Friday, January 4, 2013

Did I Hear You Correctly?

              Have you ever heard from the Lord, I mean; you know that you know that you know you have heard from the Lord? There is no question in your mind at all that the Lord has clearly spoken to you and told you to do something, to go somewhere or to pray about something? What do you do? This is the place the Lord had me this morning, reading about faith, what it looks like and how we are to walk in it. I would love to be able to tell you that I am full of faith. I know when the Lord speaks and I walk out in that faith every time, but that would be dishonest- because I am not that full of faith. I have been on occasion, but not every day, all the day, as the Lord calls us to be. Faith is not given to us only for the big decisions in our lives; faith is given to us for the little things, our day to day living as well.
                In Genesis 12 God speaks to Abram, Abram hears God’s directions and he just picks up and goes. Oh, to have faith like that! Faith it seems can be a stumbling block to many of us. Even though the Bible clearly tells us that we are to walk in faith, we are to have faith and we are to be constant examples of faith. Jesus tells us that our faith should move mountains; I haven’t moved any mountains lately, have you? So why then is faith so difficult for us? Another question I had to ask myself today. And the answer was not what I was expecting to hear.
                “Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3
                We have before us the perfect picture of faith. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The first time I read Hebrews 11:1 I said to myself, “What the heck does that mean?!” You may be saying the same thing yourself. But let’s look at what Abram did in response to the Lord’s commands. Genesis 12:4 tells us that “Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him.”
                Here we have Abram, who was an Amorite, a pagan according to some commentaries, and out of nowhere there comes a voice from heaven that says, “Leave all that you know and go to the place that I have prepared for you.” And what did Abram do? He got up and left his home, his father’s house, took his whole family with him and left. When the Lord told me to quit my job, I have to tell you, I was not that quick to obey. In fact, I remember sitting at my desk, going about my daily work when out of nowhere a voice spoke to me and said, “Quit your job...” I remember looking behind me, thinking that someone had said it to me, but no one was there. In fact, I first shook it off because I thought I was hearing things and had finally gone off the deep end. But, it came again, this time with more power, and He spoke to me and told me it was Him. He was giving me the direction He wanted me to go, and then He told me what He was going to do, and what I was to do in response. I don’t see Abram looking around behind him, although, if I am allowed to read between the lines, I think he might have! Who wouldn’t? It might have even startled him, but Abram had to have known something of the Lord God, otherwise, why would he have acted with such faith?
                Faith is something that we have been given. (Ephesians 2:8) Faith is a gift from God given to us so that we can follow Him in all that He has for us. However, we allow our fear to get in the way of our faith more times than we should. But the Lord shows us how faith is given as well as what it looks like and how we are to use it, in our reading today. Let’s take a closer look at what the Lord spoke to Abram and how Abram reacted.
                First, God speaks to Abram and gives him clear directions on what he is to do. Verse 1 “Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.” Abram is supposed to leave his family home and start walking towards what the Lord God has promised him. God tells Abram what to do- leave your home and your father. Then God tells him why he is to leave- God has something better for him and his family. That is what faith does. God uses faith to direct us, to lead us, to guide us into the place He has prepared for us.
                Verse 2 explains what God is going to do when Abram follows in faith. “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.” God gives us directions or commands to do something, and then His promise to us comes right behind it. That is exactly how it happened to me. God spoke to me what He wanted me to do; quit my job, and then He told me what He was going to do for me if I would step out in faith. He told me that He would restore me to leading Children’s Ministry, which is, after all, my heart and my true calling in life. And God did exactly that- He opened the door a year later and allowed me to step into the role He had prepared for me.
                Verse 3 explains to us that we have nothing to fear when we step out in faith, because the Lord God is with us, He will guide us, and protect us. “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God tells Abram that no matter what happens, God’s promise of land, a nation, and a future will come to pass. God gives Abram a command, and by being obedient to that command, God will bless him, his family and God will make a way for it to happen. We have nothing to fear, if God tells you to do it, He will bring it to pass. His word is still valid today, just as it was to Abram all those years ago. I am a testimony to the promises of God- and so are you. We believed that if we accepted Jesus into our hearts we would be saved, and God has fulfilled that promise in you, because you believed in faith. We make faith much harder than we should.
                “Faith is the substance of things hoped for…” God told Abram to leave and go to a place He would show him. It was through the hope that God gave Abram of a new home, of becoming a great nation that Abram was able to step out in faith. “…the evidence of things not seen.” Abram did not know where the Lord was leading him, but he believed in the promises of God and he was able to take the step of faith that the Lord God was asking him to. Not only was Abram blessed by the Lord God, but because of his faith, his nephew Lot was able to walk out in faith as well (just as God had told Abram- “and you shall be a blessing”).
                Verse 4 tells us that Abram “departed as the Lord God had spoken to him…” and so should we. Abram did not sit for days wondering if he really had heard from the Lord, nor did he call his peeps on the phone and ask them for advice. Abram believed that the Lord God had spoken to him, so he acted on what he believed- that my sisters, is faith. I have learned over the years that instead of questioning what the Lord God is asking you to do; you have to take a chance and step out in faith. Faith does not wonder and ponder and call everyone in your address book looking for advice on what to do- faith takes a step, and no matter what step it is, if it is of the Lord God He will fulfill the promise that He gave you, and if it is not of the Lord God, then He will tell you and He will make “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28)
                Abram did not question what the Lord spoke had spoken to him, he believed in faith and he walked in it. Was it easy? No, but the Lord’s promises to Abram and his family all came to pass- just as they will for us when we trust the Lord God and walk in faith. Faith is not something that we can wait on; faith does not wait for us either. Faith is an action, not a feeling. We must act on what we believe the Lord God is telling us, and then trust that He will fulfill all His promises to us. Besides, has the Lord God ever failed you? No, and He never will.
                Lord God, may we strengthen our hearts to step out into the unknown, may we learn to listen to Your voice and walk in faith. May we not question or doubt, but may we become great women of God because of the Faith that we have in You. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen.