Put God First
You probably already know that it’s important to make God preeminent in your life and I’m sure you’re trying to do that. How is that going for you? Let me ask it this way: If someone looked at your life from the outside, would your actions be sufficient to prove to them that God is first place in your life? What if God put you to the test to see if you put Him first? Would you pass God’s test? That’s exactly what God did to Abraham. And guess what? Abraham passed! Not only did Abraham pass God’s test, the story also records evidence that allows us to see that God really was first place in Abraham’s life.
As I was reading the Genesis 22 account of God testing Abraham, the Lord showed me seven steps that Abraham took because God was a priority in his life. I believe you and I can learn from his example. Consider whether you practice these steps in your own life.
Abraham predetermined to obey. Genesis 22:3 states that Abraham arose early. Because God was first place in Abraham’s life, he didn’t need to think about whether to obey, call and ask Grandma what he should do, or even talk it over with Sarah. Abraham already knew that he would obey because God was first place in his life. Have you decided in advance that you will do whatever God tells you? When do you decide whether you’re attending church? Do you make up your mind Sunday morning, Saturday night, or years in advance? When do you decide if you’re going to tithe or how much you’re going to give? If God told you to move to a foreign country right now, do you already know what your answer would be? Determine in advance that you will do whatever God tells you.
Abraham prepared to accomplish God’s task. Genesis 22:3 also let us know that Abraham made his plans in advance and organized the resources in his life (e.g. servants, donkey, firewood, rope, etc.) so that he was ready and able to obey God. Are you prepared to do whatever God has planned for you? If you’re living paycheck to paycheck or weighed down with mountains of debt, determine in your heart to get these affairs in order so you aren’t tied to a job or creditor when the Lord needs you free to do what He commands. Get prepared to follow God.
Abraham went when sent. We find in Genesis 22:3 that Abraham left as quickly as possible and went exactly where God told him. He didn’t procrastinate (like Gideon), make excuses (like Moses), or go the wrong direction (like Jonah). He obeyed immediately! Do you obey right away? When God tells you to do something, what is your immediate response? Do you think about your other obligations and responsibilities? Do you consider when would be a better time to do it? Do you wonder who else might be able to handle it? Do you get frustrated because God’s plan interferes with your plan? When God tells you to do something, the first thing you should do is whatever He told you. When God says to go, GO!
Abraham separated himself from hindrances. Genesis 22:4 records how Abraham left his servants behind as soon as Mount Moriah came into view. He knew they would probably try to overpower him and stop him from sacrificing Isaac. There is also no mention of Sarah anywhere in this story. She certainly would not have been in favor of this plan. If any other people were present, their good intentions would have caused Abraham to disobey God. Abraham left them behind because God and His commandments held a higher place in Abraham’s life than the opinions of people. Are there things in your life hindering you from accomplishing all that God wants you to do? Do you have habits or relationships that are holding you back? Are you like a plant withering away because you aren’t planted in an environment that allows you to thrive? Find out what is holding you back and separate yourself from it. Even things that seem helpful can be hindrances if they prevent you from keeping the Lord first place in your life. Leave them behind and pursue God wholeheartedly!
Abraham stayed in faith. Abraham’s words demonstrated his faith in spite of his circumstances. In Genesis 22:5, he told his servants that both he and Isaac would return and in Genesis 22:8, he told Isaac that God would provide the sacrificial lamb. Abraham spoke in faith, regardless of how bad his situation seemed. When things seem hopeless, do you succumb to what you see or do you speak words of faith? God’s word is more true than your circumstances and situation. No matter what you see, speak God’s word and watch things change in obedience to it.
Abraham remained focused on God. Genesis 22:8 also shows Abraham’s unwavering focus on God. Throughout this whole episode, Abraham remained aware that the purpose of the offering was to honor God and not to get what he wanted. He told Isaac that “God will provide for Himself the lamb.” Most people would have said, “God will give us a lamb,” but Abraham knew the lamb was for God because God was at the forefront of his thoughts. What consumes the majority of your thoughts? Meditate on God, His goodness, His faithfulness, His grace, His mercy, His love, and His word. Everything else is secondary.
Abraham continued in obedience until God told him otherwise. In Genesis 22:10-12, we see that Abraham was obedient and fully intended to sacrifice Isaac until the Angel of the Lord stopped him. Abraham could have stopped obeying God at any point in time, and the temptation was certainly there, but he was faithful until God interrupted and told him to do something else. Are you still doing the last thing God told you? If He didn’t tell you to stop, and you aren’t still doing it, then you are disobeying God. If God is first place in your life, get back to work on the last thing He told you and continue doing it until He tells you to stop.
Abraham’s predetermination, preparation, obedience, separation, faithfulness, focus, and perseverance demonstrated that God was the top priority in his life. If people look at your life, will they see the same things? What do you need to change to make God first place in your life? Start today to rearrange your priorities so God is preeminent in your life!