Sunday, December 4, 2011

On 12-11-11 Genesis 15:1-6, 12-18 will be our Adult Sunday School/Uniform Series/International Sunday School Lesson, herein is my commentary. This Lesson is known by as A Promise to Abraham aka A Covenant with God.

A Promise to Abraham
 A Covenant with God
Genesis 15:1-6, 12-18
International Sunday School Lesson
December 11, 2011

Jed Greenough

There is a proverb that has never been truer than when applied to Abraham or Abram as he is still known in today’s scripture.  The proverb is 12:28 and it reads, “In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.”

Abram is known by us all because as we read in verse 6 today he believed what the Lord told him and it was credited to him as righteousness.  This is how we remember Abram, as this man of great faith but I think we almost forget the man part.  We have raised him to a place where he seems more immortal than man.  But let’s look at him in a way that reminds us more of ourselves, people who likewise have received promises and blessings but who need reassurances.

On a personal level, if you are still working has it been awhile since you heard the reassuring words of, “well done”?  Or if you are a teacher of the scriptures who despite successful efforts in the past, has it been awhile since you felt encouraged?  This is how I look at Abram.  We know from the end of chapter 11 to today’s scripture that God had spoken to, visited with and appeared to Abram on several occasions.  We know that in the time in between that these chapters mentioned Abram became very wealthy and successful.  Despite all this, time was elapsing.  We can see that even Abram, this man known as God’s friend, this man known for his faith, needed encouraging.

God had said in the very first verse for today that He was Abrams very great reward but Abram amazingly says, “What can you give me…?  Can you imagine saying that to God, “What can you give me”?  Despite the promises, the blessings and the appearances, this aging mortal man needed encouragement. 

Fact is, we should be encouraged both by Abram’s humanity and God’s patience because we can apply it to ourselves.  We may not have those supernatural encounters to fall back on during our weaker moments in working for the Kingdom but we do have a Bible full of promises that Abram didn’t have.

God’s words are his voice and by studying His word we have the benefit to draw encouragement from the examples of those who by their experience show that God both promises and fulfills.  The man of righteousness, Abram, is again the recipient today of God’s promise that from him would arise offspring as numerous as the stars.

Eventually at the age of 100, 25 years after he set out from Haran his wife Sarai will give birth to Isaac but the rest of the promise did not happen in his lifetime but encouraged anew he believed it would occur.

Paul does a good job in Hebrews 11 of reminding us of not only Abraham’s faith but other greats of the Bible as well.  He tells us that “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

Abram wasn’t perfect yet either as we see in today’s scripture and neither are we.  Despite the promises and the voice of God, we too like Abram need encouragement from time to time, and not just us but our brothers and sisters in Christ as well.  But even if the encouragement for our work in the Lord doesn’t come as often as we need and we are forgetting some of the blessings that have happened, we must try to remember these words from Ephesians 6:7, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.”

We are a part of the promise we read about today.  We are each one of those stars.  Unlike Abram we get to see that promise fulfilled.  Take great encouragement from that loved ones and wait patiently for the great promise yet to be fulfilled.  Share the promise with as many as you can until the stars of Abraham have reached their fullness and together we are made perfect.

For Discussion:

1.     Read Romans 4:23-24
2.     Read Galatians 3:6-9
3.     Discuss how important everyone thinks faith is to God.
4.     Share what faith means to those in your group.
5.     Discuss the meaning of righteousness.
6.     Did you sing these words when you were young, “Father Abraham had many sons.  Many Sons had Father Abraham.  I am one of them and so are you.  So let’s all praise the Lord.  Right arm!...”?  It would be great to have playing as people come to class.
7.     Research and discuss covenants.
8.     Discuss our need for encouragement.  1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 3:13 and 10:25.

12-18-11:  The Lord Provides (The Challenge to Commitment), Genesis 22:1-2, 6-14 or 22:1-14
12-25-11:  According to the Promise (Mary’s Song of Praise), Luke 1:46-55 or 1:46-66; 2:1-7
1-1-12:      God Watches over Joseph (Guided by a Loving Lord) Genesis 39:7-21a
1-8-12:      Joseph Finds Favor (A Discerning and Wise Leader) Genesis 41:37-45, 50-52 or             
                  41:37-46, 50-52

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved

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