A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
Welcome back to our study of “The Story,” God story of His plan to bring us back to Him. Last week we talked about the Garden of Eden, why we are no longer in it, the curse of evil we all inherited because of Adam and Eve’s decision to disobey, and God’s working to redeem us - to bring us back into fellowship with Him. The story of the Garden is the first of five major movements in God’s word, His story. Today we begin the second movement, the birth of the nation of Israel.
Bible Reading Plan - <a href="http://www.bible-reading.com">www.Bible-Reading.com</a> - or Genesis chapters 12-35
When I was a kid, I’ll have to admit I wasn’t the most athletic person in my community. I was always the geek. Loved reading and science and math. I enjoyed learning more than running around outside getting all hot and sweaty. So one of the things I remember about that time of my life are the games we had to play in school in which someone was made the captain of each side and those captains began to choose their team from all the kids around them. If I wasn’t the last person picked, I was next to last just about every time.
I just wasn’t very good at sports and so I never got picked early. I could write well, debate, take tests of all kinds and perform at the top of the class in those areas. But sports? Not so much.
A strange thing happened on one of those fields one day, though. One of the best players on the field was a friend. On this particular day, he was chosen as the captain of one of the teams. I was at the back of the crowd of kids trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.Trying not to be as embarrassed as usual. I wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on at the front of the crowd because I knew I’d be one of the last one’s whose name was called.
But my friend, the captain that day, made the first pick and he called my name. He had to call it twice, though, because I was in shock. No one picked me first. The other captain called a name and then my friend called the name of the second least likely to be asked to play. Then when he called the third name for his team, it was another geek, least likely to play any kind of sport. And that’s how it went until everyone was picked.
I don’t even remember what the score was at the end of the softball game that day, but I remember being called first when teams were formed. I also remember we didn’t win the game, but all of us on that team played our hearts out for our captain. He broke the cultural traditions and put together the worst team you could imagine.
God’s story, beginning at Genesis 12, tells of the selection of two unlikely people. If we were trying to build a nation, we wouldn’t pick Abram and Sarai. We would probably find the son of some wealthy king and spark a new nation from him. We would probably look at the pedigree of those who applied and like the majority of the world, we would peruse all those resumes to pick the very best couple we could to form this new nation.
But God’s story is a little different. He chooses some of the most unlikely people to carry out His plan so there is no question about His intervention in the story. Abraham and Sarah (God changed their names along the way) were old. She was barren. They had no children. How was a great nation to start from an old couple with no children. He was already well past retirement age when his son Isaac was born. Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90.
Then about fifteen years later, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son. The heir to his property. The one who was promised as the means of building a new nation that would bless all the other nations of the world.
These 20 plus chapters in Genesis tell the story of how God chooses the way my friend did that day on the field. There is one really important difference, though. On the softball field, that broken team didn’t play very well. We played hard, but we lost. But when God chooses someone to carry out His work, when we do what He asks, the plan never fails. The plan doesn’t fail because God doesn’t fail. He intends to use men and women like Abraham and Sarah to bless others.
Was Abraham perfect after God chose him? Not by a long shot. That’s one of the things that’s different about His Story. He tells us the good and the bad about the heroes in scripture. God’s story doesn’t hide the disappointment, the disobedience, the sin in the lives of those upon whom His kingdom is built. It’s one of those “tell all” kinds of stories. We see behind the curtain and see all the warts and wrongs and brokenness of those God chooses to do His work.
What that tells me, when I read stories of Abraham and his deceit with Pharaoh or the story of Jacob lying to his father and stealing his brother’s birthright or the story of Judah sleeping with his daughter-in-law, is that God can use all the people the world would never pick. He looks at the back of the crowd at those who are least likely to succeed. He finds those who the world would snub their nose and question why God would think to use “that person.”
God knows what He is doing, though. God works through some of the least likely for two reasons, I think. First, when those least likely carry out His plan and others around see the success of God’s work through the efforts of the least likely to succeed, there can be no question that God is part of the plan. There is just no other way to explain how things work because we cannot see around the bend in the road. We can’t see how everything will work because we live in the lower story of God’s word while He operates in the upper story.
God not only sees what’s ahead, but intervenes to make sure His plans happen as He intends. Second, when we read about people like Judah and Jacob and Abraham and the mistakes they made yet were honored by God when they returned and followed Him, we can understand that God can use you and me too. He can take us with all our warts, all our brokenness, all our failures and turn us into instruments of His love and part of His great plan.
The question is whether we will be part of His plan or fighting against His plan. The choice is ours to make. God won’t force us to follow Him or accept Him as our redeemer. He won’t push us to do something we refuse to do. He will let us choose our own path. But we also suffer the consequences of taking the wrong path. He tells us how best to live. His word gives us instruction on how to get along with others, how to succeed in life. How to treat our children and our spouse. How to find Him and His redemptive power in our lives. But still, God lets us choose. He knows the best path for us and if we will look up and follow Him, He will show us which path to take. But we still get to choose whether we will take it or not.
So here we are at the beginning of the nation of Israel. God made it possible for Abraham to bless the world through his offspring. Abraham decided to accept God’s offer and to follow Him. You can look at the first chapter of the New Testament and discover just how blessed the world is because of Abraham’s faithfulness. Jesus is his descendant. Both Mary and Joseph trace their heritage back to this man who decided to trust God and follow the path He laid out.
So what can you do? Can you change the world for God? No. Neither could Abraham. But God can change the world through you just as He changed the world through Abraham. An unlikely candidate for greatness, but God change that in Abraham. You might think you are an unlikely candidate for greatness. But God can use you to carry out His plans and make all things good as you carry out His purpose in your part of His creation.
So what will it be?
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.