5 Things You’ll Experience in Your Life with Christ: Genesis 12:1-9

Christian life with Jesus Christ

(From the archives)

5 Things . . . Continue reading

Things I Heard In Church: “I had picked my wheelchair. It was bright, like my shoes.”

Wheelchair and stairs“For nine months I was in bed without moving, at all, just my head. And every single doctor told me, I would never walk again, ever. I had picked my wheelchair. It was bright, like my shoes. I had decided I was going to go to Special Olympics… with that wheelchair because it had the [kind of] wheels for that. I was literally rooted to my bed, and I could not move, and everybody told me that I would never move again. And then one day, while reading the scriptures for only the first or second time… I came across this passage: Luke 17:5-6

From Gaby Viesca’s excellent teaching on 06/26/2016, Growing Together, Luke 17:1-6

Image via Christos Doulkeridis – Creative Commons

When You Have Doubts (And Weak Faith In An Almighty God)

Firefighter on roof by LAFD-CCWhen You Have Weak Faith In An Almighty God

The Tale Of Two Firefighters

There were two firefighters on the roof of a burning building. Continue reading

The Angry Crowd, Freakonomics, and Doubt: Genuine Seeker (Part 7)

Why do I doubt peer pressure

The Angry Crowd (This Really Happened)

Imagine you’re sitting in class with thirty-five other people on a Friday. It’s late afternoon and before your instructor dismisses you and your fellow students, he makes an announcement. He warns everyone to avoid downtown this weekend, because there’s a large (we’re talking hundreds of thousands) pro-life demonstration occurring there.

But just as soon as he says the words “pro-life,” there’s an overwhelming eruption in the classroom. It seems every student stands up from their chair and jeers and boos and hollers against the pro-lifers. You’re new to the group and their reaction takes you completely off guard. You’re shaken–because you’re pro-life.

From the moment the class booed and hissed at the notion of a pro-life demonstration, it felt almost impossible for you or anyone else to voice a pro-life point of view. The derision in the room was palpable.

Like most people, you like to think of yourself as independent and unconstrained by the thinking of people around you. But you’re sitting next to a good friend who knows you’re pro-life. And in the moments following the contemptuous crowd reaction you find yourself hoping he doesn’t say anything to tip off your sentiments. Continue reading

Why Do I Doubt? Genuine Seeker (Part 4)

why do I doubt

Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8

Why Do I Doubt?

In our last post, Doubt, Faith, and Reason, we looked at how a firefighter decided to risk his own life and crawl through a window into a burning building to save three children. And we saw how his decision making process is related to our choosing to believe (or not believe) in the gospel accounts.

In today’s post we’ll look at one of the reasons why we doubt.

Getting to Know a Firefighter

Yesterday a candidate for a firefighter position at Medford Fire-Rescue contacted me asking for advice about how to get hired. Before I started writing full time, I was involved in the hiring process for the fire department. I’m pretty sure we have the most thorough process in the state. We start with an application screening and end with a background check that’s incredibly thorough. Before we hire someone we know them just about as well as you can know someone without living with them. Which is important because firefighters have a unique schedule, and because of their unique schedule they live with each other almost a third of their lifetime during their career. It’s also important because once he or she is hired, the department and the community will probably be stuck with this person, for better or for worse, for thirty years or so.

But here’s the thing, no matter how thorough our process, and no matter how deep we go with our background investigation, we don’t really get to know the candidate until he’s been with us for a few years. There have been a few backgrounds Continue reading

Doubt, Faith, and Reason: Genuine Seeker (Part 3)

doubt faith reason

Last Post: Tolkien, Lewis, and the Gospel

In our last post (J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and the Gospel Accounts) we saw the impact (on me at least) of C.S. Lewis’ opinion of the gospels. Lewis, a former atheist, a professor at Oxford and Cambridge, and an expert in ancient literature, wrote that the gospels are either a documented account of the life of Jesus, or, “some unknown writer in the 2nd century, without known predecessors, or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative.” In other words, C.S. Lewis believed the scriptures to be true. (I posted Lewis’ statement on Reddit and a commenter, SuddenlySeymour, with a masters degree in English Literature explained it better than I ever could. If you’re interested, you can read what he wrote in the NOTES section at the bottom of this post.)

