“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9
A wise pastor once summarized the story of Abraham as-
God says to Abraham: “I’m going to send you to a new land. Leave behind your family, your friends, your culture and go! Get out!” But Abraham asks: “Where? How do I get there?” And God answers: “I’ll tell you later. Just go now.”
As Abraham wanders, God says to him again: “I’m going to give you an incredible inheritance, a bountiful, land filled with milk and honey.” And Abraham replies: “Where?” God explains: “I’ll tell you later. Just wait.”
Again God speaks to Abraham and says: “I promise to make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, as great as the sand on the shore.” But Abraham recognizing his old age asks: “How?” God answers: “I’ll tell you later. Just wait.”
When God finally sends a child, He then tells Abraham: “Abraham, I need you to sacrifice your child.” Abraham cries out: “Why?!” God answers: “I’ll tell you later. Walk up the mountain…”
God appears to Abraham and makes an incredible promise. He will make a nation and bless all generations through Abraham. Land, children, and an inheritance that means an entirely new life. The challenge? God lays out the entire vision, but He does not give Abraham a road map of how to get there. Instead, Abraham receives the information one small step at a time.
Would you be able to leave your family, your home, your culture, your entire life without a detailed plan? Would you be willing to step out in faith? How would you trust God to make good on His promise? The challenges we face are the same that Abraham and Sarah faced. The mistakes that we make are the same mistakes that Abraham and Sarah made. They heard the promise. They believed it. But when they thought that God was “slow” to answer or keep His promise, they took matters into their own hands to get things accomplished. Laughing in God’s face, lying to Pharaoh, and even using the means of the day to obtain an heir — using the household servant. None of this was how God intended to fulfill his promise.
As a community, we are going to be exploring people throughout Scripture who had strange encounters with God. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samson, and so many more… They all received a promise from God, and took matters into their own hands to bring about its fulfillment. Trying to force God’s hand to get the promise and a blessing on their own terms. Each time it came with serious consequences. And what was more amazing still? Even in the midst of this, God still kept His promise.
For it’s true that Abraham never saw with his own eyes, the day that his descendant – Jesus- came to take our sins upon his shoulders and truly bless all generations. It was Judas’ plan to crown a Messiah by force. He was so confused when Jesus defeated sin, death, and the grave by becoming the curse that rested upon us. And ultimately, the empty tomb testifies to the fact that although Abraham never saw the Promised Land, that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us there.
In Psalm 119:105, we read: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” A flashlight or lantern doesn’t actually illuminate the whole path, but typically just the next few steps. It is our prayer that individually, and as a community, we would begin to understand what it is to lean in to the promise of God, and that we would depend on His Word to light our way. One small step at a time. Even when it isn’t what we have planned or expect. “For He who is faithful will accomplish it.”
Goal of Series –
- Assist the congregation to corporately and individually focus on the vision, call, and identity that they have received from God through His Word.
- Identify the Call & Vision
- Confess Areas where we try and “force” the issue to accomplish the end game
- End with next steps for congregation and individuals (Identify the Current Reality, God’s Intended Future and the Specific Action Steps Needed)
- Allow for follow up with dyads and triads
- Begin with 4 stories of the “corporate” mindset and focus on the congregation’s current reality. (Allows us to introduce the topic slowly and “wade” into the water.)
- Next 3 stories – focus on individuals & families
- Final Sunday Wrap Up
Scripture Texts For Series –
- Big Picture/Corporate Congregational Focus –
- Week 1: Abraham (Genesis 16)
- Week 2: Moses (Numbers 20:2-13)
- Week 3: Jacob (Genesis 32: 22-32)
- Individual/Family Focus
- Week 1: Jonah (Jonah 1:1-6, 17, 3:1-5, 10; 4:1-11)
- Week 2: Judas John 13:1-2, 21-30, 18:1-11)
- Week 3: Paul (Acts 8:1-3 – Acts 9:1-19)
- Wrap Up Final Sunday
- Final Wrap Up – Great Commission (Matthew 28)
- Back Ups (For Flexibility in case more than 8 weeks are needed)
- Cain & Abel
- Aaron (Exodus 32)
- James & John
*Note for preaching and worship planning – brief introduction of each person and their story found in the Bible but focus on key text listed here