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Saturday, April 22, 2017

HEBREWS 11:8

"By faith Abraham,
when he was called, obeyed,
by going out to a place
which he was to receive for an inheritance;
and he went out, not knowing where he was going."


Okay, we're going to stop right there.  There's more to this Abraham fellow.  He's worth naming your kid after, not that he was perfect, but I'm glad Abraham Lincoln got his name, another hero.


Andrew Murray says, "There is no child of Adam who is held in honour by such a large portion of the human race as Abraham.  Jews, Christians, and Mohammedans, look up to him as the father of the faithful.  And God honours him as His friend!"



But back to the verse..."when he was called, he obeyed."  Hmm.  How's that going with your dog? How's that going with your child?  How's that going with your life?  Has God called you lately?  Did you obey or pretend you didn't hear Him, or ignore Him when His number popped up on your screen? 


There's a calling, then there is the everyday call to obey for all Christians.  Yeah, I understand when there is a calling to be a minister.  We married between my freshman and sophomore year of college and went to Point Loma Nazarene College, the first year they moved to San Diego.  We were still deciding what we wanted to be when we grew up (I'm still trying to decide that.) I was laying in bed with my husband at college when he suddenly sat up and said, "I think I'm supposed to be a minister!"  Oh, boy.  Coming from a long line of pastors in my family, I wasn't overly excited, not nearly as much as the man who heard his call. 





You see, sometimes a call sweeps up more than the one person.  It involves his family.  I was called with the second kind of call, to obey--not my husband, though I did kinda by obeying and following him in his calling--but obeying God.  We are all called to obey God as Christians.  It is the defining moment.  The alternative, disobedience, is bad.  We live  by the choices we make.  Don't make bad choices.

My mom found a note my brother wrote in church when he was in 5th grade: "I will be good, not like Tom Sawyer."  Yep.  That naughty Tom.  Don't be like Tom.  Be like Abraham.


Then there's the second part,

"when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place
which he was to receive for an inheritance;
and he went out, not knowing where he was going,"


"Get thee out from thy country,
and from thy kindred,
unto the land I will show you."



Andrew Murray says, "God wanted to have him alone with Himself,
separated from all he could cling to or trust in,
that He might teach him to find his all in Himself."



"He did not know whither he went."

I've been there, have you?  Sometimes we just think we know where we are going, but we don't really.  When my man got a call, we went out not knowing where we were going.  The first place was Weaverville, beautiful, beautiful Weaverville  of green pastures and gorgeous mountains and loving people.  When we got there, about 25 people were struggling to keep the church open.  When we left five years later, 150 people were attending.  After us, a couple of building programs later, the congregation is still growing.  But one measure of growth is recognizing the call to obedience congregation members have made that made a difference in the long run.



For example, one of the 25 people there was a baby Christian, a young mother of a couple of cute kids.  She hung in there through thick and thin, good times and bad times, divorce and remarriage.  Now her daughter's grown and married to a man who is on staff here in a local church, and they have a coffee shop on Clark Ave. my kids love to visit and made the connection.  That's the long obedience, one generation to the next.  That's the inheritance we want, kingdom children.



A wise man in that church once told us, not just pastors have callings, but laymen do too.  It is just as important for a Christian to answer God's calling and to follow where He calls you.  Thankfully, his calling was to serve our church and to encourage us as a newborn pastor and family.  We were babes in the ministry there.  He sighed when we left saying, "We do all this work to raise him up, then they leave."



It's kinda like kids, huh.  I felt called to be a mother.  It's a good thing since that happened.  But after years of parenting I'm not sure what the inheritance will be exactly.  Actually that's how I whiningly pray to God about my kids, "God, I raised them as best I could, but it's out of my hands.  Please don't let all my hard work go to waste."  My mantra in prayer is "fit us for heaven to live with Thee there."  Have you ever been there? Thankfully, the Lord lets us get a little glimpse here and there about how He is answering that prayer.  Yep, we're proud of our grown kids, but my work of praying is not done. There's still some kids left that it was our calling to raise, not to mention our grandkids, our rich inheritance.




"Say not that you cannot understand what it is to come out and forsake all, that you have a God, who is watching and guiding you, and one great mark of that character, of likeness to the Son and fitness for heaven, is very absolute surrender to God, to let Him be all." (Andrew Murray)

"'He went out not knowing whither he went."


Pastors also need to know when a call to a certain place ends and it's time to answer a call to the next.  I had a word from the Lord when my husband was getting more and more frustrated trying to lead a church that was having trouble following his leadership.  It was from the story of Gideon who was threshing wheat in a hole while hiding from his enemies who were known to the Israelites do all the work then swoop down and steal the harvest.  An angel of the Lord appeared and sat in the shade of a tree--I imagine him with a toothpick in his mouth--and says almost mockingly, "Ho, valiant warrior!"  He was sent by God to call him to another path, to lead in a different way than the frustrating beating the grain, working up a sweat in a futile task down in a hole.


Yep it was time to move to another place.  Once again, we did not know where we were going.  You see, we never know what the inheritance will be.  Hopefully, there will be people saved to the kingdom, a fruitful ministry with a bountiful harvest.  But like I said, a family is always dragged along with the calling.  The next congregation will have an impact on your children, for good or for the bad.  God has always blessed us with good examples, loving people, and not so much blessed us with the other kind, bad examples and unloving people to avoid, the quirky Tom Sawyers of our lives.  Do you get the picture?


As Christians, do we really know where we are going?  Not really.  We just follow Someone who does.  It wasn't always fun walking in obedience.  Sometimes He called us to do hard things.  Sometimes He called us to do it regardless of the pain or hurt.  Love has that kind of price tag.  Obedience has that kind of price tag.  Sometimes it's expensive.  Sometimes it's more than we want to pay.  Sometimes it's a bargain!  Sometimes it fits just right, but other times it has to be tailored, taken in here and let out there.  But we're talking about an inheritance here.  Something worth it all in the future.  Something that lasts beyond our measly few days on this earth.  Something eternal.  Now that's what I'm talking about! 


But we're not through with Abraham.  The verses are just getting started...





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