By Allen White
This was Stephen’s reply: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me. Our glorious God appeared to our ancestor Abraham in Mesopotamia before he settled in Haran. God told him, ‘Leave your native land and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’ So Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran until his father died. Then God brought him here to the land where you now live.
“But God gave him no inheritance here, not even one square foot of land. God did promise, however, that eventually the whole land would belong to Abraham and his descendants—even though he had no children yet. God also told him that his descendants would live in a foreign land, where they would be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. ‘But I will punish the nation that enslaves them,’ God said, ‘and in the end they will come out and worship me here in this place.’
“God also gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision at that time. So when Abraham became the father of Isaac, he circumcised him on the eighth day. And the practice was continued when Isaac became the father of Jacob, and when Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs of the Israelite nation. Acts 7:2-8 (NLT)
In his very last sermon, Stephen gives us the Reader’s Digest version of Abraham’s story. God gave Abraham a remarkable calling accompanied by quite a list of roadblocks and detours. Just the initial move from Mesopotamia (modern day Ur, Iraq) to Canaan (modern day city just north of Betel, Israel) via Haran was over 1000 miles. In Abraham’s day, travel was by foot or by beast. The trip was daunting to say the least.
Now, one might set out on a journey if they were assured of a pot of gold at the end. Abraham was just direct to go, so he did. Add to that a future 400 years of oppression and, of course, circumcision.
The rest of the story is that God gave Abraham “not even one square foot of land” (Acts 7:5). And, you were frustrated this morning. Suddenly, those reading this are having a better day already.
God fulfilled His promise to Abraham, but it wasn’t a direct route. You would think that clear direction plus courageous willingness to follow would equal smooth saying. If you take a glance at those listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11, you find that no one living a life of faith has ever had smooth sailing. But, neither has anyone else.
In a recent message, Richard Blackaby made the statement, “Some people say that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. That actually can be a very dangerous place.”
So, here’s the good news. God fulfilled ALL of His promises to Abraham. Abraham’s children were blessed. The nations were blessed. You and I are blessed because of God’s promise to Abraham.
Here’s more good news: when you follow God and face setbacks, it’s normal. God keeps His promises. God loves you. God hasn’t forgotten you. Interruptions and setbacks can certainly discourage us. Let the hard times serve as your teachers. Let them drive you to your knees. We are far closer to God in trouble than we are in peace.
What is being interrupted in your life today? God is trying to get your attention. Stop what you’re doing right now (seriously, stop) and make a quick connection with Him.
Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
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