From the Well - June 29, 2015

Before I talk about this week’s The Story, I want to share some information about our recent Western North Carolina Annual Conference which was held at Lake Junaluska, NC on June 17-21. The following persons attended the Conference as representatives of Clemmons United Methodist:

Dr. Matthew Burton, Clergy Delegate

Rev. Paula Northrup, Clergy Delegate

Rev. Gloria Hughes, Clergy Delegate

Rev. Clark Chilton, Clergy Delegate

Dale Jeanes, Lay Delegate

Karen Perry, Lay Delegate

Lawrence and Robin Fletcher, Lay Delegates

Instead of writing a long blog about the conference, I suggest you follow the link to watch a wrap-up video:

http://ac2015.org/ac2015-wrap-up-video/

For more detailed information, you can follow this link to the Western North Carolina Annual Conference web site:

http://wnccumc.org/

We’ve sold 287 copies of The Story Bible! Currently there are no more copies of The Story available but we have more books on the way. They should be here by Wednesday, July 1 (We’ll send out an email blast to let you know when they arrive). I’m so excited to know that so many people are reading the Bible and joining the Body of Christ at Clemmons in this extraordinary journey.

Last week we read about God as Creator and also about God’s crowning achievement, the creation of man and woman. God created human beings so that He might come down and do life with us. Unfortunately, in the midst of the perfect environment that God created for man and woman, something shifted.

God gave Adam and Eve a perfect home where their every need was met. It was a paradise meant to be shared with God forever. God also gave Adam and Eve freedom. Adam and Eve could choose God’s divine vision or they could choose to go it alone. As we know, the first humans made a bad choice. They chose to ignore God’s request that they not eat from the tree of Good and evil. The perfect environment for doing life together with God was suddenly corrupted by the rebellion of the first humans.

Adam and Eve’s bad choice led to their banishment from the Garden. After leaving the Garden, Adam and Eve started a family. Sadly, the first parents had to experience the pain of brother killing brother. The sin birthed in Adam and Eve was passed down. Eventually, humankind became so wicked that God decided to destroy everything except a small remnant.

The amazing thing about the story contained in the first pages of the Bible is that God decides to start over again after destroying everything with a cataclysmic flood. Only Noah, his family, and two of every kind of animal are saved. God soon discovers that the flood and the reestablishment of a garden relationship is not going to work with Noah. The sin continues. One would think that God would give up at this point but God doesn’t. God decides to try something different.

Even though Noah and his family disappoint God, God promises to never destroy the earth again. God chooses to move to plan B. God decides to build a nation and to do it through Abraham and Sarai, a couple of childless senior citizens. As you read the incredible stories about Abraham and his family this week notice how God preserves human freedom while tirelessly working to bring humanity back into a right relationship with Himself.

Questions for the week

Consider journaling your responses to these questions:

Many of the people God called to follow him and do great things had excuses or reasons why 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?

When God 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 (The Story, p. 13). What was God’s part and what was Abram’s part in this great adventure?

Abraham shows an almost absurd level of trust in God when he is called to sacrifice his son Isaac (The Story, p. 19-20). Is there an area of your life God is calling you to trust Him with? What are the next steps in doing so?

Think 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?

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

Sarah didn’t 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. Think of some examples of ways in which you jumped ahead of God’s timing for your life in an effort to “help” him. How did your impatience work out? Why is it so hard to be patient and wait on God’s timing in your life?

Abraham and Sarah chose to follow God by faith and trust that he would build a nation through them. What step of faith is God calling you to take now? Are you waiting or even resisting? What can you do to take a trust-filled step forward in this area of your life?

Prayer time

As you take time to pray, here are some ideas to get your started:

Pray for strength to make the next step of faith that God is calling you to take.

Ask God to grow your patience so you can wait on his will in each area of your life.

Thank God for the older people he has placed in your life who have been a model of faith for you.

Personal Reflection

God calls each of his children, at various times, to follow him in ways that are risky and demand faith. Look at your life and reflect honestly on these scenarios:

  • When was the last time God called you to step out in faith but you missed the opportunity? (Confess this to God and receive God’s grace to let it go).
  • When was a time God invited you to take a bold step of faith and you followed with confidence? (Thank God for carrying you through that time).
  • 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 might say or think.

Personal Action

Abraham took what was most precious to him and surrendered it to God. He would not hold back even his own son. Make a list of five to ten things that mean a great deal to you. One by one, offer them to God. If it is a person, surrender that loved one to the Lord. If it is a material thing, let God know that he has full access to it. If it is a talent or ability, tell God you will use it for Him. Take everything and freely offer it back to the One who gave you all you have.

Read for next Session

Chapter 3 in The Story.

Matthew