Here is the “catch” with the promises of God. We still tend to equate “blessing” with “numbers.” Continue reading “The thing about the promises of God”
Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?”
May we be the kinds of people who walk so closely with God, he just doesn’t want to hide what he is about to do. May we be so close in our walk with God that he desires to reveal his kingdom to us.
It’s a very Western saying. We tend to not like dreamers. Dreamers don’t get anything done. They sit around and, well, dream.
We can’t wait that long! We need a PLAN!
Dreams in the Bible were different. For Abraham, he had a dream. If he had put a deadline on it, he would have settled with Ishmael.
For Joseph, his deadline wouldn’t have been 13 years out and wouldn’t have involved slavery and prison.
We don’t want to just “dream.” We DO want to hear from God. And then we need to understand it is our faithful walk with God that will keep the dream alive, and then we realize we can allow that dream to go past even the deadline of our own lives.
Abraham never saw that “nation” God promised. It didn’t stop him from dreaming. That deadline wasn’t up to him. It was up to God.
Dream God’s dreams. Don’t give up. Walk with him. Let those dreams stir again.
We need the tie of generations in the faith because each generation can demonstration the depth of faith that is possible. We can observe that in the generations that came before. We can learn from them.
When we demonstrate the depth of faith, a faith that cannot be shaken, and demonstrate the faithfulness of God, we can then explain that to the next generation.
Two things are needed:
1. This generation (and insert yourself and that particular generation here) needs to demonstrate that to the next generation, and then help explain that to the next generation.
That means, get to know someone younger and INVEST in them. They want the opportunity, even if they don’t know how to say it.
I meet with younger students and work to pour into them the incredible faithfulness of God. When they’re ready to go win China NOW for Jesus, I remind them of the long walk of obedience in the same direction that needs to be the foundation of their lives.
It’s work. I learn to communicate better. I learn to listen better. I don’t always get it right. But I work at it.
2. The generation coming up needs to listen.
Watch and observe. Don’t just ask questions and wait for the “fill in the blank response.”
I have a spiritual father I meet with from time to time and I don’t ask ONE question. I just let him talk. Whatever God is guiding him in that day is what I want to hear. There are times I have a specific question, but I’ve watched him over the years. I have learned from his example over the years. I don’t always need to have a question.
Let’s observe from one another the faithfulness of God. We will then find that ANCHOR for our soul that carries us on in the journey with Christ.
17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Heb. 6:17-20)
Abraham passed this soul anchor on to the next generations. We have this soul anchor passed to us. Let us be so anchored to Christ that we can faithfully demonstrate the beauty and power of the Kingdom to the next generation.
I work part of the time in a college environment and we have a growing number of young adults in our church. I have three young adult sons. I can actually remember the “fire in my belly” coming out of college. (My memory isn’t completely gone.)
So, it’s natural to hear about motivating the generation and focus on this upcoming generation and talk about a “generation of promise.”
I read an interview our denomination’s head did and he was emphasizing the growing demographic of 25 and under in our denomination.
And I applaud that.
I also want to say… we need to realize that it is STILL a both/and world.
So while everyone under 25 is out to win the world before they get “old” (you know… 30), we may want to reevaluate all God did in the world BEFORE this current generation hit the scene.
We also need to realize that GOD STILL CALLS and regardless of what denominational officials may be looking for… God doesn’t seem to see age as a restriction in any direction.
I am preaching through Genesis currently and I am reminded of a word the Lord gave me last fall for my own life. So here are a couple of reminders when we think only those under 30 are capable of doing something great for God.
Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldeans when he was 75. He was 100 when Isaac was born.
Moses was 80 when he came back to lead Israel.
There are so many great examples across the age spectrum. We shouldn’t limit a “generation of promise” to the one coming up.
We have not failed, necessarily. We perhaps just have not begun. And it’s not too late.
Which led me to a moment last fall when I was getting hard on myself again for not “accomplishing” more to this point in my life.
The Spirit spoke to me and said, “Dan, Moses was 80 when he got started. Give yourself a break.”
Let’s realize that today is a great day… no matter your age… to be a part of a “generation of promise.”
