And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. –Genesis 17:8 (KJV)
Next month my family and I will have been living here in Bristol, Virginia for 17 years. This also marks the same number of years of my tenure as pastor of East Bristol Baptist. We feel extremely blessed to have enjoyed such a long ministry in the same church. Pastors often move from place to place, yet God has allowed us to settle in the community and make this our home. From the time we arrived we never felt like strangers. If you have ever moved to a new location, you understand the uncertainty of it all. You have to learn your way around the area, get used to new people, and your children are for a while the “new kids” in the school, which can be difficult for them. However, we never felt like strangers here. Having been here for so many years now, people treat as if we were from this area.
The Word of God says that Abraham was a stranger in the land of Canaan. He traveled among people he did not know in a land not his own as he waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise. The Lord allowed Abraham a look into a time when he would dwell in the land not as a stranger, but as a welcome resident. Yet, until this time came, Abraham would have to trust God completely in the midst of what seemed impossible. God appeared to Abraham and instructed him to “Walk before me and be thou perfect (Genesis 17:1).” At a time when many men might be contemplating setting down (Abraham was 99 years old), God was telling him that the time of service and faithfulness was in full force. Retirement was a long way off for Abraham.
Eventually, the promise of God happened. A year later, when Abraham was 100 years old and his wife Sarah was 99 a child was born to them. Sarah had chuckled over what the angel had said, and we can hardly blame her, but in the end she gave birth in her old age to a healthy baby boy whom they named Isaac. The name means in Hebrew, “he laughs.” Sarah’s attitude was that she might as laugh with joy, and all who heard of it would laugh and rejoice with her. I am trying to picture myself becoming a father again at the age of 100 and my wife at 99. Yes, I suppose all you could do at that point is laugh.
God is faithful my friends. He welcomes us into His blessings and makes us vital to His plan and purposes. We are not strangers in God’s kingdom, but instead children. Moreover, if we are God’s children, we are heir to the promises of God.
Walk forward in faith today and claim the blessed promises of God. Do not be afraid, for God is always faithful.
God bless you today.