Walter Nelson - Abraham - Washington - 1961

While coming over from the north of Africa, returning to my homeland, my heart was filled with mixed feelings. My heart was often warmed, while across the water and thinking about you and others keeping their life at their post. Then arriving in New York and coming to the West Coast, my heart has continued to be warmed by the fellowship of God’s people. There is no fellowship like it in all the world; it is God’s church on this earth.

In the book of Genesis, we have a picture of a good many faithful ones, and the character of Abraham has been coming to my mind lately. You have often heard about this man and I don’t believe I have any corner on explaining his virtues. But there are seven steps that Abram took that have been an inspiration to me. We know that from every success there is a reason and for every failure there is a cause. You and I wish to end with success on the other shore of eternity and if we look at faithful lives like Abraham, it may help us to take steps to do likewise. Genesis 12 speaks of the calling out of Abraham. In the 11th chapter, we read of the people who lacked God in their lives. People are doing their best to bring about peace on earth, but it is to big man and his possibilities, and God is left out of the picture and the result is no peace and no rest. The measure of peace that you and I have in our hearts is because of the God of peace if we allow Him to come in and rule there. They journeyed, they found, they said, they had brick for stone, they said, "Let us build a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven and let us make a name." It was a plan of action, but God was left out of the picture and it ended in ruin and confusion. And the same will be the end of every plan of action that you and I go into, if we leave God out of it.

How different it was with Abraham. This chapter begins with, now the Lord had said unto Abram. That suggested that God had been speaking to Abram. In the last part of the 11th chapter, we read about his father and of him taking a journey, but he didn’t go far enough. I believe God had also spoken to his father. Do you think there is any person on earth that God hasn’t spoken to? I don’t think so. There are three books which God speaks to people, the book of nature, the book of experience and the Bible. Psalm 19:1-3, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” Romans 1:20, “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made even His eternal power and Godhead, so they are without excuse.”

God preaches the gospel to every one of His creation. There will be no person who will be able to point to God and on the judgement day say, “You didn’t give me a chance.” Abraham’s father didn’t listen, but God spoke to Abraham and Abraham listened, considered and then he began to put it into action. If you and I are in God’s family, we can look back on the time when God first spoke to us. Some were not very old, others were advanced in age and God spoke to you. “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from My father’s house unto a land that I will show thee.” This doesn’t mean you have to leave Washington, but certain surrounding conditions that you must get out from, customs, habits and ways. If there is anything in the political or social world that is hindering you from God, you must get out from that influence. If there are any of your relatives, family, friends or acquaintances who are hindering you from God, you must get out from that influence. If you let anything or anyone hinder you, you will tempt God to remove that thing or that person. We have seen some who left their husband or wife hinder them, and God has removed them.

The next event that will take place in this world is the return of Christ. Thinking of Him coming in person to this earth and ruling and reigning in peace and righteousness for 1000 years. And let us not forget that you who are faithful at His coming will be given a resurrection body, and you also will reign in righteousness, and you will be given a place of responsibility in accordance with how you have served Him here. There will be no more sorrow, pain, death or tears, but joy and unspeakable bliss while the endless ages roll. You know that God is no one’s debtor even here on earth, but we have joy and peace and satisfaction in doing His will, and we wouldn’t trade with anyone who doesn’t know His will.

Verse 4, “Abram departed.” Sometimes we have seen people profess, but they haven’t made any progress. May be they are something like a boat that I saw drawing away from the port one time. Those ships when they dock in the port are tied by many ropes and cables. This ship was pulling out, but they had forgotten to untie one rope, and when it got just so far, he could go no further until it backed up a little and they released the cable. Sometimes people go just so far, but make no more progress because there is something holding them back. They are at a standstill until they back up a little bit get rid of whatever it is that is holding them back.

Verse 7 gives us another step. Abraham built an altar. What does that altar suggest? We know what it was literally, there was the altar, the animal was offered and the offering was consumed, and a sweet incense went up unto God. When you made that choice to serve the Lord, did you build an altar? Did you put yourself all together at God’s disposal? It is very easy to make a sacrifice of something else or someone else’s goods. Abraham built an altar, and that meant he was putting himself on that altar. Jesus said, “I am come to do Thy will, O God.” Jesus knew that the only way He could be a help to mankind was to give back to His Father the body that God had given Him, and He put Himself literally on that altar. That is what Abraham did. Did you say to God, "Here is my all and it is all yours," or did you hold back part? It suggests that he put his whole self at God’s disposal. Could you picture in your mind a slave presenting himself to his master in the morning and saying, "Here am I. What do you want me to do?" Whatever his master says, that is his desire. Is that your desire? Abraham made himself wholly at the disposal of his heavenly Father. We cannot please God unless we build that altar. There are two thoughts to come to me every morning. “The Lamb without spot and blemish and I am not my own, I have been bought with a price.” God created me, then He bought me back with the price of blood, and if I use my time, my talents for me, I am not honest, I am not just. Abraham built that altar and he put himself on it. That is true sacrifice and that is true service.