Why Should I Listen?

The next thing we explored in the last post was the next logical step after learning of Lewis’ conclusion. And that step is to read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life very carefully. Because if those accounts are true as C.S. Lewis asserts that they are, then when we read the gospel accounts, we’re reading a documented account of the life and words of the Son of God Himself.

The Son of God Himself. No one’s life can be more important than his. No one’s world view can be more important than his. No one’s words can be more important than his. He said he came to save lives, eternal lives, and I want to explore that. But before we continue I think it will be helpful to first look at how firefighters decide to save lives.

Why Dive Through a Window Into a Burning Building? Continue reading

Looking for the Living Among the Dead

Easter Jesus Christ Risen living among the dead

Why do you look for the living among the dead? -Luke 24:25

A Dead Sparrow

The bird hit the big picture window like a bug hits a windshield. It didn’t fair well. The little sparrow fell to the deck floor some six feet below the point of impact, which was marked with feathers stuck to the surface of the glass. It lay on its side at first, then it slowly rolled over and extended its legs up toward the sky. It was almost cartoonish. The only thing missing were a couple of ‘Xs” over each eye. My kids heard the “THUMP” and ran out onto the deck where the bird lay.

“We need to pray for him dad!” They insisted.

Wow. This is awkward. I had taught my kids about the power of God, and the power of prayer, and the importance of faith. It wasn’t that I didn’t have faith. I had faith alright. I had faith I’d be planting that sparrow in the back yard with all our other dead pets. But what could I do? My kids were expecting a miracle.

So we prayed. Continue reading

Genesis 25:1-18 — Abraham was gathered to his people



Read Genesis 25:1-18

Here in Genesis 25:1-18 we’ll see a third wife or concubine of Abraham’s and the sons born to him through her. Abraham’s death is also noted here as well as the accounting of Ishmael’s sons.

After the death of Sarah Abraham takes another wife or concubine named Keturah. And in an illustration of how the power of the promise is greater than the limitations of the physical, she becomes yet another who’s involved in the fulfillment of the LORD’s promise to Abraham to make him the father of many nations. Abraham, advanced in years though he was, through Keturah had six children: Zimram, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.

Abraham gave gifts to his concubine’s sons and sent them away from Isaac to the land of the East. He gave his estate in its entirety to Isaac. So he served as the executor of his own will. I believe this to be a wise thing for a person to do even today. The health of the relationships in your family will be well served if you administer your estate while you’re still alive, to the degree that you can.

After distributing his wealth to his sons, Abraham died at the age of one hundred seventy-five. He was full of years and his years were full. His years were full of fellowship with the LORD and full of adventure. We’re told in verse eight that he was gathered to his people. In Luke 16 Jesus tells us that Abraham is in Paradise so apparently Abraham’s people were those who dwell there. Who are your people and to whom will you be gathered? Do the people at church feel comfortable around you and do you feel comfortable around them? Would the people populating heaven feel that you’re one of them? Would they consider you one of their own? Are you more comfortable around people of the world? When the end comes, who will you be gathered to? There will come a day for all of us when no question will be more important.

Isaac and Ishmael, formerly estranged from each other, come together, to bury their father in the cave of Machpelah [mak-pee-lah]where Sarah was buried. This was the cave in the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite. It’s important to note here that in order for people to reconcile, somebody has to die. Isaac and Ishmael weren’t reconciled until Abraham died. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 that God reconciled us to Himself through the death of Jesus. When you and another are having difficulty with each other only one thing will lead to reconciliation — somebody has to die. “Yea but it’s not fair!” You might be thinking. “Yea but he’s wrong!” You might be saying. It may not be fair and the other person may well be in the wrong, but God wants you to reconcile anyway and somebody has to die for that to happen.

