We are a work in progress for God. One statement I continually emphasize is this: if you believe you were created by a loving Creator, then what were you created for? If you can answer this question, then you are well on your way to a life of purpose and meaning; and by default, you find contentment. After all, isn’t that why you are engaging on this spiritual transformation journey with us?
Remember, we are called to prepare our minds for action. Be self-controlled and set your hope on the grace of God. In our study of Abraham, we shall see how these words from scripture played out in his life. We shall see that this man was just like us, in constant flux between obedience and self-will.
The most beautiful part of scripture is that it does not gloss over the shortcomings of the people God used to fulfill His promises; and the same is true of us in our present time. That is why our hope is that God will keep His promises.
Our responsibility is to do what that small quiet voice, the Spirit, tells us to do. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord, your God, goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Remember, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22).
Abraham’s preparation for the penultimate moment of the implementation of God’s plan was one of many twists and turns. God told Abram, as he was called before he left, “Go from your country, your people, and your father’s household, and go 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.” (Genesis 12:1-3).
True, Abraham obeyed God and left. But right away we see his self-will creeping in by his taking his nephew Lot along for the journey. This may seem small. But if you do your own research into the scriptures, you will see how Lot becomes problematic in Abraham’s life on h
is journey to the promised land that God had told Abraham would be given to him.
Then a great famine came on the land, so Abraham went down to Egypt. Abraham flat out lied about his wife Sarah not being his wife, for he feared Pharaoh would kill him if he found out that Sarah was his wife. Once again Abraham was acting out of fear rather than trusting in the hope that God would fulfill His promises.
Time is moving on, and Abraham and Sarah are living comfortably outside of Egypt. No heir to Abraham and Sarah has yet manifested. So how could this be? After all, had not God stated that He would make him into a great nation?
God even appears to Abraham and reaffirms His promise when God asks Abraham, “Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:5).
In my experience, one of the toughest things to do is wait for anything. Patience truly is a virtue, and there is little woner that the Apostle Paul placed it first in the attributes of love (1 Corinthians 13:4).
It seems we, especially men, want to fix things. If our wives want to express themselves, just waiting and listening seems like someone dragging their fingernails on a blackboard. The same can be said of Abraham when Sarah suggested that he sleep with their maidservant Hagar, to give Sarah the son she had longed for so many years. Abraham forgot all the promises God had told him. He would fix things for his wife, and they would be happy.
Self-will ruled the day. Temporary solutions do not bring long-term joy. Self-gratification is generally a Band-aid to cover up the larger problem.
Never is this more apparent than in our society today through the great use of pharmaceuticals. Feelings and emotions are not in vogue. There has to be a pill or something to use to avoid dealing with the root cause of our problem, pain, or emotional well-being.
The ramifications of Abraham not trusting that God would provide him with an heir can still be felt today, as the son born to Hagar, whose name was Ishmael, would become the leader of the Ishmaelites or Muslims, as they are known in modern times.
Here is the promise God gave to Hagar. An angel of the Lord said to her, “You are pregnant, and you will give birth to a son. And you shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him. And he will live in hostility towards all his brothers.” (Genesis 16:11-12).
So who among you, reading this today, still thinks of scripture as irrelevant? For thousands of years the constant battle between the Muslims, the Israelites, and the Christian people has been the cause of much grief and sorrow.
Abraham, the father of three faiths, was still loved by God despite his indiscretions; and the same is true of us today. Nothing you can do can make Him love you less