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Thy prayer was heard – Abraham, my Friend – Part 06

Chapter One: Beginnings

unsatisfied hungers

The story of Abraham’s family begins with a little list of sons and daughters which comes to an abrupt stop; “but Sarai was barren she had no child”. Perhaps it’s something to do with the wonder of the inspired scripture but as I read the words, 40 centuries later, I can still feel the pain. She lives in the bosom of her family, in relative prosperity. She is a handsome woman with a loving husband. What more could she want? “But Sarai was barren she had no child”.

The book of Proverbs has lots of lists too. It lists four unquenchable hungers; things which cannot be satisfied or put off. Four hungers which know no rest and no respite; the grave, the barren womb, the parched earth, the raging fire. [Prov 30:16] The insistence of these four hungers submits to no reason. In Sarah this unsatisfied longing was to lead to a short term compromise whose repercussions are with us 40 centuries later, but that is farther into our story. Sarah’s hunger led her to the conclusion that ‘something must be done’ not realising, as Oswald Chambers said, that “despair is ever the gateway of faith”. It seems to me that frustration is always a call to prayer, never to action. Achievements motivated by frustration always carry bitter seeds.

My soul, wait thou in silence for God only; For my expectation is from him. [Ps 65:2 ASV]

frustration

The relatively new Hebrew word “frustration” did not appear in Hebrew until the mid-seventies, and in fact, before it was absorbed into the language, people who spoke only Hebrew were never “frustrated”. They may have been “angry” or “disappointed” or they may have experienced a sense of turmoil in certain situations, but the angry label of frustration itself was unknown to them until the word for it was translated from the English language. Sometimes it is good to force ourselves to use a different word. If we were not allowed to use the word ‘frustration’ and had to use another in its place we might make an interesting discovery. ‘Frustration’ always has a solution as long as someone else will do something. “I am frustrated, and it is his fault.” If I force myself to use the word ‘angry’ or ‘disappointed’ it opens up another solution; I am the problem. Christians have long had an alternative spelling for ‘disappointment’, they change the ‘d’ to an ‘H’. Frustration is usually just a sign that God is not allowing me to be god, and I am discovering that I don’t like the idea.

There are a surprising number of stories in the Bible relating to childlessness. When God introduced Himself to Moses He called Himself the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Did you notice that each one of these men had a wife who was barren? Was this part of the pain that caused them to seek God? We subsequently read that the sons of both Rebekah and Rachel were born in direct answer to prayer. [Gen 25:21, 30:22] but what of Sarah? Did she pray? Did Abraham? And when you have prayed, what do you do then?

another ‘hungry’ couple

There is a wonderful illustration of answered prayer in Luke’s gospel. The issue was the same; childlessness. Zechariah and Elisabeth have the greatest marriage testimony in scripture.

They were both righteous before God, walking in the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. [Luke 1:6]

This would be exceptional if it referred to one person, but this verse plainly says both. Their walk together would have begun when they were young folk in the hills in Judaea. Their marriage would have been accompanied by prayer for children and Elisabeth would have breathed her silent amens. As the early years passed well meaning friends would have offered their condolences; “don’t worry dear, it will be alright, you wait and see.” And they did wait, and the years passed, and more years passed, and still they waited…

Through all these years of heartache, and it had other painful connotations in their culture, they maintained their walk in the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. They never became hard and critical, never became bitter, just kept on walking in the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. What a pair! At some point in their long wait Zechariah had prayed. Of course, he had prayed often, but there was one particular time he prayed… How do I know? Because of Gabriel’s word to him;

‘Fear not, Zacharias, for thy prayer was heard, and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear a son to thee, and thou shalt call his name John. [Luke 1:13 Literal]

This is a reference to a single prayer that was heard sometime in the past.

in His way and in His time

I have no doubt that Zechariah knew exactly which prayer Gabriel was referring to. I think that at some point he had poured his heart out to God. He had known it was different, that he had ‘got through’. Perhaps he returned and kept the secret in his heart, and the years passed, and more years passed. And the memory grew dim, and they ‘both were now well stricken in years’. The last hopes faded and still they walked in the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. When God hears prayer He doesn’t always change things immediately, but change they will… in His way and in His time.

