Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Lessons From Stephen's Speech | Promise Giver, Promise Keeper


This message was preached by Debbie Vartak via zoom  
Word of Grace Church, on September 27th 2020. For the audio please click here.. 

Good Afternoon

Following this amazing service, where the worship songs were so in line with the theme of today's service and the sharing on Breaking of Bread and the Offering so apt, let us now dive into God’s word.

Today I would like to title my message THE PROMISE GIVER AND THE PROMISE KEEPER

By now, with our study of Acts and Genesis on Abraham, we would have realised that Abraham and his entire life is not a story….. BUT a constant reminder  of a Man whose walk with God pioneered the walk of faith. He had no one to follow… no Old Testament or New Testament scriptures to reference, no online or YouTube messages or no church messages, like you and I have…. just about 19 times in 30 years when God spoke to him…. BUT HE BELIEVED GOD….

You and I are the children of Abraham, who by faith have received the promise of Jesus in our lives and resultantly, every promise in the word of God. Each of the 7000 odd promises is filled with a potent seed, expressing itself in our lives, in the form signs, wonders, miracles, healing, provision etc…  if we but believe, then they will be YEAH AND AMEN to us.

Lets Pray

Father Open our physical and spiritual eyes to see you and who we are in you. Teach us to align our thinking and sight with yours so that as we sit with you in heavenly places, we will not be worried about a situation, concerned about a sickness or problem, overcome with grief  and dread at a political or doctor’s verdict….. Because we belong to the PROMISE GIVER AND PROMISE KEEPER AND HE NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, FAILS. Amen

Before I read the scripture I want you to

1.     REMEMBER TO WHOM YOU BELONG – GOD ALMIGHTY’S …. The Promise is only as good as the person who makes. And there is no one mightier, no one bigger, no one comparable to FATHER GOD, JESUS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT…. AND YOU, YOU BELONG TO THEM……




3.     AND REMEMBER THAT EVERY PROMISE IN THE BIBLE IS FOR YOU….. I am an heir of the King of Kings and the Lord or Lords, I am HIS child, Nothing less than the child of the owner and ruler of this galaxy, not just planet earth, and his PROMISEs are for me, to me and to be fulfilled through me…..that I may have life and life in its abundance.

PROMISES GIVE RISE TO FAITH. But do I have FAITH? Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t… The question is Faith in whom and in what…  Faith is believing the PROMISE GIVER,  the promises HE GIVES (Assurance) and that He also is the PROMISE KEEPER (The Evidence)…and this is what I hope to unravel as we read Genesis 21  – the PROMISE GIVER – the birth of Issac and Gen 22 the PROMISE KEEPER - the test of Abraham and Issac.

Three points I wish to share with you on this portion of scripture are :

1.     The Indescribable favour of God to Abraham…. Gen 21

2.     The Insurmountable faith of Abraham ….Gen 22

3.     The infinite fulfilment of the promise to Abraham…Gen 22


What is Favour:  it is an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual.

Abraham and Sarah had each laughed at the suggestion of Sarah having a son…. Yet, in spite of this, Gen 21: 1 says

The Lord graciously remembered and visited Sarah as He had said and the Lord did for her


ISAAC WAS THE SON OF PROMISE. The birth of Isaac explains God’s indescribable favour to Abraham and HIS PROMISE ….

Let us recount what God did for Abraham that culminated in the birth of Issac, and as we do so, we will come face to face with an AMAZING GOD WHOSE FAVOUR DEFIES AND TRANSCENDS YOUR IMAGINATION AND COMPREHENSION AND LOGIC.

a.      Genesis 12 : Of all the men on earth, God visits …. Abram… “Get thee up from the UR of the Chaldees and go to the land I will show you…. Why Abraham…. ????

And how many of us ask this question again and again as we sit down to worship our God…. From the 7.8 bln men on earth…. Why me ??? Why ??? me, How come you chose me before the foundation of the earth…….. I am so blessed and humbled.

Heb 11 says … Abraham did not trouble his mind where he was going –Abram’s obedience was implicit, he listened and left the Ur of the Chaldees for a place that he did not have the name to, nor location where he was going … BUT His obedience was partial…God’s command was to him …… yet he took his father and Lot and his servants and started this journey.

b.      5 years after staying in Haran…. (a really long stop till the death of Abraham’s father) God did not leave him, He aided Abraham in fulfilling His command. God continues to journey with Abram… here again, he is accompanied by Lot.  But God’s indescribable favour does not turn him to dust. He speaks to him and says I will give this land to your descendants ….. Abraham and Sarah are yet to have their first child…. And God is talking descendants

He knew Abraham would come to see things His way. Time is of no consequence to God…. Yet we are driven by it….. Stop and let God do His work, His way, His time, His procedure, His method….

c.       Abram goes to Egypt and lies about Sarai being his wife….. Did Abram get punished? No Pharaoh… Vs 17 of Gen 12… everybody in the palace got seriously sick.

d.      Gen 13: 9 Abram is separated from his baggage Lot…..  God’s favour is still on him and he assists Abraham for the second time in obeying his commandment….

