be...when fail in our obedience, need confess failure to God, do what can to undo damage we have done, and go on trying be obedient...
2.   No better illustration of that in Bible than in life Simon Peter...one moment Jesus said, "Blessed are you Simon Barjona" and next say, "Get behind me Satan.."...but Peter kept trying and God blessed him....

IV. OBEDIENCE TO GOD INVOLVES ACTION
1.   When God told Abraham leave his homeland and journey land God show him Bible says, "So Abraham went forth as the Lord had spoken to him..."...when God told Abraham to take Isaac to the land of Moriah and sacrifice him Bible says, "So Abraham rose early in the morning..and went to the place God had told him.."
2.   Abraham didn't just talk about obeying God...did it!...acted!..

1.      Is it possible that we talk more about obedience than we actually obey...for example, we talk about importance of--
‑‑reaching people with gospel...but are we really doing anything to reach them?..
‑‑loving people as Christ loved us...but what do we do to let people know love them in that way?...
‑‑Christians caring for those who have special needs...but do we do anything to meet needs except talk?...

1.   Jesus once told parable about man who had two sons...asked first son work in vineyard and said okay but never went to work...asked second son work in vineyard and said no, but did go work...asked, "Which of the sons did the father's will?"....
2.   Obedience is not talk...it is action...

CONCLUSION

1.      Christianity not so much a religion of head as it is religion of heart...must avoid temptation of thinking Christianity as merely a mental exercise and failing to see it as way of life...while there are many theological and philosophical questions about which we can endlessly speculate, that is not essence of Christian life...

2.      The essence of the Christian life is obedience to God...and from the example of Abraham we can learn that obedience--
‑‑it's not always easy...
‑‑it is always best...
‑‑no‑one is always obedient...
‑‑obedience involves more than talk...involves action
3.   I want to end with a quote from Marriage Partnership magazine (1995): "Trust that God has your best interests in mind and be willing to do what He asks of you, even if you don't understand why.  Obedience starts with having a heart that says yes to God."

4.   May we have the kind of heart which says yes to God!