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LIFE SEEDS: The Challenge of Abram’s Fourth Promise

 

The blessings of God are unmatched in all the earth. They can speak to particular situations about which no one else knows.

They can defy nature, and indeed, amaze us. Have you ever experienced a situation where God answered a prayer for a specific thing that you recognized was not remotely possible in human terms? And then, when God delivers, you find yourself amazed — and quietly embarrassed by your amazement?

Given the sheer nature of one’s life being touched by God, there is certainly nothing wrong with seeking that which only comes  from the Lord? Hence, it is not uncommon that I part a conversation with friends and family in this manner: “I pray you find favor from God and man.” 

I pray that for you today. But more so, I want to challenge you to make a regular habit of maintaining what I refer to as AFP Lifestyle. The AFP stands for Abram’s Fourth Promise.

In Genesis Chapter 12, we find the Lord making a covenant to extend Abram’s progeny throughout the earth. To Abram, God makes four specific promises. 

“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing:” [Gen 12:2].

The first three promises clearly enlarge Abram. God would make Abram the father of a nation. And in that, Abram would be the recipient of great blessings from Heaven. His name (later changed to Abraham in Genesis 17:5) would go down in the whole history of mankind. Hence, it comes of no wonder that the Jewish elders of Christ’s time on earth readily boasted on being Abraham’s sons. That Paul remembered Abram in Hebrews Chapter 11. And that we still speak Abram’s name today.

Despite the magnitude of the three above promises, our focus is on the fourth promise. In it, God transitions from Abram as the object of the promise, to Abram as the subject of God’s promise. Ultimately, Abram would be called to be the blessing. God ordained Abram’s role in the plan for man as one of conduit through which come everything from societal structure, resources, and patriarchs of the twelve tribes of the House of Israel.

Today, we are children of the same God that called Abram. And our calling is not unlike father of many nation in that we too are called to be the blessing. The fourth promise is not found in focusing on what we want from God, but considers what God’s requires of us. The fourth promise transforms our vision from being blessed to an aggressive pursuit of opportunities that enhance the lives of others. Laying hold of the fourth promise is to present ourselves as the “favor-among-men” conduit for the Lord. Embracing service aspects of the covenant propels us into deeper relationships with friends, neighbors, family members, and co-workers.

 

THE HARVEST OF OPPORTUNITIES

Opportunities to bless our fellow man are as vast as the nearly 8 million people on our planet. It’s the engineer, registering to be an academic mentor for struggling students. It’s the former crack addict, encouraging residents of a treatment center or halfway house of a fulfilled life beyond addiction. It’s the pastor, walking the streets near the church, not with membership growth designs, but simply to ask residents, “What can that place over there [the church] do to make this community better?” And not asking in an empty way, but turning feedback into strategic plans.

It’s the nurse, tired from a 12-hour shift, visiting a local hospice center to provide comfort for families grieving the pending loss of a loved one. A mature business owner, contacting a mom-and-pop business with a commitment to lend expertise without expectation of compensation. It’s an energetic young person raking the lawn of a senior citizen simply because…. Or an attorney taking on pro-bono some cases where you believe justice was not served in wrongful convictions.

These are but a few illustrations. Perhaps you can offer other examples.

In Genesis 12, God’s covenant with Abram has less to do with him than it did those present and those for generations to come. Indeed, the Lord trusted Abram and would perfect his servant’s faith through testing. The ultimate prize was not to enrich Abram, but to make available the blessings of Heaven through Abram.

 

PRACTICAL STEPS

Here are two practical ways to make AFP a daily part of your Christian walk:


1. Challenge Yourself. Start the day with a prayer that conveys your sincere interest to help someone. Ask the Lord to present the opportunities and place you spiritually in the position to see and respond. Concentrate prayers throughout the day on concerns of others and not your own. Include strangers and long-time enemies to really experience the heart of God!

2. Challenge Others. Encourage others, in your daily well wishes, to pursue a AFP lifestyle. Point them to this website for details, if helpful. In this, remember that God has quickened you to take on AFP. Some will follow. Rejoice with them. Some might not follow and potentially mock the very idea. Be patient in any rejections, knowing that people are rejecting God and not you. Remain prayerful and open to a later change of mind. Whether you challenge two or 2,000, live such people can witness that you ask of others nothing short of your personal AFP commitment.



 

An AFP lifestyle offers venturing into deeper roots of our faith, increasingly conforming us into the image of Christ. [Romans 8:29] Whatsoever good deeds come from an AFP lifestyle is by no means a source for boasting or search for rewards on earth. The blessings you confer go forth to build Christ’s Kingdom and to store-up eternal treasures.

Are you willing to fuse an AFP lifestyle into your overall faith walk?

 

 

 

 

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