Summary: Learn what to do when God calls.
The message this morning is the beginning of a four part series that I’ll teach when I’m here. We will study the character of Abram or Abraham. Abraham is an important character in the Bible, and his life deserves our careful study.
We find the first mention of Abram in Genesis 11:26. The name Abram means "exalted father." By Genesis 17, God changes Abram’s name to Abraham, which means "father of many nations." God made a covenant or agreement with Abraham to be his God and the God of his descendants.
Abraham’s descendants are the Jews, and Jesus came from the line of Abraham. We’ll have plenty of time to get to know Abraham and his relationship with God over the next few weeks. To start, we will look at how Abraham answered God’s call.
Whether we are aware or not, God is calling each one of us. He is first of all calling us back into relationship with Him. Some people have never thought about God because they’ve been indoctrinated by a naturalistic worldview. Others are distracted by work or family demands, by certain crisis in life or by the pursuit of the American dream.
In addition to calling us to relationship with Him, God also calls us to a certain way of life. For instance, He calls us to love one another, to serve one another, and to forgive one another. The universal commands of the Bible can be labeled as the call or will of God for mankind.
A more loose understanding of God’s call involves our circumstances and talents. The understanding here is that God is the Creator and Sustainer of all there is. If you make your home in Alaska, God probably didn’t call you to be a tropical fruit grower. And C.H. Spurgeon noted, "If you stutter, chances are, God didn’t call you to be a preacher." God’s calling can involve our circumstances in life.
Our awareness or interest in God’s call or God’s will generally heightens when we are in transition. "What school is God calling me to?" Or, "Is it God calling me to stay in this job?" When we are deciding where to live, whether to have children, or how to respond to important challenges or opportunities, we want to know God’s will.
After all, most of us believe that God is wise and good, and therefore, His call or will for us is wise and good. So we can benefit greatly by learning how to respond correctly when God calls. Without further introduction, let’s look at Genesis 12 and 13, and learn from Abram.
First, when God calls, we need to get off our rear. Genesis 12:1-4.
Our rear is what is behind us. God’s call is what is ahead of us. Often times, we cannot move ahead, until we let go of our past. Our past may be the values, beliefs and traditions we grew up with. Our past can be our failures or even our successes. Our past can be what is familiar.
In order for Abram to become a great nation, to be blessed by God and to be a blessing to others, God needed Abram to leave the idol worship of his family. God needed Abram to leave the nomadic and directionless existence of his people.
Change is hard for most of us. Change introduces many unknowns. We generally don’t want to change until we know the benefits of the change. But we usually don’t know the benefits of the change in advance. That’s why leaving what is behind us has to be a choice of our will.
If you want to answer God’s call for a personal relationship with Him, you may, for instance, need to leave your desire for autonomy or doubts behind in order to move ahead with God. If you want to answer God’s call to have a godly marriage, you may, for example, need to leave your parents’ controlling influence behind to move ahead. God calls us to leave our parents in order to cleave with our spouse. When God calls, we need to get off our rear.
Second, when God calls, we need to expect challenges to appear. Genesis 12:8-10.
Soon after following God’s instruction, Abram was faced with a famine. A famine is no small challenge. When you can’t put food on the table for yourself and your family, you begin to wonder if you’re in God’s will. And so Abram took a detour into Egypt.
Many Christians mistakenly interpret difficulties in life as signs of being outside of God’s will. Yet, the Bible teaches that when we are in God’s will, we can expect challenges to appear. Job, for instance, was in God’s will, but he lost his wealth, health and family. Paul was in God’s will, and he was beaten, imprisoned and eventually executed.