Posted by: mikenicholsblog | January 22, 2015

He regards us no less

Looking up to heroes is a normal part of life. We all wish we could have the athletic skill of our favorite stars, sing like those with incredible talent or lead like those we tend to follow. Where life really makes a difference — in the spiritual realm — we also look up to certain people. For you, it may be a spiritual mentor, or someone with great public gifts, but we have all imagined what it would be like to have the talent, insight or the perceived perfect life of one of our heroes.

Most followers of Christ also have heroes from Scripture. You look at their life and faith and wish you could honor the Father in the same ways they did, but just like contemporary athletes, singers and leaders, our heroes from Scripture had their share of failures. Even a casual reading through Genesis gives clear insight into the great failures of one of the original heroes of faith … Abraham.  God chose him for a special purpose, to lead His chosen people.  His life was a picture of great faith … and monumental failures.

When God initially called Abram to leave his home, he obeyed by faith. As we view his continuing journey, however, God, through Scripture, reveals meaningful lapses in this full-on faith. I believe it’s fair to say that Abraham’s life is a mirror of our story; days of faith and moments of “What was I thinking?!” and “What did I just do?!” Many 21st century Christians lean on our weaknesses as an excuse for not accomplishing all the Father has planned for us.  All Christ-followers will one day stand before God and give an account of our lives. Like Abraham, there will be moments of regret, but our lives can be a testimony of faith. The choice is ours!

After leaving his country and following God, Abram went to Egypt and made a great blunder (he sinned … big time!). As I wrote last week, he had Sarai portray herself as his sister. His terrible plan caused God to bring disease on the Pharaoh and his household. Following that miserable failure, Scripture gives a picture of Abram’s spiritual character and selflessness. We are told that he called on the name of the Lord, and when there was conflict with his men and the men of his nephew Lot, Abram was selfless. He let Lot have his choice of land. In looking at my life (as I am sure you look at yours), our story is also battle between faith, fear and choices.

Imperfection bleeds over the pages of Genesis 16 in the tragic story of Abram having a child with Sarai’s servant, Hagar. Abram failed and history has recorded the results, but in the very next chapter (thirteen years later) God says, “walk before me and be blameless.” We see God in the sealing of His covenant with Abram, and also giving Abram and Sarai new names … Abraham and Sarah.  Even after such a dramatic failure, God knew the heart of Abraham and Sarah.  The Father knew that He could trust them with His plan.   He regards us no less than Abraham.  He knows that we are not faultless, and still He chooses to use us when we turn from our sin and seek Him.  He pursues us, when we deserve no less than His divine wrath.  He desires a relationship with us, and his Spirit works in us to produce a tested and perfected faith.

Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22) was perhaps the pinnacle of Abraham’s great faith in his journey with God. As Scripture recounts the story, Abraham never flinched in taking his beloved son all the way to the point of a knife. He was willing to follow God’s instructions to sacrifice his son, reasoning that God could even raise him from the dead (Heb. 11:17-19). God provided a ram, but Abraham passed an amazing test of faith, and has given us an undeniable lesson that God can be trusted. I see all of us all in Abraham’s failures, and am convinced we can model Abraham’s faith.  I am not sure how God will choose to reward your faith and mine, but I truly believe He will.

In spite of our failures, will our lives be a legacy of faith?

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