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Genesis 12

How can we tell if it’s really God calling?

Sermon Notes + Quotes:



We study through books of the Bible here at the Village Chapel, and it’s my delight to be leading us through Genesis chapter 12 today. We’re calling our study of Genesis “In the Beginning,” and that’s because so much of chapters 1 through 11 have been all about the beginning of everything, answering those huge questions that we all ask from time to time. Where did everything come from? Is there a God? If there is a God, who is the God? What’s this God? What does it mean to be human? And so many other gigantic questions.

We’re in chapter 12 today, and I want you to turn there in your Bibles or swipe there on your devices. We’re going to call this study “How Can We Tell If It’s Really God Calling?” Because sometimes when we hear what we think is God speaking, we aren’t quite sure if it’s God speaking or not.

So far in Genesis, we’ve come through the creation, the fall, the flood and then the Tower of Babbel last week. Pastor Matt walked us through that. Despite the opportunity for a brand new start after the flood, as we saw with the Tower of Babbel, the course of humanity continued to be going away from God. And so, at that point, you end chapter 11 asking the question, “Well, what’s going to happen now?” Because it seems like humanity continues to turn away from God no matter what. What do you think should happen next as the reader, I ask you that? How should God respond to all that has happened with the building of the tower? They’re trying to build their own name, they’re trying to build their own city, their own fame, all of that stuff, and building that tower to nowhere, that bridge to nowhere kind of a thing.

Well, history is the story of countries and nations and battles and wars and migration of people, groups, natural phenomena, cataclysmic events like the great flood, earthquakes, hurricanes, et cetera. But it’s also the stories of individual people. And in some cases, those stories about individuals that God has singled out, chosen and called for some very, very special part of redemption history. Abram or Abraham, as he’ll later be called, is one of those famous names in redemption history, isn’t he? Matter of fact, three of the largest religious movements in all of human history, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all trace back to Abram and his progeny. But as we’ll see here in Genesis 12, being famous isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Being a famous person doesn’t guarantee a person will have a flourishing soul. We were made for much more than fame and that’s kind of why, as a matter of fact, the pursuit of fame itself has not worked out well for humanity.

It was T.S. Elliot once that said,

“Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.”

T.S. Eliot

And of course when everybody’s seeking to build a name, a city or a tower for themselves to honor themselves, what you end up with is nothing but this chaos of the cacophony of all these competing autobiographies. And in the end, in that kind of world, no one will be happy. Lewis said it this way, in Mere Christianity,

“All that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

–C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

So it’s really good to ask ourselves the question, what is it that we think will make us happy in life? Or one of those big questions like the others before: What does the good life look like? What does the flourishing human soul look like? And what does it take to have a flourishing human soul? We all have an intense longing for it.

It is that part of us that’s just chronically dissatisfied with even success itself. Not to mention pain, evil and suffering and all that, but even success leaves us wanting more and we don’t know why. What does it take to get to the place where we aren’t living life incessantly frustrated and infuriated and just at some point despairing of life? And I love the way Genesis 12 starts to help us answer all of that. How can we tell if it’s really God calling? Yeah, great question. How can we tell if it’s God saying, here’s the course, here’s where your soul will find flourishing, here’s where the good life really is. How can we distinguish that? Great question, and I hope we can shed some light on it as we study Genesis chapter 12 together.

It’s the story of God calling one person and that person answering God’s call, but then losing sight of the calling and then returning to that calling. So, it’s not the story of some kind of romcom sort of, everything’s nice, everything’s fun. It’s not just a romantic comedy, it’s not Pollyanna, it’s not sort of fairytale in which everything is just goodness, sweetness, sparkly and bright and all that sort of thing. No, it’s not that at all. But it’s realistic. And that’s what I love about our Bibles, you guys. It’s the true story of how we respond to life in a combination sometimes of faith and at other times fear and trembling and trying to take God’s place and take over the reins again ourselves.

And it’s the story of Abram before he becomes Abraham. But it’s more than all of that, Genesis chapter 12 is the story of God’s amazing grace at work, even though we fumble in our faith and stumble in our spirituality. How does God respond and continue to respond throughout the Bible as He’s in search of a people that He can call His own? Well, before I read the chapter, I’ll tell you that it breaks neatly into two sections: How can we tell if it’s really God calling? Verses one through nine. Faith and obedience, it’s God steering the ship.

