Sun, Mar 02, 2008

A VENTURE OF FAITH! GENESIS 46:1-7

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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A VENTURE OF FAITH!
GENESIS 46:1-7
 

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Genesis chapter 46 as we look at the journey of Israel to Egypt and see how we can apply that to our own lives, to our own walk, to our journey with the Lord.  I have called this study “A Venture Of Faith!” because that is what faith is all about, going forward and trusting in the Lord.  That is what we will see Israeldo and I believe it is what the Lord wants us to do! Now before we get to our text this morning, let me share with you this unbelievable story. We are told:

LONG BEACH, Calif, July 2 (AP) A truck driver with 45 weather balloons rigged to a lawn chair took a 45-minute ride aloft to 16,000 feet today before he got cold, shot some balloons out and crashed into a power line, the police said. "I know it sounds strange, but it's true," Lieut. Rod Mickelson said after he stopped laughing. "The guy just filled up the balloons with helium, strapped on a parachute, grabbed a BB gun and took off."

The man was identified as Larry Walters, 33 years old, of North Hollywood. He was not injured.

The Federal Aviation Administration was not amused. Spotted by Airline Pilots, a regional safety inspector, Neal Savoy, said the flying lawn chair was spotted by Trans World Airlines and Delta Airlines jetliner pilots at 16,000 feet above sea level.

"We know he broke some part of the Federal Aviation Act, and as soon as we decide which part it is, some type of charge will be filed," Mr. Savoy said. "If he had a pilot's license, we'd suspend that. But he doesn't."

The police said Mr. Walters went to a friend's house in San Pedro Thursday night, inflated 45 six-foot weather balloons and attached them to an aluminum lawn chair tethered to the ground. This morning, with half a dozen friends holding the tethers, he donned a parachute, strapped himself into the chair and had his friends let him up slowly.

Minutes later, he was calling for help over his citizens band radio.  "This guy broke into our channel with a mayday," said Doug Dixon, a member of an Orange County citizens band radio club. "He said he had shot up like an elevator to 16,000 feet and was getting numb before he started shooting out some of the balloons."

Mr. Walters then lost his pistol overboard, and the chair drifted downward, controlled only by the gallon jugs of water attached to the sides as ballast. The ropes became entangled in a power line, briefly blacking out a small area in Long Beach. The chair dangled five feet above the ground, and Mr. Walters was able to get down safely.

"Since I was 13 years old, I've dreamed of going up into the clear blue sky in a weather balloon," he said. "By the grace of God, I fulfilled my dream. But I wouldn't do this again for anything."

- From The New York Times, 3 July 1982

            Now Mr. Walters may have had a dream, but this was not a dream or a calling from God upon his life. It was foolish and yet he did it.  Folks, we can’t blame God for our foolish actions and yes, by the grace of God he survived. My prayer as we go through these verses this morning is that God would guide us in our journey with Him. That we would truly seek the Lord’s will in the things that we do and not our own will. And here is something that I truly love.  If you seek the Lord’s will for your life He will make His heart’s desire, His will your hearts desire!

            In our study this morning Joseph, who is now second in command over all of Egypt, has revealed himself to his brothers.  And after much hugging and kissing and tears, he tells them to go back home, back to the land of Canaan and gather up their families and their possessions, including their father Jacob and bring them back to the land of Egypt to live and he would provide for them, give them the land of Goshen to live in.

            And in Genesis 45:24-28 we are told, So he sent his brothers away, and they departed; and he said to them, ‘See that you do not become troubled along the way.’ Then they went up out of Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to Jacob their father. And they told him, saying, ‘Joseph is still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.’ And Jacob's heart stood still, because he did not believe them. But when they told him all the words which Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived. Then Israel said, ‘It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.’

            That is where we will pick up our study this morning, in Genesis chapter 46 starting in verse 1 as Israel and the children of Israel prepare to make that 265 mile journey to Egypt. Thus, let’s see what the Lord has for us as we study His Word and we journey with Him.

