Today's Lectionary Text
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and invoked the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb.
Fortitude, it takes fortitude at times to go and do what the Lord God asks of us. Some would say it takes a little craziness as well, but it takes a lot of Love, the kind of Love that says, "I care about you so much."
It also takes someone who is willing to go and do what God asks without saying, 'that is too hard or will cost too much of me'.
The man that I am thinking about this morning is Abraham, the one who began our covenant with God.
In Genesis 12:1-9 we read this: "The Lord said to Abram (later named Abraham by God), 'Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.'"
Now, would you go and do what God asked Abraham to do? To pick up all you owned and leave your home, your friends, and your family; all that was familiar to you and go? Go where? "A land I will show you" is all God told Abraham. Would you go and not ask God a lot of questions first? Well, Abraham went (4) and his nephew Lot went with him seeking a better future for himself and his family.
We also learn in verses 4-5 that "Abraham was 75 years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai" (later to be known as Sarah) "his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there." Now you would think that maybe their journey was over, and they would "set up shop" where they were since they had arrived, but in verse 8 we read, "From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. Then Abraham set out and continued toward the Negev." (9) He and his family end up in Egypt, but that is another story.
In verse 7 we are told that the Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." There were no deeds of ownership that God had to pass on to Abraham; God owned all things and Abraham knew God and was faithful to His word. In Hebrews 11 we are told of many who were faithful and acted on God's word to them and in verse 8 we read, "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." Then we hear more about faith in verse 9, "By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise."
So "a man of fortitude" is a man (or woman) who, by faith, walks in the promise of God. What is our promise?
Our promise is "a city with foundations built by God," a city whose foundation is built upon FAITH! We who know the Lord, are looking forward to a City called the "New Jerusalem" upon the "New Earth" under the "New Heavens" where there will be no more hurt or pain or tears or sickness or death and dying. A place where we will dwell forever in peace with our God and with each other. Now that is a place we all are looking for; a place we can only get to if we are faithful and obedient to the will of God -- even if He asks us to go to a place I will show you when you are 75.
So today, I ask you, "Are you willing to go and do what the Lord asks of you, even if it is not something like moving all you have to a place He has chosen but not revealed to you?" Oh wait, He has revealed that place to us in His promise to us of the "New Earth." A place not built by human hands and in MANSIONS that are more beautiful than anything on earth. Are you ready to walk by faith and go where God is leading?
-Pastor Rodney Heilbrun
Franklin and Macon UMCs
Prayer for Reflection
I pray that today you too will find the fortitude and faith enough to walk with Him today as a "child of the Promise." God be with you all, in Christ's name I ask it. Amen
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