And this story just is wonderful. It’s a great story, actually. You’ve probably heard this part of the story. You probably remember it well. Verse 10 through 20, though it’s not faith and obedience here, it’s fear and unbelief. Instead of God steering the ship, it’s Abram taking the wheel himself. So as with the beginning of time itself and the creation of all that exists, the events here all begin with God speaking, God taking the initiative. And let’s look at chapter 12 together, “And the Lord said to Abram,” and the tense of that verb could also be translated, “And the Lord had said to Abram, go forth from your country and from your relatives and from your father’s house to the land, which I will show you.” And I’ll tell you as we get through this text, what’s going to be interesting,if you want to do it, circle or underline all of the times that God says “I will.”

This chapter, especially these first nine verses, really shows God in action, on the move, taking the initiative Himself and making promises. It’s great to underline those, so that we can kind of see what kind of God this God of the Bible is as it relates to this person, Abram, who’s going to become Abraham. And the Lord says to him, “Go forth from your country, from your relatives, from your father’s house to the land which I will show you and I will make you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great so you shall be a blessing and I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse again.” A lot of “I wills” and a huge contrast in these promises that God is making here.

Huge contrast between what we just read last week with the Tower of Babel, where it’s really the people saying to God, “I will make a name for myself, I will make a city and I will make a tower for myself. And I’m self-sufficient.” And then God comes and scatters them. And what God essentially is saying is, you can’t do that apart from Me. You won’t be able to do that. It’s not even good for you. You’re not designed to bear that kind of a burden. And he’s going to teach Abram the same thing here as we get on through chapter 12. So he says, “The one who curses you, I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” I love this. This is really quite sweeping, isn’t it? That’s the thing that I’m impressed with about these promises. What happens? Abram went forth, verse four says, “As the Lord had spoken to him and Lot went with him.” Now Abram was 75 years old when he departed from Haran. And by the way, 75 when this whole thing gets rolling, that’s pretty amazing.

And we’ll notice that as with previous chapters, the lifespans seem to be longer than what we’re used to, but at the same time we’re seeing them decline in terms of the length of the lifespan, right? So, 75 is not the same thing as 900-plus years that we read about early on in previous generations in genealogies that we read. But here at 75, he departs from Haran. “Abram took Sarah, his wife and lot his nephew and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran and they set out for the land of Canaan, thus they came to the land of Canaan.” This could be a journey of literally hundreds of miles and they’re not getting on the speed bullet train, they’re not flying an airplane. This is going to be a long journey, but time moves pretty quick as the narrator of Genesis is leading us along and into through the storyline.

So Abram passed through verse six says, “The land as far as the sight of Shechem to the oak of Moreh, and now the Canaanite was in the land,” we’re told there in verse six. This spot actually becomes pretty famous all along the way. And as a matter of fact, some Bible scholars suggested it’s the same spot where Jesus encounters a woman as He’s going through Samaria. And that it’s the same spot that later becomes in John chapter four, a town called Sychar. So, this is just interesting, some of these places end up showing up throughout our Bible. Jacob will come through here. I believe Joshua will come through here. So, it’s pretty amazing how these same spots keep showing up real places in space/time history, real geographic names, that sort of thing. And the Lord appeared to Abram and said, verse seven, “To your descendants, I will give this land.

So, he built, that means Abram built, an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. And this is one of those things that Abram will do. He will continue to worship the Lord. And we’ve already seen an altar built with Noah. This is becoming the practice in our response to God, in our worship of God to do that and to offer sacrifices that will be pleasing to the Lord. He builds there and altar and offers sacrifices to the Lord who had appeared to him. Verse eight says, “Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel,” and Bethel means “House of God.” And he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west side and Ai on the east. And by the way, Ai is a little town that you read about later on in the book of Joshua.

And Ai means the heap or the dump, it’s literally the trash site. So he’s literally pitching his tent between the house of the Lord and the heap or the trash dump. And that’s just an interesting thing to note. Sometimes our life here on earth feels a little bit like it’s between that isn’t it? And so, he builds an altar there as well to the Lord and he called upon the name of the Lord and each of these altars leave a physical marker for Abram. And later on, as I say, Jacob, he’ll come abide as well. And we find different people visiting these spots because these markers are there and there’s a part of their spiritual journey and their story as a people, which is really great. So, verse nine, “Abram journeyed on and continued toward the Negev,” which is the southland if you will.