GENESIS 46:1-7

            In reading through these seven verses I see five main points emerge. There is THE CALL – GENESIS 46:1a-bTHE SACRIFICE – GENESIS 46:1cTHE LORD CONFIRMS – GENESIS 46:2-3a-bTHE LORD PROMISES – GENESIS 46:3c-4; andTHE WALK OF FAITH – GENESIS 46:5-7.  Thus, with the rest of our time this morning we will be looking at these five points and see what we can glean from them so we can apply them to our own lives.

1.  THE CALL – GENESIS 46:1a-b

            Now this is interesting to me. You see, God did not call Israel to go to Egypt. It was his son Joseph that called for his brothers, his father and their families to go down to Egypt and live there. Now, in saying that was Israel right or wrong in his actions?  Was he being Jacob the schemer or Israel the man governed by God? Well, we don’t have to guess because we are told, So Israel took his journey with all that he had.” You see, the Holy Spirit calls him Israel or the man governed by God and not Jacob!

            And we are told that he went as far as Beersheba, which was the southernmost outpost of the Promise Land, on the boarder of the Promise Land, as they journeyed towards Egypt.  What did he do there?  We will see in a few minutes but what I want you to see is that Israel stopped and there is an important reason for this, as we will see.

            What does that mean to us? I believe the Lord is showing us that other people can share with us what the Lord has placed upon their hearts, things we should do, but don’t act upon it until God speaks. If someone tells you that the Lord spoke to them and told them that you are to go to Africa to be a missionary, don’t go until the Lord speaks to you!  Yes, He will use others to confirm what He is showing you but He will speak to your heart and not leave you in the dark. Let me give you this powerful example. We are told:

            When Adoniram Judson graduated from college and seminary he received a call from a fashionable church in Boston to become its assistant pastor. Everyone congratulated him. His mother and sister rejoiced that he could live at home with them and do his life work, but Judson shook his head. “My work is not here,” he said. “God is calling me beyond the seas. To stay here, even to serve God in His ministry, I feel would be only partial obedience, and I could not be happy in that.”

Although it cost him a great struggle he left mother and sister to follow the heavenly call. The fashionable church in Boston still stands, rich and strong, but Judson’s churches in Burma had fifty thousand converts, and the influence of his consecrated life is felt around the world.

- Forward

            You see, as good as things may look, as much as people feel this is God’s call for your life, as much as you are tempted to walk, you need to make sure that God is in it.  You need to make sure that God wants you to go forward. Israel is there on the boarder of the Promise Land waiting, not because he is tired, but he is waiting upon God to speak to him. Folks, we should do no less!

2.  THE SACRIFICE – GENESIS 46:1c

            Notice that Israel does not sit around waiting for a great bolt of lightening to show him what to do. Or that knock on the door to show him the way.  He doesn’t sit at all, he sacrifices before God in Beersheba. This is the place that his grandfather Abraham planted a tamarisk tree and called on the name of the LORD – Genesis 21:33.  Also, his father Isaac received a special promise from God there in Beersheba and built an altar for sacrifice as he too called upon the name of the LORD – Genesis 26:24-25.

            I believe it is this same spot, this same altar possibly that Israel is using to sacrifice to the LORD, as he is calling upon the name of the LORD!  He stopped there to honor God and to sacrifice to him and to hear from God before he took that venture in faith!

            People complain that they don’t hear God speaking to them. Maybe it is because there is so much noise in their life that they can’t hear.  Hearing aids are wonderful assist devices for those who can’t hear well or have decreased hearing. The problem with the hearing aid is that many of them don’t differentiate between noises and amplify all the noises that are there, which makes it hard to hear the person that is talking to you. The more noises, the harder it is to hear!

            The same is true with the Lord. We have I-Pod’s, MP3 players, cell phones, television, text messaging, all kinds of noise and distractions and we wonder why we can’t hear God speaking, why we can’t hear His still small voice!  It is being drowned out by all the other noises out there, all the other distractions!

            When Israel sacrificed to God he was putting away all those other distractions so his focus was on the Lord, honoring Him, giving glory to Him. He wasn’t sacrificing to God with headphones on listening to Beersheba’s top 10 hits!  You know the one that hit the top spot, “When the sheep go marching in!” Of course, they were shepherds. Sorry.  Anyway, his focus was on the Lord!