Sometimes when we pray we know that our prayer is heard. To continue to pray when we know the prayer has been heard would be pointless. Worse, we could conceivably pray ourselves from faith back into unbelief. There is no longer a need to pray when the prayer is heard. Now all that is needed is patient waiting upon God. This was Elijah’s pattern. He prayed once but sent his servant seven times, and while the servant was to-ing and fro-ing Elijah was waiting upon God, his face between his knees.

So what are your secret sorrows? From the outside all looks well and all your peers are impressed but deep within you have those deep-rooted hungers. Child of God, lay hold of God in prayer, let the tears flow, be honest, tell Him how you feel; God cannot change the person you are pretending to be! But when you know He has heard, stop pestering Him. Trust it all into His hands. Hold it before Him in expectation. David’s simple testimony was

this poor man cried, and the LORD heard him. [Ps 34:6]

It was from the pain and joy of her own experience that Elisabeth was able to bring a unique encouragement to a young woman who was just beginning to carry an amazing promise;

And blessed is she that believed; for there shall be a fulfilment of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord. [Luke 1:45]

Looking towards the city – Abraham, my Friend – Part 05

Chapter One: Beginnings

Looking forward to The City

“A journey of a thousand miles,” say the Chinese, “begins with the first step.” The beginning of any venture is vital; if there are mistakes in the foundation it will be very costly to rectify. This is especially true of spiritual buildings and journeys. How often God has to bring us back to a place where we ‘began wrong’ before He can take us onwards in His will. But the first step is not the whole journey, and to begin is no guarantee that we will arrive. How can that initial enthusiasm be sustained? Desire is the dynamic of progress. Ultimately desires determine direction and direction determines destiny. In elemental terms, we follow our hungers. We shall not understand Abraham’s perseverance unless, in our more modern phrase, we can discover what ‘made him tick’.

the city

Abraham was torn out of his context with a command to get thee out and a promise that his destination would be the land that I will show thee. What gave him the courage to start and subsequently sustained him? Again we find the answer not in the Genesis narrative but in the Spirit inspired commentary;

he was looking for the city, having foundations, whose architect and builder is God. [Heb 11:10]

This is a fascinating phrase which has deep roots biblically. Even the tense is interesting. He was looking for; this is the imperfect, or continuing past tense. He was continually looking for the city. From the remainder of the verse we see that the statement covers his exodus and his perpetual sojourning; this was the abiding pattern of his life. From the moment of his leaving Ur of the Chaldees he was constantly looking for the city. I’ve restored the definite article too; this was not just any convenient city which he might stumble into, this was The City. The City would be distinguished from all other cities by the fact that its architect and builder was God Himself. What was Abraham looking for?

And where did he expect to find it? The word ‘looking for’ is not the word for ‘search’; Abraham was not ‘searching for The City’. The word is used elsewhere in the New Testament and earlier in the book of Hebrews;

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. [Heb 10:12,13]

Here the same word ‘looking for’ is translated ‘expecting’. It has the sense of expectation, anticipation. It is not ‘looking for’ but ‘looking forward to’. Expectation/anticipation is a vital ingredient of faith. This was not some weary, dogged plod through hundreds of miles of sand. This was a man with an excitement and hunger which drew him on in every step. He was fully expecting to see The City.

a tale of two cities

In some ways the Bible is a tale of two cities. The first city was called Enoch and was built in direct defiance of God’s punishment. [Gen 4:12-17] Its architect and builder was Cain. He had murdered his brother and God’s sentence was that Cain would be a ‘fugitive and a wanderer’. Cain is fearful that man’s vengeance might be more summary than God’s and complains. God marks Cain as a man under God’s sentence not man’s. Cain leaves God’s presence and heads eastwards, but he refuses to remain under God’s sentence and defends himself against those he fears by building the first city. This is man refusing to submit to God and who is determined to ensure his own safety. The human race is obsessed with security. We feel vulnerable and exposed so we build our cities. (We need a 4000 year mind-set transplant here; in the 21st century everyone is heading for the country because of the dangers in the cities. In Abraham’s day people lived in cities to secure themselves against the dangers of the country.)

