Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This week's message: God's Impossible Promise

Genesis 12:1-9.
God came to Abram with a promise. Abram was 75 and childless. He had lived his life in Haran and God came to him and told Abram that he would do the impossible. He said first that Abram must leave the home he had known and his family behind and go somewhere else. God did not tell Abram where his destination is, he did not even give a general direction. God just said “Go, and I will tell you when you get there.”

We are familiar with this story, so it is easy to forget what a preposterous thing God was asking of Abram. If God came to you and said, “I want you to pack up and go someplace. Sell your house and get a moving van. Get on the highway and I will let you know where you are going when you get there.” I think you would have some questions before you just decided to say yes.

Then God told him that Abram and his descendents will be a great nation. If it were me, I think I would be looking around wondering where these descendents were going to come from. 75 is not an ideal age for fertility. Yes, there was still a chance that he could father a child, it happens, but tough to think that if it had not happened yet that it was going to happen at all.

Not only that, but God told Abram that he would bless him so much that Abram would become a common example of blessing everywhere. In fact people would bless each other by his name. “May you be as blessed as Abram!” “The fortune of Abram to you!” “May you have descendents like Abram!” Can you imagine having your name as a byword for blessing? Instead of being richer than Midas, people might say “As blessed as Billy.” Or instead of as wise as Solomon, “As fortunate as Gary.”

God came to Abram claiming an impossible future for him. And the amazing thing in this story is that Abram went. He packed up and headed out. I wonder if he had a clue where he should go, North, South, East or West; but he ended up in Canaan. He set up camp and God appeared to him somehow and told him that this was it. Abram’s descendants would occupy this land. Abram made an altar there, but he didn’t stick around. He continued in a nomadic pattern, making his way through the land until he was in the Negev, a desert place.

Whenever God appears in scripture giving promises, he often requires a leap of faith. He told Abram to leave and then he would show him where he was to go and then he would make him a great nation and then he would bless him beyond measure. Each step was dependent on the last. God would not reverse the order of events giving Abram the blessings then the descendents then the land and then ask Abram to go. No, Abram had to step out of his comfort zone. He had to step out in faith trusting that however improbable the promise that this was God and he could be relied on to keep his word.

I believe God is calling each of us to follow him in the same way. We don’t initially know what to expect, but God has invited us on an adventure. He says he has a plan for your life and that if you follow him, he will make it clear. Maybe what you think God has shown you for a future looks impossible. Maybe you aren’t sure at all what he has planned. Maybe like Abram he simply whispers to you “I’ll show you when we get there.” Regardless of where he is calling, we must follow if we want to see how the story ends. Sure, we could stay where we are comfortable. The choice is always up to you.

We are going to be following Abram over the next few weeks studying his story and looking at how we pass through similar times of trust and obedience as well as times of panic and disobedience. Through it all I want to invite you to examine the journey you are on with God. Seek his face. Ask him to show you where he wants you to go next on this adventure. Repent of the times, like Abram you choose to go your own way. And commit to follow wherever the Lord takes you, no matter how impossible the destination seems. He is God, after-all, and if he tells you he has a plan you can trust that as you walk in obedience he will bring it all to pass at just the right time.

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