Progress God’s Way – Series Finale

Doesn’t every finale involve a cliffhanger ending?

Being tested by God

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Well we get one with our journey alongside Abram who has now become Abraham. We’re ending our series on Progress God’s Way with a look at Genesis 22.

Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father…The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” ~ Genesis 22:7

After twenty five years Abraham’s promised son, Isaac, was born. Then, when he was still a young boy, God asks Abraham to do the unthinkable: take Isaac and sacrifice him.

Genesis 22:1 tells us that God tested Abraham. This word can be interpreted “to prove.” We know God looks at man’s heart (1 Samuel 16:7 for one example). So why did God need to test Abraham?

Abraham’s obedience proved to Abraham himself that God was first and last for him. His relationship had progressed to the point of knowing:

  • God keeps promises
  • God has purposes
  • God can do anything

First mentions. Three pivotal words are revealed for the first time in Genesis 22. First mentions can frame our understanding if we will study them.

      • Love – verse 2. This word is used in connection with a father’s love for a son. It is connected to sacrifice.
      • Worship – verse 5. This word is used by Abraham, stating he and Isaac will both go and worship and both return. the statement is full of faith. The action was personal, active, and costly.
      • Obey – verse 18. This word describes Abraham’s response to God’s voice. The action brings blessing, to self and to others. It was hard, and it hurt. It didn’t make sense.
But faith overruled logic. It overruled appearances. Because Abraham had progressed God’s way, in relationship based on who God is.
So we learn, just as Isaac must have, that real worship involves obedience and love.

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God introduces us in scripture to worship with the details of Abraham’s life. God blesses us with the ultimate picture of worship through “the promised seed” – being Christ- and the love and obedience He spilled on calvary for us.

Jesus is our substitute, just as God provided a substitute offering for Isaac that day. Christ is the Worthy Lamb, slain in place of my sin. And in place of all who will call on His name. (See Romans 10:8-13)

Share: What ways you can consider progress in your life differently than the world measures progress?

Progress God’s Way – In His Timing

Time doesn’t guarantee progress, but progress requires time.

And we’ll see it today as we near the end of our study on progress God’s way, via the journey of Abram becoming Abraham.

And today is the day!

[box] “No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations ~ Genesis 17:5 NIV“[/box]

So what did Abram do to bring on this monumental moment?

Nothing. Well, kind of.

Today’s video is based on Genesis 17. (*Note, I mistakenly say “8 years old” instead of “8 days old” in the video. :))


Near the start of our study, Abram was 75 years old as he left Haran. In today’s text he is 99. Progress has taken place over time, in the midst of Abram’s very life. And it has been real, hasn’t it? We’ve observed each of the following:

  • Obedience
  • Worship
  • Confusion
  • Dependence
  • Fear
  • Doubt
  • Belief
  • Impatience
  • Laughter

Progress occurs in daily life, in seasons of life. In the moments that challenge, thrill, scare and comfort us. We learn more of who God is every step of the way. We learn dependence.

God says to Abraham in verse six, “I will make you very fruitful.” When we attempt progress our way, we get nowhere. We can pacify ourselves with temporary things in worldly ways, but we have no real fruit or satisfaction apart from God’s activity in our lives through relationship with Him.


image by yelena demyanyuk via

God had this plan for all mankind the day He called Abram to leave his country and go to a land God would show him. God’s plan has not changed, it has progressed and is still progressing. It has taken place over time and in His timing

Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith~ Galatians 3:6-9.

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise~Galatians 3:26-29.

Here’s a teachable takeaway for this week. As far back as Genesis, God knew the 8th day was the optimum timing for a baby to be circumcised. It took man until the 1930s to discover reasons why that is the ideal time for the human body to endure the procedure. But the maker of all heaven and earth has always known. Depending on your child’s age, explain it at their level. Here’s a link for you .

We’ll wrap our study up next time. Read Genesis 22. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you.

Raising Surrendered Hearts-



Progress God’s Way – Even in Mistakes

Have you ever run ahead of God?  Or just plain left Him in the dust of your own choices?

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I know I have. Only to find myself in the middle of a hurtful mistake. My choices yielded consequences that affected me and my family.

Still, God uses those times to reveal how compassionate He is, and how very much He cares about my journey, the very details of my life.

