We’re into Week 3, but before we finish here are my notes on Week 2. A very important week for our faith as we studied our “father of faith” – Abraham.
Chapter 2…Sunday and Wednesday of week 2:
God was very committed to the Upper Story He had planned from the beginning.
Now post-Noah, we begin to repeat the same sinful living as those in Noah’s day.
Then God makes His promise to Abraham:
4 “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! 5 What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. 6 I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!
7 “I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.” Genesis 17
God would choose a specific people in hopes that they would be just as intentional about having a relationship with Him as He was with them.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. Genesis 17:1
(In Eastern thought, to reveal your name meant you wanted a friendship – communion – with them…here, God Himself is initiating such “oneness” with man – beginning with Abraham)
(God Almighty – represents God’s all-sufficient power, especially in comparison with our weakness)
(God has all the power within Himself to do what He wants to do)
I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. Genesis 17:7b; So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith. Galatians 3:9- The promise that He would always be Abraham’s God – and ours too – far outweighs the promise of land, children, or earthly wealth.
We are now able to live within the riches of His presence!
(Herein lies our problem – we want stuff to make us rich instead of a relationship with God, and it shows in every other part of our lives. Instead of relationships with people, we distance ourselves by putting stuff, technology, and time between us. We forfeit the riches of relationship every day because it takes the very thing we don’t want to give – ourselves. We have bought into the lie that riches are just about receiving.)
So God was “Nation-building” and to do this chose an old, barren couple. God is never limited by the Lower Story – by our limitations, but we often think He is.
And when we choose to believe less of God, sometimes we hinder more of Him in our lives.
Abraham kept an Upper Story response though he lived in the Lower Story: It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8
Though Sarah and Abraham tried to “help” God out, using Hagar to produce Ishmael, God would not use Lower Story customs to fulfill His Upper Story promise
Genesis 17:17 says they laughed that God would preform such a miracle! And they named the “miracle” Isaac – laughter!
We never have to doubt what God has planned in the Upper Story when we are faithful in the Lower Story!
Abraham had begun to understand this Upper Story living; so, when God asked him to sacrifice the child of promise – Isaac – he trusted in God’s ability to raise him from the dead and he walked with his son up Mt. Moriah.
(God used Abraham to prelude to the world what another Father would do thousands of years later. Here on Mt. Moriah (later to be called Golgotha) God’s own Son would ascend and hang on a cross, and become the final sacrifice for all mankind. God truly did provide the sacrifice!)
Will I become impatient and try to take over or will I think in the Upper Story and trust Him?
All Lower Story details are designed to lead us to Jesus Christ.
The world will look at your Lower Story situation and say it is impossible! God will do the impossible and they will see Him – only Him!
God will always be our God (Genesis 17:7!) Thank you for Mt. Moriah!
Faith is a response – it involves action!
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. James 2
Our actions in the Lower Story show what we believe about the Upper Story…Abraham’s actions proved his belief…what if Abraham did not go when God told Him to leave Ur and go to a place He would later be shown? Where would we be if Abraham thought faith involved nothing but a statement from him?
Each point of faith (a place in Abraham’s life where faith was required) stretched and matured Abraham because he chose to respond with his belief, and when he didn’t – with Hagar – he learned from it and chose then and there to restore his trust in God alone!
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne.32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink.43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Matthew 25
Talk is cheap when it comes to faith. “Preach the Gospel and when necessary use words” will only work with belief in action – faith!
(We wouldn’t buy it if someone just said “I love you” but put no effort in showing us love. Why do we think faith is this effortless belief that God is so proud of? Faith is doing something – Abraham “did it” his whole known life!)