God in the same chapter shows how when 5 kings could not defeat the tyrant and feared Kedorlaomer, when they touched Lot….  All hell broke loose…. Just 318 loyal servants carried out the raid. Kedolaomer died …. Everything, all the plunder - Lot his family his possessions were all delivered to safety…. ( If that is not favour what is ?????) According to Melchizedek in Genesis 14: 20… God handed his enemies over to Abraham….                     

e.      Genesis: 15  God calls Abraham  and says  “Don’t be afraid” …. The God of Heaven and Earth is speaking to him….. “I am your shield, your exceeding great reward… “ What had Abraham done to receive these words…. This inexplicable, indescribable favour  !!!!

Gen 15:17-21  God cuts a covenant with Abram…. Which GOD … There was no one bigger than God himself and so he swore by himself…..

God outlines the map of the land God was giving to Abraham’s children…….. 10 different countries…. Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, Jebusites… and all Abraham can say is “I DO NOT HAVE A CHILD A SON….. HOW?” … Take Eliezer, my servant…..

f.       Gen 16 . So Abram is impatient…. He tries to fulfil God’s promise to him….. He had been living 10 years in Canaan and no sign of a son…. Sarah is upset at being made to feel small in her baroness. Abraham has a son through Hagar ….  God, you are not enough… you said and promised but have not delivered…. But God covers Abraham’s error….

At 99 years Abraham’s resources have run dry … He continuously had a PLAN “b’ RIGHT FROM THE START and GOD WAS PATIENT….

Plan ‘B” - Abraham thought I cannot have a son… My nephew – Lot will do just fine… Now there was No nephew, Gen 15… My servant Eliezer… another Plan’B’, Next Ishamel… another ‘Plan B’. Nothing is left and 13 years after Ishmael’s birth…No physical strength to do anything more….and God turns up … in Gen 17 vs 1 says “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, God showed up and said to him, “I am The Strong God, live entirely before me, live to the hilt! I’ll make a covenant between us and I’ll give you a huge family.”



“Your name will no longer be Abram but Abraham…. Father of many nations….kings will come from you… where you are camping all this LAND will be yours forever. And I will be their God.


Sarai … her name is now Sarah… I’ll bless her… Nations will come from her; Kings of nations will come from her….

God is speaking …. ABRAHAM is laughing …. Vs 17 of Gen 17. I’m 100… Sarah is 90 !!!!

BUT ‘PLAN B’ IS ABOUT TO BE BURIED….. Abraham says,“Save your name and mine                 …… vs 18 Keep Ishmael alive and well before you…..

Vs 19…. God said… THAT’S NOT WHAT I MEAN…. YOUR WIFE, SARAH WILL HAVE A BABY (He did not admonish Abraham, he did not punish him. He did not shout at him and give up.)

YOU WILL HAVE A SON, NAMED ISSAC. I’ll establish my covenant with him and his descendants, a covenant that lasts forever. Vs 21… whom Sarah will give you about this time next year.” In the face of Abraham’s unbelief, God did not leave out one bit of the promise he had made to Abraham. We are inadequate, but His favour is unusual, ever increasing in the face of out weakness and this empowers us to believe and have faith.

g.      Between this time ….. and God bringing his promise to pass.

Gen 18…. What DOES Indescribable favour LOOK LIKE …. God visits his favoured… sits and eats with him and …discusses his plans and reveals them …. He is not secretive about his future plans… vs 10.. I’m coming back about this time next year… When I arrive Sarah will have a son vs 14 is ANYTHING TOO HARD FOR ME ?

He discusses with a human being…..and takes an opinion…. Regarding Sodom and Gomorrah…   Vs 29 of Gen 19… When God destroyed the Cities of the Plain, HE WAS MINDFUL OF ABRAHAM and FIRST GOT LOT OUT OF THERE BEFORE HE BLASTED THOSE CITIES OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH.

When you are favoured by God, you become influential… because God is mindful of the people you love when you are his favoured one.

h.      Gen 21 : Abraham sins again…. Abhimelech takes the brunt this time… You are as good as dead!!!! that woman you took, she is a married woman.”

