Week 2: June 5

Exchanging Your Dream (Abraham) by Sue Schreiner

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In week two of our series, we have the chance to get to know Abraham. You’ll find the Biblical account of his life in chapters 11-25 of the book of Genesis, relating many episodes that reveal his character and his growing faith. His faith grew as he learned about God’s character and His faithfulness to keep His promises and carry out His plan. You’ll read about 3 chapters a day so that you can see the whole picture of Abraham’s life.

Abraham is called the Father of the nation of Israel and along with his son Isaac and Isaac’s son, Jacob, they are referred to as the 3 patriarchs. A patriarch is the name given to the head of a family or tribe in Old Testament times. God renewed the covenant He made with Abraham with each of these three patriarchs. Israel often referred to God as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The patriarch Abraham’s name is mentioned many times throughout the Old and New Testaments because of his great faith.

Abraham’s father was Terah and he lived in Ur in southern Mesopotamia. His given name was Abram (which means exalted father in Hebrew). God later changed his name to Abraham (meaning father of multitudes). Abraham married his half sister, Sarah. This fact will become important as you read through two specific events of his life. You’ll find the first one in today’s reading.

When Abraham was about 70 God spoke to him telling him to leave Ur, his homeland, and travel to a place He would show him. So the journeys of Abraham began as Terah, Abraham, Sarah and Lot, Abraham’s nephew, left for points unknown and went as far as Haran. They stayed there as Abraham’s father’s health was failing and five years later, Terah died.

At this point in the narrative we read the word’s God had spoken to Abraham.

Gen. 12:1-3 - The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Abraham’s life is a turning point in the Biblical account of mankind. From the beginning of Genesis to this point we’ve seen what God intended and how it was broken. With God’s call to Abraham, He began to reveal His plan to restore it all.

Abraham was 75 and Sarah 65 as they left to follow where God would lead. This is a man who’d lived in a house in the city for 70 years of his life, but was now departing on a never ending camping trip just because God said go! He took Sarah, Lot, all their belongings, herds, and servants and traveled hundreds of miles with little idea where he was being led. Imagine yourself as Abraham and think about what questions you might have had even to prepare for such a trip.

Abraham and company traveled hundreds of miles and finally arrived in Canaan where God promised the land would one day belong to Abraham’s offspring. Isn’t it ironic that Abraham and Sarah still had no children, but God said He would make Abraham into a great nation? God knew that Abraham would need to learn to totally depend on Him and this journey would be an important part of the process of building his trust. Abraham had to leave everything familiar to him to let go of his past and all he’d trusted in that life. Sometimes, total dependence comes when it is the only option.

Think of a time in your life, either past or present, that feels the most like you have to let go of everything you know or can control and totally depend on God. How does that make you feel? Name any fears it brings up and say a prayer surrendering them to God. What are some of the characteristics of God that can combat those fears of letting go?

As you read the account of the journey and Abraham’s life in Canaan throughout this week, notice:

  • Where and when Abraham built an altar and worshiped
  • When he followed God’s plan and when he came up with his own plan
  • Every time God reminded Abraham of His promise to Abraham and his offspring
  • How God was faithful to Abraham
  • How Abraham’s relationship with God grew


Today Read:

  • Genesis 11:27-32
  • Genesis 12:1-20
  • Genesis 13:1-18


Yesterday, you read that Abraham was born and raised in Ur. The city was in what is now southern Iraq and some of it has been excavated and is seen in the picture.

It’s difficult to find the exact date when Abraham was born in Ur. Most scholars place it some time between 2050 and 1900 BCE. In the days of Abraham, Ur, a part of Mesopotamia, was a city of enormous size, scope, and opulence, drawing its vast wealth from its position on the Persian Gulf and the trade this allowed with countries as far away as India. Archaeological excavators believe they have proof that, early on, the citizens of Ur enjoyed a level of comfort unknown in other Mesopotamian cities.

Because of its position on the trade routes, it was the center of art and new ideas. It was a polytheistic (worship of many gods) society, one of the main ones being the moon god. Abraham’s family would have worshiped most of those gods and it is believed by some scholars that Terah, Abraham’s father, was a carver of idols. This likely made them quite wealthy. It appears from some historical writings that Abraham had learned of the one true God and was different from his family in that he worshiped God only.

The map below will come in handy as you trace the travels of Abraham. The color makes the importance of the Fertile Crescent very clear. Anything outside of that green area is mostly all desert and travel through it was almost impossible. You can see the great distance from Ur to Haran, just the first leg of the journey to Canaan.

Take a look at Egypt, another extremely polytheistic society that had cities very much like Ur. The trade routes between the two areas made the exchange of goods and ideas very common. Sometime after Abraham arrived, he encountered a famine in Canaan. He decided to go to Egypt to find food and protect his family, probably having heard from the traders he’d met in Ur that it was a land where food was plentiful just like the land he’d left behind.

