Saturday, December 31, 2011

Entertaining God - 2012

I know the title sounds a little inauspicious for how can we, sinners that we are, possibly entertain the Lord of Lords and King of Kings? But that is just the question that seems to be relevant when we consider Abrahams encounter with the Lord in the field of Machpelah near a certain grove of terebinth trees at Mamre. The Scripture states:

Then the Lord appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw  them,  he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, and said, My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant. Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant. They said, Do as you have said, Genesis 18:1-5 NKJV

Theophany of Christ before Abraham
Here Abraham unexpectedly faced the Lord in his estate of daily living. There was no prior preparation, no warning, no prepared appearance—just Abraham and Sarai encamped in this grove of trees with the Lord standing before them. Note that Abraham's first reaction was to worship. He did not try to hide himself or any unsightly thing that may offend. He simply worshiped because he was unashamedly ready to do so.

The question then begs to be asked, if the Lord were to appear to us in all of His glory, and on His mission, how would we react? Would we scamper around trying to hide what know would be offensive to His Holiness? Or would we simply be ready to fall down and worship? Abraham’s response in worship is very telling. The Lord appeared because He was ready to use Abraham in His service. He knew this and as he bowed in worship he entreated with, “My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant.”  I think our response too is telling and depends heavily on our frame of mind and how we feel about having an active relationship to God. Are we prepared to enter into His service? Are we prepared to entertain God’s presence in our lives?

When we see the Lord as our hope—our life—our sustaining and unseen guide for all that confronts us then and only then will we be ready for worship. If not, then the things we entrench our lives in will be apparent; that is to say, the things we do hope and trust in will be seen around us and our frame of mind will be far, far away from immediate worship and praise. We will not be prepared.

Abraham’s next action was a hospitable one. He simply set a table for entertaining the Lord of Hosts. It is what we are called to do as well. We, at any given moment, should have our table ready for immediate hospitality. The action of Abraham is a clear picture of "a day in the life of a true follower of the Lord." What is sad is that so many of us live with unprepared tables. 

We are happy and satisfied to live under the umbrella of God's general grace and that seems to be sufficient. It seems to suit us. Yet we forget that the Lord of glory seeks to be in the center of our lives. His love for His followers could never be demonstrated as clearly as it was when He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus, to be the substitute for our sinful life. 

He gave to us, and in return hopes we too, will give back to Him by being always ready and always prepared for service and worship.

We in our fleshly finite understanding often conclude that we are not useful to the Lord. Who are we? I then must ask, who was Abraham? Was he not just a man as we are? You might say well he was holy—he was chosen; but are we not also? The moment you gave your life to the Lord was the moment you became a holy vessel capable of being used by God in ways that are sometimes unimaginable. The fact is we are unholy and unusable to God in our flesh alone. But with Christ living in us we have been made to be useable. That is often what we fail to see. It is also just what Satan desires to be hidden from our minds. Peter put it this way:

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
... But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
 I Peter 2:4-5, 9 ESV.

Abraham knew these things; therefore, he was ready to be of service to God. Do we? Are we?

This coming year is as best a time as any to make 2012 your aim to be in His service and to be ready to entertain and be hospitable to things God has prepared for you to do. Now is the time to listen and to obey. God will never force Himself in, but we can force ourselves out of His fellowship and thereby lose the precious blessings meant to be for our comfort and His praise. Are we comfortable with that type of loss or would it be better if we simply turn ourselves to the Lord and say "yes" I will serve Him--both myself and my family.

May God give you His grace abundantly and may He show Himself strong in response to your decision to serve.