How do you measure your holiness? It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to be holy. We tend to use our experiences and practices or lack thereof to measure how pleasing we are to God.
Stop trying to please God!
The truth is, there is only one thing that really pleases God. That one thing is FAITH! Hebrews 11:6 says, Without Faith it is impossible to please God (ESV). The past few weeks I have been leading our church through a teaching series based on the life of Abraham. The title of the series is: Bless Me – Living and Giving the Blessing. God chose and blessed Abraham, not because of his righteousness, but because of his Faith. Abraham was righteous because he was a man of faith and God imputed (credited) righteousness to him (Genesis 15:6, ESV). Abraham’s Faith is inspiring! It is challenging. His faith presents at least four challenges for you and I to live by every day:
1. Live a Life of Obedience
Obedience asks the question “God, What are you telling me?”
The answer has to be – “I will listen.”
Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” When God told him to Go….He went out. He obeyed the Word of God. Luke 11:27 says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it! Be Blessed. At all cost, obey His word!
2. Live a Life of Vision
Vision asks the question “God, where are you leading me?”
The answer has to be – “God, I will go!”
The definition of vision is “a mental image produced by the imagination. It’s about dreaming a dream for the future. Do you ever ask God where He is leading you? Do you ever ask God that question and before you get an answer say “I’ll Go?” I can imagine that Abraham did. He wanted better, he wanted different. He may not have asked that question verbally, but in his heart, he longed for a better future.
Abraham knew there was more to life than farming and worshiping idols. He was created for more. So, “By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God (Hebrews 11:9-10, ESV).
Abraham’s vision was a God-given vision. It was an invisible promise of a better future for himself and future generations. It wasn’t based on resources. It wasn’t based on reason. It was rooted in ridiculous faith in the God of Promise! Life a life of Vision!
3. Live a life of Perseverance
Perseverance asks the question “Is there any QUIT in me?”
The answer has to be – “NO!”
What is perseverance? It’s sticking with the stuff even through difficulty, obstacles and trials. Hebrews 11: 13-16 says: (Abraham) died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
The journey was difficult. Without perseverance they would have given up and returned to their homeland. But, their willingness to stick with it even when the journey felt long and impossible, is what allowed their vision to come true for future generations. This journey we call “life” is hard. Without vision and perseverance, we quit. But when the vision grips your heart like it did Abraham’s there is no quit! Live a life of perseverance! Don’t Quit!
4. Live a life of Surrender
Surrender asks the question “What am I going to have to give up?”
The answer has to be – “Everything!”
What is surrender? It is to relinquish whatever you retain. Surrender is throwing in the towel, it is waving the white flag, it is saying, “I give up!”
Before Abraham left his homeland – He had to wrestle with that question: What am I willing to give up to grab onto the blessing God has for me? His answer: Everything. He would be relinquishing his family, His fathers blessing, His father’s inheritance Hebrews 11:17 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. (ESV)
There is a concept from World War II known as “Unconditional Surrender”. When Japan realized they were defeated, they “didn’t just surrender, they unconditionally surrendered.” That basically meant, that they signed the surrender documents, then were now at the will and mercy of the United States. Conditional surrender says: we will surrender, but under these conditions. And then a long list of stipulations or provisions follows – like a peace treaty.
If you think about that for a moment, isn’t that how we often surrender to God? We try to make peace treaties with Him instead of saying God, Here I am…I’m at your mercy. Unconditional surrender meant there were no provisions, no conditions, when they surrendered, they surrendered. Today, as part of the unconditional surrender, Japan still has no military presence: no army, no navy, no air force! They are completely at the mercy of a higher authority (what we know today as the United Nations). Conditional surrender would have said: I will go, but…I will follow you, but…. I will sacrifice everything, but …….not my son! However, when Abraham surrendered to God – He meant unconditionally, it meant everything, it meant holding nothing back , not even his son of promise! Unconditional surrender says, God, I am willing to give everything up just to follow you! You are my authority. You are my Lord. I trust you.
Have you surrendered? How long is your peace treaty with God? How many provisions or conditions stand between you and surrender? Give yourself and everything you have to Him – unconditionally.