Day 338: December 4, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Genesis 15:6
6 Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.

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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.—Genesis 15:6

Whom Do You Follow?
by Norma (JJ) Goldman, Member of Champion Forest Baptist, Houston, TX

The first mention of Abraham in Scripture comes at the end of Genesis 11, where we learn something of his family history and background. His father, Terah, had three sons, Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran, the father of Lot, died in their homeland, Ur of the Chaldeans. Abram married Sarai and Nahor married Milcah, his uncle Haran’s daughter.

Terah left Ur, taking Abram, Sarai, and his grandson Lot and they made their way to a city called Haran. Terah, at 205 years of age, died there.

Rather abruptly, with no previous conversations recorded, the Lord God spoke to Abram, directing him to leave his country, his relatives and his father’s house—a  complete separation—and to go “to the land which I will show you.”

The Lord God further promised to bless him, to make his name great, and that in him, “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Thus Abram was chosen, elected, called.

In obedience, Abram did as he was told, moving into Canaan to the site of Shechem—and specifically the oak of Moreh—where the Lord appeared to him, promising to give his descendants the land. Through a series of events over the next 15 years or so, God showed Himself to Abram in many ways, confirming His promises.

But we must not miss nor can we overemphasize the significance of Abram’s decision to follow God. This is an early picture of what it means for a person to leave everything “known” in his or her present circumstance, and to enter into a relationship with God through faith. Nor can we miss that his decision to follow God was reflected in ongoing obedience.

Abram came from a family that worshipped many gods (Joshua 24:2), but Abram made a purposeful choice that God (alone) was his personal God. In following Him, Abram chose a relationship with One who would be with him no matter where he went. His ancestors worshipped many gods, each being associated with a particular place or region.

But the One true God neither recognizes nor is bound by any geographic limitations. Note that God had promised “in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed”—not just the Jews, but all people, including you and me.

This turning away from other gods to a personal relationship with God was followed by a powerful, mysterious covenant where God revealed many confirming events that would occur over a long period of time as proof of His promises and commitment.

Chapter 15 records an equally powerful vision, where Abram heard God’s voice declaring Himself to be Abram’s shield and promising him a great reward. But Abram’s thoughts were centered on an heir, since he and Sarai remained childless. How very like us, so caught up in circumstances that we cannot see the possibilities God offers—possibilities far beyond mere human sight or imagination!

After the Fall of man in the Garden, the rest of Scripture is the story of how God revealed His amazing plan to redeem the world. There had to be a way to bring man back into fellowship with Him, and Jesus was and is the way! He is the perfect mediator between sinful man and our holy, righteous God. Abram was part of that plan, although he did not comprehend it at the time.

Through Scripture, we have the tremendous benefit of seeing God’s marvelous plan to reconcile the world to Himself being played out over the centuries until at last Jesus came to complete the Promise. In Him, people everywhere—from every race, tribe and nation—can hope for eternal life, made possible by the shedding of His blood. As we believe in Him, our sins are covered by His blood, so that we appear before God clothed in Jesus’ righteousness, blameless, accepted and adopted as His own. Think of it!

Just as the Old Testament saints looked forward to Messiah, believing that He would come, we look back at His first coming, believing that He did come, and God “reckons it to us as righteousness.”

It is possible to make the Gospel so complex that the people who need it do not understand. In our own amazement and wonder at His plan we feel compelled to introduce and explore every facet, every truth, and every event that leads people to the place of conviction, repentance and faith. At the opposite extreme, we try to make it so simple that some may not recognize or appreciate the depth and breadth of His plan nor the tremendous cost of redemption.

When my only son was five, he had already been talking about trusting in Jesus as Savior for several months. I did my best to tell him as much as I thought a five-year-old could grasp. As a family, we read passages of Scripture at home and he listened intently as our pastor spoke Sunday by Sunday. We had a good conversation with our pastor and Wes declared that he was ready to accept Jesus and to tell our church family that he had believed. God confirmed in Wes and in our hearts that his confession of faith was accepted and that he belonged to God.

Much has happened over his lifetime; he has grown steadily in his spiritual walk and in his faith. He is a faithful and diligent student of the Word and has earned seminary degrees in religious studies. He is a teacher and leader in his church; he is involved in the healing ministry of counseling. But everything he is today goes back to that day when as a five-year-old boy “he believed in the Lord, and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

Reflection Questions

  1. Do you find it easy to share the gospel in very simple, basic truths? Why?
  2. How do you think Abram was able to make such a radical decision to abandon the gods of his ancestors, choosing instead the One True God?
  3. How big a role does obedience play in the natural expression of a person’s commitment to a relationship with God?
  4. Why do you think it was necessary for Abram to leave his relatives and homeland? What was God teaching him through this experience of separation? What have you learned about God through experiences of separation?

About the Author

Norma (JJ) Goldman

When she was a young Christian, God called her to teach. After all these years, it’s still her passion in life. Since 2001, JJ has been a member of Brentwood Baptist, and she’s taught an adult LIFE Group for most of that time.

JJ has also served on the Corporate Governance Team and Staff Resource Team, led new teacher training, and participated in the adult choir. She loves to travel and has been on mission journeys to Honduras, Puerto Rico, Kenya, South Africa, and Scotland. Writing has been a lifelong hobby for her, and she now gets to write regularly for a Christian publication.

JJ has two daughters, a son, and five grandchildren—all who live in Texas.