            Folks, if you are having a hard time hearing God speak to you, make that sacrifice. Put away all those distractions.  And when I speak of sacrifice I am not saying get the slab of meat and put it on the altar, but as Paul said in Romans 12:1, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  The Amplified Bible puts this verse like this, I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.”  In other words, place your life as a sacrifice to Him, to be used as He pleases!

            You see, your focus needs to be upon Him, as you pray, as you study His Word, as you meditate upon God and His Word. That is truly what Israel was doing, casting away all those other distractions so he could hear the Lord’s voice and be guided in his journey! May we do the same because God is speaking, are we listening?

3.  THE LORD CONFIRMS – GENESIS 46:2-3a-b

            In these verses we see the Lord speak to Israel and confirm that they indeed should go down to Egypt. This was not to be their permanent home, God would eventually bring them back into the Promise Land, but for now they were to go to Egypt.

            Now, why was Israel afraid to go down to Egypt in the first place?  Why do I think he was afraid? Because the Lord tells him, do not fear to go down to Egypt and if God tells him not to be afraid, he must have been fearful. But why was he fearful?

            Maybe he remembered the stories his grandfather Abraham told him as he fled to Egypt to survive a time of famine and how this was a sign of unbelief for Abraham. It was a sign of unbelief that God would provide for him. And then there was all that evil that surrounded Abraham’s actions down there in Egypt. How he lied to Pharaoh about his wife and down in Egypt he picked up Hagar an Egyptian maidservant that was a thorn in his side and in the side of the nation of Israel to this day!  (Genesis 12:10-20).

            Also, his father Isaac had a similar experience. There was a famine in the land as it was in the days of Abraham and we are told in Genesis 26:2-5, Then the Lord appeared to him and said: ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.’”  God told Isaac not to go down to Egypt and thus, what should Israel do?  The Lord tells him to go to Egypt!

            You see, before we do anything we need to make sure God wants us to do it. From Israel’s perspective, maybe God did not want him to go to Egypt. He saw what happened to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac who was told not to go to Egypt at all. But Israel called upon the LORD for direction and God spoke to him.

            Many times Christians say that God spoke to them and they tell me what God has said and it is not according to God’s Word and thus, it was not from God they were hearing from. But they are absolutely sure, they are certain that God spoke to them and they do what they feel is right and I am sorry, they are wrong! God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Here is a prime example of the danger of going down that path where a person heard the voice of God but it wasn’t according to God’s Word. We are told:

            Christians are called to seek out God’s will, but sometimes we can be terribly misguided about it, even to the point of doing serious harm to others. In January 2001 Nairobi police raided the home of a former university lecturer and his wife to find their six children emaciated and starving. The kids were ages 2-11 and could not stand up they were in such a bad state. Their legs were stick thin, their hair was falling out and they were all infected with disease. And why were they like this? The ex university professor claimed that he was doing it on God's orders, that at Christmas time God had ordered him to fast until further orders. They did so, drinking only water, despite the desperate decline of the children.

All too often Christians claim they are acting out God’s will, even when their actions are harmful to those around them. We should be aware that God never calls us to act in a way contrary to the character of Christ who called us to sacrificially love and serve others. This is the true test of whether or not we are doing God’s will.

- Reported by Reuters News Service January 2001

            You see, when God confirms to us what He wants us to do it will not be contrary to His Word, it will not be in opposition to His Word, but it will be in accordance to His Word! Jacob sought God’s will in this mater and the Lord told him to go down to Egypt!

4.  THE LORD PROMISES – GENESIS 46:3c-4

            Notice the promises that the Lord gives to Israel to encourage him to walk by faith, to take the venture in faith!  First of all he tells Israel that they will become a great nation down in Egypt. Now that is surprising because they will travel to Egypt and have a grand total of 70 people.  When I was growing up our Italian family get-togethers were that big! And I didn’t consider that we were a nation. Now God says He will make them a great nation – 70 people?

