The Bible is centered around the Gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Take a listen as Pastor Leland Acker explains how Genesis 1 introduces us to God, demonstrates His power, and shows His goodness.
What made Abraham such a prolific Bible hero?
For centuries, Bible teachers have taught their followers to aspire to his level of faith. The Jewish nation sees Abraham as their father, as does much of the Islamic world. His life was used as an example by Paul, James, and the writer of Hebrews to demonstrate salvation by faith, and living by faith.
Yet, Abraham was not a perfect man and sinned on at least three occasions recorded by scripture. So, what is it about Abraham that has inspired generations of people to follow the Lord more perfectly? Three things:
1. Abraham believed God.
Genesis 15:6 says, “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” This scripture is repeated in Romans 4:3, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
Abraham’s belief in God extended way beyond a vague belief in a divine figure, and went even deeper than a belief in the existence of the God of the Bible. Abraham’s belief in God was a personal trust.
God spoke to Abraham, and Abraham believed what God told him. He literally trusted God with his life. That’s true faith, and it’s the faith that motivated Abraham’s life.
2. Abraham’s faith produced Abraham’s life.
Hebrews 11:8-10 says:
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Hebrews 11 contains a highlight reel of Abraham’s life, recording every major accomplishment he had in the Lord. Before each action, Hebrews states, “By faith.”
By faith Abraham went out to a strange country, not knowing where he went. By faith, he sojourned in the land of promise. By faith he offered up Isaac. By faith.
“By faith” simply means, “Because he trusted God, he obeyed Him in doing this.”
Because Abraham trusted God, he answered God’s call to go to a place that he would eventually inherit, though he had no idea where he was going.
Because Abraham trusted God, he sojourned in the promised land, looking for God’s city.
Because Abraham trusted God, he offered up Isaac when God told him to.
Notice that everything Abraham did, he did because he trusted God. His trust in God shaped his worldview, his values, his decision making, and his actions.
3. His actions completed his faith.
James 2:21-24 says:
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
James 2 is often misinterpreted. Many use these verses to teach that a certain amount of works is necessary for salvation. That teaching completely ignores the fact that James was written to Christians who were already saved.
James 2 is not about salvation. Rather, it is about making your faith complete, or useful. It’s about fully realizing the blessing of your salvation in this world.
Abraham believed God. That trust in God motivated action. His actions completed his faith and allowed God to bless him.
A prime example of this is the birth of Isaac. God told Abraham that he would father a son in his old age, by his wife, Sarah, who, even in her prime could not have children. Abraham believed God, and God regarded Abraham’s trust as righteousness.
Abraham acted on that faith to father a child with Sarah, and because he acted on that faith, God blessed him with a son. Had Abraham not acted on that faith, fathering a son would have been biologically impossible. However, Abraham’s faith, coupled with his action, produced a child. God blessed.
In considering these three things about Abraham, we must ask ourselves the following questions. (1) Do I believe God? Do I have faith? (2) Do my actions reflect the faith I say I have? (3) Am I living out my faith in a way that facilitates God blessing me?
If our actions do not reflect the faith we profess, then we must assess ourselves to see what we really believe, then work to bring that into accordance with scripture. This will also involve learning new actions and new habits, and unlearning some old ones.
If our actions reflect our faith, then we will see our faith completed and God will bless us. If we give God nothing to bless, then we have no reason to expect a blessing.
May God guide you as your continue to seek His truth.
God loves you.
It may not seem like it, but He does.
Christian singer/songwriter Rich Mullins once discussed how he once discounted God’s love because God loves everyone. If God loves everyone, what’s so special about me?
The flaw in this way of thinking is that it takes the focus away from how good God is to you, and it compares God’s goodness to you to how good He is to everyone else. When we think this way, there is nothing God can do to please us.
If God loves us and blesses us the same as everyone else, then we are unhappy because we are not special to God. If God blesses others more than us, God is not being fair to us. If God loves and blesses us more than everyone else, then we wonder why? We either accuse God of being partial and unfair, or we believe we deserved the blessing and harbor resentment for others who didn’t earn God’s blessing.
Lost in all this is how good God is to us. We forget how much He loves us. We forget how He blessed us. As Mullins mentioned in the above-linked video, the issue is not how our blessings stack up to others’. The issue is what God has actually done in our lives.
God loves us, even though we’re unlovable. God gave His only begotten Son for us, sent Jesus to die to pay our debt, so that we could be redeemed and live eternally in His presence. God took the refuse and brokenness of our lives, transformed us, and has healed us. He did all of this, knowing that we can never repay Him.
The issue is not what God has done for others. The issue is what God has done for me. And as long as I continue to compare myself to others, and as long as I continue to compare God’s goodness to me to His goodness to others, I will never fully realize the blessings He has poured out on me.
In Genesis 29:31-35, we see the story of Leah, Jacob’s first wife. Leah’s story is a sad story. She wasn’t considered attractive in her day, no one wanted to marry her, and the only way she was married to Jacob was because her father tricked Jacob into marrying her.
Soon after her marriage to Jacob, he married her sister, and favored her sister. Her sister, Rachel, was considered very beautiful and desirable. All of her life, Leah lived in Rachel’s shadow, despite the fact that Rachel was the younger sister. Now, her sister had stolen her husband.
Jacob disregarded Leah. He favored Rachel. There was no worse form of betrayal than what Leah felt. Yet, Jacob still had relations with Leah, because in Genesis 29, Leah began having children.
Her first son was named Reuben, meaning “See, a son!” Her reasoning was that God had seen her affliction, and now that she had given Jacob a son, he would love her. He didn’t.
She named her second son Simeon, meaning “heard.” Her reasoning was that God had heard she was hated, and gave her another son.
Her third son was named Levi, meaning “joined,” because after three sons, surely her husband would be joined to her now. Wrong.
Her fourth son was named Judah (celebrated), because now she will praise the Lord.
Notice the progression. She transitions from being preoccupied with how Jacob feels about her, and ultimately comes to a place where she can just praise God for how good He is being to her. She stays in that place of blessing and praise until she notices that Jacob is having children with Rachel’s handmaid. So, Leah provides her handmaid, and you can tell by the naming that her praise to the Lord has waned.
The point is, the more Leah was focused on what God was doing for her, the happier she was, regardless of how Jacob treated her. The more she focused on what Jacob was doing, the less happy she was.
So, the lesson we learn from this is this: Yes, life is unfair. Yes, things happen that shouldn’t. Yes, your pain is legit and real. Nonetheless, God still loves us and blesses us in our despair. Don’t discard that love, and don’t miss those blessings because you are focused on what God is doing elsewhere. Don’t miss God’s grace because you are focused on what is wrong. Look to the Lord, trust Him, recognize those blessings, enjoy them, and praise Him for it.
Yes, God loves you. Yes, God loves everyone else, too. That’s not the point. God loves you, and that’s all that matters.