I am a fan of the TV show “Psych.” One of the “Shawnisms” for awhile was when he said, “Wait for iiiiitttttt!!!”
That is the life of Abraham. He has a promise. He will have a son. There will be a great nation. There will be myriads of descendant. They will possess the land.
And he had to keep waiting. He walked with God, though he struggled.
That is our life as well. We are ready to get out and “get ‘er done,” when often there are delays as we wait on God to accomplish his work.
What Abraham teaches us is that 1) waiting isn’t perfect. He made mistakes. Huge ones, and 2) while he waited he worshiped. He walked with God. He learned to hear the voice of God.
The walk we develop with God may not be perfect, but it can grow to be rich and powerful.
Every time I read the story of Abraham I think of youth camp.
Abraham had incredible experiences with God… then went out and did something really dumb.
He would hear the covenant given by God, then go to Egypt and lie about his relationship with Sarah.
He would hear the promise of God that he and Sarah would have a son, then he slept with Hagar and Ishmael was born.
Abraham’s story is our story. Growing up I went to youth camp. By Thursday night you were pretty much free of sin and ready to take on the devil in the darkest corners of the planet.
By the next Monday I would do so many things that were just plain dumb I was sure I had lost my salvation.
That’s life with spiritual experiences. Powerful experiences are good, but they are not meant to be stand alone events. It is the walk with God that counts. It is Abraham in his later years, when Isaac is older, and he hears the voice of God again. This time that voice isn’t delivering any promise. It’s threatening to take it away.
“Sacrifice Isaac to me.”
And Abraham went into action. He had walked with God all those years. He knew the voice of God. He trusted God. Whatever God had in mind was up to God. No argument. Off he went with his son.
Spiritual experiences are part of the process. It is great to have those incredible encounters. They can help us on a journey of hearing the voice of God. But don’t that “youth camp passion” stay at that stage. Learn to walk with God.
I will be looking at Abraham and worship in a prayer series I am starting next Sunday.
Abraham is all God. We never know exactly why God chose Abraham, which is the point of this being an act of grace and mercy in the story of redemption.
Still, Abraham is incredibly responsive to the One who called him. The constant factor in Abraham’s life is the life of the altar: the life of worship.
The life of prayer is the life of worship. It is hearing from God and responding. It is stopping to call on the name of the Lord.
2 God said, “Take your son, your only son whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah. Offer him up as an entirely burned offering there on one of the mountains that I will show you.” 3 Abraham got up early in the morning, harnessed his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, together with his son Isaac. He split the wood for the entirely burned offering, set out, and went to the place God had described to him. (Gen. 22:2-3, CEB)
God takes Abraham to the very edge. He puts Abraham in a place of no retreat. The knife is up in the air then God stops him. Abraham gets to the place of possessing nothing… yet having everything.
“Now he was a man wholly surrendered, a man utterly obedient, a man who possessed nothing.” (A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God)
Two interesting passages of Scripture came together for my reading during prayer this morning.
The first was Genesis 16. It’s the story of Abraham settling for Hagar for an heir. He had just received the powerful covenant from Yahweh in Gen. 15… and goes right out and tries to figure things out on his own. Abraham is so easy to identify with in my own life. It’s like youth camp! We leave camp so excited to go do something for God… and then fall flat on our faces two weeks later.
The second passage was from Mark 6. The feeding of the 5000. Jesus had already sent the 12 out with authority. They had preached the gospel. They had healed the sick. They had cast out demons. Now, faced with 5000 people to feed, they look to Jesus who says, “YOU give them something to eat.”
They are shocked. How in the world could they possibly come up with that food?
Abraham. The twelve. Me. How easily I forget. God promises, and off I go to try and figure things out myself!
The word of the Lord comes to me about pastoring a church. Fine. Then, things don’t happen fast enough. The temptation is to listen to every other voice. Listen to the pragmatic voices that use business models to grow churches. Wow! It sure “works” for them…
The temptation in my life is to settle for Hagar instead of insisting on Sarah. The temptation is to forget the promise and settle for pragmatics.
God has promised. He has shown himself powerful. It is time to step out again and simply trust.
“YOU give them something to eat.”