Thursday, January 2

Reader: “Abram departed . . .”

Response: “as the Lord had instructed.”

Scripture: Genesis 12:1-7

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth—his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at Haran—and headed for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan, Abram traveled through the land as far as Shechem. There he set up camp beside the oak of Moreh. At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites.

Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

Reader: “The word of the Lord.”

Response: “Thanks be to God.”

Some thoughts:

This is a very familiar passage of Scripture to most of us. We’ve undoubtedly heard more than one sermon on it. It’s pretty straight forward, what else is there to say? Go with me. Put yourself in Abram’s place. God speaks to you with very specific instructions an hour from now. He hasn’t asked you what you think about what he is saying. God’s words to you are: first, Dan, leave where you are living. Second, leave your community, and your nearest relatives and go where I show you. Just get started. I am going to bring blessing upon you and make you famous . . . as though that was one of my goals! In addition, you will be a blessing to others. (In Hebrew, this is a command). In fact, all the families on earth will be blessed through you. And I’m thinking, “This is really hard to believe. How will the word get out?” So now, what do you do with these promises and commands from God? You load up your wife, your flakey nephew whose dad, your brother, had passed away, all your household servants, (in this account you have servants!), and head for Las Vegas, the place God has shown you. Las Vegas?? God has asked you to move to a place surrounded by people with an entirely different culture and a completely different set of values. But Abram was obedient and worshiped God. All he had to go on was God’s word. The rest was a step at a time. Notice, God said nothing about the nation of Israel, no specifics about children or that he’d even have children at this point. The only specific was I’m going to give you this land that belongs to other people, but even then, I won’t tell you when all this will happen, just go. It was many years and a few more visits from God that Abram had a son of the promise. When Abraham died, he had exactly one son of the promise and he had purchased a burial plot. He was wealthy and relatively famous. He was hardly the father of a nation nor had he blessed the families of the earth. That was it! It was over 400 years later before there was anything resembling a nation. Through that nation came the Messiah, who is a blessing to the entire world and the hope of salvation. What’s the point in all of this? Abram believed and was obedient to what was in front of his nose without worrying what was around the corner. Like sheep, he was very near-sighted and followed by faith staying close to the Shepherd. Most often we see in Scripture that God does not unfold the specifics of the plan from beginning to end, but gives it to us step by step. My guess is, there are things today in your life that are unresolved or you wish would just resolve and go away, and the Lord is saying, “They will not go away because I am training you to go step by step, day by day. Trust me, that’s all you need to do.” That knock on your front door? It’s the moving van.

Music: “Sing We Now of Christmas”   Prestonwood Baptist Church Choir  (Texas . . . were else?) 

I thought these last few days of this year’s devotionals, I’d include a few of the secular classics, not for their theology, but for their beauty, and God loves music and beauty.

Bonus: “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”  Home Free Video Get ready to shed a tear! 


O Lord of the oceans, my little bark sails on a restless sea, grant that Jesus may sit at the helm and steer me safely. Suffer no adverse currents to divert my heavenward course. Let not my faith be wrecked amid storms and shoals. Bring me to harbour with flying pennants, hull unbreached, cargo unspoiled. Help me to live circumspectly with skill to convert every care into prayer. May the world this day be happier and better because I live. Let my mast before me be the Savior’s cross, and every oncoming wave the fountain in his side. Help me protect me in the moving sea until I reach the shore of unceasing praise. Amen.   ―The Valley of Vision, p.110