Summary: Are you going to take the effort to listen to God? How has your faith panned out for God? Will you step out even when God tests your faith by making the most difficult sacrifices in your life? Do you obey God at every level?
Opening Illustration: Narrate the story of our call to the USA as missionaries.
Introduction: The Lord's call for Abram to journey to the Promised Land is often equated with a call to missionary service. For the missionary, there is a sense where God has called them from the ease and security of their suburban life-style into the harsh reality of the third world. As Abram left the security of Ur, so the missionary must leave the security of their world. Even Abram's sideway move to Haran can be used to a positive end. It can show us what not to do. How easily family ties can divert us from the Lord's mission.
Yet, Abram's call is not a call to missionary service. In fact, it is not so much a call as a promise of blessing. Abram is told to journey to Canaan, for there God will give him a land for his inheritance. He will have descendants as the stars in the sky and through his seed, the world will be blessed. Abram simply takes God at his word; he believes in the promised blessing. Abram is clearly a man of faith.
For most of his life, he has no descendants, and even at its end, he has no land. So much for the promise. Yet Abram believes God, he takes God at his word, and we are told that this faith-act of his is accounted to him as righteousness. Not that Abram was a righteous man, for he lived a very compromising life. Yet, by resting on God's promise, believing it when life's circumstances seemed to demand another conclusion, he was graciously regarded by God as if he were a righteous man and was therefore rewarded as such.
Like Abraham, we have before us the promise of life eternal in Jesus Christ. For us, it is a promise of another land with "many mansions." The circumstances of life often deny the reality of this promise, yet when we believe the promise our faith is accounted to us as righteousness and thus, the gift of eternity is freely ours.
What will it take to step into our calling?
1. LISTENING to God (v. 1)
It’s not clear how Abram received his call, whether God spoke clearly to him one day, or whether he had a growing sense that this was what God wanted him to do. But what is clear, is that Abram had cultivated the habit of listening for God’s voice and obeying it.
Listening to God, and discerning what God is calling us to do can be challenging. The reason many of us feel God doesn’t speak to us, is because we have not developed the habit of listening to him. When I am waiting to hear the voice of God, I want God to speak clearly and powerfully, so I am not left in any doubt that it is God that I am hearing. But God rarely shouts to us, instead he whispers softly.
This is the lesson Elijah learnt when he was on the mountaintop (1 Kings 19:11-18) waiting to hear God’s voice. As he waited he experienced a great wind, an earthquake and a mighty fire, but God wasn’t in any of those, instead God spoke to him in the stillness and silence.
If we want to hear God’s voice, rather than expecting God to shout to us from across our busy lives we should hunger for the Holy Spirit’s quiet whisper in our ear. You can only hear a whisper when you’re standing next to the person you’re talking to, so that your ears and their mouth are intimately close, and I think that is why God whispers to us today. He wants us to make time in our busy lives to draw close to Him, He wants us to approach Him daily so that we can hear and recognize that intimate whisper as God’s voice, and then respond in obedience.