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1. Abraham – Unbelief detox

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‘Abraham was the father of Isaac…’ (Matthew 1:2)

Read Genesis 12:1-3, 10-20; Genesis 15:1-6.

Abraham walked by faith. He famously went going not knowing, leaving his country, kindred and father’s house behind (Genesis 12:1-3) – three of the most valued identity markers of his day. But he also wrestled with doubt and unbelief. When famine came, he went down to Egypt and came very close, or did, pimp out his wife, rather than seek God and trust the Lord to provide (Genesis 12:10-20). Not learning from his mistakes, he would do something similar again in Genesis 20.

When year after year went by with no answer to God’s promise of their own flesh and blood son, he gave up and assumed one of his servants would inherit instead. Then, even after God had reassured him (Genesis 15:1-6), he and Sarah hatched a horrible (culturally conditioned) plan, taking matters into their own hands, turning a servant into a sex slave, and conceived Ishmael (Genesis 16).

They still believed in God, but they stopped believing in him as they should. God wasn’t Almighty anymore, and his timing certainly wasn’t perfect. Isn’t this how many of us live? Taking matters into our own hands? Have you stopped believing in God as you should?

Let’s be honest, we all often stop believing in God as the Almighty God who creates out of nothing; the God who delights to bring life in the midst of barrenness. We arrogantly choose, instead, to believe more in ourselves. ‘Can we fix it?’

‘Yes we can’ we say. Or rather, because of our individualistic conditioning, ‘yes I can’. When the going gets tough, we often get going rather than grow in our trusting. We get busy doing, rather than get busy dying to sin.

God would encourage us to ‘Look up’, like he did Abraham, and try in jaw-dropping vain to count the stars God generously made (Genesis 1:16) – seeing his tremendous power in creation. He really does have the ability to make good on his promises. But he’d also urge you to look up to the cross, to see Jesus achieving victory through suffering: providential power. God is good. He is in control. He can turn anything around. You can trust him. He’s not angry if you doubt him, but he’s ‘upset’ if you don’t own your unbelief.

Like the father with his suffering son (Mark 9:14-29), we may sometimes question God’s ability to heal or to be born of a virgin at Christmas. Do you live with an ‘If you can’ God mindset? Jesus would challenge you, ‘‘If you can’! All things are possible for him who believes.’ Our response should be also, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.’

Almighty Creator God, Lord of power and glory, have mercy on me. Forgive me for my unbelief. Forgive me for arrogantly believing more in my ability than yours. Forgive me for taking matters into my own hands. Thank you for cleansing me. Please help me to see you. Help me to trust you. Help my unbelief. Teach me to walk by faith like you did Abraham. Please restore and enrich divine joy in my life today through deeper fellowship with you. Amen.

God never gave up on Abraham; he continued to disciple him. So much so that Abraham matured to trust God, even to the point of being willing to sacrifice his precious, promised son, Isaac, believing God would raise him from the dead (Hebrews 11:19).

God will never give up on you, which is a great encouragement to keep believing in him and to keep coming to him in confession and repentance of sin when you stop believing in him as you should. Jesus answered the father’s humble prayer mentioned above by immediately restoring his son; he’s just as willing to heal your heart of sinful unbelief.

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