Minimalist Bible: The Covenant – Covenant With Abraham
|Written by Chad -|
God has given me the idea to pursue a personal design project of creating minimalist posters to share the awesome stories of the Bible. If you missed out on previous posters, don't worry, I have created a landing page where you can easily catch up. Check it out here.
This poster series comes from the book of Genesis. It is a story filled with tests of faith, promises and miracles. I'm excited today to reveal The Covenant: Covenant With Abraham, part three of an eleven part series.
The Covenant: Covenant With Abraham begins in Genesis 15:1-6 & 17:1-8 (NLT) which says, "Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.' But Abram replied, 'O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.'
Then the Lord said to him, 'No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.' Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, 'Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!' And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.
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.'"
Use your imagination.
As I studied through this section of Scripture, I kept reading it and re-reading it over and over again. As I soaked in it, I found myself deeply relating to Abram in a way I had never thought about. In the first few verses, I imagined Abram feeling exhausted. Because he believed so deeply in the call God had given him, Abram had completely changed the course of his life. He decided on an immediate career change, tried to explain that to everyone he knew, uprooted his family, embarked on a physically draining road trip with everyone and everything that belonged to him, continually encouraged and convinced his people they were doing the right thing, grew his wealth and fame, caused rifts in his family that led to arguments and division, and even entered into a war to save his family! After a period of silence, God shows up in a vision saying He will protect and reward Abram. Abram basically responds with, "Really, God? Why waste your blessings on me? I keep doing all the things you tell me to do, but I don't think it matters."
Lately I've been feeling exhausted, too. I feel like I've been doing all the right things in my walk with God. You know, like attending church, tithing, leading a small group, reaching out to non-believers, reading my Bible daily, praying and fasting. I've been loving my wife well and caring about others. Sometimes I feel like I have put my desires on hold so that I can follow as God guides me in a different direction. My wife and I have thrown our energy and talents into growing our business as best we can and I've spent any extra time I have pouring into this Minimalist Bible project. * Sigh * As I was putting this post together, it all suddenly rushed back over me. "I'm exhausted. Does any of this stuff even matter?"
As I stared blankly at the pages of my "Life Application Study Bible" (NLT), God revealed his answer to me in the footnotes for this story at the bottom of the page. This is what it said:
"Although Abram had been demonstrating his faith through his actions, it was his belief in the Lord, not his actions, that made Abram right with God (Romans 4:1-5). Our outward actions—church attendance, prayer, good deeds—will not by themselves make us right with God. A right relationship is based on faith—the heartfelt inner confidence that God is who he says he is and does what he says he will do. Right actions will follow naturally as by-products."
I hadn't thought about it that way! I also flipped to Romans 4:1-5 which says, "Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, 'Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.' When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners."
Holy crap. This struck a cord deep within my soul. God revealed to me that I've been relying too much on my own abilities and not enough on God's abilities. I've been boasting about my works and not His works. I've been so focused on my actions for God that I have neglected the importance of strengthening my faith in God.
God's response to Abram in this story was basically, "No, I mean it, Abram. You're thinking like a human, but I am GOD. Look at the stars and use your imagination about the future I have for you!"
Are you like me in life right now? Exhausted in your actions and limited by your human perspective? This story of Abraham challenges us to adjust our thinking. It's not just about our actions, it's about our belief, too. Strengthen your faith in God by using your imagination—we are not limited by our own ability in this life because our God is GOD. He's awesome!
"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we can ask or imagine." —Ephesians 3:20