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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Skin in the Game

1-2 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, God showed up and said to him, "I am The Strong God, live entirely before me, live to the hilt! I'll make a covenant between us and I'll give you a huge family."
(Genesis 17:1-2 The Message)

Two things popped out to me from this passage - God's call is never too late, and his expectations are quite extensive!  Abram (Abraham) was nearly a century old when God placed the call on his life.  Imagine that in today's life-span and it was late into life that he received his call.  There are times that I hear more mature Christians saying that God cannot use them any longer.  That is hog-wash!  God's call is irrespective of age, natural talent, or financial means!  His call transcends our physical limitations, infuses us with talents we never thought we'd possess, and makes miraculous provision for every inch of the journey!

The Lord spoke with Abram and gave two very specific expectations to him:  1) Live ENTIRELY before me; and 2) Live to the HILT.  Let's just take a couple moments to dig into those expectations.

Live ENTIRELY before me:
  • Live - be alive, be entirely capable of vital function; exhibit vitality in your life.  In other words, God was telling Abram that he wasn't an old, dried up man!  You and I could take a lesson here - we still have capacity to live for God until we take our final breath on this earth!
  • Entirely - completely and unreservedly.  God was making it clear that service to him is not complete if there is any reservation in our heart about our commitment.  Just this last week, I was talking with a friend about the difference between commitment and perfection.  Too many times we think that we are not "living" like God wants us to because we still struggle with sin in our lives - temptation is a real thing to us.  The fact is, God examines our heart for our commitment - how much "skin" we have in the game.  He doesn't look for us to be perfect.  If he did, he'd have a mighty small family!
  • Before him - our lives are to be lived before him.  We could live our lives on display for the world to see, but God reminds us that the only one that really matters is him.  We live for him - not for others.
Live to the HILT:
  • To the hilt - the hilt is the handle of a sword or dagger.  What is depicted here is that we are "all in".  We don't hold back - just plugging into God with part of our mind, a little of our heart, and some of our talent.  It is all or nothing with God!  He is saying that we are to live to the maximum degree in him.  I think God is asking that we live with undivided hearts.  Remember Jesus telling the disciples that you could not serve two masters at one time?  It was this thought that he had in mind when he said that.  We cannot serve both man and God at the same time.  It makes no difference if that "man" is our own selfish desires, or those demands of another.  We must keep God in the center of all we do - only then will we be "all in" with him.
Just a few thoughts from the calling of Abram.  God's promise to Abram are still in place today.  His call was without "recall" - God never went back on what he said he would do.  I think the same is true for us today - God never goes back on what he says he will do.  We do what we can - being "all in" with God - and he does what we cannot!  Abram could not bring forth any offspring on his own - but when he did his part, God did the rest.  That is how it is in God's economy - when we are "all in", he is "all sufficient"!