And we’re told there was a famine, verse 10, “In the land, so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there for the famine was severe in the land.” And this is one of those times where some of the commentators, and I got to say myself as well, start to think there’s a change here. Something’s going on with Abram. We’re not told for instance that he prayed or consulted God here, that he asked God based on the fact that there was famine. Am I in the right place? He didn’t do that. It’s not within the text here. Doesn’t mean he didn’t do it, I realize that I’m speculating. But the silence or the absence of that being indicated there right after we’ve been told in two different places that he built an altar and that he sought the Lord or called upon the name of the Lord.

And here that’s not said, that at least I think gives us some insight into what happened. The famine comes, the hardship comes a lot of times with a lot of us we do what we can before we ever get on our knees or consult with the Lord. And is Abram doing that in this particular case? Good question. Verse 11, “It came about that when he came near to Egypt that he said to Sarai, his wife, see now I know that you are a beautiful woman.” And by the way, if he was 75 there, she’s 10 years younger, she’s 65, okay, “I know that you’re a beautiful woman and it will come about when the Egyptians see you that they will say, this is his wife and they will kill me, but they will let you live.” And this might have been a common practice back then that they would kill the husband so they could take the wife and in this particular case in Egypt, bring her into the household of Pharaoh.

But Abram man, this is not his best moment, especially as a husband. Okay, watch this. He’s basically saying they’re going to see how beautiful you are, my lovely wife, but they’re going to want to take me and kill me, but you they will let live. Verse 13, “Please say that you’re my sister so that it may go well with me because of you and that I may live on account of you.” And so Abram is basically saying, Sarah, at this point, her name will change to Sarah later but Sarah, would you mind lying for me to save my skin, my life? Would you mind also risking your life so that I won’t have to be put to death? This is not so good. This is the husband throwing the wife under the bus here before there was a bus, a proverbial bus came about. So he comes there and it came about when Abram came into Egypt. Verse 14 says, “The Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful.”

So she must have indeed been remarkably beautiful and even at 65, because again the lifespan would’ve been a little longer. So she probably looks like for us what would’ve been a much younger age and a very beautiful woman, okay? So Pharaoh’s official saw her, praised her to Pharaoh, and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house just like Abram was afraid would happen. And he’s willing to give her up like this. This is just amazing, I’m shocked at this. So she’s taken into Pharaoh’s house, therefore he treated Abram well for her sake and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels. And he’s profited. Not only is he saving his own hide by giving up his wife essentially, but he’s profiting from her.

And you just got to ask, what is it that he wouldn’t do? And this sadly this will become something he does again and something his son picks up on as well. And so here goes Abram getting rich as he gives up his wife to the Pharaoh. Verse 17, “But the Lord…” And this is always great, whenever you have this transition or this pivot word and then it says “God” right after it: “…but God, but the Lord…” You know that even when things look like they’re going downhill, but the Lord is going to change things around.

“So the Lord struck Pharaoh in his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, ‘What is this you’ve done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife?’” So somehow or another the Lord intervened, communicated to Pharaoh, that the reason his household is being plagued, and I don’t know what kind of plague it was, some commentator suggests it was perhaps some kind of sexually transmitted disease that prevented them from taking Sarai and having relations with her. I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but the whole household evidently came down with something and, somehow or another, the Lord communicated to Pharaoh the problem is that you had taken another man’s wife into your harem. And so he goes to Abram and says, “What have you done to me?”

And what really blows my mind as I read this is that it takes a pagan pharaoh to get it and to go to Abram, who should have understood what right and wrong would’ve been in that case. And sometimes this happens when we’re reading our Bibles, doesn’t it? Sometimes we find faith where we least expect it and we don’t find faith where we most expect it. Let say that again, sometimes we find faith where we least expect it and don’t find faith where we most expect it. And that certainly is the case here. We find Pharaoh operating with better scruples than we do Abram, more informed morality, more informed perhaps in faith. I don’t know at the moment. But perhaps he’s recognizing it that it’s God that spoke this to him because he could have killed both of them and been done with it.

He could have taken back all of his possessions that he gave to Abram, but somehow or another he’s got it clear in his mind, you don’t touch this man or his wife and you let them have the stuff and you send them off. And that’s exactly what happens. Pharaoh says to Abram, “Why did you say, ‘She’s my sister.’ So that I took her for my wife. Now then here’s your wife, take her and go.” And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him and they escorted him away with his wife and with all that belonged to him.” And so, here’s Abram messing up, but God working through this pagan Pharaoh to protect and preserve Abram and his wife. Now let me read just the first verse of chapter 13 as well. “So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev.” In other words, he goes back to where he should have stayed, “He and his wife and all that belonged to him and Lot with them.”

