The Selfsame Day
“And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.”
And in Genesis we read,
“And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.”
Abraham believed God and circumcised himself and at least 318 men plus all the male children in his household that self same day. If you stop and really think about what God asked Abraham to do and add to that the fact that he obeyed immediately one marvels at his faith and actions. Doing the hard things in God is what commended Abraham to our Lord and made him worthy to be called the father of all that believe. Abraham demonstrates that faith demands action. In James we learn,
“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone”
Here is a true saying:
“It is not the words you say but the actions you take which determine whether or not you believe”
Abraham not only believed God but acted upon his belief without hesitation. Even when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac he “rose up early” to do God’s will,
“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.”
Many of us would have “tarried” all day hoping that God would give us another way to obey Him. We learn from Abraham’s example that a hallmark of truly believing God is total and immediate obedience.
Furthermore, almost doing what God instructs you to do is not obedience. For instance, God sent a prophet to reprove the King of Samaria for his idolatry. Prophesying against King Jehoshaphat’s sinfulness, the power of God broke the stone alter in two demonstrating Jehovah’s displeasure. Moreover, the Spirit of God was so strong upon this prophet that when the king tried to put forth his hand to hinder his mission Jehoshaphat’s arm instantly withered!
As it is written in the book of 1 Kings God gave this prophet very specific instructions,
“And the king said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward. And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place: For so was it charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest.”
1 Kings 13:7-9
However, later we see that this same prophet disobeys God’s instruction and stops and eats bread by the way that he came. He breaks bread at an old prophet’s house and during the meal God rebukes him,
“And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came unto the prophet that brought him back: And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee, But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.
And then we learn of the consequences of his disobedience,
“And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcase cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcase: and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt. And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he said, It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the LORD: therefore the LORD hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake unto him.”
Sadly, the same prophet who came in the power of God to reprove the king now lay dead under the feet of a lion. Those who are called to wield great spiritual power must accept that they will be held accountable to a greater degree than those who are less gifted.
Sometimes people fall into the trap of believing that because God has used them powerfully in the past that they can become sloppy in the present. Many men and women of God fall into this ditch when they begin to let the obedience that brought them past glories gather dust. They feel that because they can still preach, still prophesize, and still heal the sick they are in good standing with God. Unfortunately, they forget that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, so while the gift they were given still operates they may be drifting away from God. The anointing is not for us but for those to whom we minister. As long as those around us still desire God He will flow through us because of our gifting…even while we may be back sliding and losing our salvation. This is sobering thought and those with the greatest gifts among us must take this truth to heart.
When we are young Christians God’s gives us grace just like we as parents also give our young children grace. When we are young in the Lord we constantly disobey and do things that are not pleasing to Him. As a loving Father He gently corrects our disobedience with patience. However, as we grow into young men and women our Father expects more of us and we are to obey His voice without hesitation. Abraham is an example of a mature man of God who knows his Fathers voice and obeys immediately… even when God’s commandments are very difficult. The prophet who was eaten by a lion is an example of a mature man of God who takes the words of His Lord lightly and suffers the consequences. As we mature in God the rewards of obedience are greater and the penalty for disobedience is also increases.
So many times I come across people to whom God has spoken very plainly to…years ago…and they are still not sure if they should obey or not. Why is this so? Does God speak without purpose? Was God unaware of their circumstances when He called to them? Or did God miscalculate the costs involve if they simply obeyed Him? Perhaps God was not aware that they had commitments to family, community, career, or schooling. Surely when God said “go now” it couldn’t possibly mean “right away” could it? Did God really think this through? Does not He realize that if they obey they might lose my good standing among friends and family? We sometimes deceive ourselves in believing that, due to circumstances beyond our control, we cannot possible obey God’s voice in the manor and timing He desires. We, in effect, lay our cross down and go off about our own business while the work of God languishes.
While we say, “yes Lord” with our lips many times our actions speak differently. We pray and beseech God to give us the desires of our hearts and, like the woman of importunity; we pound down the gates of heaven to receive our answer. Yet when God, in His mercy and compassion, answers our prayer in the way He knows is best we reject His answer and despise His wisdom.
Take, for example, the rich young ruler spoken of in the gospel of Mark,
“And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.”
It is possible to deceive ourselves into believing we are more willing than we actually are. The rich young ruler came running and knelt before Jesus obviously believing He was the Christ and showing Him honor. This young man that spoke to Jesus thought He was genuinely sold out to God and wanted to know if there was anything else that he must do to have eternal life. He expected that Jesus would point out some small portion of the law that he might be in error in but instead Jesus spoke to the real issue of his heart that was keeping him from perfection …namely obedience to God’s voice. When Jesus said sell all that you have, give it to the poor, and come follow me He was requiring the young ruler to trust God and give up his security in earthly things. He was saying that if you desire to secure eternal life you must lose your earthly life and follow God without knowing what the next day will bring. Suddenly, the price of following Jesus became so high that the ruler went away sorrowful and the cross Christ asked him to bear was left at Jesus’ feet.
Many talk about faith and how sold out to God they are that sometimes, as it were, they begin to believe their own lies without ever considering that God might call them to make good on their boastings. It is a kindness of God to show us what we truly are so we do not continue on in our own self-deception. A man might pray for food yet God may answer him by giving him a job to earn his food. In our ignorance we may desire a quick fix but in His wisdom He may give us a lasting answer. When we pray we must allow God to answer our petitions in the way He chooses and not in the way we demand.
It has become an acceptable practice to modify or even reject the will of God in our lives because of circumstance or inconvenience. It is as if we believe that God is not aware of the circumstances in our life and so His commandments are unreasonable or even foolish. Yet, when God told Abram to pack up and go to Canaan’s land He simply left. When the Lord told Abraham to circumcise himself and all males in his household he did so the selfsame day. Even when our Father told Abraham to sacrifice his own son, his only son, he obeyed early in the morning. In the New Testament when Jesus called the disciples they simply left what they were doing and followed Him. In fact Jesus believed the call of God took precedence over everything else in a believer’s life. Here is an example of a man, called by Jesus to be a disciple, who hesitated. As it is written,
“And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
It is the last we ever hear of this man in the scriptures. Perhaps he would have done mighty things for God if he would have obeyed “the selfsame day”.
And Jesus also states,
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
Today, as you are reading ask yourself these questions: Am I too busy to listen to the voice of God? Do my wants and desires take precedence over His will? Is my home, husband, children and my own life more important than following Him? If you said yes to any of these you cannot be counted among Christ’s disciples for you are master of your life instead of Jesus. If you cannot be counted among His disciples today you must cry unto Him like this man,”And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
In conclusion, examine yourself before God. Perhaps you feel the cost of discipleship unreasonable and impossible to pay. The cross we are each given to carry is not some uniform, mass produced cross that everyone is issued like army fatigues. Our crosses are unique and suited just for us. Jesus already carried His cross to Calvary and we need not repeat it. However, in each of our lives there are areas where it is necessary to deny ourselves and let His will be done rather than our own. Search yourself and ask God to help you act upon your faith the selfsame day. Only in this way can the life of Christ be revealed in us and through us to the world. Listen, hear, and obey on time, it is as simple as that.