While he was there, Abraham feared that powerful men might find his beautiful wife desirable and kill him in order to take her. So he devised the plan to tell everyone she was his sister, not mentioning she was his wife, to protect himself. This desire for self-preservation can lead us to make very unwise decisions as we learned last week with the Tower of Babel. But God afflicted Pharaoh’s house causing Pharaoh to find out Sarah was Abraham’s wife. Because Pharaoh feared Abraham’s God, they were sent away with all the wealth Pharaoh had given them.

As you read chapter 13 yesterday, did you notice anywhere that it said God sent Abraham to Egypt or that Abraham asked God if he should go? It seems as though Abraham went back to what was familiar to him in a time of trouble; not yet totally depending on God. In spite of all of this, God protected Abraham and Sarah and preserved His plan as they all returned to Canaan and continued to learn of God’s faithfulness and provision. Oh, His amazing grace!


Now that you know a bit more about what Abraham left behind in Ur, what are some reasons you think he would have chosen Egypt as an escape from the famine? What temptations might he have encountered by staying there for a length of time?

Today Read:

  • Genesis 14: 1-24
  • Genesis 15:1-21
  • Genesis 16:1-16


Today we’ll look at three basic themes that were a part of God’s call to Abraham in Gen. 12:1-3 and were also themes of his journey and new life in Canaan.

Divine Grace

Gen. 12:1 - The LORD had said to Abram… This call from God came early, before he left for Canaan or conquered an enemy, before he committed to faithfulness or passed any test of faith. On the contrary, God called Abraham as his special servant simply because it pleased Him. He would be gracious to Abraham as the one who would father the nation He was about to form starting with one man.

God continued to show His grace to Abraham throughout the course of his life, because, like each of us, Abraham was a sinner and in need of God’s mercy. God initiated a relationship with him by His grace and the need for that grace would continue as Abraham learned to trust and follow God’s commands. God protected him even when he made choices like deceiving Pharaoh and later Abimelech about Sarah as his wife. He was gracious when Abraham followed Sarah’s plan and took Hagar as his wife to have a son, by protecting Hagar and Ishmael.

God has poured out His grace on you and me as well. We can see evidence of His grace in our lives every day. He initiated a relationship with you just like He did with Abraham. He delights in calling you to Himself by His grace.

Faithful Obedience

God continued in Gen. 12:1 - Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. God’s divine call included a command that required enormous trust in order to obey. He was instructed to leave his homeland, his father’s estate, and go, the location to be revealed as he went. Recognizing God’s grace poured out to him would lead to awe and gratitude that resulted in faithful obedience, greater trust and a deeper relationship with God.

As he obeyed God, Abraham was asked to give up all that he had known. As he lived out the covenant God established with him and his faith grew, God would ask him to give up his future by sacrificing Isaac. But by then, Abraham fully believed God would keep His covenant. He’d brought Isaac’s birth when Abraham and Sarah were all but dead to child bearing and He could bring Isaac back from death. As Abraham faithfully obeyed, God showed His great faithfulness by providing the sacrificial ram to take Isaac’s place.

As a Christ follower, you have experienced God’s grace in providing Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for your salvation. As a result of your gratitude, faithful obedience will deepen your relationship with God as you totally rely on Him.

Blessing to and through Abraham

In His grace filled call to Abraham, after He asked him to leave and go, God said “I WILL”. Those are powerful words. Gen. 12: 2-3 - I WILL make of you a great nation, I WILL bless you and make your name great, SO THAT you will be a blessing. I WILL bless those who bless you and whoever curses you, I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

Throughout the account of Abraham’s life, we see God’s blessings poured out on him. He eventually had sons, he gained wealth as he went from place to place, he became a well known and respected figure in the region. The blessing of offspring , prosperity and fame given to Abraham was a mere foreshadowing of the even greater gifts that God would give to Abraham’s faithful descendants.

You will also recall that God promised Abraham protection from his enemies and blessings for his friends so that one day he would share God’s blessing with all the nations of the earth. As he lived throughout the region of Canaan, God used Abraham as an instrument of blessing to all kinds of people. He protected his nephew, Lot, interceded for the righteous in Sodom, and interceded for Abimelech. The blessings of God came to Abraham benefited those around him.

You also have God’s blessing and protection. As His blessings flow to and through you, others benefit. You have the opportunity to be a blessing by extending the truth of God’s kingdom and His love in your life to all in your realm of influence just like Abraham.

As you think about these three themes in the calling of Abraham, spend some time journaling ways you can see evidence of them in your own walk with Jesus. How do you see God’s grace in your life? What are some ways you want to obey out of deep gratitude for HIs love shown to you? In what ways has God blessed you and how can you let those blessings flow to others?

