When we follow God’s will, making sweeping changes in our lives, our faith in God will be challenged and tested. It is in the obedience, no matter what that looks like to the world, that the measure of our faith is revealed. We believe in God in our household which is now only Randy and myself because we have learned that to do anything else is not good for us. We are still tested by fire often for we have not arrived yet in our growing likeness to our Savior. We still need to be purified by the holy fires that melt away the rough edges, revealing the likeness to our Master, Jesus. Peter, who walked with Jesus on earth teaches;
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:7, NLT
We all have those times when we ask God, “Are you sure, God?” “How do I know that I am on the right track?” Sometimes it has to do with checking ourselves to make sure we are not doing life merely on our own steam and power. We cannot test ourselves, purify or set things right with God. Only by our admission of not knowing do we know God more. Confusing? God is the Purifier. Only God can set things right with Him when we ask, repent, believe and follow Him in obedience with all our heart, mind and soul in Jesus Name.
Abram is no exception. Childless Abram asks the same questions from God who told him he would have big family. “Are you sure, God?” “How will this happen?” After the honest questioning, Abram believed! This belief in God changes everything. Faith is thinking “I don’t know how you are going to do it, I just know that you will do what you say.” That is all. No additions. Pure faith in God corrects our course of thinking like the world, leading us to full trust in what God says. Believe God. He doesn’t lie. Lying is not in God’s nature or character.
Genesis 15, The Message
After all these things, this word of God came to Abram in a vision: “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I’m your shield. Your reward will be grand!”
2-3 Abram said, “God, Master, what use are your gifts as long as I’m childless and Eliezer of Damascus is going to inherit everything?” Abram continued, “See, you’ve given me no children, and now a mere house servant is going to get it all.”
4 Then God’s Message came: “Don’t worry, he won’t be your heir; a son from your body will be your heir.”
5 Then he took him outside and said, “Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You’re going to have a big family, Abram!”
6 And he believed! Believed God! God declared him “Set-Right-with-God.”
7 God continued, “I’m the same God who brought you from Ur of the Chaldees and gave you this land to own.”
8 Abram said, “Master God, how am I to know this, that it will all be mine?”
9 God said, “Bring me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, and a dove and a young pigeon.”
10-12 He brought all these animals to him, split them down the middle, and laid the halves opposite each other. But he didn’t split the birds. Vultures swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram scared them off. As the sun went down a deep sleep overcame Abram and then a sense of dread, dark and heavy.
13-16 God said to Abram, “Know this: your descendants will live as outsiders in a land not theirs; they’ll be enslaved and beaten down for 400 years. Then I’ll punish their slave masters; your offspring will march out of there loaded with plunder. But not you; you’ll have a long and full life and die a good and peaceful death. Not until the fourth generation will your descendants return here; sin is still a thriving business among the Amorites.”
17-21 When the sun was down and it was dark, a smoking firepot and a flaming torch moved between the split carcasses. That’s when God made a covenant with Abram: “I’m giving this land to your children, from the Nile River in Egypt to the River Euphrates in Assyria—the country of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
At the moment Abram believed, really believed without question, God declared Abram “set right with God”.
When we respond to God’s direction with obedience, truly believing, God sets us on the right track with Him. Real faith corrects our course as we follow God.
When Abram asks, “How will I know?” God asks Abram for a sacrifice. Through the sacrifice and attention to the sacrifice offered to God in obedience, God reveals what will happen now and in generations to come. God even reveals the Egypt slavery experience that His people will later endure in later generations! Did you catch that? God reveals more than we can understand at times. Faith is not in the understanding but is measured by the willing, relentless obedience from a heart of love for God.
“To obey is even better than sacrifice”, we will hear from God later through Samuel. “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22, NLT
God sees our hearts. Be honest and open with God. Ask questions. Questions help us learn. God understands and will give us information on a “need to know” basis. Our response is to step out in faith believing. God responds with small doses of direction that are a bit easier to swallow. If we knew the whole picture of God’s will for us, it might paralyze us in fear. (Mm, not “might”, but “would” bring fear and trepidation!) God knows what He is doing and has our best interest at His heart.
Thank you for this lesson in believing in obedience to your will and plan for each of us. You are amazing in the ways you work in us and through us to make us holy before you and set us right with You. Continue to purify my heart, mind and fill my soul with all of you in me. I lay down my life as a sacrifice in obedience to your perfect will again today.
In Jesus Name, Amen