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Milestones of Obedience

October 16th, 2014

By faith Abraham obeyed . . . [and] went without knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8 NLT.

Life is a sequence of events and a succession of experiences.

My thoughts and comments today are about “milestones of obedience.”

Life is a journey, comprising a sequence of years, a succession of events, and a collection of experiences. The last – a collection of experiences – may well be the more important of the three. Experiences create the moments where treasured memories are made. Time can be counted in minutes, but life is measured in moments. If you think about it, you will easily recognize the distinction between minutes and moments.

Minutes are too many to all be remembered. Moments are fewer yet forever mark the journey and progress of your life. I don’t remember the day of the week nor the exact time of day when Gayle said yes to my expression of love and proposal of marriage. But more than fifty years later, I fondly recall that moment and the joy I felt when she did.

Many years ago, my friend and spiritual father, Campbell, said a few words which remain of primary importance to me yet today. He said, “Abraham’s journey was marked by milestones of obedience and altars of consecration.” Campbell’s words were a life-shaping moment of spiritual understanding that continues to impact what I believe and how I choose to live my life – “milestones of obedience and altars of consecration.”

Obedience to God is essential and non-negotiable in your faith journey. There are no more consequential moments than when you walk in obedience. Like King Saul, you may try to offer God your preferred options rather than full obedience. Saul did not offer a lesser sacrifice; he tried to offer a different sacrifice from what God asked. “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice.” Read 1 Samuel 15:13-15/22 NIV. Any option other than what God requires is unacceptable.

Milestones indicate much more than the irreplaceable time that has passed; spiritual milestones mark the progress and success of your journey, or the lack thereof. They are enduring reminders of the grace of God in your past and the sovereign purpose of God over your future. Such moments are sacred and should be celebrated. Upon Israel’s victory over the Philistines, “Samuel took a stone . . and called it ‘Ebenezer’ saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” 1 Samuel 7:12.

Abraham’s journey began with a divine encounter, as will yours, and his response of obedience. “The Lord had said to Abraham, ‘Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’” Genesis 12:1 NIV. Imagine the obedience and faith that was required in that. His journey would take him from his “country,” everything previously familiar to him – his “people,” everyone with whom he felt most comfortable – and “his father’s household,” the source of provision he had trusted.

“It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8 NLT. Obedience requires trust beyond explanation. Abraham did not know where he was going but he knew Who He was following. To follow God obediently, you have to leave where you are to go where God wants to take you. Your spiritual journey cannot take you further than your current obedience will allow.

Consecration to God is essential and non-negotiable in your faith journey. In the next edition of EveryDay Life, we will further examine the very important, second aspect, “Altars of Consecration.” Every moment of consecration at an altar is of eternal consequence in your journey. Every place Abraham pitched his tent, he built an altar and worshipped the Lord there. See Genesis 12:7/8/13:18/22:9. An altar is where you humbly bow and surrender yourself to the supremacy and sovereignty of God, a sacred place of worship expressed in costly sacrifice and sincere consecration. Altars are significant to God and crucial to your spiritual journey.

Today, my prayer for you is for you to grow in the grace of obedience and the practice of consecration.

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Reminders

March 9th, 2012

“This I call to mind and therefore I have hope.” Lamentations 3:21 NIV

“The journey of faith is marked by milestones of obedience and altars of consecration.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “reminders.”

What would I do if it were not for Gayle, a most helpful wife, and Charlotte, a trusted secretary, who keep track of my appointments and schedules, reminding me of where I am supposed to be, what I am supposed to be doing, and with whom I am supposed to be doing that? Who could recall all they need to remember without the ubiquitous Post It notes? As I embrace the challenge of “aging gracefully,” I am not getting any more forgetful; unfortunately, neither am I getting any less. In my own defense, my claim is that I just have a more sizable and growing library of people, places, and stuff that can be forgotten. I guess we all struggle with memory; therefore, everyone needs reminders.

Ever puzzled why it is so easy to forget and so hard to remember? Someone said, “We are not slow learners, just quick forgetters.” The problem seems to me that most of us remember what we should forget, and forget what we should remember. With little effort, you may remember failure and pain, but need reminders of faithfulness and blessing. “My soul still remembers my (affliction) and sinks within me. This I recall to my mind, and therefore have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness . . therefore I hope in Him! . . It is good that one should hope and wait quietly.” Lamentations 3:20-26 NKJV. Hope is birthed in your heart and rests on God and His promises, not present circumstances.

You need reminders! You need to forget things that complicate your life and trouble your soul, and you need to build enduring memorials and altars that remind you of God’s goodness and faithfulness in your life. Those good and Godly memories renew and establish hope for the path ahead. After Israel’s decisive victory over their staunchest enemy, the Old Testament prophet, Samuel, took a stone and named it, “Ebenezer, meaning ‘thus far the Lord has helped us.’” 1 Samuel 7:12 NKJV. Everyone who appreciates the grace of God has a personal testimony of “thus far the Lord has helped me.” That blessed history needs to become a firm declaration and conviction, “Therefore I hope in Him!” Real hope is planted firmly on the solid rock of God and your personal history with Him.

Many years ago, my dear friend, Campbell, said to me, “The journey of faith is marked by Milestones of obedience and Altars of consecration.” I have never forgotten the wisdom of his words. Milestones of obedience – the places where God has spoken to you when and where you responded in faith – mark the path you have traveled and evidence the extent of your progress, or lack thereof. Such moments are enduring memorials raised to the glory of God as reminders for you and testimonials to others. They mark the way you have come, tribute to the grace of God and graciousness of others that has been shown to you.

Your journey should also be marked by Altars of consecration where you bow before God in new levels of dedication. Yesterday’s consecration cannot provide today’s sacrifice. Ashes are all that remain of your last sacrifice. To go further with God you have to go deeper in God. Consecration is the act of setting someone or something apart for a distinct purpose. “I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind He will accept . . let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Romans 12:1-2 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you be a living, breathing, and holy sacrifice to God.

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