We have reached day 4 of the fast. It’s Thursday afternoon here in New Zealand and, remarkably, I’m still going foodless. I'm pinching myself as this is officially the longest I’ve managed to go without food. I'm praying that I can inch across the finish line tomorrow.
I will say that past fasts have resulted in many times where I've just needed to stop. If that's you just treat the next day as a fresh start and carry on as you are led. It's certainly an adventure.
Now to us: I have my communion cup and cracker at the ready, and in taking communion I'd like to share a thought about God’s faithfulness.
Recently, I searched for ‘Abraham’ in the Bible. I look at his life sometimes because he’s the ultimate promise-carrier. I relate in some ways to his process; maybe you do too.
It was fascinating to me to discover that across both the Old and New Testaments God repeatedly makes the statement ‘Because of the covenant I made with Abraham’. Centuries pass and still this covenant is raised at unexpected points within scripture. The lesson: God has a very, very long memory, and He is faithful.
Abraham’s promise came in stages. It was like unwrapping layers of a pass-the-parcel game, except every layer was a treat that was specifically made for Abraham. First he was told only a little -- "I will make you a great nation;" (Genesis 12:1-3). A few years later he was told a bit more, and so on. The story unfolded and became more specific, culminating in the ridiculous: Elderly Sarah conceiving a baby.
In the midst of that 25-year process, we see a curious anecdote: A king and priest called Melchizadek appears with bread and wine (Genesis 14:18), and Abraham is captivated enough by this encounter to give Melchizadek one tenth of all he owns. As a rich man, this would have been an astounding amount. I find myself raising my eyebrows, wondering why. Perhaps it was simply that Abraham heard God say "I want you to do this".
Straight after that radical act, Abraham heard God accurately and clearly, a blessing for his obedience: “Abraham, the heir will come from your own body” (Genesis 15:4). It's an impossible promise, as always. As for Melchizadek, that is a part of the plot that only God could have thought up. Melchizedek foreshadows Jesus (our King and Priest) offering communion.
Here are the words that Melchizadek spoke to Abraham. Perhaps as we take communion today we can receive this same blessing:
“Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God most High who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” (Genesis 14:19-20, NKJV).
Friends, we are blessed, and God will deliver our enemies into our hand. Our promises will come, and hopefully will be talked about after we’ve passed from this earth, especially if we leave a record of them. As an encouragement, we only have to look as far as Israel where many of Abraham's descendants live.
On the topic of promises, Lynn mentioned asking for a word for 2020. Like her, I always ask but usually don’t hear anything clearly. However, this time I did hear an unmistakable word. On 1 January I heard God whisper to me: ‘Lydia’. Later that morning I looked up Lydia in Acts 16. She was an early convert in Philippi. These words are about her: “And when she and her household were baptized…” (Acts 16:15) What a wonderful word to start the year off and, as you can imagine, I was encouraged. So, yes please, Lord, I’ll take it. Who knows what that means for 2020 specifically, but I will digest the life of Lydia this year and meditate on it.
How about you -- What promises are you believing? Did you receive a word for 2020, and/or what are you hoping for this coming year?
It's been nice sharing this journey with you this week. Lynn will be back for our final post tomorrow.