And so we’ll just close right there because that ends us on a really positive note that there’s still hope for the return. And I love that not only is there hope for return, but a return happened and God goes along with them. And by God’s grace, He makes up a lot of the difference for what went on with Abram and the sort of messing up there, right? Let’s talk about this. How can we tell if it’s really God calling? Two images in Genesis 12 can help us, I think. Here we read about Abram, his altars, he’s also living in a tent and these images are really good. They speak of Abram as a man who spent his life as a worshiper and also as a pilgrim. And these are images that run throughout our Bibles as well for all of the people that belong to the Lord. They worship the Lord and with gladness and with joy come before Him to praise His name, to give thanks to Him.

And in Old Testament times, of course they would offer sacrifices and atonement for their sin. They would have many other different kinds of sacrifices as well once they have the tabernacle in the temple. But he’s a worshiper as the idea and as well he’s a pilgrim literally in that he’s moving around quite a bit. And we, on the spiritual side, have the great joy and privilege knowing that not only has Jesus, our great high priest, and Jesus, the ultimate lamb of God, the one who not only offered the sacrifice but Himself was the sacrifice. Not only do we have that assurance that our salvation has been procured and secured by Jesus, but at the same time, we find ourselves pilgrims on a journey.

And that is a wonderful thing because what we’ve all learned is that if this life is all there is, then this is, right now, this is the closest you’ll ever get to heaven. This is the closest you’ll ever get to soul flourishing. This broken world with all of its trouble, with all of its acrimony, with all of its seemingly gratuitous evil and with all of the catastrophic events that happen and some of them seeming quite meaningless and random. And at the same time, if that’s all there is, this is the closest you’ll ever forget to heaven. And here comes the Christian Gospel saying, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

There’s so much more. And the Lord Jesus intends one day to set all things so that this present world is actually the closest, if you’re a believer in Jesus, this present world is actually the closest you’ll ever get to hell to being permanently removed from the Lord. Because when He comes to set it all right, we’ll live with Him for eternity. This is really a wonderful thing. So, life as a worshiper, life as a pilgrim, life as those who have more than one citizenship – it’s not just here on this planet with this zip code, but we belong to the kingdom of God. The kingdom of heaven.

Well, here’s a little map that I just wanted to throw this up for you so you could take a look at the place where Abram began and you’ll see that Ur of the Chaldees, which is essentially for us in our day and time over in that area where Iraq is. He makes his journey throughout sort of a northerly direction and then a southerly direction down to the Negev and down to the desert like region of what we now know as Israel. And then he ends up, when the famine hits, going down to Egypt and you’ll see them coming back up through if you follow that route on the map, back up into the Negev again.

But really Genesis 12, especially those first eight or nine verses all about this calling that God did. God literally went to a man living in a pagan land, pagan part of the world, probably worshiping pagan deities. We’re not told there he was in search of or in pursuit of Yahweh. No, that’s not what happened here at all. This is God taking the initiative, God calling him. Abram’s story here is unique in all of Scripture because of the fact that God wanted to do something, and something quite special, through this one man. Because, as we know, Abraham will later be called and through the line of Abraham will come, Jesus the Messiah, God’s Messiah. But there are some more general ways in which we are all like Abram and God has come to us. God has called us by name and commanded us to leave some things behind and begin to follow Him wherever it is that He would lead us.

 Let me throw up on the screen God’s calling. How can we tell when it’s God calling us? His calling involves divine initiative. Yes, we’ve talked about that just now. Sovereign grace in spite of human deprivation. Again, no reasonable explanation at all for why God would choose and call Abram living in a pagan land, worship with pagan deities, not in pursuit of Yahweh, all that. It’s just why would God, Yahweh, choose this man? We’re not given any real reason, if not for sovereign grace, I have no answer for you. It’s sovereign grace. And the same thing is true of His choosing and calling me. And the same thing is true if you’ve heard His call calling to you. I want you to know that He chose you and He’s calling you. Now the question is how will you respond? And this is a great chapter for looking at all of that.

But back to what God’s calling involves; it also involves transformational sanctification. And that’s just a simple way for me to say, maybe not so simple, but a way for me to say that sometimes God has to call for our disentanglement from people, places and props that have had a vice-like grip on our lives. And so, when we respond to His call, we’re called to repent and believe. Repentance is a turning away from our sin, our selfishness, everything that would lead us away from God, and turning toward God to lovingly begin to obey and to follow and to trust and to worship God – to turn our affections upon the Lord. And all of this we do by the power of His sovereign grace at work in our lives. But there is a transformation that happens, a sanctification, a setting apart, a complete renewal of who we are. Our priorities are reordered, our affections are redirected, and our entire identity is recreated in the New Testament.

