The Surrender Test | Tested
Monday— Some time later, God tested Abraham. Genesis 22:1
“I hear your department has almost completed work on a flying car,” said Wilt. Lane nodded as he closed his briefcase. “I think we’re there. I’d almost let my kids ride in it.” Wilt laughed. “Well, what’s stopping you?” Lane slid his card through the security lock and the door opened. “Haven’t tested it yet. Looks good, but so far, it’s theoretical. We’ll put it through rigorous testing and grade its performance under extreme stress. Basically, we’ll torture it until we’re sure it can withstand anything before we let a single human being inside. The stakes are too high to trust a computer’s promises. It’s gotta prove itself.”
That’s what the Bible means when it says that God tested someone. He had a world-changing assignment for Abraham, but before God could trust him with it, Abe had to be tested. It’s easy to say we love God when we’re safe, when nothing we value is at risk. God wants to use us in significant ways to benefit His kingdom, but He can’t do that until we’ve proven ourselves. The stakes are too high. Until Abraham proved that he would withhold nothing from God, his faith was theoretical. Because God wanted to bless this man, He had to test him first by grading his performance under extreme stress. It was torturous. But Abe proved himself and God used him to change the world. He’ll do that with us too, but we’ve gotta prove ourselves.
Final Thought: When, through no fault of your own, you’re facing extreme stress, it’s a chance to let you prove yourself.
Prayer: Father, I’ve never looked at rough situations as tests. I thought you were mad at me. But you weren’t mad at Abraham when you tested him. He passed with flying colors. Help me remember that when you test me again. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” Genesis 22:2
God was painfully specific about what He required of Abraham. “Take your son, your only son whom you love so much…” Not a bag of gold. Not a thousand sheep or cattle. Not his home or his possessions. It was Abe’s heart God wanted and Isaac had it. Isaac was the son of promise. All Abe’s dreams were wrapped up in this son. He was grateful to God for this gift, but at some point in Abe’s life, the gift had become the god. He had begun looking at Isaac to fulfill God’s promise instead of the Promise-giver. That had to change or Abe would forfeit the future blessing and honor God wanted to give him.
God is painfully specific about what He requires of each of us. “Take your will, your dreams, your opinions that you love so much…sacrifice them as a burnt offering.” Not our garage sale items. Not the surplus in the attic. And probably not the things other people can see. It’s our heart God wants and something else has it. How do we identify what God is asking us to surrender? It’s that one thing that makes us tighten our grip. “No! Not that, Lord. Not my kids. Not my job. Not my health.” That resistance means that the gift has become the god. We’ve begun looking to it for fulfillment instead of the Gift-giver. That has to change or we will forfeit all the eternal treasures God wants to pour out on us. He only blesses what He owns.
Final Thought: What in your life causes you to tighten your grip when God asks you to surrender it? Has it become your god?
Prayer: Father, I pretend I don’t know what you’re asking, but I’m not fooling you. Fear says you want it so you can destroy it, but it’s the opposite. You ask me to let go so you can bless it. Help me have no other gods but you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar… Genesis 22:9
-It finally happened! Cal had made partner. He was over the moon excited. He’d reached the place God had told him about.
-Shyann kissed Dave goodnight and closed the door, giggling to herself. He was amazing! The one God had told her about.
-Marji wept as her son received his diploma. Cancer was taking her, but she’d reached the place God had told her about.
-It took three days of climbing, three nights of soul searching, but at last Abraham reached the place God had told him about.
We respond in a variety of ways when we reach the place God has told us about. Abraham responded by building an altar.
God is intimately involved with every aspect of our lives, whether we acknowledge His presence or not. He gives us dreams and goals, lights a fire in our souls. And then we reach the place God has told us about. What now? The challenge is conquered, the lover won, the goal realized and then what? Abraham showed us how it’s done. His first response was to build an altar where he surrendered the gift back to the Giver. When we reach a goal, we either celebrate our own success, or we say, “Father, thank you! Without you, this would never have happened. Now, I give it back to you. Use this for your glory and your purpose.” When we reach the place God has told us about, our first response should be to build an altar to Him.
Final Thought: What is your first response when you reach the place God has told you about?
Prayer: Father, too often I claim the success for myself. I may build an altar, but it is to me. To my own achievement. Please forgive me. When I reach the next place you told me about, I will build an altar and worship you alone. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other… Genesis 15:10
Abraham’s surrender to God did not begin with Isaac. When God taught Abraham what it meant to be in a covenant with Him, He instructed Abraham to perform a strange ritual that is also a model for us. He told Abe to bring certain animals to the altar, kill them, and slice them in half from top to bottom. After Abraham laid the halves on the altar, God passed between the pieces to seal the covenant. God was demonstrating to all mankind that to be in covenant with Him, something has to die.
When God initiated a covenant with the rest of us, it required the death of His own Son Jesus. In order to benefit from this saving covenant with God, something of ours must also die. Like Abraham did with those sacrificial animals, we lay ourselves on the altar and ask God to slice us open. “Search my heart, Lord. What is in me that you don’t like?” And when He shows us, we agree with Him. We figuratively put it on the cross and kill it. Surrender is an act of worship in which we make ourselves completely vulnerable to the will and purposes of God. We cannot receive the new life Jesus offers if we refuse to die to the old one. God set the terms of His covenant with Abraham and He sets the terms of His covenant with us. We do it His way or not at all. But in our acts of ongoing surrender, God Himself passes through our lives and restores us to intimacy with Him.
Final Thought: In surrender, the decision about what belongs in our lives is based solely on God and His word.
Prayer: Lord, have I come to the place of that kind of surrender? Am I willing to let you slice me open and remove whatever does not please you? That’s the only way I can walk in harmony with you. So I am willing… In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:17
How do you worship a King? Does He like gold, silver, and jewels? Does He need the iPhone 12 Pro Max? Does He want edgier songs, foggier fog, or strobier lights? Everything on earth is already God’s, and it’s a sure bet that millions of angels in a never-ending worship set sound better than we do. So what can we give God in order to worship Him like He deserves?
Anything earthly we offer to God is similar to a child picking flowers out of our own garden and handing them to us. It’s like a teenager saying to his Dad, “I know I wasn’t supposed to drive your car, but I wrecked it, so you can have half my allowance back.” Not even close. What God wants is something that is completely ours to give. The only thing in the universe that belongs solely to us is our heart. Our will. God designed us with the freedom to reject Him and break His heart. However, the Bible spells out in horrifying detail the consequences for doing so. God doesn’t approve jihad. The true God never forces our allegiance. What He wants is voluntary surrender that arises from a broken and humble heart. But that may look different than we think it does. A broken, humble heart is not groveling in self-hatred. It is not remorseful about the consequences while reserving the right to repeat the sin. A broken and repentant heart agrees with God about how bad sin is and gives up the right to continue it. That offering to God is worth more than the worship of ten million angels. More than all the gold on earth.
Final Thought: Total surrender is the ultimate act of worship.
Prayer: Father, have I substituted tradition and emotion for true worship? A song is not worship. Good deeds are not necessarily worship if my motivation is wrong. Surrender is worship, and now I surrender to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.