January 5, 2016

A Fresh Start

Genesis 12–14

God uses the events of life, the choices I make (even the bad ones) to transform my life. This principle shows up in these chapters in Genesis in the story of Abraham’s beginnings.

Abraham is called the father of faith. He believed God. When God told him to go to a land He would show him, he simply gathered up his family and left. He was seventy-five years old at the time!

God promised Abram that He would make of him a great nation. As Abram (later renamed to Abraham) travelled, he came to a place called Shechem. There the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.”

Abram believed Him and built an altar to the Lord, then “moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 12:7–8)

This is the beginning of this man’s walk with God. He heard God speak, did what God told him to do, and worshipped. But this obedience was not consistent. There was a famine in that land and Abram went to Egypt to escape it (instead of to God for guidance). There he got in trouble because he was afraid that Pharaoh would kill him and take his beautiful wife. So he had her say she was his sister (a partial truth; she was his half sister).

However, Pharaoh had more integrity and realized the ruse. He rebuked Abram for his dishonesty. I’m thinking how many times I’ve had to learn similar lessons when I relied on my own judgment and ideas instead of going to the Lord with my fears. How shameful to be rebuked by someone who does not believe in God!

After this, “Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb. Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 13:1–4)

Abram didn’t crumble because of his folly in Egypt. Instead, he returned to where he had begun to worship God and started over again by bowing in worship before Him and calling on His Name.

God is a God of fresh starts. Lamentations 3:22–23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

The mistakes and sins of yesterday are forgiven when I return to the altar of worship in confession and repentance. All of the folly of the past is put under the blood of Christ and forgiven.

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:8–12)

A new year gives a sense of a fresh start, but only God can transform each day into the reality of being able to begin again each morning with the slate of sin and guilt wiped clean!

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