Biblically, the city becomes a symbol of arrogant security. Man is secure, against God Himself. The cities became vast enterprises fitted for every danger; they could sometimes withstand sieges for years. They come to represent absolute systematised independence. The city comes to symbolise ‘The World’, not ‘evil’ necessarily in its most obscene forms but, the ‘evil’ that is independence from God.

There is a wonderful cameo of the rich man captured in Proverbs 18:11

The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit.

The rich man needs nothing and no-one; his riches are his strong city; it’s a powerful picture. The rich man can buy, for the most part, protection, health, provisions. He is secure in his independence. The World is rich; its technology, strategy, science, education, religion, provide a powerful defence. Some years ago a member of the British Royal family addressed a meeting of farmers. He spoke of their industry, their skills, their machinery, and their miracle crops. He summed up the confidence of the industry with the phrase “we don’t need God now”. That is the spirit of the World, not essentially entertainment, philosophy or anti-religious, but independence from God. The ultimate among cities, in the development of its arrogant independence from God, is Babylon, with its tower;

And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. [Gen 11:4]

Their project echoes the even older blasphemy of the power behind Babylon’s king; “I will ascend into heaven” [Isaiah 14:13-15]

Lest we are too quick to point the finger we should examine our own resources, our own riches. Many are rich in character, spiritual experience, bible knowledge, communication skills, musical ability, counselling expertise. If God didn’t turn up to the meeting on Sunday, how would we know? How far can we manage without Him? The answer to that question is the measure of our worldliness. Christ’s testimony was, “of myself I can do nothing”.

Abraham had seen cities. If he left Haran at 75 years of age that would put his birth pretty much in the middle of the dynasty of Ur-Nammu. Ur-Nammu himself reigned from BC 2112-2095 and his family reigned until the fall of Ur in BC 2004. Ur-Nammu was one of the great builders of the ancient world; the Great Ziggurat of Ur being his greatest remaining work. Abraham’s growing years were spent among the evidences of empire, as they came under attack. He saw Ur in its finest hour and watched as it began to be destroyed. The builders of the day built on solid foundations and tried to include spiritual foundations too. The British Museum has an Ur-Nammu Foundation Peg; a small bronze peg, perhaps pushed into the ground by Ur-Nammu himself, depicting him as a priest providing a foundation for the city. Abraham had seen its glory, and was watching its fall. He had seen, with the unerring sight of revelation, that on earth we have no continuing city.

God’s city

In its place had grown a hunger for spiritual reality, not another city, but The City. A city which would be all that Ur could never be. A city with solid foundations like no other, a city that had God as its architect and builder. To Abraham this city was more ‘real’ than any earthly city. He hungered for a security which could be found in God alone. Henceforth he would put his confidence not in the works of the earth but in heavenly things. There is a worldly-wise saying that suggests that a man or woman can become so heavenly minded that they are no earthly use; the opposite is the more pressing danger. If we would become Friends of God we will need to become those who have discovered that heaven is more ‘real’ than earth, and live our lives on earth with the hourly expectation that heaven will break through.

The sacred record comes to its end with the book of Revelation and human destiny finds its consummation in a breathtaking vision. The translations hardly do full justice to John’s words;

and I John saw The City, the Holy One, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [Rev 21:2]

A city, not prepared to withstand attack, but prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; she will find her consummation not in the defiant arrogance of self-sufficiency but in the submission of love.

image002I once heard it testified of a man that of all men he would find transition to heaven the least difficult. Surely, these are the men (and women) of whom God will say, “Welcome, My Friend”. Abraham looked forward to The City, for the whole of his pilgrimage. The hope and expectation sustained him, and the day came when a single next-step carried him through its open gates. As the New Year opens* may we walk its days with such consciousness of heaven’s nearness that we feel the very next step may see us home. Have a blessed 2004.

