The Bible tells us that obedience is better than sacrifice and at some point in our relationship with the Lord we will be tested in that area. We will find ourselves in a place where we must yield total abandonment to God. This is when we must bring our hopes and dream, our family and everything dear to us and lay it down and offer it to God as a sacrifice. When God has brought us to this place nothing else matters. When God told Abraham to go to Mt. Moriah and offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, God did not reveal His plan and purpose to Abraham so that he could consider it, pray about it or have a peace about it. God, in essence, was asking Abraham for his heart, his soul, his whole being. Sometimes it is not a question of whether we have a peace. It is more a question of whether we are going to be obedient to what God has told us to do.
Mt. Moriah is the place of personal sacrifice. It is not a debate room. It is not a place where we consider what God as called and equipped us to do because obedience is not optional for believers. We show our love for the Lord Jesus Christ to the degree in which we obey His commands. It means we follow them and treasure them. The man who says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar and the truth is not in him. Obedience is continuous action. It means to continue on and not to stop. It means day by day obedience. Obedience should be the priority in the life of the believer. We should obey God because of who He is. We should honor Him and reverence Him as God the Father, creator of all things.
There’s no substitute for obedience. As a believer we will face many decisions in life. If God in His word requires you to do something that may conflict to your personal priorities, what would be your response? Would it be keeping with your commitment to obey God like Abraham showed us? Is there any area in your life in which you struggle to be obedient? A person can listen to the best preachers yet dishonor God by disobeying the truth they have heard.
Mt. Moriah is that secret meeting place with God and every believer will be called to that place at one time or another. For those who can lay it all on the altar as Abraham did, they will find that there is a blessing far beyond what they could ever imagine. What about you? Are you on your way to Mt. Moriah or have you reached that place in your life where you are struggling as to whether you will give 100% or just 50%? Don’t be afraid to give it your all. God will meet you there and will lovingly and tenderly accept you and you will never be the same again.
There was a 8 year old boy who loved to go fishing with his father. One night his father promised that they would leave first thing in the morning to go fishing. The boy could hardly sleep but when he woke the next morning it was raining very heavily. So the boy became angry and complained all morning long. His father tried to explain to him that the rain was needed because they were in a drought. But the boy kept asking ‘why did it have to rain today?’ Shortly after noon it stopped raining and the sun came out. The father and the boy went fishing and caught more fish than they had ever caught before. They brought the fish home and cooked some of it and had it for supper. As they sat down, the father asked the boy to ask the blessing. The boy prayed this prayer; ‘God, if I sounded a little grumpy earlier today, it was because I thought this afternoon would look just like this morning.’
That is our problem as well. We think that our present ircumstances will never change. Everything must change; nothing stays the same but there is one thing that is solid and unchangeable. It is God. God has always been and will always be. God has no beginning or end. He is eternal. Since God is unchangeable, we can always count on Him. We cannot always count on our friends. They let us down at times. Their love is conditioned on our performance. But not God’s. His love is everlasting and therefore unchanging. He always acts out of His love for us. The better we know Him the more we shall be able to trust Him and hold on to Him for stability and strength when everything around us is changing. We may begin to think God has changed when we go through trials but nothing could be further from the truth. We must remember that God is changing us, getting us ready for eternity where things will never change.
Don’t allow your faith to waiver in times like these. Weigh the changes that come your way with an eternal perspective. Keep your focus on what is important, what really matters. Solomon said; “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Eccl.3:11b). That means that area of your life where you hurt the most, God is working for your good. (Romans 8:28). Don’t try to figure it out. Accept it, glean from it and trust God through it all. God loves you and wants nothing but the best for you. We can count on that. It is the promise of an unchanging God.
There are many words to define love. You can ask ten different people what love means to them and you will get ten different answers all based upon what matters most to the individual. What matters most to God is that we love Him with our whole hearts, soul and mind, and just as important to Him is that we love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves. These two things matter so much to Him that He tells us that everything else He has commanded us to do hinges on these two principles. This isn’t complicated – love God and love people. This is what God expects of us. This is what we are supposed to do. Love!
Do you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind? Another way to ask this question is do you put God first in your life? If your answer is ‘yes’ then you are loving God in the way He wants us to love Him. Remember, God loved us so much that He gave us His only begotten Son. Next, what does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself? Loving your neighbor means that you do for him whatever you would do for yourself. When you have a need, you do what’s necessary to meet that need. When you are hurt, you do what it takes to receive healing. God wants us to not be self-centered and to show our love in acts of kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice to all the people God brings into our lives. Love’s the one thing that can never hurt anyone. Love is seen in the actions it prompts. Love is revealed when we bear with the failings and weaknesses of others which may not be easy but necessary.
God wants us to have agape love in our hearts for all people regardless of their color, race or creed. Agape love is about seeing them through the eyes of God. It is about valuing them as His creation. It’s a decision that we make whether we feel like it or not. God loves us, we respond to that love by loving others. The actress, Katherine Hepburn once said “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get only with what you are expecting to give which is everything.” Love is life’s greatest blessing and our potential to love is limitless. There is no perfect person, but there is perfect love. “A new command I give you: Love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13: 34-35). What matters most to God is our love for Him and one another.
A man once went to a minister for counseling. He was in the midst of a financial collapse. “I’ve lost everything,” he bemoaned. “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve lost your faith.’ “No,” the man corrected him, “I haven’t lost my faith.” “Well, then I’m sad to hear that you’ve lost your character.” “I didn’t say that,” he corrected. “I still have my character.” “I’m sorry to hear that you’ve lost your salvation.” “That’s not what I said,” the man objected. “I haven’t lost my salvation.” “You have your faith, your character, your salvation. Seems to me,” the minister observed, “that you’ve lost none of the things that really matter.”
Your faith, your character and your salvation are of utmost importance but there is something else that matters just as much in this life and that is to find the secret of being happy and satisfied; free from worry or restlessness. That secret, my friends, is called contentment. Contentment comes when we can honestly say with the apostle Paul, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (Phil. 4:12). Contentment is learned. It isn’t natural. We’re not born with it. It is not a gift. We tend to look for things that will make us content – a new partner, a new house, a new car or a new job rather than putting forth the effort it takes to learn how to be content in the present with what we already have. Contentment isn’t denying our feelings about want and desire, but instead it provides a freedom from being controlled by those feelings. Contentment is the peace that comes from knowing that God is bigger than our problems and that He works them all out for our good. When we are content we have joy in spite of our circumstances because our joy is not based on anything external but rather on the contentment of our heart.
Do you know the secret? It all comes down to two things – your focus and your trust. If your trust and focus are both on your own abilities and the things you possess, then you will never ever be content. If your focus and trust is in Almighty God, He will give you the strength to be content regardless of the circumstances you are in. What about you? Are you someone who struggles with contentment? Have you been looking for contentment in all the wrong places? “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt 6:33).