Often I reflect on the children of Israel who had an interesting journey with God. Yet, the journey revealed the center of Israel’s heart with each step. The journey to the Promised Land wasn’t a test of God’s character or His Word; it was a test of devotion to God. Sadly the adventure wasn’t a short journey; forty years of traveling to one destination. Oh, I could hear my children! “Are we there yet?” Keep in mind, Israel didn’t fail all of tests but they seemed to fall short on the same issue: a heart of devotion. Who truly owned their heart?It’s not easy to allow our hearts to be searched by the Holy Spirit. Yet, it’s only when we allow the Holy Spirit to search it, we can be led. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24) We can’t be lead to a pure life if we don’t allow God to search us. Sin holds us back; grace lifts us up. Yet, sin isn’t always the issue; it’s a test of obedience to what God requests. Who went through such a test, our father in the faith, Abraham. (Genesis 22:1)
Nothing should ever take our devotion from God. It’s not only what God longs for, it’s what He deserves. Yet, it’s through the test, we learn our true heart. Isaac was a promise from God, a precious promise Abraham waited for. Abraham wasn’t a young man during the time of Isaac’s birth; he was about a hundred years old. (Romans 4:19) Abraham didn’t weaken his faith although the circumstances stood against him. (Romans 4:9) During the waiting period Sarah did become impatient, so she told Abraham to sleep with her handmade, Hagar. Although he failed this test, it didn’t prevent from God’s promise prevailing.
When God asked Abraham to take his son to the region of Moriah, he didn’t question Him. Yet, as the scripture is read (Genesis 22:1-14) it doesn’t make sense, why is God giving such a strange request? Isaac was the promised child, so why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice him? God was testing him. (Genesis 22:1) Abraham’s love for Isaac was obvious; it was his only son who he loved dearly. Could Abraham possibly love Isaac too much? Maybe, scripture doesn’t say. Yet, it was a test of obedience to God’s request. As Isaac carries the wood upon his back, Abraham prepares the decision. Abraham carries not the wood but the objects to make the sacrifice complete: the fire and the knife. (Genesis 22:6)
A sacrifice doesn’t come without death and being consumed by fire. At the altar we have to die to the will of Christ and become completely consumed by it. The altar isn’t a monument of a sacrifice it’s where I learn to become one. We can’t receive the riches of Christ without their being a sacrifice. Yet, it’s only when we learn to sacrifice; we learn how to worship God. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1) Nothing can separate us from God’s love but if someone or anything stands between our devotion to God; it’s idolatry. It may not be an idol we are worshipping but if we treasure it more than God, we are not devoted with ALL our heart. Whether it’s family, money, getting a career, or ministry nothing should keep us from a heart of devotion to God. All of these desires are not sinful but it’s can’t be the center of our lives, it has to be God. If God's not the center of your heart it will cause an uneasiness in your life; no rest. God will not settle for second best; He will only settle for complete devotion of our whole heart.