Summary of the Sermon by Bishop Melter Jiki Tais, at Bethany International Service, on Sunday, 22 January 2017.
WALKING WITH GOD
Gen 17:1 - When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.
It is interesting that the Bible specifically mentioned Abram’s age in Genesis chapter 17. Abram was 99 years old when the Lord appeared to him after 13 years, nothing was mentioned in between. Gen 12:1-3 was the call of God in Abram’s life. God called Abram to a country unknown to him; he was told to leave his father’s household to the land God would show him.
Gen 12:1-3 - The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I 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.”
God did not give Abram any map to follow, nor the exact location of his destination. Many times in our life, God wants us to be like Abram. God was actually telling Abram to trust Him fully and to walk with Him one step at a time. Sometimes we walk faster than God, instead of walking before Him. Abram and Sarai took matters into their own hands and went outside of God’s will and perimeter.
When Abram was 75 years old, he knew about the promises of God that He would be a father of many nations, but it took a long time before Sarah conceived a child. They must have been wondering why Sarah had not become pregnant with the promised son. Abram and Sarai began to waiver and they did not believe God fully and they took action against God’s will. Sarai had an idea to build a family through her servant, Hagar. Then Abram slept with Hagar and she conceived.
Genesis 16:15-16 - So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.
This action reflected Abram and Sarai’s lack of faith in God’s promises. It was never God’s plan to multiply Abram’s descendants through Hagar. God’s covenant with Abram was a son coming from Abram and Sarai (Genesis 15).
God was not pleased with Abram and Sarai for taking Hagar. When we are under the shelter of the umbrella, then we will be protected. When we go out from God's perimeter, we are inviting problems. As Christians, we are to walk step by step in faith with the Lord, instead of walking ahead of Him.
When Abram was between the ages of 86 and 99 years, God did not show Himself to Abram. He was upset with Abram. It seemed like God was silent for 13 years. We too can lose God's presence when we do things outside God's will and purpose.
This was why in Genesis 17:1, God re-introduced Himself. “I am the Lord God Almighty.” God was telling Abraham to know Him, and who He was. He is the Lord Almighty. There is nothing impossible for Him. At the same time our God whom we serve is a faithful God. He does not break His covenant and promises to us. 1 Cor 1:9 - God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Gen 17:1 - When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.”
The Lord whom we worship and serve is God El-Shaddai. Nothing is too difficult for Him. This was the turning point for Abraham. He had Isaac when he was 100 years old. Is God faithful? Yes, He is. He took many years to mould Abraham into His image.
Our part is to live faithfully and live a blameless life. God knows all our struggles and the anxieties of our hearts, but nevertheless, we are required to lead a holy life and to do what is acceptable before His sight, even though no one is watching us.
God calls us to a life of integrity and to fully believe in His greatness. Let us walk with God, trusting Him wholeheartedly.