We see this same story with Abram in today’s video from events found in Genesis 16.


Can’t we all relate to why Abram and Sarai start to have their own ideas of how to help God along with these plans He talks about?

While it’s comforting in some ways to know it is human to struggle with patience, dependence and trust –so human even Abram dealt with it– we shouldn’t take so much comfort in it that we give ourselves permission to knowingly come up with and act on our own plans.

As always, Jesus is our perfect example.

[box] “But the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me…” ~ John 14:31 NIV[/box]

Jesus did not come to earth and put His own plans into action. He came and lived a servant’s life, a servant to the Father whose will it was to save the stubborn hearts of us, His beloved creation.

We must learn from Christ, depending on Him for our righteousness because God has made His covenant with us based on faith. We must learn to use our choices to the progres of God’s plan just as Christ showed us.

Read all of John 14. How many times does Christ say He is doing the Father’s will, speaking the Father’s words, acknowledge the Father’s authority?

And notice all the wonderful promises Jesus makes while speaking the Father’s words:

  • Preparing a place for us in eternity
  • Providing a Counselor to be with us forever
  • Placing His peace in our hearts

Don’t miss that Jesus speaks these wonderful truths to the disciples right after predicting that Peter will deny knowing Him three times. Yet, that does not change the plans God has for salvation, for Peter himself. (see John 13:36-38)

God is sovereign. He is compassionate. He is master. Even when we make mistakes.

Read Genesis 17 for next time. As usual, I urge you to read it more than once, in chunks and always after praying for the Spirit to teach you.

Share what you learned about God as you went through a time of consequence. I grew to know Him as Gracious Provider and God of my Identity.

Raising Surrendered Hearts–




Progress God’s Way – Believe His Word Above All Else

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead ~ Romans 4:18 – 19  NIV.

When Abram had no reason to believe, except that His Sovereign God spoke it, righteousness was credited by God.

Today, in Genesis 15, is the very foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Did Abram’s belief of heart in God’s promises mean he never had more questions?


Hadn’t Abram been believing God way before this?

  • He came to this new land
  • He rescued Lot
  • He rejected reward from the king of Sodom

Yes, Abram had been progressing in trust, belief and dependence on God for years up to this moment in Genesis 15:6.

Here’s what strikes me as critically different this time: the belief that his old body would have a son, that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky–this was completely dependent on God’s promise and action.  Nothing on Abram’s part could bring about that promised offspring. {though we’ll soon see next time the humanness to try}

Belief happens in the heart, a heart that surrenders to God’s word as the ultimate authority. Words that need no assistance from conducive circumstances or help from man. A believing heart that surrenders because You, O God are Sovereign and able.

 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4: 20 – 22

Does it sound familiar? That same Sovereign God sent Jesus Christ, and our belief in Him is our righteousness.

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Teachable Takeaway for today: Share with your kids Genesis 15: 5 – 6. Look up at the night sky sometime this weekend and tell the story at an age-appropriate level. Here’s a great devotion that discusses how we are stars in that sky. You may also want to reference these verses from Philippians  that speak about us shining as stars in the universe.

Read for next time, Genesis 16. Read more than once, pray for the Spirit to teach you new truth for your own progress with God.

Share what insights God has given to you as you’ve sought His ways.

Raising Surrendered Hearts-


Progress God’s Way – Fear and Honesty

Can we in one breath express reverent fear and also full honesty to God? Even when what we have or haven’t received in this life brings us pain?

[box] But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” ~ Genesis 15:2 ESV[/box]

We’re studying Abram’s journey to becoming Abraham with the focus to learn about progress God’s way. In just the first few verses of Genesis 15 we learn so much about this progressing relationship God began with Abram.



I’ve confessed to being a word nerd before, and if you’re like me, the bonus God revealed in digging into the word “vision” from Genesis 15:1 is a thrill. {Isn’t that just like Him, to throw in way more than you’re expecting?}

image by A. Lai via

God used a talking donkey to prep a ‘prophet for hire’ to speak the truth.

What was the point?

To reveal God’s assured plan to bless Israel–the nation He makes from Abram.  In the words God placed in Balaam’s mouth,“I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it.” (see Numbers 22:20; for full appreciation read Numbers 22 – 24)

These passages speak beautifully to the sovereignty of God and our choice to either participate with Him in a progressive relationship, or just be a blip on the radar as He brings about His promises and purposes.

