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Lenten devotion for February 22, 2024 "Count the Stars"

[Read Genesis 15:1-18]

Three Dollars Worth of God —Wilbur Rees


I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.

Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,

but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk

or a snooze in the sunshine.

I don’t want enough of God

to make me love a black man

or pick beets with a migrant.

I want ecstasy, not transformation.

I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth.

I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.

The words of Wilbur Rees were intended to disturb comfortable Christians everywhere. Faith is too often peddled as an added benefit to one’s life. When, in fact, faith fundamentally changes man’s course giving him both direction and purpose. Faith is a boldness to walk places unknown and face obstacles that appear insurmountable. And all this is not something in oneself—not faith in just anything—but in faith the Lord who has revealed Himself.

Abram began his journey of faith by obeying God’s call to leave everything he had ever known and journey to a land he had never seen. The Lord now speaks to him in a vision: … Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward will be very great.” (Genesis 15:1, CSB) Abraham remembers the promise of God that he would be made into a great nation (Genesis 12:2). But now he is an old man without children of his own. Sarai has already passed the age of childbearing. Abram questions the Lord, “Look, you have given me no offspring, so a slave born in my house will be my heir.”” (Genesis 15:3, CSB)

The Lord takes Abram “outside and said, “Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “Your offspring will be that numerous.” (Genesis 15:5, CSB) The Lord makes that great covenant with Abraham which is sealed by the rite described at the close of the chapter. Yet, the promise still seemed too great. Sarai and Abraham seek to help God fulfill His promise by siring a child through Sarai’s servant Hagar. Still, God keeps His promises, and it will be Isaac not Ishmael through whom the promise is kept.

Faith, real faith, is never comfortable or predictable.  When Jesus sent out the 72, He told them: Don’t carry a money-bag, traveling bag, or sandals; don’t greet anyone along the road.” (Luke 10:4, CSB) When Jesus commissioned Paul to serve the kingdom, the disciples were afraid at first that he was trying to trick them. As Peter first witnessed to the gentiles, God had to prepare him for he was rejecting ritual cleanliness. And as for Abram, the son of promise will be named “Laughter.”

Faith walks with the Spirit not by sight. We are given love for our enemy, courage when we fear, resources to fulfill God’s call, and granted —not what we might first desire —but the pearl of great price, far exceeding what we ever imagined. Rather than looking for $3 worth of God, seek the one who is worth more than everything we have.


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