Summary: Do Not Be Afraid! 1) I am your shield. 2) I am your very great reward.
Crossing bridges isn’t the same anymore. Not since bridge collapses in Quebec and Minneapolis. We now realize that structures we once thought near invincible are just like anything else manmade – subject to decay and failure. Is there anything in this world we can rely on without question? Let’s see. Ships sink. Toys are toxic. Cars crash. Medics misdiagnose. No, there doesn’t seem to be one single thing that is worth our unquestioning trust. It’s no wonder we often struggle to fall asleep at night. So many worries weigh us down.
There may be nothing of this world that is reliable but there is one thing in this world that is dependable. It’s not a thing really; it’s a being - the triune God. He speaks to us this morning through the pages of Scripture and says: “Do not be afraid! I am your shield. I am your very great reward.” Let’s find out how God is our shield and very great reward so that we deposit our worries, all of them, at his feet.
Abram hadn’t witnessed a bridge collapse but he was nevertheless fearful in the opening verses of our text. Humanly speaking there should have been no reason for Abram to be afraid. He had just returned from a military victory during which he had rescued his nephew Lot from marauding kings. On his way home he had been blessed by the mysterious priest-king Melchizedek. He was offered the plunder of battle but refused it because God had already given him much. Still, something was bugging Abram. He and his wife Sarai had no children. Abram said to God: “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus…a servant in my household” (Genesis 15:2, 3).
These were not just the longings of a man lonely for bubbly laughter around the house. Abram was concerned about his salvation, for God had promised that through his family the savior of the world would come. But if he had no children, that promise couldn’t come true and neither Abram nor any one of us here could go to heaven. I suppose what Abram was going through is a bit like what Pastor Halldorson (of Calgary) and his family is going through right now. They’re planning on flying to the States this week to visit family but they don’t have their passports yet. Sure they applied for them months ago and have been assured that the passports are on their way but they have yet to arrive. If they don’t come by this Thursday, the Halldorsons will have to cancel, or at least postpone their vacation. You can bet they anxiously await the mailman everyday, just as Abram anxiously waited for signs that his wife was pregnant!
In this first half of our devotion we learn a couple of important lessons from Abram. First of all, Abram did what God wants all his children to do: pour out their hearts to him. Don’t keep your worries and concerns inside. Sure, God already knows what they are but you need to get them off your chest before their weight crushes you! Are you upset at how God has handled things in your life? Go ahead. Share those thoughts with him. God has been listening to the complaints of his people from day one. Say what you must but then be ready to listen to what he has to say to you, as we’ll see Abram did.
The second lesson we learn from Abram is that the greatest concern we are to have is to be spiritual in nature. So do you worry more about paying bills, or seeking forgiveness from those you have offended? Do you work harder at making and keeping friends, or at concentrating on how to remain God’s friend? Are you more apt to block time out in your week to catch a movie, or to ensure you get your daily devotion in? In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus invites us to pray for material things when we petition: “Give us this day our daily bread.” However, that’s just one petition out of seven that asks for the material. All the other petitions ask for spiritual blessings, from strengthened faith to godlier living. I’m afraid that when we compare our lives to Abram’s we have to admit that what worries us is not the spiritual but the material and for that we need to repent because it shows just how shortsighted we are. In our gospel lesson Jesus explained that where our treasure is there our heart is also (Luke 12:34). So if your treasure is your house, your car, your career, your Barbies, your X-Box, your power tools, or your kitchen and all its gadgets…there your heart and concerns will be. How foolish when all these things will be destroyed on Judgment Day. Instead treasure your soul and all that God gives to sustain it, for your soul will live forever…in heaven or hell.