Abram chose to worship. When he still longed and ached for an heir, Abram didn’t choose between worshipping and honesty. God told Abram not to be afraid, and God made their relationship personal, “I am your shield, your very great reward.” Abram revered the Lord and responded in raw, honest relationship.

Which is harder, to express reverent fear or raw honesty to God? Both bring progress in the relationship God offers you. And consider, is true worship taking place without full honesty of heart?

Read: Romans Ch 4 for next time. We’ll stay in Genesis 15 for Abram’s journey, focusing on the beautiful truth of Genesis 15:6. As always, pray for the Spirit to teach, read and meditate on the verses more than once.

Share your thoughts about reverence and honesty, or share what God has most recently thrilled you with that you were not expecting.

Raising Surrendered Hearts-




Progress God’s Way – Releasing Rights

Many topics running through the media lately center on our rights. But today, as we continue to study Abram’s journey in becoming Abraham, we’ll see progress God’s way requires we consider our rights secondary to His sovereignty.

Please grab your Bible and study with me from Genesis 14.

If you’ve been reflecting on Psalms 81: 8 – 14 alongside our journey through Genesis, today you’ll want to note Abram’s submission to God and God’s handling of the enemies Abram faced.

God is sovereign. His plans will progress, but we do have choice in whether or not to participate. And the Psalms verses show us how our choices impact our experience with God. They do not change who God is or the plans He has for all of humanity, but they impact our lives and the lives of those around us.

If you’d like to read more about making decisions that please God, then click here for a terrific article by Waylon Bailey.


Abram Abraham Melchizedek

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If you’d like to look up more on Melchizedek, read Hebrews 5:1 – 10, and 6:13 – 7:28. Remember, Melchizedek preceeded the Levitical priesthood. No end and no beginning is recorded for him; this is central to the reference of  “the order” of his priesthood as likened to Christ, our perfect and eternal High Priest forever.

Read Genesis 15 for Tuesday. Take it in chunks, go over it more than once. Always ask the Holy Spirit to teach you. 

Share your comments or insights below. You have no idea how it delights me to hear from you. :)

What rights might we need to release to experience progress with God?

Has there been a time you’ve experienced this as part of your own journey? How did you release those rights?

Raising Surrendered Hearts-


Progress God’s Way – Even During Famine

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Will God bring progress even during times of personal famine? 

When things don’t make sense, is it really part of God’s journey for us?

After setbacks, how can we get past the woulda shouldas and start again?

We’re journeying through Genesis along Abram’s path from his father’s country to the new land God showed him.

By studying the life of this patriarch, what can we learn about progress in our own lives–progress God’s way?

[box] From the Negev he {Abram} went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord ~ Genesis 13:3. [/box]

Grab your Bible and study with me today. If you missed last time on a shift from self to God, click here.


If you read Psalms 81: 8 – 14 last time, what similarities or differences did you see in Abram’s life so far to what the Lord warned to Israel later in these Psalms verses? Here’s a snapshot of some notes I made about what each verse says:

So far, Abram is progressing in his cycle of listening, obeying and worshipping God. Next time, we’ll see God take care of enemies!

Read: On Friday, we’ll discuss Genesis 14. Read it in chunks, read more than once. Always ask the Spirit to teach you.

Share: Do you have a favorite verse that encourages you when circumstances don’t seem to match the goodness God promises  those who follow Him?

I’d love to hear any insights God is showing you. Leave them in the comments. See you on Friday.

Raising Surrendered Hearts-




Progress God’s Way – A Necessary Shift

What does progress God’s way look like? We’re studying God’s work through the life of Abram on his way to becoming Abraham.

Yesterday, my middle child said, “God likes to change peoples names a lot.” When I asked him why, he said, “Because it shows they’ve changed.”

“Who changed them?”


Amen! True change, true progress is accomplished by God.

While we read through Genesis for this study let’s be sure to focus on God’s activity. That means we are looking for what God says, what God does in Abram’s life.

We’ll see God speaks progressively with Abram.


Because otherwise people tend to take the reigns and make it all about them. And even our approach to God’s word can fall into that skewed perspective. While we can and should learn truths for our own lives, we must first be seeking to learn about God, who He is, and how He acts and works in the lives of those who respond to Him.