* originally written in January 2004

when he was called – Abraham, my Friend – Part 04

Chapter One: Beginnings

When he was called

The story of the steps of the faith of our father Abraham is not only to be found in the book of Genesis. Again and again the scriptures return to this man, often adding unique information to the original story. So the story continually builds of the man who, a thousand years after his death, God still called, “Abraham, My Friend.” [Isaiah 41:8]

Abraham and his clan

I’m wondering how many people actually left Ur at this time. At the head of the group was Terah, whose name links him with the worship of the moon-god. He was head of the clan and the scripture says he took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law. [Gen 11:31] He set out with the intention of travelling to the land of Canaan, although he never arrived. From later evidence we deduce that Nahor and his family were also part of the caravan. I wonder too how many servants and members of the household were part of this migration. It seems from the evidence that the ‘clan’ prospered in Haran and on the second leg of the journey to Canaan they took with them all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran. [Gen 12] By the time we get to Genesis 14 Abraham is a minor chieftain with a personal army of over 300 men. If we give each of those men a wife and 2 children, we can estimate that by this time Abraham’s own ‘clan’ was more than 1200 souls. As an answer to our original question, my personal estimate of the size of that original group which migrated from Ur is more than 2000 souls. Time to revise those Sunday School pictures of Abraham in his solitary tent in an empty desert?

Motivation

We cannot be sure of the motivations for their journey. Perhaps they were migrants or refugees from troubled areas. Perhaps Lot just followed his grandfather. Perhaps the servants had no choice. But for one man out of the thousands his motivation is clear; Abraham had seen God.

And he (Stephen) said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, Acts 7:2

We can see again the insistence on God’s initiation. Abraham did not find God, God appeared to Abraham. In the midst of his muddled theology Zophar the Naamathite asked Job a very pertinent question; Canst thou by searching find out God? [Job 11:7] The answer, by implication, is ‘No’. It is not possible for the finite to discover the infinite. We could know nothing at all about God if God had not chosen to reveal Himself, but we are not left in the dark; the God of glory has appeared. The God of glory, The King of Glory, the Lord of Glory seem to be titles of the Son. Is this partly what the Lord was referring to when He said Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad [John 8:56]? We shall look at some other possibilities later. According to the scripture, God’s appearances to Abraham were very few but Abraham’s response to those revelations changed the history of the world.

the biblebase logoThere is something very wonderful about this first event. It did not happen in a lonely desert or at a ‘convention’. It happened “when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran”. In the city dedicated to the moon-god, in a family which served the moon-god, “the God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham”. In the ordinary course of his everyday life God broke in and the God of glory appeared. God still breaks in to the everyday patterns of our lives. Later we look back at His providential preparations and see His hand in a thousand touches upon our lives, but for the man or woman who will be God’s Friend there must be a conscious encounter. We may not see a form or hear a voice but we will have absolutely no doubt that we have met Him. It may be that He will appear in the Scripture as we read, but if so it will not be logical deductions drawn from proof texts, as Tozer described it, but a vital encounter with God Himself. It is this encounter with God that begins the process of separation from the herd. Many may appear to be heading in the same general direction, thousands even, and for a while their paths may be side by side, but ultimately Abraham’s footsteps of faith will lead him in unique ways. Abraham’s real journey begins with a personal revelation of the God of Glory. So does ours.

I-Thou encounters

We are not told if He fell at His feet as dead, as did John in the Revelation, but like John he heard a voice;

Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

We shall need to return to this word to Abraham, but for the time being please take careful note of the personal pronouns, I and thee; ‘thou’ is singular. This is an ‘I-Thee’ encounter initiated by God. In the midst of his family, and in the midst of a city wholly given to idolatry, the voice of God singled out Abraham; “Get thee out of thy country…and I will make of thee a great nation”.

There is promise of great personal blessing here and the promise of being a channel for even greater blessing but its implied condition is obedience. God says ‘Abraham, you do this, and I will do this’. The moment is captured wonderfully in a single verse;

by faith, Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. [Hebrews 11:8]

If we compress the verse we may see its impact more clearly; “Abraham, when he was called… obeyed”. It is a simple life if we would but live it simply. Faith is response to revelation; faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. We cannot kick-start faith, God must speak. We must not berate ourselves that others have achieved more and gone further; we cannot ‘obey’ until He ‘calls’. To go earlier would be presumption, to delay would be disobedience. But when God speaks, His word has creative power in the lives of those who receive it, and we must never say “I can’t”. For, as Gabriel said to Mary, “no word from God is powerless”. When God speaks you can walk on water and you can stretch out withered hands. But not until He speaks.