God goes all the way ……

Gen 21 … we are back where we started… God visited Sarah exactly as he said he would.. HE DID WHAT HE HAD PROMISED SARAH BECAME PREGNANT AND GAVE ABRAHAM A SON AT THE EXACT TIME GOD HAD SET. ABRAHAM WAS 100 YEARS OLD.





Gen 21 : 7 Sarah says: Whoever would have suggested to Abraham that Sarah would one day nurse a baby? Yet here I am! I’ve given the old man a son!

What is faith?  By now you know the answer….Have you unpacked what faith is … Heb 11:1 tells us Faith is the assurance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen……

Two things …. Assurance and Evidence …… from where do these two main ingredients of faith come…. THE PROMISE GIVER - GOD.  As I said…. Because of WHOSE, WE ARE (THE PROMISES BECOME SO EMBRACEABLE) AND BECAUSE OF WHO made the promises, THE PROMISE KEEPER. THE EVIDENCE IS BELIEVABLE.

Ishmael is no longer with Abraham …. Gen 21: 14-16 Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away…

Abraham has no fallback plan…. God is His only sourceHis only dependency…. His sole source of comfort…

Vs 34 of Gen 21 says Abraham lived in Philistine country for a long time after Issac’s birth.

It was anywhere between 18 to 30 years after Issac was born (in the Hebrew, NA AR = YOUNG MAN – Issac was now a young man ) that God came to Abraham to prove him, test him as some versions say. God spoke…. Abraham (FATHER OF MANY NATIONS)  he said, Gen22:1 Yes I am listening to Abraham replied…

God said vs 2: Take your son whom you love dearly…. And go to the land of Moriah…. Sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I’ll point out to you…..

What kind of Paradox is this ????? God calls out “ FATHER OF MANY NATIONS”…. THE PROMISE and its fulfilment - Your ONLY SON ISSAC….. Take him and offer him as a burnt offering ….. I don’t know about you… but I am pretty sure that a BURNT OFFERING means death and ashes and no more living….

God says…. Something familiar which we have heard before…. The call from the Ur of the Chaldees and the Call to take Issac up the mountain to be sacrificed. In both cases the location was not disclosed before time. Yet this time it was different.  Abraham’s obedience was implicit…. He now knows, understands God through his very real experience of the faithfulness of the PROMISE GIVER AND PROMISE KEEPER… No baggage, No PLAN B…   Abraham rose pretty early, because before that he split wood for the burnt offering before he set out for the place God had directed him….. He travelled 3 days….

In those 3 days…. What were his thoughts?   God save my son please….. don’t you remember your promise to me? …. how can you take my son… you promised Lord…… No, no and no. His mind did not have questions….. This was a different Abraham …. He knew the promise GIVER… He had faith in the because he had seen the Promise Keeper at work …. HE KNEW THE CONSTANCY, THE UNCHANGINGNESS, THE INTEGRITY AND THE STOIC STAND OF GOD ALMIGHTY …. WHAT HE Says HE MUST FULFILL. THIS IS HIS CHARACTER….. Abraham’s faith was…. firm and he was not shaky…

Abraham believed God … Believe did not mean in the existence of God… James 2 : 19 says even Satan knows that.  Abraham chose to believe the promise of God THAT THROUGH ISSAC alone HE WOULD HAVE DESCENDANTS AS THE STARS IN THE SKy…

I believe Abraham would have worshipped God…. HE ACTIVELY WAITED…. 

We can’t believe God and not his promises… I believe, every step, … Abraham recounted the no. of times God had been faithful to his word.

Heb 11: 17 recounts …..

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, [a]offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises [of God] was ready to sacrifice his only son [of promise];

 18 to whom it was said, “Through Isaac, your descendants shall be called.” 


19 For he considered [it reasonable to believe] that God was able to raise Isaac even from among the dead. …. In other words…. It would only be Issac…. Because God said it ….

How did Abraham know that God would raise Issac from the dead if he sacrificed him? Abraham and Sarah were dead in their ability to produce a son. Sarah’s womb was dead… Abraham was now 13 years older after Ishmael was born, he considered himself and reckoned it impossible to have a son. BUT … Rom 4: 17  but god quickened the dead womb.. god quickened an impotent Abraham… and called to live that which did not exist and Isaac was born.

 As Abraham walked on that journey as he came closer to the destiny… he was more than convinced that Isaac would be the fulfilment of what God had promised him… from Isaac would come descendants as many as the stars in the sky and sands on the beach….. God would do what he had promised… that is the character of God unchangeable.


