Tuesday, February 4, 2014

All Or Nothing

 God is a complete God. He does nothing part-way, and expects nothing left unfinished by us, either.
Now, when i say that He is a "complete" God, that is taking into account the partial sentence in Genesis 3:22 (unless you read from certain translations such as the NIV). That's a topic for another day, lest i digress. But even that is resolved by His next action.

 It would be easy to get far more in-depth than i'm planning with this, and so will refrain, using few examples.

 Joshua 6 contains my first example; the fall of Jericho. God gives rather strange, albeit specific directions for the Israelites to follow, which includes a week of marching around a city. It wasn't until they had fulfilled all the commands that the walls finally fell. It wasn't until everything God commanded had been fully completed.
And this presents the question of why they had to march instead of God just destroying the stronghold outright. It's a matter of discovering one's level of faith.
And a further question could arise; "If God knows all things, He knows how much faith we have, so He doesn't have to test us." And that's true. He does know how much faith we have. We don't. Job's story is one not of God discovering Job's faith in God, but Job discovering his own faith in God, as well as God's confidence in His faithful ones.
Digressing again.

 The next i'd like to bring up is Abraham and Isaac's encounter at Moriah in Genesis 22.
"After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here I am.' He said, 'Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.'"
 Abraham gets the trying directive to go to a place that isn't shown to him at the time of his departure. This isn't the first time, either; in Genesis 12:1, he's told to go to a land that God would show him. That in itself begs more faith than many would be capable of displaying.
But in this, he's told to take his only son (to address the elder brother, Ishmael, born to Hagar, would be another digression), whom he loved, and offer him as a burnt offering. This required Isaac to be tied and placed on a pile of branches, his throat slit, and then burned.
Isaac asked where the lamb was for the offering. How it must have grieved Abraham to tell him that Lord would provide it. Like pouring salt on a wound, or twisting a knife.
He bound Isaac and laid him on the altar, the wood for which Isaac carried himself. Abraham was a hundred years old at Isaac's birth. It's unlikely that Abraham could have tied him up had he resisted, without consent.
And Abraham even gets as far as holding the blade to his son before the angel stops him.
It wasn't enough to just say, "Okay, God, you're most important to me." It took a days-long venture with his son to go and sacrifice his son, all the way unto putting the knife to his son's throat.
There was no doubt in God's mind, no doubt in Abraham's at this point, that God was first in his life.

 There are many other references that could be made on this topic, but those are the only two i have the time (or energy) to read up on and type.
Here's the thing, however; He asks us to do things as completely as He does. He wants utter submission to His commands. He wants us to be limitless on what we'd do in order to serve Him.
We often get into the mindset of, "If I just set myself up to do something, He'll bless me like I did it completely," but that's not how it works. If He asks you to give something up, be it a specific behavior, friends, family, a job, dreams, anything, He means for you to do so without thinking of how to get around it. He is intending to bless you however He intends; the grace part is giving you the chance and conviction to give up something for Him, to act recklessly for Him, to lose everything for Him. That is a grace in itself. Cherish it. Everything you have gained should be counted as loss for His sake. Our glory comes from what He asks of us, the sacrifices He calls us to make; not by our means, but by His grace.

 I'm sure, at times, we'll say, "God, what on earth are You thinking?" And His answer will probably be silence. The more you ask that, the more silent He may seem to be. But that's perhaps good. The more reason for doubt there is in something that we persevere through, the more wondrous the glory we see.

 There are no partials in Christ. There is all in Christ, or not in Christ. He loves entirely, wants to be loved entirely. Better to be hot or cold than lukewarm.
Surely, the greatest case against a belief in God's grace is seeing someone living the same after meeting Him as before. Someone who is one way in church and another outside of it; this is the greatest representation of why someone should not believe their testimony.
He wants living sacrifices of our human nature to be fully engulfed in the flame on the altar so that there is nothing left of it. He wants everything we are to die there, so that everything He is can live where it was.
The opportunity -and calling- to lay myself down in such a way is the greatest grace i can imagine Him asking of me.
For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

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