Renewing Our Lives and Ministries Through God's Word

Tracing Our Life’s Journey

Genesis 12:1-4

Paul J. Bucknell

Note: 'Building Up Our Faith' shows three ways that God uses to build up our faith: (1) Through His wonderful promises, (2) Through the Word of God, and (3) Through our communion with Him in His Word. This is the fourth of five sections that compose one longer article on Tracing Our Life Journey. (This is part of a larger ADT training series, Renewing Our Lives and Minstries Through God's Word, –Renewing your spiritual life and ministries through improving the quality of your time in God's Word. Click to see the full 3-day schedule of this Renewal ADT series.)

Building Up Our Faith

If we clearly follow the Lord’s instructions, our journey with God can go on at a much quicker pace. Let’s now turn to see what else God had to say in those few words mentioned at the beginning of Genesis 12. God not only directs us, but inspires us with His promises.
 God’s Seven Promises (Genesis 12:2-3).
Tucked away in a compact form in Genesis 12:2-3, we find seven promises given to Abraham. If verse 1 directed Abraham, verses 2-3 encouraged him. What do we find from what God did here? We find that Yahweh absolutely wants to bless us and make us a blessing. Before we go on, fill in the blanks and identify these seven promises.
“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 shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2, 3).
The Seven Promises (Genesis 12:2-3)
1) I will make you a great   ___________ (12:2a)
2) I will   ___________ you (12:2b)
3) I will make your  ___________  great (Gen 12:2c)
4) You shall be a  ___________ (Gen 12:2d)
5)   ___________  will bless those who bless you (12:3a)
6) The one who   ___________ you I will  ___________ (12:3b)
7) In you all the  ___________ of the earth shall be blessed (12:3c)
God’s involvement in Abraham’s life is quite typical of how God wants to work in all of His children’s lives. After all we are the children of Abraham (Romans 9:6-8). The great source of our blessings are found in Christ. Having Christ in our lives, we should see God’s blessing overflow into and through our lives. Let us make three summary statements about these blessings that were not only true for Abraham but also for us as his ‘faith’ descendants.
A) Blessings are graciously given from God (Genesis 12:2a).
Not my blessing but His .... Dependent on Him (His blessing).
We have to be real definitive about where the blessings come from. They are so obviously from God that it would seem hard to dispute it. After all, who received the blessings after betraying his wife? Abraham. Did he deserve it? No. Was he a great man? Anything but. God’s grace, however, came upon Abraham because God chose to bless him. If we are chosen to be blessed despite who we are, then never let us forget fact. It is this grace that is to abound in our lives and run over into all our relationships in acts of forgiveness and kindness. There is nothing so mismatched than a person who thinks he deserves God’s grace upon his life. He actually thinks he deserves God’s blessings. We don’t. We are desperate for His mercies.  
B) Blessings are to be shared (Genesis 12:2b).
Not for me but for others .... Accountable to Him (His purpose).
The blessings God chooses to give us are destined to be shared with others. We are blessed as they touch our own lives, but they were not meant to find their end goal there. If anything, we are to be places where the signal of God’s grace is amplified and passed on. We dare not hold back His mercies and grace to others. We are blessed if we share but cursed if we do not. Our lives are described as salt and light, both of which were designed to spread to the benefit of others. It is true that our own salt and light will dissipate as we share, but this is where our faith comes in. As we share, God pours in more blessings.
C) Blessings are to be multiplied (Genesis 12:3).
For greater purposes .... Grateful to Him (His abundance).
God wants us not only to bear fruit but a lot of fruit. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We can’t help but see that in God’s promises to Abraham. He was only one person. He had only one son. But, oh so many descendants came from him because of his faith! God was just waiting for his obedience in faith that He could generate blessings out into the world. God has made it very clear that His purpose is to cause His blessings to be distributed to people from all over the world in all different languages.  As the population grows, the multiplying of God’s grace is bound to expand.
When we understand our dependence upon Him, we counter our self-dependence. When we acknowledge His purpose of working through our lives, we counter our selfishness. When we see that His blessings go beyond us, we counter our smug lives. God’s words continue to hold their mighty shaping influence down to this day.  We need to go on and share two more essential points to understanding how God works through His Word in our lives.
 Faith Builders
First of all, we need to expect God will speak to us. We cannot grow in our faith unless the Word of Christ first moves in our heart. Romans 10:17 tells us. “So faith comes from So faith comes from -hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17)hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). It begins with the Word of Christ. This Word is passed forth through our hearing. What we have heard, in turn, brings faith. This is what we hope and trust happens during a message when God’s Word is released to the people. Many a time, people only hear stories. That can move people. It might even create a sense of optimism. But without the Word of Christ, it does not increase faith.
They need God’s Word to open up their minds and hearts to God’s perspectives. When they can see things as God sees them, then they increase in faith. We therefore must regularly seek Him out. We can ask ourselves some questions, “Do I want to hear from God?” “What is He trying to say to me?” “Will I obey Him if He asks me to …”
Our faith will be tested. The evil one knows that faith expands God’s kingdom. He tries to reduce the impact by destroying our faith. Right before a mission trip, I can expect many things go wrong. I simply need not be distracted by them but to trust God. He takes care of the many ‘wrong’ things that begin happening.
When we approach God’s Word in faith, many exciting things start happening. God’s promises start jumping out to us from the scriptures. They are powerful influencers in our lives. God means them to be so.
Approaching God’s Word becomes almost a scary event. What is He going to say to me? Do I dare listen? What if He asks me to ...? I think you get the sense of what I am saying. If we are having proper devotions, then God speaks. God is very interested in building up your faith. It is also the reason when we are most involved in studying God’s Word that our faith is the strongest.
 Nurturing our Spiritual Lives
As we again think about Abraham and God’s involvement in our lives, let me again stress the important part regular quiet times with the Lord play. It is crucial to regularly meet God in His Word. It is the very means God most often speaks through. Certainly, it is the most common (should be daily).
Being fruitfulThrough the Word of Christ, we gain faith. Through our relationship with the Lord, we are able to hear Him. The hearing of His Word makes our faith strong. It is in this context that He allows us to know Him and become sensitive to His will. And again, in these times together, we grow in our love to Him and more clearly understand and desire to do His will.  
Knowing God’s person combined with the desire to do His will continue to empower His people so that they can minister in the power of the Spirit. To start a ministry is easy, but to sustain it until it bears sure fruit is not easy.  God’s word is important. Without it, we simply begin to shrivel up as a fire without fuel. When we continue to replenish our spiritual furnaces with His Word, it is like a power plant continually being fueled by His Word.
Burnout occurs when that flame is extinguished. We either stop meeting Him or that we meet Him without faith. All of a sudden our life with the Lord and ministry become dry and hard. Instead of our ministry being born out of our relationship with God it is something that we must do in our flesh. This means we do it to be seen or man’s applaud.  
We cannot just focus on our own personal growth with the Lord. Some people think of our relationship with the Lord as personal. But any genuine personal relationship must shortly become public. The reason is as John 15:8 says, “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciple.” Fruit is evident by those around us.
Our service is one type of that fruit. Our service to God and others then is an outflow from our relationship with the Lord. Just as a couple together bear children, so a man and God through their intimate times together will bear forth fruit. This is the source of our ministry. God does not say where this fruit might be seen. From my experience, fruit comes out in all sorts of special ways.
As we think about our own journey with the Lord, let us focus on three issues.