They use terms like this because it’s such a huge thing that happens to somebody that turns their life over to Jesus. Terms like being born again, terms like the apostle Paul would say, we become new creations in Christ and so all of the old has passed away and we have new life in Christ. That’s what we celebrate when we go through the sacrament of baptism as well, that we’re united with Christ and His death and His burial. We go down in the water and then we come back up and it’s like we’re united with Christ in His resurrection to new life in Christ. That’s such a wonderful, beautiful symbol, isn’t it, of this transformational sanctification. The new beginning is also a part of that, and here Abram is being promised by God that there will be this new land and the land is important.

It’s not essentially important. It’s not all about the zip code here. It’s certainly about God being in pursuit of a people He can call His own. And He intends to bless all nations, not just one zip code, all nations, through the lineage of this one man, the seed of Abraham. This is really powerful that there will be a new beginning, a new identity available for those who would follow Christ, who would entrust their lives to Christ as well. We see that when God’s call is being offered to us, when He’s calling to us, His provision, His protection and His purposes. He says, I will bless you, I will curse those who curse you, through you all the nations of the earth will be blessed. Really powerful stuff there. And so, I might summarize it this way, when it’s really God calling, the focus won’t be on us.

That’s interesting. There won’t be much about self-discovery, self-expression or self-fulfillment. These are things that I think, in our own day and time and perhaps even in Abram’s time as well, when we constantly find ourselves like in verse 10. He goes down to Egypt, taking the reins away from God, not even consulting God, trying to just do it all on our own, taking the steering wheel away from God essentially, that’s where we get things wrong. That’s where we become self-absorbed, about self-discovery, about self-expression. To borrow a term from the philosopher Charles Taylor, we get into expressive individualism. And so, all of a sudden, it’s all about us and being able to express ourselves and the focus really is on us, isn’t it? When it’s really God calling, it’s actually not about us. It’s about God and it’s about what will bring glory to God and how God might call us to join Him in God’s mission, not fit God into our agenda.

And that’s a completely different way of looking things. So how can we tell when it’s God calling? He takes the initiative, and that’s so beautiful and powerful that He would do that. He takes the initiative and by His sovereign grace, He chooses people like us, the most unlikely ones. God continues to choose people nobody else would choose and to use people nobody else would use. And that’s what’s so amazing about sovereign grace. Then there’s that sanctification and God’s giving us a new beginning and His provision and protection, and we find ourselves all wrapped up and caught up in His purposes as well. I love the way that James Strahan says,

“Abram erred whenever he began to ask himself the question, ‘What is now the safe and expedient course for me? What is politic in the circumstances? What will make for my present advantage?’ He never erred when he asked himself, ‘What is God’s will?’”

–James Strahan, Hebrew Ideals in Genesis

It’s really interesting to me that in Hebrew, Abram means “exalted father.” However, if the name Abram is derived from an Acadian version, it means “he loved the father,” not just exalted father, but he loved the Father, which might explain why later on there are references to Abraham as the friend of God. What about us? What’s our relationship with God like? Are we friends? Would we be called friends of God and all that that might mean, not just in the good old buddy, g-man in the sky, not that kind of trivializing of God; but the kind of intimate friendship that the Lord really desires with you and with me as well? Do we delight in exalting our Father who is in heaven? How should we respond to this one who in His calling us and choosing us like He did, has displayed such amazing grace? And who continues to show Himself faithful to us, even when we take a journey to Egypt ourselves, trying to take the reins away, sometimes operating in fear, having forgotten how faithful He’s been to us before.

How should God respond to us in all of these things? And how is it possible for us as we go back to one of our initial big questions? How do we find the flourishing life for ourselves and know that it’s God calling us to this or to that? I love the way Dallas Willard said it.

“I fear that many people seek to hear God solely as a device for securing their own comfort or celebrity. Or they may want God’s endorsement on some lifestyle choice they have made, so their conscience won’t bother them so much anymore. This is likely not a Christlike interest in the well-being of others or in the glory of God. For those who really desire to know the will of God, however, it is still true that ‘those who want to save their life will lose it.’”

–Dallas Willard, Hearing God

And there he’s quoting, of course, from the words of Jesus Himself.

