STEPHENS AMAZING OUTREACH OPERATION
- AN ATTEMPT TO WIN THE COUNCIL TO JESUS
A STUDY ON THE CALL OF ABRAHAM
As we heard Colin quote vs 60 of Acts 7: Lord lay not this sin to their charge….. was it just I, or did you also see a replica or a draw a parallel to an incident that had but recently occurred… the death of Jesus and the events leading up to this were so similar - that finding no fault in Jesus they accused him falsely and crucified him. Blasphemy, as Colin said, was a crime worthy of death…. Jealousy and envy stand out most, but more importantly, they could not withstand the Spirit of Wisdom that was upon Jesus and now upon Stephen
Acts 6: 10 supports this and so they chose to accuse Stephen of blasphemy – He spoke against the Temple and the Law of Moses. Who were they?
1. It is said that Caiaphas who officiated as high priest at the time of Jesus’ trial was officiating as high priest of the council that Stephen was now brought before. He was a Judge.
2. The people accused Stephen of blasphemy – Acts 6 : 13
3. They seized him and brought him before the council
4. False witnesses were raised to speak and to accuse him of this blasphemy
5. “He speaks continuously against the holy temple and the Law of Moses.
Steven’s face shone like an angel, God himself was present and Stephen sensed the presence of God.
1. He did not get angry
2. He did not counter the accusation
3. He did not defend himself.
4. He used their common history – sacred and holy to them to introduce to Caiaphas and the council that the NEW MUST TAKE CENTRE STAGE AS THE OLD HAS COMPLETED ITS ROLE. Not on this mountain and not in Jerusalem, Jesus had said to the Samaritan but in spirit and truth true worshipper will worship me.
And so in Chp 7 of Acts, to the Question of Caiaphas, “Are these things true?” Stephen sets out to answer his question. He finds a place of commonness and common ground from which to preach the gospel to a bunch of really hard-hearted Jewish leaders.
The God of Glory….. not just any visitation, but one brilliant manifestation of God himself, in HIS appearance to our Father Abraham called to Abraham.. Abraham was visited by one beyond whom there is no one bigger, mightier or comparable. My question to you is was Abraham in the Temple when it happened? No it was not built. And both Caiaphas and the Council knew this to be true.
God appeared to your father and mine – Abraham. God did not stand in Jerusalem or on Mount Zion and roar his message out to Abraham, He visited Abraham. He is not restricted to this temple. This temple is temporal and so is the Law of Moses and must be replaced with the Wind of change blowing. He visited Abraham in Mesopotamia…. A heathen idolatrous land. It was not Israel, it was not Jerusalem, it was the Ur of the Chaldees.
So who was Abraham ?
We have to go back in history to trace the line from which Abraham came and to know who he was.
Abraham has been mentioned 299 times in theBible and he was and is known as the Father of Nations, the pursuer of righteousness, the Friend of God, the Confidante of God with whom God shared his secrets, Father of the Faithful, Carrier of Blessings, and a haggler, he even bargained with God.
At the time of the Flood, Noah and his family were the only humans who God saved – Noah and his wife, his three sons and three daughters-in-law – 8 humans only. When the floods receded and life began again on earth, Japheth went to the North west to Europe and Asia, Ham went to the south, to Africa and Shem to the East – to modern day Iraq to Mesopotamia.
It was 10 generations from Shem to Abraham. Terah was Abraham’s father. Terah at age 70 fathered Nahor the eldest of 3 sons – Abraham was the youngest and Haran who was second had died leaving behind his son Lot. Where were they living …. IN MESOPOTAMIA (The Ur of the Chaldees)
“Meso” means in the middle or in between and “potamia” means rivers. Between these two very large rivers was this land - 1) The Euphrates and The river Tigris. Today, it is Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, Syria.
Today we are studying Abraham and the Call of Abraham…God saw Abraham and his ways. Abraham was 70 years when God appeared to him. He becomes the confidant of God, the carrier of great blessings so that we are called the sons of Abraham, the sons of righteousness and faith and grace. Moses writing the Torah sketches the life and character of Abraham and this is one portrait the scriptures draw with great detail.
Genesis 12: 1 and Acts 7: 3 In great splendour, with an outward manifestation that gave him the unmistakable basis for belief even in the worst circumstances, the God of glory appeared to Abraham. What an experience !!!!! And said to him :
Very specifically, God spoke: Get thee out of THY COUNTRY
Get thee out of THY PEOPLE
Get thee out of THY FAMILY
Jesus said, If any man wishes to follow me, let him DENY HIMSELF, TAKE UP HIS CROSS AND FOLLOW ME.
To a land that I will SHOW YOU…. 700 miles from Ur to Haran, 700 Miles from Haran to Syria, 800 miles from Syria to Egypt. It was a long long journey.
The Call was specific, it was intangible (involving faith and obedience) and it accompanied great blessing, it called for a lonely walk with only God as his companion, it called for separation and singlemindedness.
A clear, uncompromising call that now explained the perks, the advantages of making a the decision to hearken to the call.
I will MAKE YOU A GREAT NATION
I WILL BLESS YOU
I WILL MAKE YOUR NAME GREAT
You shall BE A BLESSING…. ( To those who bless you I will bless, to those who dishonour you, I will curse … e.g. as the lives of Pharaoh, his concubine's, entire court and country were at risk, their lives threatened by a lie…. God would keep His word… He is the word.
All the families of the earth will be blessed in you.
I will SHOW YOU A LAND - Not give you…. Not one you will own…. No.. only show him… not a foot of the land did he promise Abraham.
