Hello Friends –
It’s Missouri in January – oh boy! Since there’s not a whole lot going on to distract me, I’m very glad to be spending time focusing on God’s Word and knowing He’s working in my life. Christmas craziness has come and gone, my husband is recovering from cervical decompression surgery, I’m not too concerned about how fixed up my house is and my yard and garden where I love to spend time – well, it doesn’t look so good but it’s too cold and I’m not going out there! Yes, seeking the Lord is a great thing to have on the agenda!
When I think of winter from a physical, emotional, or spiritual aspect, I think of life being bleak and forbidding, barren, dull, – lifeless; and for the Manz household, it seems it’s been a very long winter season for us – really a year of winter – no doubt the most challenging year we have ever experienced. But our faith says God or His plan for us is never barren or lifeless.
Abraham’s Journey of Faith
The story of Abraham and Sarah is one of learning how faith works (Hebrews 11:8-12) and as we will later see, the benefits of living a life of faith. In the natural, life for them was an uncertain future and the pain of being barren – but having a great promise from God that would only come to pass – by faith. While our circumstances may differ, we all face these same challenges and choices learning to trust God and live by faith.
So Abraham received a promise from God, but did it come to pass the next day? NO! God had much bigger plans for Abraham and Sarah than just giving birth to a son in their old age. He was teaching them to trust in their Heavenly Father’s ability when all hope seemed lost – and, as Hebrews 11 tells us, to be an example to us of how faith works.
The faith journey –
Genesis 12 – God calls Abram to leave his homeland and family and he’ll become the father of a great nation. (Something not possible in the natural as they were clearly a couple who were barren).
Genesis 15 – Approximately 1870 B.C. God makes a “covenant” with Abram. God is reiterating Abram will be the father of a great nation – his descendants as many as the stars – although he still has not had a son.
Genesis 16 – It’s now been 10 years since God first promised Abram and Sarai a son – they impatiently arrange for Hagar to have a son to help God out. Sarai is now 75 and Abram 86 and God says, “You’re not ready yet!”
Genesis 17 – Abram is now 99 – 13 years after Ishmael is born and God says, “you shall be a father of many nations (with Sarai)…….exceedingly fruitful and kings shall come from you.” (Really, God? It’s been 24 years since You first told him that and still no natural born son!)
Genesis 18 – Two angels and “the Lord” (likely a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ) visit Abraham and said this time next year you and Sarah will have a son. A wonderful and key scripture is found in Genesis 18:14 that we can all take to heart – “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
On this note, Pastor Tom adds a thought to kind of blow your mind – so “Christ” appears to Abram to remind him that he is going to be the father of the nation through whom Jesus (the Man talking to Abram) will be born 2000 years later!! That’s deep but really cool!
Genesis 20 – I really don’t get this but Abraham for the SECOND TIME lies about Sarah being his sister to protect his own neck (The bottom line for all lying). I’m glad at this point Sarah didn’t give up on her husband – she probably wanted to! But God protected her when her husband didn’t and a few months later (and 25 years after God first spoke to Abram) she gives birth to Isaac – just as the Lord had said would happen in Chapter 18.
We can read this and think, so what? Twenty-five years they waited for a promise from God to be realized. But think about it – do we do well with waiting – when there’s something we really, really, really want God to do for us? Abraham and Sarah did not easily navigate this walk of faith but they obeyed God – by faith and received their reward.
Our journey of faith, as we see in Abraham and Sarah, is about so much more than what we think we need to see God do. He is working in us so much more than we know.
The Friend of God
Abraham has another quite unique recognition in scripture and something I have not previously given much thought to or have had insight. In spite of his flaws, he was called not only the father of faith (Romans 4:16), but “the friend of God!” (Isaiah 41:8, 2 Chronicles 20:7, James 2:23) What an amazing designation of which none other is mentioned in the Bible. How did this man of whom we have seen failures and flaws become the friend of God?
Talk about having a friend in high places? We would think this would be an almost impossible thing to accomplish. How did it happen? By Abraham’s simple pursuit of God by faith. Abraham learned to live his life by faith. He learned to trust God through the challenges of faith his Heavenly Father led him through – even to the point he could trust God’s directive to offer his beloved son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. We wonder how Abraham walked through that day. But he had learned this was a God who would only do what is good in Abraham’s life.
This is the outcome of a life lived by faith – you become the friend of God. You are completely convinced that God is sovereign and God is only good. God is not just an infinite being but One through whom we can know a sense of closeness, trust, and sharing everything in our lives – even in the long, drawn out days of a winter season.
Here is a quote from an interesting article I read today about Abraham’s friendship with God:
The relationship Abraham enjoyed with God was a remarkable one by human standards – but tremendously encouraging for us. God is not a partial God. He is not a respecter of persons. God doesn’t involve Himself in cliques or narrow, exclusive groups of people that only a few can enter. Rather, He extends the hand of friendship to all of those in His family. If we follow the example of our spiritual forefather Abraham by being in agreement with God, displaying loyalty and dependability towards God, and freely confiding in Him in all matters, then we too will be called the friends of God.
(Copyright ã 1994 (Ed. 1997), 2000 Christian Churches of God)http://www.logon.org and http://www.ccg.org
Trusting God through all of life’s circumstances is all that God requires of us. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5) is just one of the promises we have a choice to receive or not. To believe, as Abraham did, is to not only see answers to prayer and God working mightily in our lives, but to know the closeness and trust that comes being the friend of God!
This has been an encouraging study for me -a new page in my experience in the book of Genesis. I see Abraham in a new light and a fresh example of God’s call for each of us in not only living the life of faith but also the call to be a friend of God. I hope that you, readers, will experience a freshness in your faith as we continue to study through Genesis. More treasures await!
Feel welcome to share any thoughts you may have.
Blessings to each of you and thanks for reading!