Die to self.

Jesus was so big on reconciliation that he said if you’re at the altar offering a gift to the LORD and you remember that you’re not right with a brother or sister, you should immediately leave the altar and reconcile yourself to that person, then come back to offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24) So if a relationship with another isn’t right, Jesus wants you to resolve the situation with that person before you’re in His presence for worship. Paul tells us that God reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18) You’ve been given the ministry of reconciliation. You and I are to be about the business of reconciling others to Jesus as well as reconciling one person to another.

After Abraham died God blessed Isaac who continued to live near Beer Lahai Roi which means well of the living one seeing me.

Finally in this passage we see another one of God’s promises to Abraham fulfilled. Do you remember what the LORD told Abraham about Ishmael in Genesis chapter 17? He said,  I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” (Genesis 17:20-21) Here we see that just as God said it would happen Ishmael had twelve sons. From oldest to youngest: Nebaioth, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah.

Ishamel died at the age of one hundred and thirty-seven. His descendants settled near the Eastern border of Egypt. Genesis 25:18 tells us that they lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them.

Though the LORD said to Abraham, “But my covenant I will establish with Isaac,” He also said that Abraham would be the father of many nations. His eight children would indeed go on to produce many nations including Israel, Edom, and the Arab nations.

So in all, Abraham had a total of eight sons: Isaac, Ishmael, and the six sons of Keturah. But that wasn’t the only fruit born through Abraham. We find another list of eight in 2 Peter 1:3-8.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:5-8

It amazes me how accurately this list of godly virtues describes the life of Abraham. Could it be that this was by divine design? Perhaps it’s not coincidental that the fruit listed in 2 Peter 1 and the sons of Abraham are identical in number.

Notice that faith is at the top of the list. Doesn’t that fit Abraham’s life perfectly? He was a man who believed God in spite of his circumstances. Believing in God in spite of your circumstances is the very definition of faith. Just as believing in your circumstances in spite of God is the very definition of unbelief. When Jesus told Peter to come out onto the water Peter did it, in spite of his circumstances, in spite of the storm raging around him, he believed. He walked on water — the only human beside Jesus to ever do so in the history of mankind. William Carey tells us to “Expect great things from God, and to attempt great things for God.” Peter was a man who lived out Carey’s exhortation as was Abraham.

Not that Abraham didn’t experience failures. Abraham was cut from the same cloth as you and I. It’s been said that all humans are made from the same mold but some of us are moldier than others. Abraham was capable of unbelief and as a result there were times when he fell down. This is encouraging when you think about it. Abraham failed the same as you and me. So when you hear God directing you to do something, recognize that you’re going to fail sometimes and also recognize that if the father of faith can fail yet still prevail, so can you. So don’t let the prospect of failing slow you down, go ahead and move forward anyway! Peter, after walking on water for a bit, sank. Peter called Jesus the Christ at which point Jesus called Peter the Rock, but then Peter tried to forbid Jesus from His path to the cross at which point Jesus called Peter Satan. Peter told Jesus he’d die for Him then he denied Jesus to a little girl. Peter ran away from the cross but later asked that he be crucified upside down. Peter used the sword to cut off a man’s ear but later use the sword of God’s word to save 3,000 people.

Peter and Abraham experienced failures and so will you.

Remember: Nothing of significance has ever been accomplished without failures.

It’s important to move forward. Had Abraham stayed in Ur of the Chaldeans we wouldn’t be reading about his adventures today. He wouldn’t be known as the father of faith. You can’t steer a car that remains safely parked in the driveway. Seek God’s direction then go out and take risks. The key isn’t not falling down, the key is learning to get back up and move forward. The difference between a man of faith and a man of unbelief isn’t that the man of faith doesn’t fall. Both men fall. The difference is that the man of faith gets back up and continues forward — as Abraham did.

…without faith it is impossible to please God…

Hebrews 11:6


Genesis 25:1-18

Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.

Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.

Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.

