One of my favorite men in the Bible has always been Abraham. So this morning when I saw that my Bible reading was taking me to his story in the book of Genesis I was really excited. I love reading about Abraham’s walk of faith! As I was reading in Genesis 17, it became so clear to me how Abraham set the example for all of us of doing ‘whatever it takes’ to follow God. The chapter opened up with one of my favorite parts—God is making His promises to Abraham. “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’
Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.”
At this, Abram fell face down on the ground.
Then God said to him, “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. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!
“I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:1-8 NLT) This is the part where God sees Abraham’s faith and says that He’s going to reward it. We see that after years and years of waiting, God is going to come through on His promise and Abraham and Sarah are going to have a child. This is the part where the crowd goes wild. It’s the part where we all want to stand up and cheer “Yes, God, You came through! Abraham followed You in faith are You are going to make good on Your promise!” This is the part where we want to break out in a dance of father Abraham, sing a worship song, and cheer “I want to be Abraham!” Of course, this is just part one of Abraham walking in his calling. The next part comes as Abraham realizes the truth that walking in your calling requires accepting the responsibility to walk in the obedience that goes with your calling. Let’s read the next passage of Abraham's story. “Then God said to Abraham, “Your responsibility is to obey the terms of the covenant. You and all your descendants have this continual responsibility. This is the covenant that you and your descendants must keep:
Each male among you must be circumcised. You must cut off the flesh of your foreskin as a sign of the covenant between me and you.
From generation to generation, every male child must be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth.
This applies not only to members of your family but also to the servants born in your household and the foreign-born servants whom you have purchased.
All must be circumcised. Your bodies will bear the mark of my everlasting covenant. Any male who fails to be circumcised will be cut off from the covenant family for breaking the covenant.” (Genesis 17:9-14 NLT) OK, at the risk of being un-delicate, we all have to admit this was a pretty big ask. There had to be a part of Abraham that was thinking “Do I really want to obey God?” And yet, as we read further, we see his choice. “On that very day Abraham took his son, Ishmael, and every male in his household, including those born there and those he had bought. Then he circumcised them, cutting off their foreskins, just as God had told him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, and Ishmael, his son, was thirteen. Both Abraham and his son, Ishmael, were circumcised on that same day, along with all the other men and boys of the household, whether they were born there or bought as servants. All were circumcised with him.” (Genesis 17:23-27 NLT) Abraham obeyed God immediately. He did whatever it took to walk in his calling. In this case, it was a pretty big "whatever." In this passage, he sets the precedent for all of us to follow that if we want to walk in God‘s promises. If we want to have God’s call fulfilled in our lives and live a life worthy of our calling, obedience to what God tells us to do is an absolute necessity. Even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, even when it requires more of us than we want to give, if we really want to walk in God‘s promises and live our God-given calling, we need to make the choice to do whatever it takes to obey God. This is where the rubber meets the road and we have to decide “Do we want to walk in or calling enough to walk in obedience?” “But Adessa, I think you got one thing wrong. Abraham lived in the Old Testament under the old covenant— we now live in the New Testament under grace.” Oh yes, you’re right. Sort of. While it is true that we no longer live under the Old Testament covenant what that really means is that we no longer have to mutilate our bodies to prove that we are following God. We don’t have to live by all the Levitical laws of ceremonies and washings and foods to avoid. However, that doesn’t leave us without responsibility. Instead, living under the new covenant, we are now called to be circumcised in our hearts. “It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” (Galatians 6:15 NLT) Out of love for Jesus, we are called to willingly obey the teachings of the New Testament and to do what God calls us to do in our lives. While we are free from the Old Testament regulations, we are still called to obedience. We are still called to obey when God says “go”.
We’re still called to take the class when God says "Take the class."
We’re still called to give when he says "give."
We’re still called a sacrifice when God says to sacrifice.
And we are still called to live by the standards of God’s Word and biblical teaching. And yes, while we live under grace and that allows us to be redeemed and become part of the family of God, that same grace is supposed to propel us onto good works, to following the faith of Abraham and say “Whatever you ask of me, God, I will do whatever it takes to walk in obedience to you.” And here’s a practical truth: While you can be born again and get to heaven without full submission of your life to God's perfect will, you will not fully walk in your calling you, will not experience all of God's promises, and fulfill his purpose for your life as Abraham did, unless you choose to walk in obedience. And that is the truly inspiring part of Abraham's story. He truly was a man who loved God so much that he would do it ever it took to walk in God‘s calling. Because of this attitude, God was able to fulfill all of his plans and purposes for Abraham's life. Now the choice lies with you. Do you want to follow Abraham’s example? Do you not just want to stand up and cheer “I want to be Abraham” when it comes to accepting the promises, but also quietly resolve in your heart that you want to be like Abraham when it comes to walking in obedience? That’s what it means to do it ever it takes to walk in your calling. That’s what it means to follow in Abraham's footsteps.