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Out of Darkness
Scripture: Psalms 28:1-7; Genesis 16:16-17:1; Genes...
Track 8 of 11 in the Abraham series
Running time: 48 minutes, 36 seconds.
Abraham knew God as the One who caused everything to be and the one who preserves it. But God introduced himself as El Shaddai, the One who actually causes nature to do what is against itself. It is one thing for God to create the universe and everything in it plus all the laws that make it work. It is another thing for God to cause the natural order of things to stop and change at His will.

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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.

Psalms 28:1 To you I call, O LORD my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.

David felt this deeply and wrote about it so we can have it today. David knew that God was everything to him, his foundation, his strength when things got bad, God was his protector and as we see many times in the Psalms, God was his best friend. God was someone David could go to over and over for help and understanding when life was complicated and he needed direction because God was always there for him and was always consistent and steady. God was also his Father and disciplinarian when David strayed off the path and needed to be set straight again.

What do you think David meant when he wrote, ďFor if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pitĒ?

Psalms 28:3, 6-7 Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

Have any of you ever prayed a prayer or gave praise like that to God because of some situation in your life? How important or essential is Godís Word to you so you can hear from Him on a regular basis? How would your life change if you no longer could have the Word of God to read through, consult with or experience who God is? What would you turn to for direction understanding?

Genesis 16:16-17:1 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, ďI am God Almighty

For thirteen years God was silent. For thirteen hard years, years when Abraham probably needed a lot of direction because of the mistakes he made with Hagar, Sarah and Ishmael, God was silent. I canít imagine what life would be like if for 13 years I would have no access to God. No way to hear from him, no way to talk with him, no way to gain direction or wisdom from him, just silence as I dealt with all my struggles and mistakes.

Too often we go over scriptures and donít take the time to meditate and reflect on what one or two verses of scripture can say. Here, Abraham must be miserable until God again spoke out to him. The writer of Genesis doesnít tell us exactly how Abraham first felt when those silent years came to an end. The writer records this as a matter of fact. But we can imagine what life would be like when after 13 years we finally had a way through Godís Word to hear from God directly.

Do you remember the first time you read the Bible? What was it like? Di you still have the passion for it? In Genesis 17:1 there are two changes that takes place that many people miss and donít understand their significance. What are the changes?

The first change is in the heart of Abraham. For thirteen years Abraham was flying blind. He thought he was following Godís will but in reality, he was totally working against it. Sarah and Abraham had been following their own flight plan and God had to prepare this couple for something way out of their understanding and comprehension. God used the thirteen years of silence to prepare them for their next step of faith. In chapter 17 Abraham believed and followed, Sarah would follow at a later time but in the end, both were ready for Godís great promise.

The second change was the name God used to identify Himself. SLIDE 5: Up until this point God used the name Elohim, the plural form of EL, meaning ďstrong one.Ē It is a plural of majesty and refers to the trinity. It is especially used of Godís sovereignty, creative work, mighty work and in relation to His sovereignty. But in 17:1, God used a new name, El Shaddai, God Almighty. It stresses Godís loving supply and comfort; His power as the Almighty one standing on a mountain and who corrects and chastens.

Abraham knew God as the One who caused everything to be and the one who preserves it. But God introduced himself as El Shaddai, the One who actually causes nature to do what is against itself. It is one thing for God to create the universe and everything in it plus all the laws that make it work. It is another thing for God to cause the natural order of things to stop and change at His will.

Joshua 10:12-14 On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel:ďO sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.ĒSo the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a man. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel!

By definition, what is a miracle? Can a miracle be explained using common sense or logic? Can man override the natural laws of God?

El Shaddai relates to the side of God that can reverse or override all of these laws He created and work miracles within the natural order of His creation. He is God, El Shaddai, the One who is not limited in power.

So why the name change? Why did God do this and what was its purpose? Why do people change their names? Have you ever changed your name? Why?

Not only did God use another name, He also changed the names of Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah.

Genesis 17:5, 15-16 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. God also said to Abraham, ďAs for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.Ē

God changed their names as a constant reminder, moment by moment reminders of Godís promise to Abraham and Sarah and His power to fulfill that promise. Before He changed their names He first changed His name to reflect another expression of Godís grace and His desire to reach out to all people. The 13 years of silence was not a punishment of revenge for not following His way, it was a loving discipline and training to help Abraham and Sarah walk by faith to fulfill Godís perfect will.

The writer of Genesis doesnít record how quickly Abraham and Sarah learned their lesson but Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans that it didnít take very long.

Romans 4:18-21 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ďSo shall your offspring be.Ē Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as deadósince he was about a hundred years oldóand that Sarahís womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Last week Steve asked what God meant in Genesis 17:1 when He told Abraham to, ďWalk before me and be blamelessĒ. It was obvious for 13 years that Abraham wasnít walking that way. But this statement and command also marks a change in relationship. No longer was it okay to walk in a direction that was not Godís way. To walk before God and be blameless means to be complete or perfect.

So how does a man like Abraham do that? Does that mean he can no longer make a mistake? Does it mean you and I canít make mistakes anymore? Is it possible walk before God perfect and within Godís standards? Is it possible to walk before God in such a way that our lives are continually reflecting the life of Jesus more and more?

Here is a place in Scripture when God not only dealt with the present issue at hand but also pointed to another time when the reality of what God intended actually was fulfilled. There is a parallel in scripture between what is said in Genesis 17:1 to what Paul wrote about in his letter to the Ephesians. In Genesis 17 we see tremendous grace poured out on a couple who wasnít all that faithful. Abraham and Sarah responded to that grace and the promise was fulfilled. But listen to what Paul wrote and see if it sounds familiar:

Ephesians 1:4-5, 7-8 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of Godís grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

In spite of all our failings, God still loves us and through His grace adopts us as His own because f what Jesus did. In both cases, Abrahamsí and ours, our walk is to be with God and we are to reflect the very nature of God because we are now His and like Him. It is no longer acceptable to live an attitude of carelessness and apathy in our walk and relationship with Jesus. In order for the promise of God to be fulfilled, it requires faithfulness.

What is the promise today to be fulfilled? The Gospel message.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting menís sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christís ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christís behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Was unfaithfulness from here on out okay for Abraham? Today, is unfaithfulness oaky for us? How many of you like to get out an walk? What does it do for you personally? Do you have a favorite place to walk? Why? Are there places you know you shouldnít be walking through or certain times of the day that are not safe times to walk? What about your Christian walk? How does that parallel to your physical walking?

Paul had a lot of things to say about our walk as Christians. In fact Paul states in his letter to the Ephesians this:

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called.

Do you remember God calling you anytime? What does Paul mean by this? What were you called to do? How does this relate to Abraham? Was he called also by God? For what?

Abraham was called by God to leave Ur and to move to a land that God would show him. The purpose was so God could make a great nation out of him to fix a major problem in the lives of people. The problem was the people were evil in every way but God had a plan to redeem them though the seed that would come from Abraham. Today, you and I were called to leave our home as well; we were called to leave the self life for a shared life with Jesus. When we enter into our covenant with Christ, also are called to walk before God and be blameless. The purpose for this is so we too can fulfill the promise of God in the lives of others; the promise of a reconciled relationship with God.

The great and mighty nation God is building through us is His Church.