Genesis 13, this chapter talks about the double concentration him walking with God. Verse 18, “Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.” You and I are dwelling in tents in this respect, that this body of ours, this clay temple, is not very permanent. Anything can happen to it at any time and put us on the shelf. Death, sickness, or accidents could come at any time and we are not worth much physically. You and I need to keep journeying on. You don’t have to leave your home to journey on. I am talking about making spiritual progress, adding spiritual statue in your lives, growing in Christ likeness. Proverbs 31:16, “She considereth a field and buyeth it.” You and I are not running a competition to beat the other fellows virtues, but we want to break our own record of yesterday. We are not satisfied with yesterday’s newspaper and we want a new paper every day.

Genesis 13:1, “Abram went up out of Egypt.” Egypt’s stand for worldliness, for things that are round about us that are lawful and legitimate for others, but not for Christians and we had better leave them alone. They won’t help us, they will only hinder us. There is so much of Egypt’s that clings to us. Psalm 119:25, “My soul cleaveth to the dust.” Oh, how true that is and Abraham left Egypt behind. Young people in school are surrounded by so much in Egypt, but they don’t let it cling to them. Our brother was telling us this morning that God doesn’t have two standards, one for children and one for grown-ups. It is the same standard, Christ for both. There was a Spanish couple in Morocco who made their choice to serve God and began to change their ways, change their life. They had a little girl about seven going to school and living in a small town, there was much to influence all around. It is one thing to live in America, a free country and another thing to live in a country that isn’t free. At the time of confirmation, the little girl was required to wear special clothing, wings, etc. Their daughter was getting of that age and others were putting pressure on her that she would go through with the performance. The mother wondered if it wouldn’t make it easier for her in school if they would allow her to go through that. We told her, now was the time to show forth the spirit of Christ. There is not one standard for children and another for grown-ups. Abraham went out of Egypt, and he kept Egypt out of him, also.

Verse 8, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsman and by herdsman; for we are brethren.” That is another good step to move on and improve that there is no strife among us. Proverbs 31:26, “In her tongue is the law of kindness.” I Corinthians 13:4-5, “Charity is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked.” In Luke 15 when the prodigal returned to the Father, the Father opened his arms to him, but the elder prodigal was angry and he stayed outside. Think of the cloud that he brought over that joyful experience. Abraham would have no strife. If there is a difference of opinion, we will talk it over in kindness. Not with raised voices, but with consideration. We will get this thing out in the open, we will pray about it. He took a step of peacefulness.

Genesis 14:17-18, this is the experience that Abraham had with Melchizedek. Do you know what that speaks to me of? That speaks to me of their communion service. When we have a Sunday morning meeting, there are hymns, prayers, testimonies and then we partake of the bread and wine. It reminded me of that boy who at the age of 12 said, “I want to be about my Father’s business.” And that is what I want to be. I think of the carpenter. He put his best into it and it speaks to us of His life, His example. I think of that minister moved by the end of the world. I see that noble youth and I see that Shepherd. “In the bread, Thy broken body.” You might think of wheat, it is broken up and loses its identity, in order that it can be made bread. I take that bread and I see Christ there in that perfection. I see in that wine the blood that was shed on Calvary’s cruel cross. Someone has died, even though I was guilty. Sin separates us from God. God allowed someone else to die in my place and God provided that substitute for me and that substitute is Christ. I can’t comprehend this. “In the wine, Thy blood we see.” The longer I go on, the more thankful I am for that blood, because every day of our lives you and I come short of the glory of God, and how thankful we can be at the close of the day to plead the cleansing of the blood. You can picture in your mind a stream flowing over some rocks. The stream is continually cleansing and washing those rocks. If you and I keep in the right relationship with God, we will daily, minutely, secondly be clean by the blood of Christ. Abraham took this in faith, looking forward to Christ who would one day fulfil that to perfection.