We find our lives by giving them away, by losing them and giving them right back to the one that gave it to us in the first place, to Jesus. To deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. See, that doesn’t really, when you put those three things together, that doesn’t really sound like it’s all about us, does it? Doesn’t really sound like the whole thing, is the entire reason for God’s existence is my happiness, my agenda? No, that doesn’t sound like that at all, does it? And yet there is something paradoxical and something quite mysterious about this. And Jesus was driving that home when He said, if you really want to find the flourishing life, in the attitudes, for instance; if you want to find the blessed life, and then He starts saying things like blessed to the poor and spirit or blessed or those who mourn for they shall be comforted or blessed are those who hunger and thirst.

And that all sounds so paradoxical when you really start to listen to it. It sounds like He’s saying that the happy ones, the ones who have a really flourishing life, the ones that are really blessed are those who are willing to, even if there’s a famine in the land, continue to trust God. Even if there is some suffering to endure, we don’t take the reins away from God and go, well, God must be busy running the rest of the universe. I’ll take this over myself. I got this. No, we trust the Lord. Doesn’t mean we don’t do what we can to within reason and within reach of the resources that God has entrusted to us. But all the while we’re trusting the Lord, all the while we’re praying to Him, we’re seeking Him. Abraham didn’t seem to be doing that. How can we tell if it’s really God calling?

Well, I think it at least brings us to the question, in this chapter anyway, of asking this: How will we respond when we finally figure it out that it is really God calling? You see, if we respond in faith and obedience instead of fear and unbelief, then we’ll know that we were trusting God. That is, we continue to trust Him. That is, we continue to seek Him. We continue to obey Him, even though we might be ridiculed by others as Noah may have been when he was building the ark. And even in our own day and time when we begin to have to be swimming upstream against a culture flow that is just reckless and ruinous and self-absorbed and rancorous and the acrimony and the anger and all that stuff because they’re putting their hope in things that are not God. And they get really angry when somebody comes along and suggests that thing isn’t God anymore, whether it’s work or pleasure or sexuality or any of that sort of stuff.

See, we keep all of those things in the right perspective, right? Because we keep God first and we continue to maintain our faith and our hope and our confidence and our trust in Him. John Stott says this way,

“The point to make from Scripture about our calling or our vocation is that when God calls us, he’s not calling us primarily to do something but to be something.”

–John Stott

And there’s something He wants you to be and something He wants me to be. People that trust the Lord, people that seek the Lord, worshipers and pilgrims, that worship the Lord and are ready to respond to the Lord when it is God calling us. May I suggest to you that God in His grace is indeed calling and reaching out to each and every one of us all the time. It’s not just about the moment of salvation, about all of our lives.

You see? Because when Jesus said, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me,” this is a following, it’s an ongoing thing. We continue to lift up the empty hands of faith and receive from the Lord His wisdom, His guidance, His provision, His protection, and all the while worshipers and pilgrims eager to praise His name and give thanks to Him and draw glory and attention and fame not to us, but fame to the Lord, to point to Him and to give Him glory and then to follow Jesus in our pilgrim way. I love the way the ancient psalmist said, and I’ll close out with this, in Psalm 27: 1,

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”

Psalm 27:1

I love this and I love this partly because it’s not just the Lord points to my light or points to my salvation.

And see, this is the beautiful thing about Jesus too, because he ultimately is who the psalmist is pointing forward in time to when he wrote this. But Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of all the Psalms. And so David, as he’s writing about the Lord being his light and his salvation, is pointing forward and saying not just that he has it, but Jesus said himself, “I am the way the truth and the life.” Not I have it, not I can point to it, but I am it. I’m the way, I’m the truth, and I’m the life. And if you want to know what the way is, if you want to know what the truth is in this world that has lost all sight or a sense of any kind of truth, if you would find truth refreshing, yeah, if you would find clarity of what the way to walk in, if you would find that refreshing.

And if you want to know where real life is, it’s wrapped up in Jesus. “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life? Of whom shall I be afraid?” Friends, we have set before us in chapter 12 of Genesis here, that first pericope is all about faith that results in loving obedience and following the voice and the call of God. And the last pericope, that last part of chapter 12, is about fear and what happens when we let that rule our lives. When we fall into unbelief and how we try to take away from God, the reins of our life and do it ourselves, and this is set before us. How should we respond to Him? We should respond by reminding ourselves over and over again that the Lord Himself is our salvation.

(Edited for Reading)

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