Ishmael’s Sons

This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Sarah’s slave, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham.

These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go toward Ashur. And they lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them.


References:

Bible Gateway

Matthew Henry

Courson, Ben. A Generation Chosen. Jacksonville, OR: Searchlight, 2010

Ray Stedman

Jon Courson

Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him

Full of Faith and Faithful - photo from CBS News

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him

Genesis 17:1

Andy Olson is a man’s man. He’s an Oregon State Representative now but in 2001 he was an Oregon State Police Lieutenant. At 6’3″ tall he’s a formidable figure. In the fall of 2001 Andy Olson and I traveled to New York City with a group of Christian firefighters, dispatchers, and law enforcement personnel. Our mission was simple. We wanted to see what we might be able to do to help in the aftermath of the attack on the twin towers.

During much of our time there the tone was somber (we attended more funerals than I can remember) but occasionally we did find time for some levity.

Most of our group entered into a contest of sorts, adopting the classic New Yorker greeting, “How-ya-doin?” with the goal of seeing who could pass as a Native New Yorker out on the street. But I noticed that Andy declined to participate.

One evening as a group of us arrived back at our hostel we overheard Andy practicing his “How-ya-doins,” alone in our room. Except that the “How-ya-doins” kept coming out “How’re you doing?” or “HOW are YOU doing?”

He sounded like Dick Solomon (John Lithgow) from the TV show Third Rock From the Sun. It was one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever heard. When Andy realized that we had overheard, the poor guy was mortified. It was at that time that a Fire Lieutenant from Corvallis named Steve Bowen took Andy under his wing and began to coach him on the nuances of how to deliver this classic New York greeting.

A few evenings later Andy and Steve were walking down the street in Times Square with Andy practicing his “How-ya-doins” when he finally nailed it. He sounded precisely like a native New Yorker. Just then a large African-American man who was a local approached.

“Do it!” Steve urged. “Greet him! You’ve got it. You can do it.”

“How’re you doing?” Andy sang out, reverting back to his Dick Solomon (Lithgow) delivery.

The native New Yorker laughed hysterically.

Back to Genesis: In Genesis 17 Abram is ninety-nine years old and it’s been fifteen years since he’s had a conversation with God. Why on earth would God not speak to the man who the scriptures tell us was God’s friend? (James 2:23)

Maybe that’s where you’re at right now. Perhaps you’ve been seeking the Lord and wondering why He doesn’t seem to respond in a way that causes you to experience His presence. Perhaps you’re feeling as though God is not with you in the way that you desire Him to be.

Take heart! Abram, God’s friend, had to wait fifteen years between conversations!

Remember, he’s not only called God’s friend, but Abram is also called the father of faith. God used the time between conversations to build Abram’s faith. And He’s using this time in your life when you’re not discerning His presence to build yours!

The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) So God, being far more concerned with our relationship with Him than He is with our current comfort, will do what He knows to be best for you and for me by putting us in situations that build faith.

Faith is the language of heaven. Fortunately for then OSP Lieutenant Andy Olson, it wasn’t important that he learn to speak the language of the native New Yorkers. But in heaven, few things will be more important than being fluent in the language of faith. Because your ability to communicate in the language of heaven which is faith, is one of the keys to your relationship with God Himself. (Hebrews 11:6)

But there’s more. There’s another aspect of faith. What are we to do during the fifteen years between conversations?

We’re to be faithful.

You may have seen in the news the tragic story of the Criado family in Medford, Oregon. According to the Mail Tribune, police suspect that the father and husband of the family, Jordan Criado, stabbed his wife, killing her, and set his house on fire killing their four children.

My fire department responded to this incident. My own role had to do with extinguishing the fire, but most of the firefighters and law enforcement personnel on duty that day had their hands on those patients. They had their hands on those kids. They did everything they could to save those lives. Sadly, the outcome was already decided before we arrived.

I spoke with many who were on the scene that day and more than one recognized that they were performing extraordinary life saving measures on patients who were already beyond help. But, even knowing this, they were faithful to continue those efforts.