I will MAKE YOU A GREAT NATION - I am 70 years and have no heir…. If we take a look
At Genesis 11, oddly enough for each of the generations before Abraham and Terah, all the ancestors between the ages of 29 and 32 had their first child, Terah had his first son at 70 and here was Abraham – 70 years but with no signs of having an heir…. And God is saying I will make you a GREAT NATION….. But the “I” was so great and glorious and the voice behind the promise so faith instilling, that Abraham arose…
So Abraham hears the CALL AND OBEYS….. The call was definitely not easy and he starts correctly by leaving the Ur of the Chaldees,
Part one … leave country …complete.
Part two …leave people… He disobeyed the call,
Part three…. leave family…he disobeyed the call.
Take a look at Genesis 12 which says Abraham departed, yes he obeyed but how – he took with him vs 4 Lot and Terah. At age 75 after 5 years of staying in Haran ….. not Canaan…. He almost forgot his call, because he compromised … we need to beware of the Terahs and Lots in our lives, who bring compromise instead of obedience in our lives. They come in comfort, covered packages.
vs 5 Abraham, Lot and all the souls that they had gotten in Haran, they went forth after Terah had died.
My POINT IS THAT ABRAHAM WAS NOT PERFECT. But Abraham lived in the dispensation of Grace and not law, for under the law, for this lack of obedience he would have paid heavily, even with his life….that was the law… The obedience to the Call of God was mingled with partial obedience and for 5 years neglected…. BUT GOD LEFT THE DOOR OPEN FOR HIM TO ENTER….. THAT IS GRACE….and so if anyone feels, I didn’t obey when the call was given… don’t live in regret, the door is open ….. and God’s gracious hand still beckons us. A partial failure holds great lessons for us DON’T COMPROMISE.
When Terah died partial obedience and idolatry were out of the way. Terah worshipped Idols.
Once this happened, “From I will show you the land” …. It turned to “I will give your offspring the land” Gen 17:8.
As we proceed, I want to dwell on the CALL OF GOD, the latter part in particular.
IF YOU OBEY
THE PROMISE: I will make you a GREAT NATION
1. Today Israel is a contender amongst the big economies of the world, silent, strong, impenetrable, backed by the worlds biggest economy.
2. You and I are the sons of Abraham …. God promised…. Many, many children
At Bethel …. As the dust of the earth
At Mamre …. Uncountable stars in the sky
Gen 17: 2…. I will multiply thee EXCEEDINGLY.
3. Gal 3 : 7, 29…. If you are Christs then you are Abraham’s Offspring…. Included in that golden circle by faith.
4. Gen 17:8 I will give ….. for an everlasting possession… This is yet to be fulfilled… forever….. A GREAT NATION
But how ???? I don’t have a son ….. no CHILDREN… I am 70 years and NO SIGN of a child.
Abraham was to learn with THE PROMISE COMES PROVISION.
THE PROVISION ( Provision does not mean to be provided…. BUT ALREADY MADE READY AND AVAILABLE… THAT IS WHAT PROVISION MEANS)
So don’t ever forget…. If you are given a PROMISE ….. PROVISION IS ALREADY MADE … KEPT READY IN ADVANCE …. NOT AN AFTERTHOUGHT.
So what did GOD PROVIDE ???
I WILL BLESS YOU ….. THE ANSWER – EVERYTHING….. YES EVERYTHING
A. In you is a SEED
B. Gen 13: 2 – Abraham was very rich with livestock, gold and silver……
C. Gen 15: I will be your SHIELD …. WOW …. From the sun, from the enemy, from the pestilence, from the famine…. And on and on and on.
D. Gen 15: I will be YOUR EXCEEDING GREAT REWARD ……
E. Gen 13: 17 WALKTHROUGH THE LENGTH AND BREADTH OF THE LAND for I WILL GIVE IT TO YOU.
F. Abraham was not just a Shepherd, He was a Chieftain, He was an Army Chief… He had a brain for strategy… He was successful…. Not one died when he went to war to rescue Lot. All the women and the possessions of Lot, he brought back….. He was wise… He knew that the architect and founder was God himself and he lived like a pilgrim in spite of all the wealth and wisdom and possessions.
WITH OBEDIENCE COMES PROMOTION
PROMOTION: I will make YOUR NAME GREAT
Was God saying I will see how you do and promote you ……NO NO NO….
I HAVE ALREADY PLANNED YOUR PROMOTION ….. I have faith in you….. I created you…. You were made in my likeness and image.
HOW MUCH GREATER CAN A MAN GET ???? AND HOW MUCH GREATER CAN A MAN’S NAME BE when for the last 3000 years, the nation of Israel and the Jews call ABRAHAM their PATRIARCH, FATHER OF THE NATION.
THIS COULD ONLY BE GOD… This is his faithfulness, This is Him fulfilling HIS word…. He is the word…. So If you are going through a bad season…. Don’t fret…. Promotion is NOT FAR…..
WHO SAID THAT BECAUSE GOD HAD PROMISE, PROVISION AND PROMOTION IN MIND THAT we should NOT FACE DIFFICULTIES ????
It is SO THAT YOU, Abraham, you… (put your name) MAYBE A BLESSING
God said to Abraham: YOU WILL BE A BLESSING
GOD’S PRESENCE BRINGS BLESSINGS AND PROTECTION….. Healing, Deliverance, Manifestations of great miracles and signs.
WHOEVER BLESSES YOU …. I will bless
WHOEVER DISHONOUR YOU … I will curse
I got your back…. I am with you… I will watch over you, I will punish and bless
AND ALL FAMILIES OF THE EARTH THROUGH YOU WILL BE BLESSED.
TALK ABOUT BLESSINGS ……. THIS WAS THE EPITOME…… UNFATHOMABLE.
Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again), Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.