Devo Scripture: Acts 7:2-4; Genesis 11:27-12:9
Key Verse: “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you.” 1 Thess. 1:4
My hard working farmer and I have an inside joke with the phrase “So I’ve been thinking…” When he starts a conversation with these words my candid response is typically “Uh oh, what am I gonna have to do?” More often than not it entails maybe 15 people for dinner in just three days (after I’ve already been grocery shopping for the week). Oh and making pies because I’m really good at pies. But if I start the conversation his typical response is “How much is it gonna cost me?” What?!?! Honey not all of my ideas cost you money…just some of them.
But as we begin our study of Abraham I can’t help but wonder, did Abram (as he is called in Gen. 12) have any of those “So I’ve been thinking” conversations with Sarai? I can only imagine there were a few. They lived in the city of Ur (186 miles southeast of modern Baghdad). It was a thriving city with opportunity for not only prosperity but honor. It was also a center of worship for the moon god, Nanna. Pilgrims would come from near and far to pay tribute to Nanna at the large Ziggurat towering above the city. Many worshiped the moon god, including Abram, his father, and brother (Joshua 24:2).
Think about it. Just 9 generations removed from Shem (the godly son of Noah) and already idolatry. If we don’t teach our children and grandchildren…it won’t take long. No, not long at all. Thank goodness God is in the business of justifying the ungodly (Rom 4:5). (i.e. Me and you for that matter) God didn’t choose Abram because he was a godly man. He was far from it. God chose Abram because he had a plan to bring salvation to all people through the offspring of Eve (Gen. 3:15), Seth, Noah, Shem, and now Abram. God was sovereignly working his plan. And still is to this day! (rest in that my friends…rest in that)
But it wasn’t going to be easy for any of God’s chosen vessels. You would think being chosen by God would mean life would work a bit more in your favor. But it’s that kind of thinking that gets Christians in trouble. What about when the going gets tough? What about when the hard things happen? What then? If we think being chosen by God means an easier life we’re gonna be pretty upset with this so called “god” we serve. Maybe instead of expecting a nice wide paved road we should expect an uneven path through a dark jungle with snakes, sinking sand, and slippery slopes around every corner. Maybe then we’d count our blessings a bit more. Maybe then we’d be more watchful for the lifeline’s God extends to us. Maybe then we wouldn’t be so lukewarm in our faith. Maybe then we’d be prepared and God could actually use us. Because being chosen by God doesn’t mean life will always work in your favor but it does mean God will always work in your favor. If you’re in Christ you’ve been chosen by God. And you can hold tightly to the fact “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6; NIV).
So on one beautiful day in Ur (maybe it was a rainy day but we’ll say it was sunny), God began a good work in Abram. He appeared to him. (I can’t quite fathom that.) And said “Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you” (Acts 7:3). I can’t help but wonder at Abram’s reaction. Scared? Surprised? Hesitant? I would have been. Were there any introductions? “Abram I’m God. The real God. The Almighty One. Your creator. I set the moon in place and I keep it there. I am the Sovereign One and you shall serve me.” Or in his heart did Abram just know…this. is. the great I AM.
Then came the “So I’ve been thinking” conversations between Abram and Sarai. (Or so I imagine.) I wonder at her reaction. “Abram, did you have too much to drink? Is the heat getting to you? What do you mean we have to leave? Where are we going? What do you mean you don’t know? Did she have “go days” and “stay days?” (I would have!) Was she delighted or surprised that her father-in-law was so on board with the idea? For Terah maybe it was simply a fresh start. Gen. 11:28 tells us Haran (Abram’s brother) had died in Terah’s presence. No parent should ever have to bury a child, no matter the age. Staying in Ur could have meant daily facing painful memories. And leaving could have meant escaping them. So they packed up and left for Canaan. But when they happen along a place with the same name as his son (Haran) maybe it was just too hard to leave (Gen. 11:31).
So Abram stayed in Haran until his father died and God removed him from there (Acts 7:4). Did God appear to him again in Haran? We simply don’t know. But we do know that Abram obeyed. With the promise of becoming a great nation, blessing, honor, and protection, Abram entered Canaan at the age of 75.
Why? Why was he so willing to risk everything? To leave his home, his people, his family. Simply put, because God called him to do so. And what God determines will come to pass. When the God of the Universe calls you to faith it’s impossible to resist. I don’t claim to understand it. I simply claim the Scriptures.
Jesus said “All that the Father gives me will come to me…No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (Jn 6:37, 44). Give praise and thanksgiving to the Father who has drawn you to Christ! We have not the power to bring ourselves from death to life, either physically or spiritually, only God has that power (Eph. 2:4-5). “Salvation belongs to the LORD” (Ps. 3:8). Ephesians 1:4 declares “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” And Romans 9:16 states of salvation “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy.”
It’s not because of who you are that you believe…it’s because of God. And it’s for a purpose. God has called you not so you can live however you want to and still go to Heaven. God has called you for a reason…just like Abraham. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). If you are in Christ…it’s for a purpose. For. a. purpose. God has plans for you! Yes, plans for you that bring him glory. Great glory. Right now. Right where you’re at. Whether you want to be there or not. He has called you. So my dear friends…let’s get to it! To God be the glory!
Contemplate and Evaluate
What do you think of the statement “Life will not always work in your favor, but God will”?
Do you consider your salvation a result of your own works or the very grace of God?
What purpose has God called you for? Is your life bringing glory to Him?