“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make My covenant between Me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.’” —Genesis 17:1-2
In Genesis 17, we see Abraham interact with God in a way that was unlike anything he had experienced before. God spoke to Abraham many times the days chronicled in Genesis, but God revealed Himself to Abraham in a whole new way here.
At this moment Abraham is distraught, confused, and questioning God’s promise. He’s saying, “I thought I would have a son by now, I thought I’d be in a new land by now. You promised me these things 25 years ago! Now what?”
When life isn’t turning out the way you expected—when you can’t see the promises of God, you have to get in God’s presence. That’s exactly what Abraham did in this scene and when he did, God didn’t only speak to him, but for the first time, God spoke with Abraham.
In order to be in the right mindset to believe the promise, Abraham needed to be face-down in complete surrender before God. He was done. He had tried to gain what God had promised in his own way, leaving his land and family to seek what God told him he would become.
“God said to him, ‘As for Me, this is My covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.” —Genesis 17:3-5
Maybe the way we come before God needs to change. We need to be able to surrender to God and say, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” —Luke 22:42
The proper posture for Abraham was facedown on the ground. It’s not about what God can do for us, it’s about who God is as our Father. That is why we seek His face. Abraham wasn’t calling for a miracle, he was calling for God’s presence.
In order for us to experience God in this way—to know the fullness of joy in his presence—we need to get in His Word and be in prayer with Him. It was a hard Christmas Eve this year when the doctor sat down with me and my wife and told her, “It’s not good news…You have MS.” It felt like a scene right out of a movie. Why was this happening to us? We have a fruitful ministry, we have souls to save for Jesus, we have four kids…What does this mean?
More than ever, I need to seek the presence of God.
Abram was told that he had a new identity. He was no longer Abram, “Exalted Father,” he was now to be known as Abraham, “Father of Many Nations.” God was saying, “There’s a new you that you haven’t met yet.” Everywhere Abraham went people would proclaim the promise of God over Abraham just by speaking his name!
You have to embrace the new you. God was telling Abraham that his life isn’t about him, instead his life was about other people. He breathed new life into Abraham when he added the “ha” to his name. But Abraham’s faith still needed to be constantly built up.
Faith comes from hearing. We are called to hear and believe God’s Word. Therefore, you need to spend more time speaking His promises to yourself and less time listening to your own words.
“The tongue has the power of life and death.” —Proverbs 18:21
Not every thought that comes into our mind is from God. Not every thought that we have is one that we should embrace. If a thought comes that is contrary to the Word, you speak the Word. Faith is activated by speaking the Word. What are you speaking? What are you listening to?
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” —2 Corinthians 10:5
My wife’s diagnosis doesn’t change her identity. She is still a daughter of the King, wonderfully and fearfully made—God doesn’t make mistakes! When we hear God’s Word, we build our faith and trust in Him, knowing that He has the power to change our lives. Faith itself is optimistic; faith itself has hope intertwined with it. If you are going through a drought, the remedy is the Word of God.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” —Hebrews 11:1
We have no reason to lack faith; we’ve been given a greater promise than Abraham’s!
So what now?
—LaMorris Crawford, Chaplain of the Cincinnati Bengals
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