The Furnace And The Lamp
A daily devotion for June 9th
7 He also said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it."
8 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?"
9 So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon."
10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the LORD said to him, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure."
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates- 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites."
When the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. (Genesis 15:17 KJV)
This verse tells the whole story of the Christian life after conversion—a furnace and a lamp. It is the story of the nation Israel throughout its history. It is a story of affliction followed by blessing. First, Israel is in the furnace, and then the lamp is shining on them again. At the present they are in the furnace and have been for two thousand years, for they will not judge themselves. But the Scriptures say they will soon come to the place where, in the heat of the furnace, they will cry out for deliverance, and God will become a lamp to them once again.
This is the whole story of the Christian life. Once you begin to set foot on the land of Spirit-given power, you discover Jesus Christ is always a furnace or a lamp to you. When self begins to threaten, He is a furnace—burning, scorching, searing. When self is judged, He immediately becomes a lamp, flooding the whole life with radiance and glory. Have you discovered this experience? Have you found your way to this land of promise?
The one thing Abram had to do was to hunger for it.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6). When we long for this blessing and freedom, it is translated out of the realm of theology into experience.
As you may have discovered, it is quite possible to be an expert in teaching the truths of spiritual adjustment and know nothing of the reality of it in life. It is not enough to believe in the doctrine of human depravity. There must come a time when acknowledgment is made of the slavery of self in your life, a time when you have groaned and turned in disgust from the revelation God has given you of your own heart. Only then can there come the wonderful release, the glorious deliverance, the satisfying sight of watching Canaanites flee before you. You now master habits you could not conquer before in the strength of the Lord, and a whole new land of victory lies open before you.
Begin where Abram began. Say,
Lord God, how shall I know that I shall possess it? Reveal to me my own heart and Your deliverance.
Father, may I know the transforming grace of the power of the Spirit in my life. May I not be content to live on the edge of the land or to merely sojourn in it, but make me restless until I own it and possess it.
Life Application: What are two necessary factors in our Christian experience that are designed to keep us both real and radiant? Are we learning to appreciate both?
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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.