            Look at what God is going to do. From the time God called Abraham, it took at least 25 years to add one son – Isaac. Then it took Isaac 60 years to add another son of Israel – Jacob.  From there it t took 50 or 60 years for Jacob to add 12 sons and one daughter.  But in 430 years, Israel will leave Egypt with 600,000 men, or over 2 million people!  Think about this for a minute. It took this family 215 years to grow from one to 70, but in another 430 years they grew to over two million, maybe up to 3½ million!  Did God fulfill His promise to Israel?  You bet He did because what God has promised He is more than able to bring to pass!

            Not only will they become a great nation, but God will be with them, He will go down to Egypt, He will lead them. Again, a very precious promise to know that God is with them and it is a very precious promise to us that God is with us and will lead us as we walk with Him!

            Not only that, but God will bring them out of Egypt in 430 years just as He told Israel’s grandfather, Abraham. In Genesis 15:13-14 we are told, Then He said to Abram: ‘Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.’And that is exactly what happened!

            God has given to us many precious promises, but do we believe them? You see, I believe we know them, we know these promises that God has given to us but do we believe them as Israel did?  You see, belief leads to action! What are some of those precious promises? First of all:

A promise from God is a statement we can depend on with absolute confidence. Here are 12 promises for the Christian to claim.

God's presence -- "I will never leave thee" (Heb. 13:5)

God's protection -- "I am thy shield" (Gen. 15:1)

God's power -- "I will strengthen thee" (Isa. 41:10)

God's provision -- "I will help thee" (Isa. 41:10)

God's leading -- "And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them" (John 10:4)

God's purposes -- "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil" (Jer. 20:11)

God's rest -- "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28)

God's cleansing -- "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9)

God's goodness -- "No good thing will He withhold from them that work uprightly" (Psalm 84:11)

God's faithfulness -- "The Lord will not forsake His people for His great name's sake" (1 Sam. 12:22)

God's guidance -- "The meek will He guide" (Psalm 25:9)

God's wise plan -- "All things work together for good to them that love God" (Rom. 8:28)

- Our Daily Bread, January 1, 1985

            You see, do you believe in what God has promised you? God promised it, He will fulfill His promise, do you believe? God wants you to!  That leads us to the last point that speaks of faith in action or walking by faith.

5.  THE WALK OF FAITH – GENESIS 46:5-7

            Israel was called to Egypt. He sacrificed to the Lord to worship Him and hear His voice. The Lord confirmed His promise to Him that he should go to Egypt.  And we saw that the Lord promised Israel that down in Egypt a nation would be born, the nation of Israel, that God is with them and that God will bring them back into the land of Canaan, the Promise Land one day!

            What’s left for Israel to do? He now must get up and walk by faith and that is exactly what he is doing, walking by faith!  He waited upon God and now God has called. It is as G. Campbell Morgan wrote: “Waiting for God is not laziness. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort.  Waiting for God means, first, activity under command; second, readiness for any new command that may come; third, the ability to do nothing until the command is given.”

            It truly all boils down to faith, puttying your trust in God and then walking.  Paul, in Hebrews 11:1-3 tells us about Christian faith. He wrote, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

            When people speak of faith there are a variety of ideas out there to what it means. I think for many it means you have your fingers crossed that somehow something may come to pass in an uncertain tomorrow.  That is not the faith that the Bible speaks of nor is it the faith that Paul is speaking of here.  You see, before Paul speaks of the men and women of faith to be examples to these Jewish believers, he explains what faith is.

            Faith, in a sense, gives us evidence of the invisible, of those things we can’t see and yet with the same confidence to what we can see with our physical eyes, in fact it should be even stronger than what we can see with our physical eyes. Think about it for a minute. Our senses can lie to us and we can be deceived.  Have you ever seen something that looked so good to eat and once you ate it, took a bite of it, you found it to be the exact opposite. Your senses deceived you!

            But faith in God, faith in the promises of God are far more secure, in fact they are 100% sure because God cannot lie. Paul, in Titus 1:2 tells us, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.  Then why do we believe so much in what we see with our physical eyes instead of the promises of God?  Because we lack faith!  And so, faith is living in a hope that is so real it gives absolute assurance to us that it will come to pass. That is the faith of these Old Testament saints!

