Sin made a mess of things but God stepped in and began the process to fix that mess.
Everything has a Starting Point, including your faith journey. For most of us, it started when we were kids. For others though, it may have been really tough journey. Some may have experienced some damage along the way, and need to restart.
Today, we will take a step back in time. Why? Because the story of faith has a starting point as well. All religious systems have a story of some sort behind them. The story of Christianity is wonderful, but most Christians know very little about that story. Many are more concerned with getting God to answer their prayers or with seeing their loved ones again, more than they are with God’s story and motivations. The problem begins when God does not work according to our expectations. When He doesn’t, it stresses our faith, and too much stress on a fragile faith (one that depends on everything to work out right), can cause it to collapse.
We want to start where God started in establishing good reasons to believe. So we will look at a guy named Abraham and discover what we have in common with this4000-year-old man.
God’s Starting Point and His Dilemma
The Significance of Abraham’s Story. You first have to understand something of the dilemma that God found himself in.
Not long ago my youngest son dropped a glass in our kitchen. My son has Down syndrome and doesn’t always understand situations the way I do. Especially when the situation is urgent or dangerous.
I heard the glass break and when I arrived on the scene, there he stood, barefoot and surrounded by shattered glass. Now, what do you think I did? Do you think I shouted at him, “Look what you’ve done! Why don’t you stand there and bleed awhile? You made this mess. Find your own way out of it.” (Even though I may react badly often, I would never leave my son to his own mess!)
What Happened? I shouted, “Don’t move!”, which startled him. And, my wife and I began clearing glass so we could get to him.
Whenever you are faced with cleaning up an overwhelming mess, you just start. You choose a starting point. A flooded basement, a room of kids’ toys, or a floor full of broken glass all begin the same way, one thing at a time.
Adam’s choice left mankind stranded in a sea of broken glass. God could have walked away. He could have just hung an “out of order” sign on the whole lot of us, closed the door, and moved on with His wonderful existence. But He didn’t. He chose to get involved, which meant he had to start somewhere. God’s starting point occurred when He picked up the first piece of glass by the name of Abraham.
|–Which of the following reflects your view? Why? God accepts me based upon my birth. God accepts me based on my behavior. God accepts me based upon my belief. God accepts me based upon some combination of the above.|
–Have you ever taken a first step in restoring a relationship? If so, what was it like for you?
God’s Starting Over Point was Abraham.
God Started with an Idol-worshipping Man. Abram had no children and no prospect of children, yet he would give birth to a nation that would touch the world.
Genesis 12:1-3 (NLT) The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
God makes three promises, all of which came true AFTER Abram’s lifetime. Promise #1 – “I will make you into a great nation. Promise #2 – . . . and I will bless you; I will make your name great [famous] . . . Promise #3 – . . . and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
|–Do you believe adversity is part of God’s plan? Why or why not?|
–When have you seen someone demonstrate great faith despite his or her circumstances?
Through Abraham, God Introduced a New Relational Equation.
One night, Abraham was praying, like we would pray if we were him. “Lord, you told me I would be a nation. I would be happy just to be a father. How about we have one child? Just one. If not, my servant Eliezer will inherit everything.” God’s answer?
Genesis 15:4-5 (NLT) 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.” 5 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 then, one of the most important statements in the entire Bible comes out of nowhere. It was almost meaningless in this context, but it created a new way to relate to God.
Genesis 15:6 (NLT) And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.
Abram was stamped as righteous (given a right standing with God) because of his faith in the promise of God when all the evidence was to the contrary. Lying, shortcutting, idol-worshipping Abram trusted God and that made him right with God.
Righteousness Comes by Faith.
Before there were Ten Commandments and before the divine law was given, Abraham was given the label of “righteous” because he believed. Everything in you and me says that a right standing with God is earned by doing the right things. Everything we learn from religion, school, athletics, and work indicates the same…
But what if Religion and Society have Made it More Complicated than it was Supposed to be? What if Abram’s relationship with God is the pattern for what a relationship with God looks like? What if the starting point for a relationship with God is trust?
As you start (or restart) your faith journey, you will need to wrestle with the question, “On what grounds, if any, will God find me acceptable?” Birth? Behavior? Or, Belief?
|–What experiences have you had that have made it difficult to trust God?|
–In what area of your life is God currently calling you to trust him? What is one thing you can do this week to trust him? What can this group do to support you?
Used Under License from North Point Ministries