January 17

Genesis 17:1,10 (NIV) 1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.

10This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised.

Abram was in the middle of a long spiritual journey. We think spiritual maturity happens overnight, but it would be many years before Abram was ready for the big test of his faith. Part of the process of his spiritual growth was to continue to walk before God. He was always in God's presence, but he was asked to live in the awareness of that. Are you conscious of God surrounding you throughout your day?

How was Abram to be blameless? Can anyone be blameless? We have already seen how he was declared righteous. It was simply by a trusting belief in God. God declared Himself to be El Shadday (God Almighty), the all-sufficient God. All that Abraham needed for righteousness, for daily direction, for provision was in Him. To live in the belief of that is to continue to walk by faith, and that pleases God. Is God El Shadday to you? Where do you turn for righteousness, daily direction, provision? It is sad that many of us turn to self, as if God is not sufficient and needs our help.

When Abraham entered into the covenant of circumcision, his name was changed from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many nations). Circumcision was a symbol of a tender heart toward God (Deuteronomy 30:6). A tender heart makes it possible for us to be fruitful, to be productive for the Kingdom of God. God has asked three things of Abraham and all mankind: walk in God's presence, be blameless (a trusting obedience by faith), and have a tender heart towards Him. He can meet all our need if we will live in a trusting relationship with El Shadday.

Prayer: Lord, help me walk before You blameless and with a tender heart.

January 17

Zechariah 4:6-7 (NIV) 6So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty. 7"What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of 'God bless it! God bless it!'"

Zerubbabel was concerned that he will not be able to finish the work the Lord had called him to do. The obstacles before him seemed like a mountain that had to be moved. There were political enemies, threats of physical violence, and the people who were doing the work had their own concerns for family and safety. Then the angel of the LORD conveyed a message from the LORD to Zerubbabel. It is not by might or power, but by the Spirit of the LORD that things are accomplished. What a relief those words must have been to him. The message went on to say that the mountain of obstacles would become level ground. He would bring out the final finishing stone while the people shout blessings on the finished Temple.

Many of you reading this devotional probably look at your church and see a mountain that must be moved before it can be the church God wants it to be. How in the world will you get from here to there? It is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the LORD. Man often intervenes with his power and might and ends up making a bigger mountain. Ask the LORD to do it by His Spirit. Act only at His leading. You will bring out that capstone with the people shouting, "God bless it!"

Certainly all of us look at the temple of our body and wonder if the work of sanctification will ever be completed. The mountain seems too big. Do you think, "Maybe if I try harder. Maybe if I use this discipline or that program?" It is not by might... Just cooperate with the Spirit of God living in you.

Meditation: Commune with Him and cooperate with His leading, and He will finish the work He started in you as the saints and angels cry, "God bless you!" (1 John 3:2)