            Paul starts out by saying, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for . . .” Now isn’t that just wishful thinking?  Isn’t that just wishing that something would happen?  Not at all.  Paul is saying that faith is the substance which is the Greek word HUPOSTASIS, (hoop-os’-tas-is) and it speaks of a reality instead of just the appearance.  Look at Hebrews 11:24-26 where Paul says, By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. 

Moses, instead of grabbing for the material things of this world that were before him, he forsook them and grabbed hold of that which he couldn’t see with his physical eyes but saw with his eyes of faith, the coming of the Messiah. Keep in mind that this was still some 1400 years down the road and yet he believed it by faith and lived his life accordingly.

            Paul, in Hebrews 11:13 explains it like this, These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  You see, their reality was in the promises of God rather than what they saw with their physical eyes. And because they trusted in the promises of God, their faith held their hope up and helped them to live a life that was pleasing to God.  You see, for them this earth was not the final goal, but being with the Lord, they were pilgrims and strangers on the earth as we are, for our citizenship is in heaven!

For the unsaved, they have a saying, “Seeing is believing.”  But for the Christian, they also have a saying that is a little different, “Believing is seeing!”  That is faith, not in a wishful hope, but in a promise made to us by God, and it will come to pass no matter how impossible it may seem!

            Next, Paul says that faith is The evidence of things not seen.  In other words, you know the promises of God, you believe the promises of God, and now it is manifested in your life, the things you do. It is trusting in God and living accordingly!

            Remember the story of Daniel’s three friends who were taken captive with Daniel to Babylon? The king of Babylon, a wicked man named Nebuchadnezzar made this huge image that he wanted everyone to bow down and worship, which was not a problem for most people, since they were polytheistic, they believed in many gods.  But for Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, these Jewish captives, it was a huge problem because they worshiped the true and living God, one God, they, were monotheistic!  Thus, they refused to bow down and worship this image.

            This made the king furious, he was out of control and he threatened to throw them in the furnace if they did not reconsider this and obey his commands.  This king, not known for his patience, did give them a second chance and a stern warning, Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands? Daniel 3:15.

            Now listen to their response to this king in Daniel 3:16-18, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.’

            Here we see faith manifested in the lives of these three men. With their physical eyes they could see the king. With their physical ears they could hear his threats.  And yet they put their faith in a God they could not see and trusted in His promises to them, that no matter what happens to them, God is in control and He is able! My prayer is, “Lord, give me that kind of faith, that no matter what happens, you are in control!”

            So faith supports those things we know to be true, the promises of God even though we might not see them with our physical eyes, but through the eyes of faith we believe. And that belief is the evidence or the confidence we need to live what we believe.  You see, faith truly begins when all other possibilities end, it is out of our hands and in the hands of God.  I like they way George Muller put it, he says, “Difficulties are found for faith to feed on.”  We grow by trusting in Him, not a blind leap of faith but a trust in His Word, in His promises, that what God has promised He is more than able to bring to pass. 

            That was Israel, he walked by faith only having the promises of God to go by, to encourage him and that was more than enough.  How about you?  Have you this call in your life? Have you sacrificed to God waiting to hear from Him? Has the Lord confirmed what you are to do?  Do you believe, trust in God’s promises to you? If you do then you will walk by faith as Israel did!

            You see, it is as Warren Wiersbe wrote, “During an especially trying time in the work of the China Inland Mission, Hudson Taylor wrote to his wife, ‘We have twenty-five cents--and all the promises of God!’” (W. Wiersbe, Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, p. 242).  Also, George Muller wrote, “Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends.”

            It is as Paul said in II Corinthians 5:7, For we walk by faith, not by sight. The Amplified Bible puts this verse like this, For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance.And The Living Bible puts it like this, We know these things are true by believing, not by seeing. May we walk by faith and see the wondrous things the Lord will do in us and through us – it truly is A VENTURE OF FAITH!

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