Now the word of the Lord came to him: “This one will not be your heir; instead one who comes from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then He said to him, “Your offspring will be that numerous.” Number 15:4&5
We all know the story, but let’s pause and rethink Abram’s situation. Abram was in his early 80’s and Sarai was in her 70’s. Abram’s response to this promise of God was 2-fold:
Verse 6 Abram believed the Lord and he credited to him as righteousness. This is the response we remember concerning having children. This is not the first time Abram had been given this promise (Gen 12:2-3) so perhaps he’s familiar with it, expecting it, making it easier to believe God. Yet when in verse 7 God promises Abram that his descendants will inherit the vast lands around him, now Abraham responds with the infamous “but.”
Verse 8 But he said, “How can I know that I will possess it?”
Abram readily believes God for a son, but questions God giving him the surrounding lands. Why the difference? Could it be that Abram knew he had no power, zero ability to produce a child. He’d been married over 40 years, had sex thousands of times, and still had no child with Sarai. Only God could provide a child now. But taking the land, that’s something completely different. That would require Abram conquering the people, fighting battles – hard work! When we look at our own abilities and not God’s, even Abram, the man of faith, is prone to doubt.
Oswald Chambers writes, Seeing is never believing: we interpret what we see in the light of what we believe. Faith is confidence in God before you see God emerging; therefore the nature of faith is that it must be tried.
And consider what Abram did. Yes Abram believed God BUT then a few months, later he listens to Sarai. Sarai has a better idea. Sarai gives Abram her slave as a wife. So Abram and Sarai take it upon themselves to solve God’s problem of producing an heir. How often are we just like that? God shows us what He wants us to do, but after doing it for a few years, we don’t see the results we want and so we reach out for other ways of doing His work, ways which others tell us are better. As with Abram and Sarai, God does not interfere but allows us to go our own way, but in the end, there are consequences.
Security in life does not come from the world and its provisions, but security in life is the result of a life that is hidden with Christ. We talk as if living a life dedicated to God were the most uncertain and insecure thing we could do. Yet isn’t that really the most secure thing possible, simply because it has Almighty God in the midst of it? The most dangerous and unsure thing is to try to live our lives in our own strength and wisdom without God.
There are many strategies for reaching the lost. All are good. All have merit. All have been used in one place or another to win souls for Jesus. Learn these strategies, even B4T, as tools to have able to use should God call upon you to use one of them. But do not rely upon any strategy to bring about your expected results. Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, and allow Him to show you His intended strategy for your life and work. That strategy, the one He has given you and not someone else, will bring about lasting results.
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.