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Following God Fully
01/15/2012
Scripture: Genesis 12:1-9; Acts 7:2-4; Genesis 11:3...
Track 2 of 11 in the Abraham series
Running time: 58 minutes, 40 seconds.
Lets not be fooled to think this decision that Abraham made didnt cause problems for him. There were some difficult struggles and tensions to overcome when deciding to leave and follow God with no actual direction.



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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Following God Fully

Life is full of struggles and tough decisions. You canít escape it, you canít get around it, life is all about decisions. Like is also all about change and almost every time change shows up, a decision needs to be made. There are all types of decisions one can make in life. How we decide and what we decide on are keys to a life that can be rewarding or a life that turns out to be a tragedy.

The man who insists upon seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides. Accept life, and you cannot accept regret. -Henri Frederic Amiel.

What kind of person are you, are you by nature a person who is comfortable with making decisions or do you find decisions making something that requires contemplation and careful study? Do you react quickly when a decision needs to be made or are you the type of person who is slow to make a decision?

I know for me making decisions really depends on what action is needed. There are some things I donít really worry about and I have a tendency to be an impulsive decision maker. At the food store, I can be very impulsive and will buy things without giving much thought to it. My wife is totally the opposite. She never makes a decision impulsively especially when it comes to buying something. One of my strengths in life is problem solving. I am good at it and I enjoy it but one of my greatest weaknesses is procrastination. As I grow older I find that my procrastination grows worse thus the need to have people around me to help implement the decisions I make.

My wife is the type of person who is slow at decision making. She makes excellent decisions when she decides but the effort she goes through sometimes to make a decision can drive an impulse decision maker like me nuts. I praise God every day that He placed Pam in my life because she adds tremendous balance to a lot of my decision making.

What are some of the elements needed to make good, sound decisions?

Where does faith come in to your decision making process? Can faith and facts exist in making good decisions for God? What are the pros and what are the things one has to watch out for when using the two to make decisions?

Genesis 12:1-9 The LORD had said to Abram, ďLeave your country, your people and your fatherís household and go to the land I will show you. ďI will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.Ē So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ďTo your offspring I will give this land.Ē So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him. From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

You will notice in the opening passage about Abraham, his name is Abram. The name Abram means ďexalted fatherĒ. But later in chapter 17 God will change his name to Abraham meaning ďfather of a multitudeĒ.

How many of you had to move to a different place or town where you knew the people already? Maybe you moved from a different church to discover that you knew half of everyone there already. Does familiarity help the decision making and dealing with the change when you know people in the new place?

What about those who had to move to a place where you knew no one? How hard was it to make a decision to move and what was the change like?

For Abraham, not only didnít he know anyone in the new place God called him to move to, he didnít even know where he was going? God told Abraham to leave his country, his family and all his belongings and move to a land that God would show him. Unfortunately, nowhere in scripture do we read the conversation that went on between Abraham and God on this matter but God did promise him some pretty astounding things. But the promises would only be fulfilled after Abraham followed the call of God and moved to the land God was to show him.

Based on what we read, what are the facts to consider in making a decision to move and how much is based on faith? What about Sarah and the rest of the Abraham clan, how did they feel about this move? What challenges faced Abraham just to convince his wife that this decision to move was an intelligent decision?

Think about this a minute, for nearly sixty years Abraham lived in a community of people who bowed to the gods of nature. Idolatry permeated his family life. He had never heard of the God who saved Noah and his family. But suddenly and unexpectedly this God appeared to Abraham. We are not told how all this transpired but one thing seems certain, God did not leave much room for Abraham to question the reality of this experience. God not only spoke to Abraham but in Acts 7:2, Stephen indicates that Abraham actually saw God.

Acts 7:2 To this he replied: ďBrothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran.

Letís not be fooled to think this decision that Abraham made didnít cause problems for him. There were some difficult struggles and tensions to overcome when deciding to leave and follow God with no actual direction.

Genesis 11:31-32; Acts 7:3-4 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Haran. Leave your country and your people,í God said, Ďand go to the land I will show you.íďSo he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living.