the pilgrim

This word to Abraham is a little short on explanation. It is simply a command; “Get thee out”. It was addressed to Abraham and no other. It was the beginning of a pilgrimage in which God would strip Abraham of all dependence upon any other resource than God Himself. He would not be able, as a contingency, to ‘fall back’ on his family or culture; this is all the eggs in one basket. And the simple wonder of it all is that “when he was called.. he obeyed”, and he went out, “not knowing whither he went”. Many would obey God if He would only explain to them why or where He was leading them, but Abraham’s greatness lies in that “not knowing whither”. He can have had no idea where his simple obedience would lead him… nor can we.

Here then are our final questions; when He calls ‘will I obey or will I demand an explanation?’ ‘will I demand a vision for the future or will my vision of God Himself suffice?’ ‘will I demand a route map with all the answers written in or am I ready to move out now not knowing?’ The God of glory stands ready to be ‘all in all’ to the man or woman who, when He calls, by faith, will obey.

Known unto God – Abraham, my Friend – Part 03

Chapter One: Beginnings

Known unto God

In British War Cemeteries throughout the world you often come across the words ‘Known unto God’ engraved on tombstones. The words were authored by the writer Rudyard Kipling whose own son was killed in World War I.

AA_unkown_headstone-L

It signifies that the person whose remains lie in this spot cannot be identified. At one and the same time, it is a bleak comment on the lonely anonymous sacrifice of so many and a reminder that, in truth, we are never alone.

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. [Matthew 10:29]

Modern translators feel an urge to complete this sentence and add words such as ‘without your Father’s will’ or ‘without your Father’s knowledge’ or ‘without your Father’s permission’. It is better to leave it just as it is, ‘nothing happens without your Father’ and then think about the implications; God cannot be excluded. (more…)

Beginnings – Abraham, My Friend – 02

Chapter One: Beginnings

In the beginning…

Every Christian biography should begin with the words “In the beginning God..” Our Bible begins with these words and, on reflection, it could begin with no others. How else would anything ‘begin’? The gospel according to John mirrors Genesis and expands it;

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. [John 1:1-3] …

It is the only explanation for everything; without Him there is nothing. It is the only explanation for anything; without him was not anything. That’s a question that atheistic cosmologists refuse to ask; ‘why is there anything?’ It was said of such cosmologists, by a fellow cosmologist, that they are “often in error but never in doubt”. Ask them ‘how?’ and you will hear the most extraordinary explanations of quantum theory and oscillating super-strings expressed with absolute certainty. Ask them ‘why?’ and there is no answer. Their calculations take us to the first micro-seconds of the cosmos but only revelation can take us back to the beginning where God already was.
(more…)

Abraham, My Friend 01

Abraham, My Friend
The Making of a Praying Man

Preface:
Every story has a purpose and my re-telling of this story has its purpose revealed in our sub-title. Abraham’s life is rich in illustration of the purposes of God and the daily incidents of a pilgrim but our ultimate goal will be to identify elements in the life of Abraham which made possible this amazing testimony from God Himself; Abraham, My Friend. [Isaiah 41:8]

There are many wonderful ways in which God describes His relationship with men and woman but this must be one of the most extraordinary; Abraham, My Friend. If Abraham had referred to God as ‘my friend’ we might have thought that he was guilty of ‘name-dropping’; the way in which some folk try to derive significance by association. If I were to refer to ‘Abraham, my friend’ I might lay myself open to that same accusation, but why should God refer to this man as ‘My Friend’?

Perhaps there is an indication in the New Testament. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. [John 15:15] Friends become the carriers of unique, intimate, knowledge because they can be trusted. It almost takes the breath away to say it but it is a regular testimony of scripture that God trusted Abraham. Abraham himself is the archetype of the man who trusts God but Abraham, My Friend, is an indication of God’s reliance upon Abraham. It brings to mind many another scripture; I sought for a man… …to stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. [Ezek 22:30] Oh, what would He do if He could only find the right man? EM Bounds famous book, Power through Prayer, begins with the statement that the “Men are God’s method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.” In turn, that brings to mind the comment of Paul Billheimer “Who knows what God would do for His servants if He dared?”

