God Builds a Nation

God will accomplish His plan and will in this world, but He often does it in ways we would not expect and through surprising people.

We opened our second session in prayer, again seeking God’s divine wisdom and direction as we learn things about His incredible story that we don’t already know or understand.

Ever heard someone utter the phrase “The Lord works in mysterious ways”? Almost surely you have… yet this is not found in scripture. Instead, it is from the opening line of a hymn written in the eighteenth century by William Cowper. Nonetheless, people continue to use this statement because He really does work in mysterious ways. The story of the Bible contains many references to times when God uses surprising people:

  • Who speaks for God in Egypt? Moses… a man who hated to speak in public.
  • Who leads God’s people to military victory? Deborah… a woman untrained in battle.
  • Who is one of Jesus’ disciples? Matthew… a sinner and tax collector.
  • Who writes many of the New Testament books? Paul… a man who killed Christians.

These are just a few examples of how God uses surprising people all through the pages of the Bible. God worked through the most unlikely folks to do some of the most miraculous work in all of history.

Session two opens up into the story of Abram and Sarai, two more surprising characters in this fantastic story. This helps us to believe that God can use anyone! When this truth finds its way to our own hearts and souls, we can have genuine hope because we understand that God can do awesome things through anyone… including us!

As with week 1, the participants in our small group really engaged in some great discussion. Honest. Sincere. Genuine. Wonderful.

  • Many of the people God called to follow Him and do great things had excuses or reasons they thought God should not use them. What are some of the common excuses people still use today when they want to get out of following God’s leading for their life?

There were a great number of excuses/reasons shared by the group:

* Too old
* Too busy
* Not ready
* Not worthy
* No time
* I don’t want to
* Atheism (No real God)
* Angry
* Bitter
* Logic vs. Faith
* Not equipped
* Not listening (noise!)
* I forgot
* I’m not able
  • When called Abram to follow Him, there was a clear sense of partnership. God promised to do specific things and also called Abram to do his part (see Genesis 12:1-5). What was God’s part and what was Abram’s part in this great adventure?
God’s List
Give children
Give descendants
Show Abram the Land
Bless those who bless you
Curse those who curse you
Abram’s List
Demonstrate faith
Obey – Go where God says
Leave your family behind
  • What do you learn about Abraham and Sarah’s faith from Hebrews 11:8-9?

Abraham obeyed and went where God told him to go. He had no idea where he was going. He was a stranger in a strange land, living in tents. He did not get to see the promise in his own lifetime. Sarah went along with Abraham, though perhaps a bit more doubtful. She gave him her servant and laughed when God said she would still bear a child in her old age.

  • Talk about an older person in your life who has been a model of faith and love for God. How have you seen their life impact the lives of others and yours?

The participants shared some warm and wonderful stories of people that had been models of faith and love. These included pastors, teachers, friends, grandparents, and parents. Some of the stories shared here were wonderful, intimate blessings that some in the group hadn’t really considered in this specific way until this discussion.

  • Abraham and Sarah were called by God and they followed Him in faith. Tell about a time God called you to take a step of faith. How did you respond and how did that step of faith turn out?

Again, many great examples were shared where participants did not always recognize the call being from God until they could look back in hindsight. In most cases, when the person stepped out in faith, God honored their obedience. In other cases, God had to push and shove a bit, sometimes over a long period of time.

  • Sarah did not think God was moving fast enough with the whole “nation building project” so she decided to help God by giving her handmaid to Abraham to bear a child for her. Give some examples of ways we jump ahead of God’s timing for our lives in an effort to “help” Him. Tell about a time when God said “Wait” but you wanted to rush ahead. Why is it so hard to be patient and wait on God’s will for our lives?

Isn’t this just like us? Don’t we all do this at one point or another? God… You’re not moving fast enough for me. Even for Your own plan or project. Some of the examples of ways that we jump ahead or reasons for being impatient that participants shared included instant gratification, technology at our fingertips, economic/financial stress (we need it now), laziness/lack of hardiness, ignorance/lack of awareness that God is talking to us, spoiling His works through our hurrying…

  • Abraham and Sarah chose to follow God by faith and trust that He would build a nation through them — and He did. What step of faith is God calling you to take now, but you are still waiting or even resisting? What can you do to take a trust-filled step and move forward in this area in your life?

The group shared examples of callings, large and small, that God is bringing us to. These included Sunday School teaching when we don’t feel prepared or equipped, growing up/maturing emotionally when we enjoy being who/what/where we are, launching a church, and less obvious plans about “something new” coming around the corner.

This is truly a wonderful group of people who are completely willing to enter into honest and deep conversation about what we are learning in our study of The Story with each other.

We closed in prayer seeking strength to take the next step of faith that God is calling us to take, patience to wait on His will in all areas of our lives, and giving thanks for the older people that He has placed in our lives to be a model of faith for us.

Some reflections for next time include:

  • When did God call you to step out in faith, but you missed the opportunity? Confess it to God, receive His grace, and let it go.
  • When did God invite you to take a bold step of faith and you followed with confidence? Thank God for carrying you through.
  • Ask God to give you a sense of where He might be leading you in the future. Commit to follow Him, no matter what anyone else says or thinks.

Thank you all for another GREAT week!!

In His Peace,

Pastors Chris and Cathy