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Continuing our “Origins: The Promise” series through the life of Abraham, this past weekend we were joined by Pastor Duane Roberts from our Boynton Beach campus for a powerful word from Genesis 17. In this message, we explored the establishment of the covenant of circumcision and discovered how God defines our identity, our future, and our obedience.
Watch the video below to see a few highlights from the teaching and share it with your friends via social media. To watch the message in its entirety, click here.
Let’s recap some of the key talking points from Pastor Duane’s message this weekend:
God Defines Our Identity (Genesis 17:1–8): After 13 years of silence between Genesis 16 and 17, God comes to Abram and reminds him of who He is (El Shaddai: The Almighty, the God of Heaven). In verses 2–8, the Lord makes eight declarations of what He is going to do. And Abram’s response? He falls on his face in worship, humility, and surrender. He gives the Lord his full attention. When was the last time you just listened for the voice of God, completely disconnected from technology? When was the last time you set aside time to be still and silent to hear from the Lord?
As Abram listens in complete surrender, the Lord gives him a new name . . . Abraham, which means “Father of a multitude.” He redefines Abraham’s identity. So often, when we enter into our relationship with the Lord, we bring in names and identities that have been given to us by others, by society, names that we have allowed to define us and dictate how we live our lives. But when we come to the Lord, when we surrender ourselves before Him and give our lives to Him, He redefines who we are, He gives us a new name and a new identity in His Son Jesus. And as we grow in Him, we learn to let go of these damaging and false identities given to us by the world. And then, just as He did over Abraham, the Lord speaks His promises over us—“I have made,” “I will make,” “I will establish,” “Your name shall be,” etc.
And so now, having been given a new name and a new identity, Abraham is given a new covenant to live by that will set him apart in this new identity: circumcision.
Now, here’s something you may not know: Circumcision was not an uncommon practice in the ancient Orient. All of the surrounding people circumcised their children at puberty. However, circumcision had a powerful and unique purpose for God’s people. It was always an outer sign of an inner faith, similar to what baptism is to the believer today. It was a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham (and his descendants) that they were set apart, His special people, His possession.
God Defines Our Future (Genesis 17:15–22): In this section, God doubles down on His promise that the special nation He was establishing for Abraham would come through Sarah and Isaac, the son she would bear. And He promised Abraham that by the same time next year, Isaac would be born of Sarah. And what does Abraham do upon hearing this? Verse 17 (NIV) tells us, “Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?’”
Abraham, the father of faith and friend of God, laughed at God’s plan for his life and future. He laughed at the possibility of it, at the unlikeliness of it taking place because of the circumstances at hand. Have you ever laughed at God’s plan for you? Have you ever looked on at your circumstances and doubted the promises God has spoken over you? Have you ever found the possibility of the Lord fulfilling His Word over your life to be laughably impossible?
Conventional wisdom and years of empirical evidence to the contrary made the fulfillment of God’s promise seem far-fetched, but as Abraham would soon learn, “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27 NIV).
And so, the Lord declares that this forthcoming son would be named Isaac, which means, “He laughs.” But this laughs is not one of unbelief, but of faith as Abraham and Sarah saw their years of sorrow turn into joyful laughter at the fulfillment of God’s promise! May we be a faith-filled people who will see and experience this joyful laughter as the Lord does the improbable and the impossible in, through, and around us. May we get to experience the fullness of His promises over our lives. May we see the areas of our lives that are as dead as Sarah’s womb was produce life and bear fruit.
God Defines Our Obedience (Genesis 17:23–27): Did you know that the original promise in Genesis 12 was given when Abraham was 75? So, 25 years later, God is bringing this initial word to fulfillment. Why did He take so long? Why does it often seem like the Lord takes so long to fulfill His promises?
It’s no secret that often, the Lord’s timing is different than our timing. There will be times in life that the Lord puts something on your heart—a dream, a vision, a great work, a powerful purpose—but then calls you to wait for it, to wait on His timing.
You know it’s His will, you see great need, and you even see opportunity, but it’s not yet His timing. And when it comes . . . when the Lord’s will and timing align and you experience that which the Lord has for you, it will be everything you could have dreamed of and more. It will be like the perfect bite of the perfect dish. Why? Because it was prepared by perfect hands!
But the waiting time is hard, isn’t it? “Has God forgotten me?” “Is He not going to fulfill this promise?” “Where is He?” These questions often swim across the sea of our minds in the delay, in the waiting time. But here’s the thing we must come to learn about the Lord: His delays are not denials. His delays have a purpose, because in the calendar of God, waiting time is never wasted time.
God often brings about extraordinary destinies out of extended seasons. So often, God gives a dream and then sends us off into a wilderness of waiting to prepare us for it. And in our human nature, we usually try to avoid the waiting altogether, but the truth is if we do we’ll never be who were born to be. If we try to avoid the right, we’ll never experience the right fruit.
This is where living by faith and not by sight becomes reality for us as we seek to be obedient to the Lord.
Quote to Remember: Jesus initiated and defined our relationship with His life, death, and resurrection.—Pastor Duane Roberts
As you think about this weekend’s teaching, here are a few questions to reflect on and consider on your own, with your family, or in your group.
1. What would it look like for you to set aside time to disconnect from everything and just listen for the voice of God?
2. Why is it important for us to be still and silent before the Lord?
3. Think of a time when the Lord spoke a promise over you that seemed impossible and then delivered! What made it so hard to believe? How did the Lord bring you to a place of obedience and faith?
4. What have you learned in seasons of waiting?
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This Wednesday is Night of Prayer and Worship! Join us for a powerful and refreshing time of worship and heartfelt prayer as we reflect on God’s goodness and experience His presence together.
This weekend, we’ll continue our “Origins: The Promise” series through the life of Abraham as Pastor Stephan Tchividjian shares from Genesis 18. In this message, we’ll see three visitors come to see Abraham and Sarah and then we’ll dive into the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.