Go from your country. . . . ” In our postmodern, transitory,
global community, this command doesn’t seem like such a
big deal. Social media and instantaneous communication make
it possible never to be out of contact with family and loved ones.
But for Abram this command sounds incredible. The crucial
values of Abram’s day and culture were bloodline, place,
family, and name. Most people never traveled more than forty
or fifty miles from the place of their birth. Possessing land and
having many children conferred great honor and prestige. Age
evidenced wisdom and worth among the people who knew
one another best. Older members of well-established families
would sacrifice everything if they chose to leave home.
Even God’s promises to make Abram’s name great and his
lineage a large nation sound risky and irrational. People earned
honor and prestige over a lifetime—neither easily given or
transferred. At the basic level, God asks Abram to risk everything
with little assurance of success or security.
Amazingly, Abram obeys. And in his obedience, Abram
illustrates three central aspects of our belief system: faith, trust,
and hope. From a rational, modern, count-the-cost mentality,
what Abram chooses to do makes no sense whatsoever. He
risks everything on a promise. His faith in God is complete. The
trust he displays falls nothing short of miraculous. To believe
in God’s promises means committing his own life and the life
of his progeny through all generations to an unrealized vision.
This course of action requires a hope for the future and a firm
belief that the good of God’s people is a higher value than any
personal and individual risk he will take.
O Lord, work within me to increase my faith, my trust, and my hope. With Abram as my teacher, help me live with courage the convictions of my heart. May I be obedient to your will, O God, that I may bless others as I have been blessed. Amen.
Faith in God and deliverance by God are themes that dominate these scriptures. Abraham casts aside all baser loyalties and in daring fashion entrusts life and well- being to God’s care. Abraham follows God’s initiatives into new realms of loyalty and purpose. Paul reminds us that while Abraham models good works, his righteousness results from his faith. Nicodemus models an Abraham who has yet to leave Ur of the Chaldees. Nicodemus’s comprehension of God’s initiatives is shallow and sterile. The psalm for this day greets with joy God’s invitation to renewal.
• Read Genesis 12:1-4a. How is God calling you to leave behind the familiar for some new opportunity?
• Read Psalm 121. What aspect of this psalm draws your attention? What offers you comfort and hope? To whom do you turn for help?
• Read Romans 4:1-5, 13-17. What distinction do you draw between your doing great things for God and God’s doing great things through you?
• Read John 3:1-17. What experience does the phrase born again bring to your mind? Does it foster positive notions? In what ways do you evidence your baptism in the Spirit?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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