In Abraham, God found the kind of man He had looked for, a man who would become My Friend. He became God’s trusted agent, ‘our man on earth’ through whom God would further His purpose. Not in ignorance, as some kind of automaton blindly following an instruction, but as My Friend. What God accomplishes on earth He will accomplish through His Friends. Christians love to say that God accomplishes wonderful things ‘in spite of’ His servants. There is a truth in this statement but it ought not to blind us to the opposite and equally true statement that He accomplishes even more ‘because of His servants’. He will accomplish more through one trusted Friend than through a billion super-efficient tools. “Men are God’s method.”

Prayer, of course, functions at many levels; it usually begins with a sense of dependence and need. The man or woman who does not pray is an ‘atheist’ no matter what theology he subscribes to. He is also a ‘fool’; a word reserved, biblically, for those who leave God out of their reckoning. But prayer that remains at the level of personal need is still-born. The unique glory of the pray-er is that he has more than one friend; he has two. And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? [Luke 11:5,6] That’s not one friend, but two. The pray-er is the living link between the Resource and the Need. If this chain is broken at either end the Resource and the Need remain separated; he must maintain living contact with both. There is valuable insight here. The pray-er is conscious of his own lack and inadequacy. He has nothing to set before him but the wonder is that he has access to another friend who has all necessary resources. Only by maintaining our links with both friends can be the channel of the blessing.

It took the Quakers to remind us that ‘Friends’ is a New Testament description of believers gathered in a local church. But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name. [3 John 1:14] As we regard the settings where God has placed us, how well are we functioning as Friends? The Church comes under a lot a legitimate criticism but we would be using our unique role to better purpose if we prayed for our Friends. If we know that they lack resources, we know where we can go to find an answer. It would doubtless have many spin-off blessings; double portions even. It is recorded that the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. [Job 42:10] Perhaps if we are seeking release and blessing our best route is to pray for our friends.

The Greek word for ‘friend’ (gk: philos) is a word of tenderness and companionship. It is a word which speaks of fellowship. The original Hebrew word for ‘friend’ has another mood, (hb: ahab) it is the word for ‘Lover’. The Septuagint translators translated it not by ‘philos’ but ‘agapE’ giving something like ‘Abraham, My Lover’. It shocks us to read it. God’s love is not marked by faithful duty and companionship only, but by passion and exclusive personal commitment.

We begin to sense the personal relationship that blossomed between God and man. If Abraham is a man characterised by his faith, his faith is characterised by his love; this is authentic faith, faith that worketh by love [Gal 5:6]. It was not from isolated experiences that Abraham was designated as Abraham, My Friend but from a continuing relationship that grew throughout a lifetime. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. It came not primarily from enormous crisis experiences characterised by giant leaps into the dark, but through the single ‘steps of that faith of our father Abraham’. [Rom 4:12]

So it is with Abraham’s children, we grow not by big bangs and heroic set-piece triumphs, but by daily obediences of love. Not by stage-managed performances in the public arena but in the secret places where only God is witness. For those who measure success by visible effects it is often a weary plodding existence, but for those who genuinely seek only to be approved unto God it holds the prospect that in some secret place, one day, God will say this is ‘Abraham, My Friend’

Abraham, My Friend – the making of a man of God – 01

Preface:

Every story has a purpose and my re-telling of this story has its purpose revealed in our sub-title. Abraham’s life is rich in illustration of the purposes of God and the daily incidents of a pilgrim but our ultimate goal will be to identify elements in the life of Abraham which made possible this amazing testimony from God Himself; Abraham, My Friend. [Isaiah 41:8]

Abraham, My Friend

There are many wonderful ways in which God describes His relationship with men and woman but this must be one of the most extraordinary; Abraham, My Friend. If Abraham had referred to God as ‘my friend’ we might have thought that he was guilty of ‘name-dropping’; the way in which some folk try to derive significance by association. If I were to refer to ‘Abraham, my friend’ I might lay myself open to that same accusation, but why should God refer to this man as ‘My Friend’? (more…)

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