We are not told from scripture how the discussion went between Abraham and Terah but there had to be some tension between them. I find it interesting that it wasnít Abraham leading the family to Canaan; it was his father, Terah. Also, they didnít go straight to where God wanted him to go, they went to Terahís home town and settled there. Instead of moving on from Haran, Abraham didnít make a complete break with Terah as God told him to. Allowing this to happen, Abrahamís obedience was only partial. Abraham didnít leave until after his father died in Haran. Scholars calculate that Abraham lived in Haran approximately 15 years until he decided to move on and follow Godís direction.

True or False: When God calls us to obedience, He is insensitive to the circumstances around us. Following God is the most important issue.

What does Abrahamís delay say about Godís patience?

God wanted Abraham to make a decisive break with his family. Abraham didnít do that but God understood:

ē God understood the cultural and emotional ties that existed
ē Family life in the culture Abraham lived in deteriorated greatly, Abrahams family was still intact and strongly bonded
ē Terah was the head of the family and that commanded respect from all the members including Abraham.

What happens when cultural expectations and what God wants comes into conflict? When cultural commitments interfere with Godís perfect will, what happens? What happened in Abrahamís case?

I want us all to remember that in some decisions the first steps are not all that hard. But as we travel deeper into the decision, especially when difficult changes have to be made is when decision making can be very tough. I struggle with eating too much. Going on a diet starts off pretty easy but after a few weeks when the pain of dieting begins to take over, my decision gets a whole lot tougher. The same is true with those who struggle with smoking or other habits many of us struggle to overcome.

Abraham was no different. In fact the first steps to Canaan were pretty easy. Remember, the trip from Ur to Haran was not overly difficult. They traveled along the Euphrates River where there was abundant pastureland, water and a safe road to travel. Ur was situated near the great city of Babylon. The area Abraham left was ultra modern for their time so moving to Canaan would be a shock to the cultural life they were use to. The trip and move to Haran allowed a transition to take place that would help Sarah and the rest of the family prepare for the trip into Canaan.

Living in Haran was dangerous to the plan of God in Abrahamís life. What was dangerous and what were the temptations Abraham had to overcome? Living 15 years in a nice place late in life will make it difficult for a person to move into the unknown.

The destination into the unknown was 400 miles away from Haran. The family of Abraham would have to travel across monotonous wasteland using their water supply sparingly. Josephus writes and tells us that Abraham and his family eventually arrived safely in a beautiful oasis, now called Damascus. Even today a small village is identified with Abrahams name there. There is no question in my mind that once they arrived there, the temptation to stay at the oasis and settle there was great just like it was when Abraham settled in Haran. But Abraham kept the family moving.

Genesis 12:5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

During the 15 years in Haran and 400 miles of travel to Canaan, God is silent. It wasnít until after Abraham arrived in Canaan that God appeared again to Abraham and affirmed his promise to him. Even though God had been silent, Abraham was obedient.

Genesis 12:7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ďTo your offspring I will give this land.Ē So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

I find this verse really significant. Abraham built an altar. What he did was not new because he did it many times in his pagan life. But this time it was different; in front of his family and his new Canaanite neighbors, Abraham built and altar to God, not to idols made of wood or stone. Abraham and his family were bearing witness to his new neighbors that he and his family were different. Abraham had now made the transition from idolatry to worshiping the One true God.

I think there are some important principles we can hold onto from the example of Abraham:

1. Once we begin to follow God, He is sympathetic to our human weaknesses and personal struggles.

2. Although God is understanding and patient when we walk out of His perfect will, He still disciplines those He loves.

I donít know about you but I can totally identify with Abraham on this. When we disobey in some aspect of our lives, does God write us off and throw us away? What happens?

What about our kids, when they mess up, do we throw them away? Not those parents who truly love their kids. They wonít let them fail and they love them enough to discipline them and get them back on track.

How did God do this with Abraham? What is the solution when we find ourselves off track?

3. It is never too late to start obeying God. In many circumstances, we can correct our course without suffering lifelong consequences. But there are times when this is not true. Sometimes our disobedience leads to harsh life consequences that are not easy to deal with.

4. Donít try to duplicate the way or pattern God used to lead Abraham. We donít need to wait for God to talk to us or lead us to the right decision like Abraham did. Today you and we have scripture to lead us in the right direction in obedience to God. Too many Christians sit on the sidelines waiting for God to speak when all the time He screams at us His will through His Word. Get into the Word of God and learn what He wants us to do and how we need to live.