Advent, Advent Devotional, Christmas, Promised Hope

The Voice, Season 1 or 2 (Probably)

NARRATIVE

GENESIS 12 – 15

Ten generations beyond Noah, God found Abram, one of many grandsons begotten through Noah’s son Shem. A man whose father had turned away from the God of his ancestors and worshiped lesser gods.

Yes. Abram was an idolater. But, to this man, God entrusted the promise that began in Eden: a promise to restore the broken.

And to a heart untethered to His own, God spoke.

Go from your country, your people, and your father’s household to the land I will show you, and I will make you into a great nation. And I will bless you.

GENESIS 12:1-4, PARAPHRASED

Abram and his wife Sarai followed the voice of this strange Promise Maker. In a long convoy of both people and things, they journeyed toward the land of this promise, leaving behind seventy-five years of all things familiar. Just inside, at a place called Shechem, God appeared to Abram.

To your offspring, I will give this land.

GENESIS 12:7

The name Abram meant exalted father. Ironicallyhe and his wife Sarai were childless. By nature, not choice. Can you feel the gravity of that promise?

Abram built an altar there, and he worshipped this God. His God.

Abram’s journey of faith took him through hills and valleys, literally and physically. He lived ten years believing and following God and was abundantly blessed. But that crazy promise of a child had gone unrealized, and perhaps it had begun to feel like a broken promise. So, Abram questioned God about it. And to his doubt, God spoke.

“‘Look up at the sky and count the stars – if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord. And it was credited to him as righteousness.

GENESIS 15:5

I am the LORD who brought you out of the Chaldeans to take this land.

GENESIS 15:5

But Lord, how will I know? How can I know?

Oh, Abram was trying. He was. He had believed, followed, and trusted God for years, but this promise of a seed and a place seemed to be nearing the impossible. And Abram needed confirmation.

God spoke again to this doubt that kept finding its way into Abram’s heart. Because Abram needed to see and feel this promise, God gave him a list of things to gather, something he could do.

After rounding up the animals and the birds, Abram prepared them as would have been customary for the day. He placed them on the ground, creating an aisle of bloodied animal parts.

He shooed the vultures. God was never in a hurry.

As the sun sank, Abram fell into a deep sleep. Darkness rested like a cloud. And true to His nature, God showed up in the dark to deliver another promise. A predictive promise of slavery and hardship for the sons of Abram. Oh, what a great dream that must have been.

God alone walked through that bloodied aisle of slain animals to seal this promise of a people and a place. This contract was not a customary two-party contract. God was taking full responsibility; it would come to and through Abram, but it depended only upon God.

This blood-stained contract was the promise upon which the Hope of the world would hang. Through which the Hope of the world would come.

God called Abram. And He just kept calling. And promising.

Hope called.

REFLECTION

Can you imagine? Hearing the unfamiliar voice of God asking such ridiculous things of you and your first response is to follow? Granted, God promised a pretty attractive end; a great nation. But Moses doesn’t even mention that Abram hesitated, and he didn’t interject one but.

What God asked Abram to do was not for the faint of heart or the aged body. Abram was 75.

Pack up. Leave behind. I will show you where.

A voice too compelling to ignore.

Abram’s faith journey began with a ridiculous yes when God asked him to follow. He didn’t have all the answers yet. Heck! He didn’t even have all the right questions yet. But he gathered both along the way. God continued showing up, assuring and reassuring Abram with promises made and kept. Even when Abram didn’t get things right.

Every yes Abram gave made room for the next yes. That’s how faith grows.

But as strong as Abram’s faith had grown, this promise still rested on God. God chose Abram as the father of this promised people, and Abram’s faith and obedience were important. But the promise? That was all on God.

It’s easy to forget that, right? To think that because God has asked us to do something, the responsibility for the results falls entirely on us. So, we either bask in a pseudo-glory or wallow in pity when things don’t pan out.

So, friends, let’s keep our ears and hearts tuned to the voice of God, building our faith one yes at a time. But we should trust God with the results.

PRAYER

Father, You are good and faithful. You show us Yourself in so many ways. Sometimes you are practical, and you send a friend with just the right words or a cup of coffee to soothe our doubting or hurting hearts. Other times You draw near to us, and Your presence is overwhelming, and we need nothing else.

I am grateful, Lord, that our doubt doesn’t offend You. You keep showing up and assuring us of Your promises and Your plan.

Father, I know that You love me deeply. And when I rest in the knowledge of Your love for me, it’s easier to trust You when I don’t understand, when You might seem quiet. Or when my circumstances seem harder than what seems fair. Oh, how I want to live with my ears and heart tuned to hear You, following hard after you, even in blind faith. For it is written that the righteous one will live by faith. Amen

WORSHIP

The season of Christmas can be plenty noisy. Tuning our ears and our heart toward the One who loves us can be challenging some days. Anyone?

What voices compete for your attention? Who’s the loudest? The most persistent? The whiniest? The tiniest?

God wants to speak to us. But too often, it’s hard to hear Him over all the other noise. Even if that noise comes from those we love the most.

Today, can you give God five minutes to speak to your heart? Your weary heart. Your worried heart. Your hurried heart. Your hardened heart.

While the laundry waits and the dishes pile. While your inbox is filling. Or the shopping list stares you down.

Be still and know that I am God.

PSALM 46:10

The Hebrew word for be still is rapha, which means let go; surrender, not simply slow down.

So, as we intentionally slow down today, may we also let go of whatever we’re holding onto so tightly. Friends, God can only multiply what we are willing to surrender.

If sitting and doing nothing feels like wasting time, may I remind you that time spent with the Father is never wasted.

Rapha...

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