So let’s look at the initial interactions between God and Abram.

What do you learn about God and how He intereacts with people?

What does Abram do to position himself in response to God?

For Prayer: Ask God to show you where you are in relationship with Him and what position you need to take in response to Him right now.

For next time, read: Genesis 12:9  – 13:18; and Psalms 81: 8 – 14.

Read the passages more than once. Perhaps in chunks at a time. Always ask the Holy Spirit to teach you. You may want to journal your thoughts and/or questions. What contrast do you see in the Genesis verses and in the Psalms passage? What similarities?

Please share your insights from today’s lesson.

Raising Surrendered Hearts-


Progress God’s Way – Studying Abram’s journey to Abraham

A new year brings change and a chance for progress. What can you learn about progress God’s way from the life of Abram?

While people make resolutions which may or may not be fruitful, the progress of God is constantly at work all around us. The only question about His progress is– will we be a part of it?

Today, I’m launching a study on Abram becoming Abraham. During a month known for people striving to be better, look better, accomplish more, we’ll approach progress another way, God’s Way.

Here’s a quick video entry into the study.

DO NOT BE ALARMED. I didn’t primp myself for this video so you are getting the real deal here! Isn’t that what our approach with God needs to be, the real deal?

  • Unmasked
  • Raw
  • Real

And yes, I was up late and didn’t feel like getting all fixed up. Just like sometimes we’re weary and don’t feel like trying, or even approaching God. But come as you are and let His Word speak to you.

Schedule: 2 postings a week on Tuesdays and Fridays

Read: Genesis 12: 1 – 8

Question for Prayer: Where is your identity? Approach God with a true, raw answer here. Don’t just claim the Sunday School answer if it’s not the reality.

If you’re joining us for this study, PLEASE leave a comment.

Share a desire for the new year, or

What appeals to you about studying God’s plans in Abram’s life?

Raising Surrendered Hearts-


God’s Requirements of Leaders: Be Set Apart

God’s leaders must be set apart.

This doesn’t mean leaders don’t get involved or mix with others. But differences stand out. Sort of like the old Sesame Street song. One of these things is not like the other ones. One of these things doesn’t belong. 


Image courtesy of


My husband shared a devotion with our sons a couple of days ago. It ended in a question along these lines. If doing the right thing (being set apart) makes you the most unpopular guy in the room, will you do it?

Let’s consider Elijah.

By the time God sent Elijah to speak with King Ahab, Judah and the rest of Israel had been divided for 57 years. This division was a result of Solomon intermarrying with many foreign women, taking on worship of their foreign gods.

God’s leaders must be set apart.

For 57 years kings came and went, and for 57 years, idolatry grew in Israel.

Elijah was a prophet of the one, true God. He spoke God’s judgement on Israel — no rain. It didn’t rain for 3 and-a-half years.

This didn’t make him popular. God instructed Elijah to hide. Ahab wanted him killed.

As the period of time without rain was about to end, God sent Elijah back to King Ahab and all of Israel for a public challenge:

[box]                                 450 prophets of Baal vs. Elijah and the LORD[/box]


Elijah said before all the people, “How long will you waver between two opinions. If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. 1 Kings 18:21

The people of Israel mixed their worship routines to God with many other types of worship to false gods, to idols. They were double-minded and not devoted to the LORD.

When Baal failed to respond to cries of the false prophets, Elijah mocked, “Shout louder! Maybe he’s in deep thought, busy or traveling. Or maybe he’s asleep!”

Elijah drew clear lines.

He calls the people’s attention to a different altar.

He reminds the people who they are and whose they are.

  • He repairs the LORD’s altar which was in ruins, the one with 12 stones representing a united Israel
  • He stacks the “odds” against the altar ever catching fire by pouring water over and around it, three times
  • He sacrifices according to the Word of the LORD and prays aloud to God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Israel
  • He declares himself a servant and the LORD as God, asking Him to light this altar so that the people know He is God and He would turn hearts back again

“Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.” 1 Kings 18:38

This time the people were not silent.

“…they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD, He is God! The LORD-He is God!” 1 Kings 18:39

Elijah stood apart and God revealed Himself to Israel.

How can you be set apart? Are we willing to be the most unpopular person in the room?

 To continue reading in this series, click here.