In these very uncertain and often discouraging times that we are in, especially as we move toward Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year, many are praying for a revelation of what God wants us to be expecting in the days ahead.
I’m not speaking about some sort of prophetic revelation for the nationwide or global church, but simply for decisions that affect your life and the lives of people that you love.
For example, our family had to make the difficult decision of not being able to join all together this Thanksgiving day with part of our close family that lives in Texas; a trip that we had been anticipating for many months. When it came time to make that decision I prayed for agreement amidst our immediate family members and, thankfully, the Lord granted us that gift. Unity comes with clear revelation.
I’ve discovered over many years that there’s a direct correlation between God’s revelation of Himself and the condition of my character, not just what God’s promises may be. Although there are thousands of wonderful promises in God’s word, we cannot seem to reach out and receive them until step by step, through obedience to the nudgings of the Spirit we understand the nature of God.
Perhaps one of the best illustrations of this principle is found in the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. I know it’s familiar but it’s worth re-reading, perhaps in a different translation. Abraham had been exemplary in faith and patience in waiting for the promise of God to give him a son and a future lineage of descendants that would become a great nation. (Romans 4:18) For his acts of obedience when he wandered out into a land that he did not know and waited on God for 25 years for the fulfillment of this promise he is considered one of the heroes of the faith. (Hebrews 11:8-12)
But in order to appreciate how Abraham received this promise we have to make note of the fact that he learned obedience through the years as he waited on God and chose to trust His leadings and promptings even though he didn’t really understand them. The pinnacle of this story is when he is called in Genesis 22 to make the sacrifice of his only son, the son whom he believed to be the fulfillment of God’s promise.
God called Abraham to go to Mt. Moriah just north of Jerusalem and to prepare a place to offer his son as a sacrifice. In Genesis 22:1-18 you can read this story for yourself.
Imagine Abraham’s internal battle to trust God when he was climbing the mountain with his son to make the sacrifice, even while Isaac was carrying the very logs upon his shoulders upon which the sacrifice would be prepared. Listen to the deep emotion in this exchange between Isaac the son and Abraham his father.
“Father,” Isaac asked, “we have the wood and the flint to make the fire, but where’s the lamb for the sacrifice?” “God will see to it my son,” Abraham replied. And they went on. When they arrived at the place where God had told Abraham to go, he built an altar and placed the wood in order, ready for the fire, and then tied Isaac and laid him on the altar over the wood. And Abraham took the knife and lifted it up to plunge it into his son, to slay him.
At that moment the Angel of God shouted to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes, Lord!” he answered. “Lay down the knife; don’t hurt the lad in any way,” the Angel said, “for I know that God is first in your life — you have not withheld even your beloved son from me.”
Then Abraham noticed a ram caught by its horns in a bush so he took the ram and sacrificed it, instead of his son, as a burnt offering on the altar. Abraham named the place “Jehovah provides” — and it still goes by that name to this day.
Then the Angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. “I, the Lord, have sworn by myself that because you have obeyed me and have not held even your beloved son from me, I will bless you with incredible blessings and multiply your descendants into countless thousands and millions, like the stars above you in the sky, and like the sands along the seashore. They will conquer their enemies, and your offspring will be a blessing to all the nations of the earth — all because you’ve obeyed me.”
How did Abraham rise to the place in his trust in God where he was literally about to sacrifice his only son who was the fulfillment of the promise God had given him 25 years prior to this? It was through steps of obedience day after day, month after month, year after year where Abraham’s character was shaped, tested and deepened by God through Abraham’s daily decisions of obedience.
Obedience is the practical application of our faith which enables us to receive the promises of God. When we hear the nudge of the Holy Spirit and obey; when He says “come,” I simply come and when He says “let go” I let go; when He says trust in me in this matter, I do trust. In the big moments that we face, God’s revelation of Himself is determined by my character… not just by His promises.
It’s important to note that our steps of obedience pave the way to God pouring out abundant fulfillment of His promises, far beyond the sacrifice we may feel along the way. It’s not saying that our obedience earns the promises, simply that they are a demonstration to God that we are earnest and desirous of trusting Him no matter what.
So in this challenging and rather difficult time that we are in, why not make a renewed prayer of being sensitive to His Spirit and obeying His leadings so that the promises of God will come alive in you and cause abundant blessing to pour through your life and over to others who also may need your encouragement, strength and love as we demonstrate to ourselves and to those around us that our Lord does love us and is in control of our lives.