Genesis – First, God.
On the dark days, when we walk through valleys and wonder how present challenges are going to worked out, we have a tendency to see only what is now. We can see only the challenge for it looms over us and takes up all our thoughts. We cease to envision the solution. Sometimes we see what the solution might be but can not imagine how to get there.
We cannot deny that we have all been there on our own journeys with God. That’s why this opening line in our passage today to a wondering walker with God is reassuring for our own walk with God.
“Don’t be afraid…I’m your shield.” –God
Then Abram reminds God that he is childless yet the vision is for his descendants to outnumber the stars in the sky! How can this be?
God’s reply? “Don’t worry.”
Abram BELIEVED God. Immediately God declared Abram a man “set-right-with-God”.
Wow, God declared it all because Abram believe what God said. We are set right with God when we believe what He says to us. God’s Word is just that, GOD’S WORD. It is up to us to believe Him…or not.
Do we really believe the Truth? Truth is. Whether we choose to believe Him or not, Truth is God. Truth came from God in the Person of Jesus Christ who proclaimed Truth.
Do you believe? Are we declared by God, “set-right-with-God”?
Genesis 15, The Message
After all these things, this word of God came to Abram in a vision: “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I’m your shield. Your reward will be grand!”
2-3 Abram said, “God, Master, what use are your gifts as long as I’m childless and Eliezer of Damascus is going to inherit everything?” Abram continued, “See, you’ve given me no children, and now a mere house servant is going to get it all.”
4 Then God’s Message came: “Don’t worry, he won’t be your heir; a son from your body will be your heir.”
5 Then he took him outside and said, “Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You’re going to have a big family, Abram!”
6 And he believed! Believed God! God declared him “Set-Right-with-God.”
7 God continued, “I’m the same God who brought you from Ur of the Chaldees and gave you this land to own.”
8 Abram said, “Master God, how am I to know this, that it will all be mine?”
9 God said, “Bring me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, and a dove and a young pigeon.”
10-12 He brought all these animals to him, split them down the middle, and laid the halves opposite each other. But he didn’t split the birds. Vultures swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram scared them off. As the sun went down a deep sleep overcame Abram and then a sense of dread, dark and heavy.
13-16 God said to Abram, “Know this: your descendants will live as outsiders in a land not theirs; they’ll be enslaved and beaten down for 400 years. Then I’ll punish their slave masters; your offspring will march out of there loaded with plunder. But not you; you’ll have a long and full life and die a good and peaceful death. Not until the fourth generation will your descendants return here; sin is still a thriving business among the Amorites.”
17-21 When the sun was down and it was dark, a smoking firepot and a flaming torch moved between the split carcasses. That’s when God made a covenant with Abram: “I’m giving this land to your children, from the Nile River in Egypt to the River Euphrates in Assyria—the country of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”
At times even the most dedicated Christian feels “in the dark” and wonders why God seems so far away. Abraham had an experience of what spiritual directors call “the dark night of the soul.” The term comes from a sixteenth-century spiritual classic of that title by St. John of the Cross. Based on the night scenes described in the Song of Songs, the book tells how the child of God enters into deeper love and faith by experiencing temporary darkness and seeming separation from God. It is not an easy thing to experience, but sometimes necessary.
People with faith are also people with feelings, and feelings must not be discredited or ignored. We are made in the image of God, and this includes our emotions. While it is unwise to trust our emotions and bypass our minds, or let our emotions get out of control, it is also unwise to deny and suppress our emotions and become a religious robot.
We certainly ought to “listen to our feelings” and be honest about them. “When a person assumes responsibility for his feelings,” writes psychiatrist David Viscott, “he assumes responsibility for his world.” But don’t stop there: Take time to listen to God and receive His words of encouragement. This is the first time in the Bible you find the phrase the word of the Lord came; it is used more than one hundred times in the Old Testament. The faith that conquers fear is faith in the Word, not faith in feelings.
Our feelings change. God’s Word does not.
Abraham’s concern was not just for himself and his wife, though like all Eastern couples, they wanted children. His concern was for the working out of God’s plan of salvation for the whole world. God had a glorious plan, and God made a gracious promise, but God seemed to be doing nothing! Abraham and Sarah were getting older, and time was running out.
One of the basic lessons in the “school of faith” is: God’s will must be fulfilled in God’s way and in God’s time. God did not expect Abraham and Sarah to figure out how to have an heir; all He asked was that they be available so He could accomplish His purposes in and through them. What Abraham and Sarah did not realize was that God was waiting for them to be “as good as dead” so that God alone would receive the glory.
It is good to share your concerns with the Lord, even if what you say seems to evidence unbelief or impatience in your heart. God is not deaf to your questions or unconcerned about your feelings. He did not rebuke Abraham; instead, He gave him the assurances that he needed. “Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
God dramatically assured Abraham that this one heir would be the father of so many descendants that nobody would be able to count them. Even when life is dark, you can still see the stars. Someone has well said, “When the outlook is bleak, try the uplook.” Abraham had been looking around, trying to solve his problem, but the answer lay in looking up.
Whether Abraham looked down at the dust (Gen. 13:14) or up at the stars (15:5), he would recall God’s promise and have confidence. This promise was repeated to Abraham (22:17) and reaffirmed to Isaac (26:4).
Promises do us no good unless we believe them and act on them. Abraham had already trusted God’s promise (12:1-3) and proved it by leaving home and going to Canaan (Heb. 11:8). But Genesis 15:6 is the first reference in the Bible to Abraham’s faith. It is the John 3:16 of the Old Testament, and for this reason, the New Testament writers use it to illustrate salvation by faith.
TRUTH: Jesus came to seek and to save lost people without God who have broken relationships with God. Jesus came to testify to the Truth (God) that whoever BELIEVES in Him will be saved!
Truth is God, the ultimate source is God. Jesus uses the word faith in the Truth claims about God. Our faith in God overcomes our feelings.
So, do we really believe?
Do you really believe that what you believe is really real? (Take all the time you need, I am.)
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are God and i am not. I believe. I believe Jesus’ testimony about You when Truth was put on trial before going to the cross to die for my sins. I believe in You, so I am assured that you are with me, guiding me, protecting me and providing for all that I will need on this journey here. Thank you for helping me to look up and see your light among the stars on my dark days when I am tested. Thank you for setting me right with You. I want what you want. Show me your will for me today.
In Jesus Name, Amen