Friday, August 12, 2011

The Power of God, verse 1

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

The story of Abraham and His obedience to God is one of my favorites. His story starts in Genesis 11 when he takes his wife and goes with his father and they settle in Haran.

Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran, and settled there.
Genesis 11:31

Terah dies there, and in the next chapter God tells Abram what he is to do.

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Genesis 12:1

And Abram does it. Without questioning the Lord, without stopping to ponder the "what ifs," without consulting anyone else, he just does what the Lord said to do.

So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan. Genesis 12:4-5

Now, in the next few chapters, Abram makes a few mistakes. One time, he asks his wife to lie and almost loses her to the Egyptians. But God still has great plans for him. He's just been through war, and the Lord appears to him.

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great.” Genesis 15:1

Abram is not so sure. He questions God.

Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”
Genesis 15:2

Then he gives God the answer!

And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” Genesis 15:3

But God had quite a different plan in mind.

Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Genesis 15:4-5

Descendents as many as the stars in the sky??? Wow. I'm sure Abram could hardly wrap his head around that idea. Even if he couldn't fathom it, He believed God. (This next verse is my favorite in the story.)

Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6

Abram believed. He took God at His word. And Abram was credited with righteousness for believing God. He knew that God had the power to do whatever He said He would do. And even though Isaiah the prophet wasn't born yet, Abram knew this fact to be true: God's words do not return to Him empty - they accomplish what He desires.

God makes a covenant with Abram that night, to seal His promise. But not long after that, Abram's wife grows impatient. She insists that Abram takes her servant as his wife, and encourages him to conceive a child with her that they would then raise as their own. Instead of trusting God completely, they take matters into their own hands. And, it works. Sarai's maid Hagar becomes pregnant, and immediately Sarai regrets her choice. Abram was 86 when his son Ishmael was born. Then 13 years later, the Lord appears to Abram again.

Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.” Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” Genesis 17:1-8

God also had something to say about Abraham's wife.

Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Genesis 17:15-16

Abraham seems to have forgotten God's promise from several chapters ago. He laughs! And again he presents God with his own plan.

Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” Genesis 17:17-18

Of course, God had something different in mind. He again promises Abraham a son from Sarah, the son with whom God will establish a covenant for generations. He also promises that He will bless Ishmael.

But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.” Genesis 17:19-21

Later the Lord appears to Abraham again and, again, promises him a son.

Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” He said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18:9-14

Abraham and Sarah were still not sure that God would give them a son - they were preoccupied with their physical ages, instead of God's power! Several chapters later, God demonstrates His power to Abraham and Sarah.

Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised. Genesis 21:1

He promised. And He did it.

So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Genesis 21:2-4

Remember Sarah laughing when she heard God say that she would bear a son? Well, who is laughing now? I love her response here.

Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” Genesis 21:5-7

God kept His promise and displayed His power for all to see when He gave Abraham and Sarah a son. Abraham was 100 years old! But remember, nothing is too difficult for Him.

The same power that gave Abraham a son when he was 100 years old is at work today. God keeps His promises! Whatever He promises He's able to perform.

Maybe you can't relate directly to Abraham and Sarah's story. That's ok. There are 9 stories left in this hymn and they all speak to God's amazing power. Open your eyes and your heart and believe; you will see God's power manifest in your life and all around you!

The Power of God
Words by Frederick A. Graves

When Abraham and Sarah had been promised a son,
They were surprised and knew not what to say;
But they knew what God had promised He was able to perform:
And the power of God is just the same today.

The pow’r of God is just the same today,
It doesn’t matter what the people say;
Whatever God has promised
He’s able to perform:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Moses wanted water to quench the people’s thirst,
He knew that God would then provide a way;
Although his rod was useful he had the power first:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Moses made a serpent and placed it on a pole,
The bitten ones were told to look that way,
And then while they were looking Jehovah-rophi made them whole:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Joshua was commander, he spoke—the sun stood still,
The moon its onward course was made to stay;
Thus he won a mighty battle, for he did his Father’s will:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Naaman, the leper, before Elisha stood,
He thought he knew just what the seer would say,
But he had to wash in Jordan, though he thought it wasn’t good:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When David met Goliath he meant to have a fight,
The leaders put the battle in array;
Of course he killed the giant, for he was in the right:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Jonah went to Tarshish to flee away from God,
A mighty fish was waiting for its prey;
It quickly swallowed Jonah, then threw him on the sod:
And the power of God is just the same today.

When Malachi, the prophet, was preaching all abroad,
And cutting like sickle and the scythe;
The people were accursed, for they were robbing God,
They filled to bring the offering and the tithe.

Then came the blessed Savior, with power to cleanse and heal,
To bear my sin and sickness all away;
My burdens, too, He carries, and doth my sorrows feel:
And the power of God is just the same today.

Through Paul and Silas singing and praying in the jail,
For Paul and Silas knew the way to pray;
The prison doors were opened, for locks could not avail,
And the power of God is just the same today.

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