I meet with a small group of ladies for Bible Study and we are going through a study book called, “The Promised One” by Nancy Guthrie. It has been a real blessing to dig deep into the book of Genesis and see there the foundational truths of our faith. (I am hoping to write a review of this study so stay tuned for that soon.) As we go through these studies I am hoping to jot down a few things which stand out to me here on the blog.
Have you ever wished you could have more faith? Larger faith? Greater faith? Faith like the “ancients” listed off in Hebrews 11? Even though I don’t agree with the “Health, Wealth and Prosperity” teachers it is so easy to slip into a way of thinking which links great faith with a happy, problem free life.
Studying Abraham’s life has reminded me again that this is not the picture scripture gives us of a life of faith. It is easy to touch down on the highlights of Abraham’s life and get the impression that Abraham’s life was full of promises, faith and fulfillment.
The reality is that 25 years divided God’s call to Abraham and the birth of Isaac. 55 years divided God’s promise of land to Abraham and the first piece of land he owned in Canaan.
We remember Abraham as a man whose faith was expressed by his willingness to leave his home and venture out alone and to trust God with his only son, to the point of sacrifice. It did take faith to do both these things and Hebrews 11 commends him for both. But there is more to the commendations Abraham received in Hebrews 11: 8-19 than that. For 100 years Abraham got up and stayed in Canaan, the land God had called him to. That took faith. “By faith he made his home in the promised land…” (Hebrew 11:9)
And just like me, that faith sometimes wavered. Faced with famine Abraham turned to Egypt and away from the promises he had been given. God graciously brought him back to the place of faith. I wonder how often Abraham was tempted to go back to Ur. Back to family, to a life that didn’t feel like it was in limbo. What kept him in Canaan?
Abraham acted on what he believed.
When he was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Roms 4:21) his actions demonstrated that belief (or lack of it).
Abraham lived 100 years in the land of Canaan after God had called him and promised to be his God.
He did not live to see the land of Canaan in the possession of his descendants.
He did not live to see his descendants become a great nation.
He certainly did not see the ultimate fulfillment of the promises God had made in Jesus Christ in his lifetime.
Yet, he believed all these things would happen. Jesus himself even said, “Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day…” (John 8:56) And we have the wonderful blessing of knowing that Abraham’s faith was not misplaced. God did fulfil all his promises and is still fulfilling those promises today in their fullest spiritual sense.
Faith for Abraham was not a magic force which Abraham had to have to get what he wanted, to achieve a happy life.
Faith was trust in God which led to actions, big and small.
As Abraham trusted God each day in the little things, stumbled at times, saw God’s grace in drawing him back to where he needed to be, and saw God’s faithfulness, his faith was strengthened. Faith was not a “thing” which provided Abraham with a life of abundance, happiness and peace.
Faith was a belief in the character and faithfulness of God which enabled Abraham to persevere in doing what God had called him to do in spite of the circumstances around him.
That is the kind of faith I want to have.