- Do Not Be Afraid - What causes us fear? The threat of danger, certainly, and failure. We fear for our safety and we fear that our efforts, what we've been working toward, will ultimately end up being wasted.
God tells Abram not to be afraid. Why should Abram not to be afraid? Because God is his "shield" and his "very great reward." God is his protection and all he needs for his effort.
In the same way, God is our shield, protecting us in every way He sees fit, and the only thing we ever need. With God protecting us and blessing us with the reward of Himself both now an forever, what danger can threaten us? What failure will mean anything in the light of our spending eternity with God?
Do not be afraid, for God is your shield and your very great reward.
- Belief as Righteousness - How do you know if you believe something or not? If you believe something, you act on it. It shapes how you live. If I believe that 3 + 2 = 5, when I add those numbers together, I'm going to give the same answer every time. It's been ingrained in me and it shapes how I live.
If I say I believe 3 + 2 = 5 but then sometimes give the answer as 4 or 6, I don't believe it to the point of it shaping my life.
In Abram's case, he believed God and God credited Abram's belief as righteousness? What does this mean? How did Abram's belief translate to righteousness?
Abram believed God to the point that Abram acted on what God said. It affected his life. He didn't name his servant as his heir.
If we believe God, if we take what He said, and apply it to our lives in such a way that what we say we believe affects the way we live, then God will credit our belief as righteousness as well, because we will be living righteously based on our beliefs.
- The Smoking Pot and the Carcasses - How do you know you can believe God when He says something? Isn't possible for God to go back on His word just like people do?
In this story, God has Abram lay out animal carcasses on either side of a pathway and then God passes through the middle of those carcasses. In ancient times, this would have been a way of sealing a very solemn contract. The one who passed through the carcasses would have been saying, "If I fail to hold up my end of the bargain, may I become like these carcasses, mutilated and torn in two."
But what do we know about God? Can God die? Can God become like those carcasses? No. Even when God the Son died on the cross, death couldn't hold Him. God is Life.
So God is giving Abram a double assurance. "If I fail to keep My word, I'll die. But since I can't die, I can't fail to keep My word."
In the same way, we can trust that God will keep His word to us because God can't deny who He is. He can't break His own character. If God is Truth, God must be true. If God is Love, God must act out of love. If God is righteous, He must act righteously.
We can trust God because we know who He is and what His character is like.