A daily devotion for June 14th
1 The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
3 He said, "If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant."
"Very well," they answered, "do as you say."
6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. "Quick," he said, "get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread."
7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. (Genesis 18:1)
In this event God tests Abraham's heart to determine whether he is really a circumcised believer. God appears in such a commonplace way that Abraham is not aware of His identity. I've long wished for some kind of a test that could be used in Bible schools and seminaries to determine the degree of spiritual maturity the students have attained. All the tests that are commonly used reveal only the amount of information that a student has amassed. There is little that reveals the real spiritual achievement of a life.
Nevertheless, although humans have not been able to devise any such test, God is always testing us, and His testing does not come when we are warned and ready. Anyone can pass a test then. If I tell you that I am going to test you to see if you exhibit love under pressure, whether you can keep your temper when you are being irritated, and if you can be sweet when things are going wrong, you are likely to pass with flying colors.
But God never tests that way. His tests catch us unprepared, off-guard. It is when we are confronted with some simple situation that no one will know about that the tests of life really come. When you are relaxing at home and the phone rings and suddenly you are confronted with a call for help or a demand for a response—and you had planned to relax and enjoy yourself all afternoon—what happens then? That's the test.
When you are busy around the house with your hands immersed in dishwater and something is burning on the stove and the refrigerator has just quit and the sink is stopped up and you have sixteen different problems on your mind, and your child comes up and asks you a question that seems of little importance, what do you do then? That's the test.
When your neighbor or friend gets sick and somebody has to take care of the children—what do you do? What is your reaction? These are God's tests. This is the way God tested Abraham.
Isn't this the meaning of Paul's words in Romans 12?
Therefore, I urge you, brothers,... to offer your bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1a). It is one thing to be present in a great meeting where the Spirit is moving in evident power, and an appeal goes out to rededicate the heart, and we hear the words,
Present your bodies as living sacrifices to the Lord. Under the stress or pull of that meeting we may well say,
Here am I, Lord, I give my life to you. But this is never the test. The test comes when some situation occurs in daily life that forces you to face the question: Is my body really available for Him to do what He wants? Am I ready to respond to the need of the human heart right there in front of me? Am I ready to give of myself without limitation to meet a demand that comes suddenly in the course of my busy life?
Father, Your tests are always designed to strengthen and teach me. Thank You that with every test come Your resources to endure.
Life Application: Our Father knows that for His children to have sturdy and steadfast faith it must be tested. Are we aiming for His goals? How are we responding to needed tests?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.