I know many of the firefighters involved in that incident to be believers. Year after year they come to work each day, dedicated to doing their job with all their heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. (Colossians 3:23) They’re faithful in what the Lord has given them to do.

So what are you to do during the fifteen years between conversations? Be faithful. Be faithful in what the Lord has given you to do: at work, as a husband, as a father, as a member of your church, as a youth sports coach, as a volunteer at your local school.

Be faithful in all these things. The next conversation with God will be here before you know it.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men

Colossians 3:23

References:

www.leg.state.or.us/olson/

http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2011/07/medford_familys_domestic_disaster_envelops_firefighters.html

Mail Tribune: 10th Street Tragedy

Jon Courson

5 Things You’ll Experience in Your Life With Christ: Genesis 12:1-9

Christian life with Jesus Christ

The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.

Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

Genesis 12:1-9

It’s important to remember that in addition to the Old Testament events being true and literal (see previous post How Does Jesus View the Old Testament), these accounts are also illustrations of New Testament principles. Referring to the Old Testament scriptures Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:6 that these things occurred as examples for us. With that in mind let’s have a look at five ways that Abram’s story in Genesis 12:1-9 has application for you and for me today.

Five Things You’ll Experience in Your Life with Christ

1) Continual strength from instruction

Genesis 12:6 says that Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. The name Shechem means shoulder — the shoulder was a symbol of strength in the Jewish culture, similar to what the bicep symbolizes in our culture today (The shoulder makes more sense if you think about it, if you want something to move put your shoulder into it). The name Moreh means instruction.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth God’s word tells us in 2 Timothy 2:15. This makes perfect sense if you think it through. God’s ways are higher than our ways, better than our ways, and different than our ways. It’s not natural for us to understand the ways of the God who is so big that the scripture says He measures the universe with the span between His thumb and His little finger. (Isaiah 40:12) A God as big, as powerful, and as amazing as ours requires that we study His ways to learn them.

It’s essential that you and I recognize God’s Bible for what it is, a supernatural book that has a supernatural effect on our lives as we study His word. As we learn God’s ways in His scriptures we’re strengthened by Him.

2) Constant Conflict

At that time the Canaanites were in the land. (v.6) We’ll see throughout much of the Old Testament that the enemy of the Jewish people, the Canaanites, were allowed to live alongside the Israelites for centuries, which resulted in constant conflict in the lives of the Jews. We experience constant conflict today in that the Lord allows our flesh to live alongside His Spirit in our lives. We too experience a life of conflict between our Spirit and our flesh. Jealousy, envy, lust, intemperance, a short temper, sharp words, selfishness, greed — what I desire to do in God’s Spirit I sometimes find so very difficult to do, and what I don’t desire to do in my flesh, I sometimes find myself doing. Paul said in Romans 7: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)

This side of heaven, you’ll always have your flesh with you. But thank God for Christ who strengthens your Spirit and in whom you can do all things. (1 Corinthians 4:13) You shall overcome! (1 John 5:1-6)

3) Continual Cleansing

Twice in chapter 12 we see Abram build an alter. (v.7-8) When we build an altar to the Lord, or in your life and my life, when we go to the altar, that’s when we’re altered. That’s when I’m changed into the man God desires me to become. That’s when you’re changed. That’s when you’re cleansed. That’s where you’re renewed!

For you young father of a family, it’s interesting to see here the beginning of a pattern in Abram/Abraham’s life. Pretty much wherever Abraham had a tent, God had an altar. That’s a great model for you and for me to set up and keep up the worship of God in our family, wherever we may be and in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves.

4) Continual Choice

From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. (v.8) The name Bethel means house of God. The name Ai means house of ruin, heap, or dump. Abram had choices before him as we all do, every day. The house of God on the West, and the house of ruin on the East.