Vs 4 And then on the third day in the region of Moriah…. A region that was mountainous, He looks up and God shows him the mountain in the distance. Stop he tells his servants. Wait here. The young man and I will go there and worship…. I and the boy will return.  Abraham like other times DID NOT LIE. He was convinced of God’s provision even in the face of a  burnt offering.

Issac (Na ah ) was a young adult… not 6 or 7 years of age… Strong and grown-up. Anywhere between 18 and 30.   Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on the shoulders of Isaac.  Please be aware these were not sticks…. It would take more than mere sticks to burn a human body. The load was heavy. He was a young strong man. Abraham was old so he carried the fire pot ( in which coals were smouldering within) and the knife and the two of them walked together. This was a rehearsal of what the Father would do 2000 years later. He would walk with his son. And the time would come when the wood on which his son hung on the cross is what he himself carried. The father would be with him until it was necessary to turn aside.

Mount Moriah in 2000 BC was where Abraham took his son to be sacrificed. 1000 years later David who had his capital which is Jerusalem built the temple on Mount Moriah (2 Chron 3:1) and 1000 years later in AD 33 Jesus was sacrificed on a Mount (most theologians say it was the same Mountain ), however, Moriah was a hilly region and some theologians say that Mount Moriah was the second-highest, Calvary was the highest.

The two are walking up…. “My Father, the fire and the wood are here but where is the lamb for the burnt offering? Difficult conversations will not undermine a relationship, but not having them will. Abraham with faith now stronger and unrelenting in the promises of God answers “ God will provide for himself …a lamb”.  Here again, it is as if he was given the opportunity to redeem the lies he had previously told… Does he lie or tell the truth? By Faith, he spoke the truth. So the two walked on together. This is mentioned 3 times in the passage…. This was not just a test of Abraham’s faith, it was a test for Isaac also. The father and son were partners, bonded together. Together they took the 50-mile trek.   Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood… By then Isaac knew he was the sacrifice.  He didn’t go running around the mountain playing catch with Abraham it would have gone on forever… Issac voluntarily allowed himself to be tied, a willing partner in this act of obedience.

Abraham reaches for the knife but God intervenes…. 2000 years later… Father would again say STOP…. Not Debby… Not Navaz… Not Abhishek .. In John 1… John the Baptist says… Behold the lamb of God … God would say I have provided a Lamb. In their place. This lamb would wear a thorny crown like the ram in the thicket caught by his horns, that took Isaac’s place and would die in place of you and me…..

Abraham named the place “ Not God has provided, not God provided…” not in the past tense but in the Future Tense… The Lord will provide….. 1000 years later on that very mount in the temple of Jerusalem (2 Chron 3: 1 tells us Then Solomon began to build the house of Yahweh at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where Yahweh appeared to David his father)…. Lambs were offered as a sin offering … God continuing to provide. Another 1000 years later… THE LAMB OF GOD …. One sacrifice for mankind….

JESUS the lamb of God

On the mountain of the Lord, there is provision…. By the PROMISE KEEPER….at Calvary, God looks at the sacrifice of his son and will provide an entrance to anyone who comes to Calvary and believers, entry into his kingdom…. The full price is paid.

I do not wish to explain but simply ask you to hear what God will do for you if you will hold on to his promise and like Abraham not relent, with no Plan B and not look for another earthly fleshly way.

Gen 22: Vs 15 – 19…… The Angel called to Abraham

And said, I have sworn by Myself, says the Lord, that since you have done this and have not withheld [from Me] or begrudged [giving Me] your son, your only son,

17 In blessing I will bless you and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore. And your Seed (Heir) will possess the gate of His enemies. ( Satan and his minions must bow to you….. in Abraham and the Seed of Abraham – Jesus Christ… we have this promise – Let’s claim it )

18 And in your Seed [[a]Christ] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed and [by Him] bless themselves, because you have heard and obeyed My voice.


In conclusion, I want to point out to you THE INFINITE FULFILMENT OF THE PROMISE…. If you are a son of Abraham…. You are one of the millions who down he ages believe the Lamb of God and his provision of salvation. Heaven is your destination and heaven is filled with the sons of Abraham….. who through his seed …. Jesus sealed what God promised forevermore that Abrahams descendants would be like the stars of the sky and like the dust and the sands of the sea.

You are more than conquerors….. more than Abraham……. Because YOU have a mighty, faithful miracle-working, promise keeper ……


   ord of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again),  Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking church 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 Great Commission 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 more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org. 

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