Messy: The Life of Abraham


I want to clear the air about something that has bugged me for a long time. I don’t know when it started, how it started or why it started. I hope it was unintentional. However, the first time someone coined the phrase “the Good Book,” I think they did a huge disservice to us all. Don’t get me wrong, The Bible is the book of my faith, I believe it is inspired by God, I believe it contains all knowledge sufficient for salvation and has done more to help me grow in my faith than any other...BUT…

When the phrase was coined… “the Good Book,” it seems people took it to mean everything in it was some definition of “good.” Some of the stories, are, well, lets just say I don’t feel called to preach PG-13 sermons. And the people? Fact is, most of the people you’ll discover in reading the Bible, lived lives that can simply be described as MESSY.

Over the next 6 weeks, I want to introduce you to 9 lives that played a significant role in history – all of them messy – but all who give each of us reason to have hope. And we’ll start with the messy life of the one called the “the Father of Faith” by Paul and James, two writers of the New Testament – Abraham.

We are introduced to Abraham beginning in just the 12th chapter of Genesis – the first book of the Bible:

READ GENESIS 12:1-9

Sounds like a great guy right? Only now it goes down hill from here. For in Genesis 12:10-20, we find Abraham in the Negeb and actually in Egypt where he lies about his wife Sarai because he fears the Pharoah in Egypt will kill him. So Abraham allows Pharoah to take Sarai as his wife.

Once Abraham clears up that mess we find this conversation between God and Abraham Genesis 15:1-2 ESV "…Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." 2) But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" I’m not sure which bugs me more, Abraham’s doubting or his arrogance? But it is not long after this, we see Sarah, Abraham’s wife, convincing Abraham to take her servant as a second wife to have children. (A little aside – the polygamy thing in the Bible? It is just as messy as most of us think it is!).

And just when you think Abraham has it together, you remember that lying to Pharoah about his wife? Abraham does again to another king! (Gen. 20:1-3)

Twenty five years of messiness. Twenty five years of mistakes, setbacks and unwise moves. Twenty five years pass before the birth of Isaac. Roughly another 25 years would pass before Abraham would have to decide between obedience to God and obedience to self.

When God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, this special son of promise, we no longer see the prideful, boastful, manipulating Abraham but one of obedient child of God. God does not ask us to give up anything just to give it up but so we might have the only thing worth having – God himself.

"Faith is based on God’s character and the reliability of His word." (Vic Hamilton) Abraham could look at all of his life and see God’s character and while he must have thought God crazy to ask for the sacrifice of his son, Abraham took it to the last moment where he finally could give it all up for God – and that is when God provided.

The God of the Old Testament is no different that the God of the New Testament or the God of today – God doesn’t change – he changes us – by faith. Abraham didn’t name the mountain “Abraham-acted” but “God provides.” God took the life of a wandering shepherd who was messed up and living in a messed up world. And God made a promise – God provided - God gave us hope.

With all the uncertainty in the world right now, I know some of you and many in our community are wondering and questioning and allowing messiness to take root – trying to help God along. But God didn’t make the mess. And like any good parent, God can see the way and has made the way to get through the mess. It is in first admitting our mess, then our need for him and then it means following the way of God’s Son, Jesus, who was the sacrifice, who is the way out of the mess.

The crazy thing is, God said we’re going to take all our messiness and live together as a family called the Church! He said that everyone who follows Jesus becomes part of Abraham’s family – that is us too. That is God’s plan A for reaching the world – do you know what plan B is? There isn’t one (thanks to Casey Graham for that one).

I’ve been living this life of Abraham it seems like since I first recognized God’s call. Heather and I have found a lot of comfort from the messy life of Abraham and Sarah when in 2004, God called us to leave youth ministry. What looked like a blank sheet to us was really quite clear to God. God asked us to trade in this map with lines for this one. Then he started filling it in. He filled it up with lines and added new lines to it – yours to get us here. The lines that have helped us get here include churches all over and they’ll be helping us for a while still but come June 2009, God is asking not me but us to turn in this map for this one.

Many of those from other churches who’ve given us a hand in helping have gone or will leave. A 1/3 of the financial support won’t be there at the end of June. The mission isn’t going to change – Crossroads is called to help people to connect, follow and became disciples of Jesus Christ – it is just God saying, “It is time for Crossroads to become the hope of our community. We don’t have to know the lines on the map – just take the step to follow by faith.”

You'll find the podcast here.


For Further Consideration:
1. When you were growing up, what was the biggest lie you got caught telling?
How "messy" was it to clean up?
Read Genesis 12:1-20
2. What did the Lord tell Abram to do? (12:1)
3. What did the Lord promise to do for Abram? (12:2-3)
4. What did Abram do? (12:4-5)
5. What did Abram tell Sarai to do when they went to Egypt? (12:10-13)
6. What happened to Sarai when she arrived in Egypt? (12:14-15)
Read Genesis 22:1-18
7. How did God test Abraham? (22:1-2)
8. How did Abraham respond to God's test? (22:3-10)
9. What did God tell Abraham He would do because Abraham had not withheld his son? (22:15-18)
10. Why do you think Abraham (Abram) was willing to trust God in later in life
and not so much in the beginning?
11. When and how have you felt your faith put to the test?
12. What has Abraham's faith taught you about following Jesus? What will you do today to follow after that way?

"If you want to learn what it takes, go back and see what it took." -Walt Disney

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