In Acts 7:2-3 Stephen tells us that God originally commanded Abram to leave his original home of Ur 25 years before Abram set out from Harran. In Ur Abram had a very comfortable life. He was rich materially. He was likely well respected for his wealth, his position in his father’s household, and his beautiful wife Sarah. He likely was comfortable in the habit of worshiping the moon god as did his father Terah and most of the rest of the culture there in Ur. (Joshua 24:2) Yet comfortable as he was, Abram chose to obey God’s command to travel to a yet to be identified location.

So often I see this issue of comfort in peoples’ lives today. A person in a comfortable situation who knows in his or her heart what God would have him do and yet he resists. I have a close friend, a Christian young man, who was very comfortable with his girlfriend of several years. During the second year of their relationship this poor girl began to struggle. Her personality began to change. She became angry, depressed, and self destructive. The young man began to recognize that this wasn’t the person that God desired for him to marry, but, he was comfortable in the relationship. He’d already been with her for two years. There were expectations on him to continue the relationship. Expectations not only from his girlfriend but from their mutual friends and from her family as well.

“Besides, I feel sorry for her,” he confided. “Wouldn’t God have me remain in this relationship to help her? Surely God wouldn’t have me abandon her in her time of need, would He?”

After much prayer the young man ultimately decided to leave the relationship. He felt that, awkward and difficult though it may be, God would have him end it. In the years to come this poor young woman continued to struggle.

My young friend is now very happily married to a different young woman, a bright and beautiful young woman who loves Christ. Today, with the advantage of 20-20 hindsight, he fully recognizes the wisdom of his decision to follow what God had in mind for him.

What are you comfortable with? Like my friend the young man are you comfortable in a relationship that God would have you leave? Are you comfortable with being unemployed? Are you comfortable with your dependency on alcohol? Are you comfortable with your dependency on prescription drugs?

Are you comfortable with sleeping in on Sundays rather than leaving your home and spending time with God over at His house?

Perhaps you’ve been in your comfort zone now for a number of years. Take heart: By Stephens account in Acts 7 Abram failed to respond to God’s calling for 25 years. But God in His grace patiently stuck with Abram through every one of those 25 years of procrastination. Our God is the God of second chances.

5) Continual Blessings

People tend to want to stay in their current, familiar, comfortable situation, even if it’s destructive or less than God’s best. Abram was comfortable with his life in Ur yet he chose to do what he knew God would have him do. Let’s see what the result was.

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;” God said in verse 2 of Genesis 12. Abram was blessed with the gift of bearing abundant fruit. He who was without a child, who’s wife had been barren for decades, was promised the gift of bearing abundant fruit.

“I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” (v.2) Abram was blessed with a great name as well as the privilege of being a blessing to others.

“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;” (v.3) Abram was blessed with the security of God’s protection.

“and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (v.3) This last part of verse three speaks of the greatest blessing of all — through Abraham the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would come, imparting the blessing of salvation to all peoples on earth. (Matthew ch.1, Luke ch.3)

Abram’s choice to act on what he knew God wanted him to do resulted in the blessing of primacy in that it would be from Abraham that the Savior of the world would come (v.3); the blessing of identity in that he was given a great name (v.2); and the  blessing of security in that God promised to protect him (v.3).

Interestingly, in the previous chapter of Genesis the builders of the Tower of Babel attempted to attain the same blessings, but not through acting on what God wanted them to do, but rather through the energy of their own flesh. They said in Genesis 11:4 “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens (primacy), so that we may make a name for ourselves (identity); otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth (security).”

Every day you and I face the same choice. To travel the path of those in Genesis chapter 11, or to follow the example of Abram in chapter 12. It didn’t work out very well for those who attempted the tower of Babel. But if you follow Abram’s example and leave your comfort zone, awkward and difficult though it may be, and act on what you know God would have you to do, you too will experience God’s blessings.

Choose God’s way.

You’ll never regret it.


In case you’re interested, there’s a map of Abram’s travel route from Ur to the promised land available on BibleStudy.org.

References:

This post was inspired by Ray Stedman’s excellent teaching: The Beginning of Faith

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

Jon Courson