Today Read: 

  1. Genesis 17:1-26
  2. Genesis 18:1-33
  3. Genesis 19:1-38


The book of Genesis was written by Moses to encourage the nation of Israel as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. The account of Abraham’s life would teach and remind them of God’s grace filled call on them as His chosen people and Abraham’s descendants. It pointed to their need to faithfully obey God’s covenant with them and see God’s blessing poured out on and through them as He’d promised through His covenant with Abraham.

As Christ followers, we’ve been promised a home with Him for eternity and we are moving toward it every day. You and I are on a journey of faith like Abraham. We are saved by divine grace through faith in Jesus and we have also left our past to go where He leads. Without God’s grace, our efforts to remain faithful would be futile. Every time you read of God showing mercy to Abraham, you have the opportunity to express gratitude for what He has done for you. You can daily seek and depend on the mercy of God who loves you.

As Abraham learned total reliance on God, his faith grew. In chapter 15 of Genesis you read that when he was 99, God spoke words of encouragement to him in a vision. But when Abraham reminded God that he was still childless, God had him look into the night sky to see the stars saying this would be like the number of his offspring. I love his response. Gen. 15:6 - And he (Abraham) believed the LORD, and he (God) counted it to him as righteousness. This is the Old Testament verse most often quoted by authors of the New Testament. Faith in God’s promises is counted to you as righteousness. Abraham’s life is a beautiful example of how complete trust in God leads to faithful obedience. Sometimes it is hardest to obey God in areas where our trust is weakest.

As we saw yesterday, Abraham received many blessings in his life. With the birth of his beloved son, Isaac, Abraham saw just a glimpse of the beginning of the multitude of his descendants and the great nation that was to come. The only piece of land he actually owned in the Promised Land was a cave he purchased as a burial place for his precious Sarah. He had just a taste of possessing the land one day. He believed and received a taste of what was to come. As Christians today, we experience a taste of what God has promised when Christ returns. The blessings we experience in this life can give us great hope as we live our daily lives for the ultimate blessings that will be ours when Christ returns.

God did not choose Abraham to be called to the Promised Land simply to enrich his life and the lives of his descendants. God called Abraham to be a conduit of divine blessings to all the families of the earth. This blessing would eventually come to the nation of Israel as God’s chosen people and ultimately through Jesus to all people.

I love that picture… a conduit of divine blessings! You are called to be a conduit of God’s divine blessing to someone today and every day. Blessed to be a blessing. Eph. 2:10 - For we are God’s workmanship (work of art), created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.

What commands of God do you find most difficult to faithfully obey? Is there an area of weak trust where you need to ask God to build your faith? To whom is God calling you to be a conduit of blessing?

Today Read:

  • Genesis 20: 1-18
  • Genesis 21:1-34
  • Genesis 22:1-24

Day 5

We saw in Gen. 12:1-3 that God spoke blessings over Abraham and as you’ve been reading the account of his life, I hope you’ve been able to see how important it was for Abraham to hear and believe those words. As God’s chosen people received God’s blessing, they in turn blessed each other. It was a common and sacred thing to do. For example, in Ruth 4:11, the city elders spoke blessing over Boaz when he married Ruth. In Ruth 4:14-15, the women of the town spoke a blessing over Naomi when Ruth had her baby. Fathers spoke blessings over their sons. Paul and other apostles spoke blessings over their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Blessings are powerful and important in the lives of others. This was true before Christ and remains true today. When we pray blessings into peoples’ lives we bring healing, restoration, and great joy and we show how we value each other. This is why Paul instructs us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). A blessing is a positive statement that invokes the blessing of God in the life of someone and gives a glimpse of a special future. God gives the power to the blessing.

Take some time to listen to the song The Blessing

As you listen, imagine it is being sung over you in love, specifically for you. Think of God’s face shining on you and pouring out his grace on you. That’s exactly what God was doing for Abraham as He spoke His blessing and He does the same for you.

Most of us don’t spend much time speaking blessing over each other do we. What would happen if we did? Try writing a blessing for someone you know. Pray about who that might be. You can use your own words or words from the many blessings you find in scripture. But make it personal. Then speak or send the blessing to the person. Also consider speaking a blessing over your children.

According to Focus on the Family, there are five key elements of a blessing. You’ll find these in an excellent article on affirming value to your children through blessing them.

  1. Meaningful and Appropriate Touch
  2. A Spoken Message
  3. Attaching High Value
  4. Picturing a Special Future
  5. An Active Commitment

Like Abraham, be a conduit of God’s blessing to the people in your life as God’s love and grace fills your heart.

Today Read:

Genesis 23:1-20

Genesis 24:1-9

Genesis 25:1-11