Genesis 15:9, this tells us of Abraham offering a sacrifice. Abraham waited and nothing happened except that the fowls of the air came and wanted to devour that sacrifice. What did Abraham do? He drove them away. You have your life on God’s altar, the fowls of the air are coming along and wanting to take it off, and don’t you let them do it. The hymn says, “Loose not thy hold.” How good it is to see amongst us those boys and girls, young man in young women who have tightened their grasp and God has blessed them. Sometimes young people make choices that cause them to have sorrow all of their lives. Proverbs 3:6, “In all thy ways in knowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” There are middle aged people here and you have placed your life on God’s altar, and it is still there. Keep it there. There are four watches, and each watch has its own particular problem, its own particular temptation, but you keep guarding your life on the altar until the going down of the sun. We like to see parents that are guarding their home, and their children. We like to see those who are older walking firmly and true, keeping as close as I can to the centre of the circle of God will and God’s blessing them. Abraham guarded the sacrifice until the going down of the sun, and then God consumed the sacrifice. If you and I guard the sacrifice until the Lord takes us home, there is a wonderful reward awaiting us.

Chapter 17 and 18. To me, this is like a good meeting, and you will notice there was prayer before this meeting and there with prayer afterwards. This is what makes a good meeting, prayer before the meeting, prayer during the meeting and then there is prayer after the meeting also. There was a man who always had such a very helpful part in the meeting and I asked him what his secret. He said “On Monday, I think of what was said on Sunday, and on Tuesday, I ponder it over some more, Wednesday, I begin to put into practice what I heard, and this opens up more to me to study on Thursday and Friday, and on Saturday, I think of all the thoughts I have been thinking about during the week and I pick out two or three that were especially helpful to me and that is what I speak about.”

Chapter 17:3, “Abraham fell on his face and God talked with him.” This speaks of humility. The nearer the wheat comes to the harvest, the lower is its head and that is true spiritually. I have noticed some of the great ones and they have said, "I am not worthy." I have been realising lately that every person I meet is my master in some way or another and I can learn from them. I will do far better to measure my short points by the other person’s long points, then to measure my long points against the other person’s short points. I think of a great background of God behind every servant of God. Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” I might be speaking Golden words, but they are enhanced by the divine background. If it isn’t there, they are empty, and they don’t mean very much. God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Old Testament who lived according to God’s plan; Jesus who brought it into perfection; all the faithful in the New Testament; people who have gone on before us who lived and sacrificed. People in our day who have had part in our salvation; folks who are praying for us and this is all a part of our divine background. Paul asked that prayers would be made for him. I realise that sometimes God maybe using me to speak a word in season, but it is because of the help of others and God is putting down credit where credit is due. God has the most important part and I am not worthy.

Prayer consists of two parts, we talking to God and God talking to us. When we go to see a doctor, we don’t just tell him all our troubles and then leave before we hear what he has to say. We wait and get the doctor’s prescription. The same is true with God and after we have poured out our heart to God, we wait in His presence until God is through talking to us. How often we don’t wait. We need to come in an attitude of hopelessness and helplessness. I know there is nothing in me that can ever help anyone spiritually. Jesus said, "I can of my own self nothing." Jesus felt that way, how much more so you and I. I am insufficient and I am incapable. The second attitude is that of confidence and trust in God. We go into the presence of God and His storehouse is complete. No matter what we ask God He has the answer. I suppose I should add another attitude and that is obedience. Whatever God asked, I will do. In chapter 18, Abraham was pleading and interceding for others. We have gone into a good many home and seen maps on the walls, with pins stuck in all the places where the servants of God are holding missions. Prayers are going out for them. You can have a part in every mission that is being worked in every part of the world.

Chapter 22, Abraham faced the supreme test. God had given him a son and the son of promise and Abraham was happy with that. Then God asked him to offer that son and he never faltered. He took that son to the place God told him and built the altar and laid the wood in order. He bound his son and laid him on the altar for these hand and took the knife to slay his son but God stayed his hand. God said, "That is enough for now I know thou fearest God." God might ask you to do something, to make a sacrifice that would be just as near and dear to you. We have rooms in our lives. Every room in a house has a particular use. Does God have access to every room in your life? Are there some room in your life and you say, "O God, don’t touch that, I want that for myself?" Abraham held nothing back. Jesus told about the leaven that was heated in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened. There is a room in our lives that only God knows. How good it is when there is nothing between us and God. Abraham allowed nothing to come between him and is God. He was willing to do what God wanted him to do. There is another room that only the home folk know. And how good it is when God has control there. Then there is a part of our life that the public know about, God can take charge of that and make it what it ought to be. Abraham was willing to go all the way. There is a reason for every success, and there is a cause for every failure. Abraham allowed God to call him out, to call him forward, and to call him on. When God spoke Abraham obeyed and God had much for us in the future if we are willing to take the same steps that Abraham did.