A Look at Our Life: Consistency, Special, Challenging(1) Consistency: We need to make sure our devotions are regular.

Consistency means that they are regular both in quality and time. The psalmist says that each morning he meets with God. “In the morning, O LORD, Thou wilt hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch” (Psalms 5:3). Jesus uses the picture of eating food, a daily occurrence, with taking in God’s Word. “But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’ (Matthew 4:4). We do not eat on a haphazard manner, but make sure it is something we consistently do.
Personal devotions plays such an important part of our lives, we cannot do without it. Some husbands do not spend time with their wives. The result is a bad to barely tolerable marriage. Many Christians spend little or no special time with the Lord. Likewise, this results in a less than ideal situation. You might think about the following questions to help you to explore how you can improve your time with the Lord. What do you need to do to improve your time with the Lord? What can you do to improve your relationship with the Lord? Are you disobeying Him?

(2) Special: From the heart and not legalistic.

When our time with the Lord is special, it is something we desire to do. It is like a time with one’s girl or boy friend. One does not need to tell them to find time together. This is the way it should be with the Lord. Consistency springs from our desires not from commands. Faith in a similar way comes from anticipating what our Father might say to us each day. Previous messages have alerted us on how we can have regular quality times with the Lord.

(3) Challenging: Focus on obedience even in difficult times.

God’s Word will sometimes comfort a person, but it will also bring one into new and unexpected places. We need to learn how God leads. Because of His wisdom and purpose, we should not expect to fully understand His ways. Right now, I have been waiting upon the Lord for one year regarding a significant life decision. It has continually been postponed. I praise Him. He has His time. We need to determine to obey Him ahead of time, no matter what.
Summary: God has called us on a journey of faith. He will be with us to bless us, but we must remember to follow His leading. There is nothing worse than a person who goes ahead of the leader thinking he knows where to go and only gets lost, causing trouble to the whole group. Abraham took a long time to get where God wanted him. May Abraham’s account help us be more determined to closely follow the Lord in obedience, resulting in more blessings for all! Next =>

This is the third session of the ADT 3-Day Seminar on Renewal

Revive Your Faith | Deepening Our Reflections | Tracing Our Life's Journey | Pursuing Our God 

The Heart of Discipleship (Isaiah 50:4) | The Heart of Discipleship ( Isaiah 50:5-9)

Exodus: Overview Christ in Exodus 3 Whys in Exodus

Titus: Overview Pastoral Overview Called into His Service (Titus 1:1-4) Church Planting (Titus 1:5-9)

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

By Paul J. Bucknell

NASB used

1 We, of course, are not speaking about those despicable selfish ambitions created from our lusts.