If you have ever felt unworthy or unqualified to believe that God will fulfill great purposes in your life, please allow me to introduce you to Abram. What you may not know about him is that at the time of his dramatic call from the Lord, he is living in idolatry. Abram is not yet worshiping the one true God; he is following many "little g" gods along with the rest of his family (see Joshua 24:2). He does not know the Creator of the universe, who is about to unleash his power into his destiny. In short, when our story begins, Abram is an unbeliever.
Abram lives in the land of Ur, a trading mecca close to the Euphrates River devoted to the worship of Nannar, the moon god. Abram (who is 75 years old) and his wife, Sarai (also his half sister), are childless, but they are likely content in their flourishing civilization, surrounded by their closest friends and family. And then, out of nowhere, Abram experiences a revolutionary moment that changes not only the course of his life but the lives of all humankind as we know it:
"The Lord had said to Abram, 'Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father's family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you'" (Genesis 12:1-3).
When the Word of God comes into Abram's life, all other gods fail in comparison to the one true God. In that moment a miracle of faith is born, and the stage is now set for the redemptive process that eventually threads its way through history. Abram is first in a line of people God calls as his chosen ones—regardless of who they are or what they have done—through their faith alone.
Genesis 12:4 tells us simply, "So Abram went, as the LORD had told him" (NIV). The interesting part is that Abram has no idea where God is taking him. The only navigational information given by the Lord is that he will show Abram. But that is enough. Abram packs up everything and leaves his home, his friends, and some of his extended family to embark on this blind journey God has called him to. Abram believes God even though he doesn't know where, how, when, or why.
I doubt Abram realized at that moment how his decision to believe God would affect not just his personal history but the history of the entire world. It's after Abram agrees to follow wholeheartedly that the Lord makes a mighty promise to a childless old man: "The LORD took Abram outside and said to him, 'Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That's how many descendants you will have!' And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith" (Genesis 15:5-6).
God not only calls Abram to greatness, but he also secures Abram through his stamp of approval on his life—otherwise known as his covenant. And God doesn't play around with covenants. They represent the promises he makes to his children—promises that ensure the Lord's great plan will be fulfilled in spite of our weaknesses, struggles, and sins.
A New Name
God chooses an interesting seal to signify his promise of making Abram into the father of many generations. He does it through a name change. God tells Abram, "This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What's more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations" (Genesis 17:4-5).
When the Lord changes Abram's name to Abraham, his name now means "father of a multitude." This is a defining moment in the relationship between Abraham and the Lord. It is a reaffirmation of God's promise to Abraham to multiply his family. What a beautiful gift from God—that whenever someone calls to him from out in the field or whenever Sarah speaks to him across the dinner table, the very name Abraham is a personal reminder of the Lord's faithfulness and call on his life.
And so it is for any of us who have surrendered our old lives to new life in Jesus Christ. Like Abram, we have been given God's covenant promise that he will use us for his great purposes in spite of ourselves. Jesus himself is our seal and promise of that covenant. The Holy Spirit is God's guarantee that he is who he says he is and that he will do what he has promised. When we are "sealed" by the indwelling of the Spirit, we belong to Jesus Christ, and nothing and no one can take us from him. The Spirit within us is a down payment that we will one day receive glorified bodies and join Jesus in eternal glory (2 Corinthians 1:20-22, NIV).
Like Abram, we have been given a new identity. As we take on the character of Christ, we also have the privilege of taking on his name: Christian. The name was first given to the disciples in Syrian Antioch during the 40s of the first century (Acts 11:26), and it means "of or belonging to Christ." That new name defines who I am and who I want to become.
Becoming an Abraham
What type of a believer are you? Are you simply a good person, or is there a depth of Christian love inside you that others have difficulty comprehending? Do you boldly step out in faith, even when you are unable to understand the why or see the end result? Do you seek to know and follow him even when the stakes are high? How far are you willing to go to follow the Lord? Like Abraham, are you willing to let go of what you know, to leave the comforts of your world behind?
No more mundane. No more ordinary. No more stagnant Christianity. We need to be the Abrahams of our day!
In order to be transformed into that Abrahamic faith, we must come to the realization that it isn't enough simply to believe in God; we must believe God. We must believe who he is and what he says, and trust that he will keep his promises.
The choice is up to you. You are the only one who can pick up your stuff, leave your friends and possessions and relatives behind, and go. And let me just remind you that you might be called to do all this with no idea about where you're going!
The Lord had you on his mind long before you were even an inkling in the minds of your parents (Psalm 139). In order to believe God, you must embrace the truth that he does not make mistakes and that your birth was no accident. Scripture says, "Through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him" (Colossians 1:16). What a concept! Now if we could just let this truth penetrate deep into our inner beings.
God's motivation for creating you was love, and his focus was designing an earth you could inhabit and reside in as the most valuable of his entire creation! Don't you think God could have chosen to exist eternally in a pre-earth state if he so desired? Of course he could have. But instead he breathed a universe into being. He desired to have a place for us to live in order for him to show his love to his children. God made you so he could love you.
You Are His Delight
Not only were you formed completely on purpose, but you were also made to the delight of God. You exist to bring joy and pleasure to your Lord. The Book of Revelation says that all of creation—us included—was made for one reason: to give glory to God: "You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased" (Revelation 4:11).
It can be easy for us to feel small and insignificant in the eyes of the Lord. When most people picture the almighty God, they tend to envision a giant grandfather figure. You know, an older man, aged with wisdom, sporting a white beard and white hair, sitting on a huge throne holding a scepter—which apparently is used to send lightning bolts from heaven to strike us if we mess up! So many people, even Christians, have a skewed view of who God really is. Yes, he is mighty. Yes, he is all-powerful. And yes, if he so desired, he could strike us down with a heavenly lightning bolt. But he is also a loving, compassionate Father who is patient with us, "not wanting anyone to perish" (2 Peter 3:9, NIV). He created you intentionally, and you are his delight.
Now, how are you going to take these truths and allow them to transform your present reality? If you are beginning to truly believe that God delights in you, and if your heart's desire is to please him, you must embrace the words of 2 Corinthians 5:9: "Our goal is to please him." You must make God himself your goal. That means that your life must be a continual act of worship and surrender to your Father—a living sacrifice—just as he delights in you and sacrificed for you.
You are named by God: You are his delight.
This article was adapted from Named by God. Copyright ©2012 by Kasey Van Norman. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
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