Acts 7:4-8 4 “So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. 5 He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child. 6 God spoke to him in this way: ‘Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 7 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’ 8 Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.”
I wonder what this time with the Lord was like for Abraham. It says that God gave him no inheritance, told him his descendants would spend 400 years in slavery, and then said “time for surgery.” That doesn’t seem like a very good prayer time to me. God said what!? When I go to the Lord in prayer, I am hoping for a word of encouragement, something to help me get through my day with vision and purpose. But maybe I’ve put that time with the Lord in a box. Because that’s not what God did for Abraham. He just spoke the truth.
The truth was good, though! It meant that a man with no children would have many descendants. It meant that God was going to give him a different inheritance. It meant that he would be a man marked for God’s purpose – a man in whom God made covenant. Now that’s a different perspective! Sometimes we wonder what God is up to or don’t understand what He is trying to tell us. We try to filter His words with our own outlook and it seems like bad news. Not Abraham – it brought him hope and joy.
What would happen if we prayed differently? What if instead of handing God a to-do list, we asked Him what He was up to. What if instead of remaining focused on today’s issues, we let God speak to us about the bigger picture? As I prayed today, God spoke to me saying, “I want to open your eyes to the bigger things I have for you. Like Abraham, I have plans that span beyond what is in your reach and even beyond your lifetime.” It’s impossible to focus on God’s bigger picture when I refuse to look past the circumstances of today. But like Abraham, I will choose to receive God’s vision for my life. I will lay down my own ideas and plans in exchange for His. For I know that the God who created the universe and holds my future is the One who knows best!
Amos 8:1-2 This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. “What do you see, Amos?” he asked. “A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered. Then the Lord said to me, “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.
God is patient, isn’t He? And polite, too. Here in Amos 8, God shows Amos a vision of ripe fruit and asks him what he sees. Amos, in all his wisdom and insight says “ripe fruit.” Now it doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. God could have said something back like, “thanks Captain Obvious, of course you see ripe fruit – that’s what I showed you.” But God is patient, kind, and understands the depth potential of the human brain. So rather than giving Amos a big ‘ol duh, He proceeds with what He was actually trying to “show” Amos.
Has God ever showed you something that you just didn’t get? It has certainly happened to me. And when I look back, I can easily say, “oh that’s what God was trying to show me!” But like Amos, we don’t always get it. We miss the deeper meaning because our eyes are stuck on the surface. Our eyes are stuck on the object rather than the meaning behind it. It’s true isn’t it? We get hung up on stuff. We think so shallow that we miss the depth of our God.
When God speaks, we ought to be asking Him what He is really saying. Otherwise we might miss it big time. We see a bowl of fruit and think God wants us to buy a banana. Instead, let’s ask Him what that means. If He shows you something you don’t understand, press in to him a little more. God wanted to show Amos more than fruit, He wanted to give him a word of prophecy to carry to the nation. What kind of things is He showing you?
Judges 18:5-6 5 Then they said to him [the priest], “Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.” 6 The priest answered them, “Go in peace. Your journey has the LORD’s approval.”
Have you ever had a phone conversation through someone else? It’s not the easiest way to have a conversation. In fact the person in the middle usually gets tired of relaying all the messages. It goes something like this: your wife, friend, brother, etc. is on the phone with someone you want to say something to. So you say, “ask him… ” So she asks him and relays his answer. Now that’s all fine and good unless you start having a conversation with him, through her. Then it gets a little cumbersome. At some point, it’s just easier if she hands you the phone.
This passage in Judges 18 reminds me of this kind of scenario. The Israelites were not able to have a conversation with God on their own. Rather, they had to ask a priest to ask God and then relay God’s message back to them. It required a middle-man, a mediator. Today, while God still speaks through others, He also speaks to us directly. Essentially, Jesus handed us the phone. He became the forever mediator, the great High Priest. He made it possible for us to speak to God directly. So the next time you need an answer, you don’t need to wait to hear from the priest. Ask God and see what He says!